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Probably my favorite subject to read or watch is space opera. For the uninitiated, there is not necessarily any singing–unless you’ve got Klingons in it–but it’s a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. (fromWikipedia)
Star Trek, Star Wars, The Expanse, Doctor Who, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Avatar and so many more fit into the category. My own humble contributions to the genre include the Horizon Crossover series and Triad, all available from Dragonfly Publishing.
After five years of silence, the Arkosian space pirates are back to terrorize the sector where Trezanna Len fights to save her Solarii colony, a small group of Terran descendants settled on the planet Induna. To survive, the Solarii need assistance. And soon.
Trezanna could ask for help from the neighboring group called Dragonfleet, but its cruel leader Estrella Drake has been on a rampage to annex Solarii space. Estrella would never agree to an alliance with the Solarii. Or would she?
When Trezanna had joined the Solarii, Luca Stregone was DragonFleet liaison to the group, back when both groups fought the oppression of the Arkosian pirates, who’d terrorized this sector of the galaxy for thirty years.
The Solarii had banded together on the small planet of Induna, brave individual souls who challenged the despots, gathering members as word of their alliance spread. DragonFleet, always a vicious bunch but even more so under the petulant, tumultuous leadership of Estrella Drake, had clung onto the coattails of the new group. Dissatisfied with the bounds of DragonFleet territory, she’d use any excuse to carve a larger section of the sector for herself, and just as happy to take some of what the Arkosians had, just for spite.
The two groups had fought and won as allies, ousting the pirates in a bloody victory. But the celebration and peace had been short-lived.
Without the constant gnawing of the pirates’ fangs in her side, Estrella instigated bickering within, causing a division in DragonFleet which ultimately spawned the Khimeyr. Luca took nearly two hundred of those unwilling to live under Estrella’s prima donna rule and moved them to Zeta, promising them a new colony, a place to enjoy the free life they had earned.
But apparently that peace had been denied.
“Something got him on a scouting mission seventeen months ago, an animal or…” Catava shrugged, her voice devoid of emotion. “He wasn’t the only one. Zeta Colony was never the paradise we’d hoped it would be. Many dreams died there.” The pain that crossed through the woman’s eyes was unmistakable.
“Don’t you dare!”
My stepmother’s words were the last push that launched me over the edge.
Half pirate, half wandering minstrel, Connan Shaunessy sang Irish ballads for the pagan party, his exotic appearance and lilting voice a siren song to my raging 17-year-old libido. He looked like he hadn’t bathed in a week, maybe more. My sense of decorum hadn’t drawn me close enough to determine by smell.
I didn’t really care.
His shabby Jack-o-the-Green coat, black jeans with holes worn through the knees, and his unpolished boots were everything opposite of the life I led, dictated by the Stepmonster.
He finished a set and stumbled off the impromptu stage, a stranger ripe with fascination, cornflower eyes twinkling as he approached me. “Like what ye see, darlin’?” he asked with a wink.
A hot rush filled my face. “Y-you bet,” I stammered, trying to sound cool.
He leaned close and brushed my cheek with his lips, then continued on to the bar. The odor of unwashed man didn’t repel me at all. In fact, it had rather the opposite effect.
That’s when I caught the Stepmonster’s eyes on me. She was pissed, I could tell, and the whispered warning was just loud enough for me to hear. No daughter of mine…
Something released inside me, and I felt hot and cold and old and young and giddy, mostly giddy.
Connan’s eye continued to seek me out the rest of the evening, and I managed to slip him a scrawled invitation to visit me later.
Sure enough, he showed up outside my window about two a.m., swaying dangerously as he burst into a lecherous song. The most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me, and I had to cut him off with a glass of ice water to the face before he woke anyone else. Fortunately, my room was on the first floor and I didn’t have to talk him out of drunkenly climbing a rose trellis. I just opened the window and half-dragged him in.
“Hello,” I whispered, my smile unbidden. “Are you my fairy godfather?”
His laugh delighted me. “Dunno ‘bout that, lass, but I can take ye t’ heaven.” He leaned forward and his long arm pulled me to him. He kissed me, a pungent blend of whiskey and smoke, but he didn’t let me go. I think because he couldn’t stand up on his own.
“I—I haven’t…been to heaven before,” I confessed.
It was true. My father was the city’s chief of police. He’d run off every boy who’d even showed an interest. I might have sought out the company of hot girls, just to staunch my youthful desires without suspicion. But men set my blood aflame.
He leaned close to my ear. “Don’t ye be worryin’, darlin’. I know the way.” He shucked off his jacket. “Where’s the loo?”
I pointed to my private bathroom. He lurched in that direction, half closing the door. A long stream of water, then the toilet flushed, and then the shower came on.
My heart kicked over. What if the Stepmonster thought I shouldn’t be showering this time of night?
Half holding my breath, I retreated to the bed, sitting awkwardly on its corner, wondering what I had been thinking. She’d crucify me if…
Apparently fortune was with me. She didn’t appear.
“Come meet the Beltane Balladeer,” he said.
It started there and ended a good deal later, sometime just before dawn, when we shared one last searing kiss. I drifted into sleep as the window closed behind him. I’d expected to learn about making love; instead, I learned about the power of lust.
And that, after all, is a lesson well worth learning.
One of the themes of this blog is adventure, which I think everyone should experience at some point. But sometimes adventures are planned…and sometimes….
As she reached Broadway, a worn blue bicycle pulled up next to her, horn screeching over its rider’s distinctive squeal. “Where is your car, woman?”
Jelani eyed her best friend, Iris Pallaton, whose blonde hair swirled above the bright cloud of a magenta blouse. “Richard had it towed.”
“Tell me about it. I’m late.” Jelani headed off again.
Iris pedaled along the curb beside her. “You should call his supervisor and complain.”
“And what? Humiliate myself because he’s a jerk? Screw him!”
“Maybe you should.” Iris laughed. “Then he’d be too awed to bother you again.”
Jelani glared as they crossed the street. “Funny.”
On the far side, she caught the glint of glass in the middle of the sidewalk. “What idiot would drop a bottle when there’s a trash can right there?” she grumbled. “I’ll get it. First karma points of the day.”
Iris climbed off the bike and put down the kickstand. “What is that?” She bent down near the object. “Oh, sweet Gaia! It’s a glass slipper!”
No kidding. It really appeared to be a shoe made out of glass. A large one.
“Who would have left this here?” Jelani picked it up, looking around for a prankster camera team. Something kept her from tossing the shoe.
“Try it on,” Iris whispered. “It would get Richard Snyder off your mind.”
“Richard is not on my mind. He’s on my crap list.”
“Oooh. Sorry.” Iris ran her finger over the shoe. “You’re chicken anyway.”
“Don’t even go there.”
“Chicken. Bawk-bawk.” Iris giggled.
“Fine! If it means I can get to work.” Reaching down with her right hand, she unzipped her boot and kicked it off. “Ready? You want a picture?”
Iris dug for her cellphone and raised it, ready to take a shot. “Just in case your prince shows up right then.”
“I don’t need a prince,” Jelani complained. “I don’t need a man. I need a new life.”
Setting the shoe on the ground, Jelani slipped her foot in it and gently stepped down, not sure to what expect.
The slipper shattered, slicing into the sole of her foot.
Nauseous, Jelani screamed and could only watch in disbelief as tiny men sprang from the blood trickling under the broken shoe. She lost track of how many. With the biggest maybe two inches high, the men scattered into the shadows around the nearest building and disappeared.
She lifted her foot, shaking off the blood, and examined her sole to see if glass remained buried in her skin.
“Did you see that?” Iris gasped, nearly breathless. She grabbed at the wall, eyes closed for a moment.
Jelani felt faint, too, suddenly washed out. “I don’t know.”
There were no glass fragments in her foot or anywhere. The shoe had vanished. The only trace of the whole incident was dark blood, slowly drying in the sun on the sidewalk. As she watched, the cuts in her foot healed.
Iris knelt down to peer at Jelani’s foot. “There were little people. Naked little people. They ran away. I swear they did.”
“Did you get pictures?”
“I almost forgot!” Iris got up and activated the screen on her cell phone, pressed the arrow. Jelani leaned close to watch the whole thing replay in living color. “Oh. Bless. My. God,” Iris said, in her shock reverting to the male deity.
Jelani nodded. “And the horse He rode in on.”
When Jelani tries on a real glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk, it splits in half and out pour dozens of two-inch high creatures who scurry away into the shadows. As if that’s not bizarre enough, she is soon approached by two men claiming (of all things) to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen.
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