Admiral

Admiral

by Sean Danker

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451475794
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Series: Evagardian Novel Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,279,808
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sean Danker has been writing since he was fifteen. He read entirely too much Asimov in college, and now we’re all paying the price for it. His hobbies include biting off more than he can chew, feeling sorry for himself on Twitter, and telling people to lighten up. He is currently serving in the military on a base in North Dakota.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There were voices.

“An admiral? Is this a joke?” one of the voices said.

“It’s the seal. Look at this. I think someone’s done something to it.”

“Is he alive?”

“This isn’t even our ship.”

 “He’s breathing. I have him.”

I was distracted from the pain wracking my body by a pair of soft lips on mine, and a rush of welcome, secondhand oxygen. The kindness didn’t last. A powerful fist smashed into my sternum.

The hand drew back for another blow, but I managed to grab the wrist and hold it. I didn’t need to be hit again.

Coughing, I opened my eyes just to shut them again. There were three lights blinding me. I released the wrist, then slowly sat up and groaned. Someone backed away from me. The deck was cold, and the air didn’t taste right.

I opened one eye and squinted up. Three people stood over me. Two young women, one young man. They wore only service-issue undergarments. Like me, they must have just come out of their sleepers.

I had no circulation in my limbs. My mouth was dry. The world was skipping frames, and my mind was stumbling to catch up. Sleepers were good at shutting down brain function; they weren’t as good at bringing it back. I could feel my heart twitching in a way that I didn’t particularly like, though the sleeper wasn’t to blame for that.

I felt like a dead man. I’d had bad wake-ups before, but nothing like this. Apart from a few readouts, the sleeper bay was completely dark. No lights, no emergency lights. Tangled as my head was, I knew that couldn’t be right.

The deck was metal, and not especially clean. I could feel an aggressive nonslip pattern of ridges under my palm. That was unexpected.

“What’s happening?” I asked, rubbing at my eyes and trying to make myself focus. It was as if I had all the negative effects of ethanol poisoning, but none of its perks. Every part of my brain was struggling except my memory. “Where are we?”

The three exchanged looks.

“Undetermined, sir.” That came from the shorter of the two females. The tall one watched me suspiciously, and the young man looked like he was trying to wake up from a bad dream. I knew exactly how he felt.

“Did you pull me?”

“You were showing warning lights. Something’s wrong with this unit,” the young man said, tapping the sleeper’s plastic shield. “The power’s gone, sir.”

“Thank you.” That was why these three had their hand-lights. My thoughts weren’t so jumbled that I didn’t know they’d just saved my life by getting me out of that sleeper.

I didn’t know where we were, but it wasn’t Payne Station. The paralysis was wearing off. I wanted to close my eyes and lie back down.

So I got to my feet, wobbling only a little. I reached up, touching my hair. It was short. I’d already known that; I was just checking.

The taller of the two women was eye to eye with me, and I’m nearly two meters. The look she was giving me wasn’t particularly friendly.

I rubbed my face, finding stubble. I shook my head and considered the three young people, thinking fast.

I eyed the young man. “Are you a tech?”

He nodded. “Ensign Nils. Trainee.”

“Trainee?”

“Graduate, sir.”

I looked them over, trying to understand. “All of you?”

“Yes, sir,” they replied as one.

Evagardian trainees. All graduates. I sort of waved my hand at them.

“And you’re all going to the Julian.”

“Yes, sir.” Nice chorus.

“First assignment?”

“Yes, sir.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose and groaned. They politely just stood there, staring at me. We were all shivering.

I pulled myself together and tried to look as though I was in control of my life. How had these three gotten onto a ship transporting me? I took a deep breath to keep my temper under control.

“Relax,” I told the trainees, who were standing stiffly, all earnest propriety. Giving their military customs and courtesies their all, insofar as they could in their underwear. I waved at them again. “You’re not in uniform.” I frowned. “But I suppose you ought to be. Get dressed.”

They shifted uncomfortably, and I realized that without power they couldn’t access the lockers on their sleepers.

Nils cleared his throat. “Sir?”

I turned on him. He had a little muscle that he probably hadn’t had before service training. He embodied every tech cliché, so he couldn’t really be anything else. He was pale, and a little twitchy. Then again, so was I.

“What?”

He panned his light over the ceiling, showing hard lines and rough, gray metal. “Sir, this is a Commonwealth vessel. Ganraen.”

“I doubt that.” I rubbed at my sore joints, swearing internally.

“Sir,” the tall girl said, very firmly. “The engineering markings are all here.” She used her own light to show me a faded plaque on the bulkhead. It was the emblem of the Ganraen Royal Trade Commission, and a map of the deck.

Well, it was pretty hard to argue with that.

“Yes, it’s Ganraen built,” I said, looking around. These graduates couldn’t have been intended to revive on this vessel. How had this happened? It wasn’t just the wake-up. It wasn’t the state of my health, or my malfunctioning brain. Something was very wrong here.

The tall one didn’t seem to like me much. I’d been conscious for only a minute; what could I have possibly done? The disapproving look on her face looked so at home that maybe it wasn’t personal. She had that kind of face, the kind where you thought that maybe the fierce scowl was the default setting.

“What’s your name?” I asked her.

“Lieutenant Deilani reports as ordered, Admiral.”

“Admiral?” I blinked, taken aback. Making a point of looking bland, she panned her light past me. Indeed, my sleeper had all the right markings. There was an Imperial Admiral’s crest, plain as day.

“I’ll be damned,” I said, gazing at it. “I’ve been promoted. Drinks for everyone. Especially me.” It was time to change the subject, and I addressed Lieutenant Deilani. “What’s your area?”

I was curious; I’d met a few young officers over the years, and kids with brand-new commissions usually didn’t run around with chips on their shoulders like hers. It struck me as a little ungrateful.

“Bio, sir.”

I pictured this young woman bossing people around a medbay and decided she’d be good at it.

The third trainee was standing at parade rest. Unlike the other two, who had standard service haircuts, her hair had not been cut recently. There was only one way someone in the Service could dodge the haircut, and that was to need that hair for ceremonial or culturally significant purposes. That meant this shorter girl probably came from a tiered bloodline, a family whose genes were considered valuable.

She was pretty. Not gorgeous, but she was natural. She hadn’t augmented herself that I could see. She hadn’t tweaked her complexion or done anything too obvious to her features.

She did have that aristocratic poise, though.

“Name?”

“Salmagard.”

“What do you do, Lieutenant? If you don’t mind saying?”

“Private, sir.” She was staring at me with the same interest I was getting from Deilani, but with none of the animosity. Her voice was soft and musical.

I stared back at her, not sure I’d heard correctly. And I didn’t like the way she was looking at me. It wasn’t hostility on her face, but there was an intensity in her dark eyes that made me uncomfortable.

I could see the gears turning in her mind.

And the tall one—Deilani—now looked even more threatening. I forced myself to focus.

Salmagard was an enlisted aristocrat? Was that even allowed? I’d never heard of them doing that. Aristocrats were supposed to be a big part of the Imperial Service’s officer corps; there was a long tradition of it. I’d never given it any thought, but if someone from one of these families couldn’t pass officer aptitudes, didn’t they usually just find another career?

I didn’t know. And I didn’t know the first thing about Private Salmagard, but I had a feeling she wasn’t the type to fail anything she didn’t want to fail.

This was a lot of strangeness to wake up to. 

Maybe this was why Ensign Nils seemed so lost.

“Sorry,” I said, smiling at her. “I wouldn’t have guessed.”

“I’m in negotiations, sir.”

Maybe she was kidding. No, she didn’t seem like the type, not at a time like this. Why not? Why wouldn’t she be a negotiator? It looked like this was that kind of day.

Was it day?

I focused. The glare from the hand-lights was hurting my eyes. Salmagard’s placid mask was perfect. She wasn’t letting anything slip out, not a trace of individuality. Her eyes were still fixed on me.

I’d known Nils was a tech by looking at him. What did Salmagard look like?

Well, she looked a bit like a real negotiator. Like, a real, actual one. One that talked to people.

But I wasn’t sure Evagard actually had those.

She wasn’t kidding. And she recognized me. The other two didn’t, but Salmagard did.

I kept my bearing. It wasn’t as though this was the first time my life hadn’t gone as planned.

“All right,” I said, blinking.

I took Nils’ light and studied the markings on the plaque. The graduates were correct. This was a Ganraen vessel refitted by the Evagardian Empire, and I was pretty sure it was Captain Tremma’s freighter. And Tremma wouldn’t leave his passengers to wake up alone in the dark without a word.

The deck under my bare toes told me something was off about the gravity, but we weren’t in motion. If we were having a power failure, we were lucky to have gravity at all.

That was assuming this gravity was artificial. What if it wasn’t? Were we in dock? Landed?

“Admiral?” Nils pressed, looking uncertain. I’d been lost in my thoughts. There was something wild in his eyes. These circumstances were well outside his comfort zone.

“Right,” I said, waking up. They were looking to me for answers, or at least guidance. Admiral indeed. The sleeper bay was freezing cold; I needed to get these three dressed and out of here. I opened my locker, which I’d never locked in the first place, and rummaged through my bag, coming up with a folding knife.

I flicked it open and knelt by the nearest sleeper, motioning Nils over. “Put your light on that. Right here.” He did so. I ran my fingers lightly over the plastic, found the spot I was looking for, and gave it a sharp strike with the handle of the knife. The trainees were bewildered. They’d probably never even seen a metal knife outside a museum. They’d been trained with lighter and stronger synthetic blades. Or at least, one of them had. Maybe the lieutenant too—imperial officer courses were supposed to have a token close combat component.

But Deilani didn’t need a knife. She had those bony elbows. And that look she was giving me.

It wasn’t working. I whacked the panel again. “Did they change it?” I rubbed my chin. The stubble was killing me. It had to go. “It’s supposed to pop right off.” Well, it wasn’t supposed to—but I’d broken into lockers before. It wasn’t a difficult task; I should’ve been able to do this in my sleep.

I was still misfiring, and the look Deilani was giving me wasn’t getting any warmer.

This wasn’t working. I sighed and got up, going to the bay door. Just in time, I remembered there was no power, and grabbed the handle instead of hitting the palm switch. The rubber grip was cool to the touch, but the hatch didn’t budge. I adjusted my grip, planted my feet, and put my back into it. Nothing.

I blew out my breath and drew back, shaking my sore hands. It was obviously stuck.

“Well,” I said. “This is awkward.”

“Permit me, sir.” Private Salmagard stepped past me, taking a firm grip on the handle. Surprised, I stepped aside. I’d been about to ask Nils for a hand.

Salmagard wrenched the hatch open, letting in a blast of icy cold. The air in the corridor wasn’t much warmer than that in the bay, and it was also pitch black.

Salmagard stepped aside, bowing her head.

I cleared my throat. “Thank you, Private.” I listened. There was no sound.

I’d never experienced a completely silent ship before. The only systems running were auxiliaries with their own power supplies, like sleeper readouts.

This lack of sound wasn’t peaceful or calming; it was terrifying. Something was catastrophically wrong. When your ship is on emergency power, you’re in trouble. When your ship hasn’t got any power at all, if you’re not dead, you will be soon.

I went back into the bay. “We’re in trouble.” I took my pistol from the locker, and both Deilani and Nils took a step back with wide eyes. It probably wasn’t every day they saw an unsecured weapon on a spacecraft.

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Admiral 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of good action. Kind of like Raiders of the lost ark.
SciFi-dreamer 4 months ago
I found the character to be a little too non confrontational for my taste even though that was eventually fleshed out, as to why he is like that, as the story progressed. That being said. I still enjoyed this book quite a lot. It kept you going in a few directions so that when the twist was revealed. It did leave you with that, " I didn't see that coming" feeling. Books like this prove that science fiction isn't played out and rehashing old ideas. Sean has created a fresh new universe with very interesting visuals. his descriptions are very easy to visualize especially to someone with an active imagination. This book did leave me wanting more so I will be reading his other 2 books.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Would recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect from this story but I don't regret buying it. It has everything you'd want in a science fiction/horror novel. Just read it. You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed it. I wish there was more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A satisfying SF read that kept me entertained the whole way through. Looking forward to the next installment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Constantly challenged by new, deadly situations with apparently no way out, you have to root for the protagonists. Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was fun the whole way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well done, Sean Danker. And, please, hurry up and write another one. I pouted for 3 days after finishing this book since I couldn't find another so entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! Excellent story line and character development. I'm ready for the Admiral's next adventure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written story with decent character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed trying to figure things out with the characters.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
I like a lot of science fiction but tend to shy away from the military type just because that usually gets a little too overbearing for me. What drew me to Admiral was the implication that this is really a blending of science fiction and mystery and I do love crossgenre. Mr. Danker exceeded all my expectations and took me on an adventure I won't soon forget. Imagine if you were to wake up in a sort of locked room with just a few other people and you discovered that you're apparently a high-ranking military officer although you have no memory of such an existence and, worse yet, no idea how to be a commander of troops. That's what happens to this young man but he hasn't forgotten everything. He knows, for instance, that he's on a spaceship (just not the right one) and he knows they were bound for somewhere out there. That's about it and there's no time to figure things out because the ship is dead, meaning there's no life support, and it's resting on a strange planet. Add to that the hostility of one of the three trainees and we're off to the races, so to speak. Admiral or not, our hero has to take charge and there are a lot of questions to be answered while he keeps the others on course; he soon finds that the solution of one problem leads to one that's even worse and the reader as well as these four space travelers are on a wild ride. Not least of the puzzles to be solved---just who is the Admiral? The combination of mystery with the science fiction setting in unknown space makes for a rollicking good time and I have seldom been more entertained than by Admiral. Sean Danker has crafted a wonderful story and I can't wait for the sequel I hope is coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You found it, had me hooked from the first page!
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
This was fun! It wasn't mind blowing or anything but I certainly enjoyed myself while reading it. There were definitely some exciting moments in the story and a few surprises. I found myself wondering if the crew members would be able to survive their situation at the same time I was focused on the identity of the characters. I really liked that the story took a few turns that I really didn't see coming that added a lot to the story. This was a really strong start to a new series. The Admiral starts the story by being resuscitated after his sleeper cell malfunctions. He recovers and realizes that he is on a dead ship with three new recruits. He assumes command and they start to take steps to ensure their survival. They soon realize that the situation is worse than they feared and the planet isn't stable. Will the group be able to work together to get off of this planet? The characters were one of the main strengths of this book. We never learn the admiral's name or really too much about him but I still really liked him. He was a natural leader and was able to think fast and get the group through many situations. The three recruits were all very different and their personas worked well together in the story. Had they all been distrustful of the admiral it would not have had the same effect as it did with one very distrustful recruit. I liked how they learned to become a team when necessary. I thought that the pacing of the story was well done. There are so many things that this group has to get through that there is never any time for the story to really slow down much at all. I thought that the mystery of the admiral's identity was an interesting element. I do wish that we had learned something a bit sooner than we did but he was a great leader without any background on him. It added a nice mystery to the story. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of science fiction. I didn't think that the science fiction in this story was heavy at all and this one should appeal to a wide range of readers. This is the first book by Sean Danker that I have read and I plan to continue with this series as soon as the next book is released. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Roc via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was definitely not my usual genre, but I was entertained for the most part. While a lot of times, I didn’t understand the pieces of equipment or mechanical apparatuses that were being used, it didn’t bog me down. There were a lot of parts in this book that went pretty fast and held you on to the edge of your seat. Then there would be parts that would be kind of slow. The author did a great job with the summarization at the end of the book which helped to put a lot of the pieces together. Such as how they ended up on that planet, who this “Admiral” was and what the exact mission was supposed to be. I will have to say the parts that had you on the edge of your seat were pretty good. I could just imagine myself in those long dark corridors and it felt pretty creepy. I would say I enjoyed this book, although for some reason I thought it was a submarine under the water when I requested it. Boy, did I get a surprise. Ha! Thanks Berkley Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this fast paced, definitely needs to be read before bedtime book.