After twenty years as a US Air Force space operations officer, AM now operates a laptop, trading in real satellites for fictional spaceships.

AM's writing cave is deep in the mountains of western Montana; check out Montana, The Amazing Sleeping Man and Zoe, their slightly crazy German Shepherd, on Instagram. AM is also a volunteer leader with Team Rubicon Disaster Response.

I love to hear from readers! If you find errors, please let me know at the email address above. I'm on all the normal social media, but somewhat irregularly, so if you ask a question or make a comment, please don't be offended if I don't immediately reply. I'm particularly difficult to contact when I'm on Team Rubicon operations or out backpacking—cellphone towers don't exist in disaster zones or the wilderness!

Lightwave: The Folding Space Series 1-3 by AM Scott

The complete seven-book classic space opera series is ready for binge-reading! This set includes Books 1.0 through 3.0, plus the prequel novella Book 0.5, Lightwave: Nexus Station!

Saree's got a secret. A truly unique talent.

Trillions rely on her rare gift. If they knew, they'd betray her in a heartbeat for the huge reward. Despite Saree's best efforts, rumors fly. Desperate, she jumps on Lightwave Fold Transport just ahead of a bounty hunter.

But Lightwave might not be safer.

Lightwave's crew were mercenaries. Mercenaries who destroyed her childhood home. Saree barely escaped last time. Will they recognize her?

Worse, will they discover who she really is?

Discover Saree's secret today.

CURATOR'S NOTE

•Strap in for a dynamite set of space opera adventures by an author who knows all the right buttons to push. These books will get you up to speed fast, propelling you into the universe of heroine Saree and the crew of the Lightwave Fold Transport. You won't want to stop reading, even when you grab the next books in the series and track down everything else this author has written. AM Scott truly makes space opera epics unforgettable in every way. – Robert Jeschonek

 

REVIEWS

  • "Just plain riveting and fun to read. Get your teeth into them today."

    – Amazon review
  • "Fast moving action, credibly woven into great character development. Well-written world with understandable social and scientific theory. Highly recommended for fans of action scifi."

    – Amazon review
  • "Engrossing and addictive. Highly recommended."

    – Amazon review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Saree

Saree slid through the crowd, a double-time bass drum pounding in her chest. Bending her knees, she hid among the masses in the passageway, trying to reach her shuttle before the black-haired man caught her. The flashes of red in her rear-view holo increased, and she fought back the impulse to run. Thank all the suns she'd tagged the man right away.

Outside her airlock, a crowd of people stood enthralled by a wailing busker banging on an out-of-tune guitar. Saree slipped between them, thankful for the throng's lack of taste. They must be truly desperate for entertainment. Covering her mouth with her hand, she murmured, "Hal, emergency ingress alpha-four-two-uniform."

At the airlock, she reached out to enter her code on the worn, grimy keypad, but the hatch swung open. She ducked in, securing it and the next three. Collapsing against her inner shuttle hatch, she ignored the sharp struts pressing into her back. She was home, thank all the suns. That was just too close. She closed her eyes and breathed. Blanking her mind, she slowed and deepened her shallow panting, reveling in the quiet…no, not working.

The whole slow-motion escape replayed in her head like a horror vid. Maintaining her carefully crafted persona while being hunted was so rad-blasted hard. She'd strolled the passages, gawking, seemingly fascinated by every performer along the way. She didn't waste any time on the awful musician outside her shuttle airlock.

She'd considered stunning the dark-haired man and hoping nobody noticed, but he was good, staying back and blending into the crowd. Stunning him meant taking down a lot of beings, innocents caught in the crossfire. And anyone stunned on the station would be robbed before the authorities reacted. If they reacted at all.

Enough. She wasn't out of danger, not until she left the system. Leaving the station might be tricky, depending on who was after her and why. Sucking in a big breath, Saree pushed off the chilly hatch, no longer shaking like a thruster on a loose pivot joint.

She strode to the pilot's seat, the worn, dark gray plas tiles beneath her feet popping a tiny bit with every step, the cracking comfortingly normal. She patted Big Beige on her way. Saree paused mid-step, her hand hovering over the frequency standard maintenance case. Maybe it was time. She had no offensive capabilities; she should maximize her defenses.

Facing Big Beige, she planted her feet and put her hand on the case's top-mounted security sensor. "Hal, implement Security Protocol Zeta."

Hal's smooth, calm, human male voice replied. "Security Protocol Zeta initiated. Passphrase, please."

At Hal's light tenor tones, her tight shoulder muscles unwound. "Hickory dickory dock, the Sa'sa ran up the tetrahedron." She winced at the bite of the DNA sampler.

"Security Protocol Zeta implemented. Please note, the additional security measures will add approximately thirteen point two seconds to maintenance case release. This could be fatal during an emergency evacuation."

"Noted, Hal, and risk accepted. Thank you."

"You are welcome, Saree."

She walked to the pilot's seat and plopped down. Under her weight, the seat sighed and creaked, the seen-better-days padding almost flat. The smooth, light gray pleather under her hands was dark from decades of use. But she didn't care if it looked old and worn—the shuttle systems were top-notch. And sitting in the pilot's seat meant escaping, control, safety.

Not really. Safety was an illusion. But she was safer.

Finding a fold transport to take her and her shuttle far away from Dronteim was her first priority. A trustworthy one leaving soon—very soon. But there was no sense in escaping a black hole just to fold into a supernova. Find the right folder, a safe folder, was always difficult.

Sweeping a hand across the main control area, Saree entered her security codes, the big shuttle screens lighting in her standard display. She brought up the station security vid outside her shuttle. The black-haired man was still there, using his holo in security mode, concealing his face.

"Saree, you appear to be in some distress. Would you like a calmer?"

"No, thank you, Hal." One of these days, she'd have to change Hal's programming to remove the default to mood-altering substances or allow Hal to compile a personality profile. But allowing Hal to develop a profile meant more data available for exploitation if someone got through her net defenses. Better to leave the former inhabitant's in place, and do a little more work herself, even if it meant putting up with some oddities. Besides, sometimes Hal's predictability was strangely comforting, especially in his ultra-calm voice.

"Some Jhinzer tea?"

And sometimes, he was annoying. "Not now, Hal." She had to get out of here. Tea could wait. Maybe she would make those profile mods.

"My apologies, Saree."

She scanned her shuttle status—everything ready—and relaxed into the chair. Initiating external net access to Dronteim Station, she called up the departing interstellar space fold transport schedule. Even if the dark-haired man's surveillance was her sometimes too-vivid imagination combined with her understandable paranoia—doubtful—she'd be better off leaving, fast.

Saree pulled up the Guild priority list and set her standard match program running between the Guild list and the departure schedule. But wait—speed was a priority. Inserting 'departure time' as the new number three criteria, Saree tried to relax while the program calculated. It shouldn't take long in their current location. Dronteim was rated 'frontier-safe' by The Guide™ but it was still the frontier of human space; criminal organizations and pirates abounded.

Which one was after her on Dronteim Station? The man with the black hair and olive skin was following—no, hunting—her, but she didn't know why. A young female human alone in the fringe was often considered an easy target, so it could be simple opportunity. But they might suspect her true identity.

A chime sounded, startling her. Saree frowned. Lost in her head again. A bad habit for a solo traveler—being in her shuttle didn't equal safety. Glancing at the top matches between available fold transports and Guild requirements, she grimaced. Maybe she needed the tea after all. At times like these, she missed Ia'asan and the clutch. Life was a lot simpler in the co-pilot's chair.

And having real, live backup, even if it wasn't human? Priceless.

Saree studied the fold transport match list again. Blast and rad. None of the choices were good. Few folders departed in the next thirty standard days and none of them were ideal. She snorted. Most were poor at best. Either they were fixed-route locals, quick but potentially criminal, or unknown and unrated.

She removed two of the transports immediately—they had ties to Familia, and Familia was far too curious about her, both in general and specifically here. The black-haired, olive-skinned man had the 'Familia look.' She checked the station vid again. The man was gone, but there was no way to know if he'd given up.

The next possibility, Universe-Tera, was a good line known for their dependability and security, but the particular folder was ancient, slow and on a milk run.

What was a milk run, anyway? She shook the thought away. A question for another time—she had more important orbits to achieve.

The final folder on the list was a relatively new company, with little available on the net. Saree dug deeper, despite her instincts yelling, "Run!" Lightwave Fold Transport appeared to be a single-ship company, with mixed reviews. She filtered out the obvious bot-generated reviews, but nothing cleared.

Scrolling down, she read the individual entries, rather than relying on the aggregate. She tapped an impatient rhythm on the armrest. Reviewing each took too much time, but folding into the unknown wasn't smart.

Some shuttles left bare-bones comments of "adequate," "sufficient," and similar condemning-with-faint-praise statements, but a few said more. The recent reviews raved about the food, a big surprise—often, folders provided the cheapest pre-made stuff they could find.

One entry raved about the speed, precision, and security, but warned the captain put the wellbeing of his transport and shuttles above every other consideration. Which didn't seem like a negative to her; the fringe was dangerous. And if the folder didn't survive, none of the shuttles would.

Many of the other comments said the captain was cold and all business, but that seemed like a plus. If he were all business, he wouldn't be looking into her business. Just another set of strangers passing by—lonely, but safe.

She thumped her fingers against the chair arms impatiently. Lightwave would get her to one of the higher-priority jobs, although that particular job didn't pay the fold costs. But…Cygnus was light years away, on the fringes of known space. Getting away from Dronteim system was a very big plus—signs of Familia were everywhere.

Bringing up The Guide™ listing for Cygnus, she scanned it. Not much Familia in Cygnus, another big plus, although there were plenty of other typical frontier dangers listed. Except for Cygnus Prime, but if she could afford planetfall on Deneb, she wouldn't bother with a job. Saree huffed out a laugh.

Jittering in her chair, she initiated external net access again, and searched for more reviews, tracing Lightwave's travels. Neither Lightwave nor its crew had much of a net signature, but there was no sign of criminal activity or behavior. Apparently, Lightwave kept their noses clean, doing their job and nothing more. Or someone was cleaning up after them. Not likely; not for a single ship in the fringes.

Saree's fingers drummed harder and faster on the thin pleather, echoing her impatience. Nothing but pressure from Gov Human raised Cygnus's priority—whatever mega-corporation owned the system also owned someone in Gov Human. They had a human-centric population and government, lots of high-priority, low-pay jobs, no Familia, fringe of nowhere frontier—the perfect place for her.

Saree finished her chair-arm drum solo with a flourish. Lightwave Fold Transport was it. She sent a message to Lightwave, to confirm availability and price, and started the computer calculating the transfer orbit from the station to the fold transport pickup orbit, matching Lightwave's parameters. Surprisingly, she got a reply from Lightwave before she'd finished double-checking the computer's calculations. The price was as quoted, they had one slot available and would depart after she docked.

"Hal, is there anything unusual in this contract?"

"Yes, Saree. This provision states: 'Shuttle owner and pilot must contact Lightwave Fold Transport with human-spectrum vid and voice-enabled before contract confirmation.'"

Hmm. Saree considered the provision. Unusual, but not unique. It might signal xenophobia, but it might not, and since her DNA was human, it didn't matter. She may as well get it done. Lightwave would see nothing but slightly shabby gray plas behind her; they wouldn't get any real intel from the vid except her face.

Initiating the comm link, Saree wished for Jhinzer tea to soothe her dry mouth. She cracked a smile. Despite not allowing a true personality profile, Hal knew her well.

"Shuttle Centauri Kilo-Uniform-Tango-Six-Zero-One-Five-Four-Four, state the name of your vessel, owner, pilot, and other occupants," a computer-generated voice announced.

"Shuttle Centauri Kilo-Uniform-Tango-Six-Zero-One-Five-Four-Four, called Fortuna Lucia, absentee owner Centauri University, Pilot Candidate Scholar Cary Sessan, no other occupants." The shuttle's name came with it, but the Familia-tinged designation had served her well as an initial cover and distraction in the past. Overall, it was fortunate indeed.

A face appeared in the holo projected in front of her. Human, male, cinnamon-brown skin, thick black brows glowering above dark brown eyes. Pretty eyes, but cold like the outermost planet in a dying star system. A faint scar across the right side of his forehead, bisecting his eyebrow, showed through short dark brown hair. His nose, prominent and slightly hooked, presided over compressed lips in a square face. He was the definition of a man who'd seen bad things and was ready for more. Not a bad attitude for a fold transport pilot. If he was the pilot.

Saree snickered inside. No matter his role on Lightwave, no one would ever mistake him for a vid star, so why smile? "Scholar Sessan, you may approach. Turn your controls over to Lightwave for docking as specified in your instructions. Do you have any questions?"

"No, Pilot? Captain?" A name or a title would be nice…

"Please transfer funds and initiate your release from the station now, Scholar. We will depart after you dock." The screen blanked.

Humph. That explained the "cold, all business" comments. "Rude" might be a better term after insisting on a face-to-face, but beggars couldn't be choosers. She wanted a quick departure, and she was getting one. And she wasn't vid-star material either—no reason to waste time staring at her unremarkable face, with the same tan skin and mud-brown eyes and hair shared by the vast majority of space-traveling humanity. Still, he could take a few seconds to introduce himself. Suns, why insist on the vid when he didn't ask any questions?

Just as well. More talking meant more chances to get in trouble, and she needed to leave Dronteim—immediately. Saree snorted a laugh. The irony of being upset by rudeness, when she'd done so much worse to so many.

Initiating the station undocking procedure, she waited for the station release. Thankfully, she didn't have to talk to a live being, just transfer credits, a ridiculous number for her very short stay. The docking clamps released and the station pushed her away into the transit zone. Saree sighed in relief. The man chasing her wasn't well connected in Dronteim or hadn't made the necessary bribes to hold her.

She engaged the station-approved flight path, the shuttle thrusters shoving her back into her chair until the grav generators kicked in. While they flew to the rendezvous point, she confirmed her credit transfer to Lightwave.

Confirmation and flight complete, she set her controls using the codes specified in the contract, checked the transfer was to Lightwave, not some pirate, and disabled her meteor shielding. Reluctantly, Saree removed her hands from the controls. She hated not flying her ship, but it was standard procedure for interstellar folders—they were big credit investments.

The docking maneuver was smooth and uneventful. Relieved to be outbound, Saree completed the main engine shut-down procedures, the shuttle checks and made minimal net connections with Lightwave. She escaped Dronteim, and not a minute too soon. Safe.

Sagging with sheer relief in the pilot's chair, Saree blew out a breath and deliberated joining the other travelers. She checked Lightwave's local time; their standard day aligned with Dronteim Station. Unusual. They must have been in orbit for a long time.

Indicators flashed on the main screen, drawing her attention back to C2—they were moving. Guess the glowering man—whoever he was—hadn't been kidding about leaving when she docked. They wanted to leave the back-of-beyond system as badly as she did.

Or someone was chasing them too.