EXCERPT from Chapter One of Outer Diverse. Armed with information on the recent Schiss massacre, Galactic Guardian detective Rhea Hawke travels to the planet Horus (47 Uma a) in the 47 Ursae Majoris system to confront the sage Ka—a hawk-like being and gatekeeper of the Schiss Order—to convince him to permit her to travel to Paradise City on Horus’s moon Uma 1: she needs to warn Rashomon, one of the remaining Schiss priests, of an attempt to assassinate him.
Thinking of Serge’s possible mission if he was who I thought he was, I decided to pursue my quest more forcefully. “Rashomon might be in grave danger now … from an assassin.”
“Indeed,” Ka said too casually for my taste. He continued to walk placidly down the archway.
“I must warn him. Prepare him.”
“Really?” he returned in a voice of challenge. “One assassin to take care of another?” I felt his tone slightly mocking as he aimed a pointed glance from my sidearm, holstered in plain view, to my heating face. “You honestly think that you can make a difference?”
I decided to tell him the truth. “I think the assassin is already on Uma 1. I might be able to help. I … know him.” I swallowed convulsively, hand in my pocket and feeling for the info-pod Bas had given me. “He’s a shapeshifter and I can recognize them no matter what shape they take on.”
Ka frowned and nodded as if to himself. “You are presumptuous, Rhea Hawke. You speak half-truths. You are a paradox,” he said. “So out of tune, a jumble of discord. Yet, surprisingly open for one so closed. You’re very cynical for one so young. But also incredibly naïve for one so cynical.”
I felt my jaw clench with discomfort at his self-conflicting prognosis of me. How could anyone be naïve and cynical at the same time? I hated being analyzed or judged. But I remained calm. I had to convince this old philosopher to give me a permit to travel to Uma 1 do I could warn Rashomon…and find Serge.
I decided to go with another one of my Plan B’s: a gamble based on psychology—not my strong suit: “I know that one reason Rashamon remains in isolation is because he fears shape-shifters.” I’d finally captured Ka’s undivided attention. I dove in. “I can provide Rashomon with unequivocal proof.” I pulled out my MEC. “This device can detect shapeshifters. I could let him use it on his staff and visitors.”
“A weapon?” Ka glared from my weapon of destruction to me.
“A tool,” I cut in. “As a tool. I can set it to detect. Only detect. There would be absolutely no danger.”
Ka went silent for some moments. I decided that was a good thing. He hadn’t dismissed my offer outright. Then he finally spoke in a musical voice, “I sense that you are a seeker of the truth; yet you willingly harbor much that is untrue.”
My brows furrowed, and I felt the side of my mouth twitch up in puzzlement. That wasn’t a “yes”, I decided.
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.
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GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!
Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.
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.