Happy Tuesday, and thank you for tuning in again.
Please allow me to present to you the third teaser for Seeds, Book One of The Heterogen Chronicles, scheduled for publication January 2016.
For this particular teaser, here is some context. This scene comes after Shade, our primary focalizer of the three main characters, for this novel, has arrived in the City of Kaliber, intending to spend a bit of time drinking before meeting with his Master, Anax, and fellow servant, Savina. Here, Shade coincidentally runs into Brass…or perhaps not so much by chance…an old friend who he grew up with at an Institution (the places where heterogens are bred and raised into a life of servitude) called Farther Island. Brass joins him for a drink…and I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.
From Act One, Part Two of the novel, this is Scene 7…
[PLEASE NOTE: Seeds is intended for a mature audience.]
A Little Time To Spare
Shade arrives at the doors of the Neolisk Lounge with the better part of an hour to spare. As he places the pocket watch back into his vest, someone bumps into him, another heterogen, made immediately obvious by the drawn hood.
“All apologies, my friend,” the other says in a voice so deep it seems to rumble up from the bottom of a great kettle.
“And to you,” Shade mutters, moves toward the door. Wanting only to have a drink, or three, before reporting to Anax. Yet this stranger’s voice is, somehow, so very familiar.
“Wait.” The cloaked figure puts a gloved hand on Shade’s arm. Speaks more quietly. “You won’t find Nails in there.”
“Nails,” he says. “You are a friend of Nails.”
“How would you know?” Shade tries to see some semblance of facial features within the other’s hood, but there is too much shadow.
“Because I am, as well, and a friend of yours.”
Full recognition overtakes Shade. “1396725!” he exclaims, compelled to give his old friend a firm slap on the shoulder, but he resists. Two Enforcers flank the entrance to the Lounge.
“The one and only,” he says in his deep voice. Shade can now make out the form of a smile within the darkness of the hood. “So, what brings you to the Neolisk, 2396847?”
Shade glances at the Enforcers. “I am to meet my Master, and his Escort.”
“I take it by your dress that you are his Shield?”
“Indeed…but I have a little spare time. Care to join me for a drink?”
“Of course.” He opens the door for them.
The Enforcers keep their heads straight, but Shade senses them watching as he enters the Lounge.
Inside is a long room with a low ceiling supported by fat wooden beams, heavy with smoke. The scent of cheap wine, sweat, decay. Every table appears occupied, even if the seats are empty. There is too much noise from all the voices and goblets. Loud music hits Shade’s ears like the painful grind of improperly maintained machinery.
They walk to the bar at the far end, shaped like an L. There is an opening in the wall beside it with a curtain for a door.
As they approach the bar, Shade reaches into his vest, produces his empty wine bottle. Before he can set it down the bartender rushes up. He is a big burly one, this human, with a bit of stubble over his head and chin, one eye mostly closed. The scent of boiled sausages and cabbage that have set out too long.
“What are ye doin’ here?” he demands.
Shade produces his Letter of Introduction and presents it. The bartender looks the document over, only briefly before tossing it down on the bar.
“Unaccompanied heters in the back,” he squawks, motions at the curtain with a hefty thumb. “Refill’s only after I scans yer mark.”
Shade puts the Letter back in his vest, leaves the empty bottle on the bar, pulls up his sleeve. Once the bartender is satisfied with the beeps of his scanner, he says, “One refill until I gets further authorization from yer Master.” He grabs the bottle, fills and corks it. Slams it down on the bar.
Shade pulls his sleeve back down, looks silently at the bartender, who opens his mouth as though to speak, then turns, grabs two empty goblets, pushes them across the bar.
“Thank you, sir,” Shade says. He politely retrieves his wine bottle, contemplates how it may look smashing down on the bartender’s head. But then he could not drink the wine. He takes the goblets.
As they approach the curtain to the back room, both take note of the Enforcers stationed nearby. Too many Forks.
The room is small and has two long tables, each with a pair of benches and enough seating for a dozen. They are the only ones there.
“Take your pick.”
“So many choices,” Shade says flatly and selects the table farthest from the entrance. He uncorks his bottle, fills their goblets. “Master’s treat,” he jests.
“Isn’t it all? Now, let’s get past our Institution numbers. Baritone Brass, at your service.” He pulls down his hood and gives Shade a wink. Brass is a Capris, his soft eyes the same chestnut brown as his trim fur. A single streak of white runs down his short snout like a dagger, and he sports a little beard on his chin. He has a pair of, thick, curled horns and modest ears. The scent of a forest on a dry, crisp Autumn day.
“And I am now called Shade. Summer Shade.” He removes his hood as well, and gloves, as is generally tolerated, though not officially legislated, in these segregated spaces.
They sit together, both on the same side of the table, facing the doorway. Shade takes a deep drink from his goblet.
“So, to which Manor are you in service?”
“Xalek Manor,” Shade answers. “And yourself?”
Brass raises the goblet to his mouth and speaks quietly. “None.”
Shade follows suit. “Then what do you do?”
“Nothing we should speak of here, with a Fork around every corner, but we can talk more, if you are interested.”
“And why would I be interested?” Shade asks with the eyes of a seasoned card player.
Brass sets his goblet down, very gently. In a flash he grabs Shade’s wrist in one hand, roughly pulling up his sleeve with the other. He pushes his index finger into Shade’s mark. “That’s why.”
Please stay tuned for more teasers…
Ciao, for now, Stephen~