Medusa’s Touch

by Emily L. Byrne

Medusa's Touch - Emily L. Byrne
Editions:ePub: $ 3.99
ISBN: 978-0-9981082-9-2
Pages: 230

Medusa Pilot Captain TiCara X273, ex-street kid and former bondslave, thought she wanted nothing more than to be captain of her own starship. Or, at least, that was all that she thought she wanted until Sherin Khan came back into her life. A bar singer turned corporate rep, Sherin is now working for Ser Trin Vahn, one of TiCara's best clients and head of Vahn Corp.

Once they are thrown together on TiCara’s ship, TiCara and Sherin can no longer deny their simmering attraction to each other. A simple mission to transport the ailing Vahn to the legendary asteroid, Electra 12, for medical treatments turns dark and dangerous as betrayal leads to betrayal. TiCara's greatest enemy is pursuing them, there's a traitor on her crew and Sherin has a secret that can tear them apart. Can they learn to trust each other before it's too late?

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Excerpt:

Sherin looked away, her half-closed eyes and the rapid rise and fall of her chest betraying her agitation. Was it desire? Or was TiCara letting the want that burned through blackhole her brain? TiCara studied Sherin for a long moment, waiting for her to look up and meet her stare, to say something that would tell her what might happen next and what, if anything, the rep wanted from her.

But the rep stayed silent and closed her eyes and there was a client waiting and credits to be made and cred was too important to lose. At least for now. TiCara smoothed her features into the sobriety appropriate for an important meeting and gestured toward the door behind Sherin.

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Sherin spun away and hit the door’s old-fashioned secur button with a grimace. She ushered TiCara through, still not making eye contact, then trailed after her to stand in front of the now closed door. Her stance shifted subtly into guard mode, a change that TiCara could sense without turning her head. It surprised her, even hurt her a little. Did Sherin truly think that she was a danger to Vahn?

But now she was letting herself get distracted and she recognized that for the danger it was. Shadow trade pilots had bigger worries than chasing the nearest handsome face. She stepped forward, walking slowly with hands clasped before her, through the long white room toward the man she had come to see. Not for the first time, she wondered what the two cloth wall hangings with their depictions of odd creatures and plant life on each side of his desk cost the old man; a good replica of Old Earth embroidered silk was worth more than her entire ship. Originals were more creds than she could imagine.

Ser Trin Vahn, CEO of Vahn Corp, sat behind his big gray desk looking even more like an Old Earth tortoise than he had at their last meeting, only a half cycle ago. Word from the Eyes was that Eternayouth didn’t work for him anymore, that he would die a wizened old man while his seemingly younger rivals outlived him. Or so they all hoped, ghouls that they were.

TiCara was hoping that he outlasted them all, mostly because his credit had always been good. Besides, she liked him better than her other clients, which meant better than not at all. Trusting him was another matter, but then, she was hard pressed to think of any employer she thought she could trust.

She stopped before the desk and gave him the formal United Systems greeting: hand to heart to lips to forehead, followed by a bow. It was more formal than she needed with an established client but she knew it would sweeten up the old man. He was as notorious for formality as for his devotion to the ancient ways that their ancestors had brought to the stars from their home planet. She looked up and he nodded in acknowledgment before he spoke, his voice rasping against her ears, “I have need of your services again, Pilot-Captain TiCara. I apologize for the short notice but this is important.”

It must be. Vahn had never gone straight to business when she’d dealt with him before. Nor had he ever mentioned anything that approached urgency. Urgency was expensive, and they both knew it. Normally, he spoke first of interstellar trade, then asked shrewd questions that tried to make her reveal too much about her own operations. Then and only then would he tell her why he had summoned her.

This time was clearly different. He didn’t mention Sirius Transport, the shipping corp she currently subcontracted for, only her. Which meant this was an independent deal, risky for both of them. Sirius could cut her contract if they found out. They could do nothing to the old man, of course, not directly. But there were other forms of vengeance for interfering with another corp’s contractors while they were under contract: missing licenses, refusals to allow a ship to make port, minor sabotage.

TiCara weighed the risks as she sized up Vahn. Her latest delivery for Sirius had been a success and their rep had let her know that they would like her to make another drop soon, but they had not finalized any details. Sirius might ignore a side job, as long as it was fast and quiet and her ship was available when they were ready.

Vahn gestured for her to sit and a roboserver emerged from a wall panel to place a tea tray with a steaming teapot and small ceramic cups on the desk between them. They each took a cup and sipped. TiCara blinked in pleased surprise: this was greenhouse-grown tea, not the usual imitation made from processed protein. The old man was trying to sweeten her up too.

 

- END OF EXCERPT -

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Cheyenne Blue on Goodreads wrote:

TiCara is a Medusa pilot--a human who has been modified with cyborg-like tentacle implants that sprout from her head like the snakes from the mythological Medusa. These Medusa implants allow her to pilot her specially designed ship by mind control, and gives her instant access to ship's systems. Medusa pilots are the upper echelon of pilots, but the implants mean they are both revered and feared.

To get the credits for the implants, TiCara spent years as a bondslave to a misogynistic POS, Zig, who (while it's not delved into in any detail) took full advantage of the power gradient and kept TiCara in an abusive relationship. Now with her own ship and a massive debt, TiCara is intent on paying this off as soon as possible, which means taking contracts in the shadow trade, the hardest and most dangerous jobs. When she is summoned to transport a Corp head, Vahn, to the mythical asteroid Electra for treatment that will extend his lifespan, TiCara is wary, but realises the danger of the mission, and the credits it will bring will allow her to own her ship free and clear. That Vahn has a rep, a beautiful and intriguing woman called Sherrin, is an extra bonus.

TiCara is a fabulous character. The author gives her backstory, along with that of the world she inhabits, in a long prologue. I'm not usually a fan of this approach, but the knowledge fleshes out TiCara's character and helps the reader understand some of her decisions. The worldbuilding is flawless and imbues every aspect of the story, from the word choices to the very twisty plot. Sherrin is more of a mystery but at the end her motivations are revealed.

Did I say twisty plot? Oh yeah, there totally is. It kept me guessing all the way to the end.

I know Emily's writing from her many erotic stories, and hence the erotic scenes between TiCara and Sherrin were smoking hot.

I haven't read much lesbian science fiction. I'm not sure why, as I love both lesbian romances and scifi, and this is a great blend of the two. I highly recommend this story.


About the Author

Emily L. Byrne’s stories have appeared in Bossier, Spy Games, Forbidden Fruit, First, Summer Love, Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition, Best Lesbian Erotica for the Year Vol. 2, First, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms, Blood in the Rain 3 and The Nobilis Erotica Podcast. Her collections, Knife’s Edge: Kinky Lesbian Erotica and Desire: Sensual Lesbian Erotica, are available from Queen of Swords Press.


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