Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Review from Sadie’s Storylines

April 4, 2008

A kickass female protagonist leads the charge in this alternate-earth fantasy. The Wildcat’s Victory is the second in a series (the first being Deadly Enterprise) by Christopher Hoare.

Gisel Matah is not only beautiful, she’s strong and smart as a whip.  She knows more than she’s letting on as the book opens.  Through slow reveals we learn the backstory of the novel (for those that haven’t yet read Deadly Enterprise), and see the deception behind every character as they try to protect their own interests as well as the interests of their superiors.

At first I found the book confusing, but within 10 pages I was hooked and reading more to clear up any remaining confusion I felt.  Christopher shoves you knee-deep in intrigue and action and doesn’t let you go until the last page of this spell-binding novel.

See an earth locked in a time of near-progress, hindered by sins of the past and present, a war of wits and weapons.

Get The Wildcat’s Victory and prepare to sit on the edge of your seat, using your own wits to keep up with Gisel’s.

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And the Winner Is!

April 3, 2008

The draw for the free copy of “The Wildcat’s Victory” drew sixteen entrants – not including myself who appeared on almost every blog, and using only one entry from anyone else who commented on several. It turned out to be fairer that way. My own blog received most comments during the month – four, and a couple of items of spam that I disallowed as moderator. Another blog site had a couple of spam comments as well.

So . . . here we go. The lady wishes to be identified only as Fantasy Girl from http://bestfantasystories.com one of the blog owners who responded to the comment I had made. I will buy a mailing envelope tomorrow when I’m in town and put the copy in the mail. Thank you all for participating and commenting. The only disappointment I feel is that I couldn’t send copies to everyone.

While on the topic of the draw I will post my observations about the process and offer advice to anyone who wants to run a similar promotion.

Firstly, because some of the sites seemed to need a Special Forces assault team to break in to make a comment, I would recommend that one’s own blog be emphasized as an alternative to commenting on the day’s tour stop. This would also be appropriate for the blog radio sites that don’t have a visible ‘comment’ link.

I think some readers who followed the links were bashful about commenting, and perhaps the requirement to log in or to baffle the machine reader test prevented them from posting. Again point out that they can go to the author’s tour blog where, even though a comment will need approval before appearing, it will be noted and counted in the draw.

Perhaps some people thought the odds of winning were too great for them to bother. I wish the contest had drawn that many entries. If I had counted myself for all the comments I posted in the month I would have had a 50% probability of winning.

Perhaps the draw announcement should be posted at the start and the end of the interviews and guest blogs to make sure people register the information. A short instruction on each site about the draw and the options for commenting might be a good idea.

I might have posted more invitations to participate on writing and networking sites I belong to, but I really didn’t think it would be necessary. The Tour conductor posted on a few sites daily and I had my own blog announcements. I doubt if I’d receive much more response by buying spam software and blitzing the whole Internet. Perhaps that feeling was the reason I didn’t get more response – I feel embarrassed to bug people too stridently. In this world, unfortunately, one has to be obnoxious to be heard.

Announcement Soon

April 2, 2008

I need to hear back some personal information from finalists before I can announce the winner of the free copy of The Wildcat’s Victory. Hopefully, that will be tomorrow.

I looked at the EPPIE site today and see that the original information is correct and the update was wrong – or something. I give up. Twisted Tales II Volume 2, Out of Time was a finalist. They were both finalists. J. don’t for heaven’s sake split another anthology into two . . . ever.

I think this will do enough for this post – it’s only designed to keep you in suspense.

Today may or may not be the Day.

April 1, 2008

I expected to post the name of the winner of the free copy of The Wildcat’s Victory on this blog today, but we appear to be running a bit late. The guest blog on You Don’t Know Jack showed up today, and I find it’s almost impossible to get the site to accept a comment. I don’t know how long it took before the comment box appeared at the bottom of the entry – I went away and did something else. When I checked in just now I see the box is there but writing and submitting a comment results in an error message – Error establishing a Database Connection.

I have a feeling the late posting of the blog stems from the same software issues. I don’t believe the blog owner planned to post the guest blog late.

What else can I tell you about? My winner’s goodies from EPIC arrived in the mail, for participation in the Anthology Twisted Tales II in company with 16 other Double Dragon authors. Maybe it arrived today, but I hadn’t checked the box since the middle of last week until going by on my way to run the dogs this morning. When I received the package I was mystified at receiving something from a lady in Nevada whose name I was unfamiliar with. But the contents were very welcome.

Firstly it seems to clear up the confusion whether Twisted Tales II volume one or volume two had been declared winner. It would appear that both being listed as finalists, we were in a tie. I find that a pleasing way to resolve the question. In addition to the booklet entitled the 9th Annual EPPIE Awards I received two lapel buttons reading EPPIE Winner (wow, I can pin one to my jacket and one to my skin for when I’m in bed or in the bath. More likely it means I can secrete one in a safe place to retrieve whenever I misplace the first one – or vice versa.). Next is a certificate to be framed and hung on a wall congratulating me on being a finalist and a bronze medal reading EPIC 2008, Twisted Tales II Out of Time Volume 2, Christopher Hoare, on a green ribbon. Unfortunately the loop tab on the medal has broken off in transit (probably some hurried luggage handlers threw the mailbags off the plane before it landed) so I won’t be able to parade about wearing it. Just as well, I might be mistaken for a member of the Green Party and run out of town by the local Pollute and Poison Committee. (This is Alberta.)

So watch this space – I may have another blog to post later today when we have a winner for the novel – or else watch anyway until I do post one. There will also be two more book reviews to point you to in a week or so – those dead tree copies arriving late messed up the schedule here. The last review will be even later because I just mailed the reviewer a copy of Deadly Enterprise so she can review both novels in sequence.

On the Air Today.

March 26, 2008

Hi All:

Today I have another blog talk radio interview – with Denny Griffin. The time is 11:00 Pacific time, noon for me, and the link is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dennisngriffin

I won’t know what we’re going to talk about until I get on the air, so everything will be a surprise for me as well. I think I’ll try to remember my old Toastmaster training and watch my umms and errrs this time. It’s not as easy when the talk is unscripted.

Did you take a look at yesterday’s review on Sadie’s Storylines? http://sadiej.findingperfect.com/
It’s always a revelation when a reviewer focusses in on some aspect of the novel that I never think to accentuate. “ . . . see the deception behind every character as they try to protect their own interests as well as the interests of their superiors.” Yes, there is a lot of deception and hidden intrigue going on, but I’d never realized that just about every character is hiding something. I’ll be posting the review on this site in the future.

I’d just like to keep your attention a moment about an issue in the news. You will have all heard of the unrest in Tibet and the crack-down by the Chinese government. They blame the Dalai Lama, of course, and pretend their 1950 invasion and conquest of Tibet has nothing to do with it. China has always been more of an empire than a country, and so they are very sensitive to any events that point up the fact that their government extends over many other ethnic groups besides Han Chinese. At the very least it means that justice demands they respect the indigenous rights and beliefs of those they rule. This evenhandedness has never been extended to Tibet.

There is talk of boycotting the Beijing Olympics, and no doubt many individuals will do this, even if the IOC and individual governments will be more concerned with the almighty dollar, or almighty yuan. It is to be expected that some athletes will speak out politically when they have the spotlight and we should applaud their sense of duty. It seems to me that a more significant boycott is one we can all participate in – taking a very long look before buying all those cheap Chinese products in WalMart.

I support the Tibetan people in their struggle for religious freedom and human rights. http://www.freetibet.org/

I’m in the 2008 EPPIE Award winner.

March 18, 2008

“The EPPIE goes to: J. Richard Jacobs, Jeremy Davies, K.L. Nappier, Marilyn Peake, Margaret Whitley, Eugen M. Bacon, E. Don Harpe, Anderson Gentry, Christopher Hoare for TWISTED TAILS II: Out of Time Volume 2.”

Until J –  J. Richard Jacobs the editor of both volumes, e-mailed me for my snail mail address I had thought our sister volume Twisted Tales II: Time on our Hands Volume 1 had been the Science Fiction winner and volume 2 had been runner up. J replied to my query saying he’d thought the same thing until he received the official packet. Either way it’s a great boost for our science fiction anthologies about twists in time – both of them. The contributing authors at Double Dragon Publishing have followed up their good placing in last year’s awards with Twisted Tales I – making them a great band of brothers and sisters to be part of. Many thanks again to Marilyn Peake who did all the work of sending out the copies of the anthologies for the judging.

Watch out for next year – we’re expecting the imminent release of Twisted Tales III: Pure Fear for an anthology of terror that will have you hiding under your beds.

To get back to the business of this blog – this was Day Eleven of my Virtual Book Tour and I had an interview in two parts on Conversations with Writers. The stats showed a big peak in views over the weekend as readers logged in to look at the scam message I received on Facebook. The posts describing the scam and giving the actual wording will remain on this site, so you can still go and read them if you were busy on the weekend.

Tomorrow’s visit is to Inspired Author   http://www.inspiredauthor.com  for an interview.

Book Tour, Week 3 and more on the Facebook phishing

March 16, 2008

Hi All:

The Virtual Book Tour starts this week with Conversations With Writers, with a two part interview:- http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com/2008/03/interview-part-1-of-2-chris-hoare.html

The full program for the week is
Mar 17 http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com/2008/03/interview-part-1-of-2-chris-hoare.html and http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com/2008/03/interview-part-2-of-2-chris-hoare.html
Mar 18 http://www.inspiredauthor.com (interview)
Mar 19 http://www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com (spotlight)
Mar 20 http://theplotline.wordpress.com/ (spotlight)
Mar 21 http://theplotline.wordpress.com/ (character interview)

Returning to the subject of the phishing scam that targeted me through my original promotion on Facebook —

As far as I can see from my posts to my Facebook page the original note of mine was posted to Marketplace on March 1st (the two messages posted below are set between >>>>>> and <<<<<<)

>>>>>>>
$5.99 – The Wildcat’s Victory
Listed by you on March 1st.|Edit|Remove
For Sale – Books | 0 views
ISBN: 1-55404-538-X
Condition: new

SF/Alternate world adventure. Second novel of the Iskander series.

On Sale at Fictionwise for Leap Year weekend
Listed at Calgary, AB.
<<<<<<<<<<

The reply was an e-mail to me on March 11th from notifications at Facebook headed

>>>>>>>>
Marketplace Enquiry: The Wildcat’s Victory

Linda Candy sent you a message about your marketplace listing: The Wildcat’s Victory

Subject: The Wildcat’s Victory

Hello ma/sir,
How are you doing today? I saw your item on craigslist and am really interested in it for my cousin and there so many questions i need to ask you here are the questions below…
1. What is the condition of this item?
2. How much is the final price of this item?
3. Can you email me the pics of this item?
4. Did u accept Cashier check, personal check or money order?
5. Am taking care of shipping by my self did u accept that?
6. Can u send the rest funds on the payment to shipping company same day you get the check?because there will be excess funds on payment because of shipping company
7. I need your full name, address and phone number?
Example below
Linda Candy John
247, Kulio avenue
Bolt
Maryland
21207
Because i have my own shipping company that pick
up there item from there seller, so when u receive
the check just got it cash and send the rest funds
on the check to the shipping company, because
there will be over payment the check, so when i get
ur info i will forward it to cashier that
will issue out the check to you.
NOTE….Email me to my personal ID now at linda_candy925@yahoo.com for me to be sure you get my email…………….Okay
<<<<<<<<<<<<

Looking at the message more closely now, I see that the classic overpayment scam is included. I guess I was too concerned about sending a compassionate response to what I thought was a child’s message that I skipped consideration of the last paragraph, which had seemed to me to be a sign of insecurity and confusion in a young person. One more example of seeing what one believes instead of what is actually there.

Day Nine of the Blog Tour

March 14, 2008

I’m on Storycrafters today http://storycrafters.blogspot.com/ discussing how I created my Iskander series protagonist and giving some of the background that makes her who she is.

Yesterday I reached the first milestone in the selling of the paperback copies of my new release, The Wildcat’s Victory. I sold the first copy from the batch I had sent, and I took the first two copies into a friend with a used book store for sale off her counter. She is good enough not to ask for a cut from the sales, which is just as well, because the price on these is high enough that I need to sell them for $20 apiece to break even.

In return I plan on promoting a book signing in her store early next month, which will perhaps show more locals to her door, since the store is a bit out of the regular traffic way. (Just up the hill from the post office, where everyone would likely turn around after getting their mail and go back to Main Street.) She suggests I do a signing with another local author, but I need to canvass some to see who’s up to it.

Tomorrow is a visit to http://www.fictionscribe.com/  For an interview. See you there.

Iskander Series & the book tour

March 12, 2008

Hi All:

Today the book tour is at The Writer’s Life http://thewriterslife.blogspot.com/2008/03/author-interview-speculative-fiction.html with an interview about writing the Iskander series novels and the way I work.

Some days I get to write a chapter or a half on one of my two novels in progress, other times I just manage to figure out a few plot issues to clear the way for a new scene. I don’t expect to do much writing today because I have to go to town with a computer issue and then our local writing group meets this evening.

At our meetings, we have one member presenting a program on a topic (I think this evening’s is the Free Write) and then I’m the featured writer to bring a piece of writing to read and have members analyze. I decided to take part of a chapter from my Iskander series novel in progress to find out the reaction to a new character I’m introducing. She’s young, pretty, completely innocent, and adrift in the city because her step brother has cast her out – times are tough in the country, with poor crops. I have plans for her innocence because I need someone to look at the scenario with fresh eyes – this will be volume four and Gisel, who is still my main protagonist, is the military governor of the city and has the unusual task of strong-arming opposition, when always before she’s been the opposition. It’s a different plot structure and I’m still plugging away at making it work.

Will post tomorrow’s visit in the morning, and maybe a bit more here about the developing theme behind the Iskander scenario.

The Wildcat’s Victory; Chapter One

February 28, 2008

Major Gisel Matah walked aft, the sharp breeze of the Swift’s passage becoming a reek of steam-scented mist. She pulled the collar of her quilted jacket higher to ward off the first threat of a northern winter. The two steam engines below thumped a steady rhythm into the soles of her feet. As she passed the bare mizzenmast she trailed a hand along the furled sail on its boom, and looked up at the moon: not full, but nearly so, a bright lantern for their night passage across the Inland Sea.
A crewman passed, heading for the wheelhouse from some errand at the stern. No one else showed up in the moonlight on the aft deck, but she hoped to find a man sheltered in the slanting shadows. She’d been surprised to see him board. She’d slipped a message under his cabin door. He’d better be there.
Swift was the first steam packet in the Partnership, making the 250 km crossing between Skrona and Lubitz in less than fifteen hours. Yohan had seemed uneasy this morning at breakfast when she’d told him she’d be accompanying him on this trip. “Is the manager going to refuse his security chief’s request for passage?” she’d said in response. “This is my opportunity to bring our guards for the river traffic.” He’d recovered his poise after that; his eyes regaining their brilliant blue sparkle; his over-long sandy hair threatening to fall across them.
But she guessed the reason for his concern when she’d reached the dock and seen how deeply Swift lay in the water. She’d known the hold would contain the last two steam powerplants for the tugs under construction in Lubitz. Other than her eight guards, most of the passengers on this trip were technicians picked to assemble the powerplants. It’d be interesting to see how guilty Yohan looked when he tried to hide the third powerplant from her.
She paced her stride to the moderate roll of the ship. The sea was calm, and as she reached the stern rail, the moonlight glinted off the water and broke into a million shards in the propeller’s wake. She stood to watch their movement through the water, although she listened for sounds of human origin on deck. She smiled fleetingly, the iron rail in her hand reminding her of ships back home.
To Gisel’s left and right hung lifeboats on their quarter davits. These two crafts were those most handily used as tenders when in harbor. Around them were stacked a few cargo items in readiness for their arrival, and from the shadow of one of these piles a large man emerged. She recognized him instantly from the withered left hand he held to his chest. Gisel turned to lean her back against the rail and face him.
“What work is done in the light of the moon?” she said quietly.
“The peoples’ work, Major.”
“What are you doing aboard, Markov?”
“Control hasn’t told you? Then neither will I.”
She stared toward his face, shadowed in the slanting moonlight. This man took pay from Iskander’s Security Service, but she knew his activities were little changed from those he followed before his recruitment. In every society, some men live very well by fetching and carrying that which more timid — or perhaps more manifestly honest — men eschewed. In Iskander’s service, only the nature of his merchandise had changed. Now he traded names and information more often than valuables with an aura of spilled blood about them. Was he here because of Yohan’s extra steam engine, or the Radicals?
“Are you watching the men brought to assemble the steam plant? You needn’t trouble yourself about them.”
Markov shook his head slowly. “I am told the lead man is far greater in skill than the task ahead requires. Some say he would be counted an engineer in Iskander but for jealousy against a man born in Tarnland.”
“He’s an able man. Sure, we Iskanders can be a conceited bunch. Would you doubt me if I said I persuaded my father to send him so he could prove himself?”
The shadows around Markov’s mouth stretched into a smile. “If you say so, Major.”
“Yohan asked for him to be posted in Lubitz.”
“Your lover would steal him from Iskander? What will your commanders say?”
“That’s my concern, Markov. And the word isn’t lover — you’ll stir up scandal. We’re engaged. As soon as his stubborn father relents, we shall marry.”
“And as soon as our commanding officer gives you leave to be a proper wife, you can take on a woman’s duty. I’d love to see you give suck to a bairn — it would restore my faith in motherhood.”
“The day you have faith in anything outside of a purse, the moon will faint into the sea, Markov. You may safely leave mothering to me. Now tell me what I want to know.”
She strove to steady her breath and skim over the anger she felt at his words. Goddamn the man, but he knew how to get her goat. How the hell did he know how uncertain she felt about her nurturing abilities? Did your mother kill as many men as I have, asshole?
“I hear the Radicals are active in Lubitz,” Markov said, leaning on the rail beside her.
“Are they? What of our man — have you news of him?”
“Ah, that is what I need to learn.”
“God dammit! Don’t go poking around the underworld and lead the city’s security to everybody.”
“I pass among the underclass of Lubitz as easily as this ship rides the Inland Sea. That is why Iskander pays me so well. You know that, Major.”
“The Radicals cannot be planning to start strikes and riots — I doubt if they’ve a dozen hotheads in their cell yet.” Gisel frowned — all change breeds opposition, and Iskander had caused more change in the past five years than this world had experienced in a millennium. Her father’s operations had already suffered sabotage in the factories and mines. Nothing too deadly… yet. She wasn’t convinced they were all the actions of  anarchists — the Empire’s ringleader could be responsible for more than the spying she’d uncovered. “The Radicals will be useful to Iskander — everyone sees that. The unrest could be worth an army to us if we can get them into the Empire’s factories.”
“Yes, I know. You want to pass troublemakers through into the Empire from a tame Radical movement in Lubitz. You hope your Industrial Revolution can make over the world the way you Iskanders want it. Do you think you can manage a bloody revolution as well?”
“We’ll watch and wait. As long as we can keep the lid on it –”
“And keep allies from knowing what you do. I suspect you’d not fret if the Radicals did get out of hand. What would your lover think?”
“Yohan has enough to worry about with the management tasks he has. I’ll take care of the revolutionaries in the factories for him.”
“You hope to keep them quiet. But what happens when he finds they are there? What if he learns you know all of them — more — that Iskander even pays and helps them?”
“Iskander is prepared to live with people’s aspirations, not kill to silence them. That’s the difference between us and the Empire.”
“Until they threaten you. Then the knives will come out.”
Gisel looked away. She didn’t know how Iskander’s leaders would react in that event, but she still believed they should ride the social changes as they rode the technological waves. “If we can guide the Radicals well enough, that may never come to pass.”
“But someone must be prepared to act. Better a puddle of blood than a torrent.”
Gisel turned her head sharply. Did she understand his mission? That was the bitch of it — running her own secret program separate from Iskander’s. But she and her father agreed — their leaders had too great a phobia about popular movements to be told. They were inclined to cater to their royal allies too much. Time would come when Iskander would need to go its own way, and a secret power base among the Radicals could prove its worth. They must build it up, and keep leaders they valued safe. “I don’t care what secret instructions Control might have given you — don’t terminate anyone without my say so.”
“Who do you value, Major?”
“No names. There are people among the Radicals who can be of service.”
“To Iskander, or to the Matahs?”
“What makes you think there’s a difference?”
Markov shook his head slowly. “What makes me useful to you?”
Gisel laughed to mask her concern. “Goddammit, Markov! You’d suspect your mother’s milk. Don’t you think I’ve enough to do keeping the peace in Skrona?”
“I’m sure you can handle Skrona.”
“With your help, perhaps.” Iskander’s security was tenuous at best. That’s why she scrounged for information everywhere she could. The war against the Empire was at a stalemate — they could even lose it. She’d do anything to make a difference. “I’ve told Control I want you back — as soon as this business is done.”
“A pleasure, Maj . . . What’s that?”
A loud splash came from the starboard side. Gisel jerked away from the rail. She scanned their wake in the scattered moonlight. Something lifted momentarily — a hand.
Markov pointed. “Someone’s fallen overboard!”
Gisel didn’t answer. She yanked out her new communicator, stabbed the position button, and sprinted along the deck toward the wheelhouse.

*    *    *    *    *
Just before eight bells, Slin Murrin sat uneasily on the stool Major Matah indicated. The Swift had long turned back on course, and the engines pounded harder as the Master tried to make up the lost time. Poor Durden, all they’d found in the water was his corpse. Did the Major know Durden had been a friend? Perhaps all she knew was that they had shared a cabin.
She stared at him with eyes that seemed to see right through him. “How long did you know Durden?”
“Nigh on four month, Major. We was buildin’ boilers together.”
“Did you get on well?”
Murrin swayed back on the stool. What did she want to know? High-up folks was all the same . . . couldn’t trust they . . . they was always looking to punish a fellow. “We was good workmates, Major. Foreman called us his num’mer one team.”
“What did you do this evening?”
“Nort, Major. We was in the cabin, fixin’ our kit. Ee were darnin’ ’is overalls an’ I was oilin’ my tools.”
“But he left the cabin. When was that?”
“Don’t know . . . were after three bells.”
“In the first watch? Right … Did he say why he was going?”
“Some man came for ’im. Called ’im up on deck.”
“Did you see the man? Did you recognize him? What did he look like?”
Murrin put his hands to his head. “Nay, Major. I di’n see ’im. Stood outside the cabin door.”
“He must have spoken. Did you recognize the voice?”
His heart thumped — why all these questions? Poor Durden had fallen overboard, and this officer acted like he could have pushed him. Best he say nothin’ more — she doubtless disbelieved him. Lookin’ for someone to blame — twas the same in the factory. You made a mistake . . . broke a castin’ or set a valve badly, an’ foreman an’ engineers was all over ye.
Major Matah stared into his eyes. “Apprentice Murrin, I’m waiting for an answer. Did you recognize the man’s voice?”
“Nay, Major. Why is you askin’ all this? Poor Durden have drowned . . . baint that enough?”
She leaned forward so closely he could feel her breath on his face. “Machinist Durden didn’t drown. He was thrown overboard — after his throat had been cut.”
“Cut! Th . . . th . . . throat cut?”
“Yes, lad. Now you know why I’m asking. Would you recognize the man’s voice if you heard it again?”
He stared. Now his heart really raced. Who would want to kill Durden? If he did remember the voice — would he be killed next? Didn’t do to get mixed in with evil doin’s. “I dursen’t think I would, Major. Wasn’t a . . . a strange voice — jus’ summat like a man hears ever’ day. No — I’m sure I wouldna know it again.”
“How much money did Durden have on him?”
“Lor. I expec’ the same as me. We was paid twenty thalers allowance for us to arrive in Lubitz.”
Major Matah nodded. “It was still in his money belt. What about in the cabin — did he have more?”
“Not as I knows.”
“You’ll come with me. We’ll search his things.”
“Fer certain, Major. If ye chooses.”
*    *    *    *    *

Yohan looked up as the wheelhouse door opened, to see Gisel step inside. She looked very official in her black Security uniform, its silver insignia gleaming like stars above evening thunderheads. She had her black hair in braids and piled under her service cap, businesslike. Tonight she hardly seemed the same gentle creature who shared his bed. He smiled and raised a hand — then guilt knotted his stomach and he tasted bile. She gave no sign, although her eyes were the same dark lances they always were when she was onto something.
She turned to the Swift’s Master. “I’ll interrogate the rest of your crew in the morning, before we dock. What time will we get in?”
“We lost nigh on two hours, Major, pickin’ up that corpse. Lucky us was to dock afore high tide — I think Swift has steam enough to catch her mooring afore it drops.”
Yohan took three steps across the wheelhouse to place an arm around Gisel’s waist and smile into those eyes, just a couple of inches below his. For the hundredth time, the desire to tell her about the steam engine surfaced in his mind. He wanted to, but would she think his betraying the Baron a weakness? She was too intent upon this new trouble to notice his unease. “You should get some rest now, dearest. I’ll see you’re called in time in the morning.”
“Thanks. That’ll give me about an hour. I may as well stay up.”
Yohan sighed; he sometimes wondered if she needed no sleep. “What have you learned?”
“Not much — yet. I’ve interviewed all the passengers, and no one seems suspicious. No obvious Empire agents among them.”
“You suspect the Empire is behind this, then?” Yohan said. The words sounded like lies in his head. After several generations of preventing innovation, the Empire had recognized the need to match the Iskanders’ knowledge. They had approached the Felger mercantile enterprise in secret — and the task of obtaining the engine, the extra one in Swift’s hold, had fallen to him. But had some Imperial agent misunderstood the plan and tried to sabotage the shipment by murdering Durden? He knew no reason to suspect the fellow of any subterfuge — he had been an artisan in the Felger’s employ for several years. The Baron had approved him for the steam training himself. “Why would an Empire spy want to kill Durden?”
Gisel shrugged. “Seems the most logical suspect. No doubt they have people somewhere in the Inland Sea area, with a brief to disrupt our operations.” She turned to the Master. “You can vouch for all your crew?”
He scratched at his grizzled chin. “Most be fellows what served on Swift afore the dockyard work. We hired a few more from Skrona . . . an’ then there is the steam artificers an’ stokers what was sent by your own factory.”
“I don’t think we can suspect any of the Iskander men,” Yohan said.
Gisel shook her head. “I’m not ruling anyone out. We’ve caught two Imperial spies in our industrial complex this year.”
“You are sure?” Yohan said, aghast. “Why did you not tell me?”
“I’m telling you now. One committed suicide, the other won’t talk. We have no proof. I wanted to let the man escape to see where he goes, but Control won’t hear of it.”
Yohan stared at her. What else had she kept from him — as much as he strove to keep from her? If she learned of the Felgers’ duplicity — that he was even now conveying the secret cargo to ship to their enemy — their engagement could be over. Would she ever trust him again, or forgive his treachery? His stomach squirmed at the thought. If only there was a way he could tell her without betraying the Baron.
Gisel seemed oblivious to the turmoil inside him. “I don’t think we have a robbery here, and likely no crime of passion. There’s no suspicion that he was a boy lover. Do you know of any business in the shipyards and factory which would give rise to murder?”
She looked hard at him as she said this. Was she testing him? Did she suspect?
He strove to hide his secret — keeping the awful image of Durden’s waterlogged corpse before his eyes. “No, nothing at all. You know as much as I do.”