Who’s Your WIP?: Mary Pax
April 5, 2013 3 Comments
I’m a little late with March’s entry, but better late than never!
For March, we have a wonderful excerpt from Mary Pax’s latest novel Boomtown Craze, The Backworlds, Book 3. Enjoy!
Dactyl, Rainly, Dialhi, and the captain filed in and gathered around the island in Craze’s kitchen. He welcomed them all with a crock of ale and a bowl of roasted ricklits. He popped a few of the delicious creatures into his mouth, biting down on the spicy shell that crunched in a pleasing way. The meat spilled onto his tongue; hot, greasy, and buttery. In his opinion, they were the most delicious food available on the Edge.
“Help yourself,” he invited them all. “Pauder, meet our newest resident, Captain Dailhi.” He gestured at the gaunt, dripping gal with the blue tick nest on her head.
Softly taking her hand, Pauder gazed into her gray eyes. “Charmed ta meet ya. Welcome ta my world of dust. What wonderful goods is ya taking ta the Jixes?”
Subtle. Craze could feel a blush roaring into his cheeks and bent down, pretending to retrieve something from the lower cupboard. Why’d Pauder have to be such a shit? And he didn’t even have the right gal.
“I’ve never been to Jix, ‘n I’m not shipping anything,” the Sprinkler answered. “I gave up my vessel. I sold it to Craze, ‘n he’s been kind enough to hire me on.”
Pauder leaned over the counter, peering down at Craze. “Ya bought a spacecraft ‘n hired help? With what? Ya told me ya’d have ta delay rent this month so as ta get yar new bar ready.”
That old man needed tongue adjusting. Craze’s meaty hands pawed through pans and utensils in hopes Pauder would go away. He didn’t. “This is about gettin’ the tavern ready. I can’t run it alone, ‘n she gave me a payment plan where she’s workin’ for the price of her spacecraft.”
“She’s goin’ ta work for ya ta earn the price of the ship? Did I hear that right?”
Rising onto his feet with a huge aluminum-gel spatula in hand, Craze nodded and scraped the sides of the pot of soup. Honed muscles in his arm bunched and flexed, but on this oxygen anemic world, his brawn was all show. He needed a better atmosphere to put the might behind it.
The old man laughed and straightened the skull-hugging leather cap on his bald noggin. He nudged Dialhi’s shoulder with his, smiling at her as if he hadn’t recently turned one hundred twenty-one. “Workin’ for Craze some will be good for ya, ya’ll certainly learn better business. Ignore his sappy leanings, though. They leads ta troubles.”
“His bazooka wavin’ is worse.” Craze poured Pauder another ale and gestured at the leecher pirate. “This is the captain of the freighter that just came in.” He looked at Pauder pointedly.
“Gotchya. I messed up.” He slapped the slopsucking gal on the shoulder. “Welcome, Captain. Seems ya’ll be staying a spell, too.”
She gave the old man a hard shove — her creepy hair whipping at Pauder’s face — and jumped back from the island. “Don’t effer-luvin touch me! I didn’t give you permission to touch me.” Her fists balled and her face grew red.
“He meant nothin’ by it,” Craze said, patting the spot at the counter she’d just vacated. “Come on back. Soup’s almost ready.”
“You a bunch of shits.” She crossed her arms and plopped down on what passed for a couch in Craze’s place — bolted together chairs with the legs sawed off and fabric scraps sewn into big cushions thrown on top. “If I can’t eat over here, I’ll just go.”
This was a bad start to wheedling information and chips out of her. “Eat where you like. After bein’ on that ship alone for however long, seems you might want some company.”
“Don’t try ‘n figure me out. You’ll fail, galoot.”
Rainly put a hand up to quiet the men. “Come sit over here by me. I’ll make sure they all leave you alone. Promise.”
The captain inched closer to Rainly. “Really?”
“I want to hear all about where you’ve been. Where was you before you came to Pardeep?”
The captain’s arms uncrossed and she took another step toward Rainly. “I delivered some fire rock to Pote.”
“That wasn’t on your itinerary,” Craze said.
She tossed her chin. “I don’t like folks keeping tabs on me ‘n knowing exactly where I am. It’s plain creepy.”
Nothing sane traveled the Lepper anymore. Craze took a long pull from his crock of ale.
“Did you pick up the fire rock from Bossilik?” Rainly asked, her pink irises glowing brightly. “Is it as fiery as folks report?”
The captain stood behind the chair beside Rainly’s. Her hair settled into gentle ripples as if she stood in a breeze. “It is. It’s very hot. If you isn’t a Sylik, you have to wear a spacesuit.”
“Oh wow. That doesn’t sound very hospitable, yet I’ve always wanted to see it. They say the eruptions splash across the sky in the most spectacular displays.”
“They do. Bands of yellow, red, ‘n orange arc across the black sky, like a fire fountain.”
“Oh, a fire fountain! You have a wonderful way with words, Captain. Captain what? With Talos ‘n Dialhi sharing the title, calling you by that name will get multiple responses. Her ‘n him ‘n you.” She giggled, her white hair jiggling with the motion of her shoulders.
Craze should have briefed Rainly about the information he wanted from the leecher captain. He could tell by the purse of the leecher’s lips she would give Rainly an honest answer.
“Kaesare,” she said, perching on the edge of the stool. Her mouth almost curled into a smile.
Dactyl’s head snapped up. “What? Did you say Quasser?” His hand flew to his holster.
Captain Kaesare’s hand moved faster, actually drawing her pistol and cocking it. “Stay back. All you bwatshits stay away from me.” She backed toward the door
Dactyl drew his revolver. Kaesare fired.
M. Pax is author of the sci-fi series, The Backworlds, and the new adult contemporary fantasy The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. A Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats.
Booomtown Craze blurb:
In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.
To secure his future, Craze must propel his world into a more prosperous era. Only days away from the grand opening of his new and improved tavern, he is confronted by a loony Backworlder intent on mucking up his plans. Gaunt and trembling, she claims her spaceship is possessed. She also has a connection to the underworld that shakes loose the dark past of one of Craze’s closest friends. It all threatens to end Craze’s prosperity before it begins.
Meanwhile off world, Captain Talos works desperately to outwit the mercenary Jixes and lure them away from his and Craze’s budding prospects. The mind-control weapon Talos uses against them is wearing thin, and his next move may be his last.
Will Craze and Talos’s efforts bring about a grand new age of boom or damn them to forever struggle in the dust?
Available in paperback and ebook:
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