Saturday, November 06, 2010

Saturday Snippets - Bring me a tissue (waaah!)

Get out your tissues for today's excerpts. The Saturday Snippets authors plan to bring a tear to your eye.

Today I feature my novella "Undiplomatic Relations" which was recently re-released by Ellora's Cave as a single story. Originally, it was released as part of the "Chances Are" anthology in 2006.


In the 26th century, Major Kady Elliott witnesses a heartless massacre of innocent children. Deeply disillusioned and troubled, she escapes the evil murderer, Emperor Lukas. She vows to stop him, so she defects from the Federation and goes in search of the rebel forces hoping to join their ranks.

But that’s not so easily done. Not only was she a high-ranking officer in the Federation, she’s the ex-lover of the rebel commander, Admiral Shane Trigilio. And Shane’s more than a little bitter about her supposed betrayal of him. To rebuild his trust, he demands she follow his every command…

Publisher’s Note: Originally available in the Chances Are anthology.


Copyright © ASHLEY LADD, 2006

A grubby-faced little girl cloaked in tattered rags scampered over marshy ground to Kady Elliott and hugged her. “Will you be my new mommy?”

Kady choked back sudden hot tears and smiled down at the child she’d become so very fond of during her several visits to monitor this world. “You don’t know how very much I’d love to be your new mommy. But I’m a soldier, sweetie. My kind of life wouldn’t be good for a sweet little girl like you.”

“But I wuv you and I need a new mommy.” Pathos rang in the precious five-year-old’s voice.

Kady hugged her in return, cursing the horrors of war that had left the children of the Paldera Nation orphaned, that allowed her to feel this child’s ribs painfully protruding from her malnourished form. No one older than ten had survived the massacre of this outer rim community, and she was amazed they had lived this long on their own. Her unlucky companions who had accompanied her in the shuttle on this quick mission, Yamin and Daughtry, had perished when they’d tripped over old-style land mines undetectable by their scanners.

This should not be happening in the civilized twenty-sixth century! “I love you, too. I’ll be your auntie and I’ll help find you and all your friends new mommies and daddies.”

“Pwomise?” The tot swiped at tears, making twin runways down her dirty cheeks.

Kady ran her fingertip over her chest and forced a sunny smile. “Cross my heart and hope to die. On my honor as an officer and a gentleman.”

The girl’s face radiated with light and she giggled. “But you’re a girl.”

Kady tousled the silky mahogany hair that hung in clumps down the child’s back. She’d been without sex so long, had been nothing but an asexual soldier for four long years, that she’d almost forgotten she was a female. “So I am. Stay here while I round up the other children and then I’ll take you to my ship and on to your new mommy. Okay?”

The tyke’s little head insistently bounced up and down as new hope gleamed in her dark eyes.

Kady’s heart lifted a little. She vowed to do everything in her power to help these kids. Pivoting on her worn boot heel, she went in search of the other children. She checked in the caverns where they liked to hide. When she didn’t find them, she climbed the rocky hill to the other side.

High-pitched, childish screams rent the air from the valley across the creek and then plasma blaster fire erupted nearby. A most eerie, ominous silence followed.

Kady’s heart froze. What the—

Adrenaline surged through her, restarting her heart. She drew her weapon, threw herself to the rocky terrain and crawled through low ground cover to the source of the sound. Cautiously, she peeked around the bend of an old, overgrown bush trail. What she saw stole her breath.


Emperor Lukas smiled wickedly and tilted his head at his top lieutenant. “No rebel spawn will grow up to infest my universe.”

The tall, skinny female ensign, who wore her pink Mohawk long but stiff, lifted her arm and pointed a deadly plasma blaster on the little girl Kady had just left.

The child sobbed and pleaded. She turned to run, but stumbled on makeshift toys scattered about the ground.

Kady took careful aim at the devil ensign and fired.

But her shot missed as the woman stepped away to fire on her innocent target and bore a large hole in the child’s tiny body.

Her heart breaking and unable to believe her eyes, Kady tried to blink back sudden, unstoppable tears. Not one child, girl or boy, had been spared. Their bodies lay littered on the ground in bloody pools, decaying under the midday sun. Bile rose in her throat and she had to turn away from the horrific scene. Her esteemed commander and his henchmen were hideous monsters, vile, murdering bastards, every last one.

Oh no! Shane had been right. The Federation was a vile serpent suffocating the universe and it had to be stopped at all costs.

“Elliott! I know you’re out there. We need to talk. It’s not what it seems.”

She didn’t believe a word out of the fiend’s mouth. Leaves and gravel crunched behind her, propelling her to her ship. Breathless, perspiring profusely, she scampered aboard and locked the hatch. She dove into the captain’s chair and rammed the alactra controls on full throttle so that the ship trembled when the teractic reaction chamber fired up. Inhaling deeply, she skipped over eco power and pushed the ship straight into molecular stream teractic drive. The lactofield held her in her seat when the ship shook so hard it felt as if it would explode and she felt as if every cell in her body would implode.

Lukas bent to one knee, squinted down the barrel of his plasma blaster and let loose fire on her ship.

Her ship rocked and dove alarmingly and she bit out a curse. She diverted half power from life sustain to the shields and sent deadly ionic splinter blasts at the emperor.

He ducked and rolled at the last second when the ionic blast made a crater but a few feet away. He scuttled around his almost grave into the safety of a nearby cave carved into the mountainside.

“Hasta la vista, baby,” she ground out between gritted teeth and saluted smartly at her former commander’s dust. Then she departed from the planet’s atmosphere, from the hideous massacre.

* * * * *

Days later, Kady still shuddered at the vivid memories that wouldn’t give her a moment’s peace. She squinted at the coordinates through a haze of tears as she plotted her course, letting her fingers skim the control panel. While the ship sailed through calm, friendly space, she hugged herself and cried on and off, not at all officer-like. Even through an asteroid belt, she could hardly stop sniffling and dabbing her eyes.

“Get a grip, soldier!” she ordered herself, angrily swiping away non-regulation tears. “Some warrior you are. Death’s part of the game.”

Shivers raced up and down her spine as the little girl’s ghost tormented her.

When the little girl’s spirit wasn’t haunting her, Shane’s was. What a load of words she had to choke on as she’d have to regurgitate each and every poisonous one.

Images of her final hours with Shane four long years ago haunted her, refusing to be erased. Tormenting visions of loving and fighting and breaking up scorched her heart. Cruising out in deep space, several parsecs from any known Federation colonies and stations, with the ship flying on auto-power, she dwelled on their vivid history.

“I don’t know why you flew into my universe for I surely never did anything to be so blessed,” Shane had murmured, smoothing her hair away from her flushed cheeks. He kissed her eyelids and then trailed his caresses down her cheeks until he captured her lips and drank deeply.

Quivering with a need that threatened to devour her, she wound her arms around him and pulled him so impossibly, incredibly close, their souls surely must become one. Against his lips, she murmured, “It’s me who’s blessed.”

Undiplomatic Relations is available at Ellora's Cave.
For more emotional excerpts visit my fellow authors.

Leah Braemel
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
Ashley Ladd
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane
Sasha White
Shelley Munro
TJ Michaels

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