Welcome to Stosie Prime

Because I’m a sucker for punishment, I’m posting another rough draft  of a chapter from the upcoming Girls From Alcyone IV: Embers of Alcyone. Did I mention this is from the rough, working draft?

Like all my draft scenes and chapters, things may change or be eliminated all together. Names may change…or may have even been intentionally altered to disguise certain revelations. But even saying that, I’m saying too much.

I hope you enjoy it.

Embers of Alcyone (working title)

Chapter X: Stosie Prime

(working draft scene)

copyright 2017 by Cary Caffrey

 

June 9, 2355

Kolchis City, Stosie Prime. Unclaimed Space.

He was being followed.

It took all of Riku’s wits to keep his pace even and steady. He didn’t dare run or bolt—which was precisely what his wits were telling him to do now. More than two years had passed since he’d felt that familiar tingling at the base of his spine. Two years since he’d dared to think himself safe, or that his enemies had given him up for dead.

He should have known better. He was a fool and he knew it. But fool or not, that tingling—the unmistakable tightening of the muscles—was back.

Cursing, he did his best to navigate the crowded street. His eyes darted back and forth between each of the passersby, the narrow alleyways, people lurking under neon-lit awnings. They were a miserable lot. Perhaps even more miserable than he was. Soaked and sullen, their worn shoes sloshed through the deep puddles. Shoulder to shoulder, they slogged along, jostling each other as they did their best to make their ways, all of them wanting to be left alone, just as he wanted. Though in Riku’s case that was no longer possible.

They’d found him.

Pushing through the crowd, Riku kept waiting for one of them to reach out and grab him and haul him down. Or worse, kill him outright. But of course, none of them did. They didn’t even bother to look up., didn’t seem to notice him at all. To a woman and man, they kept their hands thrust deep into their frayed pockets, their heads down, their collars turned up, as if that might help protect them from the heavy rains that pummeled each and every one of them.

The narrow alleys of the barrio acted as a cattle chute, pushing the mob of pedestrians even closer together, and closer to the walls of the stacks of shanties. Water streamed down, pouring over the ledges of the sheetmetal rooftops soaking Riku as he sidestepped a heavyset man. This did, however, grant him the opportunity to flash a glance behind him.

Riku spotted what he needed: the man in the grey canvas coat. It was the same man he’d seen in the Tubeway as he’d left the train. But this time he wasn’t alone. There was a woman at his side. She was definitely with him. No question. And they were both looking his way.

Not just looking, Riku realized. They were coming for him.

There wasn’t any point in pretending any longer. They’d seen him, just has he’d seen them. Turning, Riku ran, shoving his way through the crowd. Angered pedestrians pushed back at him as he tried to shove them aside. He heard a woman shout, and then a man as he reached for him. Riku shrugged off his grip, then ducked the blow as a fist came toward him. As much as the tussle slowed him, at least it was slowing his pursuers, as well.

The pedestrianway was no good, too crowded. Riku made for the street, darting and weaving between the crawling ground traffic. Cars, hovering on their repulsors skidded, breaking, honking their anger. A young woman risked the soaking rains to stick her head out her window long enough to favor Riku with a few choice epithets. She waved a middle finger before moving on.

Crossing the thoroughfare, Riku ducked low, doing his best to disappear into the crowd of pedestrians on the other side. Practically on all fours now, he scurried behind the stall of a vegetable vendor, darting for the dark opening of the alley to his right. The alley was filled with refuse and waste—human, judging by the smell—but at least he was clear of the rabble behind him.

Riku ran. Not for freedom—he’d given up any notions of freedom long, long ago—but to the one place he knew he had to go. Home.

He didn’t doubt that his pursuers would follow. If they’d found him here in the markets then it was just as likely that they knew where he lived. But that didn’t matter. He had to make certain she was all right. It was his fault she was here in the first place. If not for him, she’d still be on Earth in that factory. A slave, perhaps, but a safe slave, fed and clothed.

If anything happened to her…

Four blocks. Around the corner. Up the rusted fire escape. Through the open window. No lights. That was good. Reya was smart. She knew better than turn the lights on at night. With luck, she was inside and waiting for him. She might even be asleep. Yes, of course she was. She would be there waiting for him. He’d wake her. They’d pack what they could carry. And then they would run. They were used to running. They were good at it.

Riku practically rolled over the open windowsill to collapse in a dripping heap on the cracked plastic floor of their meager rooming apartment. Lying on his back, breathing in lungfuls of air, he called out.

“Reya!”

Three lights flicked on—handheld torches. The beams were blindingly bright and focused. They shone down on him.

Rolling onto his knees, Riku reached for the small hideout pistol in his pocket—only to feel the sharp crack of a steel-toed boot smack against his chin. The blow was enough to lift him from his feet and send him tumbling backwards. Hands were on him, pummeling him, driving him down. He wasn’t even aware of the small pistol being yanked from his grasp.

“Enough!” A low voice from the dark.

Panting, Riku lifted his hand, doing his best to shield his eyes against the glare of the lights. Bloodied and bruised, he was only vaguely aware of the footfalls; a man walking toward him.

Wiping the blood from his mouth, Riku looked up. The man stepped in front of the others, blotting out the lights they held. Riku saw him in a dark silhouette. It took all his strength to focus. He expected to see the man who’d tailed him from the train, but this was someone else, though who it was, he had no idea.

Whoever he was, he was young. Younger than Riku. And tall. Riku saw he was easily nearing seven feet. As impressive as his towering height was, that wasn’t what struck Riku. It was his eyes. The irises were milky white. And his skin… Riku gave a gasp. His flesh was pale, ghostly white, like porcelain or fine paper. Staring at him, Riku knew this man, this creature, was anything but delicate. As white as those eyes were, there was a fierceness to them. Those eyes had seen things, and what they had glimpsed was the stuff of nightmares.

“Who—who are you?”

Ignoring the question, the creature reached behind him. He grabbed Riku by his collar and hauled him up until his feet left the floor.

“Where is she?” The voice was a low, rasping purr, like someone not used to speaking aloud. “Tells us.”

Riku blinked his confusion. Where…? Then the realization set in. If they had to ask, then they didn’t have her yet. Reya was still free, and he would tell them nothing.

“I won’t ask you again,” the creature said. “Where?

“She has nothing to do with this. Leave her be.”

The creature tilted his head. Like a dog sniffing its prey, he bent his head closer. “Reya?”

“That must be the girl’s name,” another voice said—it was a woman’s voice. Riku craned his neck and glimpsed her. Nearly as tall as the thing that held him—her skin just as pale, her eyes just as milky white. She swung the light she held, illuminating the corner of the room.

Huddled in shadows, bound and gagged, was a young woman. Terrified eyes glanced up at him.

Reya!

“Let her go. She hasn’t done anything—ughh—

The blow caught him hard, slamming into his shoulder and driving him to his knees. Riku heard the brack as his clavicle shattered. The blow felt like it had been delivered with all the mechanical might of a jackhammer. And the pain…it was like nothing he’d felt before.

The creature reached down and took hold of his chin, tilting his head upright. He pointed to the girl in the corner. “Whether she dies or walks out of here is entirely up to you.”

Cursing his frightened whimpering, Riku did his best to hold himself together, not to panic. He was alive. Reya was alive. Where there was life there was still a chance. His eyes darted from figure to figure. There were three of them in. The man holding him and two women. They were all dressed in the same black fatigues.

“I know who you are,” Riku croaked through choking coughs, spitting out blood. “I know you. You’re Andraste. You’re from Alcyone.”

The fist smashed down again, beating him all the way to the floor. Riku was only vaguely aware of Reya’s terrified screams from the corner.

“No,” the creature said. “We are not from Alcyone.”

“Then…then who are you?” With one of his eyes swollen shut, Riku did his best to glance up. Staring at the creature holding him, another more pressing question occurred to him. “What are you?”

“Your salvation,” the creature answered.

“What do you want?”

“With you? Nothing. It is your sister we are interested in.”

“Suko?”

For the first time in what felt like years, Riku Tansho permitted himself a smile. It was small, only the corners of his mouth turning up. He even chuckled, though that merely caused him to wince in pain from his broken bones.

“Suko? If you’re looking for Suko,” Riku said defiantly, his bloody teeth gleaming crimson in the light of the held torches, “then I hope you find her. I really do. She eats little vermin like you for breakfast. And what she doesn’t finish, she’ll feed to her bitch. They’ll pick their teeth with your bones.”

The fist cuffed him hard across the jaw. The only thing that kept him upright was the hand that grasped his throat.

“Not Suko,” the creature purred.  “Hanako. We want your sister Hanako. Hanako Tansho.”

100k Is Messing With My Head!

Perhaps a testament to my laziness, I finally sat down and tallied up some sales numbers (first time in a year). What I found (106k books?) has left me a little dumbstruck (Confounded? Nonplused? Speechless?). I mean, I knew this number was coming up, and I know it’s totally small potatoes in the grand scheme of things; many other indie-authors have achieved far, far greater numbers. Still, it’s kind of messed me up. It’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, like I know that at any moment that ‘person-of-authority’ will come up and tap me on the shoulder and say, “Just kidding. It wasn’t you, it was that other guy.”

Imposter syndrome aside, one thing is 100% clear: I owe you guys (you know who you are – readers, reviewers, friends, authors and allies) a really, really big THANK YOU!

So, yes, thank you! I really mean that. Thank you for slapping down your money. Thank you for taking a chance, and thank you for taking the time to read all my nonsense.

I promise there’s more to come. Lots and lots. And sooner than later. Sigrid Novak has many journeys and adventures to come.

Katayoun (draft scene from TGfA IV)

I’ve been silent on all things TGfA the past few months (no secret there), but I thought it was time to break that silence. Rather than tell you what I’ve been up to, or what might be in store for Sigrid and Suko, I thought it might be fun to start posting some scenes from the rough draft.

This scene introduces a potential new character in Katayoun (Kat for short). Whether or not Kat survives the editing and rewriting process is anyone’s guess, but here she is!

NOTE: This excerpt is raw, rough and unedited, and certain to be filled with plenty of errors. Read at your own peril.

Embers of Alcyone (working title)

Chapter X: Katayoun

copyright 2016 & 2017 by Cary Caffrey

“Ah! Look who it is,” the girl named Miriam said. She was eighteen and the oldest of initiates, something she made certain none of the girls ever forgot. “We were just starting to wonder. We thought we’d have to start without you.”

Out of breath, flushed and sweating from having to run all the way from the training area by the beach, Katayoun Bahrami came skidding and sliding around the corner of the billet. Still dripping from her twenty kilometer swim, she left puddles along the bamboo flooring; puddles she needed to mop up before the night’s assignments were dispensed, else there would be hell to pay.

“Forget something?” another girl asked. The girl looked her up and down before tossing a crumpled garment at her.

Katayoun caught the small article of clothing in her left hand, letting it hang from the tip of her finger. It was her bathing suit; identical in every way to the suits most of the other girls wore on their marathon swims. Kat tossed it back. Inwardly, she rolled her eyes. She, of course, wasn’t wearing one, just the towel she wore wrapped around herself. She never wore the suit. There was no shame in that, of course. And, their headmistress never wore one either, so why should she?

Let them have their five minutes of fun. Five minutes, and it would all be over. Five more minutes of snickering and torture, and then she could shut them up for good.

Kat folded her arms, waiting for the onslaught.

“She thinks she’s Lady Novak,” one said.

“As if,” said another.

“Nobody likes a suck-up, Kat.”

“And don’t you get cold?” another girl asked. “The water’s freezing this time of night!”

“She looks cold,” a girl behind her said. “Kat, you’re turning blue.”

In fact, she was cold, standing there, fresh from the ocean, dipping wet with sea water, her hair plastered to her back—not that she’d ever admit this to any of them. But the cold water never seemed to stop their headmistress from swimming each and every day and night. Twenty kilometers. Rain or shine. If it didn’t stop her it wasn’t going to stop Kat either.

“I don’t get cold,” Kat lied.

She might not feel the cold,” Miriam said, “but we do.”

Miriam was referring of course to their headmistress, the Lady Sigrid Novak. Upgraded by a decade of complete genetic restructuring, augmented by a dizzying array of bionic enhancements, women like her mistress would never feel cold from something as benign as the ocean waters of New Alcyone, or the wilting heat from the midday sun when Pegasi was at its zenith. But, of course, Kat had only just begun her treatments, and was years behind the other girls around her; something Miriam wasn’t about to let her forget.

Miriam was circling her now, studying her. Kat thought she looked quite pleased with herself too. “You’re not fully Activated yet, Kat. Not until you graduate. If you even graduate at all.”

Kat chewed firmly on the inside of her mouth—anything to keep herself from arguing back. How many years had she lived with these same girls in this billet? Four—five years? Long enough to have learned her lesson.

Ignoring the snickers and stares from the other girls, she pushed through the group surrounding her, moving to her bunk. She dressed quickly, pulling on the black one piece uniform that was standard dress for all the girls.

Well, not quite standard. If her uniform happened to sport two scarlet slashes across the arms and shoulders—the standard markings of the Kimuran mercenaries—well, that was just coincidence as well.

Let them have their laughs. It didn’t bother her. Not really. Kat had other things on her mind.

She pulled on her boots, not bothering to lace them up and headed out into the night.

In her haste to get away she hadn’t bothered to dry her hair and she shivered in the cool night air. The command and communication center wasn’t far off. Nothing was far from anything on their small island home, just up a sandy trail, not more than four hundred meters. The trail took her through the cluster of habitats; rows of small wooden structures propped up on stilts above the sandy ground, with peaked tiled roofs.

The C&C was atop a small rise. She entered, finding herself in the small darkened room. She was glad to be here, glad to be away from the snickering of her billet-mates. Gladder still they let her come, watch and observe. Mercenaries and technicians sat in silence at their consoles, intent on their duties. It was their task to monitor the surrounding space, keeping in touch with the handful of ships charged with patrolling in orbit above New Alcyone, always watchful, always vigilant.

There had been a time when their small colony had been safe, its location hidden from the rest of the federation. But all that had changed years ago. Everything had changed after Procyon, and not for the better. Now, one ever knew what might emerge from the warp relay, that spindly halo-like construct parked in orbit some 35,000 kilometers overhead. It was their gateway to the galaxy. But for others, it was also the way in.

Mostly, the only thing to emerge in their space were the transport ships, vessels friendly to the Kimuran mercenary group, vessels laden with life-sustaining supplies.

Mostly.

Kat took her familiar place, standing to the back of the command center on the small raised platform. She didn’t have any official duties here. Mostly, she just wanted to get away from the other girls, but she was also fascinated by the Kimuran soldiers. They were so professional, so dedicated to their matriarch.

At least, this group was.

Kat had heard the stories. There had been a time—before she’d ever been brought here—where five times the number of mercenaries had lived here. Back then, their ranks had numbered in the tens of thousands, with fleets of ships parked in orbit. But that was before Procyon. That was before the Night Witch.

Kat shivered. Four thousand Kimuran marines lost. All of them killed by…

No. Kat refused to believe that. Her mistress hadn’t killed those women and men. She couldn’t have. It wasn’t possible. It was the Independents. But of course, not all of the Kimurans agreed.

Procyon had torn everything in half, ripped their alliances apart. Now, fewer than two full companies of mercenaries remained here, and New Alcyone’s once grand fleet of more than one hundred frontline ships was reduced to a mere seventeen. Most of those weren’t much more than converted freighters and scout-chasers. But their crews, the women and men who’d stayed behind to serve Lady Hitomi Kimura, their loyalty to her, to their home, it was absolute.

And so was Kat’s. Oh, Kat knew what they called her. Her mistress might be the Night Witch, but she had saved Kat from…

Kat shuddered, quickly pushing the memory aside. That was the past. She was here now. She was free. And she would serve her till the day she died.

Red lights flashed on the forward monitor, and Kat looked up. Relay traffic. Incoming. Somewhere above her, high up in orbit, a ship had emerged from warp space, right here in their system.

Kat had to stop herself from rushing to the monitor. That wasn’t her place. The duty officer knew what she was doing. Kat observed her practiced grace as her fingers brushed the smooth surface of her console, tapping various switches, scanning the streams of incoming data. Her demeanor never wavered, still the calm, cool professional.

Unlike Kat’s.

“Is it a ship? Are we being invaded?” Kat blurted, unable to bite her tongue any longer. She cringed as she heard her voice crack at the question—like some bloody cadet, jumping out of her boots at hearing her first alarm.

The duty officer, swiveled around in her chair, turning to face her. Kat saw the grin on her face—and the small data module she held in her outstretched hand.

“It’s only a courier, kid. Message coming through the relay.”

Inwardly, Kat cursed. Invasion? Phhtt. It was just a bloody courier, the small drone ships used for carrying message traffic through the system of warp relays, and Kat had reacted as if the Visigoths were charging over the hillside.

The officer must have seen the look on her face, the embarrassment at her outburst. The officer leaned forward, placing the data module into her hand. Then, she added with a wink. “But…it is marked urgent. Gor her eyes only. Perhaps you might deliver this to your mistress. Personally.”

Kat closed her fingers slowly over the small module. Whatever message the drone had brought with it, she now held that message in her hand. And she was to deliver it to…

“You—you want me to take this to—to her? To Lady Novak?”

The duty officer’s grin widened to a smile. “To Lady Hitomi actually.”

Kat blanched at hearing the name. “To—to Lady Hitomi? Me?”

The officer nodded. “Mm-hmm. Unless you prefer I send for her personal—”

Kat snatched the module from her outstretched hand. “No! No, I’ll take it. I’ll take it right now.” Yet for some reason Kat’s feet refused to cooperate. To see Lady Hitomi, their matriarch, in person…

The duty officer gave her a gentle nudge toward the door. “I wouldn’t keep her waiting. Not if I were you.”

The Audible Witch

The Girls from Alcyone III, Codename Night Witch has arrived on Audible. (want to find out how to get a free copy? Read on!)

To celebrate the release of Night Witch I am giving away Twenty copies of the Audible audiobooks (five copies of The Girls from Alcyone, five of The Machines of Bellatrix and ten copies of Codename: Night Witch.

To be eligible to get one, all you have to do is leave a comment below and let me know which book you would like. All I ask in return is that you post a short review on Audible. I ask this because reviews are gold for us Indie Authors (they really are).

That’s it! That’s all!

Cheers to all of you, for your support, and thanks as always stopping by.

Cary

Audible Machines

It’s official. Today the audiobook version of The Machines of Bellatrix went live on Audible and Amazon. Just like with book one, the production and voicing of ‘Machines’ is being handled by the lovely and talented Kristin KJ James — who in my mind has become Sigrid Novak. I can’t wait for you guys to hear her work. You can check out a sample here if you haven’t already had a chance to catch any of it.

POSTSCRIPT: Work on the audiobook version of book three, Codename: Night Witch, has all but wrapped. Expect more news on this and its release soon!

Cheers,

Cary

THE GIRLS FROM AUDIBLE!

THE GIRLS FROM ALCYONE ARRIVES ON AUDIBLE.COM & iTunes!

Some of you know this already, but for those that don’t, the entire Alcyone series is being produced for Audible and iTunes. Work turning books one and two into audiobooks is  done! The Girls from Alcyone launched last week. It’s available right now on Audible, Amazon & iTunes. Machines From Bellatrix will be released in a few weeks, with Codename: Night witch following soon after.

Production for the entire series is being handled by the amazingly talented Kristin ‘KJ’ James. She’s done (and she’s continuing to do!) a wonderful job performing everything, and I can’t wait for you to hear what she’s done.
This has been a thoroughly exciting experience for me. Getting to hear someone else interpret the books and the characters, bringing them fully to life, has been awesome.
It’s been a blast putting these together. I hope you enjoy them too!
Cheers!

The Girls from Audible

As Bernie would say, huge day today. Huge! Why? Because we just signed off on the completed production of the audiobook for The Girls from Alcyone. And…on the very same day we completed production for book two The Machines of Bellatrix.

That’s right. The audiobooks for books one and two are done, and we’ll be starting production on Codename: Night Witch right away.

Production for the entire series is being handled by the talented Kristin James (KJ the Voice Actor). It’s been a real pleasure to work with Kristin. She’s done an amazing job performing both books (this is definitely a performance, not a reading), and I can’t wait for her to start the third. Truth be told, I’m even more excited for her to get to work on Book IV (The Children of Karakoram? Rangers of Alcyone? Not sure yet. Gotta’ finish it first).

The Girls from Alcyone launches first in a couple of weeks, with two and three launching soon after. All three will be available on Audible.com, Amazon and iTunes. More news to come.

Audio Comes Alive!

While work is progressing on TGfA IV (tentatively titled Rangers of Alcyone, or who knows, maybe The Children of Karakoram – that just came to me last night), I thought I’d take a moment to shine the light on something new and (to me, at least) totally exciting we’ve got in the works. Yes, we’re producing the entire Girls from Alcyone series as audiobooks!

SIG SOLO WEB

The production is being handled by an amazing and talented voice actor and producer Kristin ‘KJ’ James. Listening to her work has been giving me chills. She’s doing an incredible job delivering a performance that feels more like a one-person radio play, than some dull, dry reading.

The first of the series, The Girls from Alcyone, is nearly in the can, and we’re getting ready to dive into The Machines of Bellatrix.

I’ll have much more news on this soon – release dates, and what have you.

 

Codename: Night Witch

I seriously need to thank everyone who picked up a copy of Codename: Night Witch (thank you!). Two years was an awful long time to make you wait, so I couldn’t be more grateful to you for (remembering Sigrid) and for taking the time to grab a copy – and for reading it.

And, thanks to all of you, Night Witch is now the fastest selling TGfA book yet. It’s been an insane opening two weeks. The launch has gone well beyond my hopes or expectations. Night Witch hit several of the top ten best seller lists across Amazon, not to mention hitting No. 1 on charts for “Hot New Releases” in SciFi/Dystopian.
And it’s all because of you!

I’m especially grateful for those of you who posted reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Those stars mean a whole hell of a lot to us Indie writers (they’re pretty much our front line marketing tools).

So cheers to you! You’re the absolute best.