Amidst Alien Stars by Clayton Graham Book Tour and Giveaway :)


Amidst Alien Stars 
Milijun Book 2 
by Clayton Graham 
Genre: Science Fiction 


Mysterious and chilling events on an alien world threaten the interstellar survival of the human race… 

They have awoken surrounded by alien stars. 

Following their abduction from Earth, Laura Sinclair and son, Jason, lead a group of desperate humans in a bid to forge their own future and that of their home planet. 

To succeed, they must solve the puzzle of extraterrestrial races in the throes of a perplexing and historic conflict. 

But they are in a strange new universe; on a bizarre and dangerous planet. Who can they really trust as they struggle to understand the challenging and hostile environment that holds them in a grip of iron? And what do the aliens really plan for them and their hybrid children? 

"There is world building of such depth and lush detail that you could almost feel it." Kay Mack TOP 1000 REVIEWER

"Not only is this an exciting, action-packed paged turner - I love the intelligence reflected, the witty dialogue, and the genuine depth in the characters’ emotions." Meenaz Lodhi

"Admirable world-building and the unsurpassable, indefatigable, drive of the human Spirit to not just survive, but to thrive, power this engrossing sequel to the author's debut science fiction novel, MILIJUN." Mallory A Haws 

Amidst Alien Stars is the second book in the Milijun series, but can also be enjoyed as a standalone. 


1

Dawn found Laura studying the growth tanks again. It seemed like she came here every morning, watching the children grow to maturity, one tank for each woman spirited away by the Gliezans. And the DNA of her son, Jason, imprinted in each and every one of them! Despite being just forty-two years old, she was grandmother to each, and the beholden guardian of them all. She was also their mentor, albeit via the alien technology that currently grew their bodies at almost forty times the normal rate. They looked human enough if you could ignore the alabaster skin with a tinge of green around the cheeks and the clusters of red hair floating above the small, flat ears, contrasting with what she thought of as their normal brown hair. And, of course, their bright, steely eyes! Small noses, of course, but at least the lips were human. Laura thought that was important. She didn’t know why; it just was. And already so tall! Perhaps half a head taller than Jason. They looked about sixteen years old now and, like she and Jason and the other abducted humans, had been circling around Glieze for just under five Earth-months. Simon Cordell, had mentioned in one of his more lucid moments that the alien chemistry was silicon-based, not carbon-based like that of humans. How could she believe that, for Jason’s DNA to combine with such creatures? Yet here was the evidence! She looked at the nearest child, floating in its tank, arms out wide as if it were flying. The body was as near perfect as it could be. The face possessed an aura of peace and confidence. The genitalia appeared normal. There were no tubes or other connections to flesh. The chest did not rise and fall. But it was alive, as surely as she was. And she could see the aura, flickering gently with muted colours inside the transparent tank. Her powers induced at Milijun had not diminished. Indeed, they seemed to have grown. She had the beginnings of a telepathic connection with her son, and she could swear she even saw faint auras around Gliezan bodies. Such a responsibility she had: to help decide when the hybrids would be released, when they would accompany her and Jason back home, when they would begin the task of communing the alien intent to the people of Earth. And how, she wondered, could that be in Australia, where the initial attempt at cooperation had ended in violence born of ignorance and fear? In this room, there were six hybrid children. In other rooms, the rest grew at a similar pace. Their release must come soon, probably within months, yet she feared it, as if it were some dreaded disease to be visited upon Earth. How could she, Laura Sinclair, architect, single mother—if I wasn’t before, I certainly am now—influence world statesmen, and do so in a world still recovering from the effects of terrible wars? But isn’t that the point of it all? Isn't that what the Gliezans preach? Join us, reach out, and know your universe. As if by magic, Rjebnigerrsel was beside her, ankle-length Gliezan robe shimmering in the half-light. As always the words came to her on wings, as if entering her mind without the need for her ears or their connection to her brain. “You are here again, Lady Laura. They grow well, do they not?” Laura turned and studied her Gliezan counsellor as she always did. Taller than her by a head, Rjebni possessed stern ebony features, thin lips, high cheekbones, fiery emerald eyes, and swept-back red hair. Yet, despite clearly not being part of it, he bore a remarkable affinity for the human species. How is that so? she pondered, and not for the first time. They were, after all, born of a place well beyond the reach of humankind. But, of course, they had reached out to Earth, not the other way round. She offered the alien a watery smile, amused at the Gliezan habit of addressing her as Lady Laura. “Yes. They grow well.” She had been informed that the children were learning the languages and cultures of Earth, even as they grew. Whether that meant a child would speak all major languages, or they would know all tongues as a collective group, she had not been told. Maybe it wasn’t important. “You have seen your son recently?” Laura’s face lost its smile as she shook her head. “Not today. It is early. He seems to be growing beyond me in many ways.” “Yet in others he is closer,” Rjebni said shrewdly, reading her mind. “Enjoy your day,” he whispered as he left the chamber, departing as swiftly as he had arrived. Laura followed him and walked down the corridor. She wondered about Rjebni. If he had been human, he would have borne her a severe grudge. After all, she had been with Nomi when the Milijun mole had slain the Gliezan’s brother, Rkapthgerrsel. On the other hand, the Gliezans had such a burning confidence in life after death, loss of being did not seem of much consequence to them. And it had been a risk that Rkapth had been prepared to take. She knew their knowledge of the universal dimensions was well above anything Earth had discovered or surmised, but she understood little of it. For that matter, she did not want to know. Four dimensions are enough for me! She turned and entered the viewing chamber. The planet Glieze drifted majestically below, enveloped in a purple mist, ice caps glowing, and not at all like Earth. To the side, she could see one of the tubular arms running out some distance to where another sphere was located, reflecting sunlight, harbouring its secrets. The orbiting station consisted of two huge geodetic rectangular pyramids, base to base, with six substantial spheres at the corners, twelve ovoid columns forming the connecting arms. That much they had been told. Those other five spheres, according to the philosophy of Jason, possibly contained replicas of other worlds, which meant they might shelter other species and other Gliezan hybrids. Or perhaps this sphere, the Earth sphere, was the only one operational. Maybe the others were for the future, if the Earth commune proved to be unsuccessful. It was a persistent thought, one that frightened her, one that required her to use all the enhancements Milijun had given her to prevent a catastrophic mental tsunami. Jason helped. He knew more than she did, but even he would not tell all. Why are the Gliezans so keen to explore the cosmos that they would entertain genetic interaction with humanity in order to do it? Another persistent thought. Jason had recently said it was possible that some Gliezans were not in favour of the human symbiosis, that some perhaps preferred another race from another world. What that other world was, or what the alien race that populated it looked like, was unknown. All they assumed was that their representatives were probably located in one of the other spheres. Laura shrugged. Jesus aid me! All this was just speculation. There was no proof of any of it. But at least it kept their minds occupied. She permitted herself a brief smile. Maybe that was the whole point. Hypotheses were talking matter, and talking kept them all sane. She supposed there was the possibility that the Earth hybrids would not be chosen at all, that they would all be discarded as so much unwanted flotsam. That thought sickened her, and she made hasty tracks to the building’s exit. It was snowing outside. Laura drew her dark-green, alien-made cloak around her Earth clothes, the same attire she had been wearing when she was taken from her home planet: white slacks, a blue shirt, cotton socks, and sneakers, all mysteriously replicated when required by her captors. Snow landed on her short blond hair, tickled her nose, drifted among the branches of the nearest spiderlike trees. The large flakes, larger than on Earth, fell like cascading feathers, touched the green grass, melted to nothing, and were temporarily replaced in a cycle of apparent futility. The station was obviously programmed to represent all of Earth’s more moderate climatic conditions; today the sky was grey and heavy, the air was cold, and there was no wind to call a wind. But, of course, it wasn’t home. She pined for the vastness of West Australia, the celebrated beaches, the giant Karri forests, the infinity of the Nullarbor, the pure fresh air. It had withstood the last global war better than most places, but the population had been devastated and with it the comforting infrastructure upon which all people had unthinkingly depended. A speck appeared in the clouded sky. It grew rapidly and landed beside her. An RNasia! Startled, Laura took a step backwards. Visions of encounters on Earth sped through her mind, darkened her mood, and fuelled her fear. She too easily recalled the characteristics. Mesmerising black eyes in a triangular head. Perhaps a metre tall. Two elbows as well as a wrist. Three long fingers, one opposing the other two. Green-grey sparkling skin. Scrawny legs. An apparent knuckle halfway down the instep. The robotic servants of the aliens were on this station, but she had not been approached by one before, and her first reaction was to turn tail and run. Intuition, however, told her to hold her ground while simultaneously watching its every move. The creature—she still could not think of it as a robot—lifted its arms to display the thin membranous tissues that served as energy receptors. It was, she knew, offering a greeting. To her surprise, the snow falling around the RNasia suddenly started to stick. Its triangular head rolled from side to side, as if trying to hypnotise her with its huge dark eyes. Within a minute, the grass around its feet was covered by a circular white patch of glistening crystals. One of its arms dropped slowly, enabling a three-fingered claw to touch the ground. It seemed to be scratching in the snow. Then, it stepped back, lifted one arm, and mounted the air, vanishing into the swirling snowflakes. Laura remained still, fearful of its return. Even though her nano-enhanced body could not be invaded by the creature, she could not quell thoughts of what had happened on Earth. The circular snow patch remained. She took three steps forward. There, scribbled in the snow as if it was a touchscreen, were four words. Do not trust anyone. Her heart skipped a beat. Despite the cold, sweat sprang to her face and hands. What the hell does that mean? It was supposed to be all sweetness and light here, with her mission all mapped out. Surely, she deliberated, the message could not apply to Jason. Do not trust anyone. As she pondered, the patch of snow shrank and disappeared. The message was gone. The RNasia was gone. Her fear, however, remained. Who sent the RNasia? And why? She turned and retraced her steps. She needed to see her son. 

Milijun 
Milijun Book 1 


First Contact strikes out of nowhere …

And aliens seize Laura’s son. But she will move heaven and earth to get him back, and as she becomes entrenched in a war of attrition with both the aliens and Earth authorities, she learns the fascinating secrets behind the extraterrestrial incursion.

Challenged to breaking point, Laura will fight for the survival of her son and several other humans who are unwittingly being used as pawns in a terrifying game of cosmic survival.

But she soon realizes that the aliens have plans for her, too. Can she accept the vision of a new interplanetary Earth, or will she fight to the end for a return to normality?

Witness the most engaging alien invasion ever! The exciting first novel of a stunning Science Fiction mystery. If you like tales of first contact, secret military operations, and the people caught in the middle, then you'll love this breathtaking new series.

"Captured my interest from the very beginning, and never once let go." Jenna – Indie Book Reviewers

"If you love the genre, read this gem." Julius Zon – Self Publishing Review

"This is a must-read for science fiction fans who appreciate a hard scientific foundation, in the tradition of Asimov, Niven, or Heinlein." Patrick Dent

"Million? 5 stars are all Amazon permit!" Sarah Stuart 



Laura lay back on the bed, hands clasped behind her head and knees drawn up as tightly as comfort would allow. Jason, emotionally exhausted, was asleep in the other bed and for the first time in many hours she had the luxury of undisturbed time to think the day’s events through. They had called a taxi from Robert’s house and directed it back to camp. Having found Jason, she had no wish to chase into Caiguna and risk further confrontation with the police, Janice Mepunga in particular. There was just no forgiving the policewoman for leaving her stranded at Robert’s house with a laser-seared dead body on her hands. Some semblance of inner strength returned. They would have to see Mepunga tomorrow, of course, and learn what happened to Bradley Robert or, more accurately, how he had ended up with a hole drilled in his chest. Careful not to wake Jason, she made her way outside, in search of fresh air. Looking up at the darkened sky she saw a pale moon rising and what could only be Venus shining brightly. The air held a slight chill, and she shivered involuntarily. Laura scanned the sky, half expecting something to emerge from the star-pricked canopy and descend upon her with mischief in its heart. What was it Jason had said? Sometimes when it touched me I didn’t even feel it. She didn’t know what to believe but whatever it was, Janice Mepunga was the next step. They had found the camera in a kitchen drawer, but it contained no record of Jason’s pictures. Robert had obviously removed the stick. Or, of course, the alien had. Surprisingly enough, observing Jason’s face at that moment of disappointment served to remove her doubts concerning his version of events. She had totally believed, if only for a few seconds, that an alien being had emerged from Bradley Robert and examined her son. Tomorrow they would see Mepunga. And maybe get some answers. 

***

At the Eucla defence base the only source of light in the room came from a large wall screen that portrayed the death throes of choppa flight 209 from Cape Pasley to Cocklebiddy on the night of 17 January 2179. In the room were Assistant Commissioner Ray Parlane of the West Australian Police, Major General Sebastian Ord, Air Vice-Marshal Jean Pescos and Sergeant David Jameson Cooke of the Australian Defence Force. The whole flight cam episode had run for no more than three minutes, and now the group were digesting, and struggling to understand, what they had just seen. “At least it ties in with the radar records,” Jean Pescos stated, a frown ageing her otherwise smooth, olive complexion. “Definitely two …” she struggled for the right word, “… attackers.” Sebastian Ord raised his brow at the use of the word. “Could it have been an accident, a collision?” Cooke snorted and said, “No sir. The radar shows two objects peeling away from the main group. Definitely intentional.” “I agree,” Jean Pescos ventured. “Definitely intentional. Analysis of the short flight path they took indicates an optimum trajectory for intersection with the choppa.” “You mean it shows intelligence.” Ray Parlane looked incredulous. Short, with luxurious eyebrows, he had obtained his rank by being down to earth and taking no nonsense. This whole episode did not sit well on his shoulders. “Perhaps even more to the point, what the hell are the damn things?” Sebastian Ord asked. Tall and wiry with piercing blue eyes, he wore his neatly pressed uniform like a glove. He started the video again and they watched as bright moonlight exposed a flock of large creatures moving through the night sky. The choppa had hovered no more than two hundred metres away, and its lights had picked out two of the objects breaking away to veer towards the camera. They looked large, too large for any known species of bat. Strong white beams highlighted their outstretched wings as they homed in on their target, revealing thin reticulated arms as they grew closer. Large reflective eyes dominated the screen for a moment and then focus was lost as the creatures appeared to collide intentionally with the choppa’s canopy. Ord ran the video back to show the best zoomed shot of the creatures as they approached Pilot James Vanelli’s machine. He shook his head slowly. “Hands up those who have seen animals like that before?” he said sardonically. “We need to let an expert look, but I wouldn’t be confident of an identification.” “And don’t forget the radar showed them descending from at least ten thousand metres,” Cooke added. “Air is thin up there.” The group grew silent as Parlane switched on the light and turned off the wall screen. “So, what happens now?” he asked nobody in particular. “One. Expert opinion on identification,” Ord replied, counting off on his fingers. “Two. Find out if anyone else saw them that night.” He looked at everyone in turn before raising a third finger. “Three. Try to find them.” “Then what, after we find them?” Jean Pescos asked. Parlane was swift to answer. “We must eradicate. Can’t have them bringing down air traffic.” Ord couldn’t help smiling. “Let’s give the scientists a say. If they’re a rare or unheard of species it could be a different anecdote.” The room became quiet again and Cooke stretched uncomfortably in his chair. He wasn’t convinced. Other than Vanelli, there were no bodies at the crash site. And the aerial attackers didn’t look like anything he had seen before; alien almost. Though nobody, of course, had the balls to say so. 

***

The road ribbon system took them directly to the front of the Caiguna police station, seaward of the Eyre Highway along dusty, unkempt side streets. Mother and son dismounted as one and strode resolutely up the path and through darkened glass doors. They found themselves in a featureless foyer where a single three-metre plant was placed strategically in the middle of a brown synthetic marble floor. A long black desk stood at the far end but there was no sign of any other exit door or, for that matter, any other person. The walls were sky blue, the ceiling white, and the effect austere. Laura approached the desk and saw a white button labelled Press for immediate attention. She did as requested. A flat screen rose from the desktop and the face of Janice Mepunga stared out at them. An aura of total distrust immediately gripped Laura’s mind, reinforced by unwelcome apprehension, but the image on the screen flashed a convivial smile and said, “Oh hello you two. I’ve been expecting you. Just one moment.” To the right of the desk, a mechanism hummed and a well-disguised door opened within the blue wall to reveal a brightly lit office beyond. “Come through. Come through,” Janice Mepunga called. Jason seized his mother’s hand and looked at her questioningly. There was a strange fear in his ashen face, and his eyes mirrored the foreboding that Laura felt within her own heart. “It’ll be fine,” Laura said quietly and gently guided him through into the inner office. Janice instantly took the wind out of Laura’s sails by saying, “Look. I’m sorry about yesterday. An emergency came up. I had to leave. Sorry about leaving you with Robert, too – it was unavoidable. He tried to kill me. I knew Jason was around.” Her smile grew broader. “I knew you would find him.” Shaking her head, Laura said sharply, “Maybe you did, but in what condition? It was absolutely unforgivable what you did.” She threw a challenging look at the policewoman. “And Robert wasn’t dead when I found him.” Janice’s face hardened and Jason noticed she slowly worked her hand down to her pistol. “It was unavoidable,” the policewoman repeated. “Are there any other officers here?” Laura asked. Janice shook her head. “My partner went to Perth this morning. It’s normally pretty quiet around here, you understand, and there’s plenty of air backup from Kalgoorlie.” She cast a meaningful glance at her visitors before adding, “Should we require it.” “What about a statement?” Laura asked. “Don’t you want one?” “I certainly do,” Janice said, pointing to a terminal in the corner of her office. “Be my guest.” She was all sweetness and roses again, in control of the situation. While his mother typed, Jason waited his turn. He was nervous, upset about Bradley Robert and about the loss of his photographs. His eyes hardly left Janice Mepunga, unsure in his own heart whether the alien creature was harboured inside her or whether it had moved to fresh pastures. On the drive to the station his mother had told him of Robert’s dying words, and he had felt sick. He desperately wanted to know the truth but was afraid of another confrontation. And worst of all, there was no proof of anything. “How did the ranger threaten you?” Jason asked abruptly causing his mother to pause her statement mid-sentence. Mepunga glanced up, her face like stone. “He just did, and that’s enough these days.” She gestured to Jason to sit down on the chair across the desk. “Let’s compile your statement together while your mother finishes hers.” She initiated a recorder and leant back in her chair. Jason shot a fleeting look at his mother and received a warning glance in return, accompanied by a small shake of the head. “How did you get to Robert’s house?” Janice asked. “I was on the computer in the camp tourist centre,” Jason replied. “He knocked me out and I awoke in a bedroom.” Despite the recorder, Janice typed as she said, “And then what happened?” “He made me something to eat, just eggs and toast. Then he made me shower and took me into the basement.” “What about his sister from next door? Did you see her at all?” “No,” Jason said. “There was nobody else.” Janice raised her eyebrows. “Did you try to escape?” With a shake of his head, Jason said, “He was always in my face, and twice my size.” “Even in the shower?” Jason averted his eyes. “More or less.” “He was naked when I found him,” Laura interjected. “In the basement.” The policewoman looked hard at Jason. “Did he touch you? Molest you in any way?” Jason bit his lip. “No, he didn’t.” Laura stood up. “I’ve finished. It’s fairly short but to the point.” Janice walked over and glanced down at the screen. “Not exactly flattering behaviour on my part,” she said, pursing her lips. “My statement will give my story.” Laura shrugged. “I’d still like to see—” Jason interrupted her. “Can we go now, Mum? I need some air.” Laura saw he looked pale and distressed. “I’m sorry,” she said to Janice. “Is that all for now?” “Sure. We have your vehicle tag. Stick around the district though.” She printed both statements and laid them on the desk. “Just sign these for now.” After they had signed Laura turned to leave but paused at the door. “What happened to the body?” “It’s been taken care of,” Janice replied. “Thanks for coming in.” It was the final dismissal. Laura and Jason left without further discourse. They moved through the stark foyer and once outside paused to breathe the fresh southern air, which was rapidly warming as the sun rose higher in the sky. “No alien for the lady,” Laura said. “Thank God you didn’t say anything about that.” “Not to her,” Jason said, looking at his mother fearfully. “I think it’s still with her.” 

***

In her office, Janice read the statements again and put them through the shredder. She stood, swayed slightly, and pushed a floor panel with her foot to release the door into an adjacent room. Moving through, she closed the door behind her and stared at the uniformed body of her colleague. He was slumped face down on the desk, head resting in a pool of coagulated blood. Suddenly, the winged alien was outside her, standing two metres away, observing with its head on one side. She sensed an instantaneous chill invade her body as the creature emerged but, once free of it, Janice felt warmer and strangely fearless. No words or other communication passed but Janice felt its mind boring into hers, trying to understand her emotions. At least she thought she did. She didn’t really want to see it anymore, was not interested in it at all, and wished it was light-years away. “I’m sorry, Daniel,” she said to the motionless body of her partner. “I’m so sorry. I really could not help it.” A tangle of meaningless images ran through her mind, and she turned to face her symbiotic disciple from another world. Something passed between them, intangible and outside her scope of logical thought. She asked the question anyway. “What do you want from me? What do you want from us?”





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As a youngster growing up in the cobbled streets of Stockport, UK, Clayton Graham read a lot of Science Fiction. He loved the 'old school' masters such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham. As he left those formative years behind, he penned short stories when he could find a rare quiet moment amidst life's usual distractions. 

He settled in Victoria, Australia, in 1982. A retired aerospace engineer who worked in structural design and research, Clayton has always had an interest in Science Fiction and where it places humankind within a universe we are only just starting to understand. 

Clayton loves animals, including well behaved pets, and all the natural world, and is a member of Australian Geographic. 

Combining future science with the paranormal is his passion. 'Milijun', his first novel, was published in 2016. It explores first contact and genetic engineering under an alien invasion. Second novel, 'Saving Paludis', was published in 2018. This book is more of a space opera and hard science fiction, but reflects all of mankind's emotions: love, power, greed, comradeship and sacrifice. 

The exciting Milijun Book 2, entitled 'Amidst Alien Stars', was released in December 2019: this is the second novel in the Milijun Series. 

The novels are light years from each other, but share the future adventures of mankind in an expansive universe as a common theme. 

In between novels Clayton has published 'Silently in the Night', a collection of short stories where, among many other adventures, you can sympathize with a doomed husband, connect with an altruistic robot, explore an isolated Scottish isle and touch down on a far-flung asteroid. Work is now underway on a second anthology of Sci-Fi short stories. 


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