GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Excerpt: Neodymium Sacrifice (The Neodymium Chronicles Book 3) by Jen Finelli | I Smell Sheep

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Monday, December 5, 2022

Excerpt: Neodymium Sacrifice (The Neodymium Chronicles Book 3) by Jen Finelli

Neodymium Sacrifice (The Neodymium Chronicles Book 3)
by Jen Finelli
Dec 6, 2022
374 pages
Publisher: WordFire Press
The Universe is nursing a morning-after hangover.

That’s how ex-freedom-fighter Lem Benzaran feels. Exiled after going AWOL to save her world, she lives in a changed galaxy in the aftermath of a purge that wiped entire planets clean of people like herself. A vague prophecy plagues her isolation: she’s destined to cause the Universe’s heat death.

Jei Bereens is one of Lem’s only contacts with her old life. Once his command team’s golden boy, Jei’s now under constant surveillance as a distrusted super-weapon. Worse, amidst waves of withdrawal from his lost love’s nerve pheromone, Jei’s struggling to break free of the childhood rival who’s learned to use that vulnerability to trap him in his mind.

That rival, Jared Diebol, now holds almost every card he needs to take full control of the forces bent on homogenizing the galaxy. Driven to desperation by Lem and Jei, Diebol’s created a mind-control device that may finally turn Jei into the world-destroying machine he needs to end this war. If Lem tries to stop him, Diebol vows to kill her at Jei’s hand.

Between Jei’s struggle for freedom, Lem’s desperation to escape her destiny, and Diebol’s hunt for control—someone has to give, and someone has to die.

Praise for Neodymium Exodus:
“The fascinating characters matched with inventive biological details makes this an adventure that’s sure to enthrall.”—Publishers Weekly

“Snappy teen protagonists (Lem is sixteen, Bereens a handful of years older), an epic conflict over the very structure of society, and battles both stealthy and dramatic combine to make an entertaining, quick read set in a lightly sketched but intriguing world.”—Booklist

Series on Amazon

Chapter 1

If only everyone could speak their own tongue.

The tunnels of the Beryllian mines echoed with crunching rocks, a constant baseline to one of the premier research facilities in the galaxy, where hands-on learning and work experience attracted almost everyone with a pulse. Along the rough hallways, through bubbling laboratories, lively classrooms, and bustling forges, teenagers of all species chirped, gurgled, or otherwise laughed or complained, chattering to each other in their various accents.

All in the same filking mandatory language, though.

Lem Benzaran shook bitterness and sweaty hair off her forehead with a violent toss of her head as she swung the pickax in the darkness again. Here in the shadows of this hidden shaft she couldn’t afford to use automated mining equipment herself—but she could hear it running in the lit tunnel outside, and its whir annoyed her as much as that one girl’s grating voice.

“Bla bla bla boys. You sound just like a lieutenant I used to know, Kym,” Lem muttered, tossing the pickax to the side again to get her fingers around cool stone. Still stone. Still not earth. Not that she expected real soil here on Beryllia, not dark and rich like the jungles back home, but she hoped to hit red dust and pebbles at some point soon.

Jei’s waiting.

It had been a couple weeks since Lem’s last communication with either her former sparring partner Jei Bereens, or her Biouk adopted brother, Cinta. She missed Cinta’s giant, expressive furry ears, and she wondered if his fangs had started to grow at all. Shyte, she hadn’t even seen his face in almost a year, since he had to kind of keep their long-distance conversations under wraps after—well. Cinta now had to travel all the way off-post, back to the Biouk village where they’d grown up in the treetops, to place short calls to her. Even Jei, once every commander’s golden boy, couldn’t reach Lem without sneaking off to find an open network in whatever civilian city he happened to be in for whatever mission, and from what Lem understood, the Frelsi’s top bigwigs had him on a short leash with lots of time-out in between.

No one else really wanted to talk to her these days.

Lem shook her head to snap herself into focus. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what anyone else wanted or said. What mattered right now was getting out of this idiotic school back to the real world. Lem’s palms sparked in the darkness as she gripped the boulder in front of her and pulled—come on, come on, dislodge—think backwards, think harder, get that electromagnetic nervous system powered up, pull—

No good.

She paused, glancing over her shoulder out of habit as she panted with the taste of iron in her mouth. There was no one else here. Far behind her, only the faintest ring of light outlined the rock that hid the entrance to her secret mine shaft from the people in the main tunnel. She was safe here.

Lem resented the forces that made her watch over her shoulder anyway.

The former Frelsi Cadet no longer had to hide her thoughts, but she’d kept her powers secret all this last year. Couldn’t have word getting back to the Growen that she’d turned up on the center for learning in the galaxy. Theoretically Beryllia was a pretty good place for a human Lem’s age to blend in: with high security and ample research programs, most young civilians spent some time here at one point or another.

Most young civilians didn’t get sent here after living most of their lives with a militant freedom force, though. Shyte, it was harder getting along with people here than undercover with the filking gray kid-killers. Lem gritted her teeth as she swung the pickax again. She resisted—swing—resisted—crash—resisted the urge to snarl. At least in the Growen torture camp she’d had a battle-buddy. Shyte, even disguised in Growen uniform at least she’d had a purpose. Most people like Lem ended up in refugee forts with the Frelsi, so most people here either sympathized with the Growen, or just knew nothing about the galaxy beyond “do your homework and get a good career.” If Lem had to hear one more teacher remark about the “Contaminated extremists...”

Lem grunted as a pocket of dust exploded under her next blow. Sure, Growen soldiers talked like that, too, but Growen soldiers actually had to cash the checks their tongues wrote. And most soldiers didn’t have time to actively spread nonsense to impressionable young civilians.

Impressionable young civilians...listen to me, like I got age on them or something. But the numbers didn’t matter. Everyone here seemed like little kids to Lem.

Lem straightened, dropped her pickax, and pulled her mace off her belt with a fierce exhale. Eh, she had nothing on the other civvies here. She was one, too, now. She wasn’t Frelsi. She wasn’t fighting to save the galaxy from homogenization. Gossip and accusations from Frelsi Command and former comrades alike rang in her ears, as if carried on the vibrations of the machines in the tunnel outside. She was erratic, they’d said, possibly even a traitor. She stopped moving for a moment, like her body had forgotten what she was doing—like it was locking her forever in that dark, curtained conference room, looping over and over through last year’s shyte hearing.

Lem shook herself off, spinning her mace with a frustrated grunt and a deep breath. I knew what I was getting into when I went undercover with the Growen. It’s fine. She flicked a groove on the mace to switch it on; red laser washed across the staff, rippling around and avoiding her fingers to blossom into a spiked orb on one end that danced like the ancient models of the atom. With clenched teeth she leaned in to the wall, pressing the spiked orb of light into the stone. Lem didn’t want to damage the staff casing or its DNA-sensing components by whacking it against rock over and over, but the controlled plasma could carve a good-sized chunk with gentle pressure…there, now the rock began to heat, crumble, and glow under her push. She’d alternated between this, the pickax, and her em-abilities for the last few hours.

It was fine. She’d just figured she’d die before getting disgraced. She kinda wished she had.

Of course you don’t mean that.

Oh, Njandejara. A cool draft in the darkness answered Lem’s thoughts; the still voice of her invisible friend sounded far away today, as if shouting into her thoughts from down a deep, deep tunnel, or from the distant past. You don’t mean that, it said—it, because he sounded like an it, today, just a sentient flicker of temperature in the stone. What about Jei?

Well. Yeah. Lem huffed, breathing through her effort. That was worth the stupidity of being alive. Her sparring partner was free from that witch because Lem hadn’t died.

“That wasn’t all me, though,” she grunted back. Jei could take down a filking regiment with his bare hands now. Lem grinned, despite herself, remembering the sudden lurch as he, deaf and blind, ripped her ship out of the sky in rebellion against his lady’s mind control. Lem had no doubts that Jei would have taken out his tormentors on his own eventually.

But—as a tiny rivulet of sweat began to trickle down Lem’s spine, the voice, or the coolness, or perhaps simple logic, rebuked her—she had to admit it wasn’t likely Jei could’ve then escaped with his life. Killed everybody, yes—survived, no. Not against two Stygges with that kind of hold on him.

She was glad, at least, that she’d been there—that, at least, was not a waste.

And if she could get through this filking planet crust to the extraction point, she could finally see him again.

Suddenly the boulder hiding Lem’s secret tunnel straight up exploded behind her.

The sound of the blast threw Lem’s nerves into high alert; sparks lit around her in a forcefield as she whirled, mace raised. Splintered rock fragments like knives shot past her as a beam of light hit her face.

“What the bloodseas?” Lem exclaimed.

The silhouette of a shocked civilian stood at the entrance to Lem’s secret tunnel, his hand outstretched like a claw, jaw agape. Lem couldn’t see any explosives or mining equipment on him—had he—?

“Did I just—did—did I do that?” he gasped.

Yup. He’d blown up the rock with his bare hand.

About the author:

Jen Finelli is a world-traveling scifi author who's ridden a motorcycle in a monsoon, swum with sharks, crawled under barbed wire in the mud, and hiked everywhere from hidden coral deserts and island mountains to steaming underground urban tunnels littered with poetry. She was once locked inside a German nunnery, and recently had to find her way through swamp-filled Korean foothills dotted with graveyards on Friday the 13th under a full moon without a flashlight. On her quest to rescue stories often swallowed by the shadows, she's delivered babies, cradled the dying, and interviewed everyone from prostitutes to Senators. If you want cancer-fighting zombie fiction, dinosaur picture books, scientists jumping into volcanoes, or talking cars and peyote legislation, you might like Jen. You're welcome to download some of her stories for free at, or join her quest to build a clinic for the needy at Jen's a practicing MD, FAWM candidate, and sexual assault medical forensic examiner--but when she grows up, she wants to be a superhero.

For reading this far in the bio, you get a book free!  (This one's not available in the stores.)

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