EXCERPT from Chapter One of Outer Diverse; Galactic Guardian Detective Rhea Hawke sprawls, broken, in the acid-rain mud of an AI-run city—her chase gone terribly awry. Rhea had just jacked the particle-wave stream to the ancient dusty solar system of Fomalhaut, a bright isolated star below the galactic plane about twenty-five light-years from Earth. She’d chased the Dust smuggler V’mer to the sentient city on Mar Delena, home of the largest Dust-addict population in the galaxy:
My heart pounded up my throat. I gazed past the long barrel of the Q-gun drilled into my face to V’mer’s menacing grin. The shapeshifter bent over me like a vulture as I lay on my back in the mud. My chest heaved with pain and acid rain stung my eyes, forcing me to blink.
“Now whose fear do you smell, bitch?” V’mer snarled. He shoved the gun further up my nose. The sour smell of congealing blood cloyed in my nostrils. I gulped in sobbing breaths, tasting blood. V’mer sneered down at me out of yet another alien face he’d taken on. He’d assumed the giant form of a hairless purple-skinned Eosian. He’d literally torn out of his clothes. Rain sluiced down the smooth muscular flesh of his naked body, and his bald head shone in the amber street light. “I heard about you,” he went on. “Rhea Hawke, the only human Galactic Enforcer. She loved baldies so much she tecked herself into one—”
I squirmed up in sudden rage, but he slammed his boot hard on my torn shoulder and laughed sharply. I seized in an agonized breath and let my head fall back. White spots strobed in front of my eyes.
“You’re one to talk,” I hissed out between wheezing breaths and fought against passing out.
“You mean the form I’ve taken on? I did it so you could feast on my magnificent body and use your baldie tecks to smell all of me.” He barked out a stuttering laugh. “Wanna kiss me, Officer Hawke?” He went into a mock sing-song: “Rhea, scare-ya, wouldn’t you cry? She kissed the baldies and made them die …”
Alarm seized my heart. How did V’mer know about that malicious tease at the precinct?
V’mer let his laugh die down to a frown of concentration and stroked his face, mock-philosopher style. “Or is it more that you hate your own kind so much …?”
My eyelids involuntarily fluttered shut, and I felt myself slide into darkness. How did it come to this? It was only minutes ago that I was the one in control …
When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.