Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Snippet from work in progress The Breath Between Stars

This week on SFF Seven, we're offering snippets of whatever we're working on. And as usual, I'm working on a story, and I love it and loathe it at the same time, and I am trying to make it good, but it's not always cooperative. And I hope sort of desperately that someday someone reads it and likes it, but I have no confidence of that ever happening. 

My WIP features a badass semi-retired Mary Poppins in space. It's called The Breath Between Stars, and this is the first of my favorite moments so far.

Hestia didn’t turn. Smoke burled through the recycled air. She had been scanned for weapons before boarding, of course, but she was not unarmed. 

She stilled herself, hands at her sides, weighted skirts brushing the metal deck.

Closing her eyes, she amplified her aural implants, searching for breaths, fingers on weapons, boots on a floor, tumblers being set down, knives unsheathing, any sound that would tell her who among the people in this room were her enemies, and where they sat. She liked to think of it as reading a room. Much like reading a book or reading the stars, assessing the threat in a given space simply took a bit of mental flex.

Blade was still sitting at the back table where she’d left him. The chair springs creaked beneath his fussily clad ass. He was getting to his feet.

The barman clinked a glass. He said nothing, but Hestia was sure he’d ducked behind the long fake-ivory bar for protection. Or maybe to fetch a weapon? Or to send a System alert? She counted off the other pub patrons and covertly accessed the handheld control disc in one pocket of her armored, voluminous skirts, pairing the Damsel’s remote pilot with her gloves.

“All right, if you insist,” she murmured.

With a gloved thumb she drew a shape on the control disc, and three things happened. 

One, her boots magnetized, securing her to the deck plates. 

Two, her adorable peacock-feather fascinator elongated, forming a pressurized, oxygen-filled helm about her coiffed head. 

And three, the station stopped spinning.

Which meant gravity stopped.

Which meant drinks, snacks, expletives, and other far less savory items were flung into the piped-in and pressurized air, messing the cramped space and colliding with all those self-important mercenaries. One of their bitty guns went off, with predictable results. In null gravity, the bullet and the shooter spurted in opposite directions and both with some force, though not enough to injure the shooter. Shouted accusations of clumsiness won out over the mad search for any pricks in the space station’s skin. It was all glorious chaos, if you liked that sort of thing.

As Hestia so did.

“As you can see, Mr. Bly,” she said calmly amid the panic, “my starship has overridden the gravity controls. You may indeed own this module, but you currently have no control over the station core. I do. Open the blast door, or I shall demonstrate the reasons why one should never underestimate a lady with pockets.”