Saturday, August 16, 2014

*Blog Tour* The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart


Edward Robert Teach is a modern day barbarian who encompasses everything a woman loves and hates in a man.  He is a tall, strong, chauvinistic party animal whose only saving graces being ruggedly handsome and independently wealthy.  He abhors his notorious namesake, correctness in any form, and has a habit of expressing his opinion whenever it does the most offense.  When he meets Kamini, a stunningly beautiful, large eyed woman from the planet Feletia, he thinks he has finally met the girl of his dreams until he is recruited by her, and he becomes the unlikeliest captain of a prototype destroyer in the Feletian space navy, giving him the ability to stir up more trouble than he can get out of.  Queen Aphelia, leader of her matriarchal, utopian society, and Kamini's mother, takes an interest in him.  She uses him to attain her political goals, forcing Robert to learn harsh, and sometimes painful lessons in humility when his earthbound attitude clashes with the strong willed Feletian women.  When Robert is powerless to stop the assassination of the Feletian royal family, Kamini ascends the throne and takes him as husband, such as it is.  He becomes Feletia's Regent, sparking a political and marital struggle that could bring the flames of galactic war to the peaceful planet.


When an alien race makes contact with Earth's leaders asking for two ships worth of water to help save their dying planet, Earth gains a new ally in the Feletians. The Feletians have been watching Earth for years, and while peaceful in nature, they are willing to fight to protect themselves and others. But policing the galaxy is spreading their forces quite thin, so they recruit humans to join their military forces. One of these humans is Robert Teach. 

In the beginning this book seemed very much like political commentary thinly disguised as science fiction. I mostly agree with the political leanings of the narrator though, so that didn't really bother me, and the feeling left fairly quickly as well. I mostly enjoyed this tale, although there were parts that I found incredibly frustrating, as I'm sure Robert Teach found them. The dynamics of relationships between men and women on Feletia still confuse me a little, as I assume they still confuse Robert. In that sense, the author did a great job of sticking me in Roberts shoes. 

There were a couple things in the story that really annoyed me, Robert's chauvinism, and the way the Feletians were always so cryptic. They spend so much time telling Robert that he needs to learn about Feletia, without ever telling him anything that he really needs to know. And since he doesn't know, we don't know. The Feletians may be protecting Earth, but I really don't like them in general. 

Overall, I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I always felt like I was truly in Robert's shoes and the characters are well developed and the conflict, while a bit out of this world, is right at home in science fiction. I would definitely recommend this book to any sci-fi fans out there. - Katie

The next three days were long and busy in the simulator.  As a command crew, we were efficiently melding together with everyone readily accepting my commands, except Sabrea.  She kept distracting me with subtle hints that I should stay on Feletia and learn how to be regent for Kamini.  She also seemed to have problems with new ideas for combat in the prototype, using its smaller size and light firepower as the basis for her arguments.  In some situations, I agreed with her, especially when we went head on against two or more Lyonians.
I worked Alaya hard at the helm to get her used to dancing the ship like a ballerina, as if something heavier than twenty Earth battleships could dance.  One thing was certain, I was happy with my ship because it could outmaneuver anything we were put up against, at least in the simulators.
Finally, the day came to get aboard my ship.  When I explained to Selene I would be away for a few days, the disappointment in her eyes was obvious, but she didn’t protest like I expected her to.  Instead, she took my hand when I went to find Kamini to let her know I was leaving.  It was my turn to be disappointed because she was nowhere to be found.  I hoped she would at least say goodbye, glare at me, or something.  Anything would’ve been better than what I was getting from the wife I hadn’t been allowed to touch since her confirmation.
I was glad to see Aphelia and Giselle just before I left the palace because I wasn’t sure how to release Selene’s grip on my hand.  Even with her mother’s encouragement, it was an effort to have her peacefully let go.  My heart went out to my unhappy little girlfriend when her mother held her.  Giselle escorted me to the shuttle that would take me to the construction dock on Feletia’s moon.  She said there would be many sleepless nights as she and Kamini monitored my progress from the Command Center.
Alaya piloted the shuttle to the moon base assembly docks, and I was awed to see a Concordance vessel up close, secured to the moon’s surface when we passed it in the shuttle, but my thoughts were only for the prototype—my ship.  Even though it was small, almost tiny by comparison to the Concordance vessel next to it, I was proud of it.  I wondered if Dad had the same feeling when he took command of his first ship.
When we docked, Sabrea was waiting and said, “Welcome aboard, captain.  Preparations for vessel departure are underway.  The evaluators are on board, and Lead Evaluator Sakea is waiting for you in the conference room.  She wants to speak to you immediately.”
“Thank you, commander.  Let’s walk around a bit.”
“The lead evaluator must not be kept waiting.”
“I often had people waiting for me when I was running my business on Earth because I was usually out getting dirty with everyone else.  The policy worked for me because it encouraged camaraderie and trust among my people.  I intend to follow that policy here.  And so will you.  Follow me.”
I spoke briefly with several of the evaluators, and offered encouragement to every crew member I could before we went to engineering.  In hindsight, it was an unnecessary mistake demonstrating my inexperience.
One of our engineers was a Calen named Shal, and she was the only one on board for which I am embarrassingly glad.  During training, we were introduced to some of the varied species we were allied with, including a Calen, who was operating the massive computer at the training facility.  Like all Calens, Shal looked like an inverted ice cream cone as she squatted in the center of engineering where she extended her ten tentacles from the bottom of her body, if you could call it that.  She saw with concealed eyestalks that were raised near the tips of her tentacles.  Shal was the greatest multitasker I’d ever met because her clarity of thought enabled her to operate several control panels simultaneously.  
When Sabrea introduced me to Shal by typing on an engineering panel, I heard a barely audible high-frequency shriek.  All ten of her eyestalks suddenly popped up and turned toward me.  Before I could react, she extended her tentacles, picked me up, and completely enveloped me against her.  I could’ve done without the hug.  When I was released and gently placed back on my feet, Sabrea was smiling.
“Commander, did you know that was going to happen?” I said.
“Calens respect their leaders, and that is how they express it.”
“So, you knew and didn’t tell me.  Whatever your personal communication policy was aboard other ships, it doesn’t apply here.  On this ship, you will keep me advised of such things.”
“I think she loves you,” George said, trying to hide his smile and himself behind Sabrea.
“Chief Grant, I am not amused.”
“No, sir.  Absolutely not, sir,” he said, struggling to keep a straight face.
“I want both of you in the control center, now.”
I barely heard another shriek and saw one of Shal’s tentacles next to my face with the eyestalk raised.  I looked at it and said, “Don’t even think about giving me a kiss.”
I left with the promise to myself that engineering was an area I’d leave to the engineers.
I ended the tour outside my cabin, which was situated just off the control center.  Like most of the ship, it was cramped, Spartan, and doubled as the conference room barely large enough for eight people to stand elbow to elbow.  Except for the two heavy-lift shuttles, the ship had no windows because it compromised hull integrity.  I wasn’t claustrophobic, but it did press my psyche a bit, and I was tempted to find a shuttle just to take a look outside.
“Captain Teach, you were to report to me immediately,” Sakea said when I walked in, not bothering to turn and see if it was me.
“My apologies, Sakea.  I was…”
“You will address me as Lead Evaluator Sakea.  I have earned my title.”
“As you wish,” I said as I sat down.  “I expect you and your team to do a fair job evaluating this ship.  Giselle and I have a lot of confidence…”
“First Counsel is her appropriate title.  You will use it,” Sakea said as she produced a large electronic pad from a pouch at her side and began tapping on it.
“I am developing a working relationship with Giselle that will allow us to…”
“First Counsel Giselle.  Use the title she has earned,” she said snappishly.
Are you related to Aleena, or did you take the same course in how to be a bitch? I thought.
“Are you aware I am going to become Kamini’s regent?” I said aloud.
“She is Ascendant Princess Kamini, and you are not the regent.” She shook her head, tapped on her pad, and said, “I foresee an unfortunate situation for all of Feletia within you.”
Her offhanded comment almost sent me flying across my desk until I realized she was baiting me, like I had done to Desaris.
Patience.  She could be testing me. I clenched my fists under the table.
“We’ll see.  Let’s get you in the control center and start evaluating,” I said as calmly as I could muster as I rose from my chair.
“We are not finished yet.”
“Yes, we are.”
“I have not dismissed you.”
I wheeled around the table, got in her face, and said, “I am the captain of this ship.  You do not dismiss me.  You are an evaluator of my crew’s performance.  Do your job and we’ll get along just fine.  Do we understand each other, Sakea?”
“For now,” she said, completely unintimidated, and began taping on her pad again.  “My team, as you put it, is evaluating the crew.  In accordance with my instructions from First Counsel Giselle, I will not be evaluating everyone in the Command Center.  I will be evaluating you and Chief Engineer Grant.  I have seen many would-be captains fail.  Impress me if you think you can, human.”
I wanted to strangle her.  Instead, I opened the door and said, “You can come out and evaluate whenever you’re ready.” I closed the door and locked it with my personal coded touch.
As I leisurely walked to the high back captain’s chair and rubbed my hand across it, I was very comfortable with my surroundings because the simulators had accurately depicted the prototype’s control center down to the smallest detail.  Everyone was seated at their stations around a circular table where the captain could see every action the command crew was performing, even through the spherical tactical display floating in the middle.
When I sat in my chair, Sabrea looked over her shoulder at the conference room door and said, “Captain, is there a problem with Lead Evaluator Sakea?”
“It’s nothing a good spanking wouldn’t fix,” I said.
I heard Chief Grant chuckle as he watched his engineering panel.
Everyone briefly looked toward muffled yelling and thumping from the conference room door.  When the communicator beeped, I said, “Don’t answer it.”
“Captain, did you lock the lead evaluator in the conference room?” Sabrea said.
Grant suddenly started coughing.
“Maybe. Why?”
“She needs to be out here.  This will lower our performance evaluation.”
“Don’t worry, Sabrea, she’s focused on me.  Chief, do you need to go to medical and have your cough looked at?” I said, remotely unlocking and opening the door from my control station.
“No, sir.  I’m fine,” he said, his face reflecting the mirth he couldn’t hide.
“Since you’re fine, prepare an observers jump seat for the lead evaluator.”
Sakea rapidly tapped away on her pad while she waited for the seat to be pulled up from under the floor.
The ship was ready, and I was becoming impatient waiting for Sakea to give her special approval before we could leave.  I considered the delay her way of exacting revenge for the locked door, but Feletians didn’t do such things.  Amend that to read normal Feletians, because I was certain Aleena was plotting something very nasty for me to deal with.  There was no need to be distracted by either of them right now.  I could play trivial pursuit some other time.
I was chomping at the bit as I sat and listened to reports as they came in from varied sources.  Except for Sakea’s delay, everything was proceeding as expected, so I kept an ear on operations, and batted around some ideas for a ship name.
On Earth, new ships are named before the plans are given to the shipyard, so I’d better make mine a good one.  It’s smaller than any other Feletian combat ship, so I could call it Raptor after the small but vicious dinosaur.  Maybe something grand like BroadswordViper has possibilities, considering no other ship has two main cannons, like fangs.
“Captain Teach.  You have my permission to depart,” Sakea said, interrupting my mental naming efforts.
“Thank you, Sakea,” I said.
“Lead Evaluator Sakea!” she said, tapping on her evaluation pad.
“Yes, ma’am.  Chief Grant, status.”
“All fusion cores are prime.  Power taps enabled.  Engine is online and standing by.”
“Tannase, sensors.”
“Operational.  Our long range external sensor pod has been launched and is online.  Several small vessels have cleared our immediate area.  The dock has launched a recording probe and is prepared to follow and monitor.”
“Big brother is watching.  Brocea, weapons,” I said.
“Shields and deflectors ready.  Cannons and torpedo launchers standing by for test firing.”
“Lilouh, communications.”
“Dock signals ready.  All maintenance personnel have reported clear of our area.  Command has approved our request for departure.”
“Alaya, helm status.”
“Moorings have released.  Thrusters ready to leave the surface.”
“Well done, everyone.  Our ship is brand new, so think about what you’re doing and let’s not lose any paint.  Commander Sabrea, would you care to take her out?” I said.
“It is the captain’s prerogative to order the first launch of a new vessel.”
“Waiting on you, Sabrea.  Show me if you have the magic,” I said, leaning back in my chair and folding my arms over my chest.
“Yes, captain.  Thrusters only until we clear the moon’s orbit.  When we are free to navigate, Standard by Two to the test range.”
Apparently, Sakea wasn’t happy with my style of leadership as she shook her head and tapped notes on her evaluation pad.
When we eased upward out of the dock, the power was palpable as it oozed through my chair.  One of the many lessons learned in the simulators was to develop a feel for a ship to understand what it is saying.  It was definitely talking to me because I almost had an orgasm right where I sat.  When Alaya accelerated, the ship gave me a satisfying kick in the pants, which shouldn’t have happened.  I looked at my chief engineer.
“I’m on it, captain.  It’s a minor adjustment to the inertia compensators,” Grant said, prompting Sakea to tap on her pad again.  “I’ve balanced the compensators, and they’re operating normally.”
“If that’s our only glitch, we’re going to have an excellent ship,” I said.
About an hour out of dock, I was still savoring the feel of the ship when Tannase said, “Captain, I have something unusual on sensors.”
“Full stop and hover.  Tannase, I need something better than unusual,” I said.
“An energy surge directly in front of us.  A vessel is preparing to exit a wormhole.”
In the transparent globe of the tactical display, we were in front of an intense light, like a small star illuminating us from the blackness of space.
“Alaya, back us up.  Commander, are we expecting visitors?”
“None I know of.  It may be one of our vessels coming home.  We will know when they signal a landing.”
I looked at Sakea, who was busy tapping away on her pad.
“Or it could be a surprise attack as part of our trials.  Whoever it is, let’s prepare a welcome.  Commander, battle stations if you please.”
“Captain, we are within Feletian space.  We should wait until we see who it is,” Sabrea said.
“Battle stations!”  I shouted.  “Shields to maximum.  Full angle on the deflectors.  Set cannons to full charge.  Load torpedoes.”  Klaxons sounded as crew and evaluators scrambled for special seating and quickly prepared the ship.
I thought we were ready for whatever came through the wormhole until we were dwarfed by a Lyonian cruiser coasting rapidly toward us as we stared down the gaping maw of its primary cannon.
“Cannons, fire!  Helm, over the top!”
A bone-jarring explosion jolted the ship.  With the speed of deploying airbags, automatic seat restraints slammed down on shoulders and curled under armpits.  Another snapped across everyone’s hips as we were thrown hard into the restraints when the ship rose into a twisting cartwheel.
“Cannons are down!”  Brocea shouted.
Sabrea was frantically stabbing her finger on the emergency jump control, but I was pressed hard into my restraints with my hands on my control panel, unintentionally pressing the override.
Alaya was quick to regain control of the ship, and we settled behind the Lyonian.
“Good job, Alaya.  Back us up.  Tannase, what am I looking at?” I said.
“Lyonian shields are not operating.  No thruster or engine activity.  I am reading explosions throughout their vessel.”
“Impossible.  We did not hit them that hard,” Sabrea said.
“Lilouh, get their captain on my monitor,” I said.
“Lyonian vessel, you are in Feletian space.  You are ordered to signal your intentions.”  There was no response as the ship slowly tumbled in front of us, a blowtorch-like flame jetting from its primary cannon.  “Lyonian vessel, you are ordered to respond.  Signal your intentions.”
I copied the communications panel onto my display and said, “Lyonian ship, this is Captain Teach.  Respond immediately, or we will kill you.”  There was still no response from the Lyonian ship, but I had the surprised attention of everyone else.  “Are we a safe distance from a core explosion?”
“Just barely, captain,” Tannase said.
“Increase reverse speed.  Maximum angle on the forward deflectors.  Brocea, target one torpedo…”
The Lyonian ship suddenly exploded in a brilliant flash, washing out the tactical display and turning it into a cloudy ball.  We were still reversing when the shock wave hit the deflectors and rattled the ship, but it was tiny bump compared to the impact when we fired our cannons.
“Tannase, anything on sensors?”
“Tactical stream from the external sensor pod disabled due to fusion flash.  Short range onboard sensors have not come back online.  We are blind, captain.”
“Full stop.  Chief Grant, damage?”
“No reports of a hull breach.  Internal heat damage to forward areas.  Cannons are down.  Power taps clamped when they disengaged from the firing core.”
“I need a window.  Where’s my reserve pod?” I said.
“It won’t launch.  I’m working on it,” Grant said.
“I am trying to tie in with the dock’s recording probe,” Tannase said.
“Get the sensors online immediately.  Get a repair team on those power taps and get my cannons back online.  Medical, this is the captain.”
“Reports still coming in, captain.  Nothing serious so far.  Mostly burns from forward areas and impact trauma.”
“Keep me informed.”
“We were lucky,” Sabrea mumbled.
“Alaya, hover here until the sensors are repaired.  Commander, a word in private at your convenience in the conference room.  Get these damned things off me,” I said, struggling to get free of the restraints that should’ve released immediately.
Sakea followed behind Sabrea as we entered.  When the door closed, I rounded on Sabrea, got in her face, and said, “Go for the jump button without an order from me again, and I’ll kick you so hard you’ll be wearing your ass for a hat.”
“I was following my orders,” she said with a surprised expression, taking a step back.
“Nowhere in our orders does it say to tuck tail and run from Lyonians.”
“You took an unnecessary risk by not jumping this vessel,” she said, almost defiantly recovering the distance between us.  “This is a new vessel, and as such, we do not know its full capabilities or any faults it has; the power taps and sensors are examples.”
“When the Lyonians entered Feletian space, they asked for a fight, and I don’t run from a fight.”  A beep from my desk interrupted me.  “What?”
Lilouh said, “Captain, priority message from Command.  We have been ordered to stop trials and return to dock for inspection and repairs.  A towing vessel has been dispatched from Feletia, and a Concordance vessel will be joining us as an escort.”
Tannase said, “Captain, the short range tactical display is online.  Sensors indicate there are no vessels within our immediate area.”
“Chief Grant, status of the firing core power taps,” I said.
“Power to the cannons has been temporarily rerouted from the primary core, and we have limited firing capability, but we can’t repair the firing core power taps.  We need to dock for a permanent rebuild of the new tap design.”
“Continue with repairs.  Alaya, best speed to Feletia.  Lilouh, inform Command of our status and tell them to cancel the escort and the tug.  Have the dock standing by with medical personnel.  The injured have top priority,” I said.
“Yes, captain.”
“It looks like you’ll have the opportunity to voice your opinion to Command sooner than you planned,” I said to Sabrea.
“You will report to Command.  Princess Kamini ordered me to report your actions to her after our trials ended,” she said.
Have you ever heard the phrase “swear like a sailor”?  Over the years, I’ve learned several choice words, and all of them were jostling for positions to escape in a vile stream.  Instead of cutting them loose, I almost ground my teeth to the gums keeping my tongue in check.
“Get out,” I growled through gritted teeth.  When Sabrea started through the door, a dawning realization of what I’d done began gnawing at me.  “Commander, how many were aboard that ship?”
“If it had a full crew, about five thousand-eight hundred.”
I looked at Sakea, who had turned into a statue with her finger poised above her evaluation pad.
“What in hell are you looking at?  Get out and evaluate!” I shouted, and she almost knocked Sabrea down getting through the doorway.
When the door closed behind them, I leaned on my desk, struggling with the churning mass of bile boiling in my stomach.  I called in every bit of logic I could think of to try and justify what I’d done; my duty to Feletia, the protection of Earth, conversations with grizzled war veterans at old folk homes where I performed court ordered community service.  Nothing worked.  It was one thing to say you’re going to kill someone, but to actually do it twisted my stomach into a tight, painful knot until it suddenly erupted as I fervently worshiped at what passed for the porcelain altar.
What was I thinking?  This is no game where you blast a few bad guys, then turn off the computer.  I’m tougher than this, I thought when I finished unloading everything back to yesterday’s breakfast.  I’m glad the walls were soundproof, relatively speaking.
When I recovered enough to be presentable, I went out the alternate entrance of my cabin on my way to the infirmary.  I was gratified to see our first combat encounter came with few serious injuries.  The burns were a mystery when forward areas of the ship got raging hot, and most of the impact trauma came from the automatic restraints.  It was a known problem when the restraints suddenly grabbed you, but it was better than being body slammed against the ceiling.  I didn’t mention to the doctors that my shoulders and hips were aching from being thrown into my own restraints.  I’d suffered worse after a good fight, so I’d just walk it off like I’d done so many times before.
When we docked, Sabrea and I were ordered to report to Princess Kamini.  I sent Sabrea on her way while I made certain the injured were attended to.  Then Chief Grant and I inspected the internal damage.  During our inspection, I couldn’t help thinking of the fifty-eight hundred Lyonians who died at my hands.  I was distracted as I kept rewinding the fight in my head, trying to find a better solution to what I had done.
Was Sabrea right?  Feletians have no problems running away when they have to, and I wouldn’t have been criticized if I had.  I’d better get hubris under control before anyone else gets hurt.
“Captain, are you alright?” George said.
“Yeah, I was just thinking.”
“Are you going to answer the control center?”
I went to a panel and pressed the comm button.  “This is the captain.”
“Captain, Princess Kamini has ordered you to return to Feletia immediately,” Lilouh said.
“Tell her I’m on my way.  Chief, will you coordinate repairs with the dock until I get back?”
“Yes, captain.”
On my arrival at the landing area, Kamini, Aphelia, Sabrea, and Sakea were waiting.  I could tell Sabrea had already reported to Kamini, who was standing with her fists on her hips, her eyes mere slits on her face.
“What?  No laurels for your victorious warrior?”  I said when I stopped in front of her.
Kamini reared back and slapped me so hard it almost spun my head off—not quite the praise I was expecting.  I’d been slapped before, but damn, the whole side of my face felt like it caved in.  When I could see through the whirling stars, Aphelia and Sabrea looked as surprised and stunned as I was, but Sakea wore a smirk I would’ve enjoyed wiping off her face.
“Still angry about the confirmation?” I said.
“Do not dare to keep me waiting again.  You will come when I call for you, and do what you are told.  Go to the Command Center.  Giselle is expecting you,” Kamini ordered.
As I walked to a transport, Ronaried said, “You should have learned more about our women.”

Author Bio

Kenneth R. Hart

Having been born on December 24 created an important life lesson; choose wisely, the best gifts are not always large, or heavy.  Armed with a high school diploma, I followed a family tradition of military service, and despite Army tours in Vietnam and Iraq, I continued to pursue my favorite activity of reading science fiction.  Being retired, I have more time to pursue reading, and now writing which I hope never to tire of.

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