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Space Opera (WIP Excerpt)

Hello all!

Brief update on HARRIETTA LEE: BLOODBATH: Now that the manuscript is being looked over by trusted readers/editors, I myself am keeping my hands off of it for about a month. In the meantime, I’ll be working on Book #3 of the series as well as other projects—one of which I call my “Space Opera WIP.” Here’s a quick pitch:

An elite soldier protects a captured rebel on an imperial spaceship, acting as her jailer in order to help her escape. But the rebel captive has other plans: she’s going to blow the ship to pieces, with or without her white knight onboard.

Despite how it sounds, it’s actually a romance! Here’s an excerpt of Chapter 3, told from the perspective of the imperial soldier—enjoy!

(Content warnings for murder of adults and children)

 

***

 

Kai sat at the table. It was empty. Empty tables didn’t happen by accident in a crowded imperial mess hall. Empty corner of a table, maybe, where a mild outcast could sit with the space of one seat between themself and the others.

This was an empty table. And Kai was sitting at it. And the moment her tray landed on its surface, she felt the eyes of seven other Elites flicker over to her.

They know. She fixed her tray so that its lower edge matched up perfectly with the edge of the tablet. She delicately gathered up her chopsticks. They know. She brought a flavored ice chip to her lips and made eye contact with Noelle. Noelle held Kai’s gaze, steadily as a rock in orbit. Kai’s teeth broke the surface of the ice with a crrrunch, and Noelle’s face didn’t even twitch. Both women looked away in the same second. They know.

The rest of the ship’s crew were even less subtle about their attention. She felt the heat of their gazes, vaguely, like the flying lasers she ignored while cutting through colonies set ablaze. Their tittering was like flies fucking on her shoe. Annoying to know about, but irrelevant.

The Elites though, they were different. Kai wondered briefly, fantasized, really, what would happen if she told them the truth. I didn’t kidnap her. I didn’t imprison her. I did, but I did it to save her. She’s unharmed. She’s protected. It’s not what you think. And just like every fantasy about What if I didn’t have to play a role, it dissolved like the flash-frozen fruit on her tongue. She blinked, and in the millisecond of darkness behind her eyelids she saw the eight of them in a circle, swords held ready, Handler snapping his fingers. The smoothness of her blade drawing across a woman’s neck. Staring into the leaking eyes of a man, half his long, flowing hair sliced off in the same cut that slit his throat. The children wailing in the center of the circle, faces caked in dirt and snot and blood.

No… wait. That wasn’t it.

They didn’t kill the parents and make the children watch. They killed the children and made the parents watch.

Like one of those orchestras Blondie used to take her to. Eight bows drawn in unison across tigergut strings. Eight swords sliding across baby-soft throats. Eight machine-people, united in the music, the harmony, the terrible elegance of the moment.

And now… Kai sat alone at an empty table in the mess hall.

All because of one rebel brat.

She was no different from the others Kai had slaughtered, so why was she treating her differently? Should have just killed her when Kai had the chance. Should still kill her, really. They’d understand that. If the Elites were watching out the windows while Kai spaced the body, they might even come to her first, silently acknowledge that she’d done the right thing. They might sit with her to eat again.

…Ah. That was just another fantasy.

Kai ate her lunch.

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