Rainbow Snippets

I did get the reading done, barely thanks to the depression getting even worse after a coworker did his level best to destroy the biology program and of course all the loss of women’s rights this week. Sigh.

But onward or I will mire. I have one last snippet from Modified and Sacred. This comes right after an unknown ship has waylaid Addison and Deveral’s shuttle as they’re on their way to the conference.

“We’re hit, Turing! I’ve lost the engines. We’re spinning in. I’m trying to get the stabilizers back online,” Addison reported, his voice tense as his fingers flew over the controls. If the Turing replied, Deveral didn’t hear it. Nausea engulfed him as the ship spun and sank fast.

“I see a lake ahead,” Addison said. “I’ll try to ditch near there. Brace yourself!”

Deveral did, to no avail. They hit the water hard. The harness half crushed his chest when Deveral slammed forward as far as the safety gear would allow, and then it slammed him back in his seat, bouncing his head off the side of the wall. Everything went black.

ModifiedandSacred-f500

Blurb

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Buy link Here at Ninestar Press

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Rainbow Snippets

I almost didn’t post this week as I was terribly behind on reading others. It’s a manifestation of the depression from all the crap going on at work. they pushed back telling us if our programs were to be deleted so it’s ongoing. Sigh.

But I opted for giving another snippet from Modified and Sacred and trying to catch up with yinz. I know it’s more than six lines. I don’t have the brain cells left to count at the moment.

Deveral wished he could stop blushing every time he looked Addison’s way. The man must have thought all Fyrians had crazy chromatophores. At the moment, his were pulsating to the music Addison shared with him.
Colors bloomed and receded to the beat, flaring even brighter whenever he looked at Addison.

“I had no idea your skin would do that.” Addison sounded amused as he gestured to Deveral’s face.

“The chromatophores are autonomic. They evolved to trigger by sounds and sights of threats and whenever we’re excited or are aroused.” His skin had to be full color with that admission. “Music does trigger the reaction. I hope it’s not too distracting.”

“Not at all. It’s…fun. You appear to be enjoying the music with your whole body. It’s not just primary blues and purples either. There are so many little colors hiding in there. Humans must seem so boring in comparison.”

And this idea came after running across this video years ago where someone set the chromatophores in cephalopods to music.

ModifiedandSacred-f500

Blurb

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Buy link Here at Ninestar Press

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Rainbow Snippets

Making this quick as I need to get some rest before graduation tomorrow which will be rained all over. Sigh. At least the speaker could be interesting, an astronaut (yeah when you have go sit through graduation every year, the shiny wears off. I mean you’re happy for the students but man it can be a grind if the speaker isn’t good)

Have some more of Modified and Sacred which released on Monday. Last time we saw Addison through Deveral’s eyes. Let’s reverse that this time and get a glimpse of Deveral through Addy’s.

Addison wondered about his passenger as Deveral watched Fyria fall away in the view screen. The dossier said the Sacred Kin had not been off-planet except for a few trips to the moon. Deveral’s odd, goat-like eyes with their spooky horizontal-bar pupils grew bigger and bigger the smaller Fyria became. His opalescent skin started turning light gray, blending him into the shuttle seat. Even his hair faded from the same fiery opal his skin had been to the hue of smoke. He realized this change might mean his companion was nervous, but it also fascinated Addison. Was his hair alive? Could it be cut? Did his hair not grow any longer than it was, like a dog’s fur?

ModifiedandSacred-f500

Blurb

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Buy link Here at Ninestar Press

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Rainbow Snippets

Making this quick as I’m off with my steampunk Airship to represent at Rathacon today. It should be fun.

Have a little more of Modified and Sacred which releases on Monday! Addison and Deveral meet:

Deveral slowed his steps as he neared the cavern’s mouth. Weyba, the head priestess, waited with a human. Judging by the deep blue Coalition uniform, Deveral took him to be his escort arriving early. He studied the Coalition officer who waited in the flood of modern lighting and blinked rapidly, trying to adjust his vision to the sun-bright light so he could take in all the details. His escort stood less than average human height but was muscular. His short black hair, cut almost razor sharp, glistened in the sun. Deveral’s vision wasn’t cleared enough to pick out any more details other than a bland expression on his handsome face. He’d known his escort would be human. He hadn’t met many of them, being isolated as he was by his duties. Deveral wondered if he could read their emotions as well as he could his own kind. Humans had a reputation for being rough and tumble, sort of the opposite of his own peaceful people. Someone more prone to violence would be a good thing in case something went wrong with the mission.

ModifiedandSacred-f500

Blurb

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Pre-order link Here at Ninestar Press

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

New Release – Destructive Forces!

Title: Destructive Forces

Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Four

Author: Harry F. Rey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 22, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 70400

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, sci-fi, futuristic, war, space, war of worlds, gay, lesbian, military, royalty

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

In the far reaches of the Kyleri Empire, young Captain Mahnoor travels around the system to escape the cultural pressures to marry. But his infatuation with a handsome imperial pilot leads him into a galactic war.

On Jiwani, Viscamon is attempting to consolidate his power, by blaming the Ingvar for the royal massacre and calling armies from across the Empire to track down the missing prince, and achieve his dream of destroying the Galactic Balance. However, Antari knows the truth about Osvai and must find the courage to stand up to the prince’s enemies, and his own, no matter the risk.

Meanwhile on Aldegar, Daeron is being held prisoner by the few remaining Ingvar forces and must find a way to break free to rescue his mother and the crew of the Daring Huntress once again, as well as the missing Prince Osvai, before the Kyleri come to take back what’s theirs.

Sallah, no longer the last Tevian, returns to Aldegar with no choice but to enlist the help of the man she hates and the woman she once loved to see her son again.

As the Galactic Balance tips ever more towards chaos, time is running out to save Ales from the destructive forces he has unleashed.

Excerpt

Destructive Forces
Harry F. Rey © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“Don’t let him get away!” Sallah screamed at the top of her lungs through the chaos of the fiery corridor. Two Ingvar soldiers had her by either arm. They’d dragged her out of the Trades Council plenum-turned-battle zone against her will. Her life was of paramount value to the Ingvar star-state, but she couldn’t care less about that now. Not while this Turo was getting away.

His words, spoken only minutes ago, haunted her mind. I have your son, he’d said, with a swirling sneer. Then everything exploded. Sallah had lost sight of General Morvas and Councilor Nexia in the shooting. Ingvar soldiers had also jumped on them, but the smoke and noise of weapons fire made trying to get back to the ship impossible. Yet it was the last thing Sallah wanted to do—the insurrection in the heart of the Trades Council be damned.

“Get off me.” She struggled against their armor-plated bodies, but they did not relent. Sallah’s feet kept slipping against the smooth marble floor; she couldn’t find a grip. Yelling and the ricochet of weapons banged around the air from every direction, stinging smoke encroaching on their position. Sallah yanked her head around to a din of shots being fired, and the two soldiers pulled her back from the brink of the great hallway where volleys of laser shot fired backward and forward into unknown, unseen sets of troops.

“Get back.” One of the soldiers said and knocked her head back against the wall, trying to avoid edging around the corner into the wide trench of ongoing warfare the great hallway had become. Sallah remembered the way. They had to get across to the other side, through the firing range.

A far-off explosion shook the walls of the building, seeming to strike at the core of the planet itself. The firing ceased, but silence did not return. Instead, the screeching sounds of warplanes entering the Targulian atmosphere filled the once-gilded walkway. Down beyond their position, toward the end of the great hallway, Sallah saw figures moving through the smoke. The shapes could be Turo, or even Ales. The only thing clear was her need to get to them.

Her Ingvar captors looked distracted, scanning the now eerily silent hallway through black visor helmets. One had his hand pointed backward in a halfhearted attempt to keep her still. She edged away from the wall, then glanced into the great hallway. It had the air of some ancient temple; high ceilings reaching up to a glass-domed roof to the hazy orange Targulian air. The heart of the Outer Verge, now consumed in inter-factional war, the Union against the Trades Council, while a foreign power circled the planet like some great mountain vulture. And here she was, the former last Tevian alive. She couldn’t let her life end this way. Not while her son might be right around the corner—hurt, or in danger. Sallah gritted her teeth and launched herself against one of the soldiers. With a swift kick, she booted him in the side, and he tumbled away from her into the space of no man’s land, his footing lost to the smooth-edged floor.

“What are you doing?” the other one cried out through his visor. But it was too late. A volley of weapons fire began again from both sides, riddling the Ingvar soldier’s body from the left and right. Puffs of vaporized blood and brain floated into the air as his lifeless body collapsed in a haze of reddish death.

The living soldier floated in front of her, as if suspended in time, now unsure if she was friend or foe. She wanted to leap toward him, grab the sidearm from his belt, flip, and blast him in the back. The sinews of her body, the echoes of Sallah’s yearning for her son she’d thought lost along with the rest of her home-world, ached for the ability to push him aside and sprint to her destiny. Yet something exploded against her back. It felt as if the walls themselves had collapsed onto her as the polished marble rushed up to meet her face. But she stopped. There was no impact. Something, no, someone grabbed her, saved her from being smashed to the ground.

“I have her,” a metallic voice said through the helmet. Sallah caught the edge of her reflection in the onyx visor. The whites of her eyes enraged and bloodshot against skin the color of a dark and stormy night.

“Let’s go,” said another.

The sound of many more boots smacking against the ground joined with the fire of weapons. Someone held her back, as a stream of Ingvar soldiers rushed from behind, firing their weapons to either side of the great hallway, building a wall of cover fire to cross to the other side. A black-gloved arm pulled her back by the chest, and she struggled to no avail.

“This way, general,” a voice said behind her. “Increase fire, don’t hold back,” it yelled to the soldiers holding the line the breadth of the hallway to the narrower corridor across the other side. General Morvas staggered past, helped by two soldiers. His soft, gray hair and distinguished features were dripping in blood from an open wound across his skull, his robes torn and wrapped around an arm as a makeshift bandage. The volley of fire from the soldiers turned into a crescendo of noise and smoke. Most likely no one was firing back from either side, but they kept the rate up as the half-crouched general crossed the hallway like a child being rescued from a fire.

Councilor Nexia came along next, her frail elderly body slung over the back of a soldier as if she were won as a prize of war.

“Sallah,” the Trades Council leader cried out. “Come with us, now. The Union are starting a war.”

Sallah pushed against her captor’s arm with all her power. “No! I must find Turo. I must—”

“We have him. He’s on the ship.” Nexia said. The soldier carrying her didn’t stop running. “Get her back to the fleet,” Nexia yelled over the rage of battle toward Sallah’s captor. She was a prize they couldn’t lose.

Powerful armored hands grabbed her from behind, squeezing her sides so hard she felt the pain through the adrenaline rush. There was no way to break free. Turo, Ales—she had to find them. Sallah struggled against her captor, legs flying back in a wild storm of trying to find any weak point in the armor and land a kick to skin.

“Let me go.”

He’d had enough. He didn’t think twice. Like Nexia in front of her, the soldier hoisted her body across his shoulder and ran after the others, darting through the protective enclosure. It was terrifying. The world had turned upside down. All she could see was the smoke from the far end of the great hallway rising up to the glass convex ceiling, here and there blocking out the hazy orange above. Yet through the glass, she saw the flashes of war and the trails of missiles and strike ships painting their destructive pattern. The Ingvar invasion had begun.

The bouncing became rhythmic, and she lost all sense of thinking beyond the next few minutes. Get to the ship, get to Turo. She’d beat that man to a pulp to find out where her son was. She’d swear to the Ingvar to never conduct another experiment again if they did not help her track down Ales. She’d gouge the secrets of galinium and STAR drives from her brain and cast them into the black void of nothingness unless the entirety of the fleet of the Ingvar Empire cast every ion toward finding her son. She’d rip apart the Outer Verge to find…

“Hurl her inside. That’s it.”

Sallah was flung upward, then caught by firm hands and dragged into the confines of a compact shuttle. Nexia and Morvas were stretched out alongside her, being tended to by soldiers with their visors up. The women and men in Ingvar uniform and their faces consumed in the rapid swirl of action. They had no time to think, only do.

“That’s all; time to go,” a voice said. She turned her head to the left through a sharp edge of pain to the two pilots in the narrow cockpit. One was gesturing to get the soldiers out of the shuttle.

“Wait,” Sallah screamed. “I need my son. I need Turo.” She pulled herself to her feet, ready to boot everyone else out of the shuttle and fly around the city-world herself to find him.

“No time,” the pilot yelled back, looking ready to meet her fists. “I’m taking you back to the fleet now. Strap in.”

Out of options, Sallah briefly contemplated jumping on one of the soldiers currently assisting the bruised-looking Nexia and Morvas into their shuttle seats against the narrow walls. Something caught her eye at the back of the shuttle, a soldier she now realized had been standing over someone. He moved out of the way, ready to exit the ship, and then she saw him, strapped in against his will and hands frozen in electromagnetic cuffs.

“You piece of flank,” Sallah yelled at Turo in the crowded confines of the ship. The rest of the soldiers ducked outside to the increasingly loud sounds of weapons fire.

“Strap in!” The pilot yelled from behind her as the shuttle door snapped closed.

“I’ll fucking kill you right now unless you tell me where my son is.” Turo’s green eyes looked up at her, his face smoky and bloodied from the fight, but his eyes alive, and a thin, narrow smile across his lips. The look of a man who, even in defeat, would prefer to watch everything he’d worked for go up in noxious flames than surrender. She launched her fist straight down into his stomach, the straps holding him back keeping him from bending over in reaction to the blow as the ship rumbled into action.

He spat out a gob of phlegm and blood onto the polished floor and returned only a smile. She cocked another fist.

“Sallah, stop,” Morvas called from behind, as the ship jerked up from the ground. She grabbed a metal bar above her head as the shuttle rumbled into the hazy sky. The sight through the windows dissolved her anger into terrified wonder. Targuline had descended into full-on war. Fighters dipped and dived behind the great trunks of Shards; missiles from space streaked across the orange sky as billows of black smoke infected the world.

Sallah turned her attention back to Turo. She held on above as the shuttle bounced around the atmosphere, worried it would drop from the sky at any moment—or perhaps be torn in two from heavy weapons fire. Neither was acceptable. She slammed her free hand into Turo’s throat, squeezing the sinews hard.

“Where is my son?”

Spluttered nothings fell from his mouth. Clearly, he hadn’t expected to be choked. As he raised a cuffed arm, where his wrist-tech sat, she released him from her deathly grip.

“I have him,” he coughed. “Tracked, here.”

Sallah twisted the arm with the wrist-tech, causing him to writhe in pain. Arms were not designed to twist in such a way, but she took comfort in his obvious agony.

“Find him.” Her eyes flashed with the power of a supernova. One primed for explosion

“Locate Ales,” he said into the device. The screen built a rudimentary map of the area with a clear green dot showing him less than fifty kilometers away. “Look, he’s still close by.” Sallah tried to make sense of the map, but the shaking shuttle and the moving blocks of images on the wrist-tech made it almost impossible to follow. She kept her eye solely on the distance counter, which steadily ticked upward as the shuttle flew up into the atmosphere toward the void of space.

“He’s on a ship, look.” Turo twisted his wrist-tech farther around, with an edge of humanity in his voice, which took her by surprise. The view of the outside moved around Morvas and Nexia from the hazy, orange battle-scarred sky to the cool blackness of space. Shards poked through the stratosphere, but the normally bustling routes in and out of the planet and its space stations were frozen by the invasion.

She stared past Nexia at the Ingvar fleet assembled in battle formation. She’d flown with them from Aldegar in the odd position she held as both a prisoner and most-valued individual, across their emerging empire. She knew this was every ship the Ingvar had. Battle Cruisers and troop transports, command vessels and fighter carriers; an entire fleet constructed from the scraps of the Crejan occupation force the young star-state liberated themselves from.

They had gambled their empire on this force, throwing everything they had against the Outer Verge, the only power in the galaxy weaker than themselves, in order to seize the STAR drive and power into the unknown universe beyond. Now, with their fifty-ship fleet amassed around the Targulian atmosphere and the Verge descending into civil war, they needed to get their hands on the raw galinium mined in the far edge of the Outer Verge.

Sallah reminded herself she didn’t care for whom she provided the prototypes of the STAR drives or which empire seized on her research. The Union, the Seven Suns, the Ingvar—she cared not for any of them. She had cared only for herself and the chance it may give her to rebuild the world she had lost. Sallah’s hands clasped her stomach as if it was about to explode.

“What’s that?” Nexia called out behind her, pointing to the window and the Ingvar fleet beyond. A single ship with a strange greenish glow around it was racing up from the orange haze toward the mass of ships. Sallah had only ever considered that glow in the theory of her work. It can’t be.

“It’s Ales,” Turo said, shifting his wrist-tech toward her line of sight stuck on the window, staring at the fleet the shuttle jiggered toward. Her throat flicked closed, a lifetime’s worth of tears held back by nothing but a single hope that soon she may be reunited with the son she’d thought lost.

“Tell them to bring him in,” she screamed at the pilot. He looked back with a gasp of worry. Morvas quickly nodded his approval.

“Fleet command, there’s an unidentified small vessel headed right to you from the planet. It’s friendly. Repeat, friendly. High-value cargo,” the pilot said into the comms.

Sallah left Turo in his strapped-down position and pressed her face against the clear window. His ship was getting closer to the fleet, like a single drop edging ever closer to a waiting beast. But the greenish glow around him grew ever bolder. She pressed her hand against the glass as Morvas, and then Nexia, unclipped from their seats and joined her.

“What is it?” Morvas demanded. “Is that a weapon? Is this an attack?”

She couldn’t even whisper a No. Sallah felt as if her mind had been severed from her body. It may as well float in the empty void of nothing. Her mind, her soul, unable to comprehend the things she was seeing. Who had built such a thing? Everything had been theoretical, only experiments. How could her research, her life’s work, sever her son from her once again?

The glow became stronger and ever brighter as the STAR drive ignited its galinium core. The space around his ship warped and swirled in a cloud of green as the horizon point broke free from the ship’s engine, the greenish bubble growing wide enough to encompass the entire Ingvar fleet.

“No. It’s too much. It’s too powerful.” The beat of her heart burst into her skull as the horizon point from Ales’ ship reached its zenith.

“What?” Morvas demanded. “What is? Tell me now.”

The flash forced Nexia and Morvas to turn away. But Sallah did not. Her eyes burned and ached for the briefest moment, but then the darkness returned. The black, blank darkness of space above the hazy orange orb. Now empty except for a long, glowing white streak of nothing where Ales and the entire Ingvar fleet had just been. Whoever had created that STAR drive had grossly miscalculated the proportions of weaponized galinium required.

“Sallah, he’s gone,” Turo said in quiet shock, a note of fear in his voice Sallah would never have thought a man such as he would have.

“Where’s my fleet?” Morvas shrieked. “For infinity’s sake, where is my fleet?”

Sallah said nothing. Her eyes focused on her own reflection as she watched a single tear drip down her cheek. It was too painful to look at the empty space where her son and all the ships of the Ingvar empire had been, now lost in some unknown galaxy.

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Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

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New Release – Sio

Title: SIO

Author: C.A. Blocke

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 22, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 6360

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, humor, space pirates, scavengers, scientist, tech nerd, hurt-comfort, disabilities, abduction, captivity, tech nerd

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Set in a near-future environment, mega-corporations have taken over the most habitable of planets, creating domed utopias for their devoted employees. Everyone else has been shunted off to a multitude of mostly habitable planets and moons where they scrape by as farmers and tradesfolk, miners and merchants, bounty hunters and scavengers.

James Marks and his crew of scav trash operate their ship, SIO, on a mission to obtain a mysterious piece of new tech. It changes everything and leaves him stranded somewhere he doesn’t recognize with a cute, if not a bit annoying, tech scientist. James doesn’t know, when he first meets Michael, but his life is about to change in a very surprising way.

Excerpt

SIO
C.A. Blocke © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: The Job
“You’re really going in alone?” Edge asked, leaning heavily against the console as James plugged in the coordinates. “I thought you promised Lyra you weren’t doing jobs alone anymore after that last big fuckup.”

James rolled his eyes and sighed. “What Lyra don’t know won’t hurt her. You and your sister are wanted on every planet in Corporate Space, and I’m not about to lose the only good pilot we’ve got by taking Corin along for the ride. Besides, I’m fluent in bullshit. I’ll be fine.”

Edge laughed and drew his oversized ElectroPistol before shoving it toward James’s chest. “You’re gonna need this. They set up scanners every few kilometers to catch travelers with old-school bullets.”

“You know I’ve got one.” James smirked, opening his dark-brown duster to show off his special design. “And mine’s overclocked.”

“Show-off.”

Edge and his sister, Razor, had been on the ship’s crew since day one, and far too many crew members had been lost one way or another since. To be fair, James knew Edge had a point. The duster was a bit of a showpiece, but even in Corporate Space, they could appreciate fine leatherwork.

Quietly, Razor added, “Careful where you’re scanning with that eye, boss. Peach detection is sensitive to all TechEyes.”

James blinked several times, self-conscious at the reminder of his less-than-human status. After fifteen years on the outer ring, he was starting to feel less man than machine. An eye, a leg, and a full neural interface later, who really could say he wasn’t? “Yes, mother.” James sighed, offering another fond roll of the eyes. “Believe me, I’m in and out. The last place I want to hang out is a Peach Corp research and development office.”

“Eye on the prize.” Edge nodded, clapping a meaty hand on James’s back. “Corin’ll leave the engines running for ya.”

Getting in wasn’t hard; a flash of the badge the client had provided and a few sideways glances at James’s generally unkempt appearance, and he was walking the halls toward the mark’s office. Thankfully, R&D didn’t have half the security protocol most Corporate offices had, and as far as they cared, the dark-haired man in a duster and pressed shirt was Mr. Marquis Benton, in the flesh. However, the short middle manager staring him down didn’t exactly seem convinced.

“So, Mr. Benton, is it?” he asked, stroking his fingers through professionally cropped blond hair before taking off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. “And you are here for?”

“I was told the communique was sent days ago,” James bluffed, crossing his arms and giving the manager, Michael, a critical look. “The Rose prototype. It’s being called up for Corporate preview.”

“Well, as much as I’d love to have one less piece of useless technology to deal with, it’s not ready. I never received this…communique…you’re talking about.” Michael’s brow furrowed as he slipped his glasses back on; the frustration apparent on his face was adorable at the very least.

“Fine. Fine.” James leaned in, glancing over the man’s badge to grab a name, only to feel his TechEye activate to read it through the soft fold of his worn blazer. “It’s all right, Michael. I’ll deal with your supervisor.”

“I am the supervisor at this facility.” Michael frowned, shaking his head. “And if that crappy old TechEye wasn’t such a piece of outdated shit running firmware from ten years ago, you would have been able to pull up my personnel file and would know that.”

It wasn’t quite the same as being caught red-handed, and security wasn’t swarming the office yet, so there was that much hope. “Hey, you know how crappy the pay is for runners. I haven’t exactly been able to keep up on the latest and greatest.” James shrugged, and then stepped closer, ready to make a move, if justified. “Besides, I don’t like all that clutter in my HUD. All I need is to get this prototype to my boss.” It was a fair enough statement; the heads-up display on the older chip software was much less cluttered with information of various levels of situational importance. In the long run, it made it difficult to parse the large amount of information that wasn’t actually in front of his eyes but tended to render him at least distracted when it came up.

Michael stood, one hand on his black leather belt and the other casually planted against his desk. “The new heads-up display is actually quite streamlined by comparison, especially if you have the visual upgrade.” He shifted on his feet and, after a moment’s pause, dropped his gaze down to the litter of papers and scraps on his desk. “Look, okay… I don’t know who you are or how you got in here, but contrary to popular belief, just because I’m in R&D, I’m not a fucking idiot. The Rose is classified, and you’ve done absolutely nothing to make me believe you should even be here.”

James had been in worse situations, which really said quite a lot about his chosen profession. He put on his best smile and leaned across Michael’s desk, drawing eyes back up to him. “I’ll level with you, Michael. There was no communique, okay? I know I’m sort of jumping the gun here, but bringing back the Rose and blowing the bigwigs’ minds with it pretty much guarantees a promotion that…uh…well, I need. And I know you’ve got zero reason to believe a word I’m saying, but I can definitely put in a good word for the new head of R&D.”

Michael’s eyes narrowed behind his thin spectacles, and James felt his heart rate raise enough to hear the blood pounding in his ears. Lying was no big thing, but pulling shit in a Peach facility was a damn bold move for someone not looking to end up in a prison colony for the rest of their short, crappy life. Finally, Michael said, “Head of R&D? You have that kind of power? I thought you said you were a runner.”

“A runner for someone with more power than both of us combined. With the right offering, I could do quite a lot”—James whispered, licking his lower lip for dramatic effect, if not sheer nerves—“with a little help from a certain smart and handsome developer.”

A long moment passed, and James realized exactly how that statement had come off. Fortunately, Michael seemed to buy it, and James wasn’t really lying—for everything his bookish appearance gave off, Michael was handsome in a sort of cute tech-nerd kind of way. Michael sighed and shook his head, drawing back. “You’ve got a silver tongue, Marquis. And, I guess I’m just sick of looking at the stupid thing,” he muttered under his breath, heading toward the door James had come in. “I have to get it from the lab; they’re working on it today.”

“Of course, of course.” James feigned a laugh while following him back into the corridor and through the honeycomb of hallways and nondescript rooms toward the lab.

Michael scanned his card and then turned back to face him. “Wait here.”

There was a delicate dance—James couldn’t wait too long out in the open without being checked by security, who would likely figure out his papers were fake, within a few seconds, but he also had to offer Michael the benefit of the doubt, lest his true intention be made even clearer. He nodded and casually folded his arms over his chest, gently patting the pistol concealed within his coat. Beyond the door, he couldn’t see much more than several bodies in white suits with blank faces moving quietly around, and then he was alone in the corridor.

Ten minutes and one close call with security passed, and James couldn’t stop himself from attempting to listen at the door, to no avail. Daring the chance of getting caught, he fumbled out the jack in his coat pocket, connecting it to the keypad first and then directly to the port behind his left ear. Hacking was dangerous in the best possible circumstances. Getting caught was almost a certainty, but the cybernetic jack made it a little simpler to do something as innocuous as jimmying a lock—hell, James had practically grown up forcing locks with or without technological assistance. Unfortunately, Razor wasn’t wrong about Peach Corp being on top of outside tech in their systems. The lock gave, after only a few moments of forcing the code, the door opened, and the first thing James saw after pulling the jack free at both ends in one yank was security coming right for him.

“What are you doing in here?” Michael shouted as James rushed into the room, slamming the door behind him. A steel case was open on a large table, a small purple rose made of circuits and glass seated in a holding point fixed inside the case.

“Okay, so here’s the thing…” James stammered, letting the words come as his most useful form of self-preservation. “There are at least three guys with ElectroPistols on the other side of that door, and I really need to leave with this prototype, so if you could close that case, I’ll be heading out now.”

“It’s not ready!” Michael answered, lifting the safety goggles from around his glasses and tossing them on the floor with an angry sigh. “Do you even know anything about the Rose? You have got to be the most ignorant—”

James cut him off for lack of time more than anything, snapping the case closed. “I may have to use you as a human shield…no worries; ElectroPistols don’t hurt nearly as bad as the real thing.” He was well aware it sounded bad, but to the best of his knowledge, as long as the person being shot didn’t have too many cybernetic parts, the blasts weren’t usually deadly. James grabbed Michael’s elbow, thankful he was a little lighter and a good deal shorter than most.

They made it two steps to the door, and when James touched the latch, a loud popping noise was accompanied by a rush of heat, and everything went black.

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Meet the Author

C.A. Blocke is a thirty-something writer who’s been captivated by the magic of how people relate to each other for as long as she can remember. Far more than overarching drawn-out plots, she prefers to focus heavily on relationships in various situations that feel like real life—even when at its most surreal. Real Life, she feels, is messy and complicated, and that shines through in her fiction where the road to a happy ending frequently isn’t just a straight line. A long-time reader and writer of fluffy character-driven pieces, her style tends to highlight small slices of life that come together to form a whole picture of the plot.

She is a gender nonconforming, demisexual-identified female who feels most comfortable writing unconventional relationships involving non-heterosexual couplings. Sexual identity often colors her works and features heavily in finding the comfortable place where identities can collide with minimal friction. She enjoys exploring different takes on ‘acceptable’ sexuality and blurring the lines between what is expected and what really happens.

A small-town Arizona native, the Southwest and its rural communities fascinate her—particularly the rigid-identity politics and the ramifications of breaking the social norm. Of course, that’s not to say that she doesn’t also enjoy writing about urban life and the various challenges present in the big city. While most at home writing contemporary romance with a warm little erotica twist, she’s very prone to following her muse down the dark alleys and open valleys it drags her through—making it nearly impossible to know just what genre will take her interest next.

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Rainbow Snippets

Another horrendous week at work has all but killed my creativity or even my ability to properly promote this upcoming novella.

So have a little more of Modified and Sacred. You met Addison last week. This week meet Deveral who is a Fryian, a humanoid race. Deveral is the titular Sacred, having abilities his people once believed was a spark of the divine. He’s a rather sheltered fellow, living within the confines of the temple system because of his abilities.

Reaching the shrine, Deveral knelt before the roughly carved statues of the Goddess and her Consort. Most of the altar had been carved from the calcite flowstone walls which had continued to grow after the work was done—curtains of white and rust stone rippling down to meet the floor—swallowing up almost all the details but the statues themselves.

He reached up, touching their legs. While their features weren’t as fine as the more modern statues descended from these earliest ones, the smooth, slick marble cooled his fingers as he caressed the Goddess’s face. He prayed silently for the success of his mission, for his people and those he was going to help, for peace. Deveral’s knees ached as he unfurled from the floor, the cold water soothing them as he trekked back.

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Blurb

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Pre-order link Here at Ninestar Press

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!