QSFer R.M. Olson has a new space opera out, book two in The Ungovernable series: “Jailbreak.”
Breaking into one of the most secure prison planets in the system isn’t the hard part. The hard part is going to be getting back out again.
They just pulled off the heist of the century. Now ex-smuggler pilot Jez and the motley crew of the Ungovernable have a promise to keep: an extraction from a high-security political prison. But the timeline for the rescue is shorter than they ever imagined, and if they want to save their target from certain death, they’ll have to go in blind—no specs, no intel, no time to prepare, and only the skeleton of a plan. And between prison gangs, murderous guards, and a vicious warden, extracting their target might be the least of their worries—at this point, they might not even be able to keep themselves alive.
Jailbreak is the second book in R.M. Olson’s science fiction space opera series The Ungovernable. With a crazy, close-knit crew, plenty of humour, and loads of action, Firefly meets Ocean’s Eleven in this fast-paced, kick-ass, wickedly fun series.
Jez grinned at the man sitting across the table from her. He smelled of sour sweat and too much sump, and his pilot coat was thick with grease and dirt.
He didn’t grin back. “Well, you scrawny plaguer? You going to call, or fold?”
She leaned back on the rickety metal stool, still grinning. “Neither. I’m raising.”
The small kabak was noisy, crowded with hard-drinking, grim-faced men and women in tattered pilot’s coats or grubby peasant smocks, but a handful of the man’s crewmates had gathered around the gambling table. At least, she assumed they were his crewmates. Couldn’t imagine anyone else would stand that close to him on purpose.
“Raise with what?” he grunted, clearly skeptical.
She grinned wider. She didn’t look like much right now, sure. But she plaguing well smelled better than he did. That should count for something, right?
Casually, she reached into her coat and pulled out a small chip. She kept her fist closed around it for effect as she touched it to the betting chip in the centre.
The six pairs of eyes widened as the numbers clicked higher, and the man’s heavy eyebrows dropped into a scowl.
“What?” she asked innocently. “Can’t meet it?” She shrugged. “You could always fold.”
“You damn—” he half stood, leaning forward.
Her heart was pounding, every muscle in her body tingling with anticipation.
This was what she lived for.
“Or,” she said casually, “I suppose you could put in that information chip my friend was asking you about earlier. I’d take that as a call.”
He would probably just kill her. Or try, of course. But what the hell. If you weren’t about to be killed at least a couple times a week, were you even really alive?
“Why do you want it so badly?” he grumbled. She shrugged.
“That’s fine, you can fold. I don’t care. Got plenty of credits in there, I could buy myself enough sump to last me five standard years. Or maybe one really, really good night.”
“How did some scum-sucking lowlife pilot like you come up with that kind of credits?”
She raised her eyebrows. “You calling, or folding? Don’t got all day.”
He looked down at the symbols on the smooth tokens in his hand and scowled.
He had a good hand.
Slowly, he pulled a small chip out of his inner pocket. “I lose this, my job’s not worth spit.”
She shrugged and made as if to scoop the betting chip towards herself. He slapped his meaty hand down on her wrist.
“Damn you.” He dropped the small chip into the centre of the table. “Now, I say we’re dropping tokens.”
With a dramatic flourish he spread his tokens out on the table and broke into a slow, mean smile, the expression ugly on his stubbly face.
It really was a good hand.
She would have let her grin drop if she could. But she couldn’t help it. Never been that good at modesty, really.
So she was grinning so wide her face felt stretched as she tossed her tokens casually onto the table.
There was that one delightful moment, as he saw the symbols and made the calculations in his head. Then his eyes bugged out, his face darkening with rage.
She scooped up the betting chip and the information chip and shoved them in the inside pocket of her jacket. Time to leave.
His fist caught her in the ribs as she stood, and she grunted and stumbled sideways. He shoved the table out of the way and grabbed her by the shoulder, hoisting her bodily into the air.
“You cheated! You plaguing scum-sucker.”
She turned her head and bit down as hard as she could into the fleshy part of his hand. He howled in pain, and she dropped to the ground. She grabbed the stool she’d been sitting on and swung it into position just as he lunged down at her. The stool legs caught him under the ribcage, and for a split second he stood, face frozen in agony, gasping for breath. She rolled out from under the stool, spun around, and flung it into the face of the man next to her, who, in fairness, looked like he had been about to recover his wits and grab for her. He grunted and stumbled back, cursing, and she turned and brought her forehead down on the bridge of her erstwhile gambling partner’s nose. He fell against the broken table, clutching his bloody face, just as another one of his friends grabbed her from behind. She threw her head back, connecting squarely with his jaw, and then she took advantage of the momentary slackening of his grasp to drive her elbow hard into his sternum. She dropped to the floor as another man and a woman grabbed for her and rolled between their legs. Then she jumped to her feet, checked her coat pocket, and sprinted for the exit, still grinning, the man and all of his friends hot on her tail.
She burst out of the kabak, glanced quickly in both directions, then took off down the dirt street towards the edge of the shabby town. She slapped the com on her wrist as she ran.
“Hey kids, time to go!” she called. A moment later, Lev’s long-suffering sigh came through her earpiece.
“Where are you, Jez?”
“Be there in a jiff.”
“And someone’s after you.”
A heat blast scorched the dirt beside her, sending up a thick scent of ozone and burnt earth. She yelped and dodged as another blast sizzled past her and left a charred mark across the colourful shutters on the dingy prefab house across from her.
“Yep. Don’t call you genius boy for nothing!”
R.M. Olson is the author of The Ungovernable series. She has ridden the Trans Siberian railway, jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, gone cage-diving with great white sharks, faced down a charging buffalo bull, and knows how to milk a goat. Currently she resides in Alberta, Canada with her four children, three cats, and a dog the size of a small bear. She goes hiking and skiing more often than she probably has time for, eats more chocolate than is probably good for her, and reads more books than is probably prudent.