Get QUICK-KILL on pre-release for only $0.99/£0.99

QUICK-KILL is back from the editors and despite the heavy pages of red ink and exclamation marks, my new novella is ready on Amazon pre-launch!

PRE-ORDER QUICK_KILL NOW for the release price of $0.99/£0.99
and equivalent prices for wherever you are in the world – Free on Kindle Unlimited

Quick-Kill will be delivered wirelessly to your chosen Kindle device on 7th March 2017.

An assassin should never get caught…

On the backwater, patriarchal planet of Plenty, self-styled assassin and man-hater, Quick-Kill, executes small-time criminal, Rollo Barla, in what should have been a straightforward kill—one of the many she had built her reputation upon.

But soon afterwards, Quick-Kill learns that the contract on Rollo was ordered by the Cabal—a loose network of galactic criminals, and that they, and the equally shady Galactic Secret Service, were now trying to chase her down.

Quick-Kill must stay one step ahead if she is to survive.

Quick-Kill and the Galactic Secret Service

 

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My 17 minute blog

Hahaha! So here I am, writing more nonsense on my blog thing.

Blog updates are just too time-consuming.

All about thinking about what I should write—drinking tea, typing something, getting worried that it’s pretentious bollocks, deleting, drinking more tea, wondering if I should go down the pub, while commiserating with my stomach that our combined health issues mean we can’t ingest bacon and egg and brown sauce sandwiches with the regularity that we deserve.

So this time, I’m just gonna write the thing and get it over and done with.

What is this blog about?

I’m annoyed. Really annoyed. I did a shitload of writing last year and all I published was a single short story.

Bugger.

That’s just not good enough. So, in response to that, I’m gonna publish loads of stuff this year.

Of course I am. There’s no reason to think otherwise.

So here’s  what’s definitely happening this year. Definitely.

Vatic 2

Vatic is already on his way to solve another fucked up space mystery… Hoorah!

Your favourite Skilled is trapped on a berserk spaceship and in a mean, mean mood about it, so don’t get in his way!

Blue into the Moon

Aaaaargh! That’s just how I feel about it at the moment. But it’s damn near done.

I just need some undisturbed thinking time and tinkering and it’ll be away to the editors.

The main problem though, is that I can’t draw spaceships and the cover needs a spaceship.

A big one.

So what does Blue get up to? Well, he goes to the Moon for starters.

There’s murder, a Tourney and an asteroid made out of sapphire.

But the big thing is his first kiss!

Yeah. It’s all happening to Blue in Phase two of cadet training.

Quick-Kill and the Galactic Secret Service

Fast-paced action all the way.

Quick-Kill and the Galactic Secret ServiceI bashed out a synopsis – it’s not quite finished, so some tweaking needed. Here it is:

An assassin should never get caught…

On the backwater, patriarchal planet of Plenty, self-styled assassin and man-hater, Quick-Kill, executes small-time criminal, Rollo Barla, in what should have been a straightforward kill—one of the many she had built her reputation upon.

But soon afterwards, Quick-Kill learns that the contract on Rollo was ordered by the Cabal—a loose network of galactic criminals, and that they, and the equally shady Galactic Secret Service, were now trying to chase her down.

Quick-Kill must stay one step ahead if she is to survive.

Available on 7th March 2017. Pre-order it here.

Chronicle Worlds: Drifting Isle

My first foray in steampunk. An anthology set in the Drifting Isle world.

My story is of course a mystery! What else could it be? Very noirish. Called: Murder, Lies and No Goodbyes.

No release date for this just yet. But I’ll let you all know when I know.

And I suppose that is that.

End Bit

So, it’s 17 mins since starting and I’ve already finished.

Magic!

I’ve got this blog thing sussed… now for that bacon and egg and brown sauce sandwich 🙂

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Deadly January

I’m having a bit of a January low. Not depressed or anything – just low energy. And I’m bored with editing Blue Into The Moon – which means I’m gonna miss my April launch window.

So in the spirit of ‘fuck that’ I’ve instead been writing a short – 10-12k words – about an assassin who goes to work for the galactic government or something.

Not sure where it’s going yet or the title, but, as I like to do things arse over tit, I’ve designed the cover first.

It’s amazing what I can do with a few crayons. Haha.

The title may or may not change.

What dy’all think of the name? I want it to be kinda naff but not too naff.

Is it a keeper or not?

Leave your thoughts here or join my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mostlykevheritage/

Here it is…

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ROGUE ONE – Too Many Whys

MAJOR SPOILERS! This is not some rant at a Star Wars movie. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and always will be. I really wanted to like Rogue One, but, for me, it was a confused mess that made little sense throughout. The problem? Too many whys.

I’ve now seen it again, hoping that my first viewing was just an off day or something. But if anything, I liked it even less.

Characters I didn’t get/like

None of the main characters jelled with me as they did in The Force Awakens.

Rogue One just didn’t work at the character level.

Unlike Rey and Finn, I got no sense of ‘who Jyn was’. She seemed a very flat character who I never got a handle on. Which was problematic as the story arc involves her influencing hard-nosed soldiers to follow her.

And as for Cassian? He lacked depth, charm and believability. Nearly everything he did was odds with who he was supposed to be—a calloused field agent.

And why didn’t Cassias pull the trigger to kill Jyn’s father, Galen Erso?

If he was this hard-nosed assassin type, he’d have no trouble following orders like this in the field.

And, importantly, there was no preceding scene to cement a relationship between Cassian and Jyn to prevent him pulling the trigger.

Jyn and Cassia - no sparks
No sparks here

Both characters were not portrayed deeply enough to justify their lead roles.

The ‘relationship’ between the two didn’t have time to blossom. Things simply moved too rapidly from one event to the next.

Also, why didn’t Jyn kill Director Orson Krennic when she had the chance on the tower?

Krennic killed Jyn’s mother and forced her father to create weapons of mass destruction.

Yet she allows Cassius to stop her doing this.

Just why would Cassian stop her?

He’s supposed to be a cold-blooded killer (we saw that in his first scene), so there’s no reason why he’d miss an opportunity to kill such a high-ranking member of the enemy.

Deep Impact - Tsunami Wave - Rogue One
Deep Impact – hold on tight Jyn

Why is Cassian indestructible?

He should have died during his epic fall inside the tower. His head hit the metal beams.

He must’ve had broken bones or at least broken ribs, but he bounces back as if nothing’s happened.

Why?

Because I think he was supposed to die and they brought him back for the different ending with Tea Leoni  and her father waiting to die on the beach, as they did in the movie, Deep Impact.

A lot has been written about the inclusion of ‘Asian characters’ in Rogue One.

I have no problem with racial types, aliens, women, homosexuality or gay, bright blue, furry xenomorphs in fiction, movies or any media.

Humans, like aliens, are fucking diverse. I love all that stuff.

But the Asian characters seemed to be added just for ‘effect’.

Chirrut Imre was dressed in Asian style. And was an ‘Asian style mystical type’.

Why make that generic choice?

We are in A Galaxy far far Away. It was just so lazy a choice for him. His character and his mate were a really disappointing duo.

As for the rest of the ‘band’?

There were too many characters and not enough time spent with them to get a handle on who they were… and more importantly, to actually care about them.

Also, Jyn’s mother? What was her motivation in taking out the gun to threaten Krennic?

Why did she do this?

I thought she must have some plan… but no. Nothing.

Did she want to get herself killed and leave Jyn parentless? It sure seemed like it.

A dumb move that I didn’t understand.

And I hate Mexican standoffs. Generic nonsense that infests nearly every movie and TV show.

The Stormtroopers/guards would have shot her dead where she stood.

Let’s move on to Saw Gerrera. A total waste of Forest Whitaker.

He was only there to excite the fanboys, not to further the plot. And what happened to his blue eyes?

Other cameos were awkwardly tacked on.

I found myself sighing at all these sad ‘nods’ to other characters. E.g. C-3PO and R2-D2 shoehorned in for fan service.

The movie didn’t need them.

They reminded me I was watching a film, and it jarred.

Characters I liked

K-2SO was the one character I loved. A wonderful change from the other Star Wars—a droid who can shoot! Bringing both humor and some great action to the film.

To be honest, K-2SO was the best thing in it.

Overall there was a lack of comedy—integral to get us liking and caring about the main players.

Grand Moff Tarkin was excellent. What a shame we didn’t get more from him. Although he wasn’t that wonderfully rendered. But neither was Leia for that matter.

 Galen Erso hologram
Convenient cheese…

I also liked Jyn’s dad, Galen Erso, although his holo-speech monologue was both rushed and too convenient.

Plot

Plots don’t always have to make sense if the characters are strong enough to carry the story.

But without believable, interesting characters, the plot holes shine through like bright fucking lights.

What I liked was:

The explanation for the exhaust ports on the Death Star.

The Jeddha explosion and the other planet explosions.

It picked up near the end with the Rebel spaceships. It was like Star Wars arrived with their ships.

But the things that jarred were:

The whole first act didn’t feel like Star Wars but more like some Homeland Baghdad episode.

A giant octopus that can send you mad, got one scene.

Why?

The guy who was ‘sent mad’, was only mad for a little bit.

The Empire keeping all their stuff on a single disk (no backup procedures? Haha).

The TV dish on the top of the tower…

Doc Brown - Back To The Future
Been done before and better

The silly master switch.

The ‘Doc Brown wire that is too short’ sequence. I’ve seen it before in Back To The Future.

It was great in that movie. Here it’s just an embarrassing, cringe-worthy repeat.

The rebels assaulting the tower wearing WWII styled helmets reminiscent of US troops in the  Pacific—again, hardly A Galaxy Far Far Away.

Too many storm troopers being shot and blown up that it became tedious.

The final couple of scenes were something taken from Star Wars Battlefront and again, tacked on.

And Darth Vader didn’t look or sound like himself—he didn’t connect with me as being ‘real Darth Vader’.

Why?

Darth Vader
Just too bad ass!

Because the Darth Vader we see at the end of Rogue One is not the Darth Vader we meet in A New Hope. In Rogue One he’s all fucking lightsabre badass. Killing rebs all over the place.

A scene for the fanboys.

He takes on an army all by himself without even breaking a sweat. He’s nothing like the Vader we meet in the next movie. It jarred with me so completely as to ruin his ‘return’.

Just utter fanboy nonsense—like the manic Yoda fighting Count Dooku in the prequels.

And I don’t understand the need to fill in every single gap of the pre-A New Hope narrative.

Last bits

I’m the kinda guy who loves to watch Star Wars movies over and over—but not so much the prequels.

I’ve watched the original trilogy hundreds of times, particularly The Empire Strikes Back.

After watching The Force Awakens, I saw it at the cinema as many times as I could.

I only watched Rogue One a second time because I hadn’t seen what everyone else had and I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t missed something.

If I’d seen this before Force Awakens, I’d probably have been a lot happier with it. But it was a confused movie that failed to develop its main characters.

I was hoping it would find its feet, yet it never did.

I’ve read reviews where they say this is a ‘more dark’ Star Wars.

To my way of thinking, The Force Awakens was very dark. Han Solo killed by his son dark. Good vs Fucking Evil dark.

All the greys of Rogue One added up to a grey film. I wanted to be transported away from my life and taken somewhere fucking amazing and special—like a good Star wars movie should do. But Rogue One wanted to remind me of the Middle-east, the Second World and Star Wars Battlefront.

All these things just added up to keep me from suspending my disbelief. Lots of jarring moments where I was asking ‘why’?

So, what to end on?

Despite all the hope and the hype, the movie isn’t that great. Remove the Star Wars universe and the tiresome fanboy bits and no one would be talking about this three star (just) film at all.

Sorry, but it is what it is… *braces for flack!*

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Vatic – HALF-PRICE all week on Amazon KIndle

Vatic

Just a little note to let you know Vatic is… HALF-PRICE  on Amazon Kindle all this week!

Enjoy!

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

VATIC – “an action-packed burn of a read” –  a science-fiction
mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

ORDER NOW!

Amazon Kindle: US | UK
Paperback: US | UK

Author Endorsements

Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”
-Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author

“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles

“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

OTHER AMAZON REGIONS

Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IS
Amazon JP
Amazon BR
Amazon MX

VATIC_FINAL-PULL-Quotes_Flattened2

REVIEWS

If you’ve already read Vatic or any of my novels or stories and enjoyed them, you would be doing me a great favour by leaving a rating or review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

Reviews are like gold-dust to indie authors like myself. A good review can really help during those bleaker times when stuck in the middle of one of my mysteries, wondering if I’ll ever find a way out! I really do appreciate them. They can make a lot of difference.

Thank you for your support!

All the very best,

Kev

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Thanks for all your great Vatic reviews!

Vatic

All 5-star reviews now included in Kindle and print versions 🙂

“…a thoroughly enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys both science fiction and murder mysteries…a fast-paced, well-written, original and intelligent story.” -BillieO

“Heritage does a great job creating a setting and characters that are distinct and relatable. Then the twists come, fast and furious… a real “who-done-it.” -Rev Gurley

“A truly awe-inspiring story…Vatic was a great character to base this book on and he thoroughly had me from beginning to end… Kudos to the author for writing such a wonderful story.” –Dionne Washington

“…an immensely entertaining story. Fast-paced doesn’t adequately describe it.” –Michelle Zeplin

“I absolutely loved this fast paced, intriguing, suspenseful, Science-Fiction, Futuristic novel… This un-put-down-able book will have you reading late into the night… a tale of espionage to rival many greats in this particular genre… great descriptives, intelligent plots and suspense to keep you enthralled, you certainly won’t be disappointed.” –Renee Spyrou

“A good fast read that will keep you on edge guessing!” -lcsdr60

 “…the pace and intrigues are such that putting the book down becomes secondary to finding out what happens next!…From the intelligent, complex and likely half mad character that is Vatic, to a plot steeped with plenty of tradition.” -Mark Rossiter

“Starts at a frenetic pace and the action doesn’t really let up…a well written whodunnit set in space.” –Amazon Customer

“This is a great read. I am not normally a sci-fi fan but Kev Heritage has put it all together. It is exciting…with unique characters and enough space dust to track but not reveal the clues.” -Denis E. McGrath

“…kept me captivated all the way through! The main character, Vatic, is wonderfully complex and his abilities are definitely cool.” -Madam Ediotte

“…ingeniously thought out, with convincing characterisation and some wonderful touches of detail, brought in deftly enough not to slow down a taut and gripping narrative.” -Makepeace McEvoy

“You won’t put it down until you know the truth!” -Kay Boyle Smith

“You are a willing captive, unable to relinquish control until the very end of the journey… and then you want to relive the experience.” -Selena Orseau

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

VATIC – “an action-packed burn of a read” –  a science-fiction
mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

ORDER NOW!

Amazon Kindle: US | UK
Paperback: US | UK

Author Endorsements

Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”
-Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author

“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles

“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

OTHER AMAZON REGIONS

Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IS
Amazon JP
Amazon BR
Amazon MX

VATIC_FINAL-PULL-Quotes_Flattened2

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VATIC is finally here! Get your copy for only $0.99/£0.99

Vatic - a flat out burn of a readIt’s finally here! Vatic has arrived. And I can go and have a long-earned lie down!

For an introductory time only, VATIC is on sale for $0.99/£0.99 (& equivalent for your region.) before it reverts to $4.99/£2.99.

US http://amzn.to/1POUWZM
UK http://amzn.to/1WcaxI5

Yep, a full novel for just a quid! And FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I’d love you to pop over to Amazon and download a copy. I’m not expecting super-chart success, but I’m keen to give it the best chance it can get in a competitive market. If you could do that today or before the offer ends I would be most grateful.

I would also appreciate if you could give the novel a push on your social media – Twitter, Facebook, etc. Any mention would be fantastic. Can you use my name and @KevHeritage (Facebook and Twitter will then alert me) and I promise to retweet, etc. It’s up to you. Here are a few links to my social stuff:

Website: http://kevheritage.com
Vatic page: http://www.kevheritage.com/vatic/
Twitter: @KevHeritage
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KevHeritageAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KevHeritage
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KevHeritage/

If you want to interview me to write something for blog or newsletter, just drop me a line. The release offer lasts until close of play Friday 11th Dec.

Finally, if you have been given a review copy (in return for an honest review), it would really help to get the review posted on Amazon in the next few days—if possible. But if it takes longer, no worries.

And that, ladies and germs, is that.

All the very best!

Cheers,

Kev

MORE LINKS

Print (available to buy):
Amazon US http://amzn.to/1POUWZM
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1NumeSP
Signed copies available on request

http://www.amazon.de/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.fr/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.es/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.it/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.nl/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.co.jp/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.ca/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.br/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.mx/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.au/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/

VATIC – an action-packed burn of a read –  a science-fiction mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is a something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”Vatic - by Kev Heritage -Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author
 
“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.”
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles
 
“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

He is unceremoniously dumped at the Company’s most prestigious labs, where he meets the ‘best-of-the-best’—scientists at the pinnacle of their profession—and the pompous and annoying facility Director, Anton Frederix.

Vatic is not welcomed with open arms—the over-indulged base experts try to hinder his investigation rather than give him the help he requires. But Vatic is not the type to give up easily, especially when his life depends on it.

And just what is the mystery surrounding the black flowers found in the vast hydroponics domes, the alien mould cultivated by the lab’s Director, and the base-wide system failure threatening everyone’s lives? If Vatic knows one thing, it’s that he’s the guy to solve this, no matter how complicated or messed up it may be.

With time running out, Vatic must use all of his genetically modified wits to survive. And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

 

Read More

Updated Cover – print version


So here it is, the updated cover for the print version of VATIC, complete with some lovely quotes from bestselling authors: Michael Bunker, Kate Danley, Samuel Peralta and Peter Cawdron.

VATIC_FINAL-PULL-Quotes_Flattened2

Amazon Kindle Launch December 6th!!!!!

VATIC is now available on pre-sale at Amazon for only $0.99/£0.99

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

VATIC - a sci-fi mystery by Kev Heritage http://kevheritage.comVATIC

“Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is a something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”
-Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author
 
“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.”
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles
 
“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

He is unceremoniously dumped at the Company’s most prestigious labs, where he meets the ‘best-of-the-best’—scientists at the pinnacle of their profession—and the pompous and annoying facility Director, Anton Frederix.

Vatic is not welcomed with open arms—the over-indulged base experts try to hinder his investigation rather than give him the help he requires. But Vatic is not the type to give up easily, especially when his life depends on it.

And just what is the mystery surrounding the black flowers found in the vast hydroponics domes, the alien mould cultivated by the lab’s Director, and the base-wide system failure threatening everyone’s lives? If Vatic knows one thing, it’s that he’s the guy to solve this, no matter how complicated or messed up it may be.

With time running out, Vatic must use all of his genetically modified wits to survive. And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

 

Read More

Try a taste of VATIC!

 BLOG-vatic-InnerPAIN LIKE I’ve never felt before. Agony. Shuddering through me in wave after wave. I’m trapped under a great weight, unable to open my eyes, unable to move. Cold and shivering—frozen to the core. My legs and arms are twisted into tight knots, as if I’m rolled up into a ball, yet I’m lying flat, pushed down onto a hard, uneven surface stabbing into my back and spine.

I’m underwater—surrounded by a thick cloying liquid. Despite the freezing cold, my chest burns with a desperate need for oxygen. The sensation turns into a raging fire. My mouth bursts open and, like a dam riven by a series of underwater explosions, I’m coughing one lungful of fluid after another. The sound is muffled, distant—unconnected.

The crushing weight disappears, my face is uncovered and I snatch at the air, hacking and gasping. The cold recedes from my limbs, replaced by a slow warmth crawling through me with the sluggish thud, thud, thud of my heart. And with the pounding beat comes more agony. Every capillary in my skin stings like hot acid. Muscles pulling against one other, dragging my joints apart. Tearing and snapping.

Something yanks at my head. My eyelids peel open. I see nothing more than vague blurs. I don’t care—my ears are full of a lunatic’s screams. A dreadful, screeching sound. With shock, I realise the screams are coming from my own throat. I try to close my mouth, yet the pain is too much. I scream again.

“For fuck’s sake, shut him up!” The voice comes from everywhere and nowhere. A man. Gruff, unfeeling and urgent.

Another voice, by my ear. Female, strained and under pressure: “This will help.”

A needle jabs me in the crease of my arm, releasing a heavy, soporific liquid that sprays into my heart and lurches down my arteries. Staunching the fire. Soothing my agonies. I relax, receding into a hypnotic haze.

I must’ve been in an accident—an accident I have no memory of. Everything is lost, even who I am. Only one image comes to me: I see a cheap hotel room with a viewing balcony. Stars hide behind a smoke-coloured fog, twinkling at me. Inside, stands a bed, the bedclothes tossed onto the floor. A black and white picture of a reclining woman with red lips is hung above. Sounds come from the bathroom. A female voice calling to me. And one other thing. I’m carrying a gun. I shake my head, trying to rid myself of the scene. I need to get away, to run—another needle stabs me in the neck and the memory fades.

“How is he?” asks the gruff voice.

“He’ll live, if that’s what you mean,” the woman snaps back. “He was lucky. The Company writes in a ten percent wastage clause on all their hypersleep transports. The carriers see that as carte blanche to rid themselves of one-tenth of their passenger list just to save a few nutrients. His was one of the pods they switched off.”

“And he’s still alive?”

“Unbelievable, but we know what he is.”

“So we did the creep a favour… shit.”

“He’s in a pretty bad way. Half starved. Nearly dead.”

“That doesn’t concern me. How long before you can get him on his feet?”

“A day or two. Three at the most.”

“You’ve got thirty minutes. I want him up and alert.”

The woman’s voice is full of consternation. “Thirty minutes? But that means—”

“I’m not gonna tell you twice.”

 

SOMETIME LATER, I’m sitting on the edge of a bunk in a small windowless chamber. It’s functional, lacking any character. This must be the Medical Bay. The name is far grander than the actual room, which contains nothing more than a few cabinets and a sterilisation alcove. A couple of framed anatomical diagrams—reproductions—try to give the chamber a degree of gravitas, but fail miserably. Off-white paint peels from sagging metal walls held together by massive rivets and bolts. A single harsh light washes out all colour—not that there is any. A background hum suffuses the sound, almost like it’s not there—a Matter Engine. I’m on a ship of some sort.

My mouth feels like a squad of shock-troops have used it for a toilet and my head is a screaming buzz gun, yet I’m over the worst of it.

A trolley full of syringes sits by my bunk, attended by the second voice: a worried looking woman in her late thirties. Ginger hair, dappled with the first hints of grey and out of condition from the recycled atmosphere, is pulled back from her face in a tight bun. Her skin is dry—flakes litter her forehead and cheeks. Large green eyes, slightly too wide apart, occasionally flick in my direction. Checking up on me, caring in a professional way. She’d be a looker given half a chance. Petite hands hold a flickering wafer from which red lights flash, bathing her features in crimson—like she’s blushing. She wears a lab coat over a functional uniform. A crescent on her shoulder tells me she’s a Medic. The woman says nothing, just grunts and curses. She’s under duress, although I admire her manner. With a nod, she puts the wafer down and chooses the next syringe, the next shot.

I take the jab. This time deep into my neck. I feel the fluids enter me, can track them through my body. I can’t tell what they’re doing, yet the deep ache inhabiting my limbs reduces to a more acceptable level.

The Medic goes for another syringe.

I sit and watch, shivering and sweating—thin arms wrapped around myself like a child. Long, shaggy black hair encircles my shoulders and an immense beard tickles my chest. My legs shock me—nothing but skin and bone. I don’t yet know who I am, but I remember my physicality. I’m not tall, though I’ve always taken care of myself. This body is starved. A pale imitation of what I once was. I feel genuine sadness at the loss.

And then a word: Hypersleep. I’ve been in hibernation. The word sparks other memories. The Colonies.

“I’ve pushed everything on a bit,” says the Medic. “You may get the odd headache, but you should be starting to remember.”

I stare at her. “Hibernation?” The simple effort of speaking tightens my throat and I start coughing again.

The barest of nods, her lips pressing together in a muted frown. “I brought you out fast and hard. Sorry for the rough ride. Orders.” Her voice is typical of her profession. Curt and informative, yet softer than I expected. I sense anger and bitterness. She’s been forced into this.

Finally, the dreadful hacking ceases. “Where the hell am I?”

“The Company. Where else?”

Thoughts race into my mind: anger, resentment and loathing. I can’t remember who I am, but I know this organisation inside and out.  “I hate the damn Company.”

Her head tilts to one side, the frown turning into a grin. “Yeah, we all do. Lean back.” The Medic pushes me down with a surprisingly strong hand. “You’d better hold still for this. The procedure isn’t as bad as you may think.”

I flatten myself on the hard bunk.

“Stare forward. First your left, then your right eye.” She stands over me and brings up a syringe.

I grab her wrist. “Not in a million years!”

If she’s scared, she doesn’t show it. “You wanna go blind?” Her voice is as perfunctory as it ever has been.

“Don’t ask me stupid questions.”

“I’ve two grunts outside who will be more than happy to come and hold you down, or you can man-up and take your medicine. Your choice?”

The threat isn’t an empty one—I believe she will do what she says, although her green eyes remind me this isn’t her decision. The curt redhead isn’t deliberately trying to hurt me. I let her go.

I don’t feel anything as the needle enters my pupil. A quick squirt and she moves to the other eye. A stab of pain and a burst of mist that clears almost instantly.

“You dealt better with the procedure than I could. Then again… you’re Skilled.”

The word is full of emphasis.

“There,” she says. “You’re done. Mostly.”

I sit back up, blinded by my rough shock of untended hair. “I need a haircut.”

The Medic’s face comes to sudden life. “You sure do.”

Creases appear around her lips. I sense she doesn’t smile often—she seems almost embarrassed. It’s now I notice the Triple Bar. Three horizontal lines sitting under the red crescent on her shoulder. “You’re a Patron?” The Triple Bar is just about the highest rank in the medical profession.

“You’re wondering why someone so highly qualified is stuck on a dumb ship like this? Mine is a long story. I won’t bore you with it. You don’t have the time. But it’s because of me that we were ordered to pick you up. No one else was qualified to pull you out of Hypersleep.”

I look around me. “You got anything to drink?”

“You’ve been given plenty of fluids, so you shouldn’t be feeling thirsty.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

Metal rasping on metal and a man enters. I haven’t seen him before, yet I recognise him. The first voice. It has to be. A thug resplendent in the light beige of the Company—the colours of all its personnel. An off-white typifying the organisation’s true nature: faded, impure and stained. His rows of medal-braid are also worn, yet there is nothing pale about the man. Bearlike and animal, his hands like sledgehammers—full of power and purpose. A bastard with Company written all over him. I resent him before he speaks a single word. The Medic says nothing, although she shares my dislike. I feel the emotion stabbing out of her in a wave of loathing.

“I see you’re starting to remember,” the man says, his voice sharp like vinegar spat into the eyes. “I’m Strategist Stranng.” He turns his attention to the Medic, his cheeks bulging with angry authority. “How is he?”

The redhead stares at her superior for a few moments. “Ready,” she says. “Took a rough ride, but he handled the procedure.”

The Strategist flicks a look of hatred in my direction. “It’s his type. Can he handle the brief?”

A nod from the Medic. “His memories are still returning. But he’s almost the real deal.”

Stranng produces a wafer and passes it to me.

At first, I ignore him. Not wanting to look.

“Read the damn thing!” Stranng barks. “It’s also your log for the mission. Data-tested and secure. Don’t lose it.”

I take the handheld off him. The wafer is as big as my hand. A screen from which my face floats in 3D. I know the photo is of me. I just do. Thick black hair, a grizzled chin, intense blue eyes staring back. Staring into me. High cheekbones and wide, pursed lips like some digivid of any half good-looking, thirty-something wannabee. I keep going back to those eyes. My eyes. There’s something odd about them. Like I’m wired. Above this disturbing visage: one word: Vatic. The name scythes through me, releasing memories like the scatter of so many stun-gun pellets.

“I’m Vatic,” I say, the croak of my voice less hollow, less painful.

“Yeah. That’s you, all right. One of the Skilled. One of the Chosen—not that I’m a religious man. Far from it.”

I try to give the wafer back to Stranng.

He thrusts out his lower jaw and sneers. “You deaf? The handheld is yours for the duration of the mission. Preloaded with everything you’ll need to know. Or have you forgotten what you are?”

I want to speak again, but can only croak.

“And what on earth were you doing on a colony ship?” he barks, his grey eyes bright and challenging.

The question jars. “I… I wanted to start a plantation,” I finally manage to spit out. “Away from all this shit.” The statement sounds outlandish to my ears. A farmer is the polar-opposite of what I think I am. Yet, I remember the planet Jason. A place of opportunity, of plenty and… escape. Or so the datavids lied. “I have land waiting for me.”

A snort. “Well get this, it turns out that until you put your feet on that poisonous dust-ball you were heading for, you’re still owned by the Company. And it seems they have a job for you.” He turned again to the Medic. “Kit him out in a skinsuit and bring him to the airlock.” Stranng spins around and leaves the room.

I brush the hair away from my face. “Airlock?”

The redhead’s green eyes narrow slightly. “There’s been a death.”

 

THE MEDIC pushes me through the ship, followed by two CPs—Company Policemen. Tight corridors stinking of sweat and piss. Gunmetal painted white. The floor is worn from the passing of many feet and stained with splashes of spilled coffee and space knows what other fluids. We walk past ship personnel. Nervous eyes dart at me—frightened eyes, worried. My attention is elsewhere—I’m trying to remember who and what I am. I wear a simple head-to-foot skinsuit tightly embracing my emaciated frame. Only my face is visible. My long hair and beard, still untrimmed, are tucked inside a tight hood. I feel safe, protected. But it’s more than that—the skinsuit hugs my body in a familiar way.

Hydraulic doors clang shut and hiss open until I arrive at the cargo airlock. A dimly lit square of a room full of discarded equipment. Why have they brought me here?

Stranng arrives. The CPs salute, the Medic a moment behind them. She’s purposely slow—disrespectful—and I’m liking her attitude. Stranng assesses the assembled bodies, taking the required number of seconds that authority dictates, and begins to speak. His eyes sparkling in the relative gloom as if powered by his own inner purpose. “Some scientist has wound up dead at one of the Company’s secret laboratories,” the Strategist says matter-of-factly, as if giving a briefing.

And then I realise… that’s exactly what he’s doing.

“Probably suicide,” he continues. “Almost certainly.” A shrug of muscled shoulders. “Not my call. The Company wants someone Skilled to go investigate—they’ve chosen you.”

That word again. Skilled. I still have no idea what it means. I can’t remember everything yet, although I feel a deep-seated resentment for the Company. “I won’t do it,” I croak through chapped lips.

“You think you’ve got a choice?” Stranng nods to the Medic. “Tell him.”

I’ve no idea why a Patron with a Triple Bar is stuck on this ship with brutes like this, but it can’t be a picnic.

“You’ve got six hours, give or take,” she says. “Six hours before your organs start giving up. You may last a further hour, if you’re lucky.”

“What the hell is this?”

Stranng smirks. “An added incentive to get the job done.”

The Medic continues. “The drugs I gave you, coupled with the accelerated process to bring you out of hypersleep, filled your system with toxins. Not even you can handle that amount of poison without a full blood scrub. I’m sorry.”

Stranng puts his face in front of mine. “A scrub we’re withholding until you do what you’re told to do… Unnerstand?”

I repeat the Medic’s words in my head. Even you can’t handle that. There’s something about me. Something special. And I’ve got six hours to find out what that is. Six hours to do this dumb job. “I’m an investigator?”

A nod from Stranng. “Of a sort.” His mouth curls into a winner’s smile. “If it was up to me, I’d have left you to rot in the hold of your colony ship. Only losers and fools trust the cargo-traffickers—you must have had quite some angle. Judging by the state of you, whatever it was backfired. And now you’re here. Working for the Company again.” The smile turns into a sneer of disgust. “And I thought we’d got rid of your type of scum a long time ago.”

“He’s not scum,” says the Medic. “No matter what he’s done, he’s not that.”

It’s obvious Stranng is not used to being talked to in this way, but he says nothing. Somehow his silence is more threatening than a tirade.

The two-note of the intercom and an efficient voice: “We are now in geo-synchronous orbit above the Karst asteroid, Strategist. We have a two-minute window.”

Stranng’s sneer infects his whole face. “This ship is needed elsewhere, and we’re late. I’ll come back when we get the call from the Company—and not before. You’re to meet with Director Anton Frederix, the stiff who runs the Zeta-Karst Laboratories. He’ll brief you on the situation.”

“Are they coming to pick me up?”

“Not as such. You’re gonna have to find your own way there. You’re about to take a little spacewalk. It’s not far… just head for the nearest rock. That shouldn’t be too hard for someone of your talent.” He thrusts a facemask into my hands and stands back.

“Find my own way? I don’t get it…”

“You’ve got six hours to solve this to the Company’s satisfaction. Personally, I hope to never see you again.

And with that, the inner hatch opens and I’m pushed into the airlock, the door clanging shut behind me.

“What about my air!” I shout. “I’ve got no air!”

Stranng’s face relaxes. He stares at me through the thick glass of the observation window, his eyes glittering as he hits the release button with a punch of his hand.

I have time enough to take a deep breath and attach my facemask before the outer hatch slides aside and I’m ejected into space.

Launch December 6th!!!!!

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VATIC - a sci-fi mystery by Kev Heritage http://kevheritage.comVATIC

“Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is a something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”
-Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author
 
“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.”
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles
 
“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

He is unceremoniously dumped at the Company’s most prestigious labs, where he meets the ‘best-of-the-best’—scientists at the pinnacle of their profession—and the pompous and annoying facility Director, Anton Frederix.

Vatic is not welcomed with open arms—the over-indulged base experts try to hinder his investigation rather than give him the help he requires. But Vatic is not the type to give up easily, especially when his life depends on it.

And just what is the mystery surrounding the black flowers found in the vast hydroponics domes, the alien mould cultivated by the lab’s Director, and the base-wide system failure threatening everyone’s lives? If Vatic knows one thing, it’s that he’s the guy to solve this, no matter how complicated or messed up it may be.

With time running out, Vatic must use all of his genetically modified wits to survive. And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

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