Alien Interludes is up early. Now available for sale at Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Smashwords! Here's one last little excerpt to celebrate.
Before the events of Alien Redemption (Clans of Kalquor 6) unfold, I thought you'd like to meet its heroine and the man who pulled her from the ruins of Earth.
Sojan had expected to feel heroic, coming to an Earther’s rescue. Instead he felt like a frightened child looking at the female. This poor, destroyed wretch with a face of unsurpassed beauty. He didn’t know if he wanted to weep more over her face’s unmarked perfection or the massive damage done to her body.
Her skin was richer, browner, darker than his. Where the tattered gray rags of her clothing showed her flesh, she was marked worse than any old battle-scarred Nobek. She hadn’t been just beaten at some point in the past; she’d been tortured. Some of the scars were raised black lumps on her mahogany skin. Others were nearly white; slender stripes as if she’d been cut with a razor-sharp blade. She was incredibly thin too. Her ribs jutted plainly where her blouse rode up. The tiny spokes of her fingers had disappeared in his hands. He was average sized for a Kalquorian, but next to the Matara he felt like a giant.
It was agony to look upon her starved and battered body. He moved his gaze back to her unmarked visage. Her black curls were clumsily shorn close to her skull, leaving her heart-shaped face bare. Her lips were full, her cheeks rounded, her eyes large and liquid brown so deep they were almost black. Sojan could have looked at this part of her for hours.
It hurt to see such a lovely woman so badly harmed, so obviously terrified. Her breath heaved in and out, a hurricane of emotion as her eyes strained to see him in dark. Sojan was overwhelmed. He was prepared for finding someone scared. He would have been fine if he’d faced an Earther determined to fight him. But this…
“You will be made better. Your hurts will heal,” he babbled stupidly, hoping it was true. “Good Kalquorian medicine will fix. I swear it, Matara.”
He was no medic, but by the ancestors, he had to do something for her. Right now. He looked again at the prominent ladder of her ribs, pressing hard against scarred flesh. “I have food. You will eat.”
At his last words, the woman made a dry, raspy sound, her mouth gaping wide. She stopped trying to pull away, moving towards him instead with a kind of desperation.
Sojan pushed her blaster out of her reach with one foot before releasing her hands to pull an emergency ration bar out of the pouch on his belt. She didn’t try to find her weapon. Her freed hands waved, clawing at his chest as he peeled the protective sleeve off the bar. He pressed it into her palm.
She shoved the food into her mouth, tears pouring down her sweet, pretty face as she ate. Sojan had a second bar ready for her when she finished the first. And a third after that.
As she ate the third ration, one of those claw hands patted its way up his chest, to his throat, his chin, and finally rested on his cheek. Sojan blinked. This was the traditional greeting from a daughter to a father on his world. Then he figured out she was thanking him. That brought another realization.
The woman had not spoken a single word since he’d found her.
“Matara?” he said. “Earther? You speak English?”
She nodded, paused a moment as if confused, then shook her head. She took her hand from his face to point to one ear, a tiny cup flat against her round skull. She nodded. Then those stick fingers went to her lips, tapped twice. She shook her head.
“You understand. You do not speak.”
“You speak no language? You are mute?”
Sojan swallowed. “Because they hurt you?”
It was too much. His arms went around her, pulled the tiny, underfed, scarred body to his as if he would hide her forever, protect her from all further pain. She stiffened for an instant then sagged against him.
“I am sorry for your hurt, Matara. No more. You safe now. Kalquor keep safe.”