She Tweaked the Stellar Display Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday TeaserHere’s the link for the central post with links to all the Teasers:

Today I’m in the mood for a scene from the award winning Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my first published SFR, loosely based on the sinking of the Titanic, but set on a spaceliner in the far future. My hero, Nick Jameson, a Sectors Special Forces operator, meets a most unusual fellow passenger:

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedIntrigued, Nick decided to explore, following a narrow corridor, then up a winding staircase, all metal and wood anachronism. Wherever else SMT might have cut corners or scrimped on costs, they certainly have been lavish with the elements of the retro decor, at least on this level of the ship. As he climbed the last risers of the staircase, Nick stopped short. He was rarely astonished by anything after all his years in the service, but the builders of the Nebula Dream had created a breathtaking illusion that, on this wooden deck, one was standing completely exposed to the starry heavens.

Slowly, Nick came up the final five stairs and walked away from the elaborate wrought iron guardrail, staring at blazing constellations of stars.

“Amazing, is it not?” came a woman’s voice from the far side of the observatory. The tone was husky, faintly amused.

Surprised at himself, Nick wheeled reflexively. How did I fail to notice I wasn’t alone? Inattention could get a man killed in his line of work. Lucky for him, attack and assassination were not too probable on this luxury liner.

Despite her alluring voice, his anonymous companion proved to be elderly, her pale white skin translucent. Huge blue eyes glowed in the semidarkness, like a Terran feline’s would. Dressed completely in black, she wore layer upon layer of elegant, expensive black lace to the floor, subtly patterned with tiny diamonds and other gemstones he didn’t recognize. Her left hand was curled tightly around a massive carved ebony walking stick inlaid with silver runes. At its top was an enameled knob, some kind of picture painted in delicate tones on ivory. Her hand obscured the details of the artwork. She was seated on a bench, a shawl lying carelessly draped beside her.

And she was unmistakably a native of the planet Mellure.

Realizing he was staring rudely, Nick belatedly saluted her.

“Very proper, indeed,” she said, with only a simple nod, as befitted her far superior rank in the galactic order of things. “You’ve been to my home world?”

“No, my lady, I was raised from the age of nine at the Star Guard Orphanage, which is visited from time to time by Mellurean consultants.” Nick hesitated. Entranced though he was with the observatory, he didn’t wish to intrude on her. It was folly to intrude on a Mellurean. “I’ll leave you to your contemplations, madame. Unless you’d like me to stand guard while you’re here? Ensure your privacy?”

“Outstandingly proper,” she complimented him again, her voice warmer. “No, stay and enjoy the scene with me.” Patting the empty area of the bench beside her, she moved the shawl aside. It fell to the deck in a shimmering cascade of ebony silk. “You may sit, if you would like.”

Nick walked to her but declined the invitation to sit. Picking up the shawl, he carefully set it on the bench. Standing with his head thrown back, staring up at the astounding array of stars, he chuckled. “Either this ship is wildly off course, or else you’ve been influencing the AI ganglion in charge of this chamber.”

“And why would you make such an accusation?” She tilted her head with the coyness of a woman two-thirds her age and gave him a half smile.

“Because that star is Mellure,” he said, pointing at the bright­est light pulsing directly above them, “and her attendant twelve planets. And as they are firmly located in Sector Seven, while we’re cruising through Sector Sixteen, this is not a possibility.”

She laughed outright now, her amusement rich and genuine. “I doubt anyone else would have caught the change. I am Lady Damais Niklaeson.” She introduced herself as if it were a reward for his cleverness. “Yes, I’ve tweaked the stellar display of which SMT is so proud.”

The Story
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?



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