Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Release: Damaged Cargo

Damaged Cargo

Sandra Sookoo ISBN  978-1-936165-54-4

Word Count: 71,532
PDF Page Count: 220
Heat Index: Erotic
Does this book contain violence? yes
Genre(s): sci-fi/fantasy romance 

 When survival is of the utmost importance, it's best to shoot first and ask questions later, especially if you won't like the answers.

 The 22nd century is heinous and finding a comfortable life in the Levinese Galaxy grows increasingly difficult. 

Emma Gardine, one of a handful of female pirate captains in this throwback Victorian society, begs, borrows, steals and cheats her way through the planetary system on the hunt of a profit.  An expert of guarding her heart and keeping people out, she never shows remorse and uses people until she gets what she wants, but the hope for a normal life glimmers just beyond her reach.  Then she meets Tarik Vartouth and her world splinters with new emotions and possibilities. 

Tarik survived the murder of his sisters and the collapse of his laid-back existence.  He's sick of the mandatory breeding programs for genetic supremacy on Nazulara that send innocent people to death and is looking to campaign for democracy for his species.  When the opportunity to befriend Emma is presented, he takes it and makes a play for her ship in order to carry out his own plot for revenge against his father--the Premier and ruler of the planet.  Stakes are raised when sparks between him and Emma fly.   Now their future, as well as the planet's, hangs in the balance.

These two independent and strong-willed people must learn how set aside their own issues in order to work together for survival and the greater good--unless they kill each other first.

      Ominous creaks and groans emanated from deep within the bowels of CS4450-9 Beta.  Traveling at high warp speeds through deep space for too long took its toll and it would only be a matter of time before they'd need to dock somewhere for repairs.
      Captain Emma Gardine entered the turbo lift and punched the button for the bridge.  She always hated the identifier for the cargo ship.  It may not be as important as other vessels in the galaxy, but it deserved a name.  Between her and the crew, they called CS4450-9 Beta the Wraith Orchid because a slippery crew who hauled rare, sometimes priceless cargo commanded it.
      Sometimes by orders but most times illegally, which was what made them successful pirates.
      The four levels of mostly cargo holds zipped past in mere seconds.  The top level of the ship held the bridge as well as the sleeping quarters for the crew and a tiny galley kitchen including a common lounge area.  When the doors to the lift slid open, Emma followed the metal catwalk and entered the bridge, her home away from home--wherever that was.  It'd been so long she could hardly remember what it felt like to be anywhere besides the ship.
      “Hey gang.  What's the word?”  Her gaze swept the dark interior of the cozy space, taking in her three-member crew.  “How far away are we from Nazulara?”
      Her navigator and second-in-command, Tomis, barely glanced away from the monitor that bathed his face in a green glow.  “No longer than thirty minutes, ma'am.”
      “Excellent.”  Emma dropped into her chair and grimaced when it squealed.  The whole place was falling apart.  Ignoring the wear and tear woes, she propped her booted feet on the console in front of her.  “Once we arrive and cycle through the annoying paperwork, let's hit the bars and taverns.  First round's on me.”  She frowned, noticing a scuffmark on the toe of one boot.  Damn.  She'd just appropriated the footwear from an unsuspecting traveler she'd met at the last port they'd stayed in.  They were sexy as hell, came to the knee, and made concealing a weapon extremely easy.
      Perfect for one of only a handful of female space pirates in the galaxy.
      “I'm up for that.”  Their weapons expert, Darcy, popped a stick of chewing gum in her mouth.  “We've been on this bucket for far too long this time out.”
      Emma grinned.  “I agree.  First thing I'm gonna do is find a real bathroom.  Using these pop-up commodes and two minute showers is getting old.  I want a leisurely bubble bath, a large glass of wine, and maybe a couple of chocolate truffles.”
      “Ya, old school chocolate.  Not that crap we picked up on Adaris-5.  Tasted like wax.”  Darcy tapped her monitor with a blue painted fingernail, which matched the exact color of her eyebrows and pigtailed hair, another “gift” she acquired on Adaris-5.  “Energy level on the photon cannons is holding at eighty-six percent.  Our cargo is too heavy and we're using too much power keeping it cool.”
      “What the hell are we hauling, anyway?”  Tomis swiveled around on his chair.  His eyes were wide and dark.  “I was pretty high when we left.”  His laughter died off as Emma lifted an eyebrow.  “What?  Adaris-5 has no tax on drugs.”
      Zach Isis looked over his shoulder with a wicked gleam in his eye and a secretive smile on his lips.  Their cargo master and supply man, he knew the exact contents of each container loaded into the hold.  “Well, in the refrigerated compartments we're storing some sort of liquor and twenty slabs of grain-fed burfim.”
      Burfim?” Emma was puzzled having never heard the term.
      He shrugged.  “I guess it's kinda like an Earth cow.  Sells well in the markets.  We've also got six full freight boxes of salt in the regular hold, which will bring some serious cash once we land.  Nazulara has no salt water on the planet.  All fresh water lakes and rivers so they're desperate for it.  And,” he held up a finger, “Since we stole it from the good, slow-witted people of Adaris-5, we'll be bringing in a hundred percent profit.”
      As laughter echoed in the chamber, Emma swung her feet off the console.  Her soles hit the metal floor with a thud.  “What do you mean we stole it?  I thought we bartered coal for the salt?”
      “That's the genius of it, Captain.”  Zach cocked his cowboy hat at a rakish angle over one eye.  “Those shipping containers were sitting unattended on the loading dock.  I waited a few minutes but no one came for them so me and Darcy just rolled them into the belly of the Wraith Orchid.  Now we'll make more cash because we still have the coal, too.”
      “Damn it, guys, we'll never get legitimate contracts if you keep doing stuff like this.”  She shot to her feet and paced between their chairs.  With her fists firmly planted on her hips, her glare gave way at their expressions of shock.  “Who am I kidding?  The money's not in playing by the book.  Another couple of hauls like this and we'll be looking for a vacation spot.”
      “Good one, Captain!”  Darcy popped a bubble and the crew erupted into laughter again.
      Emma grinned at the familial gaiety.  She'd learned long ago that following the rules only netted her pain, heartache, and empty pockets.  Ever since the day she became a space pirate, she'd set her own hours and crawled the galaxy looking to steal anything that wasn't bolted down--even some that was thanks to Darcy's penchant with high-tech gadgets.  Everyone had a price and her special skill in life was finding those dollar signs.  The more profit they brought in, the better all their lives would be.
      And they wouldn't need to keep running.



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