The first body that turns up in Farway, a secluded town on the planet Denebola, is from out of town. When the Denebola Bureau of Investigation and the legates office from half the planet away decide to help identify the murder victim, Sheriff Hank Ketchum knows he's in over his head.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
December 04, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Blood Avatar by Ilsa J. Bick
Farway, Denebola Prefecture VIII, Republic of the Sphere Friday, 13 April 3136
Noah Schroeder huddled in an ancient tree house just up the hill from the old, haunted Roman Catholic graveyard and figured that, another couple minutes, these cigarettes were gonna kill him for sure.
And just a couple of hours ago, he'd felt pretty good. Friday, end of another school week, zip homework. He'd biked eight klicks out of town, working up a sweat and going so fast the scenery was a blur of brown and gray, of fields chunky with stubble and stands of craggy, denuded trees. The west wind blowing in from the distant snow-covered peaks of the Kendrakes was cold enough to make his ears hurt, and the tip of his nose felt like a brass button. But the sky was bright turquoise and cloudless, so when Noah looked up, he spied a pair of thin white lines drawn on the dome of the sky. DropShips, freighters probably, outbound from New Bonn spaceport to the system's jump point five days away. (Not that he'd ever seen a DropShip, or the spaceport, for that matter. New Bonn was seven, eight hours south, but the city might as well be on another planet. Farway was, well, far away.)
Joey handed over the cigarette. Noah said, "Wow, thanks," wondered what the heck was wrong with him, and sucked. Smoke blasted his mouth, and he felt his head expand to the size of a Mule-class DropShip from the nicotine buzz. He thought he might pass out, or vomit, or just roll over, arms and legs in the air like an Amaris dung beetle and die, or maybe all three.
Instead, he said in a thin, strangled voice, "Yeah, wow, Joey, man, this is great." Then Noah doubled over and hacked out smoke and what felt like half a lung.
Well, that made Joey Ketchum and Troy Underhill nearly bust a gut. Joey said, "Whoa, whoa, Jesus, don't drop it!" He grabbed Noah's arm and tweezed the cigarette free as Noah retched. "You know how hard it was to lift that pack?"
"How hard?" Troy asked.
"Hard." Joey screwed the cigarette into the side of his mouth then swept up a pack of greasy, dog-eared cards and started a Solitaire game of Kerensky's Run. At thirteen and change, Joey had three months on Noah and seven on Troy. Joey was also a budding sociopath: ironic, considering that Joey's father was the local sheriff.
"I thought Bert was gonna PPC my ass, he gave me the evil eye," he said, the cigarette marking time. Joey slapped down a Black Knight Six, squinted through a curl of cigarette smoke, made a horsey sound. "Piece a crap deck," he said, sweeping the cards up and butting them together. "Can't win Kerensky's Run, you don't got but three Binaries." Tossing the pack into a corner, Joey knocked a tube of ash from the cigarette, settled his back against a rotting slab of plywood and blew a streamer of gray smoke. "Man, I'm so cold my dick's gonna fall off."