Today's post highlights two of the secondary characters from my Science Fiction Adventure WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM. Readers have been intrigued with Khevan, a member of the D’nvannae Brotherhood, an order of assassin/bodyguards, serving a mysterious alien deity The Red Lady. Readers also tend to have equally strong feelings towards Twilka, a self centered, superrich, high society girl who becomes part of the small group Nick Jameson, my Special Forces hero, is trying to rescue. (One reviewer said basically she wanted to take Twilka and slap some sense into her LOL!).
Today I thought I’d excerpt the scene where Twilka tries to hire Khevan for herself, to save her, much to the annoyance of the rest of Nick and Mara.
First, here’s the Book Blurb:Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara (and Khevan), Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
Now the excerpt, which comes after Nick and Khevan have rescued Twilka from a very ugly scene near the Casino, after the ship has become disabled and many passengers panic.
As if registering for the first time who and what he actually was, Twilka stared at Khevan. She raised her hand to stroke the scarlet tattoo curling on his cheekbone. “You’re a D’nvannae Brother!”
“Yes.” Khevan captured her hand and lifted it away from his face, squeezing her fingers slightly before releasing them.
“Hey, I want to offer contract terms.” Her voice gained animation and energy. She didn’t even notice the tranq inject he gave her. “Get me out of here alive. I can pay, whatever the going rate is. You can do it – I know you can. The D’nvannae can do anything.” She worked to remove the intricate collar of golden chains and charms dangling around her neck and upper body. “Here, this has to be worth enough.”
“Now wait a minute. “ Mara’s voice was sharp with annoyance. She frowned. “He’s with us. “
Khevan curled his hand over Twilka’s, stopping her awkward attempt to unclasp the necklace. “I’m not available for contract.”
Blinking, she stared at him in confusion. “But you- your hair’s not braided,” she argued, taking a strand of it into her fingers for a second. “So you’re available. So we contract. I have the price, right here. This necklace cost my father a fortune – two fortunes probably, on the jewelers’ planet in the Inner Sector.”
Mara stared across at Nick, who was watching this by-play in frustrated silence. He shrugged in answer to her unspoken question. “I certainly have no authority over a D’nvannae Brother. Can’t stop him from taking a personal contract. I’m grateful he acted as my backup since the problem with the lifeboat, on Level Three. There was a damn good chance I wouldn’t have been able to pull off the rescue of either the children or Twilka without him.”
Mara transferred her glare to Khevan again. Her voice dripped scorn. “It’s common knowledge that the Red Lady who rules your Order favors profit over philanthropy. Twilka’s necklace is more than a fair price for the services of a D’nvannae, even such a high ranking one as you appear to be.”
The Brother’s answering words took Nick by surprise.
“I cannot contract with you.” Khevan was speaking to Twilka gently but with unmistakable finality. “The Lady Whom I Serve decrees what a Brother does and does not undertake. This night I serve at this man’s command.” He pointed at Nick.
“For how long?” Twilka pouted.
It was not an attractive expression for her, in Nick’s opinion.
“As long as it takes to get us – all of us – off this cursed ship. I can’t argue with the Red Lady. Nor can I accept a private contract while I am bound by Her to act upon Captain Jameson’s orders.”
“I’ve never heard of a D’nvannae refusing a legally offered contract,” Mara said.
Khevan raised one eyebrow. “And you are, of course, our contractual expert, Miss Lyrae. But in this matter, you’re mistaken. The Brotherhood does refuse contract if the Lady herself declines. Rare, I admit, but so is the situation in which we find ourselves tonight.”
Nick cleared his throat. “I don’t know why you’re so sure your Red Lady wants you to take my orders, but I’m grateful.”
Khevan made him a half bow. “The word of the Lady is quite unmistakable to an initiate.” He gazed at Twilka, who apparently had nothing to say, her eyes wide and her mouth open. “You’re one of our party now, and therefore I’ll work to see you safely away from this ship, along with the rest.”
Guy sounds genuinely sorry he can’t take the contract. Nick checked Twilka’s reaction.
The girl licked her bruised lips, fingering the rejected necklace absently. “Well, I guess that’ll have to do then, won’t it?” Closing her eyes, she reclined on the couch, deliberately shutting them all out.
Here's a short interview with Khevan:
What was your life like growing up?
When I was very young, perhaps 3 or 4, my father brought me to the Brotherhood on our home world. I am told he was poor and hoped that by dedicating my life to the service of the Red Lady, he could ensure a better future for me. It is a fairly common occurrence. I’ve known no other life than the Brotherhood until now. It is a life of discipline, sacrifice and rewards.
From boyhood I have studied, trained and practiced to be very very good at what I do. Martial arts, assassination techniques, culture, history – one must be well rounded to reach the highest levels of the Brotherhood. (Khevan smiles and lowers his voice.) And then there are the…other arts that the Lady decrees her high ranking servants must learn, to please her in human form. Those skills come in handy on certain assignments as well.
Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future?
I was on the path to reach the highest levels of my Brotherhood, completing many dangerous missions of assassination or guarding others against death. The Lady decrees who we contract with and whether we are preserving life or taking it. Some say it is at her whim. I chose to believe she had a plan that was beyond our human comprehension. (Shifting uncomfortably in the chair, Khevan frowns.) I needed to believe that to carry out my assignments at times. I was an Intimate Initiate of the Order, which means I have been privileged to serve the Lady of the Flames herself. Those private rituals are not to be spoken of outside the Brotherhood.
What changed that?
It became necessary on the Nebula Dream to in essence defy my Lady in order to save lives. I know Veronica doesn’t wish to provide spoilers, but there were consequences, to myself and to another…
Veronica sez I think we’ll leave it there. WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is available from Smashwords , Amazon and Barnes & Noble
You can watch the book trailer (which Khevan is not in, alas!) on youtube.