Flash Fiction Friday 018 – Cave Diving

The ship sailed low over the ground, its oraculum glowing faintly against the barren earth.

“You sure this is the right way? Thought the next farm was….nevermind. There it is,” Liam said as he adjusted course and allowed the vessel to drift towards the the gaping maw in the landscape. Once they were alongside it, Liam dropped anchor and turned towards Henri.

“Now remember lad, this place is still being seeded. Air’s gonna be a little thin. You start getting light headed, you come back.” Henri started to climb from the ship and down the ladder when Liam’s hand caught his shoulder. “One more thing. The oraculum can make some strange things when its getting started. You hear a skitter, you come back. We’re terraformers, not soldiers.”

“Yeah, yeah.. I got it pops,” Henri replied. Old timers always thinking just cause he was new, he was dumb.

As Henri descended the robe ladder and past the safety of wood and rune and into a world of stone and dark, he felt his breath catch. The change from the ship’s air to planet still got to him, even after all the training. Slowly, he started to climb down the maw and into telhe earth. Veins of green glow told him that the oraculum was settling in nicely to the area as they dove deep into the planet. According to his lessons, this area would be ready for a colony in six months and well on its way to self sufficient life.

Henri found a ledge about fifty meters down and settled himself on it for a little break. The walls of the cave were damp with dew, another good sign. On one end of the ledge, the glowing vein seemed to disappear around a bend. Rising to his feet, Henri followed the vein into a tunnel. He had to crutch as his fingers traced the element deeper into the bowels of the planet and he lost track of how long he had been following it.

Suddenly, he seemed to step into a vast cave. Oraculum veins and ore glittered silently above him like rainbow constellations. All about him, dark entrances and exits yawned their darkened mouths. He stood in the middle of the room transfixed, spinning ever so slowly as he took it all in when his ears caught the sound of skittering along one of the walls.

He stopped dead in his tracks. His heart pounded as he strained against the darkness. The skittering drew closer. It was accompanied by a low level keening that seemed to throb through the stone floors.

Henri ran towards on open mouth in the wall, following the faint green glow. The sounds of his heavy breaths and heavier pounding of feet drowned out the any sounds of pursuit. Several desperate minutes past before he slowed down. There didn’t seem to be a chase, but the vein he had followed also ended a few meters in front of him. Darkness loomed before him as he realized he chose the wrong tunnel. Frantically, he started to back track.

Up above, Liam leaned back and waited. After an hour, he noticed a small bundle under an empty bench that contained Henri’s guideline. He swore softly at both Henri failing to take it and his forgetting to check. They weren’t expected back for several hours, so Liam waited, hoping the rookie would find his way back. When his recall time came, Liam sighed and tossed the guideline into the maw. Raising anchor, he set sail for base. This was dangerous work and the empire had plenty of bodies.

Book Reviews – The Target Practice Mysteries by Nikki Haverstock

Books: Death at the Summit

Death at the Trade Show

Death Indoors

Death in the Casino

Death from Abroad

Author: Nikki Haverstock

Genre: Mystery

Series: Target Practice Mysteries

So I enjoyed Death on the Range so much, I pretty much burned through the rest of the Target Practice Mysteries in like two days…ok maybe one. Just like Death on the Range, these books are all pretty easy reads. Nothing took more than a few hours to get through, so it is great for traveling or a lazy afternoon.

Di is back at it as murders continue to follow her at a wet notable event that she goes to. And just what is a woman to do when that happens? Why grab her best friend Mary and her Great Dane Moo and find the killer of course.

Each of these books focus on a single murder at some large event. I’m not going to lie, it did start to seem a little incredible after book 3. All six books take place within a year of each other. Six books and six murders, four of which happen in the middle of nowhere Wyoming within a year. Thankfully, the author, Nikki Haverstock, is self aware as well as her characters. They do know that life is not supposed to work like this.

The murder investigations were still fun as Di, Mary, and Moo look for the killers. The first few books are hard to call a mystery. Perhaps I read them too fast, but there were not many clues to help solve the case, and the killer just kind of outs themselves in the last chapter due to a misunderstanding. By Death Indoors, Nikki definitely hit her writing stride, though. Clues were planted, motivations were there, and killers were caught instead of blurting out they did it.

Honestly, I don’t know of the first three books were written that way by design or not. Di stumbles through the first few investigations as someone with no experience would. The more she learns, the better her investigations get. This lets me give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Ultimately, though, these books should be read for the characters. They are fun and entertaining, and they carry the stories. Fair warning, the romances are the weakest character moments as one feels rushed, out of nowhere, and full of convienance. Minor spoiler but not really: Of course Di, the main character, would fall for the son of the CEO.

That may play into one of the major casting choices for this series, however. All of the main characters, except for love interests, are women. The bosses are all women. Women run this story. So is it possible that Di’s love for the CEO’s son is a reflection of the male fantasy of falling for the king’s daughter? Maybe, maybe not. I kind of doubt that much thought went into the decision, but if you choose to read it that way, great.

All in all, this series is great. The characters are entertaining, the stories are fun, and the pages just keep turning. As before, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you have no excuse not to read these books. I give the series as a whole the rating of Iron Stash (4/5).

Book Reviews – Death on the Range by Nikki Haverstock

Book: Death on the Range

Part of a series: Yes, book 1

Genre: Mystery

Amazon Author’s Page

I just finished up Death on the Range by Nikki Haverstock today. Ladies and gents, that is a fun book.

The story follows Di, a 30 something woman who moves from her tech job in Cali to help at an archery training facility in Wyoming. The center is getting ready to open to the public and are hosting a coaches training class when the unthinkable happens. One of the class members is killed. Now Di and her roommate have to figure out who did the deed with the help of their giant mutt Moo.

Like I said, this is a fun little story. It is not a complicated read, the mystery is confined to a single location, and there are few characters. The characters feel pretty real though. The simplicity of the story doesn’t take away from the humor and a few surprising moments of real emotionality.

Fair warning, the ending is slightly disappointing and there were one or two moments that needed a little reworking. Don’t let that stop you though. Everything else is good.

If you are looking for a light, fun read, check this book out. I finished it in a few hours, so it is a good travel book or whenever you want to spend a lazy afternoon with fun women. I give it an iron stash rating (4/5) and look forward to reading more of her works.