Story Excerpt: “Siren” by Blaze Ward

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Over the next couple weeks, I plan on posting excerpts from all the stories in the Middlings Bundle. (http://www.bundlerabbit.com/middlings-sampler/)

I also plan on posting a little bit about each author.

I could post a lot about Blaze Ward. As his publisher, I can’t help but be pleased with the exponential growth in his writing ability, the way he’s built himself a fan base, how he pushes himself to explore new characters, new worlds and new ideas.

As his sweetie/wife/co-conspirator (unindicted)/etc. it still amazes me that I found him, someone that I fit so well with. More than anything else he’s my partner. I couldn’t do this without him. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful alone.

Which brings us to SirenVo Arlo, badass marine from Auberon, finds himself alone and facing a puzzle. A mystery.

Why does the prettiest girl at the college start paying attention to him?

And what will it cost to figure it out?

Here’s the sample from the first chapter of Siren. Enjoy!

 

I

Date of the Republic October 4, 394 Quinta City, Quinta

The girl’s voice knocked Vo out of his reverie and brought him back to the present.
“Hey, Vo,” she called as she walked up to his table in the Student Union. “Finn tells me you used to be in the navy?”

He looked up from the woman on the screen of his portable computer and considered the girl standing across from him. The two looked nothing alike, this one a busty, beautiful brunette and the one on the screen a skinny blond that some might call homely. The only thing they had in common was height.
This one was about to plop down into one of the other chairs at his table, so her head was down. He was used to analyzing someone for risk and competence at a glance, the downside of eight years active duty as a fleet security marine. Even pretty girls in a student union hall.

What was her name? Fevre? F–something? Phoebe. That was it.

Phoebe was tall for a girl and busty in a very distracting way. He wasn’t sure she was wearing anything under that green sweater as she took off her coat and hung it from the chair across from him. The way her chest moved suggested not, but he couldn’t tell for certain and didn’t want to stare.

Vo checked the time on his personal comm as Phoebe sat, but the clock in his head was still accurate enough. He’d supposedly been reviewing his accounting homework and reading ahead, but he still had at least ten minutes before he needed to pack up and go to class.

“Still am,” he said, unable to figure out why the prettiest girl in class suddenly wanted to chat him up.
It wasn’t like he was particularly good looking. His previous bosses had frequently picked him for assignments because he was nearly two meters tall, incredibly strong, and looked like a street hoodlum. That could generally be considered an asset in his line of work.

“Are what?” she asked, perplexed as she sat down and dropped a heavy backpack of books and stuff beside her.

“I’m still on active duty,” he replied.

That didn’t help. She got an even more confused look on her face. She had really pretty green eyes.

“But you’re a student,” she said, her voice starting to edge into a whine. “You’re in my business accounting class.”

“I’m on detached duty for this semester,” he replied. “Reward from my boss, and using up all my leave, and a few other things.”

“So what ship are you on?” she inquired with a grin, leaning onto the table in a way that did distracting things under the sweater.

Vo caught his breath and brought his eyes back up to hers.

“None, right now,” he replied heavily. “The old one got decommissioned. The new one’s not done being built yet. Boss owed me a favor. Plus I’m kinda on medical rehab. It all added up to enough time to take some classes.”

“Medical rehab?”

The confusion was back.

“I got shot up pretty bad, last time out,” he said in a tone that suggested she not ask further questions. “The ship was Auberon.”

Her eyes lit up. It was a good way to distract people.

“Jessica Keller?” she probed sharply.

Vo nodded. Everyone knew RAN Auberon and her very famous Command Centurion. He could bask a little in that glory. He had actually been on Alexandria Station until about twenty minutes before the Red Admiral blew it up at Ballard four months ago.

Still, he had figured that someplace as remote as Quinta, and a college like the Quinta Colonial Institute, would have been far enough away from the main byways of the Republic. There was almost no Fleet presence here, and no Marines groundside. He could pretend to be a civilian for five months.

Or could have. He probably shouldn’t have told Finn anything, but the kid had a good heart and had been genuinely interested in the older guy in class.

Older? Gods, this girl across from me is probably younger than my youngest sister, Sonja.

“I bet you could tell me some awesome stories about her,” Phoebe said, her eyes all aglitter.

“Maybe later,” Vo shrugged. “Supposed to go get lunch with Finn after class and talk mid–terms. Then I need to write a history paper tonight.”

Vo started to gather up the things on the table. The portable computer and light–pen went into his backpack, along with an old–fashioned paper notebook barely bigger than his hand and honest–to–Creator ink pen.

“You’re leaving already?” she asked, maybe a little hurt.

Vo stood up and grabbed his jacket. Civilian attire was still alien, but Quinta had mild winters, so he didn’t need anything heavy.

“Almost time for class,” he said.

It was a good way to extract himself from a confusing situation.

Phoebe grabbed her things and stood as well.

“I’ll walk with you to class,” she announced, a queen bestowing a favor on her favorite champion.

What the hell have I done to warrant this sort of attention?

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Siren is only available in the Middlings Bundle, which is only available for a limited time. http://www.bundlerabbit.com/middlings-sampler/

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