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Every Paperback Coming From Tor This Summer

Looking for the ultimate summer reads? This year’s selection from Tor Books is absolutely scorching! Explore the must-have paperbacks hitting the shelves this season.


June 25

 

9781250877314Foul Days by Genoveva Dimova

As a witch in the walled city of Chernograd, Kosara has plenty of practice treating lycanthrope bites, bargaining with kikimoras, and slaying bloodsucking upirs. There’s only one monster she can’t defeat: her ex, the Zmey, known as the Tsar of Monsters. She’s defied him one too many times and now he’s hunting her. Betrayed by someone close to her, Kosara’s only choice is to trade her shadow—the source of her powers—for a quick escape. Unfortunately, Kosara soon develops the deadly sickness that plagues shadowless witches—and only reclaiming her magic can cure her. To find it, she’s forced to team up with a suspiciously honorable detective. Even worse, all the clues point in a single direction: To get her shadow back, Kosara will have to face the Foul Days’ biggest threats without it. And she’s only got twelve days. But in a city where everyone is out for themselves, who can Kosara trust to assist her in outwitting the biggest monster from her past?

July 2

 

9781250208347Cassiel’s Servant by Jacqueline Carey

The lush epic fantasy that inspired a generation with a single precept: “Love As Thou Wilt.” Returning to the realm of Terre d’Ange which captured an entire generation of fantasy readers, New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey brings us a hero’s journey for a new era. In Kushiel’s Dart, a daring young courtesan uncovered a plot to destroy her beloved homeland. But hers is only half the tale. Now see the other half of the heart that lived it. Cassiel’s Servant is a retelling of cult favorite Kushiel’s Dart from the point of view of Joscelin, Cassiline warrior-priest and protector of Phèdre nó Delaunay. He’s sworn to celibacy and the blade as surely as she’s pledged to pleasure, but the gods they serve have bound them together. When both are betrayed, they must rely on each other to survive. From his earliest training to captivity amongst their enemies, his journey with Phèdre to avert the conquest of Terre D’Ange shatters body and mind… and brings him an impossible love that he will do anything to keep. Even if it means breaking all vows and losing his soul.

9781250890368Ravensong by TJ Klune (new edition)

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack that left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves. It should have been enough. It was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. And when his town is caught in the jaws of a beast, Gordo is summoned back into the life that left him. “Gordo, you must rise. For your pack. For us. I must ask you to become the witch to the wolves.” Now, a year later, Gordo has once again found himself the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them. But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s coming from within.

The paperback edition features beautiful orange sprayed edges, holographic cover and a bonus short story.

July 16

 

9781250621849 (1)He Who Drowned the World by Shelley Parker-Chan

How much would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor. But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbor in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband—and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan. Unbeknownst to the southerners, a new contender is even closer to the throne. The scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang has maneuvered his way into the capital, and his lethal court games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history—and in so doing, make a mockery of every value his Mongol warrior family loved more than him. All the contenders are determined to do whatever it takes to win. But when desire is the size of the world, the price could be too much for even the most ruthless heart to bear…

 

July 23

 

9781250871282Gravity Lost by L. M. Sagas

After thwarting a space station disaster and planetary destruction, the Ambit crew thought turning Isaiah Drestyn over to the Union would be the end of their troubles. Turns out, it’s only the start. Drestyn is a walking encyclopedia of dirty secrets, and everyone wants a piece of him—the Trust, the Union, even the Guild. Someone wants him bad enough to kill, and with the life of one of their own on the line, the Ambit crew must jail-break the very man they helped capture and expose some of the secrets he’s been keeping before it’s too late. In the Spiral, everything has a price. In their fight to protect what they love, Eoan, Nash, Saint, and Jal will confront some ugly truths about their enemies, and even uglier truths about their friends. But nothing will come close to the truths they’ll learn about themselves. You can’t always fix what’s broken … and sometimes, it’s better that way.

July 30

 

9781250884879Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

Viola Marek is a struggling real estate agent, and a vampire. But her biggest problem currently is that the house she needs to sell is haunted. The ghost haunting the mansion has been murdered, and until he can solve the mystery of how he died, he refuses to move on. Fox D’Mora is a medium, and though he is also most-definitely a shameless fraud, he isn’t entirely without his uses—seeing as he’s actually the godson of Death. When Viola seeks out Fox to help her with the ghost infestation, he becomes inextricably involved in a quest that neither he nor Vi expects (or wants). But with the help of an unruly poltergeist, a demonic personal trainer, a sharp-voiced angel, a love-stricken reaper, and a few mindfulness-practicing creatures, Vi and Fox soon discover that the difference between a mysterious lost love and an annoying dead body isn’t nearly as distinct as they thought.

This paperback edition includes a special bonus story and beautiful purple sprayed edges.

August 6

 

9781250269362Devil’s Gun by Cat Rambo

Life’s hard when you’re on the run from a vengeful pirate-king…

When Niko and her crew find that the intergalactic Gate they’re planning on escaping through is out of commission, they make the most of things, creating a pop-up restaurant to serve the dozens of other stranded ships. But when an archaeologist shows up claiming to be able to fix the problem, Niko smells something suspicious cooking. Nonetheless, they can’t pass up the chance to find the weapon that could stop Tubal Last before he can take his revenge. There, in one of the most dangerous places in the Known Universe, each of them will face ghosts from their past. Meanwhile, the ship, You Sexy Thing, contemplates what it wants from life—which may be very different from Niko and the rest of the crew.

August 13

 

9781250326690The Fortunate Fall by Cameron Reed

Tor Essentials presents new editions of science fiction and fantasy titles of proven merit and lasting value, each volume introduced by an appropriate literary figure. On its first publication in 1996, The Fortunate Fall was hailed as an SF novel of a wired future on par with the debuts of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. Now it returns to print, as one of the great underground classics of the last several decades in SF. Maya Andreyeva is a “camera,” a reporter with virtual-reality-broadcasting equipment implanted in her brain. What she sees, millions see; what she feels, millions share. And what Maya is seeing is the cover-up of a massacre. As she probes into the covert political power plays of a radically strange near-future Russia, she comes upon secrets that have been hidden from the world…and memories that AI-controlled thought police have forced her to hide from herself. Because in a world where no thought or desire is safe, the price of survival is betrayal – of your lover, your ideals, and yourself.

August 27

 

9781250852496After the Forest by Kell Woods

Twenty years after the witch in the gingerbread house, Greta and Hans are struggling to get by. Their mother and stepmother are long dead, Hans is deeply in debt from gambling, and the countryside lies in ruin, its people starving in the aftermath of a brutal war. Greta has a secret, though: the witch’s grimoire, hidden away and whispering in Greta’s ear for the past two decades, and the recipe inside that makes the best gingerbread you’ve ever tasted. As long as she can bake, Greta can keep her small family afloat. But in a village full of superstition, Greta and her mysteriously addictive gingerbread, not to mention the rumors about her childhood misadventures, is a source of gossip and suspicion. And now, dark magic is returning to the woods and Greta’s magic—magic she is still trying to understand—may be the only thing that can save her. If it doesn’t kill her first.

September 3

 

9781250319722Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

It is 83 years after the last thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. The war hero Vorian Atreides has turned his back on politics and Salusa Secundus. The descendants of the disgraced Abulurd Harkonnen have sworn vengeance against Vor, blaming him for the downfall of their noble family. Raquella Berto-Anirul has formed the Bene Gesserit School and, through a terrible ordeal, has become the first Reverend Mother. The descendants of Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva use mutated, spice-saturated Navigators who fly precursors of Heighliners. And Gilbertus Albans, ward of the hated thinking machine Erasmus, is teaching humans to become Mentats…while hiding an unbelievable secret. Led by the fanatic Manford Torondo, the Butlerian movement, fiercely opposed to all forms of “dangerous technology,” sweeps across the known universe in mobs, millions strong, destroying everything in its path.

9781250865946The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow

It’s thirty years from now. We’re making progress, mitigating climate change, slowly but surely. But what about all the angry old people who can’t let go? For young Americans a generation from now, climate change isn’t controversial. It’s just an overwhelming fact of life. And so are the great efforts to contain and mitigate it. Entire cities are being moved inland from the rising seas. Vast clean-energy projects are springing up everywhere. Disaster relief, the mitigation of floods and superstorms, has become a skill for which tens of millions of people are trained every year. The effort is global. It employs everyone who wants to work. Even when national politics oscillates back to right-wing leaders, the momentum is too great; these vast programs cannot be stopped in their tracks. But there are still those Americans, mostly elderly, who cling to their red baseball caps, their grievances, their huge vehicles, their anger. To their “alternative” news sources that reassure them that their resentment is right and pure and that “climate change” is just a giant scam. And they’re your grandfather, your uncle, your great-aunt. And they’re not going anywhere. And they’re armed to the teeth. The Lost Cause asks: What do we do about people who cling to the belief that their own children are the enemy? When, in fact, they’re often the elders that we love?

9781250907066TJ Klune Trade Paperback Collection by TJ Klune

New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune invites you to a magical island in a cerulean sea, a cozy teahouse for both the living and the dead, and into the heart of a peculiar forest in this three-book trade paperback boxed collection.

The House in the Cerulean Sea: Linus Baker is a by-the-book caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the headmaster of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

Under the Whispering Door: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

In the Lives of Puppets: In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, lives an unlikely family of robots and Vic, a human. When an unfamiliar android named Hap unwittingly alerts the City of Electric Dreams of the family’s whereabouts, the fatherly inventor android is captured and taken back to his old laboratory to serve. So together, the rest of the family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to save their father—and amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

September 10

 

sandymancer
sandymancer

Sandymancer by David Edison

A wild girl with sand magic in her bones and a mad god who is trying to fix the world he broke come together in SANDYMANCER, a genre-warping mashup of weird fantasy and hard science fiction.

All Caralee Vinnet has ever known is dust. Her whole world is made up of the stuff; water is the most precious thing in the cosmos. A privileged few control what elements remain. But the world was not always a dust bowl and the green is not all lost.

Caralee has a secret—she has magic in her bones and can draw up power from the sand beneath her feet to do her bidding. But when she does she winds up summoning a monster: the former god-king who broke the world 800 years ago and has stolen the body of her best friend.

Caralee will risk the whole world to take back what she’s lost. If her new companion doesn’t kill her first.

September 17

 

9780765387509The Fragile Threads of Power by V. E. Schwab

A new door opens…

Once there were four worlds, nestled like pages in a book, each pulsing with fantastical power and connected by a single city: London.

After a desperate attempt to prevent corruption and ruin in the four Londons, there are only three:
● Grey London, thriving but barely able to remember its magical heritage
● Red London, ruled lately by the Maresh family, flourishing and powerful
● White London, left to brutality and decay

Now the worlds are going to collide anew—brought to a dangerous precipice by the discoveries of three remarkable magicians. There’s Kosika, the child queen of White London, who has nourished her city on blood and dreams—and whose growing devotion to both is leading her down a dangerous path. Then there’s Delilah Bard, born a thief in Grey London, who crossed the worlds to become a legend far from there. She’s an infamous magician, a devious heroine, and a risk-taking rogue, all rolled into one unforgettable package. Having disappeared to seek new adventure, an old favor now calls Lila back to a dangerous port, to join some old friends who need more help than they realize. Last there is Tes, a young runaway with an unusual and powerful ability, hiding out in Red London while trying to stay out of the limelight. Tes is the only one who can keep all the worlds from unraveling—if she manages to stay alive first.

September 24

 

9781250829320All the Hidden Paths by Foz Meadows

With the plot against them foiled and the city of Qi-Katai in safe hands, newlywed and tentative lovers Velasin and Caethari have just begun to test the waters of their relationship. But the wider political ramifications of their marriage are still playing out across two nations, and all too soon, they’re summoned north to Tithena’s capital city, Qi-Xihan, to present themselves to its monarch. With Caethari newly invested as his grandmother’s heir and Velasin’s old ghosts gnawing at his heels, what little peace they’ve managed to find is swiftly put to the test. Cae’s recent losses have left him racked with grief and guilt, while Vel struggles with the disconnect between instincts that have kept him safe in secrecy and what an open life requires of him now. Pursued by unknown assailants and with Qi-Xihan’s court factions jockeying for power, Vel and Cae must use all the skills at their disposal to not only survive, but thrive. Because there’s more than one way to end an alliance, and more than one person who wants to see them fail…and they will resort to murder if needed.

 

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Every Book Coming from Tor This Summer 2024

Ready to discover the hottest reads of summer? Get ready, because this year, our list is SMOKIN’. Check out everything coming from Tor Books in Summer 2024 here!


June 25

 

The Daughter's WarThe Daughter’s War by Christopher Buehlman

Galva — Galvicha to her three brothers, two of whom the goblins will kill — has defied her family’s wishes and joined the army’s untested new unit, the Raven Knights. They march toward a once-beautiful city overrun by the goblin horde, accompanied by scores of giant war corvids. Made with the darkest magics, these fearsome black birds may hold the key to stopping the goblins in their war to make cattle of mankind. The road to victory is bloody, and goblins are clever and merciless. The Raven Knights can take nothing for granted — not the bonds of family, nor the wisdom of their leaders, nor their own safety against the dangerous war birds at their side. But some hopes are worth any risk.

9781250877314Foul Days by Genoveva Dimova

As a witch in the walled city of Chernograd, Kosara has plenty of practice treating lycanthrope bites, bargaining with kikimoras, and slaying bloodsucking upirs. There’s only one monster she can’t defeat: her ex, the Zmey, known as the Tsar of Monsters. She’s defied him one too many times and now he’s hunting her. Betrayed by someone close to her, Kosara’s only choice is to trade her shadow—the source of her powers—for a quick escape. Unfortunately, Kosara soon develops the deadly sickness that plagues shadowless witches—and only reclaiming her magic can cure her. To find it, she’s forced to team up with a suspiciously honorable detective. Even worse, all the clues point in a single direction: To get her shadow back, Kosara will have to face the Foul Days’ biggest threats without it. And she’s only got twelve days. But in a city where everyone is out for themselves, who can Kosara trust to assist her in outwitting the biggest monster from her past?

July 9

 

The Sky on Fire by Jenn LyonsThe Sky on Fire by Jenn Lyons

Anahrod lives only for survival, forging her own way through the harsh jungles of the Deep with her titan drake by her side. Even when an adventuring party saves her from capture by a local warlord, she is eager to return to her solitary life. But this is no ordinary rescue. It’s Anahrod’s past catching up with her. These cunning misfits—and their frustratingly appealing dragonrider ringleader—intend to spirit her away to the dragon-ruled sky cities, where they need her help to steal from a dragon’s hoard. There’s only one problem: the hoard in question belongs to the current regent, Neveranimas—and she wants Anahrod dead.

9781250344458A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (new edition)

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

July 16

 

9781250837929Blood Jade by Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle

Emiko Soong, newly minted Sentinel of San Francisco, just can’t catch a break. Just after she becomes the guardian for a sentient city, a murder strikes close to home. Called by the city and one of the most powerful clans to investigate, she traces the killer whose scent signature bears a haunting similarity to her mother’s talent. The trail will lead her back to Tokyo where the thread she pulls threatens to unravel her whole world and bring dark family secrets to light. Meanwhile, the General rises in the East and Emiko must fight the hidden enemies of his growing army who are amped up on Blood Jade, while keeping her promises to her brother Tatsuya as he prepares for his tourney. Her duties as Sentinel and her loyalties collide when she must choose between hiding her deepest shame or stopping the General’s relentless march.

July 23

 

9781250871282Gravity Lost by L. M. Sagas

After thwarting a space station disaster and planetary destruction, the Ambit crew thought turning Isaiah Drestyn over to the Union would be the end of their troubles. Turns out, it’s only the start. Drestyn is a walking encyclopedia of dirty secrets, and everyone wants a piece of him—the Trust, the Union, even the Guild. Someone wants him bad enough to kill, and with the life of one of their own on the line, the Ambit crew must jail-break the very man they helped capture and expose some of the secrets he’s been keeping before it’s too late. In the Spiral, everything has a price. In their fight to protect what they love, Eoan, Nash, Saint, and Jal will confront some ugly truths about their enemies, and even uglier truths about their friends. But nothing will come close to the truths they’ll learn about themselves. You can’t always fix what’s broken … and sometimes, it’s better that way.

July 30

 

9781250890375Brothersong by TJ Klune

In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone. Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity. But he pushes on, following the trail left by Gavin. Gavin, the son of Robert Livingstone. The half-brother of Gordo Livingstone. What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever. Because Gavin’s history with the Bennett pack goes back further than anyone knows, a secret kept hidden by Carter’s father, Thomas Bennett. And with this knowledge comes a price: the sins of the fathers now rest upon the shoulders of their sons.

August 6

 

A Sorceress Comes to CallA Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher

Cordelia knows her mother is . . . unusual. Their house doesn’t have any doors between rooms—there are no secrets in this house—and her mother doesn’t allow Cordelia to have a single friend. Unless you count Falada, her mother’s beautiful white horse. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is on her daily rides with him. But more than simple eccentricity sets her mother apart. Other mothers don’t force their daughters to be silent and motionless for hours, sometimes days, on end. Other mothers aren’t evil sorcerers. When her mother unexpectedly moves them into the manor home of a wealthy older Squire and his kind but keen-eyed sister, Hester, Cordelia knows this welcoming pair are to be her mother’s next victims. But Cordelia feels at home for the very first time among these people, and as her mother’s plans darken, she must decide how to face the woman who raised her to save the people who have become like family.

9781250269362Devil’s Gun by Cat Rambo

Life’s hard when you’re on the run from a vengeful pirate-king…

When Niko and her crew find that the intergalactic Gate they’re planning on escaping through is out of commission, they make the most of things, creating a pop-up restaurant to serve the dozens of other stranded ships. But when an archaeologist shows up claiming to be able to fix the problem, Niko smells something suspicious cooking. Nonetheless, they can’t pass up the chance to find the weapon that could stop Tubal Last before he can take his revenge. There, in one of the most dangerous places in the Known Universe, each of them will face ghosts from their past. Meanwhile, the ship, You Sexy Thing, contemplates what it wants from life—which may be very different from Niko and the rest of the crew.

August 13

 

9780765382924Glass Houses by Madeline Ashby

Luckily, those who survived have found a beautiful, fully-stocked private palace, with all the latest technological updates (though one without connection to the outside world). The house, however, has more secrets than anyone might have guessed, and a much darker reason for having been built and left behind. Kristen, the hyper-competent “chief emotional manager” (a position created by her eccentric, boyish billionaire boss, Sumter) is trying to keep her colleagues stable throughout this new challenge, but staying sane seems to be as much of a challenge as staying alive. Being a woman in tech has always meant having to be smarter than anyone expects–and Kristen’s knack for out-of-the-box problem-solving and quick thinking has gotten her to the top of her field. But will a killer instinct be enough to survive the island?

The Doors of MidnightThe Doors of Midnight by R.R. Virdi

Some stories are hidden for a reason. All tales have a price. And every debt must be paid.

I killed three men as a child and earned the name Bloodletter. Then I set fire to the fabled Ashram. I’ve been a bird and robbed a merchant king of a ransom of gold. And I have crossed desert sands and cutthroat alleys to repay my debt. I’ve stood before the eyes of god, faced his judgement, and cast aside the thousand arrows that came with it. And I have passed through the Doors of Midnight and lived to tell the tale. I have traded one hundred and one stories with a creature as old as time, and survived with only my cleverness, a candle, and a broken promise. And most recently of all, I have killed a prince, though the stories say I have killed more than one. My name is Ari. These are my legends. And these are my lies.

September 3

 

9781250319722Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

It is 83 years after the last thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. The war hero Vorian Atreides has turned his back on politics and Salusa Secundus. The descendants of the disgraced Abulurd Harkonnen have sworn vengeance against Vor, blaming him for the downfall of their noble family. Raquella Berto-Anirul has formed the Bene Gesserit School and, through a terrible ordeal, has become the first Reverend Mother. The descendants of Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva use mutated, spice-saturated Navigators who fly precursors of Heighliners. And Gilbertus Albans, ward of the hated thinking machine Erasmus, is teaching humans to become Mentats…while hiding an unbelievable secret. Led by the fanatic Manford Torondo, the Butlerian movement, fiercely opposed to all forms of “dangerous technology,” sweeps across the known universe in mobs, millions strong, destroying everything in its path.

September 10

 

9781250357243The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (new edition)

A beautiful new hardcover edition of one of the best-loved and best-selling fantasy novels of the past decade, New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, featuring aqua sprayed edges!

9781250881205Somewhere Beyond the Sea by TJ Klune

Featuring gorgeous golden yellow sprayed edges! Somewhere Beyond the Sea is the hugely anticipated sequel to TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, one of the best-loved and best-selling fantasy novels of the past decade.

A magical house. A secret past. A summons that could change everything.

Arthur Parnassus lives a good life, built on the ashes of a bad one. He’s the headmaster of a strange orphanage on a distant and peculiar island, and he hopes to soon be the adoptive father to the six magical and so-called dangerous children who live there.
Arthur works hard and loves with his whole heart so none of the children ever feel the neglect and pain that he once felt as an orphan on that very same island so long ago. And he is not alone: joining him is the love of his life, Linus Baker, a former caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth; Zoe Chapelwhite, the island’s sprite; and her girlfriend, Mayor Helen Webb. Together, they will do anything to protect the children. But when Arthur is summoned to make a public statement about his dark past, he finds himself at the helm of a fight for the future that his family, and all magical people, deserve. And when a new magical child hopes to join them on their island home—one who finds power in calling himself monster, a name Arthur worked so hard to protect his children from—Arthur knows they’re at a breaking point: their family will either grow stronger than ever or fall apart.

Welcome back to Marsyas Island. This is Arthur’s story.

September 24

 

9781250269393Rumor Has It by Cat Rambo

The crew of the You Sexy Thing have laid a course for Coralind Station, hoping the station’s famed gardens will provide an opportunity to regroup, recoup, and mourn their losses while while finding a way to track down their enemy, pirate king Tubal Last. All Niko wants to do is pry their insurance money from the bank and see if an old friend might be able to help them find Last. Unfortunately, old friends and enemies aren’t the only unreliable elements awaiting her and the crew at Coralind. Each will have to face themselves—the good and the bad—in order to come together before they lose everything.

 

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Excerpt Reveal: Gravity Lost by L.M. Sagas

Image Place holder  of amazon- 21 Placeholder of bn -88 Place holder  of booksamillion- 3 ibooks2 29 Image Placeholder of bookshop- 35

Gravity Lost by LM Saga

L. M. Sagas follows her fast-paced sci-fi adventure Cascade Failure with an equally explosive sequel, Gravity Lost. Everyone’s favorite fierce, messy, chaotic space fam is back with more vibrant worlds, and the wildest crew since Guardians of the Galaxy.

After thwarting a space station disaster and planetary destruction, the Ambit crew thought turning Isaiah Drestyn over to the Union would be the end of their troubles. Turns out, it’s only the start.

Drestyn is a walking encyclopedia of dirty secrets, and everyone wants a piece of him—the Trust, the Union, even the Guild. Someone wants him bad enough to kill, and with the life of one of their own on the line, the Ambit crew must jail-break the very man they helped capture and expose some of the secrets he’s been keeping before it’s too late.

In the Spiral, everything has a price. In their fight to protect what they love, Eoan, Nash, Saint, and Jal will confront some ugly truths about their enemies, and even uglier truths about their friends. But nothing will come close to the truths they’ll learn about themselves.

You can’t always fix what’s broken … and sometimes, it’s better that way.


Please enjoy this free excerpt of Gravity Lost
by L.M. Sagas, on sale 7/23/24


CHAPTER ONE

SAINT 

“I did tell you not to touch my shit.” Nash snatched her bag back from the wide-eyed security  technician as alarms bathed the checkpoint in red. She didn’t even look inside; just thrust her hand in, fiddled around, and  after a few seconds the alarms stopped. “What the hell was that?” said the tech, face flushing  and blanching at the same time, in cheese-curd blotches. He  watched the bag as Nash reclaimed it, like he half-expected whatever he’d touched to jump out and take a bite out of him.

Go with that instinct, Saint thought. He didn’t actually  know what’d set everything off; could’ve been any one of the  half-dozen fun, fantastically dangerous toys Nash kept in that  bag. Being the crew medic and mechanic came with some interesting equipment. Nash ignored the tech and turned back to Saint. “You heard  me, right? I told him not to touch it.” “You told him,” Saint agreed, gravely. He’d stopped a few  steps back from the checkpoint, mostly to wait his turn for  the scanner, but also to enjoy the show. Had to get your kicks where you could on a slow day, and lately, they’d had nothing  but slow days. Nearly four months posted on that satellite, and in that time, Saint hadn’t had to punch, shoot, or bury a single soul. He woke up, drank his coffee, did his job, and went back to bed, and then he woke up and did it all over again. 

Streaks like that never held. 

With a damn right nod, Nash turned back to the tech. “You want to lose a finger, Newbie? Because that’s how you lose a  finger.” 

“Maybe a hand,” Saint said. 

“Possibly the whole arm,” Nash agreed. “Say, Newbie, you a lefty or a righty?” 

The newbie didn’t manage much more than an uneasy stare as Nash zipped her bag and shouldered it. That stare said he couldn’t decide if she was joking or if she was genuinely, ball shrivellingly terrifying. Don’t worry, Saint thought. She has that effect on every one. Even Saint. Maybe especially Saint, because he knew her well enough to know that ball-shrivellingly terrifying was an undersell. 

It took the tech a handful of seconds to recover. “Wait,” he said, finally. “I need you to sign in.” 

“First shift, huh?” Saint thought he looked new. They’d passed through that checkpoint over two hundred times, coming and going. Always the same trip down the same hall at the same time of day; the only thing that ever changed was the technicians. A new face every few weeks—newbies on break-in rotation, and this guy fit the bill. Way too green to be a transfer, and if he’d hit his twenties, it was only by the tip of his  pimpled nose. His oversized uniform said he’d either lied about his measurements, or just felt real optimistic that he still had some growing to do. They’re running a damn daycare down here. Saint guessed every organization had its version of a mail room; theirs just included a few more deadly weapons. 

“We’ve got a standing reservation,” Nash told him, shrugging her bag onto her shoulders. “Table for two, under Shooty McBlastinshit.” 

Saint pinched the bridge of his nose. “You have got to let  that go.” 

“Over my cold, dead body,” Nash replied sweetly. “That’s Shooty with a Y,” she told the tech. “And McBlastinshit with  a—” 

“We’re with the Ambit.” Saint cut in, and Nash coughed  something into her elbow that sounded conspicuously like  buzzkill. He ignored her. “Designation GS 31–770. We’re here  for prisoner escort.” And while the tech fumbled with his holo screen, Saint took his turn in the scanner. Christ, he hated  the things.

Every screw and plate in every bone, every keep sake shard of shrapnel under his skin, put on display. Always earned him a certain look, like one the Ambit got whenever they docked her in a new port. Like how the hell’s that thing still running? 

Stubbornness was probably as good an answer as any. 

“You’re clear,” the tech managed to say, in a voice that tripped on a crack and landed a pitch higher than it started.  

Out of the corner of his eye, Saint thought he saw Nash hiding a smile as he grabbed his shit from the bin. Belt and holsters, wallet and flask. Nash had already made it a few steps down the hall, so Saint dressed while he walked to catch up. 

He wouldn’t miss it. Not the checkpoint, not the scanner, not the sterile white lights and bare metal walls of the secured sector. The Alpha Librae Satellite wasn’t exactly a tourist destination, even in the more civilized parts. Built into the icy crust of the sixth-largest Saturn moon, it was more colony than satellite, but never let it be said the Guild didn’t know the power of  a word. Colony came with a whole lot of well-earned baggage  that the Guild just didn’t want to carry. 

So. Satellite.

It domed up out of the ice, about 140 meters at  its highest point. Like a massive militarized snow globe, Nash liked to say. Ever wondered what’d happen if you shook it?  Saint leaned more toward iceberg, though: way more shit happening under the water than above it. Structures plunged like stalactites into the ocean below, all chitin and silica and oxidized aluminum alloy, woven together into something almost organic.

Like coral grown around the bones of scuttled ships along the coasts where he’d grown up. Had to go deep; all the station’s power came from the hydrothermal vents at the moon’s core, and it turned out they didn’t make extension cords that  long. The temp in the station never rose above a balmy seventeen degrees Celsius, which meant creaky joints for Saint, and a near-endless rotation of hand-knit sweaters and shiny bomber  jackets for Nash.

There in Sector F, though, he swore it got even colder. Set into the deeper parts of the satellite, it had the silence of something buried. Sector F was where the Guild housed most of its security operations—station surveillance, armory, the brig. Even the lobby past the checkpoint felt like something out of a penitentiary, without so much as a potted plant to spruce it up. No place to sit, no pictures on the walls, just two rounded elevator bays cutting through the center of the room like glass tree trunks. Only one of them serviced all the floors of the sector; the other was overflow for the administrative floors. 

Nash and Saint made for the one marked brig access. 

“Okay,” said Nash, as they walked. “Who shit in your sugar flakes?” 

“What?” 

“All the bitching you’ve been doing about our babysitting detail, I’d have thought you’d be thrilled to pass the torch. Half expected you to dance your way to the brig.” 

“Not much of a dancer,” he replied. 

“Cry one single, solitary tear of joy?” 

“You know satellite atmo dries me out.” 

“Not even a little jazz hands?” She glanced over, and he sighed and stuck up his hands. Gave them a wiggle. Got a grimace for his efforts. “Aw, sad hands.” 

“I’m not sad.” 

“Tell that to your frown lines.” 

“They’re not frown lines. They’re line lines. It’s called get ting old.” 

Nash snorted. “You’re not even forty,” she said, patting his  arm as he hit the call button and keyed in his access code on the biometric pad. Code, facial recognition, retinal scan; they really didn’t want anybody getting into that elevator without a damn good reason and some damn high clearance. “Relax, you’ve still got a few good years left in you before I gotta start replacing parts.” 

Whatever face Saint pulled, it screwed so badly with the facial rec that the pad flashed red. He shot her a flat look over his shoulder, like look what you did, but she just smiled and gave him another pat. Don’t know why I bother. “Nobody’s replacing my parts,” he grumbled as he rekeyed his code. This time the facial rec and retinal scanner got what they needed, and the doors slid open. “My parts work fine. I like my parts.”

He’d just like them better with a little less scar tissue was all. Maybe forty wasn’t old, but Saint felt that way. Old and tired, in ways even four months’ downtime couldn’t fix. He shook his head.  

“Get in the damn elevator.” 

She did, but probably only because the doors had started to close. He slid in right after her, his back to the rounded glass walls as they started their descent. That elevator was the only way in or out of the brig’s high-security ward. Main brig, you could take the stairs if shit got dicey, but for the unlucky bastards in deep lockup, that was it—one long umbilical stretching down another hundred meters from the brig, ready to get snipped at the first sign of trouble. Hit the right button, trip the right alarm, and the whole ward could be detached from the rest of the station and jettisoned into the dark.

Alpha Librae didn’t fuck  around. 

Not a bad view, though, once they got down past the brig.  

Floors of dull lobbies rose like curtains around the elevator, until only ocean remained. If he looked up, Saint could still make out the backlit windows of all the different stalactite structures of the station glittering like diamonds in the dark. Like stars whose glow haloed the whole station below the water’s surface. He’d have been content to take the ride in silence, watching the lights grow dimmer as they sank farther and farther away. 

Nash had other ideas. “Seriously, though,” she said, leaning back against the wall with her arms crossed. “Bad mood. What gives? It’s our last day of daycare—we should be celebrating. Cap, back me up, here.” 

“You know I don’t take sides,” Eoan’s airless voice said  over the comms.

Nash and Saint were a long way from the Ambit, which was still docked in one of the surface ports, but the signal came clear as day. Nash had done a lot of tinkering with their comms since the shitshow on Noether.

Her way of coping, and something to do with all the time she spent holed up on her own. Socializing hadn’t been too high on her to-do list lately. “Although . . .” 

Saint scowled. “There’s no although.”

“Nothing to talk about that they hadn’t already talked about the other couple hundred times they’d taken that long-ass ride on that slow ass elevator. The trouble with an underwater base was all the damn pressure. The car had to stop every thirty meters or so to let folks’ ears pop or to rejigger the gas mixtures, because apparently oxygen did some real weird shit at depth. Nobody wanted a bunch of stoned rangers stumbling around, bleeding out of their ears.

Eoan chuckled, voice warm with amusement. Lot of folks didn’t expect that kind of affection from a centuries-old AI, but with the benefit of years under Eoan’s command, Saint knew better. He’d never met a captain with more grit, compassion, and sheer damn savvy than their Eoan. Even if they did have a cosmic curious streak and a bad habit of playing Secret Science Experiment with their crewmates.

Undeterred, they said, “It’s just an observation, dear. You’ve never been fond of prisoner details, and I know this one’s been harder to stomach than most.”

“It’s been fine.”

“Bullshit,” said Nash. “It’s been boring as hell. Same thing day after day after day. I wanted to scramble my brains with a knitting needle by week three, and I actually have hobbies outside of work. Don’t tell me you’re not going full-on non compos mentis in this bitch.”

“I didn’t know you spoke Latin,” Saint muttered.

She ignored him. “You hate this detail,” she said. “I know you do. Cap knows you do. But you’re walking around today, our last day of this snoozefest, in your own personal storm cloud. So, I say again: What. Gives.” She punctuated the words with a poke to Saint’s chest and a stare promising tragedy and torment if he even thought about giving her the runaround.

He might’ve chanced it, anyway, but Eoan intervened. “It’s not about the detail, is it?” they said. It sounded like a question, but for Eoan, it was more like a hypothesis. They’d considered all the variables and arrived at the most likely explanation. “It’s been quite nice, hasn’t it? Having the Red family on base. I hear Regan’s doing excellent things in the communications division.”

Well, Eoan wasn’t wrong.

At first they hadn’t been sure where Jal and his family would end up after Jal recovered enough to travel. The Captains’ Council didn’t stick to one place, and shit had been so crazy there for a while, he could’ve gotten shipped to any one of a half-dozen Guild outposts. Wasn’t until about a month after the Ambit’s assignment to Alpha Librae that the council finally decided to bring Jal there for the hearings, and everything kind of sorted itself out after that. Regan got herself a position as a comms engineer; Eoan pulled some strings, got Bitsie into school with all the other station kids; and Jal had ready access to the best docs on offer, Nash included, while he finished healing from the fall on Noether that should’ve killed him. Couldn’t have worked out better.

Except.

“Does he know we’re shipping out tomorrow?” Eoan asked gently.

Except for that.

Saint sighed again, rolling his neck and shoulders. Damn cold always made him seize up like a rusty hinge. “He does.”

“And how’d he take it?” Nash, this time, but she didn’t look at him as she asked it. She’d turned to the wall, puffing hot breath on the glass and drawing her finger through the fog. She and some other poor, bored bastard had a running series of tic tac-toe games—maybe fifteen rounds and counting. She drew an X in the bottom right corner, scratched a line through it and the two above it, and drew a smiley face below it. No new hash. No sixteenth game.

“I don’t know,” Saint admitted.

Nash squinted. “You don’t know?”

“That’s what I said.”

“How do you not know?”

You don’t know, either, Saint tactfully didn’t point out. Wasn’t like she spent a lot of time with Jal, anyway. Tagged along with them for drinks a few times, and dragged Jal aboard the Ambit sometimes to upgrade the specs she’d made him. For the most part, though, Nash kept her distance, and Saint couldn’t help wondering if it was because Jal reminded her of something she’d rather forget.

Or someone, maybe.

“I thought he took it fine, all right?” he said instead. “But we were supposed to meet up last night, and he begged off last minute. Hasn’t answered any of my comms since.”

Nash raised a hand. “Yeah, I’m gonna say definitely not taking it all right.”

“Thanks for that.” Brutal honesty was just another service Nash provided. She’s right. He’d told himself something similar—just a lot of murky water under that particular bridge. If the kid was having trouble getting left behind again, Saint could hardly blame him.

It just . . . didn’t sit right. Jal’d been so damn serious about keeping in touch and, Don’t you leave without a proper send off, old man, or I’ll hop a ship and run you down myself. Kid wasn’t exactly the sulking type, either. Golden retriever personified. So maybe that did have something to do with the knot in his stomach. The itch between his shoulder blades.

Or maybe those had more to do with what waited at the bottom of that elevator.

“Well, shit,” said Nash, shrugging. “If that’s what’s got your holsters in a hitch, miner boy could always come with us. We’ll have to, like, quadruple our food stocks, but I didn’t hate having the guy around last time. You know, once we got past the whole fugitive deserter with a chip on his shoulder thing.”

Saint shook his head. He’d left Jal behind once, and it’d been one of the worst mistakes of his life. Things were different now, though. “Kid went through hell to get where he’s at.” Back with his sister and niece, alive and safe and happy. “I’m not pulling him away from that.”

“So we’re just gonna sulk about it and hope it goes away. Got it.” Nash was first off the elevator when it finally slid to a halt, clapping him on the shoulder as she passed. “Good talk.”

“Was it?”

“Was for me.” She swept ahead into the central hub of the security pod. Not much to look at—just a round space with a single control console jutting out of the floor in the middle. Five offshoot hallways, like the legs of a sea star, led to the high security cells; but the whole time Saint had been there, only one of the cells had been full.

“One last time,” said Eoan encouragingly. “Whenever you’re ready, you’re clear all the way to the secondary dock, and the Union transport ship is ready and waiting for delivery. Let’s finish this out with our heads high, shall we?”

Saint didn’t much care about high heads or low, just that in a half hour or less, it would be finished. He nodded to Nash as she took position at the console, punching in her credentials and the access code for the middle cell of the sea star—creatively labeled Holding C.

Standing before the thick cell door, Saint swallowed against the acid heat rising in his chest. Nearly four months, and it hadn’t gotten any easier to stare down the man behind that door. To remember what he’d done and who he’d done it to.

“Opening the porthole,” Nash said, and a beat later a panel on the door slid open at waist height.

“Hands.” Saint’s voice sounded so mechanical, so automated, it could’ve been part of the building. Just another moving part, just another piece of protocol in action. His own hands clenched to fists at his sides, before he forced them loose and reached for the cuffs on the back of his belt.

A beat later, another pair of hands came through the port hole, palm-up. White and scarred, with calluses that even months of captivity hadn’t worn away. They seemed too small, too fine-boned and aristocratic, to have drawn as much blood as they had.

Jaw clenched to aching, Saint clamped the cuffs around those wrists and tightened them flush. A man could be as wily as he wanted to be, but the only way he’d slip those cuffs would be to leave his hands behind. “Clear,” Saint called back to Nash, and he counted off three, two, one in his head before the door opened.

It didn’t slide, didn’t part; it opened from the porthole in the middle like an antique camera shutter, individual panes twisting and withdrawing into the walls to reveal the man inside.

Isaiah Drestyn didn’t look like a man with a rap sheet, much less one as long and varied as the one he had. He was about a dec shorter than Saint and built like a reed, eyes soft and sloping on a pale, pockmarked face. Only sign he’d ever seen trouble was the web of scars across one side of his face, a memento from the refinery fire that’d killed his brother and kick-started him on the winding path to, well, here. Looked more like a preacher or a poet than the kind of man who could gladly sacrifice an entire space station to a planet-killing computer virus for the sake of showing the world what its makers were capable of.

Saint wasn’t sure anybody in the universe could hate something or someone more than Drestyn hated the Trust. For the man who’d run Jal off a rooftop, though? Saint would surely try.

“Move,” Saint said, and Drestyn moved. His slippered feet slid across the diamond-plate floors, and his stiff scrubs rustled; otherwise, he didn’t make a sound. No talking—the speech jammer around his throat saw to that. Distorted his voice when he spoke, so he never managed much more than nonsense, and the opaque white shield over the bottom half of his face thwarted any would-be lip-readers. The Captains’ Council’d had a strict hush order on him since day one, and for good reason. The man was a goddamn encyclopedia of hard truths and batshit conspiracies, and since nobody’d come up with a good way to sort one from the other, Saint reckoned it was better he kept them to himself.

Nash led the way back into the elevator, punching one of the buttons on the console as she passed it. Not back to the lobby this time, but all the way up to the private docks in one of the auxiliary surface domes. You didn’t escort a man like Drestyn through a populated shipyard, especially since the Guild had never managed to track down his two accomplices from Lewaro. For all Saint knew, the pair was out there plotting a jailbreak that very second.

“You know,” Nash announced into the strained silence, somewhere around the three-minute mark. Elevators had a way of stretching time like taffy, and Nash didn’t handle idle very well. “I’m really starting to rethink my position on elevator music. Some smooth jazz, a little bebop—shit, I’d take a ten minute drum solo. Might really help cut the awkward.”

Awkward didn’t quite cover it, Saint thought, but what did it matter? Just one last time. One last trip.

Finally, the doors slid open to the private docks. Felt like walking into a frosted fishbowl; from a distance, the hexagonal tiles of the dome faded into something rounded and smooth, a clear wall against the white haze of water vapor rising off the ice. Despite the dome’s thermal insulation, Saint’s breath fogged in front of his face, and condensation settled on the outside of Drestyn’s face shield as they stepped out onto the docks.

A single Union transport vessel waited down walkway, not too different in design from the Ambit, with mothlike wings and thrumming quad-thrusters. It wasn’t made to carry much, but it was made to carry it quickly. The sort of vessel you chose when you expected trouble and wanted good odds of shaking it with your ass and ship firmly intact.

Four uniformed Union security officers stood at the ship’s hatch, navy-blue fatigues crisp and berets tipped slightly to one side, and an un-uniformed man and woman stood a few paces farther down. Seemed to be shooting the shit.

“And here’s our guest of honor,” said the man when he noticed them approaching. He was the kind of tall, rangy fella that you just knew would play dirty in a bar fight—and probably come out on top because of it. Had a fading tan and a drawl that made Saint a little homesick, a single revolver on his belt, and a head begging for a cattleman hat. Cowboy came to mind, but Saint couldn’t take the credit for it; he’d heard it a dozen times across a dozen retellings and conversations, as many critical as they were complimentary. Captain Dalton Raimes had a bit of a reputation in the Guild. Youngest buck on the council, but some were convinced he only got the promotion so the rest of the council could keep a closer eye on him.

Sure, here’s the text with adjusted spacing:

Of course he’d be the one overseeing the transfer.

“You must be Saint and Nash,” Raimes said amiably, pointing to each in turn. Not Toussaint and Satou—clearly not the type to stand on occasion. Saint was suddenly sure he’d be a friendly drunk, but only because he sounded half-drunk already and greeted them with a cheerful cant of a smile. “Me and Mister Agitator here have already had the pleasure, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t shake his hand.” He stepped one foot back to gesture to the woman he’d been talking to. Short purple hair, tall as the day was long; she looked damn near Amazonian next to Raimes, with a stern brown face and muscles visible through her white jumpsuit. A getup like that was as much a statement as a dare: I don’t expect to get dirty today, and if I do, it’ll be your blood I’m bleaching out in the wash. “This here’s Phillipa Casale, head of Union security.”

“Head,” said Nash. “Kind of high on the food chain for a milk run.”

Casale let out a bark of a laugh that echoed all the way through the small dome and back again. “Milk run. She’s funny,” she said to Raimes. Then, to Nash, “You’re funny.” Then, like a flipped switch, her face went serious. “Our agreement with the Trust makes the Union responsible for Drestyn’s security while we have him in our custody. If he gets away, if he gets dead—not so good for us. So, they send me.” She made a quick gesture toward the four uniforms, who stepped up and took Drestyn off Saint’s hands like he wasn’t one of the deadliest people in the universe. Cuffed and gagged and diminished, somehow, by the faded gray scrubs he wore, he didn’t look the part.

It was harder than it should’ve been to let those Union officers shepherd Drestyn away into the belly of their ship. At the top of the gangway, Drestyn stopped. Just for a moment, just long enough to turn back and give Saint a look he couldn’t begin to interpret. Meaningful, purposeful—a question, but one too short-lived for Saint to decipher—before a shove from one of the officers sent him deeper into the ship. Out of sight. Out of reach.

“Good luck with that one,” said Raimes. “Keep on your toes. Fella might have the whole buttoned-up accountant vibe going on, but believe you me, he’s slicker than a wet cat in an oil drum. Not much of a conversationalist, either.”

“Conversation isn’t my department,” Casale replied. An all-clear call came from inside the ship, and that seemed to be her cue. “We’re behind schedule. Good meeting you, funny girl. Saint. Councilor.” She nodded to each of them in turn, and with one last handshake with Raimes, she set off into the ship after her crew.

Saint watched until the hatch slid closed, then forced his eyes away. It was done, and damn whatever feelings he had on the matter. Onto the next.

“Must be a relief,” said Raimes, starting back for the elevator and motioning for them to follow. Wouldn’t pay to still be in the dome when the air lock opened, and those engines were already starting to turn the air uncomfortably warm. After all that time in all that cold, Saint started sweating under his jacket. “Y’all headed back into the great wide yonder? The frontier,” he clarified, when Nash gave him an odd look as they stepped onto the elevator. “Heard that’s your usual stomping grounds. Give Captain Eoan my regards.”

“They can hear you,” said Nash, tapping her earpiece.

Raimes rolled with it. “My regards then, Captain Eoan. Been a while.”

“Indeed,” Eoan agreed, broadcasting their voice through the external speakers on the earpieces. “Congratulations again on the promotion.”

“Is that what this is?” Raimes said. “Feels an awful lot like time-out with benefits and time-and-a-half pay. Keep your friends close…” He trailed off as the elevator slowed to a halt halfway down to the sector lobby. Administrative floor. Turning on his heel, Raimes back-walked off the elevator with a half-cocked salute. “Be seeing you.”

As soon as the door closed, Nash mimicked his salute. “Jesus, he’s like a caricature of himself. And what was that bit about not much of a conversationalist? I thought we weren’t supposed to talk to Drestyn.”

“We aren’t,” said Eoan, and Saint knew that pained them more than anyone. They’d never been able to pass up an unanswered question, and Drestyn was about three thousand unanswered questions stacked together in a trench coat. But Eoan had changed, since the Deadworld Code incident. They hadn’t gotten any less curious, but they had gotten more cautious. Noether had shown them things—fear, danger, death—in a way they’d never experienced. Intensely. Personally. Their whole world had shifted, and AI or not, that took time to work through.

And they had to be careful here. Too many security cameras, too many watchful eyes, too many people with strong opinions about who should and shouldn’t be talking to Drestyn. They’d drawn some heat of their own, too, with what folks had started calling the Redweld Leak. Nobody knew it was the Ambit crew that’d released Yarden’s extremely detailed, extremely unflattering Trust records to the public, and most people were content to blame it on Drestyn and his two escaped crewmates. Still, some had their suspicions. Better for the crew to lie low, let the clouds blow over, so that was what they’d done.

“But Raimes said—” Nash started.

Eoan interrupted gently. “Raimes has always had a somewhat… flirtatious relationship with the rules. Two weeks into Drestyn’s hold on Alpha Librae, he shut off his security feeds and had himself a friendly tête-à-tête with our resident agitator, ostensibly to try to get the locations of his accomplices. It was all in the memo.”

Nash glanced over at Saint. “Did you know they sent memos?”

“I did.” He’d simply continued his proud tradition of not reading a single goddamn one of them.

Eoan gave a long-suffering sigh. “Impossible, the both of you. I blame myself, really,” they added, with the mock dismay of a parent who’d indulged their children too long. “For what it’s worth, it was only the once, and I understand Drestyn wasn’t particularly forthcoming.”

“A damn waste,” Nash said. “Four months’ exclusive access to a walking database of the Trust’s dirtiest laundry, and we couldn’t even talk to the guy. And now he’s just.” She waved her hand. “Gone. Poof. Don’t you want to know what kind of skeletons our commercial overlords are hiding in their collective closet? I mean, the Redweld Leak was a good start, but you know that barely scratched the topcoat.”

Saint frowned as the floor display ticked down. Only a few floors left to the lobby. “It’d be a bad idea. The Trust and the Union were at each other’s throats for months to get first dibs on Drestyn. The Guild starts meddling, they might get the impression we’re trying to jump line and start some shit.”

“Maybe it’s time the Guild started some shit,” Nash shot back. “Neutral preservation of human life.” Saint had said it so much, it’d turned into a mantra. The oath he’d taken, and the path he followed. “That’s what we signed up for.”

Nash turned away, hands shoved in her pockets and lips pursed in a thin line. “Yeah, well, I’m starting to think neutrality’s not an option anymore. If it ever was.”

And that, for better or for worse, was when the elevator stopped.

The door’d barely opened when Nash strode out, elbows out and shoulders straight in her unmistakable you’re wrong, I’m right, and you’re lucky I like you too much to put my boot up your ass march.

Saint followed at a slightly less fuck you pace, but just before he caught up to her, Nash stopped abruptly.

“What the—?” she said.

He had his sidearm drawn before he even saw the problem. Knew from Nash’s voice that it was trouble, and she didn’t disappoint. Down the hall at the security checkpoint, the baby-faced recruit lay sprawled across the floor, slack and unmoving. Unconscious was the knee-jerk mental sitrep, followed closely by not alone. Above him, a hooded figure hunched over his console. No uniform, just mismatched clothes so big that they obscured the size and shape of the person underneath. A full-face tactical mask and gloves made it so Saint couldn’t have guessed one thing about them.

Other than, it turned out, that they had a decent set of reflexes. The figure’s head jerked up, and in the split second it took Saint’s finger to reach the trigger, they yanked something from the console and launched themself in the opposite direction.

“Go!” Nash shouted, already sliding to her knees by the newbie. The medic in her couldn’t leave him lying there, as much as the fighter in her wanted to give chase. Saint would have to handle that for both of them.

He took off after the figure, fast as his legs would carry him. “Cap, we’ve got a hostile leaving the Sector F lobby,” he hissed down the comms as the figure breached the first security door. Whoever they were, they’d had the sense to swipe the tech’s access badge. It went beyond that, though. The whole station was monitored all hours of the day. One of the three dozen cameras or sensors or mics in the hall should’ve picked something up, triggered an alarm, but nothing happened. Not so much as a blip of the emergency lights overhead, and it didn’t make sense. Didn’t make a goddamn bit of sense, but the timing—the day of Drestyn’s transfer, minutes after the handoff—set Saint’s teeth on edge. His muscles burned with the effort of propelling him faster, faster, faster in the stranger’s wake.

Goddamn automated security. Downside to relying too heavily on technology; warm bodies might’ve flagged a figure hightailing it out of the brig and done something about it, but warm bodies were at a premium for the Guild, and they’d much rather have them out in the universe pulling jobs and making caps than burning resources on a satellite.

He growled as the hooded stranger blew through another authorized personnel only door. “Might need some reinforcements to head him off, Cap!” If the alarms wouldn’t sound themselves, maybe Cap could sound them instead. Fast, he hoped. One more door, and they’d be out of Sector F completely.

But Eoan’s reply, when it came, was a distracted “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“What?” Saint snapped, boots sliding as he cleared the last door between the secured halls of Sector F and the concourse. By then, he was nearly a rockhopper’s length behind the stranger. Barely had eyes on them, tracking them more by the disgruntled people they’d bolted through than a direct line of sight. Fuck, they’re fast. Saint could count on one hand the people he’d seen run like that. One finger, maybe. “How the hell is that not a good idea? We don’t find a way to block this bastard, we’re gonna lose them.”

It’d be easy to lose anybody in a place like that. The Alpha Librae concourse was like the rail stations back home on Earth—a five-story terminal stretching up to the center of the main dome and down to lush green space that supplied half the satellite’s oxygen. Enclosed gangways ran the circumference of every floor, next to office spaces and little shops and housing on the lower levels. More gangways crisscrossed the opening in the middle like threads on a great round loom, and everywhere you looked, corridors branched off to all different parts of the satellite, from secured spaces to the market sector to the port and everywhere in between. If Saint lost sight of the stranger there, he might never pick them back up again.

“Just follow him,” said Eoan. Him, like they knew something he didn’t.

A beat later, Nash’s voice came down the line. “Newbie’s waking up. He’s got no idea what hit him, but he’ll be okay.”

Saint made a judgment call and, mid-run, switched to riot rounds. If he wasn’t chasing a killer, he’d much prefer a chance to talk. No hush order to contend with here.

Miraculously, he got the leggy son of a bitch back in his sights. Picked him out of the crowd as the figure ducked suddenly sideways down one of the corridors, through an archway marked maintenance.

“He’s headed to maintenance, Cap.”

“I know a shortcut,” said Nash, because of course she did. A stroll through the underbelly of a satellite for Nash was like an art gallery for, well, people who were into art galleries. “Newbie’ll be fine; I’m headed your way. Let’s see if we can jam this asshole up.”

Sounded good to Saint, though he was shocked he could hear a damn thing over the roar of blood in his ears. His racing heart. The smack of his boots against the gangway. He liked to think he was in good shape, but whoever this was, they had him seriously reevaluating his cardio regimen as they blew through the door to the maintenance bay. The change from the concourse was stark, startling—finished, glossy walls to exposed pipes with all sorts of peeling warnings; solid flooring and railing to paper-thin, perforated metal catwalks that rattled under his weight. Down a flight of stairs, double back, down another flight, just in time to watch the stranger vault over a knee-high, boxy air handler and disappear into the forest of ductwork and steel off the catwalk’s beaten path.

“Stop, goddamn it!” Saint shouted, barreling over the unit and trying not to wince at the give of too-thin metal under his too-heavy frame. He wasn’t made for this. He was a bare knuckle brawler, a grunt made to trudge through swamps and deserts and half-sunken cities. But what he also was, and what he did have going for him, was this: he was the stubbornest son of a bitch you ever met, and he wasn’t stopping ’til his heart gave out.

Or, ’til the catwalk did. He heard the snap only a split-second before the narrow walkway dropped out from under him, and by then, it was nearly too late. Reflex alone had his arms out in time to catch the railing. His ribs slammed into the edge of the remaining catwalk as his hips and legs dangled over a seventy, eighty-dec drop.

“Shit!”

It took Saint a second to parse that out through the cold-blooded, lizard-brained panic of dangling over a deadly drop by a few bits of untrustworthy metal. He hadn’t cursed, and the vibration through the catwalk had gotten closer, instead of farther.

With a growl, he swung a leg over the side and made a grab for his gun, just as the stranger came into view. Coming back to finish him off? To help? Whichever it was, he clearly hadn’t expected to come back to the business end of Saint’s pistol.

“Wait!” It was more a yelp than a command, but it did the job. Saint paused. He knew that voice. The stranger’s hands rose in the universal sign of surrender, and when Saint didn’t shoot, they kept moving. “Just wait,” said the stranger, again, softer. Gloved fingers found the hem of his hood and the clasp of his mask. They came away almost as one, and even in the spare, hazy light of the maintenance bay, Saint knew exactly who he’d been chasing.

“Hey, old man,” said Jal, with a hoarse laugh and a fragile smile. “I, uh . . . I could really use your help.”

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