SFFS for 3-30 : We have met the enemy, and he means to kill us

No matter how much you psych yourself up, it’s always hard to hold it together when you come face to face with your enemy. For many of us, it might be an in-law or a boss, or from time to time, a teenaged son. You go over all the things you plan to say in your head, rehearse them until you think it’s perfect, and then the confrontation comes.

Do you remember all those great phrases you’d polished and honed, the ones that would prove your point beyond the shadow of a doubt?


I have to confess, since I’m a lawyer in my day job, I do practice delivering arguments, even when I’m half-asleep sometimes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I’d better write the darned things down before they shimmer away into thin air, as they tend to do.

But today’s snippet, from new release HORIZON SHIFT, shows how Captain Temms Rogers handles his personal confrontation with his demon, the fleet commander whose orders he disobeyed. The decision was the right one, morally, but came at a huge cost to both men and their crews. This man doesn’t merely mean to disagree–he’s out for revenge:


And suddenly Jal Burko was there.

Sharp blue eyes under close-cut hair of striking black appraised Rogers, unsmiling. He looked much like he had since Rogers’ first days at the Confederation school when Burko had been a part-time flight instructor. He’d actually taken Rogers under his wing for about a year, until the differences in their political thoughts had quietly pushed them apart. He waited for Rogers to open, his stare icy-hot.

Where were all those damned words?

“Commander,” Rogers finally said.

“Captain.” Clipped tone, not giving an inch. Damn him.


For more delightful snippets from a cornucopia of talented science fiction and fantasy writers, check out Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday, which every week features free snippets from published works and WIPs, giving you, the reader, a chance to see what’s new on the horizon. Or the Horizon, if you like this book. 🙂  You can pick it up here.

How do you handle those moments when you know that what you’re going to say may affect the whole rest of your life?


Posted on March 29, 2013, in fiction, science fiction, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. So…tense…can’t…

    All joking aside, very nice! The tension is killing me!

  2. Oh I totally get that – I have all my points perfectly honed and then you get that flatline in your brain where the words are suppose to be 😉

  3. Yeah, I go through that from time to time… I think Rogers handled it about as well as I would have, maybe better. I’ve been known to stamp my feet and shout when I can’t remember my eloquent speech. Rogers just plays it cool. “Commander,” like “Yeah, I see you, so what?”

    Great snippet!

  4. Oh, I SO know how Rogers feels. Been there, done that, like to do it again. Don’t you just hate people like the Commander? And they are all over this world! Great snippet, their brief dialogue spoke volumes!

  5. Urg…darn fingers. *likely* to do it again. Not like…likely.

  6. Those words. Always a killer. 🙂

  7. I like all the build up and those two lines of dialogue to set the tone. I’m assuming Commander is the higher rank here and that really sets the stage and builds the tension to where the conversation will go from there. Great stuff!

  8. This is basically what happens when I try to be ready for confronting an “enemy.” Sudden and nearly terminal silence. Great tension.

  9. Ha! Beautifully written tension in this piece! And I, too, am familiar with perfecting what it is I plan on saying before the confrontation, and then realize afterwards I didn’t say a single word of it, LOL.

  10. Like everyone else, I love the tension. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!
    And yeah, I really hate when the words aren’t there! (And those snappy comebacks you think of two hours later…)

  11. Exactly, exactly…. “Oh, if you were here RIGHT NOW, I’d let you have it so bad…but… “

  12. I really like the description of Jal Burko. It gives so much backstory.

    And not being able to find the right word during a tense moment is so annoying 🙂 Very relatable. Great snippet.

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