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Under the Milky Way – part 6

Storm’s seen Luke’s ship and met an amazing and unusual shipmate, Gabrielle. Luke assures her he can cut usual travel time in half. To prove it, he says he’ll fly her to the moon. Can he make good on his promise? Or is he like so many others, ready to let her down?

The same woman was sitting at the desk when they came back through. Her smile was frosty as they approached.

“That was fast, Luke. You usually take your time.”

“Just mind your own business,” Storm snapped. “What does he owe?”

“That’s unique,” the woman said, ignoring Storm. “She’s paying you? I thought it was the other way around.”

“Listen, honey,” Storm leaned over the desk. “I don’t have time for you to flirt with my man. Tell me what he owes and I’ll pay you. Otherwise, you’re going to experience one of my temper tantrums. They don’t call me Storm for nothing.”

Saying nothing, the woman called up the file, turning the screen so Storm could see the amount. It was considerable.

“Sweet deal you’ve got going, Luke. Since when do they pay you?”

“Since I’m the best thing in three sectors,” he answered with a wink.

Storm scanned her card, giving the woman her thumb print. “Come on, Lukas. Don’t keep me waiting.” She held out her hand.

He took it, nuzzling her neck seductively, taking full advantage of their little charade.

Storm was glad he was holding her so close. The touch of his lips on her neck made her feel like the gravity had gone out again. Stumbling, she leaned hard against him. He held her up, both hands around her waist.

“I’m not used to these shoes,” she mumbled. “And I drank too much.”

“Sure.” He smiled. “That would be it.”

They walked from the docking area heading to the corporate wing of the first ring of the station. It wasn’t a long walk if they went directly there. Unfortunately, the direct route took them through the worst part of Crystal Palace. In this wing, the dregs of society lurked ready to jump the unwary corporate who foolishly ventured in their territory.

Storm started to go around, but Luke tugged her hand.

“Don’t worry, baby. I’m with you. You’ll be safe enough.”

“I don’t usually go in there unless I’m armed. I sure as hell don’t wander down those corridors in an evening gown.”

“I’ll protect you,” he said, nibbling her neck.

“Yeah, well who’s going to protect me from you?”

She shrugged off his groping hands, hoping he wasn’t too sexed up to keep his promise of protecting her. The corridors were dank, dark and dusty. They were alone, for the moment, though Storm knew that wouldn’t last. Before they’d walked five minutes, she knew they were being followed.

Feeling Luke draw himself up and reach for his weapon, she knew he was aware of it too.

“Got an extra handgun?” She asked. “Knife, stunner, anything?”

He slipped her a compact pulse weapon. No one risked bullets on the space station, especially here where the walls were so thin. She checked it by feel, keeping her eyes on their surroundings. She hadn’t always been a corporate fixer, and knew her way around a handgun.

They walked a few more feet, suddenly finding themselves surrounded. How the men had moved in on them, Storm didn’t know and didn’t ask. These four men were no mere thugs, but well trained solos. Strange to find them in these surroundings.

The skin on Storm’s neck tingled. Someone was trying a telepathic scan. Her psy-block software automatically clicked on, driving him away. She knew he’d be back, ready for it. She wasn’t sure she could block a second attack.

“We don’t want no trouble, boys,” Luke said in a slow, Southern drawl.

Storm might have worried, but she saw his stance and balance subtly change.

“Just seeing the lady home for a little—you know….” He shrugged, grinning sheepishly.

“I don’t think so,” a thick necked thug to Storm’s right said with a nasty leer. “Someone’s gonna get something, but it sure ain’t gonna be you.”

Luke struck the man closest to him. He was tall, massive and singularly ugly. Storm kicked the weapon away from the man to her left, then turned to take on the one to her right. Wishing she had on different shoes, she concentrated on what she was doing.

Behind her, Luke took on two of the solos, leaving her two. The one she’d kicked scrambled for his weapon, but she shot him in the knee before he got that far. Kicking his gun far away, she faced the other. The thick necked one was rethinking his position.

“Some little bitty girl thinks she can take me?” He lunged at her before she got off another round.

“The Lone Wolf” excerpt

I’m busily doing what I hope are my almost final edits on my sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf” so I can get it to the publisher. After major rewrites and a complete overhaul, it’s almost ready. With that on my mind, I’ve included one of my favorite scenes here as a teaser.

The main characters, Wil VanLipsig and Matilda DuLac reconnected after nearly 10 years of being apart. Not realizing at first that they knew one another before, they fall almost instantly in love. This scene takes place shortly after they declare that love for each other. They are walking around the seedy side of town on the pleasure planet, Aolani.

Walking a little further, a large sign stood in a front yard. In screaming orange, chartreuse and gold, it said: “What does your future hold? Ask Lady Lena! No appointment necessary! Walk in and have a seat!”

She tugged his hands. “Let’s go in and see her.”She pointed to a small ‘Open’ sign in the window.

Wil held back cautiously, not from fear but courtesy. He knew how telepaths reacted to him and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. “Baby, if she is a real telepath, they don’t like me much.”

“Oh, how could she be? It’ll be fun. I’ve always wanted to have a psychic reading done. Come on!” She tugged his hand doggedly.

He reluctantly followed her to the porch of an old house on a back street. Debris and filth filled the empty lots around it. An old sign hung above the doorway, squeaking and thumping in the wind that had suddenly sprung up. The door opened quietly inward, the hinges smooth and soundless.

A dry, raspy voice emanated from a back room behind the faded curtain of cheap green beads. “You are expected, children. Come in and be quick!”

The room was Spartan with a single round table top sitting on crates. Though it was freshly swept, the small room smelled of decay and mold. A timeworn ceiling fan moved the thick, moist air with very little effect. Four dented, old, metal chairs surrounded the table; three on one side, the fourth facing them on the side near the curtain. The beads jangled aside, moved by a gnarled, age spotted hand, more like a crustaceous claw than a human appendage. An old woman stepped through.

The ancient, wrinkled face looked up at them. Wisps of thin, white hair were pushed back with another frail and trembling clawlike hand. No synth clothes here, she wore a faded black woolen dress; long sleeved, even in the oppressive heat. Around her tiny shoulders was a white knit shawl. When she looked up at them, clear, light green eyes bored into theirs; steady, calm, unwavering.

She smiled up at Wil, then turned to Matilda. “Welcome, my dears. Please sit.”

Wil remained standing. Matilda sat across from the old lady who hobbled to her seat. She was the tiniest woman Matilda had ever seen. Just over four feet tall, her body was frail and thin. Her gaze compelled Wil to sit reluctantly at Matilda’s side.

“Let me see your hands, child,” she said to Matilda.

Slowly, she raised her hands, holding them across the table. The old woman reached over gracefully, taking Matilda’s hands in hers. Like moths in the dark, her touch was light, fluttering. Lady Lena studied the back of Matilda’s hands, nodding and muttering to herself.

“These are good, strong hands. You have worked hard in your life, my dear.”

She turned the palms up, tracing the lines with one delicate finger. A hiss escaped her lips. She took the other hand, tracing those lines too. She studied the palms a few moments longer, going over and over the lifeline with her nail. Looking from one to another as if coming to a decision, Lady Lena drew a dome shaped object from her lap.

It seemed to absorb the meager light in the room. It could have been wood or metal, it
was impossible to tell, for it was more ancient than she. The lid was dark and sleek, polished to a dull sheen, as if hundreds of hands had held it, caressing it tenderly for centuries. It was devoid of all ornamentation, with no visible seams.

Chanting, she closed her eyes, moving her hands over the box once, twice, three times. She pressed both hands on the sides of the domed container. Leaning across the table, she slid the box toward them.

“Place your right hands on the dome. If it opens, take what is offered.”

“And if it doesn’t open?” Wil spoke with more confidence than he felt.

The old woman’s eyes flashed brilliant green, a suppressed fire dwindled to almost nothing, throbbing in the iris. “If it does not open, then I have wasted our time.” Lifting her chin, she gestured sharply to the box. “Touch it.”

The dome felt warm, pulsating and sleek. The silence in the room resonated around them. Suddenly, the box flew open without a sound, startling Matilda, making her jump. Wil stiffened in his chair.

Inside were two rings, one shiny black, the other matte white. They were suspended in the air above the box, spinning around in and out of one another. A bright light illuminated them from below, though Wil couldn’t detect its source. Faster they spun until only a blur. They came to a gradual stop, no longer black and white, but a silky gray. The rings floated serenely in midair above the box.

“Take them quickly! They will be offered only once!”

Lady Lena motioned to Matilda first, who gingerly reached out toward the nearest ring. Wil remained wary and reluctant to touch them. The pale green eyes locked with his black one without wavering or blinking.

“Take it, boy. One cannot work alone and this offer lasts only a short time. Take it!”

Reaching out his hand, he took the other ring. The box flicked shut, grazing his knuckles. The old woman took the dome back into her lap, nodding at them to put on the rings.

“It is time for you to go now, children.” She rose to leave.

Wil got up angrily. “We came for a reading, old woman! We’ll have one before we leave.”

The old lady glared at him, then the anger passed from her face. “Very well, a reading you came for, one you shall have,” she said almost sorrowfully. “But be warned, not all like what I see.”

Her eyes took on a faraway expression, her breathing slowed to a mere flutter as she went into a trance. Even to Wil the skeptic, it looked authentic and he had to admit that this old woman truly held great power. He could sense it vibrating in the very air surrounding them. When she spoke, her voice changed in pitch and timber, as if more voices than her own spoke through her body.

“The Lone Wolf howls alone now, the Romance gone from his life. Into the Halls of the Hallowed Dead you shall go. Into greater darkness shall you pass. What was lost to the Ancient One shall be returned, the journey started. To love’s end shall you come, life everlasting shall be yours. Love eternal.” She blinked her eyes, coming out of her trance quickly, a touch of sorrow in her eyes. “Go now, children.”

As they turned to leave, she pointed at Wil, saying sternly, “Beware, Lone Wolf, lest the Rat-faced Man fasten his teeth onto your heels. Proceed with caution, the claws of the Dragon Lady are sharper than you know.” She strode from the room, the bead curtain clattering behind her with a note of finality.

They walked quickly from that place. Wil felt the hackles rise on his neck. Matilda had an odd urgency to leave. They went a dozen or so paces from the house when the air shimmered and the ground shook. Looking behind them, they saw that the house gone. Only the rings on their fingers bore evidence to the fact that they had been there.
a second excerpt can be found at:
http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

Weekly Quote – from “The Lone Wolf”

“The Lone Wolf” is set in the distant future when space travel is as common as a drive to the grocery store is for us. The Mining Guild has been in exisitence for 300 years and controls much of the galactic resources. Marc & Matilda serve on a small mining vessel in deep space. Aolani is the Mining Guild’s home base. This excerpt is from chapter 2. Wil is an old acquaintence of Marc’s, though Matilda senses that there is something terribly wrong between them.

As Matilda followed Marc to the docking bay where the ship was locking on, she noticed he was armed. The energy weapon he wore was hardly standard Guild issue. On the maximum setting, it could take down a man Marc’s size, putting a sizable hole in him.

“Expecting an army? You can kill a xar beast with one of those.”

“I wish I had something bigger. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. If I order you to fire, Commander, you fire. No questions. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

He opened the door to the docking bay. The other ship had attached and the airlock was pressurizing. As the door spiraled open, Matilda sensed a shudder pass through Marc. He raised his weapon, covering the entrance.

Slowly and with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.

He wore a black eyepatch over his left eye and a scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, which was a pale crescent in the dark. His uncovered eye glittered black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.

Their visitor sized Matilda up with a glance, dismissing her as non-threatening. He puffed on his cheroot thoughtfully. A crooked grin cracked his face in half, the scar pulling his left lip up at an odd angle.

“Marc, it’s been a long time.” He reached out to shake his hand.

Marc remained aloof, not taking his eyes off the visitor, lowering his weapon or acknowledging the proffered hand.

“Kind of a cold reception, isn’t it?” His voice was rasping and low.

The smile was replaced by a slight frown, a hint of sadness in the obsidian eye. Then the same placid expression took its place. Nothing in Marc’s face betrayed what he was thinking or feeling.

Marc spoke calmly. “Commander Dulac, please show Colonel VanLipsig to the lounge.”

“Of course, sir.” Looking puzzled, she did as he asked, feeling his eyes on her.

Marc followed, covering the man from the rear. When they had seated themselves, Matilda ordered three cups of joe from the synthunit. Marc kept his weapon out on his knee with his hand resting upon it. The other fellow leaned back, seemingly unconcerned and at ease. Taking a sip of the joe, he grimaced, glancing down at his cup before matching his gaze with Marc’s.

“Marc, I know we parted under difficult circumstances, but is this really necessary? I’m here to do a job, nothing more.” He carefully kept his hands in plain view, moving slowly, talking with deliberate ease.

Marc looked at him blankly, his expression bland. “I thought you were dead, Wil.”

VanLipsig nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “You were sure you killed me.” His voice was flat, toneless, unemotional. He shrugged casually, tilting his head to the left. “I got better.” There was a flash of a chilling smile.

“The reports….”

“The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated,” VanLipsig quipped, dark eye glittering mischievously.

Marc’s fist dented the table with a furious blow. “Dammit, Wil! Can’t you just stay dead?”

VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”

“No.”

Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig puzzled her. They seemed to have known one another for years, parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc obviously did.

“May I present myself, ma’am? I am Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her name tag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue.

He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”

Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”

Wil chuckled deep in his throat. It was the most seductively menacing sound she had ever heard. He put his feet up on the table between them, relaxed, but all business.

To read more about Wil, Marc & Matilda, look at my Blogspot blog http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/  Or check Facebook or My Space http://www.myspace.com/dellanioakes

The Lone Wolf – excerpt

The Lone Wolf, first in my sci-fi series, is coming out this year from Second Wind Publishing.  He’s the hero’s first entrance to give you a little taste of what the book is like.

Slowly and with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.

He wore a black eyepatch of his left eye and a jagged scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, which was a pale crescent in the dark.

His uncovered eye glittered black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.

VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”

“No.”

Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig puzzled her. They seemed to have known one another for years, parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc obviously did.

“May I present myself, ma’am? I am Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her name tag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue.

He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”

Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”

Wil chuckled deep in his throat. It was the most seductively menacing sound she had ever heard.

Name That Character!

This post was inspired by a post on the Second Wind Word Press page, by Pat Bertram.  In it, she talks about how a character name shows a lot about the character.  I started this as a comment to her, but it got too long, so I moved it here.  Dellani

I believe a name tells a lot about a character.  One can be as obvious as “Young Goodman Brown” or as subtle as Duncan Chandler.  The reason I cite the latter as an example is because he is one of my characters whose name represents two distinct facets of his personality.  Duncan means “Dark Warrior”.  He is the son of the protagonist, himself a dark warrior (both in aspect and action).  Duncan is looked upon as a warrior, the next generation.  Chandler means “Light Bringer”.  The reason I chose this name is because he is also looked upon as the new hope, the one to fight the darkness and evil that threaten.

That got me interested in other names that I’ve used in the same series:

Matilda (Duncan’s mother) “Fierce in Battle”

Wilhelm (his father) “Determined Protector”

Marcus (his paternal uncle) “Of Mars – Warlike”

Rebbecca (Marc’s wife) “Enchantingly Beautiful”

Benjamin (his older brother) “Of the Right Hand”

Emmelia (Ben’s wife and Chairman of the Board of the Mining Guild) “Work”

Except for Duncan’s name, which I looked up and chose carefully, all these names were given by chance.  But looking at their personalities, the names fit them incredibly well.  Matilda, his mother, is a warrior and as fierce as her husband in a battle.  Wil protects his family, friends, and those who fight with him.  Marc is also a true warrior and his wife, Rebbecca, is beautiful.  Ben is his father’s right hand, his wife Emmelia is one of the hardest working women in the galaxy.

My readers will probably never know the meanings behind the names, nor why I find them significant, but I found it an interesting way of fleshing them out.