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Holo Writing LLC

PRINT: Throne of the Dead (Paperback)

PRINT: Throne of the Dead (Paperback)

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Book Two in the Seraphim Revival series.

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

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Fueled by the Soul. Exiled 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.

Quennin S’Kev was a seraph pilot before injuries scorched her mind and stripped her abilities. Exiled by her people for reasons she does not understand, she lives on without honor or purpose. It is an existence so repulsive to her that she openly considers ending her own life.

All that changes when enemy commandos kidnap Quennin and bring her before the renegade Veketon. He claims he can restore her talents, even make them stronger, and offers her a place in his army worthy of her skills. It is everything her heart secretly desires.

His price?

She must swear allegiance to the worst traitor her people have ever known.

From national bestselling author Jacob Holo comes a fun, fast-paced read for anyone who’s ever wanted to pilot a giant robot.


“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 THRONE OF THE DEAD

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

Quennin queried her neural link and requested the time. She’d dawdled too much this morning and quickly headed downstairs for breakfast. The Choir and the Sovereign of Aktenzek had not been unkind in their dismissal of her. They had granted her an estate on Earth: a fabulous beach house that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.

Lavish accommodations. Sandy beaches. Hot and sunny weather. Plenty of things to see and do.

But however pleasant, exile was still exile. Earth would never be her home.

She ordered breakfast from the autokitchen underneath a wide circular table. Her plate rose from the hole in the table’s center. She ate through half of the cold idri ball, which resembled a blueberry muffin in taste and texture, then stuffed two strips of Earther bacon into her mouth.

Quennin pulled a loose shirt over her swimsuit, rushed back upstairs, and slipped her sheathed knife into a pocket. She patted the familiar shape, feeling comforted by its presence, then exited the house.

Her skin prickled from the mild morning chill. She followed a stone path down to the beach.

Zo Nezrii, pilot of Aktenzek and honor guard to its Sovereign, waved excitedly and rose from the sand. She stood a head shorter than Quennin, slight of build with long, black hair twisted together in a complex weave. Her braid bounced happily behind her as she jogged up the shallow sandy incline.

Quennin immediately noticed the swimsuit. It was very hard not to, since there was so little of it. “Scandalous” might have been a good word. It looked like an Earther style.

“Quennin! It’s been so long!” Zo hurried over and gave her a tight hug.


“You been well?”

Quennin broke away and held Zo at arm’s length. “As well as can be expected. Where’s Mezen?”

“Down by the dock. Someone—” Zo bobbed her head towards the dock. “—thought it would be fun to go for a boat ride. He has no interest in swimming but wants to ride in some rickety deathtrap made of wood! From trees! I swear, some of these Earthers are insane, and I think it’s contagious. We should just pitch Mezen overboard when we get out to sea.”

Quennin couldn’t help but smile. Zo hadn’t changed a bit.

The two women walked leisurely down the beach until they reached the dock. Craggy rock jutted up out of the ground, bisecting beach and ocean. Stairs cut up through the rock to the flattened top, where the wooden dock extended out further into the ocean. Quennin spotted Mezen walking back from several vessels. Some of them were so primitive they actually used wind to move.

Mezen, another member of the Sovereign’s honor guard, resembled a slab of muscle in storm-gray pants with a white shirt buttoned up to the neck. A crosshatch of scars peeked out near his throat and wrists: grim tokens from his imprisonment at the hands of the Grendeni decades ago. He had never spoken to Quennin about his scars and probably never would.

Zo cupped her hands around her mouth. “Are you done finding us a deathtrap to sink in?”

Mezen looked back at the boats for a few seconds, then turned to Zo and nodded.

“Well, we can all die out in the ocean later today!” she said. “We ladies are going for a swim!”

Mezen nodded again before heading back to the boats.

“Uhh.” Zo gave Mezen’s back a dismissive wave. “Come on. Let’s go.”


They followed the shore towards the beach house. Wet sand squished between Quennin’s toes. The morning sun warmed her skin, and a cool salty breeze blew in over the waters.

“Are Kevik and Kiro stopping by?” Quennin asked.

“Yeah, the twins will be around later today.” Zo shielded her eyes and gazed across the ocean. A pair of seagulls flew overhead. “My, real planets are something, aren’t they?”

“If you say so.”

“Oh come on. You have beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and a real sun over your head. A real sun!”

“I can’t tell the difference.”

“And just look at this ocean! It goes on and on!”

“Same as ours.”

“Come on. Ours only look like they’re endless.”

Quennin grimaced at this.

A familiar shape peeked over the horizon. The fat off-white orb rose into the morning sky, appearing many times larger than Earth’s Moon.

It was Aktenzek, the fortress planet.

My rightful home, Quennin thought with a pang of bitterness.

The fortress planet’s surface was a random patchwork of pale armor plains and mountainous machines. Lights twinkled across its cold, airless shell, some of them marking passages into the planet’s subterranean labyrinths. Despite its obvious proximity and mass, the tides remained unaffected by the Earth’s artificial neighbor.

“My, would you look at that,” Zo breathed, grinning.

Quennin stared at her feet instead.

“Oh,” Zo said. “Sorry. I didn’t mean …”

“Don’t worry. I’m used to seeing it from here.”

“Try not to let it get you down, okay?”


“You should be enjoying yourself more. Have you been socializing with the locals?”

“Not really.”

Not at all, to be honest, Quennin thought. The cultural rules were so different on Earth. So much hiding behind false words. She didn’t know where to begin, and even if she had, she still wouldn’t bother.

“It’s easy,” Zo said. “You remember Jared? The weird Earth Nation pilot that keeps hanging around my daughter?”

“Yeah, I remember him.”

“Well, he explained it to me once. The girl dresses nice and goes to something called a bar. A bunch of guys approach her, and she picks the one she wants.”

“I somehow doubt it’s that simple.”

“Come on. You should give it a try. It’s better than sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Have you spoken to … to Seth recently?”

“No,” Zo said too quickly.

“You’re lying.”

“Seth is out of your reach. You need to move on.”

Zo’s words stung like a slap to the face.

“If you won’t tell me about Seth,” Quennin said, “then tell me how the war is going.”

Zo shook her head and let out a weary sigh. “You know, I’ve just spent six months on the front. This is the last thing I want to talk about.”

“Well, it’s something I want to talk about. All I get are watered-down news reports. I want to know how the war is really going.”

“It’s been tough,” Zo said, her voice growing quiet.

“Are we winning?”

“Hard to say.”

Quennin grabbed her shoulder. “Zo, are we winning the war?”

“Look, I shouldn’t talk about this, but …” Zo’s lips trembled on the edge of a word.

“Are things really that bad?”

Slowly, Zo nodded.

How was that even possible? How could Aktenzek lose when it had the seraphs and their pilots? Were the Dead Fleet and its Outcast allies really that powerful?

Quennin knew the basics of the war, but not much beyond that. Powerful enemies opposed Aktenzek, such as the Dead Fleet: thousands upon thousands of robotic warships controlled from the fortress planet Zu’Rashik. The Dead Fleet answered unswervingly to the Original Eleven: founders of the Aktenai people who were once their most revered leaders.

And then there were the Zekuut: Outcasts from the far side of the Galaxy, whom the Original Eleven had called to their banner. The Outcasts continued to send inexhaustible waves of ships and materiel against the increasingly stretched Alliance fleets.

“Zo, I can help. You know I can. Even if it’s menial work, just let me contribute. Let me help. I want to help!”

“I’m sorry,” Zo said.

A firm hand squeezed Quennin’s shoulder, startling her. She hadn’t heard Mezen approach.

“You should respect the wishes of the Sovereign,” he said in a quiet, gravelly voice. “He placed you on Earth for your own good. Please understand this even if you don’t know why.”

Quennin didn’t meet his gaze. She felt suddenly ashamed that she’d made her guests so uncomfortable. Zo and Mezen didn’t have to visit her, and they had. But a small flash of anger heated her cheeks. She’d been exiled for her own good? She didn’t believe that for a second.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Mezen said to Zo. “I want to get a few things for the deathtrap.”

“Sure thing, Mez.”

Mezen headed up the stone path and disappeared into the beach house.

Zo sat down on a wide, blue towel, and Quennin joined her.

“I’m sorry about that, Zo.”

“It’s not your fault. I know this isn’t easy on you. But Mezen is right.”

“It sure doesn’t seem like that.” Quennin buried her toes in the sand at the towel’s edge. “Can you at least tell me about Seth? You’ve spoken to him recently, haven’t you?”

“You know better than that. Please take my advice, and leave him in the past.”

“Yeah,” Quennin nodded, accepting her defeat. There would be other opportunities, but she’d lost this one. “Sorry about being a bad host.”

“It’s all right.”

“I know this isn’t much of an excuse, but I haven’t felt like myself lately.”

“Really? What’s been bothering you?”

“I haven’t been sleeping well.” Quennin lay back on the towel. She gazed up at the crisp blue sky. “I keep having these recurring nightmares.”

If Quennin had been watching, she would have noticed an immediate change in Zo, who was now listening very closely.

“What kind of nightmares?”

Quennin smiled humorlessly. “They’re pretty weird. They happen in these surreal places. One is in the sky. The most perfect blue sky you could ever imagine, stretching up and down and to all sides, with magnificent white cities floating serenely through it all.”

“Sounds nice. How’s it turn into a nightmare?”

“It’s strange. I feel so at peace in the beginning. And then this woman appears and forces me to the ground. Her face strikes me as familiar, but I’ve never seen her before, and her eyes are cold with these unusual silver irises. She’s so strong. I don’t even have a chance. She kills me, but I don’t wake up. I just lay there slumped against a wall, watching as she rips open my chest and starts tearing out my organs.”

“Eww …”


“You have that often?”

“Once or twice a week.”

“Hmm. Any others?”

There was another, more terrible dream, one filled with fire and brass and smoke and that same woman, but just thinking about it made Quennin’s heart race. She had no desire to talk about it.

“Just variations of the one,” she lied.

“A hobby. That’s what you need. Something to take your mind off things. Like Jared and those pointless Earther games of his.”

“I’ll pass on that, thanks.”

Zo patted her arm. “Only kidding. Come on. Let’s go for a swim.”


The two women stood up and headed for the lapping waters.

Thunder cracked in a cloudless sky. The booming sound stunned her ears and resonated in her stomach.

A fast, sleek shape suddenly appeared. It streaked by overhead and crashed full force into the ocean. A gust of wind threw both women to the ground. Light distorted around them then snapped back to normal.

“A fold engine?” Quennin rose to her feet. She rubbed an abrasion on her elbow. “That was a ship folding in!”

“It couldn’t be,” Zo said. “Not this far into a gravity well. There shouldn’t be enough of it left to fill a spoon.”

“Then what did we just see? Did you get a good look at the ship? I didn’t recognize the type.”

Zo shook her head. “Just a glance. If I were to guess, I’d say that ship was an Outcast orbital flyer.”

“What, here? On Earth?”

“Doesn’t make sense, I know. Every alarm in the Earth Nation Fleet must be going off right now. We need to get out of here.”

“Right. My aircar’s in the house.”

“Better than nothing.”

“This way!” Quennin ran up the beach. Zo sprinted after her.

Water exploded behind them, and a ship like a silver arrow flew out and leveled itself above the water. Quennin glanced over her shoulder to get a good look. The Outcast flyer’s prow was a forward-facing delta with smooth curves and fat wings, all clad in reflective armor. Weapons bristled from the nose and hung in clusters underneath the wings.

Behind the triangular front was a long cylinder, three times the length of the main body and encased in the same reflective armor. Quennin guessed it to be some sort of booster section.

It’s built for speed, she thought.

The flyer hovered above the shoreline. A rectangular hatch opened along its belly.

Zo sent out a message over her neural link. Quennin patched in and listened. “Kevik! Kiro! Are either of you near your seraphs?”

“We’re both nearby. What’s going on?”

“Questions can wait! Get on board and get over to my position NOW!!!”


“Help is on the way!” Zo shouted out loud. Quennin could barely hear her over the flyer’s engine.

Watery blurs dropped from the flyer’s bay, hit the ground softly, and ran towards the two women.

Outcast warriors with active stealth fields and gravity harnesses, Quennin thought. She turned away and pumped her legs even harder.

Something struck the back of her knee, and she tumbled. Zo shouted out, but her voice died against the shriek of the flyer’s engine. Quennin found herself on her back with two Outcast warriors standing over her. Colors and light constantly shifted to conceal their position, but this close, Quennin could just barely see a solid outline. They held their stubby weapons single-handedly, barrels trained on her.

The closest Outcast grabbed her and effortlessly flipped her onto her stomach. He bound her hands behind her back and lifted her to her feet. His movements were practiced and precise, without waste, and inhumanly strong.

As her captor held her bound arms, Quennin counted four Outcasts total: two on either side of her and two in front with weapons trained on Zo.

“Get out of here, Zo!” Quennin shouted, but Zo didn’t move. She’d stopped running a few strides away.

“You can’t take her!” Zo shouted. “You have no idea what—”

The rest of her words drowned in the flyer’s earsplitting roar. Outcasts kept Zo in their sights but held their fire. This was incomprehensible! A seraph pilot stood before them, and they didn’t shoot? It made no sense!

The flyer halted directly overhead. Her captor held her bound arms with an iron grip. The air buzzed with the effects of a short-range gravity field, and she found herself lifted into the flyer’s belly.

The four Outcasts and Quennin crowded into the flyer’s interior: a space designed for utility, not comfort. Screen-skin covered the walls, granting a view of their surroundings. As the bay door began to close, she spotted a silvery glint approaching along the shoreline.

Just the sight of it made Quennin’s heart skip a beat.

The seraph stood roughly in the shape of a man, but was so large it could crush the flyer in one hand. Six blade-like wings extended from its back, their edges glowing brightly. Its armored skin gleamed in the morning sunlight, so polished and beautiful that the Outcast flyer appeared dull by comparison. Delicate curls and curlicues etched across its chest, limbs, and wings, each burning with a fierce inner fire.

It was one of the six Renseki seraphs flown by the Sovereign’s honor guard, and it bore straight in. The Outcasts had only seconds to make their escape.

“You’re all going to die,” Quennin said.

The bay door sealed, and the flyer accelerated hard towards the seraph.

In a flash, the two craft shot past each other. The seraph reached out, and the tip of a finger grazed the bottom of the Outcast flyer. Quennin felt the craft shudder and lurch forward before righting itself.

He must have launched without weapon pods, she thought.

The Renseki seraph turned about, exhaust from its wings blowing sand off the beach in a great storm.

The flyer’s booster section ignited with a deafening crack. Quennin instinctively fought against her bonds to cover her ears, to no avail. The flyer punched up through the atmosphere, shuddering so violently she thought it would break apart. Behind them, air friction turned the pursuing seraph into a flaming comet.

The sound died down to a low continuous thrumming. Quennin couldn’t believe such a craft was capable of outrunning a seraph. She glanced around, appraising her situation.

Even in this extraordinary plight, her thoughts remained calm. She observed where a lesser person would panic. Since early childhood, she had been raised as a pilot of Aktenzek, and the long years of discipline and constant battle did not fail her now.

The four Outcast warriors had switched off their stealth fields and stashed their weapons. They wore flexible body armor that meshed tightly with their fit physiques. Without the stealth fields blurring color and light, Quennin spotted an ornate design painted like a sash across their chests: orange and black dancing in a diagonal swirl.

Quennin didn’t recognize the pattern and took it to represent whatever Outcast nation these four men hailed from. But there was something else, a band across their right arms: black and white in a familiar pattern of tightly packed circles, semi-circles, and arches.

The soldiers wore Veketon’s heraldry. These four were pawns of the Dead Fleet and its leaders, the Original Eleven.

None of this makes sense! she thought.

The closest Outcast removed his helmet. He looked human enough, despite being an Outcast. A buzz cut of black hair framed a square face that, if not handsome, was at least not ugly. Dark piercing eyes appraised her.

“You serve Veketon,” Quennin said. It was not a question.

Around them, sky turned into the black of space. Soon the flyer would be free of Earth’s gravity well and able to fold space out of the solar system. Quennin looked back, watching the Renseki seraph fall further and further behind.

“My name is Plaerion,” the Outcast said. “And yes, I serve the First of the Eleven. By delivering you to him, our nation will gain great prestige.”

Quennin shook her head. It just didn’t make sense. What value did she have? Why would the Original Eleven bother with a wounded and powerless pilot like her?

Quennin reached into the flyer’s information network. As a pilot, she’d been fitted with one of the finest neural links in existence. Covertly, her implants hunted for chinks in the flyer’s network security. Perhaps she could find something that would explain her circumstances.

The flyer folded space. The smiling crescents of Earth, Moon, and the fortress planet Aktenzek vanished from view. Formations of Outcast flyers snapped into existence, glittering in the light of the new system’s star.

“Why have you captured me?” she asked.

“Master Veketon ordered us to.”

Quennin snorted out a joyless laugh. An automaton’s answer: He did it because he was ordered to. What other reason would he need?

Her neural link gained some purchase into the flyer’s network. For now, she could covertly monitor several data streams, though actual intervention would alert her captors.

Loud mechanical clanks reverberated through the flyer’s hull. The spent booster drifted away.

Quennin found a tactical data stream and examined it. Over one hundred Outcast flyers formed up around them. She was now hidden in a swarm of identical craft, escorted by sixteen powerful warships. Ten sleek frigates and five massive dreadnoughts established a tight defense around a stubby negator, which activated its disruptive field effect, disabling enemy fold engines in range.

They’re going to pin our pursuers in this system, Quennin thought. That will delay the pursuit for when we fold again.

The Outcasts were going through great lengths to capture her. Negators were notoriously expensive to build and operate.

A fold point snapped open, and the Renseki seraph flew out of a ring of twisted light. With her flyer now hidden in a shoal of one hundred, the Renseki hesitated for a moment, then turned towards the negator. Outcast warships came about and opened fire, but their concentrated plasma beams ricocheted off the seraph’s barrier.

The seraph rammed the negator like a kinetic torpedo, buckling the warship’s armor and causing it to spin end over end. The seraph clambered across the exterior until it reached the midsection and raised an arm back. It ignited a chaos dagger from its wrist and sunk the energy blade into the negator’s thick armor.

With both hands, the seraph forced the hull open.

Two more Renseki seraphs folded into the system.

Quennin closed the data stream. “You didn’t answer my question. Why did you capture me?”

“Master Veketon will explain his reasons to you in person,” Plaerion said.

“In person? That’s a strange way to talk about the Original Eleven. They’ve been dead for millennia.”

Plaerion gave her a smug grin. “I find your ignorance amusing, Quennin S’Kev.”

The shoal of one hundred flyers folded space and vanished.