QSFer Lisa Wylie has a new queer sci fi book out:
Thrown into an unwilling partnership by a heist gone bad and a botched assassination, mercenary captain Jennifer Bronwen and changeling intelligence agent Keera Naraymis are on the run from just about everybody. If they can learn to trust one another, maybe they can figure out exactly how their lives got turned upside down. But right now, mired as they are in a game of cat and mouse in the bowels of a criminal’s lair, that seems like a big if.
On the other side of the galaxy, Admiral Kiith Kohath has an even bigger problem—a corrupted cohort of cyborgs intent on pillaging the Assembly systems. Tracking the enemy to the sites of their atrocities, Kohath and his team must piece together the Reavers’ plan and determine their next target, preferably before they have a chance to slaughter yet another defenceless colony.
With alliances and agreements fraying at the seams, and new and old trusts being put to the test, the personal and political stakes rise ever higher as Jen, Keera, and Kohath struggle to prevent the galaxy from slipping into all-out war…
Lisa is giving away an ebook copy of books one and two – to enter, just comment below with your email address. :)
“Jen, what are you doing?” Keera demanded in a strangled tone.
“Protecting my investment, and being a team player,” Jen replied, biting down on the fear scrabbling at her throat. If she kept the guardian’s attention, Keera could hopefully use the distraction. She pulled her sidearm and levelled it at their enemy’s chest, hoping like hell the changeling had understood her intent. “Nobody fucks with my ship, or my crew. You want her, you go through me.”
The guardian tilted his head to one side. “As you wish.”
Ready though she was, his attack was simply too fast for her. Jen pulled the trigger as he began to move, but her shot went wide of the mark as he dodged, stepping in with inhuman speed and catching her by the wrist. She felt her elbow pop as he yanked her arm straight, and the world exploded in agony as he brought his armoured forearm smashing down on the overextended joint. Her scream of pain died abruptly as he followed up with a backhand to the cheek that dropped her gasping and disoriented to the concrete deck.
“Fool human,” he growled. “I warned you.” He took a step forward, and a shot hammered square into his chest, staggering him back. Jen rolled away, vaguely making out Keera holding her dropped pistol through the blur of tears fogging her vision. Grimly, the changeling fired again and again, emptying the clip in a flurry of shots.
The guardian stumbled back with each impact, but his armour defied penetration, and as soon as Keera’s ammo ran dry he resumed his advance. Keera charged at him, throwing the now-useless pistol at his head as a feint, but he managed to evade her lunge at his throat and rolled his shoulder to throw her out onto the concourse.
Jen picked herself up off the deck, shook her head to clear her vision. The pain in her arm was blazing, almost overwhelming, but she forced herself to stagger across the gangway, stepping between the guardian and the fallen changeling, a flash of memory giving her the drive to keep moving.
“Jen, go!” Thud begged. “Don’t screw yourself on my account. Get out of here!”
She wasn’t going to repeat that mistake.
“Nuh-uh, tin man.” She ground out the challenge from between gritted teeth. “I told you once already. You want her, you go through me.”
“Jen, please… don’t!” Keera begged from behind her, voice cracked with fear. “He’ll kill you!”
The guardian paused, studying Jen with cold impassivity. “The changeling is correct, human. You cannot hope to stop me. Trying will guarantee your death.”
Jen glared at him, wiping the blood from her burst lip with the heel of her hand. “Back. The fuck. Off.”
“Keera, shut up!” Jen snapped over her shoulder. “This is between me and Metal Mickey here.”
“You’re a mercenary, Marauder. Loyal to nothing,” the guardian observed, contempt dripping from his words as he finally deigned to draw his sidearm. “Further, you are crippled. Even were you not, you are no match for me. You cannot hope to defeat me. Why not run, save your life? It is as valuable to you as it is worthless to me.”
Jen spat, clearing the coppery tang of her own mortality from her mouth. She could smell the ozone crackling around the guardian’s weapon he was so close now. “Keera works for me,” she declared. “I look out for my crew. Letting people beat up on them,” she half-sobbed, half-growled, “is bad for my reputation.”
“You are prepared to die for your reputation?” the guardian asked, his tone curious, even as his armoured fist lashed out. She couldn’t dodge, and the blow caught her in the midriff, driving all the air from her lungs once more as she folded around the blow and fell, landing heavily on her injured arm. Red pain overwhelmed her, and she dimly heard her own broken shriek of agony from somewhere very far away.
“Jen!” Keera’s voice was shrill, but distant. “Leave her alone! Please! She’s not a threat to you. It’s me you came for!”
No, Keera. Run, just get out of here. Jen coughed, sucked in a precious lungful of air, tried to rise, but she was brought up short by the guardian lacing his armoured fingers in her hair, holding her captive even as he covered Keera with his pistol, keeping her at bay. “Answer me, Marauder,” he demanded. “You would die for your reputation?”
“Fuck… you,” Jen wheezed. “She’s my friend… I won’t… stand aside… and let you… hurt her.” She was dimly aware she should be terrified, but the pain was making everything but the immediate moment difficult to comprehend.
The guardian dropped her, shrugged, and re-aimed his weapon. “Commendable,” he said flatly as he pulled the trigger.
There was a scream and a flash of light, and darkness swallowed Jen whole.
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, inlcuding free Burning Suns short stories, on her website: https://wyles77writes.wordpress.com