Chapter Excerpt Part 2

Joschka has talked Rada into visiting Santa Fe with him. As tends to happen with that pair, things have not gone quite as planned…As with the previous excerpt, this was written several years ago, so it is rough and does not always match series continuity as it currently stands.

The next morning Rada got up before dawn. She stretched and dressed, then caught a whiff of an intoxicating scent. Ooohhh, that smells like . . . She inhaled deeply and then drifted out of her bedroom, following the delicious, sharp perfume. There, on the table, lay the source of the heady odor. The woman reached for the dark green stems and leaves only to have them snatched up and held out of her reach. Without thinking she jumped, trying to grab the foliage, and Joschka laughed as she bounced with frustration. “You evil, wicked . . !” she accused, eye locked on the bundle of fresh catnip.

“Fascinating,” he observed in a clinical tone, his blue eyes gleaming with mischief. “So there is indeed a universal constant among all the species called ‘feline.’ Plato was correct.” As he spoke, he waved the herbs up and down, watching Rada trying madly to grab them. He relented and dropped the bundle and she snatched it out of the air, burying her face in the leaves. “I also got things for breakfast,” Joschka added, laughing at the woman’s blissfully silly expression. After two or three minutes she returned to something closer to normal and went and shut the catnip in a drawer in her room. “Ready?” and he discretely checked his own weapons as she slung her “camera bag” over one shoulder. Continue reading

Chapter excerpt Part 1

This is from a chapter that I pulled out of In Sheltering Talons because of length and because, while it is important to Rada and Joschka’s story, it is not as important as some other things. It was written a number of years ago, so it is rough in spots.

The early June breeze whispering over the tarmac at Kirtland Air Force Base carried a chill. Sgt. White wondered if he would ever get used to the high desert. He was from Louisiana and his previous tours had been at Barksdale and MacDill, both in sunny, humid climes. But sunrise would come in another hour and already the few stars visible through the city lights were fading, even though it would be a while before the sun slid up from behind Sandia Mountain, east of Albuquerque.

White heard footsteps and turned to find someone striding up towards the gate. “Has the Graf-General arrived?” Major Gonzales asked from the darkness.

“No one has approached the gate, sir.” White replied, wondering who or what a ‘graf-general’ was.

Obviously unhappy about being awake so early, the major started to say something. Then he stopped—both men turning to the sound of car tires and the shine of headlights as a civilian vehicle approached the Air Base gate. It stopped ten meters from the gate and the headlights dimmed. Major Gonzales swiped his pass at the pedestrian gate and waited while it opened slightly. He squeezed through, then stopped and made certain it closed behind him before cautiously approaching the SUV. Sgt. White wondered just what in the Hell was going on and why this person was coming on post at 0400, if that was who was in the vehicle. Apparently it was, because the major entered something into the gate’s code reader, swiped his card and opened the vehicle gate. The light-colored SUV rolled in, then stopped a few meters clear of the fence. Continue reading

Saturday Snippet: Merchant and Magic

This is part of a story I’m still doing research for. I’ve got some of the nuts-n-bolts sorted out, but the rest needs some ground-truthing, so to speak. This is an expansion on something I posted earlier.

Magic sparkled around the seal as he pressed it into the quick-hardening clay disk affixed to the bale of hides, or would have if he could see magic. Tycho waited four heart beats, then lifted his seal. The impression had taken and the cluster of watching men all relaxed. A merchant’s first seal in a new market always attracted attention. The weigh-mage gestured his confirmation, as did the market-master, who entered his approval in the great market book. Tycho had already stamped the book, using the blue-green ink of the Free City of Rhonari to confirm his place of origin and trade-confraternity. Had the seal not taken, well, another mark would have been made, closing the gates to him forever. Tycho stepped back from the weigh scales, allowing the apprentices to take the bundle of un-cut hides off the platform and carry them through the enormous doors of the great warehouse.

“Welcome, Master Tycho Rhonarida,” the market master announced, his oddly high-pitched voice cutting through conversations and arguments in the square before the central warehouse. “May your spirits smile on your doings.”

“And may yours prosper and protect you and your—” he caught himself before he said proud, “your fair city. May her walls be strong and her denizens be stronger.” He braced, not staggering as the weigh-mage slapped him on the back with a hand the size of a great-hauler’s hind-foot. The men muttered and grunted their approval. He was a foreigner, but a man of men. That counted for much these days. Continue reading

RajWorld Scene

Marmolines are a bit like a cross between a marmot, a squirrel, and a raccoon – furry, cute when they are asleep, and thoroughly nasty marsupials that will destroy anything not made of concrete and steel, or so it seems. There is a shield around the army camp that is supposed to keep them, and larger creatures, out.

Kor and Tomás both made those gestures that she’d learned translated, “We really do not want to speak about this matter so we will pretend it has not been mentioned so that it will go away.” Her father did something similar, and Rigi added it to her list of multi-species-applicable indicators of male-ness. Rigi tipped her head back, resting it on the chair, and studied the interior ceiling of the shelter tent. The hanging lamp cast shadows in the corners and she wondered if she ought to check for webs and dust the next day. One of the shadows moved. Rigi focused on it. It moved again, and she caught a glimpse of eye shine. “Dear, Makana, I hesitate to say anything for fear of interrupting an otherwise lovely evening, but it appears that a marmoline or something similar has gotten in. There in the corner of the ceiling, above the wash-stand and water tap.” She stood and eased out of the way. “I believe I will step outside for some fresh air. Come Martinus.” Continue reading

New Release: Clawing Back from Chaos: Excerpt

Book is Live!

Chapter One: Wintertide Respite

“Consider it the Graf-General’s farewell tour,” Captain Maria de Alba suggested as she looked over the list of things they were supposed to have had done already. In early December General Joschka Graf von Hohen-Drachenburg would be making an “informal inspection” of the 58th Regiment of Foot, better known as the Global Defense Force’s British branch, forcing everyone to catch up on all those things they hadn’t had time to do because they’d been too busy doing what they were supposed to do.

The adjutant shook his head, “No, if it were a farewell tour there’d already be t-shirts for sale, and I haven’t seen an order form for the commemorative DVD.” The rest of the staff officers and their advisor groaned at the Israeli’s abysmal joke. Even Commander “Rachel Na Gael” managed a laugh and Moshe grinned even more broadly. He liked the one-eyed alien and he missed hearing her laughter and her wise-ass comments. Ever since the regiment’s return from Germany, she’d been growing quieter and quieter, and Captain Moshe ben David worried about her.

“Actually, this is his way of settling bets, since there was a large chunk of the pool that wagered he’d just fossilize behind his desk and get rolled out for meetings and receptions like Jeremy Bentham,” Colonel Tadeus Przilas, the executive officer, confided to the others, drawing another round of chuckles. He switched topics. “Commander, what’s this I hear about no Christmas crackers?” It had been a hard few months and everyone was looking forward to the Christmas holidays, even the non-Christians.

She snorted. “Utter codswallop, as usual. Someone decided that,” she mimicked the logistics officer’s tone, “‘out of concern for those suffering from PTS,’ we would only have crackers that did not make a popping sound. Which, of course, do not exist. Thus no crackers.” She leaned forward conspiratorially, whispering “or so Oatmeal thinks.” Captain Edward O’Neil, now branded “Oatmeal” because of his behavior during the Harz campaign, had earned the disgust of the rest of the officers, and they made no effort to hide their unprofessional snickers. Then the conference room door opened and Regimental Sergeant Major Sheldon Smith, Captain O’Neil, Father Mikael Farudi and Major General James McKendrick joined them. Continue reading