Demon's Bounty by William Minor and Colin Heintze
Fifteen episodes. One grand space opera.
For thousands of years, humans were isolated from each other by vast gulfs of time and distance. The emergence of the Fey changed everything. Harnessing their power into stardrives collapsed the distance between worlds, ushering in a golden age of commerce and exploration. Some profited honestly. Others took to the stars for the freedom of plunder and infamy.
Few have gained more notoriety than the crew of the Corinthian. When a routine raid wins them a new breed of stardrive, they come to realize this bounty is no gentle Fey — it is the Djinn, an ancient horror whose discovery will determine the fates of gods and empires.
Demon's Bounty is available at Amazon
Will has previously been published in Nature and, after traveling the world, has been working as an English teacher in Denver, CO.
Colin has been published in Lore, Aphelion, Science Fiction Short Story, Kaleidotrope, Plots with Guns, and eFiction. In addition to his freelance work in the local film industry, he is a civil servant serving the people of Colorado.
The Corsair's Hellride
"Yellow Sky?" Rata-tat said.
"Yes, Captain?" The ship's computer sounded rushed. He never sounded rushed.
"How long until they overtake us?"
"Two minutes and twenty-four seconds."
"Sigrdrifa, when can we make another Feydrive jump?"
His pilot was up to her armpits in the pulsating, metallic tissue of the Feydrive interface. She looked back at Rata-tat through jade-tinted goggles. "I don't know that we can take the strain. Mother's nearly in a coma, and the blood vessel in my head has a fuse that's gotten pretty damn short."
Rata-tat nodded. They'd made six Feyjumps in the last hour. Those short trips into Feyspace felt something like a cross between an amusement park ride and particularly vivid hallucination. He had nearly vomited after the last two jumps and knew that, whatever he might be feeling, it had to be a thousand times worse for Sigrdrifa. Passively experiencing a Feyjump was one thing. Sending your mind into the Feydrive to facilitate the jump, quite another.
"Does not matter, Captain," said a hirsute, barrel-chested man feverishly punching data into a holographic star chart.
"Why's that, Scrum?"
"Every time we jump, enemy fleets match us. Escape is not being possible. Very skilled astrogators."
"Of course they're skilled astrogators, the flagships of the Angerian and Brakhian royal navies are behind us! Let's try a diplomatic tack. Yellow Sky, open a channel."
"Whoever is in charge of those fleets."
"Right away, Captain."
The viewing panel lit up in a split-screen display. One side was an older man who looked like he'd been dragged out of bed, then under a locomotive - not surprising for someone who had likely been woken in the middle of the night by a hysterical Chrysanthemum Countess. The other side housed a woman with hair pulled back in a severe bun.
"Rata-tat Solarnaut," the man said. "Return the wedding rings, now!"
"For once, I find myself agreeing with a Brakhian," added the woman. "You have made a dire mistake, rogue. If you do not return the rings, I will make your hide a wedding gift to my son and the Princess of Brakhia. No doubt it will warm them on Angeria's long winter nights."
"Close the channel," Rata-tat said. The viewing panel changed back to the Auger feeds of the enemy fleets. "Did you hear that, the Angerian woman is mad! What are we going to do?"
"You could return the wedding rings," suggested Breezy.
"Someone who isn't the engineer, please."
Scrum tugged on his beard and smiled.
"Captain, I am having an idea."
"Finally, someone important speaks. What's happening in that sick mind of yours?"
"We have new engine, you remember? We steal it from Nekrowizards of Overlorn. It can be helping us now."
"The Djinn Drive? We agreed never to use it after the unpleasantness on Overlorn."
The memory was as fresh as it was nasty. What had passed for solid intel — a gacked-out spacer in a VGW Hall — told Rata-tat the occultists on Overlorn had discovered a new kind of Fey creature. Nobody knew what it was or how it had been placed in an engine. The occultists they captured could provide nothing but old legends and theosophical nonsense, no small factors in the crew's decision to jettison them out of the Corinthian's airlock. Their aroma of sawdust and formaldehyde hadn't helped their chances, either.
Since then, they'd been stuck with the thing. They had tried to sell it, succeeding only in being laughed out of every pawnshop, antiquedrome, and scrapyard in six systems. So, it simply sat next to the Feydrive like a fat, black wart on the Corinthian's backside.
The viewing panel went white as the bridge shook from a surge of energy.
"What was that?"
"Extreme long range phase-net, Captain," Yellow Sky said. "It fried our exterior optics. I'll try to bring them back online."
"Captain," Sigrdrifa said. "A couple more of those will sever the psychic link between myself and the Feydrive. We won't be able to jump if that happens."
Rata-tat ran a hand down his face. "We've got no choice. Invoke the Djinn Drive, Yellow Sky."