Friday, 29 July 2016

Will Devareaux find disaster or glory? #RPBP featured #BookOfTheWeek by @ChrisStoesen ##spotlight #excerpt #NewRelease

The Last Airship from Khartoum: 

​A Thomas Devareaux Alternative History Military Adventure 
(The Thomas Sumter Devareaux Series Book 2)

Rukia Publishing Featured Book Of The Week!

Chris Stoesen
About The Book
Old Enemies are closing in. Richmond sends them away. Will Devareaux find disaster or glory over the skies of Khartoum?

The Last Airship from Khartoum begins with old enemies attempting to settle a score with Thomas Devareaux and his former crew. From Virginia to South Carolina to Cairo and Sudan, Devareaux and his company fight for their lives.
Just when they believe that they have the upper hand, the President of the Confederacy, James L Kemper, sends Devareaux halfway across the globe to support the British in their fight against the Mahdi's siege of Khartoum. He and his men are not only caught in the crossfire of political ambitions, they are enemy targets.
Will Devareaux find disaster or glory in the skies above Africa? The Last Airship from Khartoum is a work of alternative history. The action takes place in the air, over sea, and on land as these heroes battle to defend their country. It is the second book in the Thomas Devareaux series by author Chris Stoesen. ​

Who Is Chris Stoesen?

Chris is an amateur author with interests in both historical and fictional subjects. He was born in 1970 and raised by fantastic parents in Tampa, Florida. So all of his shortcomings are of his own making and not their fault. His single greatest achievement is being married to the same wonderful woman for over 23 years. He and his family, live in the Atlanta area.

Chris is relatively new to publishing on Amazon but so far has found it to be a pleasant experience. Most of his writing thus far has been related to Historical War Game Scenarios such as In the Name of Roma which is available on Amazon as well. You can find his other work on the web store of the TooFatLardies. This includes titles such as "This Land Divided," "With Fire and Sword," 'Rock the Casbah," "The Campaign For Greece" and "Call This a Ruddy Picnic?" His most recent book is "From Empire to Revolution" that covers the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires during World War One.

The first fictional book in the Thomas Devareaux series is now complete and work has started on the second book of the series. He has also written The Home, a zombie themed short story.

He has some short stories and some potential stories that he is working on at the Amazon WriteOn site: Please stop by and let him know what you think.

To get an email whenever the author releases a new title, sign up for the VIP newsletter at:

How do you connect Chris Stoesen?
Chapter Two: Women and Men 

March 5, 1884 - Richmond, Virginia

Henry Stoe lay on the bed, savoring the flavor of the Richmond Gem cigar in his hand. The slowly turning fan above his head did little to cool the heat in the room. The sheets lay at the foot of the bed; he and the woman lay on their backs. The sweat from their recent exertions left them tired, but relaxed.

Henry blew another smoke ring towards the ceiling. The woman shivered. He felt the tremor through the arm she had draped across his chest.

Stoe paused and reconsidered the cause of her tremor. Glancing at the girl’s face told him something was amiss. He frowned, attempting to remember her name.

"Girl, what is wrong with you? You seem as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs."

What he saw in her eyes was fear. Pure and simple. The girl wasn’t new to her trade. She was actually quite good at it and easy on the eyes to boot. Yet she was afraid of something. Not of him, but something else.

It was at that moment he heard the click; a sound with which he was intimately familiar. The hammers of a shotgun locked back into firing position.

Never being one to wait to see what would happen, Stoe rolled off the bed and used it as cover between him and the doorway. He grabbed for his trousers that lay in a heap next to the bed.

This was enough to unbalance the young woman, who dissolved into panic and began to scream.

The persons on the other side of the door attempted to kick it open. They must have been reading too many penny adventure novels as the kick was aimed at the center of the cheap door. Madame Geneviève spared no expense on the girls, but on things like bedroom doors, only the cheapest would do. After all, the normal sounds coming from these rooms only served to drive the ardor of her customers. This wasn’t typical doings of Lady Geneviève’s house.

Thus, it was little surprise to Henry Stoe that a foot burst through the door but the door remained firmly shut. Still in motion, Stoe pulled the small frame, five shot pistol from the pocket of his trousers and thumbed back the hammer.

"Damn it, Frank, for heaven's sake, can't you even kick a damn door without making a mess of it? Did your Mama have any children who lived?"

"Fuck you and help me get my foot out of this damn door."

So there was at least a pair of men. Uncertain who his attackers were, Henry was hesitant to fire through the door. After all, it could be a policeman doing his sworn duty. Or it could just be some toughs looking to rob a man without pants.

Looking back at the girl, he saw that she had some sense and was hiding in a corner of the room. He turned and threw open the window. The sound was audible to the men in the hall as their conversation changed.

"Shit, he’s getting away."

A tearing sound was heard and Frank howled in pain as the hole in the door was now bigger and lacked Frank's foot. Turning to the door, Henry saw the muzzle of a shotgun poking through the hole. He dropped to the floor as the room shook with an earth-shattering kaboom.

While the development was alarming, it did resolve an issue for Henry. The police didn’t poke weapons through doors and open fire on people without announcing themselves. Well, he didn’t think they did.

Henry Stoe didn’t have a clear shot from behind the bed so he rolled to his left until he could see the doorway from his position on the floor. A quick press of the trigger and he sent a round towards the door.

This produced results. The barrel of the shotgun aimed upwards at the ceiling and a man’s screams now overpowered the girl’s cries. This turn of events had the added bonus of shutting the girl up.

Seizing the moment, Henry got to his feet and dove out the open window. With his pistol and trousers in hand, he jumped from the second story fire escape, into the alley below. 

March 5, 1884 - Charleston, South Carolina

Devareaux stood over the older officer. Rear Admiral Thadeous Nelson Grimes had quickly risen through the ranks of the Confederate Navy. Upon retirement, he was assigned the position of the Commandant of the Citadel and ran the school for all four years of Devareaux’s time in the Corps of Cadets.

Now, the once vital and energetic man lay dying, wearing an old hospital dressing gown. Liver spots covered the admiral’s hands and arms. His strong arms were now weak and frail. Devareaux knelt beside his dying mentor and held his hand.

Behind Devareaux, in the waiting room outside, vultures circled. Those who sought to pick the bones of a life well lived. Lawyers, patronage seekers, and, unfortunately, some of the admiral’s own family all looked to see what tasty morsels they could glean from great man’s remains. As for Devareaux, he wept for his friend.

The admiral’s head turned. Age-thinned hair had grown wild during his long period of captivity in bed. He stared without comprehension for a few minutes. Then his eyes widened with recognition.

A thin shell of the admiral’s voice cracked out, “Thomas, you are here.”

The voice had a quality of a sigh to it as if there was relief.

“Yes, sir. I’m here.” Devareaux gave his hand a light squeeze.

The skin seemed paper-thin. Devareaux feared that any touch could tear it. Admiral Grimes turned back to stare at the ceiling for a time. It was as if this small action had reset something within the admiral. His head turned back again. The admiral’s remaining hair was damp with sweat. He was breathing harder and his eyes narrowed as Devareaux came into focus again.

In the same age weakened voice, Grimes asked, “What can I do for you … Captain?”

It took several seconds between noticing Devareaux to his being able to puzzle out the rank insignia. Taking the admiral so long to determine his rank after a long and productive career, was telling of the collapse of this great man. Devareaux fell back on the shield of formality to hide his sorrow.

“Sir, I’ve come to pay my respects, sir.”

“At ease, Captain, what is your name?”

“Sir, Thomas Devareaux, sir.”

“Why, I know a Thomas Devareaux. A fine officer. He looks just like you. I heard he died in … in …”

His voice faded off and the interest dimmed in his eyes. Still on his knees beside the bed, Devareaux prayed desperately. Peace. That was Devareaux’s greatest wish for this old warrior. That he would find peace. A life so well lived deserved a more dignified ending. But a long life ends almost as it begins.

The door opened and the admiral’s daughter pushed a cart into the room. She had brought a simple bowl of thin oatmeal and a glass of cool water.

When she spotted Devareaux looking at the meal she shrugged.

“This is all I can get father to eat. He won’t even eat much of that. He holds it in his mouth until you remind him to swallow. Thank you for coming to visit him. You were one of his favorites, you know. When the papers reported that you had died, well it was one of only two times I saw my father weep. The first was at mother’s funeral.”

She returned to the door and shut it in the face of the curiosity seekers outside. Taking a deep breath, she reached into her smock and withdrew a small package and handed it to Devareaux.

“He prepared this for you a while back. There was one for each of his favorites from his time as commandant. He wasn’t able to give you yours. The day after preparing it, you were reported dead. At the time, I wondered why he gave it to me. He specifically said, ‘hold this for Thomas.’”

She gave a sad short laugh.

“I thought he was mad at the time. You were dead, after all. But he maintained that things weren’t always as they appeared. He made me promise to get this to you. I nearly threw it out twice. I’m glad I did not.”

He only could nod. The toll that aging had taken on his mentor caused Devareaux not to trust his own voice. He hugged the daughter and left with the knowledge that he would never see Admiral Grimes in this life again.

When he left the light blue home on East Bay Street in Charleston, he thought about the houses. It was obvious why the place was called Rainbow Row. The narrow houses were stacked close together and each one was a bright and happy color. Some laughter escaped his mouth. He remembered when Grimes bought the property.

After the late war, the area on East Bay fell into disuse and decay. Grimes and several other prominent Charlestonians didn’t want to see the houses decay. They began to purchase the houses quietly and repair them. Grimes’ wife decided they needed a theme and had taken over the painting project. As a result, each house had a unique, bright and friendly paint job. Rainbow Row was born. Grimes lived in the first of the houses they had bought and renovated. The others were sold. Grimes hated the paint job, but loved his wife. He was heartbroken when she died a few days after completing the project. To the admiral, the house would always be Marie’s house. In a few short days, his children would begin the small war over the remains of the estate. It was a fact the admiral had known as his children were quite selfish and loathed one another. The fact saddened the admiral, but there was no way to prevent it.

Devareaux sat on the front steps and looked at the package. It was small box about six inches long and about two and a half inches tall and wide. He unwrapped the brown paper. He had to wiggle the box lid to open it. Inside were two objects. The first was a note. The second was in a cloth bag. He opened the cloth bag and emptied the contents into his hand: a five ounce bar of gold stamped with the Confederate seal and the mark of the Dahlonega mint in Georgia.

He held the small bar up to the light. It was captivating. The rounded corners and the dulled edges gave it a smooth appearance. When he rubbed his hand over the surface, he felt something on the back of it. Turning it over, there was an inscription. He squinted to try to read the small print.

“You have been tested in the refiner’s fire. Do not loose heart. You have not been broken but refined. Malachi 3”

Scratching his head, Devareaux leaned to the right in hopes that it would make the message clearer. Grimes always did find new ways to test his protegees. Thankfully, this message was about something accessible. Half the time, it was something from some long dead Roman poet or the like. He stood, pocketing the note and the gold. That would require further reflection later.

He walked with the box in hand towards a nearby carriage. For now, it was time to return to Savannah. 

March 5, 1884 - Richmond, Virginia

Henry rolled with the landing and his naked butt cheeks ended up on top of something that he didn’t wish to contemplate. He glanced left and right, looking for some sort of cover. Spotting a pile of garbage awaiting pickup, he scrambled to move behind it before attempting to dress.

"No, please don't."

He heard the girl cry out from the room above. This was followed by a shrill scream that was cut off promptly by a shotgun blast. Henry's eyes widened as he realized they had just killed the poor whore. Why on earth would they do that? Who were these people and why were they after him?

With his pants now firmly pulled up around his waist, Henry turned on his heels and sprinted away. It wasn’t until he had run four blocks that he realized he had forgotten to button his fly. And he only realized it then because a young boy had pointed it out for him.

"Hey mister, your horse is out of the barn."

Mortified, he ducked into an alleyway and corrected that portion of his appearance. He shoved the revolver back into his trouser pocket. He rubbed his face, hoping it would help him think of his next plan of action. He had four shots left in his revolver. He was wearing pants and suspenders, but nothing else. His shirt, socks and shoes remained back in the room. He hadn’t even brought a hat with him. A quick slap on a rear pocket reassured him that his wallet was still present.

He needed to get to the protection of the Navy. He had his identification in his wallet. That and his pistol were the only useful items he had been able to escape with. Closing his eyes, he tried to remember where the recruiting office he saw yesterday was.
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