Monday, November 18, 2013

"Brass Stars" by A. G. Carpenter

Brass Stars
by A. G. Carpenter

Brass Stars by A. G. Carpenter has just been released and features cover art by Lex Paul. Visit the other blogs taking part in this release day blitz brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours.

Tashndelu Sand has wandered the known universe on a mission of vengeance. She’s spent years tracking down the gang who murdered her mother. And, with the help of Snyder - a psychotic cyber-horse with an agenda of his own - she’s killed all but one: Brannigan.
Now she’s come to Paradise, a lonely town on a desert planet. Here, Brannigan rules with a new gang. Here, the graveyard is filled with the corpses of gunslingers who have tried, and failed, to kill him.
Get in, kill Brannigan, and get out. That’s the plan. And Tashn is determined to finish what she started. She’ll not be stopped: not by Brannigan’s army; not by her feelings for Johnny, an Extra sapien like her; not even by the darkness she sees in herself.

I stand up, sway for a moment and catch my shoulder hard against the post. “Ungh. Damn.”
Jackson is on his feet in a heartbeat, slipping his arms around my waist. “Easy.”
My cheeks are hot. At least it’s dark and maybe he won’t notice. “I’m all right.”
“You’re certain?”
“Just tired.” I try to shrug away from his hands. “It’s been a long day.”
“Yes.” A pause. “Tashn…” He leans in and kisses me.
Warm as a spring afternoon. Intense as a lightning strike. His arms holding me hard and close. Pushing me back toward the house.
It’s nice. Enjoyable, even. And also terrifying. There is no spark like there is with Johnny, no rush of blood in thighs and breasts.
This is energy of a different kind. I take a breath, trying to find something to say. “What the hell, Jackson.” I thump his shoulder with my fist. “You think I’m easy?”
“No.” His eyes are dark, serious. He pulls me in a second time, slower, but no less intense. My chest aches with it.
“Stop.” My hands are knotted in the front of his shirt, caught somewhere between pulling him close and shoving him away. “Let go of me.”
He takes a half-step back, leaning against the other side of the doorframe. Only inches separate us, but it hurts like a bruise.
I press both hands against my chest, panting for breath. This isn’t lust, and I’ll be damned if I think it’s love. But I know this pain. The grief of separation, no matter how slight. The echo of connection, no matter how permanent the distance.
I felt this way when they put Mother under the sand.
I felt this way the day I left my father’s village.
“Damn you, Jackson.” I can barely whisper around the weight over my heart.
He cups my face between his hands. “Come inside, Tashn.”
“I can’t.”
“John won’t keep you safe like I will.”
“Like you will. A gunner with no gun.” I grin, bitter. “I think I’ll take my chances with the one-eyed Extra.”
He tips his head as though he will kiss me again, but this time I lean away from him.
(You can read another excerpt here).

Bonus Material
What Happened to Earth?
Theories abound about the reported “loss” of Homo Sapien's planet of origin, but they boil down to three main ideas.
The most commonly accepted is The Navigational Miscalculation Theory. It claims there was an error in the navigational calculations much like the Mars Surveyor loss of 1998 AD. By the time the error was detected and rectified, the coordinates of origin had been so corrupted it was impossible to relocate Earth. (This would also explain the dozens of transports that missed their target worlds on this end.) The specifics of the type of miscalculation and the degree of error are the subject of heated debate especially at a university level.
The second major theory is the Deliberate Data Corruption Theory. Proponents hold that the navigational charts and data were deliberately corrupted in order to keep Homo Sapien from returning to a homeworld that was already damaged beyond the ability to support large quantities of life. “Nostalgia,” one scientist was reported as saying, “can be more powerful than self-preservation.”
The third theory is The Rich Bastards Theory. In this theory the wealthy decided to keep Earth for themselves and paid to have the origin coordinates destroyed or corrupted. The biggest flaw in this particular idea is the continuing presence of rich bastards in the colonies.

Leeland Snyder's Last Words
A tall man with thin hands and dark hair takes a seat opposite the recorder and smooths a piece of paper on the table in front of him. He clears his throat.
I, Leeland Snyder, now record my final words.
A pause, while he studies the paper.
My final words in this material form. If there is justice in the world, my brain will survive the planned surgery and I will be given a second-chance at life. A chance to prove that I am innocent of the crimes of which I have been accused.
He combs his hair behind his ears.
I know that many of you feel I am an evil man, guilty of the murders of seventeen women and one child, but I can only remind you that sixteen of them were my wives. I am as heartbroken as the rest of their families over their brutal loss. I can only hope that the true killer will eventually be brought to justice.
An unsettling smile turns his mouth up at the corners.
In the matter of Abigail McKinley and her half-breed daughter, I had no role in their deaths. Though I was witness to the real criminals who took that mother and child too soon. I leave it to you to draw the natural conclusion that my subsequent trial and conviction is merely the attempt to bury the truth that I am capable of revealing.
He folds up the paper and tucks it into his pocket.
For the others, my dear and departed wives, I can only mourn. And I pray that those powers that be will allow me to continue my existence in some form 'til I may bring the truth about their deaths to light. Well. All except for Martha Clemmings. That bitch had it coming.
– End of Recording –

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About the Author
A. G. Carpenter writes fiction of (and for) all sorts. She studied film-making in college, but quickly discovered that pen and paper are a less costly medium. She likes: movies where things explode, rainy days, strong tea with lots of milk and sugar. Her favorite color is black.
She lives in the South-eastern United States with her husband, their lively son and a herd of cats.