QSFer Valerie J. Mikles has a new Bi/Gay MM sci fi book out in “The New Dawn” series: “The Confluence.”
Saskia’s home is in danger.
Deivon Parker is ready to harness the power of a human-spirit half-breed and take over Terrana. He’s eliminated every threat. He’s isolated the humans. The timing is perfect. Until Oriana arrives.
If Saskia had her way, her ship would never land, but Oriana has been commandeered by a crime boss who is determined to bring down the Terranan government and take Parker’s power for himself. As Saskia fights to keep her crew safe in the ensuing power struggle, she learns that Parker’s plan won’t just subjugate the people of Terrana. If heconnects to the half-breeds—if he achieves Confluence—the flow of power between their divided realms could destroy the solar system!
Will the two realms merge, or will they annihilate each other? Join Saskia in the fight to save her home world!
The walls of Oriana vibrated as the breaking thrusters fired and the inertial dampeners dialed up. The safety harnesses on the chairs in the passenger lounge rattled eerily. This room felt more like a prison than a passenger bay, and even though the cushions had been refurbished and the safety harnesses cleaned, Amanda was convinced she could smell her own blood on the fabric. Danny had locked her in here and tied her up when she was having a psychotic episode. Probably more than once, although her memory was too hazy to know for sure.
“Take your salt tabs,” Morrigan Zenzele reminded her. Morrigan had mocha skin and millions of braids wrapped under a multi-colored scarf. She smelled soothing, like oils and lotions, and looked like an angel despite the sickness that came from micro-gravity.
“A ship like this should have gravity. This is undignified,” Coro complained. He had the beginnings of a beard and a bald spot on his head, where Sikorsky had the smooth skin and thick hair of someone whose youth was artificially enhanced.
“I didn’t see you paying for the refitting,” Sikorsky snipped.
“I didn’t see you paying for the fuel,” Coro retorted.
“Amanda? Salt tab,” Morrigan said, directing Amanda to a chair equidistant from the two crime bosses. She took the seat on Amanda’s right, setting herself as a physical barrier between Amanda and Sikorsky. Her cold, clammy hands gripped the armrests, and her eyes were pressed shut as she prayed for dear life. It was Morrigan’s first time in a spaceship.
“I don’t like this room. Or this harness,” Amanda said, fingering the clasp on the harness. The curved seat was uncomfortable and confining, and the view dismal. She wanted to be on the bridge, but her meds made her dizzy today.
“Got to observe the seatbelt blinky light,” Morrigan smirked.
“It’s starting to affect you isn’t it?” Sikorsky said, leaning around Morrigan to look at Amanda. “We’re getting close to Terrana, and you can feel those pathways that allowed you Disappear.”
“Sikorsky, you’re not the only one with a weapon,” Coro threatened. “You want Terrana and you have no plan to get it. Let me save my wife, and then you can do whatever you want to this little world.”
“The only reason you had a wife is because Parker sold her into slavery,” Sikorsky sneered.
“That’s enough!” Morrigan snapped, her anger rattling the empty seats next to her. “Coro, if we find Janiya, you ask her if she wants to return home, and you respect her if she says no.”
“You are nothing—”
“I’m the person who handed you that salt tab. You swallowed it without question. Consider yourself lucky I haven’t killed you yet,” Morrigan countered. It wasn’t an empty threat. She’d killed the Ketlin crime boss with a poison dart less than a week ago. Amanda spit the half-dissolved tablet into her hand.
“I’m still here,” Amanda said, her vision swirling. Her memories were incoherent impressions, and her mind filled with confusion.
“Yes, you are,” Sikorsky agreed. Maybe it was him fueling her madness. His voice wasn’t the only one calling her to Disappear.
“I’m the pilot. I should be on the bridge,” Amanda grunted, stretching her legs. If she could see out the main window—if she could see her old home coming closer—then maybe she’d feel less dizzy.
“We agreed you’d stay here. The gravity is messing with your meds,” Morrigan said, turning her palm upward so that she could take Amanda’s hand.
“This room is messing with my meds,” Amanda murmured. She squeezed Morrigan’s hand, but she couldn’t feel it. “My fingers feel funny.”
“I feel it, too. It’s good news for you, girl. I may not need you after all,” Sikorsky said.
“Five more minutes,” Morrigan said. Her voice wasn’t just weak, it was fading. The passenger lounge faded. Amanda could not be here for landing. It was too full of spirit energy and physical restraints.
Unbuckling her harness, Amanda launched from her chair. The gravity didn’t match her expectation. She slammed face-first against the door, then fell into the hallway. The walls seemed to glow. Her Occ fish-eyed, signaling danger behind, and a moment later, a body plowed into hers.
“Amanda!” It was Danny’s voice. He should have been on the bridge. Had she made it to the bridge?
Amanda clawed at the hands holding her back, desperate to kick free. She found purchase on a handrail, and she could see the forward ladder leading to the bridge. Forward. Back. The pressure on her legs, holding her down, pushing her to the floor, triggered a memory.
She was tied to a bed—chained, and a woman with fiery red hair smirked triumphantly.
“Diana,” Amanda choked. This time, the Head of the Terranan Guard would surely kill her.
I am an aromantic, asexual, agender person who is currently using she/her pronouns. Writing has given me the opportunity to discover and represent so many identities, and in turn find myself.
I’m also a PhD astronomer and former black hole hunter. I defected from academia and currently work for NOAA as a Senior Systems Engineer. My motto in life is that I can be everything I want, just not all at the same time.