Happy Tuesday, and thank you for tuning in again.
Please allow me to present to you the ninth teaser for Seeds, Book One of The Heterogen Chronicles, scheduled for publication January 2016.
For this particular teaser, here is some context. This is the next scene after the previous teaser, in which Anax has agreed to taking a bath with Frost’s assistance in a little pool kept private from the rest of their camp by a rock formation. Anax and Frost have a talk through which we learn a bit more about the relationship between humans and heterogens, the society they inhabit, and gain further insight into Anax’ character…
From Act Two, Part One of the novel, this is Scene 14…
[PLEASE NOTE: Seeds is intended for a mature audience.]
Unwinding His Braids
Anax takes a long drag from his cigarette, leaning back in the pool, elbows resting on the grassy bank.
“I’m going to unwind these braids, if that’s fine with you, Sugar,” Frost says, her fingers already working his hair loose.
“Follow your bliss.”
“So what are those?” she asks and briefly touches the two chains he wears around his neck. One is gold and holds a small card with odd symbols on its face, the other silver and looped through the large circular bow of a key with a wide bit shaped like a broken tooth.
“The card is my identification,” he informs her. “And for making charges against my account. The key is a Master Key to our Manor.”
“What account?” she asks.
“It is how we purchase goods and services. Credits are made to your account and you use the card to charge against it.”
“How does your account get credited?”
“It was credited by my stepfather,” he says.
“Yes, he’s dead.”
“From the Czerko attack? When you were returning home from Mordedt Manor?”
“I thought you would have already known all that,” he says and glances back at her.
“You’re rather perceptive, Sugar. Indeed, I know your stepfather Leondt was killed. So who credits your account now?”
“And what is her name?” she asks, casually unwinding his braids.
“Erra,” he tells her flatly.
“You don’t like her?”
“I’d rather not talk about it,” he says and takes another long drag off his cigarette.
“Then tell me about the key.”
“The Masters of all Manors have Master Keys.”
“What makes it a Master Key?”
“It opens every lock on our property, and only Leondt had one.”
“Then how did you get yours?”
“I don’t want to discuss that, either.”
“All right, Sugar. Then tell me what happened here,” she requests in her melodic voice, lightly bringing a hand to the bruised streaks across the pale flesh of his back. He feels no pain at her touch, but rather a pleasant tingling. “These bruises so ruin your pretty white skin, Sugar.”
He hesitates, taking a drag from his cigarette, then says, “That was also from the Czerko attack. I was thrown from my hexequine and had a rough landing.”
Frost looks at him sideways as she unwinds the last of his braids, then cups a little water in her hands and pours it over his hair.
“So what can we talk about, Sugar?”
“Well,” he says, “I must admit that I find this whole situation rather odd. And I must wonder if it wasn’t planned for us to leave Kaliber the way we did, slating us all as Outlaws now.”
“Is that what you consider us, Sugar, just a bunch of Outlaws?” She takes up the soap and works a rich lather into his hair. Gently massages his scalp with her strong fingers.
“You all operate outside the Law, which by definition makes you Outlaws. And I am one now, too.”
“Is it so bad to work outside the Law, if the Law is unjust?” Frost washes the mud from his hair, carefully pulling it off individual strands.
“The Law is still the Law,” he says, draws in a deep breath of smoke.
“Even if it is to do no more than protect Petty interests?” she asks, starting to rinse his hair.
“Seems we all have interests to protect.”
“I also must say,” he tells her, “that you all are rather different than any other heterogens I’ve ever known.”
“How is that, Sugar?”
“To begin with, you’re quite bold.”
“How so?” Frost asks.
“Calling me ‘Sugar’ for one thing.”
“Meaning there is more,” she says.
“Yes,” he agrees.
“Well, Leaves certainly likes getting up very close.”
He looks at the fine white fur on her forearms. “You have no mark, like Brass when that thing fell off his arm this morning.”
“You mean his mock. That is what we call them, a fake mark we wear in the Cities to fool the Forks.”
“How is it neither of you have a mark? The Scientists brand all heterogens with their mark before they are released from the Institutions.”
“You need to check your memory, Sugar,” she tells him. “At lunch you learned that Leaves and I are not from Institutions. We were born liberated and never subject to the slicing of the Scissors.”
“Then what about Brass? He was at Farther Island with Shade.” He inhales a large puff of smoke and blows it out in a great plume from his mouth, high into the air.
“Storm relieved him of that burden.”
“You mean,” Anax begins his question, pauses for more smoke, then continues, “that Storm is capable of removing marks?”
“Among other things.” She rinses the last suds from his hair.
“That is rather curious,” Anax says.
“Curious about anything else?” Frost asks, fluttering her long eyelashes in the slowly fading light of early evening.
“Yes, I am,” he says. “I’m curious why you are so friendly. And why the four of you are here as our Shields. What is there about some human out hunting for Czerko that is of any interest to a bunch of heterogens?”
“It seems you will have a lot to discuss with Storm once we get home.”
“Indeed.” Anax glances at his ring.
“Your hair is nice and clean now,” Frost informs him. “Anything else you’d like washed, Sugar?” She looks down his chest and stomach then lifts her eyes back up to meet his.
“I think I’ll take it from here.”
“What about your clothes?” she asks. “Looks like they got rather soiled.”
“If you’d like to wash them I imagine you will,” he says, inhales more smoke.
Frost laughs and brings his pile of clothing to the edge of the bank. She takes out his tobacco pouch, sets it aside. “Anything else in here?”
“No, that was all,” Anax answers. He watches as she stretches forward, dunking each item into the clear water, soaping and scrubbing, rinsing and ringing. Her tunic and breeches hold tight to her lean body and he finds his eyes drawn to her round bottom, curved like a ripe plum, her slender tail casually sweeping back and forth.
Once she has washed his clothes and rinsed his boots she says, “We can hang these up to dry by the fire overnight. Anything else you’d like me to wash?” She is reclining on her stomach now, propped up on her elbows.
“No, I’ll take it from here,” he says.
“Are you sure, Sugar? I told you I don’t bite.”
“Right, you butt.”
“What?” she asks.
“What does that mean?”
“That was what we were taught as children, about heterogens,” he answers. “Goats butt, dogs bite, and cats claw.”
“So is that what you think, that we are all just animals butting and biting and clawing around?”
“You need to check your ears. I said that is what we were taught, not what I think.”
“What else did they teach you?”
“That heterogens are incapable of the same thoughts and feelings as humans. And were made to fill their lot as servants.”
“And what do you think now?”
“That I have a lot more to think about,” he says, takes a long drag from his cigarette, shoots the smoke from his nostrils. “Brass said he would get me a robe after bathing.”
Frost smiles at him and asks, “You don’t want to spend the night naked?”
Anax just looks at her, smoke still lingering around his face.
“Not even if you had someone to keep you warm?” She puts a single finger to his chest, touching his skin through the loop of his key, and he feels a quick tingle ripple down his torso, culminating in his genitals.
“I’ll take the robe, for now,” he replies, looking up from her finger to her emerald eyes.
“Then I’ll be right back,” she says and is suddenly standing.
But I didn’t see her move, Anax thinks as he watches her walk around the tall rocks, his eyes drawn again to her swinging tail and round little bottom. He picks up the soap and is barely finished washing his arms when she returns.
“Here you go, Sugar.” She stands holding the robe open for him. “Sure you don’t want any help finishing your bath?”
“No, thank you,” he says. “You can just set that robe down.”
“Of course, Sugar. If you change your mind, I’ll be up here.” Frost lays the robe down on the bank and with a quick hop is on top of the tall rocks. She turns away from him, holding her splitter in one hand, seeming to watch the activity of the others.
Anax finds his eyes lingering on the curve of her back, then blinks and shakes his head. He washes his face and under his arms, stands and soaps up his lean chest and stomach, thighs and calves and feet. Looking up to make sure Frost is not watching he washes his penis and bottom, then quickly rinses the suds away. After placing one towel on the bank to stand on, he dries himself with the second. He finds the robe to fit exceptionally well, as though tailored just for him. Anax goes for his cane, but hesitates.
He looks up at Frost, her back still to him, tail casually sweeping from side to side. Rather than retrieving the cane, he lodges his left foot beneath it and sends it into the river with an audible splash.
“Oh no,” he cries loudly. “My cane!”
Please stay tuned for more teasers…
Ciao, for now, Stephen~