I am excited to feature Dark Minds, the third book in Michelle Diener’s Class 5 Series. The preceding books, Dark Horse and Dark Deeds, were both outstanding scifi romance reads and recently, Dark Horse won the Prism Award. When Dark Horse was merely a finalist, Michelle and her book were featured here at Whiskey With My Book.
I’ll be reading and reviewing Dark Minds soon, but I see no reason to wait to bring this book to your attention today! Michelle has provide us with an excerpt and something fun…..
About DARK MINDS:
The mind is the most powerful weapon of all . . .
Imogen Peters knows she’s a pawn. She’s been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.
Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he’d be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she’s not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.
Imogen knows she’s out of her depth in this crazy mind game played out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she’s good at mind games. She’s been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…
The change in mood on board the runner slowly forced Imogen Peters to come back to herself. The small crew’s tension wound around her like a choking vine, tightening until she couldn’t ignore it any more.
She was becoming more withdrawn as the days passed or she would have noticed the quicker movements, the sharper focus in the ten-person team much sooner.
She lifted her hands from where they rested on her knees, thumb and forefinger together, and stretched out legs that had been in the lotus position for . . . she didn’t know how long.
Her escape into her own head seemed to run on its own clock. Sometimes she lost track of time all together, her days punctuated only by meals.
Now, the usual easy routine she was familiar with was gone.
Three of her guards were donning body armor and checking shockgun settings and she stared in disbelief. Could they have finally reached their destination?
Because they didn’t have anywhere else to put her, they kept her in a corner of the staff lounge and it gave her a view of most of the bridge and the massive screen on its far wall. All she could see now was the darkness of space, just like she had for the last two weeks, except when they’d first got underway, and she’d watched the planet Balco fall away behind them.
“Are we there yet?” she asked, unable to help the faint smile that came with her words, but Fri, her usual guard, wasn’t even looking at her.
Lieutenant Baq walked toward them, shoving his shockgun into a thigh holster as he came.
“Get suited up,” he said to Fri. “We’ll need everyone armed.”
“Are we landing?” Imogen directed her question to Baq this time.
He shook his head, too distracted to respond, but before Fri moved away, Imogen reached out and grabbed his jacket.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
He jerked free. “Krik,” he said.
Imogen stared after him as he moved toward the far wall to grab some body armor.
She’d had plenty of cryptic words to decipher in the last three months, and she was pretty sure whoever or whatever the Krik were, it wasn’t good.
From the corner of her eye, she caught movement on the large screen, and turned to stare at a large vessel inching its way across their bow.
The crew reacted as if the bogeyman had just jumped out from under the bed, wielding an ax.
They readied themselves for a confrontation, voices raised, until all other sounds faded and their movements seemed to be set to the jerky soundtrack of her heartbeat.
They’d been crammed on top of each other, in what was surely meant to be a short-range, day tripper vessel, for fourteen long days, and Imogen knew every single crew member.
Their fear scratched at her, looking for purchase, and she tried to shake it off.
The enemy of my enemy and all that.
Only, as a counter to that piece of wisdom, there was also better the devil you know. She was caught between two overused idiomatic expressions.
She turned her attention to the captain, trying to work out what he was calling to his team, the Tecran he was using faster than she was used to and full of abbreviations and military codes she didn’t know.
Fri caught her eye, his hands holding his helmet over his head, the feathery protrusions on his neck sticking up in alarm. The look he gave her was one of seething resentment and then he pushed the helmet down, and she saw nothing except a black, glossy reflection of herself sitting on the long couch that was her prison cell.
It was like a slap.
She had managed to convince herself that Fri liked her.
Maybe he did. But it seemed he also now blamed her for his being here, in a tiny vessel without Tecran military support and the Krik approaching.
Which was unfair in so many ways, but then, as she’d learned in the last two months, life wasn’t fair. The less time you spent whining about it, the better off you were.
She hadn’t whined.
She’d learned Tecran on the handheld they’d given her instead.
Her guards had been surprised when she’d said her first, stumbling words in Tecran. Uncomfortable, even. Because she’d been kept in a cage in a massive storage room of exotic animals from all corners of the galaxy at the time, and her speaking and making sense drew the whole exercise into a darker place.
Slowly, though, they’d become proud of her progress, spending time talking to her every day, teaching her the swear words and rude idioms and expressions the handheld did not. She’d become their clever pet.
And to be honest, her French teacher would have been astonished, too, at how quickly she’d become fluent.
Imogen hadn’t been one of her best students, but then, Mrs. Ventor had not taught French the way Imogen’s handheld had taught her Tecran. It used ways of learning Imogen hadn’t encountered before, ways that she found easy and interesting, and as a teacher herself, she’d been fascinated by.
Or maybe her progress was a life and death thing.
Because understanding what was being said around her might save her life. Even if it was just making herself the cute mascot that they’d find hard to kill if ever given the order.
She’d learned Grihan, too, but quietly, when she was alone in the menagerie hidden deep underground on the planet Balco, with only the other animals for company.
The Grih seemed to be all her guards talked about when they spoke among themselves, and it had been a happy discovery when she’d found that Grihan was one of the five languages on her handheld.
The Tecran were worried about the Grih, and there was that whole enemy of my enemy thing again.
It couldn’t hurt, she’d reasoned, to be able to communicate with your enemy’s nemeses, should you encounter them.
But she’d never even heard of the Krik.
Lieutenant Baq passed Fri as he finished checking his shockgun, and said something to him about her——she saw it in the way both their gazes cut across the room to where she sat.
Fri gave a nod, walked over.
“Please tell me what’s going on. Who are the Krik?”
“Pirates.” Fri’s voice was slightly disembodied from behind the helmet. “Tecran High Command has an agreement with them that they leave us alone, but they aren’t responding to us, they just keep coming.” He bent and suddenly she knew exactly what he was doing.
“The force field?” She stared at him as he lifted his head briefly and then back down to the panel at his feet as he punched in a code.
The force field that had been installed around the couch she was sitting on powered up and encircled her. Impenetrable. Deadly.
“We need all hands, no one can guard you, so this will keep you safe from them.” Fri made the explanation with a shrug of his shoulders.
When she’d first been marched out of the facility on Balco into this small vessel, the force field had been activated immediately. But it had an irritating hum, and it chewed power, apparently, and really where was she going to go? There were only two main rooms, plus the sleeping quarters. And she was outnumbered ten to one.
After about twelve hours, they’d turned it off and never touched it again.
“You think they’re going to attack?” Imogen asked.
Fri lifted his hands up as he turned back to the bridge. “It’s what the Krik do.”
If you’re interested in the music of the Class 5 series, Michelle has put together a page (http://www.michellediener.com/music-class-5-series/) with links to all the songs Rose, Fiona and Imogen sing in the books.
Find out about all books in the Class 5 series:
Series order: http://www.michellediener.com/series
Dark Horse: http://www.michellediener.com/books/dark-horse/
Dark Deeds: http://www.michellediener.com/books/dark-deeds/
Dark Minds: http://www.michellediener.com/books/dark-minds/
Buy Links for the Series
About the Author
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Having worked in publishing and IT, she’s now very happy crafting new worlds and interesting characters and wondering which part of the world she can travel to next.
Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.