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First 500 Words—The Songster & the Pirates
The Songster & the Piratesreleased on
September 10,2018. It is a stand-alone science-fiction short story with
elements of fantasy set in the same universe as Odyssey, and the Lunar Wolves.
Once a space merc, now a singer, Taran keeps her
identity as a siren secret. When spacewolves join the audience at her current
gig, she knows what they’re looking for. The only question is can she slip
away, before the wolves and her past can catch up with her?
Taran looked out into the audience, noting
the four hulking figures in dark grey ship suits, mingling amongst them. She
knew spacers when she saw them, and she knew werewolves, too—and these were
trying way too hard to blend in to be interested in anyone but her. She studied
them, as she continued to sing, letting her eyes rove over the audience, and
snatching details of her targets as she went. It wouldn’t do to stare, or they
might do something rash—like try to take her before she’d finished her set.
And Taran wanted
to be paid. She needed the credits for the next fare out to the most deserted
backwater planet she could find. She needed to be able to stretch her wings
where someone wasn’t going to try and pluck them, or force her to sing
something she didn’t want to. In the meantime, she’d made the bartender a
promise, and she intended to keep it… Right after she dusted the four furry
knuckleheads setting up to spoil her day.
Once she was sure
they hadn’t come with sound suppression—and what idiot would come after her
without it?—she ruffled the lyrics of what she was singing, added a spike to
the pitch, and smoothed the subsonics. There was a brief surge of patrons to
the bar, and one of the wolves’ eyes widened.
Sucks to be you,
Taran thought, adding an extra layer to the ultrasonics only they could hear.
It came out as a brief yip in the lyrics, and she wove ultra and sub together,
smiling as she sang of wickedness and desire. The only wolf that had registered
the change clapped its hands over its ears and bolted for the nearest exit.
One of the others
reached out and grabbed hold of a passing waitress, and the other two… Well, that made it difficult to focus on her
song. Taran grabbed hold of the urge to laugh, and kept the song running for
another twenty seconds, and then she slipped quietly from the stage. No one was
going to notice her with the wolves providing that kind of entertainment. That, and the waitress, had a friend or
three, and the first punch had already been thrown. Taran sighed.
Maybe she was
going to need another gig to pay for
the next shuttle out.
With any luck,
she’d gained herself a five minute start, and there’d be a cab waiting in the
ranks at the back of the club. Having a dressing room had its advantages, but
she didn’t go back to it. If she’d
been chasing her, she’d have snuck someone into the dressing room, or just back
stage. She glanced at the shadowed recesses behind the wings, and was relieved
when nothing moved.
For just a moment,
she regretted turning down the Mentraden Security offer. She’d told them she
wanted to leave that kind of work behind. After what had happened to the
Knights… Taran shook her head, trying to dispel the memories of ships on fire,
atmospheres venting to space, of men trying to beat their way through bulkheads
to save those already dead. She tried…