Jan 29
2015

Space Opera Slice-Of-Life Serial, Updates Twice A Month

cropped-Intertwined-Lives-Patreon-logo1

 

Ever wondered what heroes do when they’re not saving the day?  Or what life is like for ordinary people in a place and time where going somewhere 100 light years away is just a couple hours trip?  Click the image above then!

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Mar 29
2015

Progress Report

Instead of listing all my works-in-progress and getting depressed by how many I haven’t worked on in ages, this year I am instead updating how far I’ve come on the to do list I posted at the beginning of the year . . . with new items being added because I’m great at making plans, but suck at sticking to them.  And changes made because of the same reason.  Asterisks mark things added before this update, but after the initial list.

March is going excellently on the editing front, unfortunately most of the word count has been a short story of my wife’s instead of No More Lies.  On the writing front, well, I seem to be on target to hit my minimum goal for the first time this year, at least.

  • Edit my wife’s story she wants to submit to Queers Destroy Science Fiction, if she decides she wants to expand it.  DONE
  • Submit it for her.  DONE, REJECTED
  • Finish editing my own story for Queers Destroy Science Fiction.  DONE
  • Submit it.  DONE, REJECTED
  • *Edit Jake thingy inspired by annoying bit in book I was reading. DONE
  • *Submit it to Queers Destroy Science Fiction too, since it’s flash fiction instead of a short story.  DONE, REJECTED
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writing Forbidden Love Version 2Intertwined Lives, Dangers of the Past, and editing No More Lies, not becoming slavishly devoted to any one work, but keeping in mind and tracking my monthly word count goals.  UPDATE:  Well, I was write last time that I wanted to write fantasy, but wrong about which one.  Instead of working on Magi, I’ve rewritten a bit of a story I wrote in high school, this time deliberately making the protagonist a spoiled brat, which changes the story for the better and turns her into more of a Sansa Stark-like character than a Mary Sue.  Dangers of the Past was formerly known as Bobby’s Daughter.  It’s the sort-of sequel to “Once A Hero, Always A Hero” and No More Lies.  I finally figured out how to fix a bit I was stuck at and now it’s going very smoothly.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Maintain schedule of editing and posting a chapter of Intertwined Lives every other Tuesday. DOING SO FAR
  • *Once have enough word count/regular installments to do so, submit Intertwined Lives to webfictionguide.com.  DONE, APPROVED.
  • *Submit Intertwined Lives to Muse’s Success.  DONE, APPROVED
  • *Remember to use the #TuesdaySerial hashtag on twitter when announcing each week’s chapter.  TRIED LAST WEEK, SITE DIDN’T WORK PROPERLY
  • *Submit Jake thingy to Clarkesworld.  DONE, REJECTED
  • *Submit wife’s story to Strange Horizons.  DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • *Submit own story to Strange Horizons.  DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • *Submit “The Traitor” (formerly known as “Jake thingy”) to Daily Science Fiction DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • *If Strange Horizons rejects my story, submit it to Asimov’s.
  • NEW ITEM:  Edit wife’s fantasy story.  DOING SO.
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit wife’s fantasy story to that anthology.
  • Publish No More Lies.
  • Devote a month to marketing it.  Just a month.  No more.  After that, it’ll sink or swim on its own.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writing Forbidden Love Version 2, Intertwined Lives, Dangers of the Past, and editing the leytgeleshi short story collection, with the same caveats as above.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • Write remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writhing Forbidden Love Version 2, Intertwined Lives, Dangers of the Past, and editing the Dagger short story collection, with the same caveats as above.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • Write remaining Dagger stories.
  • Edit remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Publish leytgeleshi story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  It’s going to be a free short story collection (or 99 cents, I can’t recall what we agreed on now.)  There’s no sense in devoting a lot of time to marketing it.
  • Edit remaining Dagger stories.
  • Publish Dagger story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  See above for why only a week.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate writing Forbidden Love Version 2, Intertwined Lives, and Dangers of the Past.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • NEW ITEM:  Edit Forbidden Love Version 2
  • NEW ITEM:  Publish Forbidden Love Version 2
  • NEW ITEM:  Devote a week to marketing it.  It’s probably not going to be very long or very serious, so there’s no sense in putting much time or effort into selling it.  I’m writing it mostly for my own amusement, after all.
  • NEW ITEM:  Edit Dangers of the Past
  • NEW ITEM:  Publish Dangers of the Past.
  • NEW ITEM:  Devote a month to marketing it.
  • *Write rpg book.  HAVEN’T BEEN WORKING ON IT OR EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT MUCH LATELY.

Word count for March so far:

Written: 8581/10000

Edited: 13992/10000 (and I still have a few thousand words of my wife’s story to edit before the end of March!)

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Mar 26
2015

No More Lies update and some general thoughts on editing and revising

J.R.R. Tolkien

Cover of J.R.R. Tolkien

(And, man, am I good at short and pithy titles, or what?)

At the end of last July when I finished No More Lies I honestly expected it to be ready to release by now.  Some of the delay is, I freely admit, that I hate editing and revising and therefore always put it off as long as I can in hopes that one day a story will spontaneously revise itself.  Or that I’ll discover that my junior high and elementary teachers were right and my stuff is perfect in the rough draft.  By the way, if any of you teachers should ever happen to see this post, I’d like to have a talk with you about comma splices.

But most of the reason is that this story wasn’t supposed to be a novel.  The first two chapters were written when it was supposed to be a short story — a 3000ish word one at that.  They got a bit added to them when I changed it to a novella, but they still needed a lot of fleshing out to match the pace and feel of the rest of the book.  So then I had to go back over them to see if my additions broke anything else.

Then the third and fourth chapter were written when I thought it was going to be a novella.  So I’ve had to add bits to them too.  Not as much, but enough that they were more tricky to edit than expected.

Then there was the timeline glitch my spouse pointed out the other day that I discovered was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to timeline problems in the early chapters when I went to fix it.  An hour of editing time today was spent trying to fix the timeline without needing to rewrite the whole goddamned book, as several of the later events have to take place on certain dates or other works in the universe break.  Okay, so I doubt anyone else would notice if the date of someone’s birth was different between two works when the actual date isn’t given in either, but I’d know, and it would bother me.  I’m really, really bothered by timeline issues.  (Yes, GRRM‘s thing about how no one should try to work out an exact timeline for ASoIaF does drive me nuts, why do you ask?  And don’t get me started on the impossibility of the dates in Little Women …)

Add to this that I’ve recently been reading authors whose books come out on a much slower schedule than current author wisdom says is good for your career and noticing that they, in general, tend to be better than those of authors who release a book or more a year.  I’m not saying that there aren’t authors who don’t do wonderful work on a multibook per year schedule, I’m just saying that while it might be best from a “growing your brand” standpoint, it’s not always what’s best for the book.  And, as my wife has pointed out to me repeatedly, “Tolkien only wrote a few books.”

And then there’s the fact that I’ve already heavily revised and rereleased “Once A Hero, Always A Hero” and am planning to eventually do the same to Jake’s Last Mission.  And Crown of Eldrete really needed at least another punctuation pass before it was published, so it’ll be getting that someday.  In other words, I rushed them and it shows.  (I rushed them because of some very bad advice that said for an indie author quantity was more important than quality.)  I don’t want to be George Lucas, forever tinkering with things I’ve already released to make them what they should’ve been from the start*, but right now that’s what I’m doing.

So, from here on my policy on No More Lies is:  I’ll release it when it’s ready.  That might be later this year.  It might be next year.  It probably won’t be later than that.

But it might.  And that’s okay too.

Also, I posted a question about covers and blurbs a few days ago and would really like some feedback on that, if people could be so kind.

 

 

*Let’s not get into “Han shot first” or anything like that here.  Please.  Can we all just acknowledge that what Lucas wanted them to be and what fans wanted them to be were not the same thing?

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Mar 24
2015

Chapter Six is up!

The next chapter of Intertwined Lives is available right here.

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Mar 24
2015

Cover and blurb opinions sought

Opinions on which of these covers is best?  Please no comments on how un-sci-fi it is.  I’ve tried making it more so and it just ended up screaming “I was made by an amateur!”  Besides, as far as I can tell the important thing for a sf romance cover to have is a male with nice muscles.  Got that!

And I’m aware my name is crooked on the bottom one.  I forgot to fix it on that one before quitting Photoshop.

And I suppose I could do one with both subseries’ names and no shuriken.  So that’s an option too.

No More Lies Cover In Progress 9 small

 

No More Lies Cover In Progress 10 small

No More Lies Cover In Progress 11 small

And now for the blurb:

I like the long one and will, at the very least, be using it for the back cover copy, but I’m wondering if maybe the shorter one wouldn’t be better for actually selling the book purposes?  Suggestions about the blurbs are very much appreciated.

The short one:

All Bobby Kavaliro wanted was a vacation fling to help take his mind off life as a spy posing as an assassin.  Instead he fell in love with Karen Thase, a woman from the homeworld he’d run away from years before as a naive teenager, lured by the Anerix High Chancellor’s promises of money and power.  Now Bobby’s back on Sweytz, dealing with family and friends he hasn’t seen in a decade and a girlfriend who he’s not sure will still want to be with him when she finds out how badly he lied to her.

And some people in the Anerix government have decided he needs to die.

Bobby’s life has suddenly gotten far, far more interesting than he ever wanted!

The long one:

Years ago, Bobby Kavaliro ran away from Sweytz, from everything and everyone he’d ever known, lured by promises of money and power made by the smooth-talking dictator of Anerix.

A few years later Bobby came to realize how stupid he’d been and became a spy for the very world he left.

A spy posing as an assassin.

A spy whose best friend and mentor has just had his cover blown.

A spy who jilted someone who would now like to see him dead.

A spy, in other words, who needs a vacation.  And a spy who is hoping to meet someone to share his bed while on that vacation.

Bobby finds more than that when he meets Karen.  So much more, in fact, that before too long he’s moving back to Sweytz, looking for a job, and trying to quickly learn how to be a responsible adult for the first time in his life.

Meanwhile, Anerix’s High Command, now very much suspecting he was a spy, are sending assassins after him . . . and after Karen.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Karen doesn’t believe half of what he’s told her about his past, nor is she sure she wants to be with him after she gets to know just how temperamental and immature he can be.

Bobby has to grow up fast to keep her love, deal with everything he’s missed while he was gone, try to avoid being killed, try to keep Karen safe, and try to rebuild his relationship with his family, all at the same time.

 

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Mar 23
2015

Five star reviews — Breakup by Dana Stabenow

This is a book I read because I’d read it ages ago and loved it.  I like the whole Kate Shugak series, what I’ve read of it anyway — I’m about ten books behind I think — but this is my favorite.

The description, via Goodreads:

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In Breakup, Kate Shugak’s loyalties – to the land, her heritage, her home – are put to the test when a series of mishaps lead to murder. April in Alaska is typically a period of rebirth and renewal, and after the long winter Kate has nothing more strenuous on her agenda than paying her taxes. But mayhem abounds as the meltoff flows; this year’s thaw is accompanied by rampaging bears, family feuds, and a plane crash quite literally in Kate’s own backyard. What begins as a series of headaches escalates into possible murder when a dead body is found near her homestead. Initially unwilling to involve herself in the investigation, preferring instead to write off each odd occurrence as a breakup-related peculiarity, Kate is drawn irresistibly to seek the truth. Compelled by her friends to act as problem solver and guided by the spirit of her Aleut grandmother, she finds herself slowly taking on the role of clan leader, a post she is bound to by honor and blood. As breakup becomes increasingly fraught with danger and destruction, Kate must decide whether she can cross the line from passive observer to instrument of change, assuming the role of elder as the mantle of responsibility is passed.

My review:

Frequently when I reread a book I haven’t in years, it utterly fails to live up to my memory. That wasn’t the case with this one. In fact, this was even better than I remember it being.

I loved the diverse and fascinating cast, as in all the Kate Shugak books. I loved how fast paced the story was. I even loved the constant string of bad luck Kate was having, and usually I hate that sort of thing, feeling like the author is just piling it on to make you feel sorry for the character. In this case though, it was done believably. I may never have had a few days in a row that were quite as bad as Kate’s in this book, but I could definitely identify.

Really, this is a difficult book to write a review for because all I can really say is “I loved it.” In fact, the only thing I didn’t love was much more an authory type criticism than a readery type criticism: Ms. Stabenow used infodumps to fill us in on characters’ backstories rather than doing it organically. But even that is forgiveable because the backstories are so interesting.

I seem to have skipped the next book the first time I read the series, so I’m looking forward to reading it soon for the very first time.

I still haven’t read the next book, despite finishing this one in early July.  I should remedy that soon.  As this book is well into a series, it’s might not be a good place to start, but courtesy of the infodumps I griped about, you can probably start here and not be missing much.

Sorry this is two days late.  I somehow managed to forget that I’d changed from updating on Wednesdays to updating on Saturdays.  I was checking the sites stats and happened to notice the date I’d posted last week’s posts on and remembered.

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Mar 14
2015

Progress Report

Instead of listing all my works-in-progress and getting depressed by how many I haven’t worked on in ages, this year I am instead updating how far I’ve come on the to do list I posted at the beginning of the year . . . with new items being added because I’m great at making plans, but suck at sticking to them.  Asterisks mark things added before this update, but after the initial list.

February went great on the editing front, but not so great on the writing front.  I edited 16,916 words of fiction and another 4,224 words of blog and Universal Nexus encyclopedia entries, for a total of 21,140 words edited.  Since my goal is 10 to 15,000, that’s awesome.  On the other hand, I only wrote 4,561 words.  My goal for that is also 10 to 15,000, so that’s much less awesome.

  • Edit my wife’s story she wants to submit to Queers Destroy Science Fiction, if she decides she wants to expand it.  DONE
  • Submit it for her.  DONE, REJECTED
  • Finish editing my own story for Queers Destroy Science Fiction.  DONE
  • Submit it.  DONE, REJECTED
  • *Edit Jake thingy inspired by annoying bit in book I was reading. DONE
  • *Submit it to Queers Destroy Science Fiction too, since it’s flash fiction instead of a short story.  DONE, REJECTED
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writing MagiIntertwined Lives, and editing No More Lies, not becoming slavishly devoted to any one work, but keeping in mind and tracking my monthly word count goals.  UPDATE:  I’ve written 1785 words of Intertwined Lives since posting the last progress report.  Unfortunately, most of this was rewriting a badly written chapter.  I’ve decided to prioritize my fantasy novel-in-progress, Magi, over Blaughk on Earth as I think it’d be good for my brain to take a break from Universal Nexus occasionally.
  • *Maintain schedule of editing and posting a chapter of Intertwined Lives every Tuesday.  AM CONSIDERING SWITCHING TO EVERY OTHER TUESDAY INSTEAD AS MORE CHAPTERS THAN EXPECTED ARE REQUIRING DRASTIC REVISION.
  • *Once have enough word count/regular installments to do so, submit Intertwined Lives to webfictionguide.com.  DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit Intertwined Lives to Muse’s Success.  DONE
  • *Remember to use the #TuesdaySerial hashtag on twitter when announcing each week’s chapter.  DID IT THE ONE TIME THE CHAPTER CAME OUT ON TIME SINCE LAST PROGRESS REPORT
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit Jake thingy to Clarkesworld.  DONE, REJECTED
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit wife’s story to Strange Horizons.  DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit own story to Strange Horizons.  DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • NEW ITEM:  Submit “The Traitor” (formerly known as “Jake thingy”) to Daily Science Fiction DONE, AWAITING RESPONSE
  • NEW ITEM:  If Strange Horizons rejects my story, submit it to Asimov’s.
  • Publish No More Lies.
  • Devote a month to marketing it.  Just a month.  No more.  After that, it’ll sink or swim on its own.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writing Magi, Intertwined Lives, and editing the leytgeleshi short story collection, with the same caveats as above.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • Write remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate between writhing Magi, Intertwined Lives, and editing the Dagger short story collection, with the same caveats as above.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • Write remaining Dagger stories.
  • Edit remaining leytgeleshi stories.
  • Publish leytgeleshi story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  It’s going to be a free short story collection (or 99 cents, I can’t recall what we agreed on now.)  There’s no sense in devoting a lot of time to marketing it.
  • Edit remaining Dagger stories.
  • Publish Dagger story collection.
  • Devote a week to marketing it.  See above for why only a week.
  • CHANGED ITEM:  Alternate writing Magi and Intertwined Lives.  SEE ABOVE FOR WHY/HOW CHANGED
  • *Write rpg book.  HAVE CONTINUED WORKING ON MECHANICS.

Word count for March so far:

Written: 1338/10000

Edited: 1094/10000

I’m kind of wondering if my sudden desire to write fantasy has anything to do with the amount of Torchlight and Torchlight II I’ve been playing lately . . .

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Mar 14
2015

Five star reviews — Triplanetary by E. E. “Doc” Smith

This is a book I read because it was a Book of the Month choice in a group on Goodreads that I was briefly part of.  And because I’d read part of it years ago and thought that it being chosen as Book of the Month was a good excuse to finally finish it.  I may have nominated it with that ulterior motive, in fact.  I don’t recall.

The description, via multiple places online except Goodreads (the Goodreads description is for the revised version of the book, which is not the one I read):

444944

It is a science fiction book. ‘Doc’ E. E. Smith pretty much invented the space opera genre, and Triplanetary is a good and well-known example. Physics, time, and politics never stand in the way of a plot that gallops ahead without letup. Having earned a PhD in chemical engineering, it’s understandable that the heroes of Smith’s story are all scientists. He didn’t want to be constrained by the limits of known science, however, so in his hands the electromagnetic spectrum becomes a raw material to be molded into ever-more amazing and lethal forms, and the speed of light is no bar to traveling through the interstellar void. Come enjoy this story of yesteryear, set in tomorrow, where real women ignite love at a glance, real men achieve in days what governments manage in decades, and aliens are an ever-present threat to Life-As-We-Know-It.

My review:

This review is of the shorter, original version, because I somehow grabbed that one instead of the other one from Project Gutenberg.

Whether or not Triplanetary is a good book depends on one’s expectations, I guess. I was expecting, due to it’s age, a pulpy adventure. That’s exactly what I got. If you are wanting something more cerebral or otherwise more suited to modern tastes, I suggest reading something else.

The characters are pretty much archetypes, but such wonderful examples of them that I found it hard to be annoyed. And Clio . . . I’ve read lots of much later sf where the female characters were more purely ornamental than her. She wasn’t quite an action hero on her own yet, but in her you see the elements that began the path to females who didn’t need a man to rescue them.

And I think I’ve got a crush on Costigan. He was so utterly heroic and devoted to Clio. I miss heroes who were just heroes. Why must they all be so tormented these days?

The plot was a little too coincidence driven, but, as I said, I was expecting pulp and that’s what I got. That said, it did stress my suspension of disbelief that everything was so quickly reverse engineered all the time. And a lot of violence could’ve been avoided had the Nevians or humans gone “Hey, can we talk?” much, much earlier, but that is acknowledged, at least.

Now, for my favorite thing about this book: The descriptions! Why, oh why, did descriptions like this go out of style?! “Above her, ruddy Mars and silvery Jupiter blazed in splendor ineffable against a background of utterly indescribable blackness–a background thickly besprinkled with dimensionless points of dazzling brilliance which were the stars.” The descriptions alone have sold me on Doc Smith’s writing style, and I’ll certainly be reading more by him just to get to experience more of it.

Personally, since I like my fiction on the pulpy side, I think this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you like your fiction a bit more serious, more carefully constructed and all that . . . you probably won’t like it, I’m sorry to say.

My review sums up my feelings rather nicely.  I loved this book.  Yes, the plot was kind of contrived, the characters were a little wooden . . . but I didn’t give a damn.  The story was good, and story is something far deeper than plot and characters.  It’s the subtle interplay of everything.  (For more on this concept, see Patrick Rothfuss‘s blogpost here, about halfway down.)

And there’ll be another post today!  And then I’m skipping the one that should’ve gone up this week (sorry I got so far behind), because it was supposed to be a short story that reads like a scene from something instead of a stand-alone, so, yeah, it’s not happening.  So I’m back on schedule for next week!  Yay!  I know nobody else cares, but, still, yay!

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Feb 28
2015

Chapter Four is up!

Chapter Four of Intertwined Lives, wherein Quinn starts seriously thinking about what to do about his problem is now up:  http://intertwined-lives.universal-nexus.com/2015/03/01/chapter-four-quinn/

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Feb 19
2015

Short story: Test of Honor

flickr-2874946032-original(Also known as “Test of Honour” because my wife insists on using British spellings even where I haven’t.)

I have no idea where the idea for this one came from.  I wrote the first version of it back in 2011 and got less than stellar commentary from everyone who read it.  I reread their commentary to get ready to edit it for posting today, and, well, long story short, I rewrote it completely.

Thanks to Elizabeth McCoy for the suggestion that Lyndsey keep getting shot at while she’s talking.  The image in my head for that bit is so very her.  It helped set the tone for the whole thing.

If you enjoy this, The Crown of Eldrete also features Lyndsey as a main character.  Its sequel will be out sometime before Ragnarok.  I hope.

The story:

“This could be a problem,” I said, peeking around the corner in the warehouse we were raiding.  We’d apparently triggered a silent alarm when we broke in.

Martoz looked concerned.  “You think something could be a problem?  You?  Miss-Ten-to-one-odds-are-too-easy?  Move so I can have a look.”

I moved so he could peer around the corner.  “You’re right.  This could be a problem,” my husband said.

“Told ya so.”  I checked the charge on my blaster, pushing all fear from my mind with practiced effort.  “So, you got a plan, or we just gonna charge in and pray for the best?”

“We’re going to stay right here and hope they don’t see us,” he said in a commanding tone.  “If they do, we take as many of them with us as we can.”

I got an idea.  “Boost me up there,” I pointed to a ceiling beam, “I got a better plan.”  My plan was a long shot, but it was better than sitting around waiting to die.

“Tell me what it is first,” he said, grabbing my shoulder and holding me in place.  “I don’t want to have to explain to Ana — or Val — that you got yourself killed.”

The mention of our wife and son sobered me, but . . . I peeked at the group approaching again.  “Well, darling, we’re both gonna be dead if my plan doesn’t work, so you don’t need to worry.”

I started to climb a nearby pile of boxes.  He pulled me down.  I turned to him, almost mad enough to lash out at him.  “Lyndsey, if we stay here, there’s a chance they’ll pass us by.  Don’t move.”  His fangs were bared now, and his tone was almost a growl.  For once, I wasn’t turned on by this.

“Fine,” I not-quite-snapped.  I shut my eyes and took a few deep breaths, forcing myself to calm down.  I knew he was right, but holding still instead of fighting is not something that comes easily to me.  I heard the Gristin soldiers getting closer and touched the mjöllnir pendant I always wore as I said a silent prayer for victory, strength, and courage.  After a handful more deep breaths, I added another prayer for the gods to take care of my wife, son, and unborn daughter if Marty and I didn’t survive.

“How’s your weaponry?” Martoz asked suddenly.

“Hands and feet are intact, got about half a dozen shuriken left, half a charge on my blaster, and my blades are sharp.  You?”

“Less charge than I’d like, some sharp knives, and what the gods gave me.”  He shut his eyes and whispered a quiet prayer to his gods and ancestors for victory.  I smiled slightly.  Even in a situation like this, he still refused to pray for strength or courage.  According to the branch of the Faith he followed, praying for those was cowardice.  As recently as last sulid we’d had a spirited debate about that . . . or a heated argument, according to everyone who overheard it.  I started to smile, remembering that debate and what it had led to, then forced myself back to the present.  This was no time for pleasant reminiscences.

We sat there, both expressionless and deathly calm, waiting for our foes to appear.  I yearned to jump up and start shooting.  If I was going to die here, if these bastards were going to make me break the oath not to die on a mission that I’d sworn at Georgia’s insistence all those years ago, I wanted to take as many of them with me as I could.

Take as many of them . . . I was reminded of the story of how Grandpa’s grandpa had died defending the temple he’d sworn to protect.  At least one hundred Neo-imperials were felled by my great-grandfather before he died on the steps of the temple.  They had powerful blaster rifles and armor.  He had nothing but a sword.  I felt even more frustrated at having to do nothing, until that story of Grandpa’s reminded me of another.

“Any of you guys wanna do this properly?” I said, striding forward, katana in hand, as the Gristin soldiers opened fire.  Gristins tended to be very old-fashioned, old-fashioned enough to still have champions from both sides fight instead of the whole force when the option presented itself.

Or they had been in the days of the Civil War, at least.  If they weren’t now, it wasn’t like I’d be any less dead if I’d stayed behind the boxes.

I dodged the continuing blasts from the soldiers as I repeated my challenge, carefully never letting my expression change from cool confidence.  Years of ninja training were paying off big time right then, in more ways than one.

The ostilin who was the ranking officer there loudly said something I couldn’t understand and the shots ceased.  Thank you, I silently said to the gods.

He walked over and said, in Galfarran that was so thickly accented that it was hard to understand, “You are a warrior?”

“That I am,” I said, trying my best to keep my normal bravado out of my voice.  Coolly confident was the way to play this.

“What is the strange weapon you carry?”

“It’s a katana.  It’s from my father’s homeworld, Earth.”

“I have never heard of this ‘Earth.’  Have I heard of your father?”

“You might have.  He’s Viktor Blue, Slayer of Drochslem and Hero of Culs III.”  I couldn’t keep the pride out of my voice as I said the titles Daddy hates so much.

“I have never heard either appellation.  What of your mother?”

“Renata Kavaliro, Dagger, inventor of, among other things, the HIR87 manuever drive.”

“Those I have heard of.  They allowed us to reach this moon easily.  And Kavaliro is a name I have heard, though not with ‘Renata.’  Were they, of old, guardian faeshir?”

I made a mental note to tell Darrien to be more careful who he sold Momma’s drives to, then said, “Some still are, I hear, but I’m descended from Kalem Kavaliro, who fell at Polthaina.”

“Polthaina hasn’t fallen in four human generations.  Are you sure of this descent?”

“As sure as anyone can be of such things.”

“Are you as honorable as your faeshir ancestors?”

Still keeping all cockiness out of my voice, I said, “I believe so.”

“Then I accept your challenge.”  The tall insectoid drew a slender blade from a sheath on his side and brandished it in my direction.  He looked fierce.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t very briefly have second thoughts.  I pushed them aside and moved towards him.

Our swords met with a clang.  The fight was over quickly.  I was, easily, twice the swordsman he was.  The ostilin fell, clutching his abdomen.  I’d wounded him badly, but non-fatally.  “You have bested me.  The Spirits have spoken though you.  You are the more honorable one this day.  You may leave,” he said as he rose to his feet.

I was careful to keep the cocky smile I felt trying to break through off my face.  I inclined my head slightly and said, “Thank you.  You fought well.  Your honor must be nearly equal to mine.  My husband is allowed to go too, right?”  My voice broke a little on the last sentence, despite my best efforts to stay in total control.

“He is,” the insectoid said.  “He is a very lucky man to have such an honorable warrior for a wife.”

“Thank you,” Martoz said, standing up for the first time.  “She’s one of the most honorable warriors I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.”  The pride in his voice was unmistakeable.  I finally let myself smile at my husband’s praise.

“I don’t think I remembered to introduce myself properly.  Name’s Lyndsey Katherine Kavaliro-Blue,” I said with a deep, flourishing bow before walking back over to Marty’s side.

“My name is Ostilin Krigthrikis do Vild’g, and it was an honor to fight you.  Kalem Kavaliro lives on in you.”

I felt tears in my eyes, which I quickly blinked back.  It was one of the best compliments I’d ever received.  “Thank you,” I said quietly, as Martoz and I walked away, leaving the weapons we’d come to liberate behind.  I’d won our passage out of the warehouse, I didn’t want to push for more than that.

 

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