The Dauntless Gambit

Serialized fiction, twice-weekly episodes. Read like an ebook or listen like a podcast!

The Dauntless—an Imperium Navy starship–vanished while answering a distress call outside the borders of imperial space. Ship and crew: gone.

The Red Kestrels, paramilitary activists and outer-sector thugs, are thought responsible. But, for a small, fringe group like the Kestrels, pulling off a heist of this scale and risking the wrath of the empire isn’t just unlikely, it defies reason.

Imperium field-operative Samantha Mori is hunting down a Kestrel lead when startling new intelligence offers a more plausible—and damning—explanation, one which threatens not only her mission, but the stability of the empire. When a dangerous figure from her past offers an ultimatum, Samantha must abandon her plans and turn to an unlikely ally that no one, including herself, would have suspected.

Far outside the empire, freelance ship captain Decker Sagan is out of both funds and luck. When an unsavory offer for easy money arrives, he is forced to consider that his principles might be a luxury he can’t afford. One quick job, what could go wrong?

With all her loyalties severed, Samantha’s adversaries have all the advantages: they are ten steps ahead, have unlimited resources, and control the story they want the public to hear. Samantha has just one: everyone underestimates how much damage a rogue agent with a vendetta can do.

And Samantha is determined to show them.

About this project

The Dauntless Gambit is a sci-fi espionage action-drama written as a novel and being released as a FREE serial in twice-weekly text and audio episodes!

The story continues each Monday and Thursday. If you like to read, you can do that right here on this site. If audiobooks are your preference, each episode is also posted to all major podcast providers!

The first episode launched June 1st, 2020. With an estimated 65 episodes total, almost 8 months of new twice-weekly content to look forward to!

Best of all, The Dauntless Gambit is available FREE. Start reading or listening to episode one now!

The story blends the feel of settings like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Altered Carbon, and Bladerunner with the geopolitical, spy-vs-spy stories similar to Tom Clancy books, Homeland, Counterpart, Agents of SHIELD, and The Americans.

Table of Contents / Episodes

Each episode “Listen Now” button will link directly to the Apple Podcast instance. If you want to access via a different service (or direct RSS) you can also choose below.

SEASON 1

UP NEXT
Episode 22
Welcome to the Fringe
August 6, 2020
The Matilda has arrived in the Mentaryd system. Samantha has one last chance to change Decker’s mind.
NEW
Episode 21
Total control
August 3, 2020
Renic sees a new side of Gallow. Mistakes are made, but he recovers. The Naval Special Investigation Division make first use of its facilities.
Episode 20
To prove a point
July 30, 2020
On the Matilda, conversations force both Samantha and Decker to reconsider what they thought was true.
Episode 19
Those who defy me
July 27, 2020
Qin and Yadav notice a new visitor. Renic attends a meeting on the Terminus. New orders are executed.
Episode 18
Spy stuff
July 23, 2020
The Matilda and its crew made it away from Starview Station without a moment to spare. Decker and Samantha have a heart to heart. Manu makes some plans of his own.
Episode 17
We all have our routines
July 20, 2020
Introducing OS-9 intelligence analyst Lieutenant Qin Meredessi. Her life as a permanent resident and crew member aboard the Terminus is about to get more interesting. Julian makes a discovery that Clarke must know about. The gambit is in full effect.
Episode 16
Justice by whatever means necessary
July 16, 2020
The High Imperius speaks. Renic assumes a new role.
Episode 15 – MID-SEASON FINALE PART 2
A foregone conclusion
July 13, 2020
Samantha and Decker face a choice.
Episode 14 – MID-SEASON FINALE PART 1
Right place, right time
July 13, 2020
It’s time for Samantha to leave Kestris and carry out her mission. All she needs to do is get into orbit, get to Decker’s ship, and she’s out. Nothing to it. Turns out, she’s not the only one with plans.
Episode 13
Well, so long
July 9, 2020
The crew of the Matilda have a decision to make. Busted-up ship, dead guy in the cargo hold, a few angry corporations after them. How much worse can Samantha’s offer be than that?
Episode 12
A merciless, infinite pull
July 6, 2020
Enter: Gallow.
Episode 11
The fleet marshal sends his thanks
July 2, 2020
Renic’s final day as a 5E agent is coming near. He’s done what Gallow has asked, just one more task to complete before making his final report. Helping orchestrate the downfall of the empire is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Episode 10
One big job. Easy money
June 29, 2020
Busted ship. Wounded arm. Ruined pride. Decker is scraping both the bottom of his confidence and his bank accounts. Life on the Matilda was supposed to free him; it hasn’t freed him from anything. He just needs one break, one chance to get back on his feet. Then, a message appears.
Episode 9
Some good, some bad. Some real bad
June 25, 2020
Finding the right help is never easy. When you’re an covert agent on the run looking for a way off planet, about to be disavowed and your face added to the Imperium’s most-wanted lists, it’s almost impossible. It’s time for Samantha to consult her list; not that list, the other list.
Episode 8
Better luck next time
June 22, 2020
It was supposed to be a routine job, a simple bag and tag bounty. All Decker wants is to get the package back to his ship, the Matilda, and to get off of Talius to collect his payment. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.
Episode 7
Time to disappear
June 18, 2020
Samantha’s mind is set; it’s time to take action and there’s no argument and no person who can dissuade her. Pack a bag, throw on a jacket, and she’s gone. Or is she?
Episode 6
Just the comforting void of nothingness
June 15, 2020
Samantha has to come to terms with her new mission. While planning a path toward the future, her past comes knocking.
Episode 5
Okay. How do we want to do this?
June 11, 2020
A secret, off-the-books back alley meeting. All the cloak-and-dagger Samantha has come to expect as a 5E agent. The audience for this meeting, though, that’s a new one.
Episode 4
Do not let government life bring you down
June 8, 2020
It’s business as usual for Samantha. Having returned back to Kestris with nothing but bad data and more questions than answers, there’s a few adversary she must face: bureaucracy.
Episode 3
A bloody means to a greater end
June 4, 2020
The only thing harsher and more punishing than the Fringe planet of Dradari are the people who choose to live there… it’s the perfect place for the Red Kestrels to host their unlikely guest. A deal is struck between adversaries-turned-allies.
Episode 2
I’m fine. It’s fine
June 1, 2020
Sometimes, coming down from a mission is the hardest part. With nothing but unknowns and orders to return home, Samantha is forced to leave her mission, and vendetta, on hold.
Episode 1 – Series Premiere
Lights out
June 1, 2020
On a routine raid-and-interrogate assignment, Imperium agent Samantha Mori extracts an answer from her unwilling subject almost too implausible to believe. The information threatens not just her mission, but the empire itself.

Need a catch-up? See the people, places, & props glossary for short summaries of names and places up to the most recently released episode. You will see SPOILERS if you scroll too far!

Two new episodes a week to read or listen on mobile or desktop!

This is a completed story written as one big piece, and is being honed, polished, and (if needed) pivoted in twice-weekly text and audio episodes posted right here!

Read it on your phone or computer, or listen to the episodes just like a podcast in all compatible apps!

And to make it more pleasant, I created an “ebook-simulator” widget to make your reading experience as good as it can be without paper or e-ink.

Team behind the project

The Dauntless Gambit is not a solo effort. I’m the writer of the story and creator of the project, but it only become the product you experience with the help of very talented professionals to lend their skills.

Erik Flowers is me, the author and content producer, there’s plenty about me over on the about page.

Hannah Reedy at The Storian is a freelance editor in Oregon who offers her services as the story consultant and editor. She makes sure that everything is consistent, makes sense, stays within the pre-established context of the story, and that the final product is clear, crisp, coherent, and ready for the world to consume. You do not want to have to read any unpolished drafts.

Chris Lynch is a freelance voiceover artist and narrator in Washington who turns the words on the page into a world of audio that pulls you in and makes you forget that this isn’t a movie. The words of the story is one part of the formula, but the delivery can be just as engaging. Chris allows the story to be beautifully experienced in an entirely different way.

Both of these intrepid professionals were brave enough to agree to be a part of a twice-weekly ebook/podcast and team up with me to do something which we all agreed was pretty unique! If you listen to the episodes when they come out, know that you’re experiencing it just a week after these two applied their skills to make it great. Please give them your thanks, I know I do!

Project minutiae FAQ…

(Preemptively Answered) Frequently Asked Questions: No one has actually asked these yet, but I figure there are some obvious ones so I thought I’d take a stab at them! Want to know something else? Contact me here.

What’s the release plan?

The Dauntless Gambit is planned to be released in the following ways:

  • Episodes released in a serialized fashion twice a week, with an estimated 80-90 episodes (or about a year to complete the run), with anthologies released at each 25% mark in Kindle/e-reader ebook format for people to catch up without having to read it a episodes at a time.
  • Audio episodes released either at the same time via a podcast system, and in larger anthologies that combine multiple episodes into longer, slightly less frequent releases.
  • A combined volume of the entire book released as a paperback and ebook once the entire serial is released, as well as a complete audiobook on Audible.com and other retailers. People who signed up for the serial mailing list will get the combined ebook and audiobook FREE, and if I can figure out how to do a paperback, I’ll try to include that too!
  • There is story ready for a sequel if it proves to be a story and characters that people want to read more about…

Is the whole book written?

Yes, the entire story of “The Dauntless Gambit” is written in a complete but unpolished state. If printed as a paperback as-is, it would be a fairly thick volume! But, it’s not polished to what I would consider an acceptable commercial level. I wanted this story to be solidly on the side of resembling something you’d expect in a bookstore, which means each episode is rewritten, revised, edited, reviewed, proofed, before going to the narrator. And we still miss things.

I am putting a great deal of focus into making sure The Dauntless Gambit is a pleasant reading or listening experience.

You have an editor?

Yes, The Dauntless Gambit has paid developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading. Nothing is ever perfect, but what you see as the end result has been through the ringer several times by the time I post it as a new episode.

Maybe someday I will post what an episode looks like as a first draft. It’s… not pretty.

Why serialize?

The Dauntless Gambit was written from start to finish, and then set to cool off while I started a second book. I love the story and characters, and wasn’t sure what the ultimate distribution strategy would be. The final manuscript was longer than I had anticipated, and I may have written a story that was really better as two books, or something else entirely…

While writing the book, I became interested in the growing web-serial phenomenon and the success authors were having in connecting with audiences through long-form, periodic releases. I knew that it was unlikely I would have the time all at once to revise, edit, and record the book as an entire volume while also writing the manuscript for another I intended to release as a completed novel. Breaking it into episodic releases and using it as a way to start giving people something to read and look forward to in smaller, but more frequent increments, was a much more attainable possibility.

I felt like The Dauntless Gambit would be well-suited to an “episodic” style of publishing. Having it on-hand during the 2020 pandemic and needing something to do that wasn’t just working on a full-length novel manuscript helped me decide to turn it into something more like a TV season. I can put it into the world as a way to connect with people and provide some ongoing storytelling for those who might want something to read or listen to, as well as giving myself something to work with aside from just manuscript writing. I need more in my life than just my word processor.

What will I say when I look back after the final episode is released? Who knows! Either way, it will allow me to try all the different technologies, promotion strategies, and production workflows I need to learn either way to thrive as an indie author.

Why free?

The world is full of different forms of fiction for entertainment, and people have more options than ever to choose from. Streaming TV and movies, ebooks, digital graphic novels, web serials, podcasts… it’s endless. It’s easier than ever in history for a creator to put things out there, and it’s also never been so saturated.

I want to build a creative body of work that reaches a lot of people and create a brand around myself that people can trust for stories they will enjoy. I’d rather give someone the chance to read some of my work without having to take the financial risk on an unknown author. By releasing The Dauntless Gambit as a free product, people can choose to pay me by signing up with their email to hear about my future projects. Once I’ve established that people want to read/listen to my work, then I’ll worry about seeing if they also way to pay to do so.

But, finding the right fit between my content and the world of people who like written/audio fiction is more important than trying to monetize it. This is a multi-decade plan, a few years of building a base is just part of the investment.

Why audio too?

I really want to see how people react to listening to an audiobook that is delivered in an episodic nature where for the first run it comes out on a set schedule and you have something to look forward to.

Right now, I am estimating there will be 2 new 30~ minute episodes a week for 30-35 weeks. With podcasting platforms, this means someone can get almost the equivalent of watching a 40 minutes TV show every week, giving people (especially during COVID-19) something to look forward to, and it allows me to reach an audience in a way that doesn’t require the huge delays of editing and recording the entire thing at once. If books are like movies, this is like a tv season.

Then, once the episodic run of audio episodes is done, they can just be combined into a traditional audiobook for people who want to listen all at once!

How long does it take?

I am a little bit ahead of the game since the first draft of the whole book is written. The draft was maybe 500 hours.

Once I take the next episode that is ready, I release it 14 days later. I rewrite the episode in 1 day, the editor edits for 2 days, I revise the episode for 1 day, the editor proofs the episode for 2 days, 1 prepare the episode for the narrator for 1 day, the narrator records it for 2 days, I review the narration for 1 day, the narrator makes fixes for 2 days, I finalize the files for 1 day, and then it is posted!

And since it is 2 episodes a week, this cycle is actually stacked on top of itself four times, with 4 episodes each in a different state of completion. The narrator and editor each have 2 episodes at once, but I have 4.

Obviously we aren’t working on it for more than a few hours a day, but the assembly-line nature means that each person is waiting on the one before them.

All in all, each hour of audio, or about 2 episodes, is around 25-30 hours of labor. I’ve done the math several times and I still always assume I made an error in my calculations.

How can I stay informed?

Want to be updated when each new episode is released and ready to read for free? Sign up to get short email updates from me when episodes are ready!