We would like to welcome Susan Jane Bigelow to The Discriminating Fangirl! Her newest book, Fly Into Fire, is now available from Candlemark & Gleam! It’s the sequel to the amazing Broken (which I reviewed here), and I am super excited to read more of this world.
And without further ado, here is Ms. Bigelow!
Hi everyone! I can’t think of anything to say about writing or books right now, so have a really short story instead. This is a quick vignette set a few months before the events of my new book, FLY INTO FIRE, get under way.
January 14, 2110
Ernesta Trägel Watches a Video of Sky Ranger
Later, she admitted to herself that she shouldn’t have watched the video. She couldn’t say what possessed her at the time. Maybe it didn’t matter.
Ernesta Trägel, head of the Confederation Military Police, sat in her dark, tightly secured office, monitoring five different things at the same time. President Peltan was still making his tour of asteroid mining operations in the system; she watched reports from his yacht scroll by. The oxygen mix in the life support system was slightly higher than she’d requested; she made a note. That would be dealt with— perhaps a year spent scrubbing floors would clear the life support tech’s mind.
Other reports arrived constantly. Here, a foolish protester had confessed to anti-government activities; the sentence would be harsh. There, a member of the old United Nations Party was surrounded in her home; Ernesta had authorized deadly force if necessary. And there, a new lead on a minor functionary of the Colonization Authority, long since disbanded. Relics of the old order were still out there, but Ernesta would root them all out. This was her duty.
Another report flicked across her screen. She scowled. The Sky Ranger file again. A message from an aide, reminding her that the President wanted an update.
There was no update. Sky Ranger was still lying low after attacking Hingham last summer.
Ernesta fixed herself a drink—it didn’t take long, since she liked her vodka neat. She took a sip, shutting down the feeds for now, and leaned back in her chair. Sky Ranger.
She thought for a moment, then accessed a file. Video of a show they’d done appeared on her screen, along with a date: July 9, 2105. A month before the election.
Sky Ranger grinned back at her. He looked amazing in the Black Bands uniform they’d dug up for him. The show’s host leaned towards him, her body radiating hunger and fascination.
Next to Sky Ranger, huddled on the couch, was a small, unremarkable woman with frizzy hair and a perpetual frown. Ernesta sighed and glanced into the mirror she kept in her desk. The same face, but with more lines and gray hairs, stared back. It had been a very long five years.
She started the video.
He laughed. The host laughed with him. There had been some joke. Before, he’d done a few flying tricks for her. Everyone loved him.
She, on the other hand, was an afterthought.
“And what do you think of that, Ms. Trägel?” the host said after a moment. A caption, ‘Ernesta Trägel | Peltan Campaign Advisor’ flashed on the screen.
She watched herself look up at Sky Ranger, with what she could see now was a clear expression of adoration on her face.
“I defer to Sky Ranger on those matters,” said past-Ernesta. Present-Ernesta winced.
“Senator Peltan, you mean!” Sky Ranger corrected. “I’m not in charge yet!”
They laughed some more, while past-Ernesta flushed and looked away.
Angrily, Ernesta shut the video off and drained her glass dry. The vodka burned as it settled into her stomach. Peltan had been furious at her for that. The upper levels of the campaign team had made fun of her for days.
She’d had her revenge on them, though. Oh yes, she thought fiercely through a blur of tears. They’d learned to fear her. One rotted in prison; another would face the people, and a noose, the next Confederation Day. The rest were on the run, scared. She knew exactly where they were. She’d take care of them in time. They were irrelevant anyway; there would never be another election.
She would catch up with him, too. It didn’t matter how long it took her. He could run as far as he wanted. She’d have him yet, and once she did, she’d hand him over to Special Projects. Doug Vasna wasn’t known for kindness.
The President wanted a report. She needed to clear her mind. She sighed and called up the data feeds again. She had nowhere to be, only a cold apartment to return to.
Still. She flicked through other files, other cases. Tomorrow. She’d take care of it tomorrow.
The last Sky Ranger of the now-vanished Extrahuman Union, defeated by his former allies and detested by everyone else, fled Earth and the repressive Confederation in a desperate attempt to put the past to rest. But when his refugee ship crashes on a desert planet, his life is thrown back into chaos, and his future becomes less certain than ever. In that hostile environment, he meets abrasive, impulsive Renna, and Dee, a flighty, secretive orphan girl, who are the only two refugees who can stand him.
When Dee wanders into the wilderness, Sky Ranger chases after her, touching off a series of events that lead them and their companions from the deserts of Seera Terron through alien Räton space and into the very heart of the Confederation itself. Sky Ranger must confront his past and a intrusive, ruthless government if he wants to be able to save both Dee and what remains of his people, the Extrahumans, from utter destruction.
FLY INTO FIRE, the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed BROKEN, is a story of hope, adventure, friendship, and sacrifice, in a world where the only freedom to be found is within.
You can pick up a copy through the Candlemark & Gleam website, where all paperbacks come with a free digital edition, or through your favourite indie or mainstream book source.