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AUDIO: Disciple of the Dead (Audiobook)

AUDIO: Disciple of the Dead (Audiobook)

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Book Three in the Seraphim Revival series.

New to the Seraphim Revival series? Start here.

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***SPOILER WARNING: Do not read further until you have read THRONE OF THE DEAD!

About this premium Audiobook narrated by Justin Ross Mascorro

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Fueled by the Soul. Hunted by the Dead.

In an empire ruled by the honored dead, seraphs are the ultimate weapons. Fueled by the pilot’s very soul, these colossal humanoid mecha are unstoppable in battle.

Seth Elexen and a small group of elite pilots have tracked the renegade Veketon to the far side of the galaxy. With only one ship and a single squadron of seraphs, they alone must face the tyrant within the heart of his growing power.

But Veketon is no easy mark. Through perverse sciences, he has been reborn as a pilot of terrifying power, and Quennin S’Kev, a woman Seth abandoned for all the wrong reasons, stands by his side and will defend him to the death.

Now Seth has one final desperate chance at success, but in order to get to Veketon, he must be willing to kill the only woman he has ever loved.

From national bestselling author Jacob Holo comes the gripping finale of the Seraphim Revival trilogy!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Do you like Star Wars? Did you think it needed more giant robots? Well if you did, this is the book for you!”

“If you are a fan of Gundam, Robotech, giant mecha you will enjoy this book.”

“Great and entirely welcome mecha novel!”

“If you're look to scratch that mecha itch (like I was), look no further.”

“Feels like a love letter to the mecha space genre.”

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Enjoy a sample from DISCIPLE OF THE DEAD

***SPOILER WARNING: Do not read further until you have read THRONE OF THE DEAD!

Death had come, and she would have her prize.

Her black seraph hovered over the ruined city like a vicious bird of prey, its giant humanoid body full of menace and cruelty. Dark energy crackled about it, cloaking the seraph in an invincible barrier.

Six grand wings unfurled from its back, flexing and relaxing in a slow play of muscular potential. Its armored body was lithe and sleek, its face an indiscernible mask of darkness. The panicked citizens below were barely the size of its smallest finger.

“That was …” Vierj said in slow, deliberate syllables, “a mistake.”

She held another seraph by the stomach, her razor-sharp talons piercing deep into its flesh. The wounded seraph’s body bowed back, bones broken, arms and legs dangling at its sides. Its armor was split evenly down the middle into white and black with the hands and tips of its six wings bearing the opposite color. Crimson blood wept from a deep gash in the chest.

Vierj raised her free hand, energy snapping between her fingers.

“STOP!!!” Veketon shouted, racing towards the battle, but still over a thousand kilometers away. He swept across the snow-covered peaks of a northern mountain range and headed for the capital. The edges of his six wings burned with black light.

The city of Ittai’zen, capital of Ittenrashik, sprawled beneath Vierj like a precise sculpture of glass, silver, and polished stone. Organically smooth towers rose, sprouting walkways and bridges of glass, merging with their neighbors as they reached skyward. Some towers never touched the ground, but simply tapered off above the planet’s emerald fields.

It was a thing of beauty: a testament to all the Aktenai, the Forsaken of the Homeland, had achieved in the hard years of their Exile. But now, fires raged through six of Ittai’zen’s eleven grandest towers, belching forth greasy plumes of dark smoke. Scores of lesser towers now ended in broken spires or shattered domes, and fleeing aircars blotted out the sky.

“Ah, Father,” Vierj said. “You have finally joined us.”

“Stop this at once!” Veketon shouted.

“Is that all you have to say? How much must I take from you before you give me what I desire?”

“Don’t do this!”

Vierj plunged her hand into the seraph’s chest. She dug deep, blood spurting around her wrist, and found the seraph’s spinal cord.

With a sharp jerk, Vierj ripped the seraph in two and cast the legs aside. The lower body crashed through several crystalline bridges before hitting the ground in a gory splash.

Vierj held the seraph’s upper body by the throat. Organs hung loosely below the exposed ribs. She reached up through the bottom of the rib cage and pushed into the seraph’s soft insides.

“Now, where is she? Ah. Here we are.”

With a delicate twist, Vierj broke the pilot alcove free and pulled it out. She held the spherical chamber out in an open palm.

In a corner of his mind, Veketon felt Dendolet’s weakened pulse. She lay wounded and unconscious in the alcove, but he could still save her.

“Stop, Vierj,” he said. “Just stop this, please. I’m begging you. Haven’t you killed enough of us already?”

“If you wish this to end, just give me the Gate’s location.”

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Are you sure? It’s not as if I hold someone like Ziriken or Balezuur in my palm. You’ve always been willing to sacrifice comrades for your ambitions, so I must strike closer to your heart.”

“Curse you, she’s your mother!”

“Such connections no longer matter to me. I have grown far beyond any of you, and I tire of your stalling. Give me the Gate.”

“I …” Veketon stammered. “I cannot.”

“Then she is the first.”

“NO!!!”

Vierj clenched her fist. A trickle of red oozed through her giant fingers. She flung the top half of Dendolet’s seraph aside, and the giant corpse landed on top of a tower, crushing dozens of aircars and hundreds of people attempting to flee the battle. Its broken remains came to rest on its back, blood draining out of the chest like a grotesque waterfall.

“No …” Veketon whispered. Within the pilot alcove, tears burned his true eyes.

You must not blame yourself, Veketon’s seraph said, the words echoing across the chaos energy bond he and the seraph shared. Its name was Malael.

“My beloved is dead …”

Veketon, the others need us. We must stop Vierj before she kills again.

“Can we even hurt her?”

The seraph paused ever so slightly before responding, and Veketon sensed its uncertainty.

We must try, Malael said.

“Yes, of course we must.” Veketon nodded with dark inevitability. He focused his mind and touched the flow of chaos energy inside the seraph. It frothed around him like a great river of power and potential. He guided that raw energy, shaped it, formed it, then sent it rippling outward.

With an unbreakable trust built over millennia, Malael relinquished full control of its body to Veketon.

Veketon didn’t simply pilot the seraph. He was the seraph.

He spread his six wings. Their edges snapped with black lightning, and he surged forward, screaming through the sky.

His white armor gleamed under the midday sun, the lines tall and proud, his face concealed behind an armored mask. Black heraldry adorned his armor along the wings and the sides of his torso: a complexly woven pattern of arcs, circles, and half-moons.

Veketon hefted the portal lance in his hand, the weapon as long as the seraph was tall. Elegant, continuous writing curled its way around the shaft, the characters now black with his infusion of chaos energy.

Veketon reached the capital and found that Vierj hadn’t moved. Her black seraph hovered over the ravaged city, and nine seraphs formed a ring around her, waiting just outside the city’s limits, each armed with a portal lance.

“I will give you one last chance, Father,” Vierj said. “Give it to me.”

Veketon found his eyes drawn to Dendolet’s broken seraph, its blood still pouring over the tower’s side, drenching the building’s white flank in crimson. He closed his eyes and steeled himself.

“I will not give the Gate’s location to a disgrace like you,” he said. “Not now. Not ever.”

“You cannot defeat me, Father,” she said. “And I don’t need you. I can defeat the Homeland and crush the Keepers all by myself.” She stretched a hand towards him, palm up, imploring. “Give me what I desire, and I will trouble you no more.”

“Vierj, you killed your own mother!”

“Give me what I desire, Father.”

“Stop this insanity!”

“Give me the Gate’s location.”

“No!”

“Give it to me!”

“NO!!!”

Vierj clenched her outstretched hand. She whirled to the right and faced one of the surrounding seraphs. Her wings spread outward, sparking with sudden power, and she bolted towards her target, closing the distance before anyone could react.

She brought her fist around and smashed it through the seraph’s head. Red gore and bits of armor exploded outward. Its body, starkly white with black thorns entwining its limbs, began to fall.

Vierj raked her talons down the seraph’s torso, tearing through its chaos barrier, armor, and flesh with equal ease.

The seraph’s ribcage split open. Blood and gore erupted out, splashing off Vierj’s barrier. Vierj slammed her fist through the seraph’s chest. The vitals of both the pilot Xixek and her seraph X’Kuudin flatlined.

“Two!” Vierj cried savagely.

“Kill her!” Veketon shouted. “Whatever the cost! Kill her!”

Every seraph charged.

Vierj turned sharply to her left and picked another target.

“Give me what I want!” She raised an arm, still far from her next victim. Chaos energy danced around her clenched fist in motes of black light. She swung, and a slender whip of black chaos energy extruded from her limb.

The energy whip sliced through another seraph’s torso at a diagonal. Blood pulsed out of the wounds, and the uneven halves spun down towards the city. Balezuur and the seraph Nepheel perished.

“Three!”

Vierj rushed another seraph, her craft a night-black blur against the skyline. Ziriken thrust his portal lance at her, but Vierj darted above the attack, then grabbed his elbow.

Her talons ripped through his seraph’s outstretched limb. Bits of white armor, flesh, and bone exploded from the impact. Ziriken flared his wings and pulled back in an attempt to escape.

But the gesture was useless.

Vierj grabbed the portal lance, still held by Ziriken’s severed forearm. Moving so fast everything around her seemed to stand still, she plunged the portal lance into the seraph’s stomach. Vierj forced it in all the way to her hand, then pulled the weapon up.

The portal lance cut through Ziriken’s seraph, searing organs and melting armor. Vierj ripped the lance through its head.

Ziriken and the seraph Rennai died.

“Four! Give it to me, curse you!”

Vierj threw the lance towards a foe above her. Its tip struck the white seraph square in the chest and transferred so much kinetic energy that the seraph’s chest exploded. The lance flew onward and upward, having surpassed escape velocity.

“Five!” Vierj growled. “How many of you fools must I kill?”

Vierj turned again, and this time Veketon dove at her, his portal lance gripped with both hands, black energy crackling across its length. He stabbed downward, and she raised her forearm in a reflexive block.

The tip of his lance struck her forearm and skidded off in a shower of black sparks.

“Impossible!” Veketon gasped.

Even a portal lance cannot harm her now! Malael said, icy terror echoing across their link.

Vierj lunged for him, reaching with her talons, ready to eviscerate her father.

But Veketon was not as weak as his followers, nor was he as slow. He was the oldest, the most powerful, and the most battle-hardened. He had led his followers so close, so painfully close to victory over the Keepers, and he had commanded those blood-soaked battles from the front lines. Hundreds of Keeper seraphs had been hewn by his lance, and this terrible power served to save his life now.

Vierj’s talons struck his lance instead of disemboweling him, but the force of her attack reverberated up through his arms. Armor ruptured, tendons ripped, and bones cracked. Veketon gasped, sharing Malael’s pain.

Veketon swung again with his lance, even with these injuries, for he and Malael were not to be trifled with. Every part of the portal lance was a cutting edge, and Veketon brought it around, aiming for Vierj’s exposed side.

The lance struck with all the power and speed he could muster. It was an attack that would have slaughtered any foe.

Except this one.

Vierj didn’t bother to block, and his lance ricocheted harmlessly off her invincible barrier. She sprang forward and sank her talons deep into his chest.

Veketon screamed. Every talon burned like a hot iron rod pushing into his body.

The other seraphs halted their attack. They saw it too. None of them could harm her.

“You must understand your folly now, Father,” Vierj said. “Give in to reason.”

Veketon’s mind swam with pain. He shook his head, trying to focus.

“Give me we what I want.”

Vierj maintained a firm hold on Veketon and raised her free arm. Black energy collected in her open palm and formed a disc of chaos energy. She tossed it down, letting it float leisurely to Ittai’zen while still joined to her by a wire-thin thread.

The disc stopped over the peak of Ittai’zen’s tallest tower, then bloomed outward, shrouding the sunlit city in darkness as if it were a giant airborne inkblot. After a few seconds, the disc’s circumference equaled that of the whole city: over four kilometers across.

The black disc thickened, becoming a large coin-shaped cylinder extruding down further and further. The tallest towers sank into its fathomless black surface as if it were thick oil, and the dark veil kept growing until it swallowed the entire city. When the disc finally reached its full size, it vanished.

Veketon gasped.

The proud and glorious city of Ittai’zen had been reduced to a heap of ruins. Its great towers had toppled into piles of mangled glass and stone and silver alloys, and it was utterly devoid of life. Veketon knew that only a few thousand of the thirty million civilians had evacuated. They couldn’t all be dead! They just couldn’t!

But try as he might, all he found was one corpse after another, each of them gray and cold.

“What have you done?” he breathed, unable to fully comprehend what he saw.

“I pushed the city into an accelerated time axis, and I let them taste the cold ravages of eternity. Surely, you must now see the hopelessness of your resistance.”

“Vierj, you must end this madness. Please, I implore you.”

“This represents the merest fraction of my power. You will give me what I want, Father. You have no other option but to submit to my power.”

“You know I cannot. I can give you anything else … but not that.”

Vierj screwed her talons deeper into his chest. Veketon whimpered in indescribable pain.

“You will give me the Gate’s location!”

Veketon summoned all the strength he had left and shouted, “I will never let a monster like you into the Homeland!”

The empty silence that followed sent a new wave of cold terror through his heart. Vierj finally spoke after almost a full minute of silence. Her tone was completely empty of emotion.

“So be it,” she said. “Then you and all your followers will die.”

“Vierj, wait—”

She plunged her talons into the seraph’s torso and crushed Veketon’s true body.

* * *

Veketon died, but that was not the end of him. His soul, an extra-dimensional structure that did not fully exist in any one universe, detached from his corpse. It floated free, no longer bound by his ruined anchor of flesh and blood.

What would have happened after this, Veketon did not know. Nor did he care, for he had prepared for this eventuality with an arcane construct of his own design.

The Choir energized an artificial anchor perfectly calibrated for him and drew his soul towards it.

… pain …

—discontinuity—

… light …

—discontinuity—

… thought …

Veketon opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was Dendolet’s face, a sad smile gracing features that had once been fair and beautiful but were now old and wrinkled, ravaged by the press of time in this universe.

The room in which they existed was black and dimensionless except for a large panoramic display that floated before them. The display was divided into eight sections, each showing Vierj’s butchery from a different angle.

“The Choir works,” Veketon said, half question, half statement.

“Yes,” Dendolet said. “There appears to have been no degradation in the transfer. We remain who we were in life.”

Veketon glanced around. Four other Aktenai turned to him, their faces full of shock and grief. A fifth Aktenai flashed into existence next to them. He looked around with a startled expression.

“Vierj is slaughtering us.” Veketon turned and walked up to the panoramic display. His footfalls echoed loudly despite the room’s limitless dimensions. His fellow Seekers gathered behind him.

One by one, Vierj eliminated every last seraph with brutal efficiency. None of them could offer any hope of resistance, and the two that tried to flee were chased down and killed from behind.

Four more holograms flickered into existence behind Veketon. He lowered his head and sighed deeply. The full force of this tragedy had not yet sunk in. All eleven of them were dead, killed by his own daughter.

“What is she doing now?” Dendolet asked.

Veketon looked up.

Vierj dropped to the cold, cracked rubble that had once been the capital. Only the Aktenai fleet in orbit remained to oppose her. They numbered over one hundred ships, but none of their weapons could penetrate her barrier. And so they waited, their armaments trained on a target even portal lances could not harm.

Vierj raised her arms and summoned a sphere of black energy between her open palms. The sphere grew until it was as large as her seraph, then it dwarfed her seraph, and then her seraph was nothing but a speck underneath the vast, engorged sphere.

“Whatever she is doing, we must stop it.” Veketon closed his eyes and connected to the fleet.

Even in this new form, his simulated neural link functioned the same as before. With a mental twitch, he ordered all ships to target the sphere and open fire. As one, the ships in orbit brought their weapons to bear, synchronized, and fired.

Two hundred fifteen fusion beams struck the sphere, each a white-hot lance of focused energy, and eight c-cannons joined in a fraction of a second later, invisible projections that, when they struck the sphere, ignited with the blinding light of instant matter-energy conversion.

The air around Vierj heated to plasma, and great shock waves rushed outward, tearing through Ittenrashik’s lush landscape. Lakes turned to vapor, and whole forests ignited.

The sphere continued to swell.

“Veketon, what are you doing?” Dendolet placed a hand on his shoulder. The physical sensation felt distant, fuzzy. He ignored it.

“Keep firing,” he said.

“All we’re doing is damaging the planet.”

“I said keep firing!”

Five hundred fusion torpedoes followed the first barrage, each of them erupting into miniature suns against the sphere. Dozens of phase missiles arrived a half-second later, traversing the distance to the target instantly. Phase ruptures drank in the plasma storm, then spasmed it back out again.

Several phase missiles landed beneath the sphere. These tore mountain-sized chunks out of the planet’s surface, compressed them to the size of pebbles, then ejected them in a storm of speeding matter.

Vierj did not move. The sphere did not waver.

“Veketon, we must stop!” Dendolet said. “The planet’s biosphere will be ruined if we continue! We must think of the survivors!”

Veketon watched the attack in silence. The orbital barrage was a desperate act, but it was all he had left.

Vierj’s sphere reached six hundred kilometers in diameter, now a tenth the size of the planet itself. She looped around to the top and thrust it towards the surface.

The sphere struck and flattened, and part of it sank into the planet. It expanded into a growing blister that rushed outward, the outer edge becoming a black wave that engulfed everything it touched.

“No …” Veketon whispered, finally realizing what was happening.

“What is she doing?” Dendolet asked.

“She’s pushing the entire planet into an axis of accelerated time,” Veketon said. “She is going to kill our home.”

Behind him, Xixek gasped. Dendolet bit her lower lip, unable to pull her eyes away.

The wave of energy hugged Ittenrashik’s surface. It now covered half the planet, and its wave fronts surged towards each other on the planet’s night side.

Veketon shook his head. “Cease fire.”

The wave fronts met, and for the briefest of moments the entire planet was ensconced within a black egg. And then, with shocking suddenness, the entire field vanished, revealing a desecrated world.

Gone were the sprawling cities, clean oceans, and emerald landscapes. Now its cities sat in cold ruin. The oceans were drained somehow, and craters pockmarked a bleak landscape. Strange artifices hung in space, impressive in size, but ancient and derelict.

The planet was so cold that its atmosphere had frozen.

What happened here? Veketon thought. How many years did Vierj make our home suffer?

“Any signs of survivors?” he asked.

Dendolet could only shake her head.

Dead … all of them … a billion lives … Veketon felt numb, unable to fully appreciate death on this scale. He had led his followers to their dooms.

“And the Cherub Crèche?” he asked.

“Not even they survived.”

Veketon nodded a wordless reply and let out a slow sigh. He focused on the image of Vierj’s seraph, impotent anger welling up within his heart.

The image magnified through the haze of thinning weapon plasma, and he noticed a striking change. Her seraph was still black, but it was not the featureless black of her chaos barrier. Rather, it bore the metallic sheen of armor.

“Vierj’s seraph is visible,” Veketon said, almost a whisper as if he didn’t fully believe his eyes.

Dendolet looked up sharply. The other Seekers gathered around and studied the images intently.

“You’re correct,” Dendolet said. “Her chaos barrier has weakened considerably.”

“That attack must have taken a lot out of her,” Veketon said. “Open fire! Hit her with everything we have!”

The Aktenai ships in orbit fired as soon as the order came in, their guns already trained on the now vulnerable target. Hundreds of fusion beams struck Vierj, tossing her about like a twig in a hurricane. Fusion torpedoes erupted around her, knocking her back with each eruption.

Phase missiles appeared next to her and imploded into space-rending distortions. C-cannons struck the barren wastelands beneath her seraph and instantly converted part of the planet into energy. White hot explosions fountained upward with planet-cracking force.

 Vierj wove through the fusillade. She didn’t want to be hit anymore.

“We’re hurting her,” Veketon breathed.

Vierj flew up towards the fleet, battered and wounded, but not beaten. She lashed out with a whip of energy and cleaved the nearest ship in two.

Fusion beams and torpedoes pounded Vierj from all directions, and she tumbled back, explosions blossoming all around her. She regained control and cut through another ship. Its broken halves fell away, rent edges glowing hotly.

Another coordinated salvo of beams focused on her as if through a magnifying glass, and the armor of her right shoulder blistered and cracked. Black blood trailed out of the wound. Vierj dashed through the heart of the fleet.

A volley of phase missiles struck her, warping the space around her, and another crack in her seraph’s armor appeared. Her upper wings bent towards one of the spatial rips, and energized blood poured from the wound.

Vierj accelerated and flew straight up. She cleared the fleet’s battle lines and shot away from the planet at full speed.

Veketon permitted himself a tight grin. His daughter was running.

Beam salvos, torpedo shoals, and phase blasts followed her, but Vierj fled the planet at reckless speeds. She engaged her fold engine and vanished in a flash of light.

The Aktenai fleet did not pursue.