Individual episodes are available on Amazon. Or you can read in convenient binge-read bundles at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Oyster, and (maybe) Scribd, as well as other fine ebook retailers. Part 3: The Catch (Episodes 7-9) is scheduled to come out some time next week, and Part 4: The Release (Episodes 10-12) are due out in early August. This one’s from Episode 6: Unknown Horizons, which is one of the episodes bundled into The Snare (part 2 of the series bundles).
Micah has been separated from his captor, but not the neuro-collar that suppresses his psionic talents. His search has led him into the wilds of the rocky, crystal-laced canyons of the moon of Guerre, where he meets an old friend…and discovers a different side of Treska.
Episode 6: Unknown Horizons (Part 2: The Snare)
Micah reached the cliffside opening large enough to accommodate a man—or a Mauw—and dragged himself inside, sprawled flat on the floor while his chest heaved and his muscles shook. He wasn’t sure how long he lay like that, gasping like a fish and hoping the feeling would come back to his cut and bloodied fingers, before he heard an amused voice.
“I’m sure I would have remembered acquiring a psypath-shaped welcome mat.”
Micah took his time opening one eye and peered up at the slender Mauw. “I’ve been called a pushover before, but never a welcome mat. I’ll add it to my list of epithets.”
“You’re here for something, because you don’t have the build to be a recreational climber, although you could have entered through one of the ground-level caves and taken the lift.”
Micah opened the other eye to glare at the Mauw. “The helpful signs you didn’t post around failed to alert me to that fact.”
Enlightenment’s whiskers twitched. “Half the fun of salvage is the journey through the junkyard.” He bowed, then offered his hand. Micah took it, using it to hoist himself to his feet. The slender felinoid staggered, staying upright only barely. “Now what is it that you’re looking for.”
“A Turing-Aggshad crystal actuator, unless you’ve got one from the Nitradix,” he replied, “and a Vice Hunter if you’ve got one of those.”
Enlightenment smiled broadly. “Just received a new shipment from the Vice Hunter factory, although I have to say, parting with such charming company is going to cost you. The first thing I’ll take is that filthy cloak of yours. It’s stinking up my habitat.”
Micah shrugged out of the cloak, glad to be rid of the thing. “Sorry,” he said, “Rolling in Riktorian guts has become all the rage in the Inner orbits.”
“The females must be going into heat over you, then.” Enlightenment stuffed the cloak into a hole in the wall. Micah heard a pneumatic system whir to life, and a short, choked sound indicated his cloak was on its way to what hopefully was a better existence as nesting material for the native rodentia.
“Did you say ‘charming company’ before?” he asked.
“Quite so, quite so.”
“We’re talking about the same Vice Hunter, aren’t we? Redhead, pale skin, fondness for knocking unconscious people who don’t agree with her?”
“Right this way. The actuator, I’m sure I’ve got one. Alas, it’s somewhere in my stock. The Vice Hunter, on the other hand, I couldn’t help but feature her in my showroom. And by showroom, I of course, mean living room. I wouldn’t want to be accused of inhospitality, and to show anything less than the utmost of courtesies to the charming young lady would sink my personal honor to a level with which I am most uncomfortable.”
Micah blinked rapidly. “By all means,” he said, “lead on.”
“Oh, stars in the heavens, not without a detour through the sonic, if you please.” The Mauw took him by the shoulders and shoved him into an alcove at the side of the entrance.
He braced himself as the sonic waves traveled over his body and the blowers churned the dust and debris out of his clothes and hair. Perhaps Treska had a more pleasant-natured twin out there. Who just happened to crash-land on the same remote moon. Right. More likely, she’d done something to Enlightenment’s already-tenuous grasp on reality and the poor Mauw had gone all the way round the bend.
Once he passed the Mauw’s literal sniff-test, Enlightenment led him past shelves of parts in various states of repair through a doorway into a room decorated with colorful rugs, lightweight plastiwood occasional tables and dominated by a high pile of lounging pillows in pale neutral colors. Quite comfortable looking, in fact, and lit with subdued wall sconces that gave the impression of natural light. A single, thin seam of crystal ran around the room at eye level, accented by the sconces so that its luminescence threw rainbows up onto the ceiling.
From the center of the largest pile of pillows, Treska rose up, her dark-clad limbs making a graceful contrast with the decor. And the hiss of her wrist-shooter cut through the silence. His hand came up and he caught the dart just before it buried itself in his neck. “I guess you missed me.”
She blinked twice and scowled. “My aim will get better. Nice catch.”
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