QSFer E.S. Wynn has a new queer sci-fi/horror thriller out: As The Hawk Cuts The Heavens.
The year is 2124. Earth’s first faster-than-light starship makes its maiden voyage into the unknown and disappears, only to be declared missing for the better part of two centuries. The ship’s historic first mission was supposed to be simple, just a test of the experimental displacement drive. The crew was supposed to spend seven days in the depths of space, then snap back to Earth to prove a concept, and nothing more.
Instead, they find something impossible. They find something that draws them into a struggle against a horror of meat and metal fifty thousand years in the making.
AS THE HAWK CUTS THE HEAVENS is a two-part novel, newly revised, that was originally published as two separate works titled MINERVA (2011) and DARK SALVAGE (2013) respectively.
“You were in the war, right?”
Tessa glanced up from her drink. Piercing, sapphire eyes rose to meet the careful stare of the man watching her from across the rough surface of a fiberboard table. His own eyes were sharp and serious, coal black, perched in a face full of heavy lines that seemed to bend under its own weight into a flat, direct expression. In a way, they contrasted perfectly– where she was lean and sleek, his skin was like asphalt, sunblasted to the same dark color as the local brew that sat thick and heavy in their cured leather cups, untouched. Only their hair bore even the slightest resemblance, both shades of midnight, hers cropped back to a short, spunky cut, his all but gone, a graying frizz of curlicues clinging like resolute soldiers to a perimeter of smooth and barren brown. When her response came, it was as no-nonsense, as direct and serious as his features.
He glanced at the sheet of silicon in his hands, paused thoughtfully. She studied the neon flowers on his shirt as she waited, watched the bright orchids swaying in some digital breeze with the distant ocean stirring quietly behind them. It was unusual, the kind of print you never saw on the frontier, and a sharp contrast to Tessa’s own simple outfit of jeans, vest and sleeveless shirt. After a moment, he looked up again, ran one finger thoughtfully over the weak stubble on his lip where a mustache was trying to take root.
“Flew Seindrives against the Coralate?”
“For the better part of a decade,” she nodded. Her eyes dropped back to her hands, the cup propped reluctantly between them.
“Record makes you out like a real war hero.” He looked up at her again, leaned back in his chair and pulled in a deep, considering breath. “Now, I’ve never been to Earth or Alpha C, but I hear the VFW guarantees a job and luxury living for veterans of The Cygnus War on both of those worlds.” He gestured lightly. “Somebody with your record, I figure you’d be flying a desk in some corporate stratoscraper, maybe playing captain on some fancy cruise ship for a legacy carrier like, I don’t know,” he made another gesture. “Carnivia?”
“Yeah,” she looked up again. “You’d think.”
The man blinked in the long quiet pause, leaned forward. “So then, what exactly is someone like you doing all the way out here, scratching around on the frontier?”
“I guess I’m just not your typical war hero.” Tessa shrugged, then met his eyes evenly, the barest edge of steel creeping into her voice.
“That’s an understatement.” The man let his eyes wander back to the silicon sheet. “Your performance record in the war is off the charts. Hundreds of confirmed kills, outlasted your fair share of wingmen–”
“Is there a point to this?” Tessa’s eyes hardened.
“There’s always a point.” He shifted, fixed her with a careful stare. “Why’d you dodge the question?”
“Don’t push me, Grant.”
“Fine,” he paused, cracked the silicon sheet. “We’ll come back to that one.” Eyes dropped to reading again. “The records I got a hold of say you were given a medical discharge, but I can’t track down a reason why for love or carbon bonders. It’s like they just–” he made a futile gesture, “let you go. No correspondence, no benefits, nothing but a cut check and a ticket to nowhere that’s never been cashed. Just wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and you’re out, flying a stint with the Ixion Condottieri.” He thumbed an emphatic gesture. “Why is that?”
Tessa’s stare stayed with him, unwavering. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“And I don’t want to bring on crew with secrets,” Grant said flatly. “Especially big military secrets that people in government are keen on keeping classified.”
“Then don’t hire me.” She stood up suddenly. “I’ll find another ship to fly.” She paused, half ready to turn away, glanced back at the cup. “Thanks for the beer.”
“Tessa, wait a minute.”
She hesitated, eyes finding his again, half ready to walk out on him in that stretching instant. Grant pulled in a careful breath, set down the sheet and steepled his fingers.
“Now, you may walk out that door and you may find another quick job in another dusty, rundown bar on this backwater world, but I guarantee you won’t find a ship as clean or reliable as mine.” He paused, letting it sink in. “The Junkyard Queen’s a salvage freighter, yeah, but she’s been modified for speed, so she flies like nanowire through hydrogen fog. She deals strictly in legal finds, floaters and artifacts of possible historical interest– it’s the kind of low profile job most pilots would kill a man for, and it’s served on an open-ended contract, so the pay starts the moment you sign, instead of after the job’s done.” He shook his head as she looked away again. “I’d hate to see a pilot of your caliber blow off an opportunity like that just because you don’t feel like answering a few sensitive questions.” He paused. “Besides, how long has it been since you were able to afford a decent meal?”
Tessa stood silent. When she turned back again, she watched him for a long time, eyes solid, unreadable. Grant gave her his softest smile, gestured to her empty seat.
My Name is E.S. Wynn.
I am the author of over seventy books in print. In my spare time, I spin stories, build board games, stitch together battle jackets, make videos about Norse Shamanism on Youtube and encourage people to create new art constantly. I am openly transgender and do what I can to pursue acceptance and love for and within the trans community, especially where it intersects with Heathenry. During the last decade, I have worked with hundreds of authors and edited thousands of manuscripts for nearly a dozen different magazines. My stories and articles have been published in dozens of journals, e-zines and anthologies. I have taught classes in literature, marketing, math, spirituality, energetic healing and guided meditation. I have also worked as a voice-over artist for several different horror and sci-fi podcasts, albums and ebooks.