Nova Dancer – 99 cent ebook at Apple Books

In a universe so far in the future that Earth is considered a myth, Captain Rann Starr and his small crew fly through the galaxy in their starship Nova Dancer, negotiating primitive settlements and vast space stations alike, carrying freight, as well as the occasional passenger who might belong to one of a thousand alien species. Dealing with soldiers and gun-runners might be everyday business for Starr, but the breakup of his little ad-hoc family is something he won’t stand for.

Nova Dancer is available as an ebook for 99 cents from Apple Books.

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Nova Dancer – 99 cent Kindle book at Amazon.

In a universe so far in the future that Earth is considered a myth, Captain Rann Starr and his small crew fly through the galaxy in their starship Nova Dancer, negotiating primitive settlements and vast space stations alike, carrying freight, as well as the occasional passenger who might belong to one of a thousand alien species. Dealing with soldiers and gun-runners might be everyday business for Starr, but the breakup of his little ad-hoc family is something he won’t stand for.

Pick up your Kindle edition of Nova Dancer now for just 99 cents.

Nova Dancer – 99 cent ebook at Smashwords

In a universe so far in the future that Earth is considered a myth, Captain Rann Starr and his small crew fly through the galaxy in their starship Nova Dancer, negotiating primitive settlements and vast space stations alike, carrying freight, as well as the occasional passenger who might belong to one of a thousand alien species. Dealing with soldiers and gun-runners might be everyday business for Starr, but the breakup of his little ad-hoc family is something he won’t stand for.

Pick up your copy of Nova Dancer in any ebook format at Smashwords for just 99 cents.

Nova Dancer – 99 cent Kindle book at Amazon.

In a universe so far in the future that Earth is considered a myth, Captain Rann Starr and his small crew fly through the galaxy in their starship Nova Dancer, negotiating primitive settlements and vast space stations alike, carrying freight, as well as the occasional passenger who might belong to one of a thousand alien species. Dealing with soldiers and gun-runners might be everyday business for Starr, but the breakup of his little ad-hoc family is something he won’t stand for.

Pick up your Kindle edition of Nova Dancer now for just 99 cents.

Nova Dancer – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Starr felt like he was tied up again.  He didn’t know what was holding him, but it was squeezing him to death.  He jerked awake and looked up to see Huppy’s bloated head leaning down over him.

“I brought you breakfast in bed, Starr.”

He thrust a bowl right under Starr’s nose.

“I got you cereal from the cafeteria and Viv said that it would be nice to give you breakfast in bed. Do you like it?”

Starr grabbed the bowl and struggled into a sitting position, his back against the bulkhead.

“It looks good. Thanks, Huppy.”

“You’re my best friend, Starr.  You and Viv.”

“I know.”

After he had finished his breakfast, Starr took his bowl into the galley, where he found Viv sitting at the table, one hand holding a cup of coffee and the other petting the Castorian who was curled up in her lap.

“Watch out,” he said, gruffly.  “You know Castorians are all perverts.”

“Who’s the racist now? I’m just giving her a scratch.”

“Her?”

“That’s right,” said Prinda, looking up.  “I’m a girl. And you have a lot of nerve, calling me a pervert after what I watched you do to that poor girl at The Pink Ubaxa.”

Viv opened her eyes wide and made an o with her mouth in a look of mock surprise.

“You watched huh? See?  Perverts.”

They left the planet with no problem and made the jump to hyperspace early, because of the relative emptiness of the system.  After that, it was four days of boredom.  The first day, Starr and Huppy swept the cargo bays while Viv repaired a leaking pipe in the head, but then they mostly just sat around.  On the second day out, Huppy taught Prinda checkers, which they then spent all afternoon playing.  Starr puttered around, trying to find things he could fix, and did manage to replace a few jumpers on some panels.  The third day, all of his attempts to keep busy failed, though Viv kept herself occupied reading.

“So, we arrive at Thim tomorrow?” asked Prinda, strolling into the galley on their fourth day out.

“That is the plan,” said Starr, without looking up from his coffee.

“Or we might have a misjump and pop out of hyperspace in the middle of a black hole,” said Viv, leaning back and allowing the Castorian to climb into her lap.  “I’ll bet it happens all the time.  Nobody ever hears about it because, you know… black hole.”

“Well, since we might be dead tomorrow, I want to treat your whole crew to a movie.”

“What’s a movie?” asked Viv, scratching her around the ears.

“It’s a video show that is projected on the wall, so that everyone can watch it.”

“How do you know everyone’s going to like it?” asked Starr.

“Oh, everyone will like it,” Prinda assured them.  “We’ll all sit at watch it and eat popcorn.”

“Popcorn?” wondered Viv.

“Yeah, I’ve had it before,” said Starr.  “It’s made of these fluffy little things.  The Rialtans love it.  I hope this little fur ball brought it with her.”

It turned out that Prinda had brought a metallic container of unpopped popcorn and a pocket-sized projector.  Starr and Huppy set up chairs, while Viv and the Castorian placed a blanket on the floor to lie upon while they watched the movie on the wall of cargo bay six.  Even Reed was there, sitting atop the basketball hoop high up on the wall.

The movie turned out to be a Karendian period piece, set three hundred years before, during the Sixth Interstellar War.  The main character was the wife of a soldier in the Karendian Navy.  She was busily engaged in an affair while he was away fighting the Providers.  Then, when he returned wounded, she selflessly devoted herself to his care. Starr didn’t much care for it.

“I think that was wonderful,” said Viv, climbing up from her spot on the blanket.

“I liked when the ships exploded,” said Huppy.

“Everyone does, except for the people in them at the time,” said Starr.

Nova Dancer – Chapter 2 Excerpt

The city was called Promise, and it did look promising.  It was laid out in a spoke pattern, with public buildings in the center and residential and commercial districts spiraling out.  A system of simple but efficient hover busses ran from the terminal at the starport to the alien quarter.  Starr stepped off the bus into the bright sunshine, beneath a brilliant azure sky, and took a deep breath.  The air was clean here, though dry.  He spotted a local tavern on the corner and walked in.

Whatever he was expecting, this wasn’t a dark, dingy little dive.  Large windows and skylights made it almost as bright inside as out, even without artificial lighting.  There was no bar, but Starr sat down at a table and a robot waiter rolled up to take his order.

“Cannis Ale?” the freighter captain asked.

The robot nodded and rolled away.

Starr looked around. There were about a half a dozen humans that might have been locals and an equal number who obviously weren’t.  A couple of them wore the pale green uniform of the Proxian Scout Service.  There were also a couple of Zibu and a single D’dtitu, which made sense, because both races were enough like humans that they could imbibe human drinks—even wear human clothes if they weren’t too picky about the fit.  He took a deep breath.  It was just nice to sit somewhere in the open air, without being enclosed in a tin can.

The robot returned with a tall glass of cold ale.  Starr handed him his PH card, which he was sure had a couple of hundred credits on it. The robot held it in front of its face to scan it, and then handed it back to the man.  Starr took a sip from his glass.  It was good.  It was real Cannis Ale, something he had hoped for but not really expected.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

The merchant captain looked around, expecting to see a local—a local human.  It wasn’t.  He had to look down to see a furry creature about three feet tall—a Castorian.  It sported a snout full of needle-sharp teeth in front and a broad, flat tail behind.  It was impossible to tell if it was male or female.  Their voices all sounded somewhat like human females when they spoke Intercosmo, and Starr didn’t know enough about Castorians to tell gender by sight.

“No, I’m not.  Are you?”

“No, not really.  Do you mind if I sit down?”

Starr waved toward the seat across from him, which the diminutive being took.

“Are you a crewman on a starship?” it asked.

“I’m the captain of the Nova Dancer, a free trader out of Zarius.”

“I thought you were Zarian, but I wasn’t sure.  You humans come in so many different flavors.”

Starr took a slow drink of his ale.  “So, what can I do for you…”

“My name is Prinda and I’m looking for passage to Gateway.”

“There must be a dozen liners at the starport.  I’m sure half of them are on the way to Gateway.”

“I’m afraid I can’t just walk into the starport.  I’m on the no-fly list.”

“If the authorities on Arminger are after you, why don’t they just arrest you?”

“They aren’t really after me, and in any case, I’ve done nothing wrong.  There are people here who don’t want to see me go to Gateway though, because of my patron.  His name is Pluul.”

“Pluul the Castorian?” mused Starr.  “Yeah, I’ve heard of him.”

“I can pay you five thousand PH credits when I reach your ship and another twenty-five thousand when you deliver me to Pluul.”

“That’s a lot of money for a single passenger.  All right, but I have to make a stop at Thim.  That means we won’t get to Gateway for at least ten or twelve standard days.”

“That’s perfect. Nobody will be looking me going to Thim. Well, nobody would be looking for anyone going to Thim, I think.  I’ve got a room at a place on the edge of town called The Pink Ubaxa.  Come and get me there tomorrow evening at 10AR local time. Come alone.”

With that, the furry little creature stood up and scurried away.

Starr sat for a while sipping his ale, and then left the little pub and took a walk around.  It was a beautiful city.  He looked in a few store windows.  He walked through a little park.  Mostly he just enjoyed being outside.  Finally, he climbed back on a bus and returned to the starport. When he reached the berth, he found Viv and Huppy sitting on folding chairs on the tarmac beneath the Dancer.

“Hey, Boss!” called Viv, when she saw him.  “I’ve got some cargo lined up for Thim, and there’s a lot more to contract, if you would be so good as to tell me where we’re headed after that.”

“Gateway.”

“Sweet.  I can probably get us a full load.  You want me to get on that now?”

“No.  It’ll be there tomorrow.  Why don’t you take a trip into town—get some fresh air.”

“What?  Out in the open?  No, thank you.  Anyway, the air here is just fine.”

“Can I go talk to the people on that ship?” asked Huppy.

Starr looked at where he was pointing.  A freighter just a bit bigger than the Dancer was sitting as its crew loaded cargo. They were flat-faced little creatures with enormous eyes, covered with bluish grey fur, maybe a head taller than Prinda the Castorian.

“Hell, Huppy, I don’t even know what they are. Just because they’re cute and furry doesn’t mean they’re friendly.”

Writing Again

As I write this, it’s the next to last day of school for the students, which means not only do I get to start my summer in two more days.  I’ve only got students for half a day today and tomorrow, which means I can get my work done all at school and write afterwards.  I’m particularly jazzed right now, because today I’ve done the first significant work on Patience Under Fire that I’ve managed in weeks.

Now, I’m going back to try and get some more done.