2020/12/04

Combat Frame XSeed: SS Cover Reveal

I've really been looking forward to showing you this:

Combat Frame XSeed: SS - Brian Niemeier

Many thanks to my peerless cover artist Jun Ares for outdoing himself again! Note to authors: He is available for commissions. Email me if you want his contact info.

Book 2 in my brand new Combat Frame XSeed: S series is in development. You've seen the cover. Now here's a foretaste of what the new book will be all about:

SPACE IS A GRAVEYARD

They came to destroy us. Now they're humanity's only hope.

The Guardian Angels race home to confront a traitor. Instead, disaster forces them into a savage battle with an invincible enemy bent on Earth's annihilation.

Can Jehu Red lead his team to victory over a power even greater than their XSeeds? Or will humanity burn on the funeral pyre of history?

If you like Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Mobile Suit Gundam, you’ll love this continuation of  the hit Combat Frame XSeed saga!


Hungry for more? Here's an appetizer:

Avignon Royal Asteroid, CY 98

A string of decisions, each seemingly reasonable at the time, had once again left Heather standing waist-deep in a warm pool holding a bunch of worms in one hand and a platypus in the other.

Playtime’s over,” former Coalition Secretary-General Maritza Eckhart said from behind her, despite the fact that she was dead. “We’ve got a job for you.”

Heather’s strawberry blond hair swept the water’s surface as she turned. Damp strands clung to the slate gray wetsuit that left her fair forearms and lower legs bare. The blue-tiled room lay empty behind her. Embarrassment heated her cheeks. “Oh, right. There are speakers here but no Witness gallery.”

Nice reflexes,” said Mitzi’s disembodied voice. “Now get out of the pool. The Saeculum legate’s waiting for you in the hangar.”

Heather looked below the swell of her breasts to the sleek, billed mammal wiggling in her hand. “But I’m feeding the platypus,” she objected.

You can stop. He’s getting a bit plump.”

That’s exactly why I can’t stop.”

A pause ensued, broken only by the splashing of tiny flippers, as the snapping bill gobbled up the worms in Heather’s hand.

Mitzi loosed an earsplitting yell. The sting of a heel spur stabbed into Heather’s wrist. Her hand jerked open, and the culprit paddled away.

007!” she chided the platypus as he dived out of sight. “Joke’s on him. I built up an immunity.”

Good for you,” said Mitzi. “Now get a move on!”

Right,” Heather said as she sloshed out of the pool. “Time to go to work.”

Heather left wet footprints down the red-carpeted hallway to her suite of rooms. She hurried through a bedchamber featuring entirely pink d├ęcor—with the exception of a bed, which she didn’t have anyway—and into the adjacent bathroom.

Peeling off her wetsuit and showering the algae smell out of her hair provided just the pick-me-up she needed. Heather wrapped a plush white towel around her fit body, returned to her bedroom, and stood before the pink-framed Hollywood mirror. “Time to put on my face.”

Her dressing table’s top left drawer held a box of ruby hair dye. She squeezed the sharp-scented contents into her waist-length mane and worked in the nanite-laden gel. Within seconds, the treatment colored each strand a vibrant light red.

Heather stared in satisfaction at her altered reflection, but the dark circles under her green eyes gave her a moment’s pause. She pressed a finger to her cheek below the orbit of her right eye and pulled down.

I look like the aftermath of a Three Stooges skit. Maybe I should start sleeping again …” The glossy black handheld on the pink tabletop emitted a squeak, alerting her to a new message from Mitzi. “… After this job.”

Heather picked up the phone and skimmed the message urging her to hurry as she glided to her walk-in closet. She set the device facedown on the dresser, revealing a red Z inside a general prohibition sign on the back, and opened the middle drawer. The foam lining contained a matte black MP5A2 with a fixed stock and a curved thirty-round magazine.

She smiled, pulled open the top drawer, and took out a vacuum-sealed bundle of black fabric. Heather was about to close the drawer when she thought better of it and grabbed another black bundle first.

Breaking the seal released a scent like the little packs of round pellets included in shoeboxes. Heather drew out a suit of smooth material both tougher and suppler than her wetsuit. Composed of two carbyne polymer layers with a nanite matrix sandwiched between, the third generation actuator slid on like a glove.

Slipping into her actuator suit felt to Heather like putting her skin back on. Which implied that being naked was like having her skin flayed off. Which in turn meant that wearing her actuator was analogous to being naked. “Can’t very well meet a man of the cloth like that, now can I?”

Heather faced the rack behind her and slid various blouses, sweaters, gowns, and mascot costumes aside until she found an item resembling a one-piece swimsuit but heavier. Though thinner and more flexible than most body armor, the additional layer offered enough protection to stop a 9mm round—compensation for the base layer’s reduced durability. She donned the armor and hit the chest switch that adjusted its five-point harness to a snug fit.

She stuffed the handheld into her armor’s right shoulder pouch, stuck the MP5 plus an extra mag to a nano-adhesive patch on her back, and tucked the spare actuator under her left arm. Facing the full-length mirror, Heather checked her ensemble down to the PAX insignia and the F-cell patch—a red circled Z, now bisected with a deep diagonal gash—on opposite sides of her chest.

The two pink silk ribbons draped over the mirror’s side caught Heather’s eye. A strange sorrow bubbled up from deep inside. Her hands moved as if by rote, taking the smooth ribbons with near-reverence and tying them into her ruby hair.

Another squeak from the phone broke her trance and sent her rushing from the room. A short ride in a walnut-paneled lift painted with gold filigree brought Heather to a lofty cavern dug from the asteroid base Avignon—redoubt of the exiled King of Nouvelle France.

The lift doors rolled open, letting in a deep generator hum. A combat frame loomed between her and the arched hangar door a hundred meters away. The CF’s three-tiered golden helm, tabard-like armor, and white cloak stood out against the darkness of space. It carried a tall lance surmounted by a prismatic cross.

That must be the legate’s CF. Pretty on the nose, but points for originality.”

It was inspired by Pope Leo’s encounter with Attila the Hun,” a legato voice said in French from Heather’s right, “so I must decline your praise.”

A middle-aged man with a head of graying brown stubble stood on the polished stone deck three meters from the lift door. His brown pilgrim’s robe failed to hide his muscular frame.

Heather exited the lift and took two paces toward him. “Pardon me for keeping you waiting,” she replied naturally in the same tongue. “Father …”

Brother,” the legate corrected her. “Brother Jonah Isidore Benito.” His weathered brow knotted. “You are Miss DeLorraine?”

So I’m told.”

Forgive me. I did not expect someone like you.”

Amusement tugged at a corner of Heather’s lip. “Showing up unexpected is one of my natural talents. Do you have a problem that calls for it?”

Brother Jonah clasped his hands behind his back and paced back and forth. “His Majesty graciously hid my order from the Coalition. We developed many skills and technologies to aid us in hiding. Now, those same aids lead us to conclude that our time of reemergence draws near.”

Heather scratched her head with a gloved hand. “You want help with your comeback? I guess I could do some stealth marketing.”

The legate planted himself before her. “The Witnesses talk of a new cycle beginning. Great and terrible events are about to repeat. Ancient roles are taken up by new actors in need of guidance—some of them known to you.”

Heather looked to the hangar’s left wall. There, her queen’s missile tube-pocked +Seed Castellan stood on its tank tread legs. “The Witnesses talk a lot. As for those pilots on the SP, they couldn’t take a hint. Are you sure involving me more will help?”

The self-styled Angels are bound for Earth to confront the Diras. Their captain is well-meaning but lacks knowledge. And they have already encountered another Type III Sentinel.

Heather hugged herself with nanite-enhanced strength to contain a pang of regret. “That’s my point. If I hadn’t intervened, Brooks might still be alive.”

Sympathy softened Brother Jonah’s face. “You do yourself an injustice taking blame for his sins. His courtship with death preceded you, and was consummated by his will alone.”

Heather sighed. “What if I say no?”

Your successors race toward a battle that was never meant to occur. Their conflict with the Diras draws them into a Game for which they are unready. Only you can prepare them to run Arthur’s gauntlet.”

Arthur,” Heather cursed through clenched teeth. She held back the howling void that had eaten her memory and hungered for her mind by digging her carbyne-sheathed nails into her palms.

He set these events in motion long ago,” said Brother Jonah. “If this cycle is left to unfold on its own, it may be the last.”

Heather relaxed her body with a sharp exhale. “Does Arthur’s little suck-up Ziebig have a role in this cycle?”

By his free choice,” Brother Jonah pronounced.

What if I defenestrate him from an O’Neill cylinder?”

The Lord only knows, but often our inner dispositions aid us in discerning His will.”

Heather strode past the legate and his cross-bearing combat frame to a jet black CF crouching on the central launch catapult. A pair of EM launchers loaded with barrel-shaped remotes adorned its broad back.

The nanite net suffusing Heather’s actuator signaled the black CF as she approached. A cylindrical lift descended from its abdomen to the deck amid an astringent mist. She stepped inside and took a black helmet with a skull-emblazoned visor from a rack to her left.

You’re right,” she called back to Jonah. “Time to stop hiding. I’ll go first.”


Get ready for a wild ride. Here's your jumping-on point:

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

8 comments:

  1. That cover is so hot the backs of my hands are blistered just from having it flash past on the screen of the laptop.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You better get your guy tied up in some contracts before he gets head-hunted.

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  3. Best cover of the whole series so far in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete