Star Survivor Guest Post by Veronica Scott
One can never get too much of Veronica Scott.
So I'm having her over once again to share new stuff about her latest book, STAR SURVIVOR.
Take it away, Veronica!
Thanks for having me as your guest again so soon!
This time I’ll share an excerpt from my new book, Star Survivor, which is the standalone sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream.
First here’s the story:
The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.
They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.
Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?
D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady. Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.
But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?
(Veronica sez: Khevan receives a gift of sort, that he didn’t want, from the goddess he’s sworn to serve):
Khevan accepted his red and black leather bag from the Nebula Zephyr steward, tipped the man a credit, and left the shuttle. He’d been braced to encounter Twilka again this morning, half hoping, half dreading another chance to talk to her, but she and her party weren’t aboard the little ship. Maybe this planet wasn’t her final destination. He walked through the passenger arrival area of the busy spaceport and cleared the bureaucracy easily, since D’nvannae weren’t subject to most regulations, per the treaty between the Sectors and the Red Lady.
Two lay brothers were waiting for him, easy to spot in their scarlet robes. One took his bag as the other welcomed him to the planet. “We’re honored to have you here to conduct training and give the blessing at the ritual next week,” the man said deferentially. “The flitter is this way.”
Not feeling honored, Khevan walked with them in the direction indicated. He had no idea why his orders had been changed to send him here. He enjoyed teaching the younger brothers specialized martial arts classes, but what was so urgent he had to be pulled off his assignment with the big Grunmark archaeological dig at a promising Ancient Observer site, he had no idea. There’d been vague language in the orders about assessing the chief brother at this planet’s temple, but a cursory check into the records told him this outpost was audited not long ago, top to bottom. The installation made credits above the required minimum, it had plenty of new recruits, and appeared to be totally dedicated to the will of the Red Lady. All was in order.
But no one questioned the Lady’s whims, least of all him. Not anymore. He’d learned his lesson. Hadn’t he?
At least he’d seen Twilka, even if it had taken the entire voyage to manage a few moments alone with her. Unsatisfactory moments. He unclenched his fists and ran through a brief mental exercise to clear his head before anyone noticed the tension in his frame. What had he expected, after all? And what if she had been welcoming, willing to forgive? He, of all men, knew what disaster lay in that direction. No, the outcome was vastly better this way than the fulfillment of any forlorn hopes he might have harbored for five years.
Seeking to divert his thoughts as they flew over the city to reach the temple, which occupied a massive plateau on the outskirts, he asked, “Where’s the White Lady’s temple located?” There was no mistaking the dramatic façade of his own Lady’s edifice, which would be visible from virtually anywhere in the city. Flamboyance was one of the Red Lady’s cherished hallmarks.
The pilot gave him a surprised glance, but answered readily enough. “Beside the river, in a garden complex.”
Interesting. Usually the two complexes were close together, as if to give a person a chance to decide easily between them. Or as if to allow one sister to keep an eye on the other’s plots and machinations. Of course, he had no business with the White Lady. He wondered if Twilka had ever talked to her, after he was reabsorbed into the fold of the Red Lady’s adherents.
“We’ll be landing in five minutes,” said the brother.
Annoyed with himself for becoming distracted with contemplation of his unresolved relationship with Twilka Zabour, who was nothing to him now, after all, he leaned forward and began asking penetrating questions about the training program at this monastery.
The place was as efficiently run as the audit results he’d perused indicated. He was given a large, luxurious set of rooms as befit his high rank and personal ties to the Lady herself. He spent the afternoon teaching an advanced class and was pleased at their level of knowledge and eagerness to learn. He endured a long, boring dinner with the Chief Monk, who was understandably hostile in an extremely polite way. The Lady liked to play her senior brothers against each other—the politics of their order were intricate and deadly.
After dinner, there was entertainment, and finally Khevan was free to excuse himself and take refuge in the rooms he’d been assigned. Changing out of his formal all black, all leather uniform into a flowing robe, he wandered onto the balcony overlooking the city and caught himself wondering where Twilka might be at this moment.
A knock at the door interrupted his train of thought. Frowning, he went to open it, ready to blast whoever dared disturb him at this hour. He’d taken pains at dinner to be clear he wanted no company, no member of the Sisterhood to share his bed. The angry words died on his lips as he beheld the Chief Brother himself.
“Apologies for intruding on your private meditations, Brother Khevan, but this was just delivered for you.” He motioned to a lay brother standing by his side and the man extended a golden tray bearing a gleaming puzzle box made of red jade, intricate carvings on all sides.
He stared at the container for a moment, fury gathering. How dare they try to command him when he was in their temple on a specific errand for the Red Lady? When he outranked every person here, including the man facing him? Jaw clenched, he said, “I’m not here to take a contract.”
“And, of course, if the commission was for my own temple, I’d be assigning one of my own brothers,” the monk said smoothly. “I have a well-honed cadre, capable of any assignment. This was sent for you specifically, under the seal of Temple Home.”
Something important then. Impossible to refuse. Khevan plucked the box from the tray with a casualness he had to work hard to maintain. “Well then, I have no argument. Thank you.” He’d be damned if he was going to open it in front of the lower ranking brothers. “Is there anything else?”
The lay brother clearly wished himself elsewhere. The Chief Monk was made of sterner stuff. Eyes glittering as he took a final glance at the box, he bowed fractionally. “Not at the moment. My temple stands ready to assist in any way you may require.”
Khevan acknowledged the offer with a slight nod and shut the door absently, rotating the puzzle box in his long fingers. Cold day in the seven hells when I ask for help from any in the Order. He walked to the bed, sat on the plush satin cover, and rapidly worked the mechanism. The Red Lady relished her rituals, her mysteries, and the archaic method of transmitting a special contract pleased her. Noiselessly, the lid rose to reveal a small square of parchment nestled on the cushioned red interior. The scarlet symbol for assassination glowed, written in what he’d been told was her own people’s language, now long dead and vanished. All members of the Brotherhood recognized it on sight, however, as well as the one for safeguarding life, which was their other, less utilized specialty. Every assignment and all contracts ultimately depended on Her whim. He plucked the paper from the box and unfolded the message, seeking the name of the one he was to hunt down and kill.
Liza gave this book 5 stars.
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”