*clearing throat* Me.. me … me … me … me… me… meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee *singing* oh wait.. SPACE opera… my bad! Sorry guys *grabbing my coffee! Welcome Corinne! Let’s get to business, it is a grand day and a fine day when I can have a wonderful Science Fiction author on board breaking into her Fourth-Wall and literally into a universe! Join me in not only having her on for Fourth-Wall but for the pre-Tour stop (her official tour starts on October 1st!)
Write a space opera, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
What they failed to include in the colorful, glossy brochure that came with my ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ introductory kit were the strange things that can happen once you start taking your created Universe a little too seriously. Odd things. Things that leave you questioning what’s real and what’s just in your head. They also failed to explain how to make those voices in your head shut the fark up so you can get some actual writing done without the ongoing commentary from the peanut gallery.
Yeah, I said it. Peanut gallery. I expect some sort of retaliation from them later, but I’m on my fifth cup of coffee and all bets are off. It’s payback time and I’m breaking all the rules.
So, here I sit, feet dangling off the edge of a cargo pod that has my butt sore from sitting on it too long, waiting for them to arrive. They’re late, as expected. I wrote them that way, after all. Captain ‘Floppy-hair’ Hankarron Eros couldn’t arrive on time if his life depended on it.
Come to think of it, it actually has, once or twice, but I always seem to find a way to write him out of it using Ethan or Tara. Maybe I should stop saving his butt so he can learn the importance of punctuality and my butt can stop being so damn sore. Actually, that gives me ideas…
Dammit, I knew I should have brought my notepad. Who brings a notepad into a lucid dream, though?
“Ow!” I grab my arm and rub away a sharp pain from the skin, turning to find a playfully observant smirk set beneath a pair of sapphire blue eyes. They’re eyes I’d know anywhere, and that lopsided smile is something I never have a problem visualizing as I put it to paper. “Was that your idea of a hello, Ethan?”
“Just wanted to make sure you’re awake.” Ethan observes me openly for a long moment, his Mechatronic eyes focusing in and out. “Jehdra warned Hank about being late, but you know,”
“Know Hank,” I finish the sentence with him and give a sighing roll of the eyes. He stands up to his full height and I get a real idea of just how tall six feet and ten inches equals. I bite my bottom lip to keep from whistling at the Mechatronic Automaton. He’s impressive, and I’m not just saying that because I’m responsible for his creation.
Okay, so maybe there’s a little pride in there, but can you really blame me? He’s exquisite. A work of engineering genius.
Hankarron, on the other hand…
The approaching brown-eyed, wavy brown haired man with a blaster highlighting his swagger reminds me I might have watched a few too many FireFly episodes while creating Captain Hankarron Eros. His carefree grin widens as he nears, absolutely oblivious to his tardiness. Luckily, Tara Flint is there once again to remind him.
Hank flinches as Tara’s hand gives the side of his head a solid wallop. “Stars, Tara, I was gonna apologize!”
He’s chuckling now as Tara threatens him with another well-deserved reprimand, but there is love in her emerald eyes along with the frustration at his continued refusal to grow up and fly straight. With a huff and a cross of her arms, she turns to me and offers a light, apologetic shrug. “I try. I swear, I try.”
“Much to Central’s amusement, I might add.” I smile at the three of them, and they smile back at the Central Section Twelve investigator I am in their world. It’s easier to explain than hey, I’m your creator, please don’t freak out or feel the need to kneel and build an altar’. Not that they’d believe me. Well, Hank might, but he’s always teetered on the gullible side.
Altars aren’t really my style, anyway. I’m more of an idol kind of girl.
Hank’s apology remains unspoken, but I’m neither surprised nor bothered by it. His hand is raised to the back of his neck and the action, along with a sheepish grin, is enough for me to understand his internally-directed annoyance. He wishes he could be more responsible. He wishes he could grow up. He wishes for a lot of things that I haven’t given to him yet.
Not that he has a clue I’m the one responsible for his shortcomings. None of them do. My third time meeting them and it feels even more real than the last. It was becoming dangerously more real to me than the other place, that faint memory called reality. What was existence, anyway, if not a waking dream? Where do the lines get crossed and the creator becomes the dream of her creations?
I blink out of my wayward thoughts to find the kind, concerned hazel eyes of Brommrigor staring down at me. His bald head is cocked to the side as if he could physically see the words in my brain tumbling out of my ears and onto the cargo bay floor. The tiny orange scales that cover his body flex and contract with the dull reflective nature of snakeskin. I never grow tired of looking at it, or his big, gentle hands as they pull me into a hug against his broad, muscular chest. Yeah, Brom is my gigantic alien teddy bear and I know exactly the place in my heart from which his character had been drawn.
“I’m fine, big guy,” I give him an encouraging smile as he sets me back on my feet. “Just tired. Long trip and Jehdra was in one of her moods.”
“Hank’s fault, I’m sure,” he smiles the words, but the smile doesn’t quite reach all the way.
That’s Brom’s ‘I know you’re not being straight with me but that’s okay’ look, and even I’m unprepared for how it rattles my cage. Damn. I really need to get to book five so I can tell his story. He deserves so much more than being the supportive side-character. I just hope he’s really strong enough for what I have planned. He winks at me, and I’m pretty sure he could handle anything and come out smiling.
“Why is it always my fault?” Hank groans.
“Do you really want me to answer that?” Tara replies without hesitation.
“No,” he scowls in return. “The Director has it in for me.”
“Well, maybe if you would stop blowing up every space port you dock at,” Ethan offers and I have to stifle a laugh at the exasperated look on Hank’s face.
The floppy-haired Captain really has no idea how much Director Jehdra Szina really loves him, how much she loves all of them. Soon, though. I think I’m almost ready to get to that part. It’s actually why I’m here. Their story is about to take another turn, and I wonder if Hankarron is as ready to be tested like Ethan has been.
Ethan. I swallow a sigh as my eyes look back at him. He has that continuous lopsided smile on his blue-grey lips. For a Mechatronic Automaton, a machine, he looks damn happy, but his eyes tell a different story. They reflect sadness contained in a soul struggling for understanding, and they tell the story I’ve written across countless pages and into the very construct of his being. The fact that he lacks a heart does nothing to diminish the pain I know he’s trying to hide.
She’s gone. His beloved Velstrae is gone and it’s all my doing. I inhale sharply and force myself to edit that statement as the fabric of this dream tears along the edges. She’s not gone, just lost, and lost things can be found again.
“Ataha! What have you done now?”
The unmistakable, Ruisk-accented voice of Larx breaks into my wandering melancholy and I look up to find the seven foot tall Ruisk swatting Hank on the shoulder while pointing a long, clawed finger at my frowning lips. My eyebrow quirks up. I don’t remember inviting Larx into this dream, but I’m glad he’s here. I need someone to lighten my mood.
“Why is it always my fault?!” Hank laughs, but I catch the true irritation in his tone.
“You would like me to answer this honestly, yes?” Larx crosses his lanky arms with a playful, toothy grin. Hank rolls his eyes as Tara laughs so hard she snorts.
That snort melts Hank’s irritation in an instant and I watch as his eyes soften in an affection for Tara that he tries futilely to hide. Raising his hand to scratch the back of his neck as Tara stops laughing long enough to regain her breath, Hank sticks one back to the Ruisk. “And where’s the other half? No way Torque’s let you off the leash so soon.”
“Ataha,” Larx waves a hand dismissively in typical Ruisk fashion, but his bronze cheeks are darkening and his lips are twitching in constrained embarrassment.
It’s a good look for him, and I’m glad to see him so genuinely happy for once. It’s well deserved, I think, after all the shit I put him through. Not that I’m done bringing chaos into his life. Or, any of their lives for that matter. I never make things easy for them, but I try to at least make everything turn out alright in the end. I try.
“Is picking up some supplies for trip,” Larx continues in his broken Common Tradespeak. “Will meet us back at ship, he says.”
Tara snorts again. “I bet I know what he’s picking up.”
“Ataha!” Larx’s cheeks go three shades darker as he lightly swats Tara’s shoulder, but he doesn’t deny her suggest either. “Is what is. He is insatiable.”
And just like that, my mood is lifted. It’s moments like this that I remember why I wrote Larx in the first place. No matter what I toss at the Ruisk or drag him through, he always comes out smiling on the other end. Strong and courageous. Obnoxiously optimistic.
Hopping off the crate and refraining from the urge to rub my sore ass, I peer up at my Central Agents. They look back at me in an expectant quiet, waiting for my next move. I haven’t told them yet where we’re going, and though reluctant to break the upbeat mood Larx has encouraged, I know it’s time to start moving the story forward again.
“Well people,” I take on the voice of Jehdra, a no-nonsense taking Hedarion who has always been the figure of authority. “Let’s get our rears in gear. It’s a long journey to Xen’dari territory.”
The silence is palpable, but Ethan doesn’t let it hang long. “We’re going after her?”
I crane my neck back to look up at the hope in his eyes. Stars, he’s really hanging on by a thread. I know I need to give him something, even if it’s something small, to keep that thread from snapping. “Yeah, Ethan. We’re going after her.”
I just hope I can remember to write down that promise when I wake up.
Tracing the Stars
Hankarron Eros has loved Tara since she had pigtails, but fear of losing their friendship leads him to keep his heart’s desires locked away. When the truth about his family is exposed and leaves him grasping to hold onto his ship, his crew and his sanity, words are spoken that can’t be taken back and the presence he had grown so used to having at a convenient reach is gone.
Tara Flint has never denied her heart’s attraction to the floppy-haired, brown-eyed Hankarron, even if he can be a stupid limik sometimes. Her strong will falters as she is forced to decide between a promise she made to her father, a boy she has loved since she had pigtails and the possibility of finding out what her life might be like without the presence of Hankarron always by her side.
They say that the stories of our time will one day be traced into the stars to help guide others home. Fate strings intertwine with skipping stones across the stars of the universe, pulling it forward and writing new lines in the night sky as the Corwint Central Agent saga continues to lead Ethan, Orynn and Jarren towards a collision that holds the power to change everything.
Side Story: Brel
Side Story: Jehdra
Side Story: Vex
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