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October 2015

A Day at the Races

In the rewrites for the 2nd draft of my scifi/adventure/romance "Fate's Apology", I had to back up and give the reader time to learn about the characters in their normal world before all hell breaks loose. This gave me an opportunity to see my male protagonist, Rey, getting together with his old academy buddy, Jaiynder. Today's snippet is an expansion of one of my #1lineWed lines from this week's topic of "last line of a chapter", in which my two guys are taking a breather between races at the Zaraxen Trophy Run-Offs in Sepherra City, an outing that Jaiynder has invited Rey to for more than just a chance to re-live the good old days. (What's a zaraxen, you ask? Not a horse, that's what.)


            Rey took his turn with the pay-out attendant then secured the purse full of shiny plastisheen sheets and square, gray coins in his leather shoulder bag. On the way back to their seats, they stopped at a small bar filled with racing patrons from across the sector and ordered two drinks of dragonspit. Rey removed the gray, fleece poncho he'd brought to keep out the chill of the late-season weather and tied it around his waist, then took a seat at a tiny table near the entrance.
            "So enough about me and my work," he said. "What about you? You look fed."
            Jaiynder slurped his drink and smacked his lips. "Yeah. I'm freelancing."
            "Ah. Talent on the heizeko finally paying off? You were quite the virtuoso. Didn't know you were still playing."
            "I'm not. I'm freelancing keeping peoples' debts paid, hunting down property on the lam, that sort of thing."
            Rey blinked. "You're a mercenary?" He laughed then took a sip of his drink.
            Jaiynder flicked a hank of hair from his eyes. "What's so funny about that?"
            "Nothing. It makes sense. You never did play well with others."
            Jaiynder grinned. "Guess I was always meant to be a 'solo artist'." He took another slug, waving at a passing waitress. "It'll all be changing soon though."
            The waitress took Jaiynder's glass. Rey held his hand over his own, not yet finished.
            "Yeah. Got a deal in the works. Can't really share the specs, as it's not all fleshed out yet—you know, 'don't speak of fortune and tempt fate to steal it'."
            "Well, that's good. Maybe then you can afford a personal skipcraft and come visit."
            Jaiynder laughed. "You remember."
            "How could I forget?" He took another sip. "Only man I know who can't take a back seat on a skipgate jump. Thought you were going to get us kicked off right in the middle of the Sonic that day."
            "What can I say? I gotta be in control. Always."
            The waitress returned with another dragonspit, took the currency off the table, and waited.
            "You looking for a tip?" Jaiynder pointed to her chest. "Lose the top button. Best tip you'll get all day."
            Rey huffed and reached into his bag. "You'll have to excuse my vulgar friend. He doesn't get out much." He dropped some coins into the woman's hand. She flashed him a fake smile, narrowed her eyes at Jaiynder, then stalked off.
            Rey swallowed his drink. "Valosh on a heggamog, you haven't changed a bit."
            "Good. I like the old me. Why change a perfectly good me if I don't have to?" Jaiynder downed his drink, slammed the glass on the table, and stood. "C'mon. Birdies are waiting."

One Line Wednesday Excerpts

Here's two excerpts from my scifi/adventure/romance mash-up, Fate's Apology, currently enjoying a very productive round of re-writes. Some of my #1lineWed tweets today were taken from these scenes. Enjoy the somwhwat expanded versions!

Scene one: Seeds of Discontent
"Why do you not rest, Nala? Ar-dek is not here, and your arms are shaking from the effort."

Nala threaded a tiny, white quartz bead onto the sheet she was creating then picked up another and shook her head. "I cannot, Sula. The deal was, if I finish this in time, Callos will excuse me from the next soirée."

"He will do no such thing. You will leap, as you always leap."

Nala glanced up at the older woman, her burgundy tendrils meticulously braided into a traditional hethfa, her salmon-colored flesh scrubbed clean. Like Nala, she wore a coarsely-woven, dress of drab color. Unlike Nala, she had slept at some point in the past day, her emerald-green eyes clear and bright.

"That is fine," Nala said, continuing her work. "It is not the leaping I dread."

Sula's hand caressed. Nala closed her eyes as the woman's fingers threaded through her own, unbraided tendrils.

"It is only because it is so uncommon for you that it is so awful," Sula said.

"It would be awful no matter what."

"Because they feel they must put on a show for Callos's sake. I was his favorite once too, and it is far different in the harem rooms than behind the anonymity screen."

Nala shrugged Sula's hand away. "You have lectured me on this before. It does nothing to change my mind."

"I am not trying to change your mind. I am trying to help you deal with it better."

"If you want to help me deal with it, then help me find a way out of this dreadful place."

"Again with the escape fantasy?"

"It was not a fantasy the last time."

"It was a death wish. You are lucky you did not freeze solid in the exposure cage."

Nala tied off a bead then snapped the heavy sheet open, examining her handiwork. "It takes little to thaw someone in this place. I will risk it again, when the time is right."

Scene two: A Killer in Training

Nala eyed a variety of clubs and poles, then spied a small object in the corner that didn't seem to fit in with any of the other items. Protruding from an oval holster was a golden handle with a button on one side.

"What about this weapon?" she asked. "What is it?"

Rey leaned closer. "It's perfect, that's what it is."

He removed the oddity, pulled it from the holster, and showed it to her. It consisted of round, metal claspers about the size of her palm, attached to a handle. There was a wide slit in the bottom. She tipped the end up and saw glints of metal inside.

"It looks like teeth inside," she said.

"They are. This is a Helvarik pogari. A whipsaw."

"Pogari. Whipsaw," she repeated. "How does it work?"

He handed her the holster. "Well, remember how you used the chain on your shackles?"

She nodded as she fastened the holster around her hips.

"Think of it as a chain. A retractable one that bites."

He moved to the middle of the room, took a defensive stance against an invisible enemy, and gave the device an overhand swing. At the peak of the arc, he pressed the button, and a silver whirling object spun from the clasp, extending outward about the length of her leg as it sliced the air with a hiss. Before hitting the ground on the downswing, it whizzed back into the clasp.

"I like it," she said.

"I thought you might." He flipped open a shallow compartment on the side of the clasp and pulled out two circular plastisheen sheaths. He positioned them over the twin saws' razor-sharp teeth. "Now for some lessons."