Captain Nikolas EstherVorn is a traitor. Or so it was decreed after Niko disobeyed protocol while trying to save Earth from other-dimensional creatures. Stuck in a prison cell, the last thing he needs is to be in close proximity to sexy-as-sin Dr. Sarah CallenJoseph. Not with him damn near ready to break out just to get to her.
Niko's desire isn't quite his own...and Sarah can prove it. He-along with the other soldiers on the disastrous mission-were drugged with some kind of toxin. Niko has no clue how the drug got into his body or why, but Sarah suspects there's a link between the toxin and the fertility crisis of Shipborn humans.
To investigate is forbidden. But as lust becomes something deeper, binding them together in a way neither expected, Niko and Sarah must battle time-and their superiors-to uncover the secret that could save humanity...or destroy it.
The Maelstrom Chronicles series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Angeli
Book #2 Traitor
About the Author
Jody Wallace writes science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time because there was always something new to learn and ended up with a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, and general all around pain in the butt. She currently lives in Tennessee with her family: 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 cats. One of her many alter egos is "The Grammar Wench", which should give you an indication of her character. She is a terrible packrat and likes to amass vintage clothing, books, yarn, gnomes, and other items that threaten to force her family out of the house. She also likes cats. A lot.
Ms. Wallace's approach to writing is to tell as many outlandish lies as she can get her readers to swallow. For Entangled, she is focusing on the Maelstrom Chronicles, a during-apocalyptic SF romance series full of action, adventure, monsters, and heroic protagonists who fall in love while saving the world. She is active in RWA and occasionally conducts writing workshops. Among topics she's been known to cover are training sessions for contest judges, point of view, dialogue punctuation, and creativity enhancement.
Read an Excerpt
A Maelstrom Chronicles Novel
By Jody Wallace, Robin Haseltine
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Jody Wallace
All rights reserved.
Nikolas wadded the thin paper communiqué from Ship's medtech into a ball and pitched it into the waste slot in his quarters. If he hadn't responded to Dr. Sarah CallenJoseph-daughter's six electronic summonses, the squandered paper wasn't going to prompt him to endure the post-mission checkup, either.
He'd avoided it for weeks. He had his reasons. Until he could address them, he'd continue to avoid it.
Along with the persistent doctor.
"Dr. Sarah requires your presence in the main medlab for your routine examination," Ship informed him in its flat tones.
"Is there another medtech available?" Niko asked, like he always did.
"Negative. Dr. Sarah has been assigned to handler reintegration." After a dirtside op, the handlers, who were sent to work with a native population, sometimes experienced post-mission issues that could be physical or mental.
"Then override the request, on my authority." As a captain, he outranked doctors and most other crew on Ship 1001, the AI sentient spacecraft that currently orbited the planet Terra.
"Override number seven recorded and transmitted." Niko had lived on Ship 1001 almost his whole life. As such, he could detect the condemnation in the way it emphasized "seven." No one who interacted with Ships for any length of time labored under the misapprehension that the massive techno-organic beings were anything but sentient — possessed of their own opinions, thoughts, and personalities.
The personality of Ship 1001 was that of an extroverted, somewhat uptight, and insistently nosy next bunk neighbor. If Ship had had a throat, the electronic crackle before it spoke again would have been a harrumph. "Complete examinations are required after Shipborn return from any non-Shipborn planet surface. Your continued noncompliance is not recommended."
"I'm fine. The humans on Terra have similar germs to us." Cross-species ailments, such as the Haetherian flu, were of greater concern than anything they might encounter on a human-evolved planet.
Either way, cross-species ailments had nothing to do with Niko's reluctance to report to Dr. Sarah CallenJoseph.
"Invalid. Terra's biological neutrality is not yet confirmed."
"Nobody's sick, and it's been nearly a year since we arrived. I think that's confirmation." For the first time in fleet history, a pre-code planet was being sponsored like a post-code planet, and the eyes of the entire fleet were on them, inasmuch as interstellar communications would allow.
How much longer they would stay in orbit was uncertain — though Niko suspected General Vorn and Ship were closer to a decision than most of the Shipborn and Terrans realized. Niko only knew because of his relationship to the general.
And to Ship, who considered Niko family. A dubious honor at best, since the result was a nearly omniscient AI constantly up in his business.
"You are not a medtech," Ship informed him.
"You're not a medtech, either." Granted, Ship's vast knowledge probably included everything it needed to train or advise a medtech, but that didn't make it one. Mostly just a know-it-all pain in the ass.
"Sarah is a medtech, and she requires you to report to your checkup." Ship was fond of Sarah, too, hence the first name basis, an honor it didn't bestow on just any sentient.
"I outrank the doctor. She can't require me to do anything."
The last person in the universe he wanted to deal with right then was Sarah. He'd rather juggle histrionic Ships, deadly flying daemons, and pissed off Terran cats than allow Sarah to get within ten feet of him.
If she hadn't been the one in charge of handler reintegration, maybe he'd be through with that exam.
"Sarah is permitted to submit a grievance to Vorn if you cannot prove your noncompliance is due to scheduling issues. You do not outrank General Vorn."
"I have an actual scheduling issue — I'm busy." Eventually she'd give up and assign him to another medtech. She wouldn't bother Ship's ranking sentients with something this minor.
"Sarah is permitted to escalate public health concerns to the trine advisors as well."
"This isn't a public health concern."
But Sarah would become extremely concerned about her own health if she had to be around Niko for any length of time. He had no idea why she was being so stubborn about conducting the exam herself. Practical and shrewd, she wasn't one to fritter her time on lost causes. "Let me know if she goes running to my father."
With Ship no longer nagging him, Niko was able to return his attention to the data table and pore over the reports.
Opting to bend code, Ship had supported the human population's war against the invading entities that had swarmed out of the now-sealed rift to their dimension. But the Terrans weren't making saving their asses any easier, and they had no idea how close they were to being abandoned.
Ship had sent emissaries and technology to the natives but wouldn't risk its soldiers in battle. One single Shipborn misstep against the soul-sucking entities, and everyone on the planet and Ship alike would die.
Many segments of the human population assumed the aliens were lying about that, like they'd lied about so much already. Niko, restricted from the Terran surface after his illicit mission, was doing whatever he could to persuade Ship and Vorn that the planet was worth helping.
When the planet was initially considered a lost cause, a number of Terrans had been white-lighted — involuntarily — to preserve the natives' invaluable genome. Nearly all of those Terrans had opted to remain at Ship's safe and hidden dirtside base in Yellowstone National Park once the mission shifted into a global rescue op.
Or until Ship and Vorn decided they were done with the aggravating Terrans.
Niko had never had to strategize on a pre-code planet whose religions, superstitions, technologies, and cultures hadn't achieved the level of enlightenment that code required for open communications. Territory ten wouldn't allow any refugees from North America, twenty-one required larger concessions, five wanted more technology to fight the entities, four wanted permission to scavenge in three, thirty was trying to get its hands on nukes to shoot Ship down, sixteen had taken advantage of the chaos to go to war with fifteen, and so on and so forth.
He wanted to shake them all and tell them if they couldn't cooperate, they were going to die. Be mauled or carried off by daemons. Eaten by shades.
But maybe intentionally destroying the planet was the ultimate plan. Who'd believe him? It wasn't something any Ship would do. It wasn't code. Wasn't ethical.
His father, General Vorn, the most powerful individual on Ship. The head of the military unit. The sole Shiplink, connected to the AI. As the Terrans would say, Ship's BFF.
The crew assumed that Ship was the deciding vote on important issues.
Niko knew better. It was Vorn.
His father's BFF, aka Ship, interrupted Niko's reading. "Sarah requested that, should you override her latest summons, she be notified immediately."
"So?" He hadn't instructed Ship to withhold information from the doctor. Since he wasn't Vorn, it was debatable whether Ship would follow an order like that from Niko anyway.
After the original Terran mission devised by his father and Ship had flopped — although it should have been a cinch — Niko couldn't, didn't, trust Ship any more than he did his father.
Or much of anyone.
He wasn't even sure he trusted himself.
"Sarah is currently outside your quarters and has employed a medical override on your security," Ship informed him, far too blandly.
"What the hell? Belay that," Niko exclaimed, but even as he said it, he heard the hiss of the retracting door.
His enhanced senses immediately detected the near-silent tread of Sarah's feet, the scent of her soap, and the swish of her medical bag against her pants leg.
Fucking Sarah and her perseverance. If it weren't for the fact she was discreet and possessed of some very kissable lips, she'd be Ship 1001 in human form.
Niko didn't turn from the data table.
"At last, we meet again," she quipped. Her voice was nowhere near as expressionless as Ship's, and her amusement was evident.
He tried not to tense up. If she noticed, she might suspect his avoidance was due to more than his duties. "You can't employ a medical override without cause. I'm not lying in here passed out. Dismissed, doctor."
"Hm. No. Your post-mission examination is weeks overdue."
"That's an order." If she hadn't contacted Vorn to complain about him yet, would she do it now?
"I'm going to ask you to reconsider that." Sarah, unsurprisingly, didn't sound the least intimidated by his pulling rank. "It's just a checkup."
"A checkup I don't have time for. In case you hadn't noticed, we're trying to save a planet. Reschedule for next week." At which point, if he couldn't figure out his little problem or get a different doctor, he'd cancel the appointment again.
She crossed the small living area to stand behind him.
Niko braced himself. And still, his body responded to her proximity. He was as well-trained, disciplined, and enhanced as any Shipborn human could be, yet he couldn't control his body's response.
His libido. His lust. His desire to procreate.
He hadn't been able to control his lust around women since arriving on Terra, and he had no idea why. He should stay as far from her as possible, which meant a physical exam was out of the question.
"I'm here now." Sarah's medical kit thunked when it hit the floor. "As are you. We may as well get this over with."
He didn't have to see her to imagine how she looked standing behind him. Her thick blond hair would be smoothed carefully back from her face. Her golden skin would be flushed with health, and perhaps success, at having waylaid him. Her crystalline blue eyes — when the fuck had he turned poet? — were probably regarding the back of his head with a clinical detachment that should cool anyone's ardor.
It wouldn't cool his.
He would not stand. He would not turn around. He would not let her see him like this.
"Not now." He gestured over the complex spread of data on his table. "I'll come in when I'm done. If it's after your shift ..." And it would be. " ... Keltin can perform the exam."
"I'm in charge of handler reintegration, not Keltin." Plastic snapped as she donned medical gloves. "You're the final patient on my list, and I'd like to complete this duty so I can turn my attention to more important things." Her tone sharpened. "Such as obstetrics. Terran mothers often prefer a female physician. You may have heard that I've been assigned that role as well. In fact, I'm returning to the dirtside base tomorrow, where I've been for most of the past three months. I've met so many interesting people. There's a woman pregnant with twins, if you can believe it."
Niko hid a flinch. Celibacy had been part of his team's original mission parameters. Except for Gregori, none of the handlers had behaved according to code while masquerading as Terra's saviors. The handlers had posed as angels, wearing white tunics with gold combat armor over their torsos and hips. Endo-organic wing packs created the illusion they were avian deities.
They'd tried to conceal their lust. Tried their best to control it. Niko had restrained himself better than the others, but opportunity and need had defeated them time and again.
It wasn't that they'd forced themselves on anybody, thank the Mother. But enough women had approached the angeli, curious and persistent, that they'd all succumbed to multiple encounters. Oddly, now that he and his men were aboard Ship again, the team's urges seemed to have ebbed, as far as he could ascertain. Their shit-ass, code-breaking, bed-hopping behavior was definitely on the "do not share" list of the nondisclosure agreement they'd signed post-mission.
Niko's urges, unfortunately, hadn't abated. The only way he'd found to curb them was to avoid human females of childbearing age.
Especially ones he'd desired even before his Terran mission.
Sarah's portable scanner beeped to life. Her medical kit snicked.
He would not look at her. No matter how much he enjoyed looking at her, he would not do it.
"I would appreciate it if you would disrobe now," she said.
She wouldn't suggest that if she knew what he was thinking. The idea of disrobing the coolly professional doctor seized him. Licking his way down her supple body. Tasting her intimately. Mounting her, filling her. Hearing her cry his name.
"Nikolas," Sarah said, as if echoing his fantasy. "Did you hear me?"
The way she said his name, the 'l' tripping off her tongue like a kiss on his cock, hardened him all the way.
"I don't want an exam right now," he snarled. Combat adrenaline hummed through his veins, which her scanner would detect. It bleeped accordingly. "I refuse your services. Interference with free will is against code. Leave before I report you."
Sarah's clothing rustled, and she sighed. "Nikolas. Niko. How long have we known each other? Can't you trust me when I tell you this is crucial? I've conducted some preliminary calculations that indicate ... I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to complete the first round of exams."
"Is this about our enhancements?"
She was their resident enhancements and augmentation expert, and they'd collaborated on his tech projects. Somewhat amicably. He wouldn't normally hinder her work, but she was hindering his grip on civility.
"I'm not ready to share my information. It's too inconclusive." He could hear her tinker with the medical bag. "This exam will only take thirty minutes of your time, Nikolas, and then you can return to whatever it is you do now."
He tilted his head until he could see her faint shadow on the floor to his right. "That's Captain Nikolas."
"I keep forgetting. I'm stunned greater sanctions weren't instated after you ..." Sarah expelled a small, disgusted breath. "I'm sorry. I'm not part of the trine. I'm your doctor. It's not my place to judge. But I need to finish what I came here to do."
Due to her role in the childbirths, she'd been drawn into the truth about the team's indiscretions. Including his.
General Vorn and Ship had restricted the information as need-to-know. It wouldn't do to have the heterosexual men on Ship ignoring the dangers and demanding shore leave while the planet teemed with various types of entities. Red, bat-like daemons with talons nearly as strong as tactanium that scouted new territories and food sources. Hordes of black, soul-sucking shades whose very touch meant death. Twenty-feet tall ovoid drones that linked up to create force fields and crank out shades.
And the grandfather of them all, the Ship-sized leviathan that appeared when a shade detected Shipborn DNA. Any time a leviathan had formed, all sentient beings — including all Ships in the vicinity — had been consumed within hours.
That was pretty much all they knew about leviathans, but it was enough.
"If you've come to tell me I'm a screw-up, consider yourself heard," Niko said. Her unhappiness about his actions, an unhappiness that seemed based on personal acquaintance and not code, cut him more sharply than he'd expected. He reacted poorly. "Never mind that my Terran friends and I were part of the op that sealed the Terran nexus and saved billions of lives."
"Many of your Terran friends are my friends now, too," Sarah said, still in that disappointed voice. "I'm not so sure they should call you friend, considering your mission could have killed them."
Niko lowered his chin. If he pissed Sarah off enough, would she leave? "They knew the risks. I didn't involve anyone who didn't volunteer."
"They were pregnant. Pregnant because of you. And you endangered them."
"Technically, only Claire Lawson is pregnant because of me," he corrected, not allowing the shame coursing through him to bleed into his words.
Their mission had been worth the potential cost. He'd been desperate to protect the fertile blue planet and had basically committed treason despite a lifetime of trying to please his father. A planet like Terra should never be lost to the entities' never-ending quest to consume sentient life. No matter what.
"I guess that makes it a little better," Sarah mused. "I do understand precautions were taken and accidents happened. However, many of the Terrans feel completely betrayed. They were innocent. They didn't even know who you really were."
"Claire isn't one of them. She knows everything now and, to be frank, she suspected at the time as well." Niko swiped his data table, as if he were ignoring Sarah. The truth was, he could barely focus on the charts in front of him because all his nerves were attuned to the woman behind him. "Besides, I wouldn't describe her as innocent. Would you?"
Plastic snapped. A soft, blue glove bounced off the back of Niko's head. He blinked, surprised.
"Would you at least turn around and face me when I'm talking to you?" Sarah demanded.
Excerpted from Traitor by Jody Wallace, Robin Haseltine. Copyright © 2015 Jody Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is truly a fascinating book. Its’ a very complex and amazing story that really has to be read to believe. I am in awe of the intricate web the author wove, starting in book 1 and into book 2, that in the end managed to catch the bad guy and destroy him and disrupt his plans. Thankfully because otherwise we wouldn’t be here (as he was planning to leave Earth to the “demons” and let humanity to be destroyed!) This book manages to be an adventure, a romance and an engaging Sci-Fi with aliens, very cool technology and an amazingly advanced spaceShip! And like the first book it also had a comedic side with droll, perfectly sarcastic lines delivered with impeccable timing by the most surprising characters. And done in such a way that everyone in the room got the joke except the bad guy. I found the romantic relationship between Niko and Sarah to be central to the entire plot of this book. Since Niko and Sarah had known each other for years, as colleagues then as friends, each had slowly developed feelings for the other over that time, although neither dared share that information aboard Ship. But when Niko (and ALMOST his whole earthbound team) are dosed with a “lust booster”, he eventually finds himself face-to-face with Dr. Sarah and astonishingly, proves to be incapable of resisting his desperate need to kiss her. And as thrilled as she is to be kissed by Niko, Dr. Sarah believes she knows why the strongest and most honorable man she has ever met is now incapable of resisting her! Thus the scandal, hinted at in the first book, as well as part of the mystery are revealed and a partnership and eventually a relationship is born. A relationship between equals who admire and respect each other’s talents and brains and well as their bodies, which means that there is a reality to the way they interact with each other once their walls come down. A lot of military personnel who find themselves in desperate, do-or-die situations often resort to (inappropriate) comedy as a stress release and these two were no different. The banter between them showed the depth of their relationship, built first as friends, was going to be more than strong enough to hold them together no matter the issues facing them. This was a long book but it really needed to be. I was never overwhelmed with information at any time and even though I wondered why I learned something at the time(s), later it became clear that I needed to know those things to weed through and solve the many different mysteries, conspiracies and lies that surrounded them throughout this book and this series. I was very impressed with the way the author brought everything together and neatly cleaned up every web of intrigue, rumor, misdirection or outright lie out there. And still left a perfect opening for book 3, which I hope to read someday soon!
Great sci-fi mystery and romance! Rating: 4.5/5 I used to love the books of Anne MacCaffrey, escaping into the wonderful worlds and scenarios which she (and now her son, Todd) created. One of those books was entitled ‘The Ship Who Sang’ and it still is one of my all time favourites (though I don’t think I’ve ever posted a review of it..…yet!) This book is similar in some ways, having a ship controlled by a sentient being, beings interacting with the ship, dangers from attacking enemies and sabotage from within endangering the crew’s lives, add in the romance and you’ve got this novel – definitely a winning combination! In this story Captain Nikolas EstherVorn has been leading an unsanctioned aid mission, trying to save Earth from being attacked by other-dimensional creatures. This aid has consequences far beyond any that they had initially realised, especially as so many terran women are no pregnant with progeny from members of the ship’s crew! It seems the men involved were drugged with some toxin but ships’ doctor, Dr Sarah Callen Joseph is prohibited from investigating. Niko and Sarah, however, are attracted to each other and she is determined to discover what has happened to him and the others. Will their quest to uncover the truth help save humanity – or destroy it? Will their love ever find a way? You’ll just have to read it to find out! A great read, with complex characters portraying the dilemmas facing them as they defy the rules to solve the mysteries and seek their own HEA. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys mysteries with science fiction and romance combined in a very readable novel. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley too, for letting me read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I received this book from Entangled Publishing in return for a fair and honest review. This is a complex and intricate science fiction story with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. It is the second book in the series although it can be read as a standalone (as I have) and I don't feel that you lose too much by doing so. It also has a considerably large character list for you to keep track of. Traitor is quite a long book so you get a lot of book for your buck. On the whole, this was an enjoyable read with lots of different opinions, points of view and action spots to keep you interested. It is well-written at a steady pace, building up to the climax. For lovers of Sci-Fi, I can definitely recommend it. Merissa Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Captain Nikolas EstherVorn is Shipborn; those who are born and bred on Ship. Ships are not just massive airships with Artificial Intelligence but sentient beings with very real personalities & house a whole community on board. Sent to save earth when the planet to threatened by vicious aliens, the mission is also hoping to discover if humans from earth have the solution to address a critical gender imbalance in the Shipborn who are primarily male. I found the story somewhat confusing in that it appears to start in the middle, after the Shipborn have already arrived on Earth & closed off a nexus to prevent more demons from arriving at Earth. I felt like I was playing catch up all the time, trying to grasp the plot & figure out what was happening. The romance is also muted & secondary to the action. The story is told predominately from the hero's perspective & the heroine is very much a secondary character. There is also a lot of profanity; which is not something I enjoy. The best character in the story is probably Ship! Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review
Book Review: Traitor By Jody Wallace ***I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was not my favorite book of the year but it had its moments. I chose this book basically based on the cover because I thought there would be angels in it… Well there were, but not really. And things go down hill very quickly after I find that out. As the book starts out, Captain Nikolas EstherVorn has a serious problem… well it’s kind of serious since it leads to what in the real world could only be perceived of as sexual assault, but since his victim/target/love interest Dr. Sarah CallenJoseph has had a semi crush on him since forever, it’s all good. (Yes, that was sarcasm). For me the book starts off too juvenile. I would say campy, but there was so little fun with the language or the character attitudes that it just doesn’t quite reach that far. I had to continually suspend disbelief until the true action begins, nearly halfway through the book, and the Captain lands in jail as a traitor. I did like the personality that Wallace gave to the ship and I appreciated the political structure that she gave to the Shipborn world. The story line is original but the ending is predictable and it doesn’t take a lot of sleuthing to know who the real culprit is. I can see this as the start of something great since A LOT of things complete change up by the end of the book. I do hope that there is a next book in this world with the Shipborn and their new world order. As I said it is not my favorite book of the year, but after everything they went through, I am invested in the characters and want to know what happens next.
This book was awesome. Imagine Farscape crossed with Battlestar Galactica all wrapped up in a romance novel and this is what you get. Sci-fi romances are one of my favorite genres and this is one of the best in it's genre that I've read in a while.
Traitor by Jody Wallace was a strange book for me to read. Sorry to be so blunt, but I felt like I was dropped right in the middle of a story and I had a hard time to grasp what was really going on. Also the focus of the storyline felt off to me, the balance between the two leads, the romance and the action was not very good and I could not relate to them in the way I need to feel the story. The plot was interesting enough for me to finish this book but the authors writing style will not be my favorite I think. To be sure I will have to read another book of her, which I am sure I will, because as I said, the plot itself was quite OK.