Once a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all the participants.
I’m doing excerpts from Danger in the Stars, which is at the formatter this week and will hopefully be released next week, but certainly by the 11th of April.
Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.
Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.
The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?
VS Note: This is the story of the sister who is mentioned in passing in Star Cruise: Stowaway, my story in the award winning PETS IN SPACE anthology. The new novel is completely standalone.
The excerpt – Miriell is required to demonstrate her powers to Opherra, the crime boss she’s been brought in to assist. Opherra is speaking. Jareck is the thug assigned to ‘control’ Miriell:
“I want a demonstration of what the performer can do. Prove to me you can be of assistance in what I need.”
“Can you give me a few more details on what you want me to make her do?” Jareck asked.
Miriell felt nauseated as her muscles tensed while she waited to learn what atrocious act she’d be required to perform now, what perversion of her Thuun-given gifts would be demanded.
“The end game is to help me attract a particular influential gentleman who’s been curiously resistant to my charms,” Opherra said, her lips twisted in annoyance. “I need him in thrall to me for our plans here to move forward. In too deep to back out when I reveal my true agenda. No names, but he’s key. My boss is tired of waiting for the standard ploys to yield results.”
“Is he here?”
She shook her head. “Of course not. I need to see these abilities in action before I risk my entire operation on an unknown.” Glancing around the restaurant, she laughed. “Oh yes, an excellent target for the demonstration I want. You see that blonde woman, the one with her husband, the older couple and three children? I’ve never seen anyone less likely to commit suicide. Make her throw herself off the balcony, and I’ll be a believer.” She drummed her talonlike red fingernails on the tablecloth. “Now.”
Miriell’s heart sank. The target was clearly happy, surrounded by her family, and had been casually targeted by Opherra to die just to prove a point. She gathered her power, which was curiously difficult to do, perhaps because she was so repelled by the task, and hummed the death song under her breath. Reaching out with her senses, she found the tiniest gray in the unfortunate woman’s vivid colors. Each sentient had their private sorrows and constant worries. Miriell worked to expand the gray, suppress the other colors. The woman’s companions were oblivious to her sudden silence, because the lively children were laughing and talking so happily. Suddenly, there were gasps as the target of Miriell’s attack rose abruptly from the table, knocking her chair into the person next to her. Face blank, the woman strode toward the edge of the dining area and the observation platform that built over thin air. It had safety rails, but nothing robust enough to stop a determined adult from pitching headfirst to the ground hundreds of feet below. Her husband raced after her, but she had a head start and was increasing her speed as she went.
Hoping no one would notice what she was doing, Miriell continued her pressure on the woman but began to subtly affect one of the waiters carrying a huge load of dishes until, at literally the last second, he backed away from a table and collided with the suicidal woman, sending them both reeling and collapsing to the floor, tangled together, covered in food and broken crockery. Miriell released her hold on both sentients and fell back in her chair. Hand shaking, she reached for her glass of water and sipped, although her throat was nearly closed from stress. Please let that be enough of a demonstration for Opherra.
VS: In my post that I did for Liza O’Connor’s blog, discussing this book, I mentioned one of my influences was the original Star Trek episode “The Empath…” I always loved that episode and the idea of how powerful an empath could be remained with me.