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About Kal Spriggs
Kal Spriggs is a writer of science fiction and fantasy stories with over 30 books in print. An avid reader, he started reading J.R.R. Tolkien, Andre Norton, David Eddings, and Robert Heinlein in the 2nd grade and a love of reading and good stories has been constant with him ever since.
Kal is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He followed in his parents' footsteps and joined the US Army after graduation and served as an active-duty engineer officer, a reservist, and as an active reservist. He is a combat veteran with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Kal has a master’s degree in environmental engineering and has worked in civil construction and environmental remediation.
His enjoyment for seeing new places has been facilitated by his career choices, and he's been to over thirty countries. Kal likes hiking, fishing, and skiing, and his favorite places are typically in the mountains of Colorado. His other hobbies include wargaming, tabletop RPGs (both as a DM and player), metalworking, and just about anything else that takes his interest.
A father and husband, Kal and his family live wherever the Army tells him to (he doesn't often get much choice in the matter) but he thinks of Colorado as home.
His website with more information, details on upcoming books, other random things can be found at kalspriggs.com
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Jiden's parents barely scrape out a living on the dry, dusty world of Century. Jiden wants more for herself and she is ready to step into a bright future, one which may lead her far from the frontier world of her birth. She has no dreams of following in the footsteps of her military family’s heritage, no desire to live a life of hardship.
She’s just got one obstacle in the path to her dreams: five months of military school. She’ll be away from her friends, subjected to long hours and a crushing work load. She’ll learn to shoot, to fight… and how to kill.
Jiden will need every skill she’s learned, because her family’s enemies have put her in their sights. She’s going to have to rise to the challenges in order to survive. She soon learns that her dreams might not be as good as she imagined. With her life on the line, Jiden will need to fall back on the skills she learned and prove that she’s a child of valor.
Jiden Armstrong has gone up against pirates, smugglers, traitors, and murderers but she has never faced anything like this.
Her homeworld of Century is looking down the barrel of a gun and the people behind it have not hesitated to kill, manipulate, and destroy.
To save Century, Jiden will have to build alliances with people she's never met. She will need to fight battles both in the depths of space and face to face. There is a war coming, one where entire fleets, entire worlds, may burn. In that war, Jiden's family and friends, the Militia she has come to love, could be corrupted or destroyed. That war may well just be the prelude to something far worse.
To save her world, Jiden will have to dig deep, to find the things that truly matter to her. She will have to understand pieces about herself, to understand why it is that she fights. Because valor is in her blood and she doesn't know how to quit, doesn't know when to stop... and that may be all that saves not just Century, but all of humanity.
It’s the Twenty-Second Century. Humanity has taken its first steps into the galaxy, and we’ve found ourselves in a vast playground of alien races, environments, and cultures. As the newest players on the universal stage, though, our position is readily apparent—we’re at the bottom of the food chain.
Welcome back to the Four Horsemen universe, where only a willingness to fight and die for money separates Humans from the majority of the other races. While some of the stories inside deal with mercenaries, others introduce readers to the other guilds, organizations, and races that make up the landscape of the Four Horsemen universe, as well as providing additional insight into the characters of the mainline novels. What’s it like to be a medic on the beach or to learn how to kill from a mother not your own? Come find out!
Edited by bestselling authors and universe creators Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy, “The Good, the Bad, and the Merc” includes sixteen all-new stories in the Four Horsemen universe by a variety of bestselling authors—and some you may not have heard of…yet. In a galaxy this big, you’ll find that some of the races are good and others are bad, but only the best are mercs!
Inside you’ll find:
Foreword by David Drake
Argonaut by Kal Spriggs
Shell Game by Terry Mixon
The Last Dragon by Terry Maggert
Hero of Styx by T. Allen Diaz
The Beach by Philip Wohlrab
Velut Luna by Christopher L. Smith
Keep the Home Fires Burning by Jason Cordova
Vvremya by Mark Wandrey
The Last Guardsman by Stephanie Osborn
Unto the Last–Stand Fast by Robert E. Hampson
The Demon of Ki-A by Eric S. Brown
Under the Skin by Marisa Wolf
Inked by Mark Wandrey
Angels and Aliens by Jon R. Osborne
Life by Chris Kennedy
Lessons by Kacey Ezell
Want to keep up with the Four Horsemen universe? Visit Chris Kennedy Publishing and subscribe to the mailing list!
Jiden Armstrong has seen death and destruction, visited upon people around her. She has spent the past three years attending the Century Military Academy in the hopes that she can protect her people. Now, though, she has lost those most dear to her. Worst of all, the people who did it were coming after Jiden.
She's going to have to rebuild her life. Jiden will have to fall back on her friends and her family to recover. She's going to have to find a new reason to live and come to terms with her losses... and her enemies haven't given up. To them, Jiden Armstrong is another pawn in the game... one that is inconveniently placed. They're going to keep coming after her so long as she stands in their way and if Jiden can't stop them, then the people paying the cost of Jiden's valor may well be those closest to her.
Jiden's life at the Century Military Academy is forever changed when she is asked to volunteer for a special program. They want to implant her and other cadets with a special, prototype neural computer. It will make them smarter, more capable, and able to split their attention between dozens of activities. Her friends jump at the opportunity... but Jiden isn't so certain.
She sees it as her duty to volunteer. Despite all of her doubts, it's a duty she owes to her world and to her friends. But as things begin to go wrong, as her life is put in danger once again, Jiden quickly realizes that she may have shouldered a duty that she can't bear. The implants might be driving her fellow cadets violently insane... and Jiden may be next.
She will need to muster every ounce of courage, every bit of intelligence, in order to save her friends. Even then, her own survival might be too much to ask. But Jiden doesn't know how to back down, and she'll do her duty no matter the cost
I've lived the past two years of my life on the ragged edge. Kidnapped by pirates, my family murdered, I've lived as a prisoner and escaped only to fight for my life on the streets. I've lied, I've cheated, I've stolen, and I've even killed to survive.
And now I'm at the center of my enemies' most exclusive military institute, hidden under a stolen identity. I've managed to earn the trust and support of a small group of allies, and maybe, just maybe, I can use that to get back home.
But if I do that, I'll probably get them killed. Even worse, someone has set them in the crosshairs of a plot that puts millions, maybe billions, of lives on the line. I can't walk away, I can't abandon them, not when the only advantage they have is me, a hidden dagger poised to strike at the Heart of Drakkus.
Jiden made the decision to join the Century Military Academy after her attempt at a normal school ended in disaster. She's embraced this new chapter in her life and she's ready to do her best.
But this new start isn't all that she expected. Her relationships with her friends have changed since she's been away, her classes are harder than she expected, and things aren't quite what they seem. Jiden learns that she made enemies when she chose to return to the Academy, and those enemies will settle for nothing less than her death.
Jiden is going to have to dig deep, she's going to have to fight with everything she has, not just to succeed, but to stay alive. Jiden isn't afraid of the challenge, because the military life isn't just a simple decision, it's her calling in life.
He's lost his ship and most of his crew, he's been accused of being an enemy agent, and the woman he has come to love has been officially declared dead. He's a man with nothing left to lose... which is why he's about to do the unthinkable. His plan is simple: steal a prototype warship, assemble a crew, and hunt down the man behind all this: Marius Giovanni.
To do that, he's going to have to find a place whose location is shrouded in mystery. It's a star system that has been erased from the star charts, a star system of ancient alien ruins, rumored to be haunted and cursed, and a place where death and misery befalls all who venture there. Forrest will have to go to the Ghost Star.
Where better to bring the woman he loves back from the dead?
Ten years ago, after her parents were killed in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother. Since then she's been captaining a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she's made the right decision.
But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that. Or take part in a mission to stop an ancient, and until-now forgotten, robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old task of destroying a planet, killing millions.
Lieutenant Alannis Giovanni has proven herself in battle, but now she has to face a far more personal threat. Her ex-husband, Reese, plans to activate an alien superweapon located at the Temple of Light that could devastate entire star systems and Alannis is the only one who can stop him.
She and the crew of the UCS Constellation will have to fight off Reese's other pursuers, infiltrate pirate bastions, and defeat aliens bent upon the destruction of humanity in an effort to stop Reese from activating the superweapon.
It's a dangerous mission, one where a single misstep could not only doom entire star systems, but embroil the United Colonies in a multiway war. Yet Alannis has little choice. She has to stop her ex-husband no matter the cost.
It's a race to the Temple of Light, and whoever gets there first will have the power to destroy worlds.
Melanie Armstrong has prevented an AI warship from destroying a planet, but she and her friends made many enemies along the way. Unless they can disappear, those enemies will come for them, backed by a computer program, Odin's Eye, which will find them wherever they manage to hide.
Yet not everyone is happy with the abilities that Odin's Eye gives to the government. They're willing to pay Mel and her friends to do the impossible: to slip into a maximum security facility on a corporate-run planet and make certain that no one has the power to know everything.
It's the equivalent of taking on a god, but Mel and her friends have one advantage: for now, no-one knows they still live. Mel is banking on that fact... and the hope that the eye of a god can't see them coming.
Alannis Giovanni has followed in her family's footsteps and joined the United Colonies Fleet. As a bare Ensign, she's been assigned to the Fleet's newest, most powerful cruiser, the Constellation, on it's maiden voyage: a simple show-the-flag mission that should be good for her to learn what it is to be an officer.
But things are never simple. At their most distant port, they come across allies in need. The Ghornath species are in search of their origins and an array of enemies are trying to stop them. The crew of the Constellation will have to face pirates, aliens, and uncover a ten thousand-year-old secret in order not just to save their allies, but to thwart a threat that might well catch the rest of the Fleet off-guard.
These battles will test Alannis, force her to grow and become the officer that her position and blood demand of her... yet the greatest threat may be one she is the least prepared to face.