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Serengeti by J.B. Rockwell - Book Tour + Giveaway

By 7:00 AM , , , , ,

by J.B. Rockwell
SciFi Adventure

It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution
Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel
decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti—a Valkyrie
class warship with a sentient AI brain—on her own; wrecked and
abandoned in an empty expanse of space. 

On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She
herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into
space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the
cryogenically frozen crew inside. 

Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti's bones clean.

Her engines dead, her guns long silenced, Serengeti and her last two
robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew
trapped inside her.

**On sale for .99 from Sept 4th- 9th**

Serengeti 2:
Dark and Stars

Fifty-three years Serengeti drifted, dreaming in the depths of space. Fifty-three
years of patient waiting before her Valkyrie Sisters arrive to
retrieve her from the dark. A bittersweet homecoming follows, the
Fleet Serengeti once knew now in shambles, its admiral, Cerberus,
gone missing, leaving Brutus in charge. Brutus who’s subsumed the
Fleet, ignoring his duty to the Meridian Alliance to pursue a
vendetta against the Dark Star Revolution.

The Valkyries have a plan to stop him—depose Brutus and restore the
Fleet’s purpose—and that plan involves Serengeti. Depends on
Serengeti turning her guns against her own.

Because the Fleet can no longer be trusted. With Brutus in charge, it’s
just Serengeti and her Sisters, and whatever reinforcements they can

A top-to-bottom refit restores Serengeti to service, and after a rushed
reunion with Henricksen and her surviving crew, she takes off for the
stars. For Faraday—a prison station—to stage a jailbreak, and
free the hundreds of Meridian Alliance AIs wrongfully imprisoned in
its Vault. From there to the Pandoran Cloud and a rendezvous with her
Valkyrie Sisters. To retrieve a fleet of rebel ships stashed away

One last battle, one last showdown with Brutus and his Dreadnoughts and
it all ends. A civil war—one half of the Meridian Alliance Fleet
turned against the other, with the very future of the Meridian
Alliance hanging in the balance.

Dark and Stars Excerpt


Cold slid around her body. The icy cold of deep space, tickling at her flanks. The pitter-patter of stardust tumbling along the long length of Serengeti’s hull.
Best feeling in the universe, being a starship on the move. And that dream of cold infinitely preferable to the visions of fire and death. The memories of destruction lurking deep inside her AI mind. She reveled in that feeling, hiding deep, deep down in the darkness. Opened her eyes and looked upon the stars all around her, slipping silently by the cameras sprinkled up and down her hull.
Moving stars—that confused her. Stars never moved, only her perspective on them. Stars gliding by meant she herself must be moving. And that made no sense at all.
Last she checked, her engines were dead as a doornail. Silenced decades ago. But those stars out there said differently, and the stars never lied.
A check of her systems showed propulsion offline—main engines, hyperspace drives, everything inside Serengeti’s battered body just as she remembered. Burnt out and broken. Ragged remains of a once proud warship.
Her confusion deepening, Serengeti abandoned the stars to hunt her internal spaces, making the rounds of the cameras mounted in her corridors and compartments before settling into just one—her favorite, looking down on the bridge.
Someone waited there for her. A robot, standing all alone in the shattered bridge’s gloom.
“Tig,” she breathed, drawing a bit of power, activating the pin lights in the ceiling, circling the bridge’s rounded space.
Reckless expenditure, that, considering her one functioning fuel cell showed barely a third full. But she wanted to see him. Yearned to look upon Tig’s chromed face.
The robot blinked in the sudden brightness, face lights ticking across its too-shiny cheeks. Head lifting, cobalt blue eyes wide and round—oversized and glowing, reflecting off the metal of his chromed face—locking onto the camera set high up on the wall.
Not Tig after all, she thought, studying the robot’s face.
A TIG without doubt—same rounded head and ovoid body, same jointed, spidering legs—but not Tig. Definitely not her loyal, little Tig.
Too clean, she thought, looking him over.
No dents and scrapes on this robot’s body. None of the wear and tear Tig had picked up along the way. She zoomed in tight, focusing the camera on the robot’s designation. The letters and numbers stenciled in black as pitch paint on his side.
A query showed no 996 in her records.
Not mine. Definitely not one of mine.
So how the hell did it get on board?
“Who are you?” Serengeti demanded, frost in her voice. “Where did you come from? Where’s Tig?” she asked belatedly, because he should be here. Tig was always here to greet her when she woke from the dark.
“TIG-442 is in the engine room where he belongs.”
Calm voice issuing from the speaker the robot used as a mouth. Calm as still water, and infinitely serene. Infinitely AI.
The robot stared at the camera, cobalt lights ticking up and down its face. “As for me…” The ticking stopped, face lights drawing together in a line. A line that curved, becoming a lopsided smile. “Has it been that long, Serengeti, that you’ve already forgotten your Sister?”
A touch came, intimate and familiar, tickling at Serengeti’s mind. A touch she knew, a voice she knew, laughter she hadn’t heard in a long, long time.
Sechura,” Serengeti breathed across the cold silence of the bridge.
The TIG’s head bowed, front legs spreading wide. “In the flesh,” she said, fondness in her voice. “Well, the metal anyway.” She laughed again and blanked one cobalt eye, offering a wink to the camera.
“You’re here. You’re really here,” Serengeti whispered, hardly daring to believe it. Decades she’d drifted—broken, sleeping, wondering if she’d drift forever—and now, finally, a Valkyrie appeared. One of her own Sisters come to retrieve Serengeti from the dark. “How?” she asked. “Why? Why have you come to me this way?”
“What? The robot?” Sechura glanced down at the TIG’s joint-legged body. Flicked a leg in dismissal as the robot’s eyes returned to the camera. “Comms are shredded. How else was I supposed to talk to you?”
The smile turned cheeky. Mischievous and sly.
That was Sechura. She just couldn’t help herself. Enjoyed life too much to be serious all the time.
“My crew?” Serengeti asked. “Are they—Did they—?”
“Safe, Sister,” Sechura assured her.
Serengeti laughed shakily, filled with relief. “Where are they?”
The smile dimmed. Sechura sobered. “With me. They’re safe with me.”
“Where? Where are you? Where am I, for that matter?” she asked, because after all this time, she still didn’t know. Navigation destroyed, all her star charts hidden away. “I’m moving, Sechura.”
Sechura nodded slowly, pin lights sparking off the TIG’s chromed face.
“How?” Serengeti asked her. “How am I moving? What’s happened? What’s—?”
“Peace!” Sechura laughed, raising the robot’s front legs. “Peace, Sister. One question at a time.”
One question? She had a million questions. One hardly seemed fair.
“The TIG,” she said, choosing that one. “How did it get here? Where are you, Sister?”
“That’s two questions,” Sechura noted. “But I like you, so I’ll allow it.” The smile widened, Cheshire cat grin stretching right across the TIG’s face. “Go outside.” She pointed a jointed leg at the camera, at the ceiling above the robot’s head. “See for yourself.”
Serengeti sighed in annoyance. She’d been outside, and found more questions than answers. And with just that one working fuel cell—less than a third charged now, the tiniest of tiny reservoirs of power—she could hardly afford to waste her time faffing about.
“Go,” Sechura repeated, making a shooing gesture with the robot’s leg. “Scoot.”
A last look at the robot and Serengeti abandoned the bridge, working her way back to the hull. Flipped from one outward-facing camera to another until she spotted a twinkling shape just off her bow.
A ship.
Valkyrie, by the look of it. Sechura, if she had to guess.
Five other Valkyries clustered around her, sleek-sided shapes sparkling in the starlight, sailing in tight formation with Serengeti herself in tow.
She watched them a while, wishing she could speak to them. Touch at them mind to mind. From a distance, they looked perfect. Beautiful. Untouched by the ravages of war.
Oh, my Sisters. Oh, how I’ve missed you.
“How does it work?” she asked, dropping back to the bridge, camera lighting on the TIG’s form. “The towing, I mean. I didn’t see any cables or anything, so how are you pulling me along?”
Sechura chuckled softly. “Pretty sneaky, eh? Atacama came up with it. The wake from our engines creates an overlapping subspace interference pattern that drags you along behind us.”
She smiled proudly, but the grin soon faded, cobalt lights dimming in the TIG’s shining metal face. Sechura was quiet a moment, face lights ticking rhythmically, seeming to think something over.
Atacama…She still feels bad about leaving you, you know. We all do.” She ducked the robot’s head, chromed cheeks flushing. “We waited for you on the other side after…Brutus ordered the fleet home, but we stayed. We hoped…” She trailed off, shrugging uncomfortably, leg-end drawing patterns on the decking. “We looked for you, Serengeti. We looked for you for a long time.”
“I know.” Serengeti reached for her, touching electric fingertips to the TIG’s face. “It’s not your fault, Sechura. Nor Atacama’s either. I risked the jump to hyperspace because staying where I was meant death. I thought—I thought my engines would hold together.” Another touch, passing information. Sharing that horrible moment when Serengeti tumbled out of the hyperspace trough. “Got that wrong, didn’t I?” She replayed the snippet of video, feeling surprisingly bitter after all these years. “Jump drives failed, ejecting me from hyperspace prematurely. Bit of a miracle you found me, really, considering you were searching blind across light years of space.”
Like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A Henricksenism. One Serengeti particularly liked.
Sechura flushed, cobalt eyes staring at the deck plates, leg-end sketching looping figure eights on the floor. “We didn’t, actually.” She snuck a look at the camera. “You found us, Serengeti. Or your crew did, anyway.”
Serengeti stared a moment, not quite understanding. “My crew? You mean the lifeboat?”
Sechura nodded and turned in a circle, surveying the damaged bridge. “No comms. No engines. No navigation or star charts. So you shoot that escape pod out into space—blind as a bat, crew frozen inside—and let it make its way back to us.” She laughed appreciatively, looking back at the camera, shaking the robot’s head. “You always were resourceful, Serengeti.
“You have no idea, Sister,” she whispered, earning herself a strange look. “How long?” she repeated, pretending she didn’t see it. The questions shining in the TIG’s cobalt eyes. “How long since…since…?”
“Since the battle where Seychelles died?”
Seychelles. Sister ship. The name hurt still. The memories even more.
“Long, Sister,” Sechura said faintly.
Fifty-three years according to Serengeti’s chron. She stared at that number, not wanting to believe it, but the chron never lied. The chron and the stars and Tig, her faithful companion. They were her anchors. Her constants through the long years of abandonment.
Sechura turned away from the windows, rolling close to Serengeti’s camera, the TIG’s head tilting, face lights quiescent now. Nothing but those glowing eyes staring outward from its metal face. “I thought…” she began, and then broke off, looking away. “I’d given up hope, Serengeti.” Soft voice. Quiet and apologetic. “I thought—We thought we’d lost you forever. And then…” A shrug of robotic shoulders, metal legs bending and flexing, ovoid body bobbing up and down.
“I’m sure Brutus was overjoyed when you told him the good news.”
The words came out bitter—far more bitter than Serengeti intended. Sechura glanced sharply at the camera, head tilting to one side. A tick of face lights, as if she meant to say something, and Sechura shrugged again. Turned TIG-996 away. Pattered across the bridge to the crumpled Artillery pod, skirting around the captain’s Command Post on the way there.
Brutus did send you, didn’t he?”
Third shrug—an odd, bouncing movement peculiar to the TIG model—as Sechura moved over to the windows, putting the robot’s back to the camera as she studied the stars outside.
Serengeti watched her a while, wondering at the deflection. “How long, Sechura?” she asked, because she still hadn’t answered. Pointedly ignored that one repeated question. “How long have I been missing? How long have I been out here, sleeping in the dark?”
The robot’s face lights erupted, swirls of color reflecting off the glass. Sechura looked at her, catching the camera’s reflection in the windows, sighed, and turned around.
Moved a step away from the windows and then stopped dead—head tilting, face lights flashing in repeating patterns.
“What is it?” Serengeti asked sharply.
She knew that stance. Caught Tig standing that way often enough to recognize the posture of a robot listening to someone on an internal channel.
“What’s happening?”
“Nothing, Sister.” Sechura shivered and straightened, turning back to the windows. Resuming her contemplation of the stars. “It’s nothing.”
A sigh as Sechura bowed the TIG’s head, staring at the floor. “There isn’t much time, Serengeti.”
Such an odd statement, considering the decades she’d been lost. And a check of her power levels showed Serengeti still had a good forty-five minutes before she dropped back into the dark.
Sechura. What’s going on?”
Her Sister wouldn’t even look at her. Just shook the TIG’s head.
Sechura,” she called more insistently, and then waited, watching the robot by the windows until Sechura turned around. “Why are you here, Sister?”
A flash of face lights—blotchy, twisting patterns crawling across the robot’s cheeks. “I can leave,” she said, affronted. “If that’s what you’d like. These aren’t exactly the most posh accommodations, after all.” She waved at the shattered bridge around her—an angry, insulted gesture.
“That’s not what I meant,” Serengeti said quietly, and then paused, choosing her next words carefully. “You could have sent the TIG alone to confirm I was still functional. But you came with it. You sent part of your own consciousness here to check on me yourself. Why, Sechura?”
Sechura blanked the robot’s face—every last light disappearing, Kept it blank for almost a full second before a line appeared, forming up in a familiar smile. “Because I care?”
Flippant and teasing—typical Sechura response.
Serengeti just stared, letting her silence and the camera’s unwinking eye do the talking for her.
“Fine.” Sechura sighed again, turning back to the stars. “I came to get you.” She spoke to the glass. To the camera’s reflection. “You, Serengeti. Just you.”
Took a moment, for the importance of that to sink in.
“You mean you came for my brain.”
Sechura shrugged and nodded. “Easier to break your crystal matrix mind free of its containment pod and carry that back with us than tow this wreck of a body across light years of space.”
“No,” Serengeti said quietly.
“No, what?”
“This ship is my body, battered and broken though it may be.”
“No,” she repeated, flatly refusing. “You came for me, Sister, and I’m grateful. But I won’t abandon this body. Not—Not after everything I’ve endured.”
Sechura watched her, face lights flashing on and off, ticking in rapid-fire patterns. “Towing you will take time, Sister. Time we don’t have.”
“What’s the hurry? I’ve been gone for decades. Why the sudden rush to get home?”
Sechura didn’t answer. She just stared at the camera’s reflection, face lights ticking faster, and faster.
“I’m tired of this,” Serengeti snapped. “I’m tired of all your cryptic bullshit. Where’s Tig? Why isn’t he here?”
The face lights slowed and started swirling. Looking anxious now. Worried for some reason. “I told you. He’s in Engineering.”
“I want to see him.”
“Why? What does it—?”
“Because I want some answers!”
Sechura went very quiet. Very still. “You trust him.” She tilted TIG-996’s head, looking curious. And a tiny bit sad. “But you don’t trust me.”
Serengeti sighed wearily. “It’s not about trust or distrust, Sister. I just want to know what’s going on.”
“Don’t we all?” Sechura said softly. “I wish—” She stiffened, head tilting, taking on that ‘I’m listening to someone you can’t hear’ pose again. “No time,” she whispered, shaking herself, coming back to life. “There’s no time, Serengeti. I’m sorry, Sister, but we have to go. Now,” she said urgently. “Before he notices we’re gone.”
The robot spun around, scuttling toward the camera.
“Who?” Serengeti asked, completely confused. “Before who notices?”
A tremor shook Serengeti’s body, making the robot stumble. Sechura righted herself, recovering quickly, chromed face smiling apologetically as a shiver ran across Serengeti’s ravaged hull.
A tug and Serengeti lurched forward, the stars sliding past more quickly as she picked up speed. She flipped to an outside camera, selecting one that faced forward, looking outward from her bow. Focused on the twinkling shapes of the Valkyries ahead of her, leading her along.
Spotted a distortion forming around them—hyperspace buckle, the precursor to jump. Mass jump, in this case. The Valkyries’ warp fields overlapping. Serengeti herself caught up in it.
“No,” she whispered. “Not this way.”
“I’m sorry,” Sechura said, voice echoing inside her mind. “I’m sorry, Sister. There’s no other choice.”
The distortion wave hit before Serengeti could stop her, bending, twisting, pulling at her ravaged hull. She shuddered and shook, tremors turning violent. And then the stars disappeared, dropping Serengeti back into the dark.

Prequel to Serengeti

Black Ops—the intelligence arm of the Meridian Alliance Fleet came
calling with an offer Henricksen couldn’t refuse: a ship—an
entire squadron of ships, actually—and crew to command. A chance to
get back to the stars.

Too bad he didn’t ask more questions before accepting the assignment.
Too bad no one told him just how dangerous this particular skunkworks
project was.

They call the ship the RV-N: Reconnaissance Vessel - Non-combat, Raven for
short. A stealth ship—fast, and maneuverable, and brutal as hell.
On the surface, Henricksen's assignment seems simple: train his crew,
run the RV-Ns through their paces, get the ships certified for
mission operations and job done. But an accident in training reveals
a fatal design flaw in the Raven, and when an undercover operative
steals classified information from a Black Ops facility, the Fleet
Brass cancels the tests completely, rushing the faulty ships and
their half-trained crew into live operations. On a mission to recover
the Fleet’s lost secrets.

Out of time and out of options, Henricksen has no choice but to launch
his squadron. But a ghost from his past makes him question
everything—the ships, their AI, the entirety of this mission, right
down to the secrets he and his crew are supposed to recover.

Audiobook available 10-17-17

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it
means she's (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone
to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady
diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous
helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed
of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a
degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an
archaeologist didn't quite work out. Through a series of twists and
turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst
other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and
now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for
an Indiana Jones wannabe...

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