QSFer Kale Night has a new MM sci fi/fantasy book out: “A Broken Winter.”
General Auryn Tyrus is tired of serving an emperor who turns political dissidents into expensive steak and claims to have swallowed Ankari’s sun. He is fed up with pretending not to know Emperor Haken is buying biological weapons and collecting taxes for a war that doesn’t exist. Auryn’s role in the entire mirage leads him to drastic choices, but unexpected news halts his plans. Seven-year-old Keita Kaneko, the son of a former lover, is captured by the emperor’s special forces. Auryn secretly intervenes and spares Keita from execution.
Keita changes everything. Instead of feeling helpless and oppressed by a self-proclaimed living god, Auryn works to expose the emperor as a fraud. But he knows exactly will happen if he’s discovered, and the extent of Emperor Haken’s lies is worse than anticipated. If Auryn expects anyone to believe the truth, he’s going to need proof. And a lot of help.
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Freezing to death took longer than expected. Auryn hadn’t moved in over an hour, lying in the snow, staring up at the stars. His toes burned and his bare fingers prickled painfully, flushed red from the cold. He’d considered a variety of other options, including shooting himself in the head, but feared screwing up and adding a traumatic brain injury to his list of grievances. He thought about hanging himself from a peach tree in Building A, but the fruit was being harvested and there were too many people around, even at night.
Forced to decide quickly, he hopped in a snowcrawler and sped off. He could’ve kept going, travelling beyond the oxygenated zone, opting for death by hypoxia, but he pulled over and picked a final resting place.
The radio in his earpiece crackled. The Special Activities Division were getting closer. It wouldn’t be long before they reached their target, terrorist Reisen Kaneko. Auryn hadn’t seen Reisen in over a decade, but his fondness for the man remained intact, uneroded by the passage of time. He’d hoped they’d be reunited one day, despite how impossible it was. No chance of that now. Abandoning his delusions meant being left with nothing, crippled under the weight of reality and longing for oblivion.
Countless stars illuminated the sky, radiant mothers to other worlds, a painful reminder of their own orphaned condition. His Holiness Emperor Haken swallowed planet Ankari’s sun centuries ago—punishment for widespread civil disobedience, or so the story went. While Emperor Haken’s fire-swallowing abilities were never questioned, it was whispered he may have simply taken credit for a dying sun’s disappearance. This explanation made sense to Auryn, but Reisen loved tearing it apart.
“A sun like ours doesn’t die the way most people expect it to. It burns bigger and brighter, swelling like an infected gash, incinerating planets nurtured from their inception. The final act of a deranged mother. Ankari is close enough to the sun that we’d all be burned alive instead of freezing our asses off.
“If the sun did disappear, it wasn’t due to natural causes.”
The radio blared with activity. Target location reached.
This was it. If he had any sense, he’d turn the radio off, but he needed to be sure someone hadn’t made a mistake.
Entrance is clear. Living room clear. Kitchen clear.
His heart pounded, chest constricting painfully.
Door’s locked. We’re going to break it down.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
There’s someone in the bed.
Auryn closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. The cold air choked him, scratching his throat and lungs like tiny, frozen thorns.
It’s a fucking kid. We do not have Kaneko. Repeat. We do not have Kaneko.
He struggled into a seated position, limbs stiff and heavy.
Kid says he’s Kaneko’s son. We’re bringing him in for questioning.
He pulled his hat and gloves back on, skin on fire. Reisen’s son would be sent to the capital and interrogated, treated not like a human being, but as an opportunity for promotion.
Auryn extracted himself from the snowbank he’d intended to be his tomb. He knew where they’d send the boy when they were done with him. Exhibiting the motor skills of a two-year-old, he climbed into his snowcrawler and turned the machine around, heading back to the Farm.
Kale currently resides outside a small town in northern Alberta, where she works in a library. She’s an avid reader with an English degree from the University of Calgary. In her spare time Kale loves playing video games, making chain maille, watching anime, and cultivating a steadily expanding bonsai collection.