Posting to Patreon: The Eye of the Storm (Toy Soldier Saga)

Hi all, Sable here!  This is my heads up that tomorrow I will be posting the completed and edited story, “The Eye of the Storm,” as a charged post for my Patrons at Patreon.  This is my Shaundar and Y’Anid elf-orc love story, for my Toy Soldier fans!  This is your one and only chance to get it if you want it without buying the Chasing Fireflies anthology!  Note that there may be some small changes in the story between now and the time it appears in the anthology.  Chasing Fireflies will be released July 1, 2017.  (Rated R for graphic sex.)

Originally posted at Toy Soldier: A Spelljammer Saga.

Escape from Borka (Book Excerpt)

It was over.  The Champion of Clan Bloodfist looked over the flotsam and jetsam that had once been the greatest fleet in the history of the Scro Empire, shattered and broken like so many forgotten toys.  At least, they would be if the blood and body parts weren’t floating serenely between them.  His blood brother Corin, the clan leader, was no longer pouring blood from the wound in his throat where a stray shard of broken metal from their shattered rail had pierced it, but he was still unconscious and whether or not he would live or die remained very much anybody’s guess, especially since the healer was only Sarga’s acolyte.  Sarga was dead, killed when their primary helm was crushed by rough-hewn accelerator shot.  They were adrift in the Void, and all around them the noose tightened as the butterfly-shaped vessels of the Imperial Elven Navy Fleet, easily three times the numbers they had any reason to suspect, swarmed the outer limits of the shattered remains of Borka, prepared to pick them off if they dared to navigate the dangerous, oddly floating rocks and escape their deadly trap.

“Helm’s down, sir!” Thorgir, their Artillery Commander, bellowed too loudly through his ringing ears.  “Shall I get some straws?”

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Weal or Woe (Book Excerpt)

Shaundar trained his glass on the approaching vessels; and then he saw something that froze his blood in his veins.  He uttered a curse that would have blistered paint.  “Bring ‘er about!  Get us out of here!   Max tactical!” he howled, limping over to the mainsail to begin tacking.  “Dammit, Trevan!  Grimmauld!  Help me!”

Trevan just stared at him for a few long moments.  “Have you gone completely insane?!” he exploded at last.  “How are we going to get rescued if we run away?”

“That’s no rescuer,” he moaned.  “They’re flying the flag of the illithid.  Mind flayers!” Continue reading

Book Excerpt: Haunted

Shaundar and Yathar stood with Sylria on Queenie’s Castle Deck, smoking cigars together.  They’d stopped smoking pipes because it was just too time consuming to load and light, and a waste of perfectly good tobacco if they were suddenly called into action, which happened more and more frequently.  The cigars were cheap and slightly sour – the best they could generally do on their Lieutenant’s pay – but Shaundar was becoming almost affectionately attached to them.

Supply lines were becoming more strained, too.  Occasionally, the alu’quesst ration was being supplemented with the human creation of grog.  Shaundar was not fond of it and generally chose not to have his allotted taut when that was what was available.  But he didn’t complain.  Nobody did.  That was just what there was.

They were in orbit around the Karpri space station, along with the burnt-out hulks of a Scorpion and an Ogre Mammoth, and a Hammership that was technically a prize but would likely be pressed into Navy service, depriving them of their shares.  The prisoners – survivors, is more like it, Shaundar thought privately – were few enough to be kept comfortably in the Hammership’s hold.  They had been exceptionally meek.  This was making the Matey jumpy, but Shaundar had no doubt that it was no act.

The Karpri station showed recent signs of battle to go with its ancient scars from when the illithid had destroyed it just after the First Unhuman War.  Shaundar felt badly for it.  The starfly plants that comprised it seemed deeply saddened.  Or maybe he was just being maudlin.  He was not sure what had possessed the scro to decide to take it.  Surely they must have guessed that there would be a reason that the elves had not used it themselves, now that war had returned to Realmspace?

The Queen’s Dirk had been sent to stop them, and stop them they had, but by the time they had arrived, the enemy had already landed and all hands not actively manning the helm were forced to become a boarding party.  Shaundar shook his head to banish yesterday’s images of screaming and blood from his mind.  Ship battles could be brutal but they were rarely so personal.  He wondered how Yathar managed it, being a marine. Continue reading

In the Hands of the Enemy (Book Excerpt) * Trigger Warning

The following book excerpt contains scenes of graphic violence and torture.  Discretion is advised.

A door opened.  Shaundar tried to get a grip on himself at once; the last thing their captors needed to see was weakness.  His eyes blinked against the sudden brightness of the lantern in the corridor, but it was quickly blocked by an enormous silhouette.  Its owner was a scro; gray-skinned and huge, with arms like tree trunks.

“Ah, good, you’re awake,” the scro rumbled in a voice that sounded almost like a lion purring.  His unconscious echo of Yathar’s earlier remark was a little disturbing.  It was odd to hear the Espruar tongue in such a rough baritone voice.  “Maybe you’ll be more forthcoming than your friends.”  He grabbed Shaundar’s shirt and with one hand lifted him to his feet.  Shaundar was too weak to stand, however, and his leg startled him with the blinding jolt of pain it reported when his weight was put on it.  He made a noise that sounded to his own ears like the bleat of a goat.

Yathar was on his feet as well.  “He just came to a minute ago,” he was saying.  “He’s still not quite aware.  You should give him some time.”

The scro backhanded Yathar in the face as casually as one might swat an insect.  He crumpled backwards against the wall.  Shaundar noticed now a purple bruise all the way around Sylria’s left eye.  He imagined this scro punching her in the face the way he had just punched Yathar and his fists involuntarily tightened.

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The Languages of Wildspace, Part I

With the diversity of life throughout the spheres, it should not be surprising that there are a wide variety of languages spoken at the various ports of call. Of course, in any situation where communication is necessary for trade and diplomacy, specific languages quickly rise above others, and Known Space is no different. Continue reading

What Lies Beneath (Book Excerpt)

Darmynes, the sun elf who owned the Gilded Leaf tavern, strategically located in an ash tree on the edge of Bral’s landmark Elven Forest, would have been appalled to learn that his back room, kept for “exclusive” clientele such as Admirals and distinguished Captains in the IEN, concealed an opening to Bral’s labyrinthine Underdark caverns, but he was far too thoroughly charmed to notice.  To be fair, he would not have tried very hard to pursue the accusation with or without the magic that afflicted him, because those distinguished clients were very good to him.  Take Captain Lotharvalis, for instance.  Hard luck, those burns, but he didn’t seem bitter and he always tipped well, and he never seemed to lack for female company either.  Darmynes approved of how he never seemed to let his unfortunate injury deter him.

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The Battle of Glyth’s Rings (Book Excerpt)

Tel’Quessir,” Captain Yvoleth began as he paced the Castle Deck, rounding the catapult turret, while the First Mate, whose name was Solahlyn Aelorothi, lurked by the hatchway with his arms folded, “I have just received orders from the Admiralty.  Strange ships have been sighted in the rings of Glyth.  They may be Scorpions.”

Shaundar let out a low whistle.  Well, that would complicate things.  Glyth was known to be a colony of illithids – squid-faced aliens who ate only brains – who kept humanoids of all sorts as “cattle” on the burnt out surface of the planet.  They were also known to patrol local space to add to their collection, despite the efforts of the Navy to curtail this.  Furthermore, the rings of Glyth were made up almost entirely of several small rocks and ice blocks, dangerous to navigate and often difficult to see.

“As the closest Navy ship, we have been ordered to investigate,” the Captain continued.  “If there are enemy ships present, we have been authorized to engage them.”

The blood started pounding through Shaundar’s veins.  Was this going to be it at last?

“So I’m sorry, leave is cancelled for now.  We need to see what’s there before they have a chance to move or hide.  We’re three days to Glyth from our present orbit.  Etriel Sylria, plot us a course.”

Sylria, Second Helmsman but Primary Navigator, saluted.  “Av, quessir.  I’ll head to the Chart Room now, sir, with your permission.”  The Captain nodded and she climbed down the hatch.

“Many of you have never seen combat before,” the Captain went on, fixing each of them with his kind but dark hazel eyes, which came to rest on Shaundar and Yathar.  “If this turns out to be the opening gambit of the War in Realmspace, keep calm, do the jobs you have been trained to do, and trust your crewmates, and all will be well.”  He smiled at them encouragingly.

Av, quessir!” they chorused.  Eyes glittered and the smiles were jovial.  They were ready to fight.

“Mr.  Yathar, you are also certified as a battlepoet, are you not?” the Captain inquired.

Av, quessir,” Yathar affirmed.

He grinned.  “I’m sure you know a few rousing battle ballads in addition to all those bawdy tunes you sing at the tavern.  Let’s hear one; that should put us all in the proper frame of mind.”

Yathar beamed.  “I’ll fetch my lute, sir!”  Yvoleth nodded and Yathar went to do so.

“Mr.  Sunfall,” the Captain said.

“Sir!” Shaundar replied, immediately at attention again.

The Captain smiled knowingly.  “I’m sure reverie will not come easily to you with a hot head to match your hot blood, but do your best.  We’ll be running full jamming shifts until we reach the rings of Glyth.”

Av, quessir,” Shaundar nodded.

The Captain returned his nod sharply.  “All right then.  All hands to stations.”

The boatswain piped the order and the crew fell in as commanded. Continue reading