QSFer Lisa Wylie has a new gay sci fi book out:
Having been shot at, shot up, and almost shot down, Jen and Keera have finally learned to trust one another, but there’s no time to stop and enjoy their newly forged relationship. Commissioned by a rogue Guardian to attempt the most audacious theft in history, they head to the capital of the Assembly with a single objective—steal the weapon Jen should have acquired in Berlin. If they can get to it first, they’ll stop a war before it starts.
Kiith Kohath, meanwhile, has assumed command of an allied fleet to deal with the Reaver invasion. The stakes couldn’t be higher: if he can’t retake Ice Serpent, the entire Assembly will become nothing more than feedstock for Darkstar’s corrupted army. Kohath needs more than a victory, he needs a rout, but the odds of that grow slimmer with every new Reaver that rolls off the assembly line.
With tensions rising and armies mobilizing, the smallest spark could set the whole galaxy ablaze. And when Jen and Keera discover a plot that threatens the safety of every Envoy on Kyzar, it’s not a question of if, but when that spark will fall…
Lisa is giving away an ebook copy of Books One and Two with this post – comment below with your email for a chance to win. :)
“Left a bit… up a bit. Uh uh. Too far. Don’t rush; keep it nice and slow.”
“I didn’t think it’d be this difficult,” Keera grumbled.
“It’s very sensitive, sweetie,” Jen replied, biting her lip to stifle a grin. “Responds to the slightest pressure.”
“So I’m discovering.” Keera frowned, concentrating. “OK. I can do this.”
“I know you can. Just relax. Try to enjoy it. Now, down a bit… little more. Yeah, like that. Good, Kee.” Jen brushed an encouraging kiss against her cheek. “Now just… no, don’t… ahhh.”
“Damn it.” Keera slumped back, skull thunking into her headrest.
“What was that?” Jen asked incredulously.
“You distracted me,” Keera accused.
“That’s a pretty lame excuse.”
Keera sighed, regarding the blood-red HUD with distaste. “I’m never going to be good at this, let’s face it.”
“You are such a performance freak.” Amused, Jen leaned forward to kill the flight-simulator software. “If you can’t perfect something within five attempts, it really gets your goat, doesn’t it?” She turned to look over at Keera. “Flying a ship ain’t easy.”
“You make it look effortless,” Keera complained.
“That’s because I practice all the time,” Jen replied, trying not to let pleasure at the backhanded compliment distract her. “Sure, you can have talent, but that goes for nothing without time behind the stick.” She ruffled Keera’s hair affectionately. “You don’t need to be an ace. Just comfortable taking action if the need arises. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, Sprocket will handle any issues, but for everyone’s benefit, you should know how to execute FTL transitions, take basic evasive manoeuvres, and dock and undock the boat.”
Keera nodded. “And I agree completely, I just… You’re right,” she surrendered. “I hate not being able to do something properly. But I won’t improve by moaning, will I?”
She reached for the HUD, but Jen caught her fingers. “We’ve been at this for three hours. That’s enough for today. You’ll just frustrate yourself.”
“Jen…” Keera began, but Jen hopped out of her seat, silencing the incipient protest with a kiss.
“All work and no play makes Keera a cranky changeling,” she chided.
“Cranky?” Keera objected, eyebrows lifting.
“Cranky,” Jen confirmed, soothing the accusation’s sting with a brush of her thumb down Keera’s nose. “Go decompress, before you explode out of sheer indignation at your own inadequacy.”
“All right,” Keera surrendered, levering herself out of her chair and grimacing as her muscles protested the movement after three hours of tension-locked stillness. “Oooh. I think I’ll hit the cargo bay and do some circuits,” she decided. “I’ve been neglecting my fitness.”
“You look plenty fit to me,” Jen said with a wink. Keera chuckled.
“You know it.” Jen gave her a pat on the backside to get her moving.
They were more than halfway done with their trip to Kyzar, a forty-eight-hour burn at standard FTL. Although the Fortune could muster twice that speed, they weren’t in any hurry—the slower rate of travel made them nondescript, and had given them time to take a few precautions for crossing Assembly territory and unwind a little after the shitstorm of events that had been their recent existence.
Not, Jen would readily admit, that said shitstorm hadn’t provided some stellar benefits. They might be undertaking the most dangerous and illegal job Jen had ever agreed to, but the sudden escalation of her relationship with Keera had left her feeling upbeat and optimistic. More so than was probably prudent. Even now, just thinking about it brought a grin to her lips.
“God, you’re pathetic, Bronwen,” she chastised herself insincerely. “Always a sucker for a pretty girl.”
“Keera’s preferred human disguise is within the parameters of conventional sexual attraction for your species,” Dolos announced.
Jen jumped; she hadn’t heard the cyborg enter the cockpit. “Sneaking up on me?” she demanded as she waved her guest into Keera’s vacated seat.
“Stealth was not my intent,” Dolos rebutted as she sat down. “Your attention was clearly elsewhere. When you spoke, I assumed you were aware of my presence.”
“Well, never mind. What do you need?”
“I wish to consult with you regarding Arkaion.”
Jen frowned, a little of her good humour evaporating. “What about him?”
“You are discontented by his presence aboard. You avoid interacting with him. And since his being here is due to my intervention, I felt it might be politic to offer an apology.”
Jen regarded the cyborg in astonishment. “You didn’t do anything, Dolos—you don’t need to apologise. And you’re right—I don’t much like him—but that’s not your problem.”
“I cannot, as a cyborg, properly comprehend your emotional state with respect to recent events,” Dolos said, “and so I must ask a blunt question. Will your dislike present a hindrance to our appointed task?”
Jen winced, ears heating with the first flush of shame. “No. I promise, Dolos, I won’t let it get in the way.” She coughed up a short, wry laugh. “Keera won’t let it, either, come to that. Shit…” She sighed heavily. “Look, I understand the stakes. Cooperation’s gonna be crucial to pulling this off, and I’m down with that, one hundred percent. I’m in enough trouble as it is without pissing off my last few allies in the entire galaxy.”
Dolos nodded. “Thank you. My apologies if I have given offence, but I could not determine the answer, and Praetorius has not interacted with organic sentients for decades. He could not elaborate upon my insufficient insight.”
“It’s fine, Dolos,” Jen assured her. “The friendly reminder to get over myself is appreciated.”
“As you say.” Dolos cocked an eyebrow, a sure-fire indicator something else was on her mind. “May I ask another question?”
“Are you and Keera now engaging in sexual intercourse?”
Jen stared at her, trying to decide if the question was some kind of joke, then shook her head, the heat in her ears spreading to her cheeks. “No. We haven’t, um… yet.”
“I guess… there just hasn’t been time.” Jen side-eyed her uncertainly. “You’re not about to go through some data-gathering phase where you get all curious about interspecies relationships, are you? ‘Cos I gotta tell you, I’m kinda winging it here.”
“No,” Dolos replied. “We have merely observed changes in your physiological and behavioural profiles known to correlate with sexual activity.”
It was Jen’s turn to cock an eyebrow. “So you inferred from my improved mood that Keera and I must be having sex?”
“Just so. Keera has displayed similar changes—we had expected a common, causal link.”
“Well, I’m sorry to have confounded your expectations,” Jen chuckled. “You’ll just have to come up with another theory to explain my newfound happy-go-lucky nature.” She frowned at the cyborg. “Wait, you said we, not I. Have you and Praetorius been gossiping, Dolos?”
Dolos shook her head primly. “It was a passing observation, nothing more.”
Jen hooted with laughter. “That’s very organic of you both. Next thing you’ll be telling me what this season’s must-have accessories in Paris, New Brisbane, and Constantinople are.”
Dolos looked faintly offended as she rose to her feet. “I am certain that would not be an efficient use of my time. Thank you again for the clarifications, Jennifer. I appreciate your candour.”
“Any time, Dolos.”
Lisa Wylie is an enthusiastic newbie writer based in Glasgow, Scotland, and a lifelong sci-fi and fantasy geek, a condition predestined by being born the year Star Wars was released. Burning Suns: Conflagration is her first published work of fiction. When she’s not writing she enjoys cooking, gaming, reading other people’s fantastic work, and snapping the odd photo or two. You can check out more of her work, including free Burning Suns short stories, on her website: https://