QSFer Hanna Dare has a new MM sci fi book out: The Wayward Prince.
Spaceships, daring heists, and interstellar intrigue!
Since murderous AIs drove humanity from Earth more than a century before, people have been rebuilding civilization. That doesn’t mean the galaxy is anywhere close to being civilized.
A liar and a scoundrel – and he’s the good guy.
The thing that Captain Sebastian Garcia values most of all is his ship, The Wayward Prince, and like most of his possessions, it’s something that he stole. Now the ship’s original owner has found Sebastian and he’s looking to collect what he’s owed.
When you want something stolen, call a professional.
Ren is someone Sebastian never expected to see again, and the one he never could forget. But Ren’s not offering forgiveness. Unless Sebastian can pull off an impossible heist on a distant planet he’ll lose everything – including a second chance with the man he once betrayed and still cares for.
This was supposed to have been an easy job, Sebastian thought, as he tumbled alone and untethered through space.
It was very clearly not going well, though he couldn’t pinpoint precisely where he’d gone wrong — aside from getting out of bed that morning, and on a more existential level, being born at all. Sebastian felt that he should be forgiven the self-pitying turn of his thoughts since he was very likely going to die when his spacesuit ran out of power to keep him warm and breathing. It was definitely a time to be pondering the larger questions — except that he was still spinning and on the verge of throwing up.
“Shit,” he said. Which as a last word was a bit obvious. “Fuck me to the end of time,” he managed to sputter out. A little better.
He should have been able to arrest his spin with the mini vents that lined the spacesuit. A couple of well-timed bursts of gas would change his direction, but the jets in his suit had been knocked out, most likely by the same tiny meteors that had sent him spiraling out into space.
It was supposed to have been a simple salvage job of an old and broken satellite left to drift in a wide orbit around a destroyed lunar outpost. It had probably been cleaned out by scavengers years ago, but pickings had been slim for Sebastian and his crew lately. Some scrap metal and maybe a few electronic components might bring in enough to keep his ship, The Wayward Prince, flying for another day, so it seemed worth stopping and suiting up for a space walk to check it out.
The ship! Sebastian had heard nothing from the crew other than a brief squawk of warning just as the meteors had struck. It had been abruptly cut off, so he assumed his comms had been knocked out along with everything else. The meteoroids had been too small to be detected by their scans, and Sebastian had to hope that that meant they were also too small to do any damage to the ship. He, on the other hand, had taken a half dozen hits from the thumb-sized rocks — the suit’s automatic sealing systems had kicked in right away, though he didn’t know how long that would hold. He supposed he was lucky the rocks hadn’t torn right through him.
Sebastian didn’t feel lucky. He felt fatalistic, with an emphasis on the fatal part. That, and nauseous.
He was going to die out here in the dark silence of space. Which sounded terribly romantic until one factored in the likelihood of dying with a helmet full of vomit. He just wished—
He blinked. Hearing a voice before dying wasn’t something he’d expected — he’d never been a religious man — but then this voice was familiar.
“Jaime.” The voice was coming not from his imagination or the supernatural, but from the comm in his ear. “I—” He had to stop to choke down bile.
“Okay, Sebastian, I’ve got you. Can you stop your spin?”
Sebastian would have liked to make a sarcastic reply, but he didn’t dare open his mouth.
“Oh, I guess you can’t,” Jaime said. “Let me see what I can do.”
There was a brief jarring sensation as the suit surrounding his body switched from
manual control to the control of Jaime’s mind. Jaime was what people these days called a wizard — when they weren’t calling him a freak, a mutant, or something even ruder. There was no magic to it, just the altered genes passed down from several generations that allowed him to communicate with and manipulate computers, and other electronic systems, telepathically. It was a rare gift, except humans nowadays had an uneasy relationship with technology — understandably, on account of the AIs that had wiped out most of the population around a hundred and fifty years ago.
Sebastian congratulated himself on his open-mindedness in making Jaime a member of his crew, especially when his spinning mercifully slowed and then stopped. “Thank you,” Sebastian said sincerely. Now he was simply hanging there in the
black, which for some wouldn’t ease their panic, but Sebastian had been traveling in space long enough to find the emptiness a challenge rather than a terror.
“Wow, your suit’s a mess,” Jaime said in his ear. “I don’t think there’s enough propellant left to get you back to the ship.”
“So perhaps the spaceship we live in could be used to, say, come and get me?” As the nausea receded, so did the sincerity.
“That’s the other problem. We were trying to cover you and got hit with some larger meteors.”
Sebastian’s focus sharpened immediately. “How bad?”
“It’s okay,” Jaime said, perhaps too quickly to be reassuring. “We’re not in any danger, but we’re also not moving at the moment.”
“How many moments until it is moving?”
“Uh… it’s probably not going to work with your timeline,” Jaime said, and
Sebastian wanted to congratulate him on euphemistically making it clear what all the red lights on his suit were telling him. “But don’t worry, Sebastian, we’re going to figure something out. Just hang in there.”
“I have every confidence in you,” he said, because it never hurt to be nice to someone working to avoid one’s imminent death, even if hang in there struck him as especially trite.
“I’m just going to talk to the others,” Jaime said. “I’ll tell you the plan as soon as we, uh, come up with it.”
“Great.” Sebastian couldn’t keep the hollowness out of his voice on that one. “Jaime, wait. Could you … turn me to face the other way?”
“You really need to conserve—”
“Just so I can see the ship.” His voice was a whisper. “Please.”
“We’re getting you back,” Jaime said firmly. But there was a soft exhale from a
vent on the suit, around his elbow, just enough to begin a slight turn, and then another gentle push from the other side to keep him still. Sebastian looked through the wide visor of his helmet to where, across a daunting distance and against the darkness, the ship hung. His ship.
Sebastian didn’t know about last words, but as last sights went, this was all he’d ever wanted.
© copyright Hanna Dare 2018