Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kiss the Guardian (Part One)

Posted by: Jenn Burke
To celebrate the release of LONELY SHORE, book two of the Chaos Station series, Kelly and I wanted to treat our readers to a fun short story set between books one and two. We hope you enjoy it! Stay tuned for part two tomorrow.

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Wenchang Station, 2269

It was just an average delivery job until the clown rolled by on a unicycle.

For a second, Zed thought he’d hallucinated it. Alien poison was flowing through his veins, after all, and God knew what form his mental degeneration would eventually take. Hallucinations were a definite possibility. He’d never had a particular thing for clowns—good or bad—but hallucinations didn’t care, right?

He breathed a sigh of relief when Flick muttered, “What the fuck.”

“I…do not know.” Qek clicked, her broad, blue face smoothing as she tried to understand what had just moved past them. “That…I have never seen such a thing before.”

“Oh my God, is the carnival today?” Ness grabbed Elias’s arm, as if she were trying to stop herself from bouncing. Her wild red curls vibrated with the aborted movement as the captain looked at her with an expression stuck somewhere between amusement and confusion. “We’ve got to check it out.”

Flick narrowed his eyes. “Wait, what carnival?”

The carnival.” Ness waited for them to clue in, but even Zed was drawing a blank. “You guys seriously need to absorb some culture at some point,” she said on a huff. “Wenchang Carnival. It’s a big deal, used to happen twice a year? Ring a bell?”

That sort of did tickle a memory, actually. “Before the war, right?”

“Yeah, and this is the first one since the war ended. And we’re here while it’s on! I always wanted to check it out.” Still holding Elias’s arm with one hand, she gripped Qek’s with the other. “C’mon, Captain, you’re going to win Qek and I some stuffed animals.”

“Oh…great.” Though Elias’s voice was dry, his expression had slipped fully into the amused side of things.

Zed looked at Flick. Flick looked back. He couldn’t quite read his lover’s expression. Were his brows lowered because he thought the carnival was stupid or because he was trying to figure out how the ship’s doctor could be reduced to an excited schoolgirl by the promise of cheap toys?

“You, uh…” Zed shrugged as they trailed after the rest of the Chaos’s crew. “You want to check it out? I could try winning something for you.”

“Or maybe I’ll win something for you.”

“I have better aim.”

“I figure out angles.”

“I’m stronger.”

“I’m trickier.”

“Are we seriously arguing about who’s going to win what?”

“Maybe.” Flick eyed the colorful stalls that came into view as they rounded a corner. “Want to make it interesting?”

Zed couldn’t stop the smile that bloomed on his lips. He had a flash of what they’d been like back at the Academy—always up for fun and games. “What, we’re competing now?”

“Whoever wins the most challenges—”

“Gets the most toys?”

Flick glared at him. “No. Whoever wins the most challenges gets to have the other person do one thing for them.”

“Just one?”

“Greedy bastard. You in or out?”

Zed’s grin widened. “Oh, I’m in.”

***

Catch Part Two of “Kiss the Guardian” tomorrow on Here Be Magic!


Find out more about Zed, Felix, and the rest of the crew's adventures at www.chaosstation.com.


LONELY SHORE, book 2 of the Chaos Station series, is out now!

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