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 just released a collection of stories from the Sectors universe in a collection entitled STAR CRUISE A NOVELLA: STOWAWAY plus RESCUE and TOKEN Short Stories. These tales had only been available in anthologies previously. (And the anthologies are no longer available.)
One story is The Golden Token, which was for the DEALER’S CHOICE antho put together by Linnea Sinclair for last year’s Interstellar Bar & Grille event at the RT Booklovers’ Convention. It was a paperback book handed out at the event only, never on sale, never in ebook format.
Here’s the story:
Sectors Special Forces operator Charlie McBrire had a few days to kill on a layover at Space Station 47. He never expected to find himself in the middle of a miners’ rebellion, fighting to save the life of a casino dancer he just met but can’t imagine living without.
The Excerpt, as Charlie arrives on the station:
He was the only one waiting in the air lock to debark. Charlie glanced at the ship’s Second Officer standing by the controls. Smiling, she thumbprinted his ticket. “Thank you for traveling with us, Mr. McBrire. If you could move along into the exit tunnel—”
“Shouldn’t we wait for the rest of the passengers?” He hoisted his kitbag.
A puzzled frown crossed her face. “There isn’t anyone else. Sector 47 Station isn’t a normal stop for us, but ICC regulations require we serve stations with no scheduled service, if there’s a passenger.” She leaned close. “You should have heard the captain complaining. But the law’s the law and you’re ex-military after all, so the Line insisted.”
“It’s that isolated?” He was surprised, but then he hadn’t been in this area of the Sectors in a long time.
“The travel agent who booked you is going to get reamed, but his screw up isn’t your problem. Are you staying on the station?” Her tone suggested sympathy if he was.
He shook his head. “Passing through, making a connection with a freighter going my way. I won’t be here long enough to breathe much of their precious air.”
“Kumisarc Corporation’ll hit you up for the oxygen tax anyway,” she said.
He walked into the tunnel, barely clearing the portal at the end before he heard the sound of the grav clamps disengaging as the spaceliner cast off. While following a trail of blinking green arrows, Charlie examined his surroundings. If this corridor was anything to judge by, the facility was huge, built for a time when the Sector had been on the frontier, the mining colonies active and the immigrants flocking to the opportunities to strike it rich. Civilization had passed this place by in the last few decades. His footsteps echoed as he trudged past closed kiosks and arrival/departure airlocks. The air was cold, metallic in his lungs.
A promising cluster of lights gleamed at the end of the hallway and he soon arrived at the only desk where a living being sat. The man barely glanced at him. “Travel docs?”
Handing over his ticket, Charlie said, “The place always this deserted?”
“You’re on the inter-sector arrival deck, not much action. You taking a census?”
Rubbing his jaw, the clerk said, “Maybe a couple of freighters a month for me to deal with. I’m normally assigned one level up, where the miners arrive to burn through their paychecks. Up there, yeah, we see a lot of traffic. No other place to spend credits and blow off steam in this Sector.”
Now Charlie was afraid the guy was never going to shut up. Apparently he didn’t get much chance to talk to another human, and one rhetorical question had opened the flood gates of information on a subject Charlie didn’t care two pieces of space debris about.
He plucked his ticket from the man’s fingers, taking a glance to see how much oxygen tax he was paying. “Wait, there’s some mistake here. I’m not staying on the Station.”
Tongue between his teeth as he concentrated, the station agent reviewed the information on the screen before him. “You’re hopping a ride on the Centauri Dawn to your destination in Sector 46, right?”
“Yes, but she’s supposed to be docking later today.”
The clerk shrugged. “Updated info as of an hour ago. Ran into some rogue comets. She won’t be here for three days. Be glad she’s coming at all, would be my advice.” A small alarm sounded and the man held up one hand. “Hold on, this could be your lucky day.”
“I fail to see how.”
“Says here you’re arrival number one hundred for this cycle and entitled to a golden token, redeemable at the Hall of Good Fortune.” He handed Charlie a large, fake gold coin, embossed with a dragon on one side and blank on the other.
Astonished, Charlie flipped the coin over. “You must be kidding me. Nobody uses metal money these days, not even in a backwater Sector like this.”
The other stories in this volume:
Star Cruise: Stowaway: A novella of 22K words, previously in the award winning ‘Pets In Space’ anthology.
Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.
Star Cruise: Rescue: A short story of 9K words, previously in the ‘Romancing the Stars’ anthology.
When a shore leave excursion goes terribly wrong for Mira Gage, a member of the Nebula Zephyr’s crew, Security Officer Clint Miltan races the clock to find her before the ship leaves orbit and abandons Mira to her fate. Clint’s got more than a professional interest in Mira, but will he be able to save her from the aliens holding her prisoner?