Excerpt From “Shakazhan” by Dellani Oakes

shakazhanWil VanLipsig and his wife, Matilda Dulac, dove into the depths of barely remembered space, pursuing the villainous John Riley. With the help of a creature of  legend, a Kahlea Master, John escapes capture. Capitulated into the unknown, he travels to Shakazhan. Like Avalon, in Old Earth lore, Shakazhan is a thought to be a myth, but it is very real. Unless Wil and Matilda can stop him, John Riley will release the Kahlea, bringing destruction to the universe.

EXCERPT:

Gazing out the window of her sumptuously decorated office, Telorvech Asandal reflected that the weather on her home planet was much more interesting than that here on climate controlled Committee Home Base. Granted, it was wicked weather, but there was only so much sunshine, balmy breezes and fresh air she could tolerate. A good old fashioned thunderstorm with gale force winds, that was something she could sink her teeth into.

Pacing the luxurious hand loomed, dark red, deep pile carpet, she realized she felt trapped here. She wanted to go home, but that was impossible. As Aisulov’s Vice-Chairman, she was provisional head of the Committee until his return or his death. His death was something she had dwelt on for the last two and a half years.

Though Aisulov had been gone three years, the first months had demanded her full attention. A freak accident set the galaxy in a tail spin from which it was only now recovering. Planets, moons, asteroids both populated and barren exploded, victims of an unknown force. Aisulov’s home planet was one of those lost, his wife and children with it.

After all the Committee members went on their fact finding missions, Aisulov prepared for his own trip. He was determined to find the cause of this disturbance. If he had come up with any answers, he certainly hadn’t shared them with her or anyone else. He was supposed to report to the Committee when he came out of cryo-sleep. He hadn’t. In fact, no data was transmitted from his ship to Committee Headquarters at all. This left her hopeful he was dead.

Unfortunately, the Committee needed proof. The body in an hermetically sealed box would do nicely. Even identifiable body parts—an ear, a hoof! But there continued to be no word, no sign, no whisper in the dark that he was alive.

Telorvech was a credit to her race, holding an office of power and authority. Positions of trust were not generally awarded to her people. Wil wasn’t the only person who distrusted the Leonatae, with good reason. They were greedy, arrogant, stubborn, bigoted, fairly intelligent, superstitious, and money grubbing. The creature they most resembled were Old Earth weasels. Standing nearly eight feet tall, they were ferocious, merciless and had disagreements with nearly every sentient race in the galaxy. They were represented here on the Committee because everyone wanted to keep an eye on them, not because their presence was welcome. Telorvech and her nine staff members were the only Leonatae on Committee Home base. That was ten too many for most Committee members.

Long fingers smoothed her indigo gown as she sat at her desk and made a few decisions concerning Aisulov. Perhaps she could fabricate an authentic sounding transmission? No, it would take a long time to set up. It also required too many intermediaries to forge a location. However, a bot ship coming across remains of his vessel in space, his poor body burned beyond recognition, now that had distinct possibilities. She could obtain a Vandaran corpse easily enough, having it’s records altered to match Aisulov’s. That was simplicity itself, neat and easy. Yes, the simple plans often were best.

She decided to consult her head of security. Izzatai Mabatsuou was even more blood thirsty than she and a trusted aid. Not so much trusted, she amended honestly, but each knew so many secrets about the other, it was a shared extortion. She contacted him, calling for a private conference.

Stroking her soft, mahogany fur, Telorvech looked out upon the landscape again. The clouds shifted, turning darker as the wind picked up.

Izzatai Mabatsuou bowed when he came in the room. Handsome, by Leonatae standards, his fur was darkest ebony. It had often been said that his heart was blacker than his coat. Admittedly, it was an exaggeration, but it was true that he was probably the most evil Leonatae that Telorvech knew. Because of his reputation as a conniving, villain, the job of Security Chief was perfect for him.

Waving him to a seat across the desk from her, Telorvech leered at her cohort. “Mabu, you and I are about to embark on a project to secure our positions here at Home Base. Would you like that?”

Mabatsuou chuckled. “There’s nothing I’d like better.” He plucked at the gold braid on his burgundy jacket, with long, sharp talons. His chuckle became a hideous caricature of a laugh.

She outlined her basic plans. Mabatsuou’s horrid smile widened.

“Indeed, Madame, that is excellent.”

***

Dellani OakesDellani Oakes doesn’t claim to be an expert on anything, but she has a lot of experience making something out of nothing. Thrown into the world of publishing five years ago, she found that trying to promote her work was the hardest part of being an author.

Dellani once told her publisher that she had enough books, finished & unfinished, to keep him busy for the next 10 years. She’s not sure he believed her, but he should. Three novels, Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and Shakazan – book two in the Lone Wolf series are published by Second Wind Publishing, but she has 43 finished romance novels and at least that many (she won’t count them) that are still in the works.

Dellani Oakes is a former A.P. English teacher, photo-journalist. She’s a published author who avidly reads & reviews the work of others. She hosts two shows for the Red River Radio Network – Dellani’s Tea Time the second Monday of each month, @ 4:00 PM Eastern and What’s Write for Me, every fourth Wednesday @ 3:00 PM Eastern on Blog Talk Radio.

Look for Dellani Oakes on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Good Reads, among others.

Click here to buy: Shakazhan

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Excerpt From “Raven’s Song” by Lucinda Moebius

Lucinda Moebius currently has two books available through Amazon. They are part of a series so both blurbs are posted here.

Echoes of Savanna:

Every generation has its defining moments, events that change history and turn the course of lives. Forever will the children of that generation be defined by those moments.

Savanna Taylor is a medical doctor in 2036, the same year terrorists release a series of plagues and viruses into the world. She is a nineteen year old Brain Trust whose task it is to find a cure for the diseases and develop vaccines to prevent their further spread. The world is thrown in turmoil and Savanna needs to find a way to survive with her sanity and family intact. She needs to find a safe Haven for herself and for those she loves.

Can Savanna cope in a world in constant flux brought on by war and disease? Can she save the world and protect her loved ones or will she make the ultimate sacrifice? How will she be defined?

Raven’s Song:

The next generation has come into its own. Raven, Savanna’s impulsive, impetuous daughter has begun her own epic journey.

Raven was born in a time of turmoil and war. She decides her calling in life is to be a soldier. Sacrificing the shelter and security of Haven, Raven puts herself at risk to save others. She finds herself in perilous situations and thrust into the role of leadership despite her own misgivings. The Siren’s Song of Haven is continuously singing to her. She could be safe, protected, sheltered and warm if she returned to Haven and its stone walls. But, is it her destiny to live in the walls of Haven, or is there another destiny in store for this child of Haven?

Excerpt from Raven’s Song:

Storm clouds darkened the sky, rolling in inky darkness across the horizon, obscuring the full moon. Lightning flashed, highlighting the tips of the mountains, but it was too far away to deliver the promised rolling drum of thunder. The infant in Raven’s arm stirred, forcing her eyes away from the storm to the tiny bundle in her arms. He looked so tiny and delicate as he slept. It was hard for Raven to believe this tiny creature came from her. This little baby was all she had left of Billy and yet when she looked at him it was like she was looking into a void.

About the author:

Lucinda Moebius grew up in the mountains of Idaho and Eastern Oregon. Her mother taught her to read when she was four years old and since that time books have been her constant companions. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Teaching, a Master’s in Educational Leadership and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education. Lucinda supports her writing habit by teaching High School and College. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, stepson and their dog and cat.

Find me on facebook: Lucinda Hawks Moebius

Website: http://www.lucindamoebius.com

Buy on Amazon: Echoes of Savanna: http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Savanna-Parent-Generation-ebook/dp/B006RM66QM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2

Raven’s Song: http://www.amazon.com/Ravens-Haven-Generation-Novels-ebook/dp/B006YJ92GO/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2

 

Excerpt From “The Genara Affair” by Robert Holt

Hi, Pat. Some time ago, I wrote a story set in the Star Trek universe. As ST is unsalable, I decided to tweek it into my fictional universe. But there was a problem. The story, Escape From Paradise, needed inter-species procreation… ‘easy in ST, but not possible in the real world’… To solve that, I wrote The Genara Affair to introduce an extra-terrestrial race that ‘could’ successfully mate with a man from Earth. —Robert Holt

Excerpt:

Twenty days after entering the Wolf planetary system, Connie Hooper reached its largest gas-giant, W-7. A short burst of anti-grav brought the Viggan to a near stop. She never lost that tingly feeling as the gates blossomed along a gas-giant’s orbital plain. Studying the stats on W-7, she noted it contained ten gates, but only six had been explored by other Gate-Jumpers so far. Picking number 8, an unmapped gate, she designated it asW-7-10-#8/ CH-20, and turned to her AI’s monitor. “Viggy, drop a marker and send a recon probe through. Let’s hope this will be a good one.”

While waiting, always the worst part, she ran a hand over her hair. It seemed to be getting a bit long, so she considered giving herself another buzz, and maybe cleaning up a bit. Anything to take her mind off of the five or six hours it usually took for the prob’s round-trip.

Tapping on the nearest monitor, she joked, “Hey Viggy, are you still awake? How’s our water supply?”

“You know I’m always awake. My recycle-reserve is at ninety-six percent. The fresh water tank is just under forty-two percent. Are you thinking about taking a shower?”

“Yea, I think I need one…and no comments from you.”

“I would never comment on such a thing; although, you have been giving my air filters a workout the past few weeks.”

Smiling, she ran her hands over her bare breasts. “If you were a guy instead of just a male persona, I would take better care of myself. Warm up the shower bag, and give me some mood music… Brubeck’s Take Five?”

“You do seem to like that one. I feel it’s a bit repetitive.”

“Isn’t ‘repetitive’ what we do out here? Endless months traveling through empty space with the slim hope of finding something behind one of these gates? I’ve been in the Gate Jumper’s Corps for nearly ten years, and what have I found? Zip… Nada… Not a damned thing worthwhile.”

Unhooking and drifting aft, she felt her hair again, but the vac-clipper was such a hassle, she decided not to use it. Pulling a clean jump-suit off the rack, she set it aside and slipped into the bag.

Remembering the one, and only, time she’d made a jump in her usual state of undress, made her giggle.

Viggy was about to start the shower, but stopped when he heard her. “You find something amusing in there?”

“Just thinking about the time I made a jump with nothing on. It’s so seldom we meet another jumper, I forgot and opened the vid-link. Bob was it? Yea, Bob. The look on his face was priceless.”

“I recall the incident. Your face was as red as your hair. Are you ready now?”

“Yea…hit me.” The stinging spray felt great until the very last moment. Viggy, in one of his playful moods, must have switched the water to cold.

“Ouch…damn it Viggy, if you do that again I’ll shuffle your processors.” Through the vac-dry noise, and the recording’s drum solo, she heard a weak, ‘Sorry’, but he didn’t sound very sorry.

To Connie’s relief the probe came back unharmed, showing no large mass or potentially harmful objects nearby. Anticipation built as she downloaded its data, only to be smashed by an image of a gas-giant planet orbiting much too close to its primary star, forming on the Viggan’s main screen. She felt more than a bit disappointed. Holding back a tear, she looked up at her AI’s monitor. “Viggy, another dry hole. Oh-well, once we map it, it should at least be good for a few new jump-gates. No matter, it will still be ‘my’ system to name…unless other Gate-Jumpers have found it first. Twenty jumps and I still haven’t discovered a habitable world.”

“It’s only a matter of time Connie. We’ll find something eventually.”

Viggie’s deep baritone voice seemed to be trying to console her, but she didn’t want to be consoled. “That’s easy for you to say. What’s it been…sixteen months since we left New Hope? You’re just a computer…”

“An Artificial Intelligence.”

“Okay, an AI. You don’t get lonely. You don’t feel the frustration of coming up empty every time.”

“This is true. I don’t feel anything, but as I stated, we’ll find something; it’s only a matter of time.”

Slapping a jump-med patch on her arm, she strapped down. “Okay Viggy, let’s jump through and see what we’ve got.”

***

Growing from a point of light to a bright violet torus as her anti-grav excited it, the gate filled her main screen. Like a window to another star system, she could see another gas giant planet. Being close to its primary star, it was shining very bright, but far enough away from the gate so it didn’t pose a threat. Taking her hand off the ‘abort’ button, she closed her eyes as they made the jump. The nausea and stinging sensation of jump-shock had her gripping the armrests, so she let Viggy look for markers, and make a more detailed scan until the pain went away.

As an AI, Viggy’s voice didn’t convey any panic when he calmly announced, “Connie, we’re not alone here. There’s another ship, approximately three-thousand kilometers away, and it just fired three missiles at us. I’m jumping back.”

After a double jump the pain was intense. Connie applied another meds patch, and forced herself to concentrate. “Viggy. How much data did you get?”

“Not much. Several weak EM signatures; no markers. I did record an image of that ship. I’m cleaning it up now.”

While the image was coming up on the view screen, she took another dose of pain-meds and a stim.

Viggy did sound concerned now as he warned, “Connie, you know that will make you sick later.”

“I know that Viggy, but I have to to stay sharp. Are you sure it wasn’t another Gate-Jumper? No… of course not. A Jumper wouldn’t shoot at us. A rogue Saran? I understand there are still a few of those warrior bugs oround. There could be something valuable enough in that system for a Union Navy ship to have gone bad, but I find that hard to believe.”

“Negative on all counts. As you can see, that ship conforms to no known vessel. Also, it didn’t seem to possess A-Grav technology. I would say we’re looking at another species entirely. If true, that alone will get your name in the history books.”

“So maybe things are finally looking up? Okay. Get a message off to the Union Navy… and send another probe through that gate.”

***

Navigator Jausha aboard Sentinel-Six noticed an anomaly. Several points of light blossomed along the orbital plane of God’s Eye. Turning the ship towards the nearest one, he called the Captain.

“Regent Tennant, you’d better check this out. Our enemy may have a new weapon.”

Tennant came on deck just as a strange craft appeared through one of the lights. Without hesitation, he yelled at his gunner. “This may be an attack by the Moros. . .Fire all tubes at that ship…now.”

Leaning over the gunner’s shoulder, he watched the missiles streaking towards their target, but before they got anywhere near, it turned and disappeared back through that unknown light source. Astonished, he stared at the, now empty space. “Gunner, shut down the missiles for retrieval. Gasty, did you record visual on that? Gasty?”

Jausha coughed lightly, then whispered, “Regent, Sir…Gasty is in the break-room. I fear he missed it.”

“Break-room? Why is he not at his station?”

“Sir. We all need a break at times. There has been no need for imaging up to now… he just…”

“Just missed the most important thing we’ve encountered on this tour. Well nothing we can do about it now. Get me a link with the High Command. This must be reported.”

***

Administrator Regas re-read the report, then turned to General Aisha. “What can you tell me about Regent Tennant? Is he one to panic? If he fired on a Moro ship, he may have broken our treaty. Why are there no images of the ship they claimed to have encountered?”

Aisha shrugged. “They only managed a short visual sighting…but it was witnessed by several of Tennant’s crew. I know Tennant, and trust he did in fact see something. Do you wish to inform the other nations about this?”

“No. Not until we know more. I hesitate to even send more ships without more information…but if the Moros have developed a new weapon, we must be prepared. Send two… no, make that five Sentinels to join Sentinel Six… And get me a direct link to Moro.”

~ ~ ~

Ensign Reed tapped lightly on the Admiral’s door, then stepped inside “Admiral Conroy, we just received a report from a Gate-Jumper named Connie Hooper. She claims to having been fired at by an unknown vessel near one of Wolf Seven’s gates”

Setting her tea cup down, Kim held out a hand for the report. As the chip projected an image on her wall, she read the text on her desk-reader. The image was fuzzy, but it looked nothing like any vessel they’d encountered before. “Fired at? There’s not much to go on here. We may have discovered another race…but why would they shoot at her?” Stabbing a finger on the com-pad, she called Operations.

“Captain Williams, Operations. What can I do for you Admiral?”

“What do we have near Wolf Seven?

Williams checked the status-board, and made a few calculations before looking up. “We have two ships near that region. The Peace Keeper can be there in three jumps… approximately six weeks. The Enterprise is in the Vega system. It can be at Wolf in three months… maybe a bit less. Do we have a problem at Wolf?”

“Someone… or something, took a shot at one of our Gate-Jumpers. I’m requesting she stay put until the Navy can check it out. Send those two, and put more on stand-by. Imperative they get there soonest.”

“Will do Admiral… Williams out.”

Kim tossed the chip back to her aid. “Too bad I killed General Omar, he would have loved this. As for myself, I hate this shit. Why can’t people just get along?”

Snatching the chip out of the air with one hand, Ensign Reed saluted with the other. “People, or alien beings? I guess we’ll find out. Ah…Admiral, may I ask a personal question?”

“You may ask, but I may not answer.”

“When you killed Omar; the reports stated it was self defense…but there have been…ah…rumors.”

Kim smiled at his hesitant attitude. Like it was yesterday, she remembered the vivid image of Omar’s face as she pointed her pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. The war-mongering idiot was about to start an unnecessary war, just so he could play general. Her hand went to the scar on her arm as she remembered Omar’s Second in Command shooting her, then filing the ‘self-defense’ report. She gave Reed a sly smile. “We’ll stick to the official version. You’ve been reading my records?”

“I don’t intend to stay an Ensign forever. You know what they say, ‘anything to advance ones career’… So I decided to get to know my boss. Hope you don’t mind.

Looking at her reflection on the blank screen, then back at the upstart kid, caused her to laugh. “Tell you a secret. When we got back from Saran, all I wanted to do was get out of the dammed Navy. Now look at me. A grey haired, unmarried, witch…With the whole dammed Navy on my shoulders. Be careful what you wish for, it could bite you in the ass. Now get the hell out.”

Pulling her resignation letter from its hidey-hole, she tapped it against her teeth. She knew she couldn’t quit just yet. Not until they found out what was going on at Wolf. Sighing, she put it back and folded the desk screen so she wouldn’t have to look at the reflection glairing back from it.

Sky-Fire by Robert Holt

An avid reader, and now writer of Science Fiction, Robert Holt has set all his stories in one universe. A reader will recognize worlds, technology, and often characters from other stories.

Sky Fire is a ‘comming of age’ story from his Gate Jumper collection, and can be found in, FARSPACE 2 available at http://www.lulu.com/utilityfogpress

Sky-Fire

Chapter I Cast out

Tay’Ya toyed with a sweet-fruit. She wasn’t hungry, but it looked so good. She knew her nest mate, Cho’Oy, sat above her in the branches. He’d been tormenting her for days, trying to force her out of their mother’s nest. Pretending not to notice him, she played with the fruit and listened.

When she heard the whisper of leaves, she knew he’d launched himself at her. Rolling into a ball, she dropped from the branch she’d been gripping, almost reaching the ground shrubs before opening her arms and legs to catch air in the thin membrane stretching between them. Spilling air from one side, and throwing her tail to the other, she made a sharp turn. Catching a branch with three long clawed fingers, she swung around, snagged the tree-trunk with her toe claws, and scampered up to the top branches.

Cho’Oy was unable to match the move and flew by. He made the mistake of glancing back and missed the last tree.

She chattered happily as he plunged in the black swamp water. When he came up covered with stinky mud, she laughed and called down, “It will serve you right if the swamp creature eats you.” But when she spotted one moving towards him she screamed a warning.

He ignored her and continued scraping mud off his fur.

When she screamed again, he glared up at her. “You can’t fool me. You want me to run like a frightened nestling… Forget it.”

Unable to help, she could only watch as the creature pulled him under.

***

“I tried Mother. I really tried, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“What was he doing in the swamp?”

Tay’Ya hung her head. “He wanted me out of the nest. He tried several times to push me out of the trees.” She felt no remorse, nor did her mother. Cho’Oy was simply gone. Had he been successful in his effort, she knew he may have boasted. Males were like that.

Her mother had been adding soft ferns to the nest. As she returned to the task, she stated without emotion, “You must leave soon anyway child. There will be another… haven’t you noticed?”

Tay’Ya had. She even knew when that old male rubbed her mother’s back; he wanted to plant his seed. She knew, but didn’t want to think about it. Another nest mate… another to share her mother’s time… would she resent it? Would she try to push it out like her brother had done to her?

Something her mother said? Leave? “Mother, why must I leave? I can share the nest with the new one. I…”

“Because you’re not a youngling any more. Haven’t you noticed how the males sniff around you? You’re near full-grown. You must make your own nest.”

“But…”

“But nothing. It’s time. I’ve taught you how to build… I’ve taught you how to care for a nestling.”

Tay’Ya shuddered. She’d watched when an old male planted its seed in another female. It looked disgusting. “I’ll never let a male touch me like that. I’ll push him away…I’ll fly to the farthest trees and hide.”

Her mother chuckled. “No you won’t. You’ll welcome him. You’ll scream at any female that tries to take a male from you. You may even go looking for one. I know I did…One beautiful male. He never seemed to notice me, but I made him notice…You’re his seed.”

Tay’Ya went to the highest branch of her…or was it her mother’s tree? It didn’t matter now. With a scream of rage, she launched herself out. Using her tail to maneuver rather than spilling air, she stretched the glide. The last trees loomed ahead. She could see the black swamp and the clear water on the other side. Could she make it past the mud? Could she swim across to the trees beaconing from the other side?

At the last moment she veered over, spilled air, and made a grab for a short tree. Its thin branches couldn’t hold her weight and bent down, almost dumping her in the mud.

Slowly, reluctantly, she made her way to the top of a nearby tree and stared across the broad river. She’d never seen anyone over there, but it was such a long way off. With her mottled fur, she knew she would be hard to spot; even at half that distance.

Draping her tail over her head, she cried.

The Sky-Fire nearly touched the trees across the river, ready to disappear. Another wouldn’t come out of its hiding place behind the tower for a long time. The night creatures were waking; filling the air with their mournful cries. She’d flown in the dark before, but the branches were hard to see, and the great winged hunter would be patrolling the sky. She had to move now… but where? She could see her mother’s tree, but didn’t want to go there. Without a secure nest, the night fog would make this tree too cold and wet. Possibly one of the short bushy trees near the tower would be better. The fog seldom reached that high.

Spreading her flight skin in preparation to launch, she felt a slight pain. Stretching the skin tighter revealed a small tear. Blood leaked from it, matting the fur. It wouldn’t interfere with flight, but it needed attention.

Glancing towards the old one’s tree, she spotted a small object circling above the tower. As it spiraled down she could see it was the old one. How had she gotten so high? Mentally mapping a route, avoiding her mother’s tree and another inhabited by a grouchy old male, she launched.

It was near full dark by the time she reached her target.

After a soft and nearly silent landing on the lowest branch, she cooed to announce her arrival. She hoped the old one wasn’t sleeping, because it was now proper to wait for an invitation.

A sharp irritated voice lashed down through the branches. “Who comes?”

“Tay’Ya, nestling of Sar’Too, Revered Mother… May I enter? I’ve a tear that needs mending. It’s said, you’re the best.”

Politeness and flattery took the bite out of the old one’s voice. “A tear? Yes. Come up child. Why are you out flying in the dark?”

“My mother has cast me from her nest… I have nowhere to go.”

Tay’Ya entered as the old one added a bit of moss to her lamp. The flame sputtered, then grew brighter when the oil-soaked addition caught. As she looked over the girl, inspecting the tear, her voice was soft and consoling “Cast out…Sad, yes? But that’s the way of our folk. You’ll have to build a nest…The good trees are all taken. So many younglings, building nests to raise more younglings. Our world grows more crowded and smaller. When I was young, it took five light times of flying to reach the end of the trees. Now you can get there in three. Only dead stumps remain upriver.”

As the old one rattled on, Tay’Ya listened politely, watching as she crushed some purple berries and spread them on the tear. The sting went away. Then from her carry-pouch she produced a thin stone punch along with some fibers from a string-fruit, and laid them out.

“Child, now you must learn to mend tears. Some you will need help with, but this one you can reach yourself.” Spreading her own flight skin, the old one displayed many small, and some large rips. All had been neatly closed, leaving only thin scars. “You must be a good flyer; otherwise you’d have more than that small hole. When you’ve seen as many cold times as I, you will have more. Now pick up the punch and make several holes. Thread the fiber through, and pull it tight.”

Tay’Ya timidly forced the stone through. There was no pain. The berry juice had numbed the area. When she finished tying the fiber, the old one inspected her work.

“Not pretty, but you’ll get better. Now run along, I need to sleep.”

“I have nowhere to go.”

“Oh… I forgot… You’ve been cast out. Old age makes one forgetful. I suppose you can stay the night. Tomorrow you can find a nesting place.”

“Thank you Revered Mother…That punch…where can I get one? Were you flying above the tower? How did you get so high? Will you teach me?”

“Child… let me get some sleep. So many questions… Sleep now. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Tay’Ya tried but sleep came slowly. When she finally drifted off, she dreamt of flying high above the rocky tower.

Chapter II Learning to Fly

The new Sky-Fire was just peeking over the tower when the old one shook Tay’Ya awake. “Child, if you want me to teach you, you’ll have to get your lazy bones out of the nest… I could use some help cleaning this place.”

“Revered Mother, will you show me how to fly way up the tower?”

The old one chuckled at her impatience. “Later, eager one. Clean first, then gather food. We must wait until the Sky-Fire is over the river. The wind is sliding down the tower now. When the Sky-Fire warms it, the wind will climb up again… It’s the wind that pushes you up. And please call me Chi’ne. Revered Mother makes me sound so…. Old.”

Tay’Ya looked at the nearly white fur and knobby fingers, but decided to say nothing that would make Chi’ne angry. Then she checked out her nest… It hadn’t been cleaned in a long time. With a sigh, she started brushing debris towards the entrance.

Tay’Ya had many questions, but each was greeted by a dismissive grunt until the old one seemed satisfied with her work. Then with a ‘follow me’ gesture, she launched towards the river. Tay’Ya was amazed by her flying and tried to match the moves as she followed. She knew then, she had much to learn… Her mother hadn’t taught her nearly enough. There was more to life than rearing nestlings… and starting more.

After gathering sweet-fruits, they flew to the tree of an old male and traded some for mud-crawlers, then went to the community fire to roast them.

Tay’Ya kept watching the Sky-Fire, willing it to move faster, but it just continued its slow crawl across the sky.

Chi’ne noticed where she looked and chuckled, “Patience little one. We have other things to do. If I remember, you wanted a punch?”

“Oh yes. Where did you get yours?”

“Follow me, child.” With that, she scampered up the nearest tree, and launched up-river.

Tay’Ya followed, but after two jumps she could see they were headed for the tree of an old male that all young females avoided.

Chi’ne snagged a branch near his nest, and without a word or greeting, went in.

Tay’Ya picked a lower one, hesitated a moment, then followed. She found the old ones chatting playfully, but when she entered, the old male stopped and grinned at her.

Slapping him lightly on the head, Chi’ne introduced her new student. “This is Tay’Ya. She could use one of the fine punches you make.”

“If she’ll let me rub her back, I’ll consider it.”

“What would a sweet young thing like her want with a wrinkled old one like you? Just give her one. You’ve rubbed my back often enough in all the cold times we’ve known each other.”

“But rubbing hers would be more fun.” Grinning again, he dug through a basket, and produced a very fine punch. “Will this one do?”

Chi’ne snatched it from his fingers. “You never gave me one this good. In all the times…”

“When you were young and pretty, I didn’t know how to work the stone like I do now. Otherwise I would have… You were always my favorite.”

Wrapping the punch in moss, and tying string-fruit fibers around it, Chi’ne placed it carefully in Tay’Ya’s carry-pouch. “Be cautious with this. It could injure your milk nipples… and believe me, that hurts.” With another playful slap to the male she said, “Come youngling. It’s time to fly.”

At the base of the tower, Chi’ne leaned out, spreading her flight skin. The warm wind lifted her, and seemingly without effort, she made small circles near the rock; each one higher than the last.

Tay’Ya tried several times to match the moves. It wasn’t as easy as it looked, but she finally got the feel of the rising air. Soon she was flying almost as good as the old one. Landing on the narrow ledge with Chi’ne was another matter. With no branches to grasp, she raked her claws against the stone. Unable to grip it… she fell. Grabbing air, she circled back for another try.

On her third attempt, she made an ungraceful landing near her teacher.

Chi’ne chuckled, but said nothing. She was busy picking the purple berries that took pain away. They seemed to grow from many cracks in the rock.

At this height the river looked smaller, and Tay’Ya could see another tower beyond the trees. Thinking about her mother casting her out, and the many annoying males sniffing around her trying to rub her back, she wondered what it would be like on the other side.

When they’d filled their carry-pouches, Chi’ne stepped out into the wind, shouting over her shoulder, “Follow my moves.”

With her arms forward, she reminded Tay’Ya of a pointed bitter-berry leaf… and she seemed to be going very fast. Again, it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Each time she picked up speed, the air caught in her carry-pouch, throwing her off balance, and spilling some of the berries. Finally settling for the long glide she knew so well, she slowly spiraled down.

Listening to her student’s explanation, Chi’ne offered more advice. “Look here. Notice the holes I’ve punched in my carry-pouch? These beads I’ve tied in my belly fur fit in them holding it closed. See? I’m not that good of a teacher after all. I tend to forget the little things.”

Tay’Ya had noticed the beads, but thought they were only decoration… lots of females decorated their long belly fur. She thought it was silly and had never done it. Closer examination showed her the beads were not just tied, but secured with resin from the needle tree.

Looking again at the tower, Tay’Ya pointed at its highest point. “Can I fly across the river from way up there?”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“I don’t like it here… The males are always sniffing around me wanting to plant their seed. Ti’Ti is mad at me for letting my brother get eaten by the swamp monster… I think she liked him a lot, but it wasn’t my fault.”

“I suppose you could. My sister tried, but I don’t know if she made it.”

Determined to learn, Tay’Ya built a small nest near the tower. She spent many crossings of the Sky-Fires learning to fly. Each time she got near the river, fear took over and she veered off returning to the trees she knew. She wanted it so much though… One day she would make it… She just knew she had to try.

Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? Lone Wolf is the first book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes.


Excerpt:

Their eyes met over the glow of the candle. He started to speak once or twice, but each time he stopped before doing so. Matilda sat placidly, waiting for him to make the first move. She had a feeling she knew what he was trying to say, but couldn’t quite put into words. A playful smile tugged at her lips.

Wil blushed, his gaze dropping to his lap uncomfortably. He couldn’t remember a time he’d felt so awkward in a woman’s company. Probably not since he was a kid. Suddenly, it was very important to him that she say yes to what he wanted to ask.

“I was going to try to be subtle and charming.”  He grinned at her shyly. “But it’s been so long since I tried to be either, I can’t remember how.” He pressed his lips together and the candlelight played along his scar. “This usually isn’t a problem for me. I guess I got used to being irresistible.”

Matilda reached out, tracing the line of his scar with her finger. The skin was warm and silky. He held her fingers to his lips.

“It’s all right, you know,” she said softly. “You don’t have to be subtle with me. You were about to invite me to your room, weren’t you?”

He nodded sightly, looking embarrassed.

“But you weren’t sure what the answer would be.”

He looked even more uncomfortable, silent. The table developed interesting dimensions. He stared at them.

“Where are you staying?”

Trying to speak, he stammered.

“We can’t go to your room if you don’t show me.”

Wil stood awkwardly, nearly knocking the table over. He pointed to a luxurious hotel near the hostel.

“I’m—over there.”

Taking his hand, she tugged pointedly so he’d follow. “Show me,” she whispered throatily. Leaning toward him, the top of her breasts brushed his bare chest. “I want you to show me everything.”

Gulping, Wil followed her eagerly, like a puppy until he caught up with her. Sweeping her into his arms, he carried her quickly to his room. Only after the door was locked behind him, did he kiss her for the first time.

Wil brushed his lips lightly across hers, barely touching.  His tongue flickered between them, teeth nipping playfully as he explored her mouth.  Holding only her cheeks between calloused hands, he caressed her throat, licking the base.  He hadn’t even kissed her mouth and already she was his.

Hungry for his mouth, Matilda brought his face to hers, demanding that he kiss her.  Lips parted, she brought him closer, sure of what she wanted.  Laughing throatily, Wil complied, giving generously, taking hungrily.

He held her gently, his full lips leaving a blazing trail upon her skin. He held her tantalizingly close, their bodies not quite touching. The heat from him set her on fire as the intensity of his kisses increased. Still he held her carefully, treating her as if she were made of spun glass. Somehow, this contrast of passion and tenderness made his touch even more erotic.

After several minutes just kissing her, he took off her bikini top. For the space of three breaths, he gazed at her breasts without touching them. Admiring the firm, fullness, he took one nipple into his mouth, suckling blissfully. Sighing happily, he moved to the other, treating each like the greatest of gifts.

Matilda moaned as his hands moved along her body, pulling her so close to him, she could feel the beating of his heart. His touch was still consciously delicate. She sensed a tension in him, his body fighting with itself for control. Marc had always held her the same way, afraid he’d crush a delicate flower.

Nearly mad with desire, Matilda decided she’d had enough standing around and kissing. She wanted action and now. Shoving his shoulders hard, she pushed him on his back. Wil sprawled on the bed as she removed his shorts and her bikini bottoms. He laughed, glad she had finally decided to take control.

“I admire a woman who knows what she wants,” he chuckled as she made her desires clear. Still laughing, he complied.

Matilda had never been so aggressive in bed. Something about Wil encouraged her to assert herself. She pulled him close, demanding his all. He gave it to her freely, unconditionally, something he had never given to any other woman.

For the first time in Wil’s adult life, a woman left him so breathless, he couldn’t even speak her name. But that was all right, because she couldn’t say his either. He kissed her softly, holding her close, stroking her hair. His fingers played along her spine, sending a thrill dancing down her back.

He wanted to speak, but couldn’t find the words to express how he was feeling. After sex dialogue had never been his strong suite. Anything he said at this point would be trite, or worse yet, silly. Instead, he kissed and fondled her, expressing himself more eloquently than words.

***

An adopted Floridian who fell in love with its culture-both modern and historical-Dellani is a happily married mother of four, substitute teacher and former English teacher. When she isn’t being one of the above, she is an avid writer, spending every possible moment immersed in her other worlds. “Indian Summer” is her only historical romance, but she also has written a series of futuristic romance novels, contemporary romances and short stories. Dellani’s interests include reading, going to the beach, listening to all kinds of music and cooking.

Click here for an interview with: Dellani Oakes

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf

Click here for an interview with: Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy by Sandy Nathan

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

Blurb: In the tradition of 1984 and A Brave New World, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy presents a future world tottering on disaster. By the 22nd century, a totalitarian government controls all. People live in fear. War rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.

In the midst of the chaos, the angelic extraterrestrial, Eliana, comes to Earth on a mission to save her people. She must find Jeremy Edgarton, computer genius, revolutionary and the FBI’s most wanted. When Jeremy decodes new transmissions and discovers that nuclear Armageddon will occur the next morning, Jeremy and Eliana begin a quest to save two doomed planets … and find each other.

Their love story brings hope and optimism for the future. Readers come away from reading Angel determined to fight for their individuality, creativity and goodness and to be watchful of authority.

Excerpt: The beginning of Chapter One

When the girl appeared on the sidewalk, the edges of her body and clothing were fuzzy, as though all of her hadn’t arrived. She looked up and down the street, the way a person would if she’d forgotten an address or lost her way.

Her hair was frizzed and matted, sticking out akimbo. She was thin, had a dirty face, and wore a scratchy coat that was far too big. Its sleeves were rounded little capes; her arms stuck out of them like chopsticks protruding from a napkin. The coat slipped off her shoulders, first to one side, then the other. She hitched it up and kept walking. When she walked, the coat opened to reveal her feet and lower legs.

Her thin socks, trimmed with grayed lace, were pulled up to make a ruffle below her knees. Pink satin laces held up the socks, their Xs snaking up her shins from her shoes. She looked pretty much like everyone she saw, except for her shoes. Long pink ballet slippers stuck out from beneath her coat, as improbable as roses sprouting from the cement.

Eliana made her way along the sidewalk, knowing that she was dirty, feeling the grit in her hair and on her skin. When she had reached the planet’s atmosphere, clothes and all sorts of things had rushed at her with great force, tossing her over and over. Dirt had come, too. She’d found the clothes she needed and put them on the way her teachers had shown her. Then her people had put her where she was.

Humans passed, but no one stopped or said anything to her. A paper blew against her leg. More dirty papers blew and piled up everywhere. Streaked and grimy buildings rose near her. Writing in different colors covered their walls. She looked carefully, but couldn’t make out the words. She’d learned to read and write English, but those words mystified her.

“Hey, you!” a person said loudly.

“Yes?” She spoke to a human for the first time, politely bowing. The human was dirty like Eliana, with torn clothes and matted hair. She couldn’t tell if it was a he or a she.
“Get out of here!” the ragged person shouted. “You don’t belong here.” Eliana cowered, but the stranger rushed past her, clawing at something Eliana couldn’t see. “Stay away,” the human said, and then stood with feet braced, shouting, “Get out of here, all of you. Stay away!” The creature hadn’t seen Eliana at all.

The girl realized that her people were right; they had put her where no one would notice her. Now she needed to tell them that she had arrived. She raised one foot, turning it gracefully and resting it easily on the other knee. She flicked the shoe with her finger, listening. A trill of clear notes deep within her brought the hint of a smile. She held the coat closed and stood still. She was where she was supposed to be. It had begun.

She fingered the piece of paper in her pocket. Her map. Beneath it, in the pocket’s depths, was the notebook. What was written on it would get her where she needed to go. She had all she needed.

She walked a long way along the hard path. More humans passed her. To her left, gray, inert structures rose high in the sky, blocking the sun. She touched the see-through parts of their lower levels, looking at the humans inside. They looked at each other with darting eyes, speaking rapidly. Everyone outside rushed frantically, noticing nothing. They didn’t see her, just as her people had said.

Eliana choked when a very large carrier passed, spewing a foul odor. The carrier floated above the hard surface where the vehicles moved. Her teachers had told her about the floating. Though she couldn’t see it, a force lived under the machines that made them go. It would kill her if it touched her. She didn’t know what kill meant; kill did not exist in her world. Her mother had explained that she would be like a dead pet. She had seen dead pets before they whisked them away. Motionless husks. She moved away quickly. Better get on with her purpose. She didn’t have much time.

A man with a round stomach and a gray hat walked out of an opening in the ground with many others. He walked like he had a mission. His coat was the same scratchy stuff as hers, but it was buttoned up and looked new. He looked new; his face was ruddy and clean. His shoes reflected the pale sunlight. The trill of notes resounded in her mind once again.

He was the one! She stood in front of him to make him stop. She hoped he could comprehend her speech.

“Will you help me?” she said, working to form the strange words.

Bio:
Sandy Nathan’s writing incorporates all the aspects of her life. “The Angel came to me from a couple of places. Following my brother’s tragic death, I had a transcendent dream in which the angel appeared. After that, the book unfolded. The dark world of The Angel is my psyche’s reaction to our current desperate economic situation––that future world is only heartbeats from our own.” Sandy holds master’s degrees in economics and marriage, family and child counseling. “Both the economist and transpersonal psychologist in my soul wrote The Angel.” Former economic analyst of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) CA, Ms. Nathan has written full time for fifteen years. She has four published books and has won twelve national awards for her writing.

Buy from: Amazon

See also:
Excerpt from:
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could by Sandy Nathan
Interview with: Sandy Nathan, Author of Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could and The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy