Oh, we do love some space opera stories! Here’s an intriguing one by Maya Aodhan (@aesa_K) that is definitely out of this world!
“This is the Monte Cristo, requesting docking permission,” the pilot spoke into the ship’s comm.
“Acknowledged, Monte Cristo. You are clear for docking bay B16.”
“Should be parked in moments, Captain.” Rafe Ibán’s deft touch over the ship’s interface guided them into port.
“Good.” Vaea Dantes rose from the co-pilot’s chair.
“You want me to give Eryn the heads up?”
“Yeah. I want to get this meeting done with.” Vaea scrubbed a hand over her short, dark cap of hair. “And get out of this forsaken place.”
“Good luck, Captain.”
“Keep those magic fingers ready, Ibán. If things go well, I’m relying on you to save my ass.”
“Wait…what?” Rafe turned in his chair and stared after the captain.
Vaea checked the safety on her pistol. Only an idiot went to Deyater station unarmed. She settled her weapon into its thigh holster. Her body armour was sleek and black, with the pits and scarred edges that spoke of frequent, and violent, use.
Vaea glanced over as her 2IC entered the airlock corridor. Eryn Grimm’s dark hair coiled in wild waves around her shoulders. All six feet of her spoke of Earthen Equatorial heritage, her dark skin offset by the greens and browns of her body armour.
“I haven’t been on Deyater in years, Captain.”
Vaea envied Eryn’s ability to stride easily in her ‘yes, mistress’ boots. Aside from a handful of occasions, she had always tugged on combat boots in varying degrees of battered use.
“Figured the Captain of the Monte Cristo should go pay her respects to the Administrator.”
“Oh, she is gonna love meeting you.” Eryn said.
The airlock released with a hiss of air and Vaea stepped into the chill…and smell, of the docks.
“Ugh.” Eryn wrinkled her nose.
“Dirty socks and rancid milk.” Vaea slid her falsified ID across the plate. The secure elevator opened. “With underlying notes of body odour.”
“A bit like Ibán’s quarters.”
Vaea slanted a look at Eryn as she keyed the level for the Administrator’s offices. “How would you know?”
“He has talented fingers.” Eryn shrugged.
“But the cleanliness of a wet dog with no table manners?”
The elevator doors closed.
“Why do you think we use my quarters?”
“Nice. You do have a whole…French boudoir thing going on.”
“Mais oui, ma chère.” Eryn winked.
The gut swooping movement of the elevator had them shifting.
“You should try some style in your quarters, Captain.”
“My quarters are just fine.”
“Vaea.” Eryn shook her head. “You need serious help.”
Vaea lifted a dark brow. “It’s just a damn room to sleep in, Grimm.”
“Sleeping wasn’t what I had in mind.”
The elevator doors slid open. Eryn gestured to the crowded walkway. “Chin up, Cap’n. You can always shoot anyone who stares at your tits. Unless it’s the Administrator. Refrain from shooting her.”
Vaea’s laughter drew eyes toward them.
First page feedback from Deidre McCluskey (Harlequin E)
I’m intrigued by the opening of this book! Without too much exposition we have a scene that establishes the setting, main characters and a hint at the action to come. The setup has a nice “Firefly” quality to it –Vaea’s pistol and battered armour suggest a space frontier, and I like that women are in the positions of power. It’s a nice reversal of the normal roles and that always creates interest!
Even though there are only three characters, I found it a bit confusing at first. Could we simplify by leaving out the name of the ship? If the first lines began with “Should be parked in moments, Captain,” we still have enough information to know we’re on a spaceship, and the name could be introduced later when we have a better idea of what’s going on.
Dialogue needs to establish tone, to move the action forward, and to describe character. The dialogue between Vaea and Eryn does these things well. We get a sense of their relationship and some hints at the action to come. More attribution in the dialogue would be helpful. We don’t know enough about the distinct voice of each character to be able to tell who is speaking. Inserting “Rafe said” or “Vaea said” more often would clarify.
Additional description of the physical surroundings would establish the setting more convincingly. Vaea is on a spaceship. The airlock opens. Then she’s on an elevator? A walkway? Is it indoors? As a reader I’m not sure. A few words of description would place me in the scene without slowing down the pace.
I love how you’ve dropped us into the world of the characters by creating a scene instead of explaining the setting, characters and action. A touch more description would make it even more immediate. Well done!
Intriguing, for sure! Hopefully others enjoy space opera stories as well… 🙂