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  • Tynan’s Life’s Ambition

    When there are no easy answers…excerpt from Incursion: Unbound Book 1

    Starlight from the viewport fought to illuminate a console desk, shape unrecognizable for the pile of starmaps and handpads that covered it like discarded blankets, thrown about haphazardly—or in frustration.

    Ramius found Demarion, looming dark, by the viewport, gazing outward. Arms crossed over his chest, cloak gone, back straight—it was his accustomed posture when thinking and told Ramius nothing of those thoughts.

    “How long did the ir’drakhon campaign for the northern continent last, Ramius?” Demarion asked, finally. “I can’t remember.”


    “They defended their occupation headquarters in the west brutally. But it’s been a lot of years since I read that history, and the details escape me.”

    “I don’t remember either, my lord.”

    “That location never made sense—damned hard to defend and ugly as sin.”

    Being from the westernmost of Demar’s northern continent himself, Ramius could not agree, but he limited himself to a mild, “Wasn’t their homeworld supposed to be rocky and, ah, barren? Perhaps they liked the terrain.” This was something of an old jest.

    That brought a small smile to Demarion’s grim face. “Ah, yes. One mystery explained.”

    Demarion’s smile faded again. “Of so many. What did they want on Demar in the first place? We had nothing to offer them that couldn’t be mined or made—better and cheaper—in their own territory. They didn’t need the labor—although they took advantage of it. We only had the one portal, which led only back here, and were certainly no threat—we didn’t even have electricity, much less space-worthy battleships. If they didn’t want us to have them, they could have just stayed away.”

    The old questions, the ones he always asked, when he fell to brooding.

    The ones for which there were no answers.

    Ramius smiled, trying to lighten the shadows carved into Demarion’s face. “Maybe you can discover the answers now, my lord, and write a new history. You’d be famous.”

    “Yes, my life’s ambition,” Demarion answered dryly.

  • I Believe It Was Fifty Percent

    Excerpt from Incursion: Book 1 of Unbound. Because nothing can be as simple as it seems…

    “Is the weather always like this?” Merika couldn’t help but ask, as they headed for a large cargo door.

    “Lately. This is the cold season, and the winds rise.” Tornalon spoke quickly, jogging to take his place in the lead with Kalega, as if letting Kalega answer would confer some advantage.

    Given how much Merika was sweating under her coat, she hated to think what the hot season was like.

    “The mine fires are making it worse,” Kalega added.

    Tornalon stopped. “We told you we would fire on them if you hit our refinery.”

    “And we told you if you raised the processing rates again, we’d take measures,” Kalega shot back, voice rising clearly over the sound of sand scouring metal.

    “Guys!” Merika waved her hands in front of both of them. “I don’t care if you go for each other’s throats, but can we do it inside?”

    The guards, seeing her movement, unshouldered their weapons and leveled them at her. In the same instant, Thorn’s own weapon was in her hands, aimed not at them but at their leaders.

    Merika chilled under her sweat. If Thorn fired, all hell would break loose. And if Thorn thought Merika was in danger, she would fire.

    “Now, let’s not be hasty,” she said in her most reasonable tone, as much for her friend as for the guards. “Abu Fazl arranged for us to deliver your much-needed medical supplies, and for us to pick up some rock fungus. Rock fungus, people. That’s not worth dying over.”

    Apparently it worked, because both leaders gestured at their people to lower their weapons. Thorn, more slowly, lowered hers.

    Merika started breathing again. “These people are crazy,” she muttered to Thorn, who’d moved up close behind her. “Remind me again why we agreed to this?”

    She felt rather than saw Thorn’s smile behind her helmet. Thorn could smile at the oddest times. “I believe it was fifty percent.”

    Merika sighed. “Right. That.”

  • You’re Not Helping

    From Diversion: Unbound Book 3

    The figure before her was unarguably Kor. But he was wearing a grey-gold tunic and vest with flaring shoulder covers, over some sort of elaborate belt and pants tucked into high boots.

    It was all quite elegant, a thick, worked fabric trimmed with intricate weaving or embroidery, all subtle interwoven golds and blues and greys, and it looked quite expensive.

    It just didn’t look like Kor.

    “Where did you get that?”

    “Toran, before we left Roth’s.” He held his arms out, inviting inspection. “I’m assured it’s the latest fashion in the capital. I haven’t worn civilian clothing for a very long time. It feels very…odd.”

    “It looks odd.”

    He gave her that sardonic look. “You’re not helping, Captain.”

    “No, I mean, it looks good on you. Just…weird to see you out of your armor. Turn around.”

    With both brows raised, he did so.

    She circled him, came back around the front, grinning. “It does look good. Just like a drac officer would look, in civvies.”

    He tilted his head in question.

    “I mean, it’s not exactly a great disguise. Your posture, your demeanor, your whole attitude is one of…command. Most drac merchants and bankers are arrogant, but not quite in the same way.”

    “I’ll try to work on my…posture.”

  • Planning

    From Diversion: Unbound Book 3

    “Stars, and it’s not just Mordrecin that’s a problem.” She turned to Kor. “You said we were implicated in some bombing there. I can’t just fly in under our usual idents.”

    “Oh, you weren’t implicated by Tradeguild. Not unless Mordrecin’s planted something tying you openly to your Fora’an—” His eyes slid toward Mion. “…friends.”

    “But—what—we thought….” All the stress and worry about their so-carefully-planted identities, their accounts, their future livelihood. All a lie?

    She shot him a look of pure dislike. “You let us think…it’s why we went to Roth’s. We had nowhere else to go.”

    He could look remarkably innocent when he wanted to. “What? It was better than torturing information out of you, wasn’t it?”

    She scowled. “It’s things like this, Kor, that give you people such a bad reputation.”

    “No, it’s torturing information out of people that gives us a bad reputation.”