The Way of the Empty Gripper by Jon Stonger
Approx. 103,650 words.
Published on August 9, 2011.
Semi-competent Captain Dave and the crew of the Delineator race to decipher an ancient artifact said to contain a map to a lost civilization. They are pursued across the galaxy by a mysterious organization which wants the artifact for its own ends.
They must avoid nefarious ninjas, tentacled assassins, and sentient trunk Egbert's mortal enemy: a malevolent briefcase with a glowing red eye.