Tag Archives: SFRB

The Stuff of Legend is live!

It has been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished what was for a very long time “the current WIP”. I had hoped it would be out in 2016, but life-as-we-know-it got in the way. Anyway, it’s finally done.

Dreams2Media’s Rebecca Poole has done a wonderful job on the cover (as usual) and I had some fun with the graphics. The story revolves around an open cluster in that galaxy far, far away and the legends and tales that have been told about that formation. (No, not that one.) As an analogy, consider the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Just about every society on Earth seems to have had a legend around it – many very similar tales about maidens escaping from a suitor, whether they are Greek, Roman, or Australian aboriginal.

My two protagonists have very different views on ancient tales. History professor Olivia Jhutta thinks there’s often a core of truth; Admiral Jackson Prentiss is only interested in facts. This snippet illustrates their differences. Olivia and Jak are walking through the woods.

“How much do you know about the Ghria?” Olivia asked.

Jak shrugged. “Space demons that lie in wait for the unwary. They swallow ships whole. And that’s about it. Oh, and I’ve seen the pictures.”

Fanciful illustrations of non-existent creatures with huge mouths and slavering jaws. “That’s very likely fabrication.”

He chuckled. “You think?”

“We don’t know for certain, do we? What we do know is the Gh’ria legend dates back thousands of years. Although it pops up across Confederacy space, it has its roots here, in the Helicronian planets.”

Jak brushed an errant leaf off his shoulder. “I didn’t know that.”

“It’s because in its original form, the Gh’ria are linked to the Maidens. That thing about space demons is later, much later. The earliest stories are about maidens protecting a dragon’s hoard. ‘Cloaked in stardust, draped in shadow the maidens guard the dragon’s hoard’. From a poem written by Elivior San Brindel two thousand years ago.”

Smiling, Jak shook his head. “That’s better than space demons, is it?”

“It’s interesting. The story goes that if you get past the dancers protecting the place, you still have to avoid being swallowed up by a dragon.”

He laughed. “Oh please. A dragon? We have swirling gowns making up the dancers’ clothes, and now we have a dragon as well? That’s a first. Can you show me?”

Show him? Olivia riffled through the images she kept on her implant, including a few for the Maidens which she’d collected recently. “Can I transfer an image to your implant?”

“Please do.”

She waited for the invitation to access his private inbox, then transferred the one with the three women superimposed over the stars. “This shows the dancers.”

“Sure. Where’s the dragon?”

His tone bristled with scorn. But then, she should have realized he’d react like that. Bracing herself, she said, “The dragon is invisible. It’s beyond the ability of humans to see it.”

Jak shook his head slowly. “Professor, I deal with facts, not made-up stories. These legends are just idiotic notions made up by ignorant people trying to understand something beyond their knowledge. I can see it now. Some kid asks the teacher what that thing up there is, so teacher tries to explain, using things he understands. But there are no star women up there. Just an open cluster with a nebula behind it. If you look at the Maidens from Rigmont or Sallazar, the stars don’t look the same. As for an invisible dragon… give me strength.”

********************************************************************

The Stuff of Legend

When history professor Olivia Jhutta receives a distress call from her parents, she sets out into space with their business partner, her grandmother and injured Confederacy Admiral Jak Prentiss to find them. But she’s not the only one interested in the Jhutta’s whereabouts. The Helicronians believe Olivia’s parents have found an ancient weapon which they can use to wage war on the Confederacy.

Jak goes on the trip to fill in time while he’s on enforced leave, helping Olivia follow cryptic clues in what he considers an interplanetary wild goose chase in search of a fairy story. But as the journey progresses and legend begins to merge with unsettling fact, Olivia and Jak must resolve their differences and work together if they are to survive. The two are poles apart… but it’s said opposites attract. If they can manage to stay alive.

You’ll find The Stuff of Legend here.  Amazon  Google iBooks  Nook Kobo  Print

Be sure to visit everyone else participating in the showcase.

Introducing Michaela Kendrick’s “Dragon’s Honor”

DragonsHonorFinal2When I first spoke with Greta about my new release, she was intrigued by my mention of the Dragon Riders of Pern series, and she wondered how it had influenced my writing—including my current series.

This turned out to be a more difficult question than I anticipated. The Pern series will always have a special place in my heart—I still remember finding it as I pored over the shelves of books in our house. From the start, I was captivated by Lessa as the slave who could not be intimidated or broken. Fiery and commanding, she made her own destiny. I’ve always wanted to write a character who held the same strength it took to face down the dragon and bond with it, and to endure all of the trials that followed.

On the face of it, the Dragon Corps series and the Dragon Riders of Pern have little in common. One is militaristic SciFi with space marines, and the other melds fantasy elements into a story that is much more a fantasy epic than a space opera (however it may be classified). But McCaffrey is still an inspiration. One does not need to match her story structure or her genre in order to write the same sort of story: one of passion and pride, both as positives and negatives. Her villains were real, absolutely visceral. Her heroes were just as full, with the fiery natures we could empathize with even as the characters walked down the proverbial dark alleyway.

That is what I have always tried to capture in my writing. McCaffrey wrote in a fantastical world that was realistic because the characters were so relatable, both in their good and bad moments. When readers see Aryn, I want them to know how fully she is outmatched and yet cheer her on even while she walks knowingly into danger for love’s sake. When Cade’s pride leads him into yet another beating, I want the reader to flinch at the blows and yet know why he can’t bring himself to betray the woman he loves or the morals he holds so dear.

I think we read, on some level, because we want to believe that if such terrible things happen to us, we could also stand up and do the right thing. When I write, I don’t want just to show characters who rise above their circumstances, as Lessa did at the start of the book in Dragonflight, I want characters who also inspire us to be better people now, as Lessa inspired me when I was younger. I want characters like Cade and Talon, who show me the responsibility that comes with their training. I want characters like Aryn and Samara, who fight for what’s right even though they might not be the best ones to do it. I want characters like Tera, who have to confront brutal truths about people that they love. Because all of these are things we need to do in our lives, and if I can inspire even one person like Anne McCaffrey inspired me, I will be very happy, indeed.

Want to know more about Cade, Aryn, and the rest? Email Michaela at mkendrickauthor@gmail.com for a FREE review copy of Dragon’s Honor!

Dragon’s Honor

The Warlord…

From high society banquets in the ice covered skyscrapers of New Arizona, to the most far-flung outposts at the edge of human-occupied space, everyone has heard of Ymir. The Alliance’s reach is wide, and its soldiers are well trained, but there are always despots powerful enough to assert themselves, and Ymir has been one of the most notable failures of human history: a whole planet given over to a man known only as the Warlord.

The soldier…

Cade Williams was once a Dragon—the most elite fighting unit in known space. Precise, brutal, and unstoppable, they were a last resort in the lawless wastes of space colonization. But there was a price: in one horrific mission, Cade’s unit took down not only a slave trader, but an entire intergalactic carrier. Cade left and never looked back. Haunted by his past, he’s vowed never again to kill, never again to fight, and, filling jobs from dock worker to bartender, he’s managed to keep that vow. But Cade’s life is about to be turned upside down. Because when at last he runs out of options, his old friend Talon Rift appears out of nowhere. Talon, the man who ordered him to take down the carrier. Talon, who wants him to get back in the game. And when Cade won’t, Talon has a job opportunity he seems to know Cade can’t afford to pass up. Protect a woman. An innocent. Remarkably little chance of anything going wrong. And a man needs to eat.

And the trophy wife…

There are two problems: first, that Cade hates Aryn the moment he lays eyes on her; second, that he wants her like he’s never wanted anyone before in his life. Or make that three problems: Aryn’s fiancé is a weapons trafficker with a well-deserved reputation for being ruthless, and Aryn is about to get caught up in one of his schemes – one that will bring her back to the place she only just escaped…the mines of Ymir.

Where to buy:

Dragon’s Honor will be free to read in Kindle Unlimited: smile.amazon.com/dp/B017F8X7HC/

Where to find me:

Right now, I’m only on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mkendrickauthor/

Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/bIDsBn

And people can feel free to email me at mkendrickauthor@gmail.com

Excerpt:

“Cade Williams?”

The words came through the haze of smoke and drunkenness like a hallucination. Cade knew that voice. He was never, ever going to be able to forget that voice, and it had to be a hallucination because there was no way in hell the owner of that voice had chased him across three systems only to walk into a dive bar on the lower streets of New Arizona. So he went back to his drink.

He picked up the glass and stared at it. It was a scotch he’d been nursing for about three hours now, and not just because “scotch” seemed to be a loose term for colored grain alcohol. When he finished his drink, he had nowhere to go. And in the ever-drifting snow of New Arizona—he’d never figured out if the name was born of ignorance or irony—he needed to stay indoors as long as possible. The cold was fierce, and whatever acid was in the water on this planet, it would burn his skin raw in less than a night.

And if he didn’t get ten thousand credits to Osiris within a week, he was a dead man. But one thing at a time. Cade shook his head and let the moment slide away from him, a tiny drift into memory and nothing more.

“Williams,” the voice said again.

That was definitely not a hallucination. Cade’s eyes traveled along the arm that had come down on one side of him. Callused fingertips, last joint of the right index finger missing, the hint of a tattoo poking out from under a blue cuff. The arm underneath the suit jacket was well muscled, leading to broad shoulders and a clean-shaven jaw, and with a sinking feeling of dread, Cade looked up at one of his worst nightmares.

“Lieutenant Rift.”

“Actually, it’s Major now.” Talon’s face was expressionless, as it almost always was. He watched as Cade’s eyes traveled over the understated suit, across the planes of the handsome face. At last, sensing the question Cade would never ask, he flipped over the hand on his resting arm. There, glimmering in the faint light, were blood-red cufflinks.

A Dragon always wore red.

Talon absorbed Cade’s bitter smile in silence.

“You look surprisingly well.” Cade looked down into his scotch and considered drinking the rest in one gulp. The pours in this bar were generous, and with the alcohol being of dubious provenance, a gulp might well kill him. Right now, that wasn’t seeming so bad. It was all coming back to him—without warning, as it always did. He’d known the moment he heard the voice that this was going to be a bad night, even worse than he’d thought—and he’d already thought it would be pretty bad. There was screaming at the corner of his mind, the flashing of the lights in the bar taking on a reddish hue, the emergency exit sign too clear a reminder.

He closed his eyes, clenching his jaw until he thought his teeth would give way. He had to keep breathing, or the memories would take him, and the world would devolve into the chaotic mess he so feared, every face reminding him of the pods, the children pounding on the glass—

He was going to be sick. His stomach heaved.

“Should I go?”

“No.” Cade’s answer surprised even him. He opened his eyes and looked down into his drink again. He could force the world back into its neat shapes if he tried hard enough. In the vacuum of space, in the long silences of a courier’s job, he’d learned to face his fear and press it away.

He could face this, too.

“Okay.” Talon sat, pulled reflexively at both cuffs, and looked over at the bartender. “What won’t kill me here?”

“Don’t try the scotch.”

“Noted.”

Michaela Kendrick Author Photo 2Bio:

Raised on the Dragon Riders of Pern, Star Wars, Star Trek, and a whole bunch of historical romances, Michaela grew up adoring the adventure of Science Fiction and the passion of a good love story. Filled with double crossing, grand romantic gestures, sarcasm, and plenty of heat, Michaela’s books are just the sort of thing she wants to read herself!

SFRB Summer cafe – pop in for an appetiser #sfrb

Spaceopera1Hi and welcome to the Science Fiction Romance brigade’s summer blog hop. This year, we’re offering a menu of delights guaranteed to pique even the most jaded appetite. This week, the menu is space opera.

But first, let’s talk about food.

Dinner can very definitely be very sexy, a part of foreplay.

Food’s a nice thing to have anyway, isn’t it? So here’s my recipe for my wonderful starter that uses the best of the summer season’s produce in the sub-tropics where I live. Light and tasty for (naturally) two. (Pssst. It doesn’t really look like that – more seafood, less green. But just cross your eyes and pretend. Okay?)

1 avocado
1 mango
8 large prawns, deveined and peeled.
4 scallops
20ml olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1tsp Dijon mustard
20ml honey
several handfuls of mixed leaves and baby spinach

Salad

Peel and chunk the avocado
Peel and chunk the mango
Arrange the leaves on 2 plates
Scatter over the mango and avocado
Fry the prawns in a little olive oil until pink. Sear the scallops for a few seconds.
Set aside to make the dressing – place oil, mustard, lemon juice and honey in a jar and shake well
Arrange the prawns and scallops on the plates.
Top with dressing.
Enjoy.

And now for a reading space opera starter my stand-alone novella – A Matter of Trust

Will the DemoCover of book A Matter of Trustn Admiral protect her from her family?

Princess Amira is ready to start a new life after the death of her husband, but that doesn’t include marrying the man her father picks out for her. Pursued by his agents, she races across the galaxy in a desperate search for a safe haven. Amid simmering tensions at the edge of the Empire, Amira renews her acquaintance with Imperial Admiral Ul-Mellor. Although his detractors call him the Demon Admiral,  Amira finds him intelligent, articulate, and very attractive.

But Ul-Mellor is not human and Amira is a princess – far above Ul-Mellor’s status on his home world. He and Amira will have to overcome a gulf of cultural and class differences if they’re to turn their mutual attraction into a relationship. And what will Ul-Mellor do when faced with a choice – Amira or his hard-won commission?

Yes, they dined together. Here’s an excerpt from that encounter.

____________________________________________

Ul-Mellor ushered her into his apartment, where his steward offered a pre-dinner drink. She sat in a chair, a glass in her hand, her legs crossed at the ankles. He stared at her, drinking her in. Caramel skin, black hair hanging around her shoulders, eyes like dark chocolate, lips like wine. The memory of what those lips were doing last time he saw her throbbed in his groin.

“Tell me what Brom and Ghaurondo had planned. What was that about piracy?”

Ul-Mellor explained the plot. “Brom has no love for the Empire. He blames it for the death of his son. And it’s true the needs of the outer provinces have been neglected.”

His steward caught Ul-Mellor’s eye. He stood. “Dinner, my Lady?”

He’d ordered the finest meal his chefs could produce at short notice, but he hardly tasted what he ate, too busy devouring Amira with his eyes. He memorized her features: the curve of her lips when she smiled, the wisp of hair falling over her forehead, the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed.

____________________________________________

Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s menu and enter for this week’s prize.


Enter for this week’s prize

Teaser Tuesday – a piece from Morgan’s Choice #sfrgtt

MC Poster2Hi. It’s Teaser Tuesday again. Here’s a snippet from one of my earliest books, Morgan’s Choice. This is the first 230 words, where you’ll meet the main character, be introduced to the problem, and see the setting.

******************************

Steam rose from Jones’ food pack, filling Curlew’s tiny common room with the aroma of beef stew. “That’s one month down.” He took the container out of the warmer and brought it the two steps to the table.

Morgan glanced up at him, still chewing, as he sank down on the bench opposite. She swallowed her own food. “Yeah.”

One month’s worth of the existing food supply gone. Another month, maybe a little longer if they rationed even further and then perhaps they’d be fishing Tariq’s body out of the cargo hold, wondering if a bit of cannibalism might be in order. The thought made her gag but at least it was an option. Running out of air—that was something else altogether.

She speared some more synthetic plast-food from her own food pack and lifted it to her mouth.

A staccato bleeping shattered the silence.

She flung her fork on the table, leapt through the forward hatch into the bridge and dropped into the captain’s chair, her heart pounding with a mixture of excitement and tension, hope and apprehension. She flicked off the wide-range scanner’s alarm and reached into the computer system with her mind to adjust the sensors to maximum magnification. Something had just come out of shift-space close enough to trigger the warning. Maybe she’d got it all wrong and Curlew was still in Coalition space. Because otherwise…

********************************

You’ll find Morgan’s Choice at lots of different places –

amaznButtonnookibooks

koboButton

If you’re on Facebook, why not join us in the Scifi Romance Group? Keep up with what’s happening, have some fun, and read snippets from different authors.

Introducing a one-stop-shop for SF romance books #sfrb

HeaderBannerfacebook44

SFRBrigadeLogoMost of you know I’m a practising member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, a vibrant, active community of writers of science fiction romance. One of our number has taken it upon herself to create a brand new library for readers where you can find the latest and greatest, the free and the back lists of authors writing in the genre. You can search by author, category, pair groupings (MF, MM, MFM, FF etc etc), and series. SFR Station is a great new resource and I encourage you to try it.

We have a Facebook group for readers, the Scifi Romance Group which is a discussion and fun group for lovers of the genre. It’s public, so please join and take advantage of what’s new, what’s fun, and games and giveaways.

We also have a fanpage if that’s more your thing.

If you write SFR, or you’re an SFR editor or cover designer you might like to join our very active Facebook group. We have a heap of networking opportunities which we’re more than willing to share.

 

The aliens in ‘Crisis at Validor’ #amwriting

http://www.canstockphoto.com/golden-chinese-dragon-5632075.html

http://www.canstockphoto.com/golden-chinese-dragon-5632075.html

By now you all know I’m in the final stages of writing a new Ptorix Empire book. The title is Crisis at Validor and it features my decidedly non-humanoid alien species, the Ptorix. Readers will learn more about them in this book, but there will also be another, very different, alien species.

Way back when this book was little more than a bunny hopping around in my head I’d intended to write a story which included an ancient temple and something like a serpent, only smart. The berzhani have evolved since then. A lot of people don’t like snakes and while I don’t really understand the phobia, I know it’s real for many people. I’d discarded the idea of calling them dragons because this is not a fantasy and if people have preconceived notions about snakes, they have them about dragons, too.

Fire breathing, wicked, princess-eating, flying, telepathic, ridden by people, shape-shifters.

None of the above.

So about half way through the writing, I took some time off to go through pictures of serpents, serpent temples, dragons and the like, looking for visual inspiration. And I came across Jim Nelson’s fabulous work, particularly the top dragon on this page.

So the berzhani are rather like snakes inj some respects (sinuous and smooth) but they are not snakes. In Crisis at Validor the berzhani live in caves on an island that is an extinct volcano. That island has become an object of contention between the Ptorix and the humans of Validor. The planet has two continents, and each species inhabits one. They don’t mix. But neither owns Bherzan Island.

The picture top left is a reasonable representation of a berzhan. (It’s actually a statue of a Chinese dragon, but you get the idea.)

What you need to know about the berzhani before you read the book is they are very, very smart, with their own skills. Like whales and dolphins, they don’t need technology and they don’t want to rule the world. They just want to be left alone. But they have a big part to play in Validor’s story whether they like it or not.

Here’s a first cut of the blurb.

Crisis at Validor

Newly-promoted Captain Brett Butcher is about to achieve his life-long ambition to command a battle cruiser. But before he takes up his new posting, he goes home on leave, hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his first love, the unattainable Lady Tarlyn.

When the queen is assassinated in a terrorist attack, Tarlyn’s life is thrown into turmoil when she, too, becomes a target. The last person she expects to rescue her is her childhood sweetheart, Brett Butcher.

As Validor’s Ptorix and human populations face off over a group of islands neither owns, the calls for war grow louder. Torn between love, duty and ambition, Butcher and Tarlyn struggle to prevent an inter-species conflict, while the ember of love that has smouldered for so long bursts into flame. But with planetary peace at stake, both will be forced to make a choice; love or duty.

Coming soon to an e-store near you.

PS. For those who know the Iron Admiral books, Butcher was Grand Admiral Saahren’s adjutant. And we also have a cameo appearance from Admiral Ulric Hudson of Starheart.

Starheart has a new cover – and a warning #sfrb

SH cover payhipI’m absolutely delighted to share the brand new cover for Starheart, produced by the talented Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media. For the very first time it has that wonderful combination of space and stars, and that hint of romance with a strong, feisty heroine facing it off with an alpha male. I think it’s fabulous.

I’ve revised the blurb – and added a warning. Much has been said about trigger warnings of late, and although this book doesn’t need trigger warnings as such, I’ve received more than one review complaining about SEX and the dreaded F-bomb. (For those who don’t know, that means the word ‘fuck’ is used.)  So I think it’s fair enough to give readers a clue. It’s done on DVDs, and many romance books give an indication of the level of sex, from 1 (behind the bedroom door) to 5 (menage, lots of screwing). Starheart has a burgeoning love story between a man and a woman, with two sex scenes that are not from a how-to manual. And Jess swears when she’s upset. Sorry, that’s how it is. I do, too.

So the blurb has an addendum – “This book contains sex scenes and strong language.”

And if the thought of sex and swear words hasn’t put you off, here’s a snippet from the book, to whet your appetite. This is from the beginning of the book, when Jess meets Hudson for the very first time. Her ship has been stopped and she has been transported to a Fleet battle cruiser for questioning. She’s cooperating. Of course.

________________________________________________________

Jess stared around her at clean grey walls and floors, and a row of no less than ten lifts. Strewth. The buttons went up to thirty. Thirty levels. This ship was huge. A group of people appeared from a doorway, also heading for the transit foyer. Three senior officers. She fixed her ‘not sure why this is happening but I’m being co-operative’ expression on her face as they approached.

Well, well, well. The captain, a senior commander and a rather dishy admiral. Tall, thick brown hair, heavy eyebrows over blue eyes that right now were shifting his gaze over her body and most especially down the carefully-judged split at the front of her shirt. She smiled at him, taking care to adjust her hair while she did so. Now what would a Star Fleet admiral be doing at Nordheim?

Beside her, Lieutenant Douglas and the two escorts stiffened to parade ground attention.

The admiral stopped in front of her, still staring. “What have we here, Lieutenant?”

The look in his eye sent a sexy shimmy down her spine. No prizes for guessing what was on his mind right now. And under different circumstances, she wouldn’t mind. No, not at all.

“Captain and First Officer of a suspicious ship, Sir. The Saintly Maid. They’re here for interrogation.”

Jess widened her eyes. “Suspicious ship? Oh, really, Lieutenant, you must have mistaken the Maid for some other vessel.”

The admiral grinned. The transit car the senior commander had summoned arrived with a gentle ping. The captain and the senior commander both had their bodies pointed toward the open door but the admiral lingered, gazing down at her.

“Delightful to meet you, Captain…?”

“Sondijk .And equally delightful to meet you, Admiral…?”

“Hudson. Ullric Hudson.”

She gave him a long, hard once-over, her gaze traveling slowly down his body and back up to his eyes. “Welcome to Nordheim, Admiral Hudson.”

________________________________________________________

To celebrate the new cover, I’ll offer a copy of an ebook (name your type – mobi, epub or pdf) to anyone who can name Saintly Maid‘s first officer. Leave a comment on this post. Hint: read the sample chapter

Don’t forget to try a few other science fiction romance books from the SFR Brigade presents

 

1. Anna Hackett 3. Sue Ann Bowling 5. Deborah A Bailey
2. Aurora Springer 4. Ed Hoornaert

That’s it? That’s the plan? #SFRBpresents

Cover for Kuralon RescueA little more from Kuralon Rescue. Jirra and Siena have enlisted two more people for their quest; two metre tall ex-trooper Toreni, and disgraced detective Chet. In this snippet, Siena explains the grand plan to Chet.

**************
“I go down there as a prospective investor, and find out what I can, wanting to see the land, the town, what the prisoners can offer, that sort of thing. The prisoners must be taken out to work outside the jail. We find Anton and rescue him from his work duty. We hide, tell Jirra we’ve got him and she comes down in the ship to pick us up.”
“How are you going to spring him?” Chet asked.
Siena looked at Jirra.
“We haven’t had a chance to work that out.” Jirra felt the heat rise from her neck. She’d never had to plan, not with Prasad, Admiral Ravindra and Morgan along. Now she said the words, it sounded pathetic.
One eyebrow arched above those green eyes. “What intelligence do you have?”
“Not much. Only what we could get on the public systems.” Jirra kicked herself. If she’d applied herself at Crossmar, using some of Morgan’s little toys, she could have found out more.
Chet put her elbows on the table and covered her face with both hands. Her fingers slid down until she could see over the top. “That’s it? That’s the plan?” Her words sounded muffled through her hands.

**************

Oh dear. They’re not very well organised, are they?

 

Let’s take a short cut

Cover for Kuralon Rescue

Subject to change without notice

More from Kuralon Rescue. Siena and Jirra have made it to Crossmar, where they’re going to have the ship repaired and pick up some much-needed supplies.

*********************************

“This is wrong, isn’t it?” Siena said.

Jirra nodded. “These look like warehouses. Some are import places, where the ships bring their goods for distribution. The ones still in business, anyway. Some of them look a bit suspect, too.”

Siena held her gaze. “You think? Why?”

“That place over my left shoulder.” Jirra jerked her head to indicate. “It handles herbs, seeds and natural medicine.”

“Yes?” The words ‘so what’ hung in the air.

“Somebody there is keeping a very close watch on us. No, don’t stare. The window on the first floor that isn’t shuttered. The blind was pulled back a fraction. I don’t think they’re looking for honest customers. Give me your sanvad. Let me see where we’re supposed to be going.”

Siena handed the device over, pointing at a corridor on the map. “We’re here.”

“We should be here.” Two corridors over, and quite a long walk. There were no travelators in this area.

“Is this a short cut?” Siena asked, running her finger along a laneway marked on the map between buildings.

“Yes… but-“

“Let’s do that.” She pulled a wry face. “To tell you the truth, these boots are killing me. They’re new.”

****************************************
I wonder what happens next? Be sure to check for more snippets at the SFR Brigade.