Dave Walsh was once the world's foremost kickboxing journalist, if that makes any sense. He's still trying to figure that one out.

The thing is, he always loved writing and fiction was always his first love. He wrote 'Godslayer' in hopes of leaving the world of combat sports behind, which, as you can guess, did not exactly work. That's when a lifelong love of science fiction led him down a different path.

Now he writes science fiction novels about far-off worlds, weird technology and the same damned problems that humanity has always had, just with a different setting.

He does all of this while living in the high desert of Albuquerque and raising twin boys with his wife. He's still not sure which is harder: watching friends get knocked out or raising boys.

Broken Ascension by Dave Walsh

The war is over, and there are no winners. Just a broken galaxy.

Now humans and aliens must share this war-torn galaxy. None of this matters to Drake, though, he's just an artist. He's tagging along on the busted up ship Trystero, along with its ragtag crew. Together, they traverse the Demilitarized Zone between Terran and Gra'al borders, taking on any job they can find. Big or small. Human or alien.

The galaxy changes when the crew encounters a derelict alien ship, its crew slaughtered. With his dying breath, a crewman points them to a box. In it? An abandoned alien baby. When their government refuses to get involved, Drake and the crew need to return the baby they've been calling Bruce home, a bloodthirsty warlord on their tail.

His quest? Find Bruce and claim the Gra'al throne, declaring a new war on humanity.

Drake never wanted to be a hero... now he's all that stands in the way of a fragile peace between humans and aliens in this metaphysical space opera adventure.


Dave doesn't just write space opera's. He writes deeply gripping space operas with characters that carry their flaws and scars in a way that you can't help but relate to. His sprawling universe is made up of characters and societies that are just flat out interesting to read about. You can't help but want to know more about them. To know they're OK. Dave's a skilled storyteller; Layering his characters and overall stories with themes and deeper meanings that you pickup without feeling like you've been preached to. Which is no small feat. - John Wilker



  • "Loved the intersectional family formed by the crew of the Trystero. From the young, but wise captain to the old, but narrowly focused "Sergeant" to the quirky pilot and the troubled artist. Some great stuff here."

    – Nathan Lowell, author of Quarter Share - 5 stars
  • "Walsh crafts some excellent action scenes and tension in a high-stakes world while jugging the yin and yang of the characters."

    – Book Invasion - 5 stars
  • "So far this is my favorite of the books I have read for the SPSFC and it was a great grow up fast because he has to book."

    – Ramsey Meadows - 5 stars



The two ships danced in the darkness of space, a soft, soundless ballet while the sleek freighter Trystero matched the rotation of the blocky, abandoned Gra'al cruiser in the fringes of the Demilitarized Zone between Terran and alien space.

"Bring 'er in slow, Bec," Captain Vasquez said, hovering over the pilot, her hand braced against the ceiling of the cockpit while the pilot inched the two ships together. She was lean, her jet-black hair pulled back into a neat, high ponytail.

"That's why you pay me the big bucks, Cap," Becca replied, almost always the opposite of the captain in how she presented herself. She wore an ill-fitting flight suit half-unbuttoned, the arms dangling behind her, only a white tank top underneath, contrasting her dark skin. Her hair was a majestic, frizzy beast of its own accord, with splashes of blonde interspersed at random.

"Let's hope." Drake said, gripping onto his chair tightly. Even though he'd known no other proper home outside of the Trystero for the last five years, something about the way Becca came in hot and narrowly avoided scrapes still made him jittery. Captain Vasquez stood defiantly through it all, like she always did, while Drake sank into the chair like he'd disappear. Much like the pilot, he wore a flight suit around his average frame.

"You need to chill out or get out, Dray," the pilot snapped back.

"Children." The captain swiveled her gaze between them. "Let's focus on the job at hand, all right? Sergeant Rose, are you ready by the blast doors?"

"Yes, ma'am." His gruff voice boomed over the internal comm. "Locked and ready to roll."

"Good. We don't know what's waiting for us on the other side in there. It's not every day we find a derelict Gra'al cruiser in the DMZ. Make a quick sweep and signal back; Drake and myself will follow when it's clear."


The bump verified the two ships had made contact, and Bec let out a slight whoop while the captain gave a small nod of acknowledgement before turning toward the door. "All right, Drake, better suit up. You know better than to keep the sergeant waiting."

"Yeah, I know." He unstrapped himself from the cramped seat stuffed in the corner of the four-seated cockpit and carefully stepped out into the narrow hallway. Salvaging out in the fringes was perhaps the last thing that Drake ever saw for himself, especially with his roughneck father there with him. They hadn't exactly seen eye to eye when he was younger. What, with him being the sensitive type who didn't understand the thrill of serving humanity on the front lines, yet there was still something romantic about being a part of a crew out in the depths of known space scraping to get by. That life was at least better than living on Capital Station alongside his mother and Ron. Fucking Ron. Nobody liked Ron, except for his mother, although Drake often questioned that.

His dad had at least tried to be mildly understanding of him for a while, pitching more than just the usual father-son bonding time. But a chance to see the galaxy up close and in person? That was something every artist worth his salt should make an attempt at. So, Drake was making an attempt at seeing the galaxy and soaking it all in. The only problem was that they spent most of their time traveling, searching for salvage to pick up and usually only hitting small mining colonies or traveling merchants to sell the scrap before heading out to find more.

What had seemed like an exciting life instead was a quiet, isolated existence spent mostly inside of a cramped sleeping quarters that served as the canvas for his manic energy where he'd scrawl over the wall. No one else had ever been inside of his room, which meant that no one ever saw his work before he'd destroy it and start over again. Everyone probably just thought he was shy or angry, or both.

"Captain." The sergeant's voice came over the ship's comms. "We've got a live one over here, gonna need medical—stat."

"Copy that," she said. "Drake. Grab a med kit."

"Okay." He hopped on one foot while he pulled on his bulky suit, smashing into the metal wall with a thunk. Before he snapped the med kit out of its clamps, his hair flew everywhere, reminding him he was in dire need of a trim. "I got it."

"I'll be there in thirty," she said. "Be ready."

"All right."

The captain strode in, a pistol on her hip, and just a thin membrane rebreather strapped over her nose and mouth. She squinted at Drake and studied him for a moment before a laugh erupted from deep inside of her. "Haven't you been paying attention?"

"What? Yeah." He shrugged. "Mostly."

"Oh, sweet child. The Gra'al breathe the same air as we do. You don't need that bulky thing."

"I thought the ship was shot up?"

"Gra'al ships self-heal, or at least their hulls do. Besides, we scanned it before the sergeant went in to make sure that life support was still working."

"And it is?"

"Uh-huh." She shot him a half-smile. "Oh, well, too late now. You have the med kit?"

"Yeah, right here."

"Good." She gestured toward the exit. "Let's go."

When he had first met Captain Valencia Vasquez, she had been twenty-three, in the prime of her life, and had newly acquired the Trystero. She didn't exactly know what she was doing, just that she had won the ship from an old marine buddy of Drake's dad's in a card game. With his father newly unemployed, he went where the work was—on the ship—even if the captain was years younger than him with a fraction of the experience. A lot had changed since then: she'd grown harder, more experienced, but she could still be kind and playful with Drake like a surrogate mother of sorts.

They carefully crossed the docking tube between the ships. The captain was up ahead, having no problems making it through the retractable tube, while Drake stumbled around in the forty-pound suit he didn't need.

She moved effortlessly between the ships, pausing just inside the doorway. Waiting for Drake to catch up, she only cracked a smile when he smacked his head on the low entryway built for the short, stout Gra'al and not the average-sized human.

"Sergeant!" she shouted.

"Straight down the hallway," his father, Sergeant Atticus Rose, called back. "I'm in the control room."

"C'mon, kid." She forged ahead into the alien ship while he clomped along behind her, marveling at the Gra'al vessel. The fusion between organic and mechanical made for fascinating technology, everything looking smooth and metal from a distance but delicate the closer he got to the walls. He reached out and half-expected his hand to sink right into the wall, which didn't happen. The walls were rock-solid and warm to the touch, even through his gloved hand.

A few of the Gra'al lay strewn about the ship, their deep-green blood staining their otherwise pristine uniforms from whatever struggle had occurred. Every single death had been precise, right down to each wound, avoiding their carefully crafted armor and aimed at the major arteries.

"This is insane," the captain said.

"Whoa," was all he could say.

"They didn't stand a chance. Look over here at this one." She knelt next to a body that was leaned against the wall. "See where the bullet went in? This was the work of professionals. Whoever they were, they knew how to kill Gra'al with laser-like efficiency."

"Humans?" he asked.

"Not sure yet." She stood to her feet. "C'mon, we have to find your father, we've taken long enough."

The sergeant hunkered down next to a console, a few scattered bodies littering the bridge, each one near a station. The Gra'al were honorable, and it wasn't surprising to Drake to see that they died doing their duties, not cowering in fear, or abandoning their posts. His father was standing over a Gra'al with a knife still protruding from his chest, the handle jutting at an angle and facing downward.

"Shit," the captain cursed and stepped forward. "Has he said anything?"

"Just a few mumbles here and there." Sergeant Rose shook his head. "If I take this thing out, I'm afraid he'll bleed to death."

"Do we know his name?" Drake asked.

His father stared at Drake, raising an eyebrow. "Why are you dressed like a dumbass?"

"We'll go over that later." The captain interrupted what would likely turn into an argument. "Did you get his name?"

"These Gra'al names all sound the same to me, some sort of Din-tube or something. It's on his badge."

"Din'tu." Captain Vasquez read the name aloud. "Din'tu, are you awake? Can you hear me?"

The Gra'al groaned and moved his head.

"We have to get him back to the med bay." She glanced up at his father, a shocked expression on her face.

"If we move him, he'll probably die," the sergeant said.

"If we don't, then he dies. We can at least try."

"Whatever you say, Cap," he agreed.

Drake looked around the bridge. "Hey, Cap?"

"Could you help us out, Drake? We're gonna lift him up, and you support him from underneath, okay?"


"What?" his father snapped. "Spit it out already."

"Right, so why don't we disable the gravity? We're less likely to drop him then, at least."

"He is heavy, huh?"

"Fucking Gra'al," his father grumbled. "Short but weigh a ton."

"Their planet has higher gravity than ours," Drake said. "I can feel it right now even."

"Go on, then, find the damned gravity switch."

Drake searched the boards, which were all written in Gra'al. There was probably a command somewhere to change the language, considering the Gra'al had their own regional languages beyond what they knew as "standard" Gra'al, but he would not find it.

"What did he just say?" The captain knelt close to the alien. "He's saying something. I don't have a translator, do you?"

"Damned if I do." The sergeant shook his head. "He's pointing at something, though."

"Go look where he's pointing." She indicated with a nod. "We need to hurry, though. We don't want whoever did this to come back and find us here."

"What about the haul?" the sergeant asked.

"There is no haul as far as I'm concerned. Go." She rushed him along, then turned and called out, "Drake, how's the gravity coming?"

"I think this is it, I just—"

"We don't have time, press it!"

"Okay, here we go." He pressed the red button, the ship whined, and the sudden pull of gravity almost dragged him down to the floor.

"God damnit, boy!" his father shouted. "You almost made me trip and fall onto one of these corpses."

"Sorry." He winced, pressing the blue button right above it twice. The gravity immediately went back to Gra'al standard, causing his gut to clench at the sudden weightlessness.

"Uh, Cap," his dad said. "I think I found something."

"What is it?"

"Keep... keep it safe," the Gra'al muttered.

"Wait, what was that?"

"Keep it safe."

"Keep what safe?"

"Keep it safe. Important...to Gra'al," he groaned before passing out.

"He said something about 'important to the Gra'al.' What did you find, Sergeant?"

"It's a tube of some sort, has a bunch of writing on it, along with a panel."

"Take it with you, then," she told him. "Drake. Help me get him to med bay safely."

"Yes, ma'am."

The images of the dead Gra'al were hard for Drake to shake. Sitting on the crash couch by the kitchen, gnawing at a packet of protein goop with images of the murdered aliens flashing through his mind on a loop—it wasn't a good place to be. Finding the derelict Gra'al ship had excited his father, especially with the dying Gra'al telling them it was important. Any of his disappointment over not tearing the ship apart for scraps washed away because of some fancy container.

"Look, Cap. I know you want to bring it in, but listen to me." Drake's father followed behind her while she rummaged around for a drink. "Please?"

"Sergeant, you know how I feel about it."

"We came all this way, and for what? We've got a rockhead in our med bay and some glowing thing that he told us was important. I'm not against dropping him off at the nearest station or anything here, I'm just saying, we don't have to just give them our loot."

"I hear you." She grabbed her drink and shut the door. "And my answer is still no. We turn it in and that's that."

"I've been in battle with these bastards," he said. "I've seen them kill friends of mine—you think they treated us this well? Hell no."

"This isn't war. This is being decent. This is us playing nice with someone in trouble."

"Maybe even preventing another war," Drake piped in.

"Exactly. Listen to your son."

"Why don't we ask Becca, huh? Let the entire crew decide on this."

"Decide on what?" Becca said, ambling down the narrow metal stairs into the kitchen.

"What we do with the loot."

"The tube thing?"

"Yeah, the captain and my son here think we should turn it in. I say we at least open it, right?"

"No harm in that." She shrugged, uncommonly agreeing with him.

"What? Err, see, Cap, even Becca says we should at least look."

"Fine." The captain waved her hand dismissively. "I yield, but it doesn't change the fact that whatever is in there isn't ours, and our new friend in med bay would probably appreciate it if we're responsible with it."

His father dashed off to get it, slamming it down on the table with a thud, a glint in his eye. After the war, there hadn't been much for someone like his father to do. So, turning to the stars and joining crews like this had been better than taking security jobs planet side or on some station—at least that's how he sold it to Drake. Clumsily, his father attempted to pry it open, trying to jam his fingers into the seams, only for them to be too tightly sealed to give way to his brute force.


"Here," Drake offered. "Let me look at it."

"Whatever." His father yielded the tube to him. It was smooth and slightly rounded, not actually a tube like they'd been calling it, but close enough. The panel on the outside was spitting out data in Gra'al that he couldn't recognize, and their translators only worked with spoken words. None of them knew the language that well, outside of his father knowing a few curses he had learned to shout at them while engaged in combat. That never came in handy for any of them again.

"This panel looks a lot like the ones in the ship," he said.

"They're rockheads and it's something of theirs," his father growled. "Of course it does."

"No, I mean, whatever is in here is probably pretty important."

"Then crack it open already, all right."

"Yeah, Dray," Becca encouraged. "Bust that egg open already."

"Okay. I think if I just press this here and..."

Mist rose from the tube while it emitted a low humming sound, the seams coming apart as the pieces slowly peeled away from it. They all jumped back at the mist except for Drake, who was squinting, trying to see through the billowing vapors. The room went silent as the mist cleared. The sound of a cry rang out, and Drake's eyes almost bulged out of his head. There inside of the tube was a baby Gra'al, swaddled up in a blue cloth, staring up at them.

"Is that...?" Becca's eye's widened.

"You've gotta be kidding me." His father scrubbed a hand down his face.

"A baby Gra'al," the captain muttered under her breath.