spicyRomanceKilt in Space


Science Fiction Romance
Novella

A monster. A kilt. And nothing beneath it.
published by Ella Drake
series: Space Grit
October 13, 2015

A shy monster accidently scares the ship engineer. Not exactly the way he wanted to catch her attention.

***

Ursula is no stranger to big, snarly aliens. Heart-sister and ship engineer for her brothers, the Scoriah, she's used to claws, fangs, and vicious fighting. On board their new spacefaring cargo hauler, they find everything they need: Smuggling holes, plenty of room, and a brand new engine Ursula can't wait to get to know. But they find something extra on board. A monster that frightens even the intrepid Ursula.

Left by the previous crew, Grendel wants nothing more than to escape the monsters who've taken over his ship. Remaining hidden isn't an option for Grendel when the intriguing new engineer misses a crucial problem with the internal systems. Now, it's find a way to approach Ursula or they're all going to die.

Kilt in Space is a science fiction romance novella in the Space Grit series. Reading in order is recommended but the story can be read stand-alone


keywords : Space Grit. Science Fiction Romance. Space Opera. SFR. Alien.
More : Space Grit

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Excerpt from Kilt in Space

Copyright © 2015 Ella Drake
All rights reserved

Chapter One

Ursula Dale kicked the panel covering the smuggler’s hole. The clank reverberated through the mess hall. She lowered her heavy-soled boot down on top of it and the echoing quieted. Interesting acoustics. She did it again.

Warrant, the pilot, snarled at her from a nearby table. His pointed fangs gleamed in his gray face but he didn’t glance at her. He continued manicuring his clawed hand with his throwing knife. “Don’t break the new ship.”

“It’s not new. It’s a piece of junk.” She was tempted to make a quick getaway and stay on the junker station instead of christening the newly renamed Twelfth Night.

“Don’t insult his new woman. It makes him cranky.” Nick strode in, carrying a box into the cooking area.

When Nick passed him, Warrant reached out and swatted his brother. His wicked claws slashed bloody stripes on Nick’s arm. Nick growled but otherwise ignored the playful attack. At least, she hoped it was playful. Sometimes it got ugly.

“Remind me, again, how I ended up the lone human on a ship with aliens waging rebellion against my home planet?”

“You can’t resist my cooking,” Nick answered.

“Because your father thought we needed a keeper,” Warrant groused.

“Hannibal is usually right.” Nick started to unpack the food goods, unfazed by any of the nervous tension that’d made them all edgy.

“No, you’re both wrong.” She kicked at the plate covering the smuggler’s hole again. “It’s definitely the see new places, see new things, all while traveling in such fine accommodations.”

“I don’t think she likes the new ship,” Nick said to Warrant.

Warrant growled. Then, before the rumbling could die in his chest, it picked back up again. Which meant Techtei was about. Soon, they’d be at each other’s throats, vying for dominance to see who’d be the sole captain of the ship.

With a sigh, Ursula left them to it. She wasn’t going to help mop the blood off the floors this time. The Scoriah in question stalked down the corridor before she could make a clean getaway. Just behind Techtei, Echtei followed. They smelled of gin, and if she could scent such things the way they could, she was sure they’d smell like they’d just crawled out of bed full of women.

“Tee,” she greeted the captain with forced cheer. “Are we shoving off today?”

Official sounding questions should stall Tee. They were all aboard now. The two other crew members were sleeping in their nest—Chaz and Quad. No matter how aggressive they could be while awake, when they slept, they curled up like kittens in one big pile. She was the only one with separate quarters.

Didn’t work. Tee nodded and gave a short, “Yes.”

Then he shoved past. Echtei rolled his eyes and gave her a shrug. “The supplies are loaded. We can leave after they pound each other into the deck plating one last time. I told them if they didn’t settle it, I’m voting on you for captain.”

“No thanks.” If he were serious, she’d be terrified. Trying to keep dominance over a small nest of Scoriah would be suicide. “I’ll stick to the engines.”

She spoke to an empty hallway. Both Scoriah had gone ahead to the mess. Ignoring the sounds of fighting behind her, she went through the hatch and into engineering. The ship was a rectangle made of several box components connected together. The engine was in the rear. Each box had its use and connected to the others through hatchways. They could seal each hatch, keeping the cubes self-contained while cranes could rearrange or remove the ones that weren’t necessary. Usually the ones closest to the engine were the most necessary. That was why the mess was so near the engine room. Not exactly the layout of the luxury liners.

If this bucket of bolts had the appearance of falling down around her ears, she had to admit, it was purely for show. The mechanical room was organized. The metallic walls and floors were clean and made of a durable material that allowed chemical hosing in case of emergencies. The back wall was empty except for a membrane that covered a large hatch that could be lowered in case of fire. Since the area could be vented to space within seconds, everything was bolted down or stored in the cabinets that lined one wall. Every element of the engine was in its own compartment. The engine was a beauty. A blue light pulsed from the bottom of it, and she could see the thing churning away through the clear front of the casing.

It looked good.

Thank goodness. She patted the fancy control panel. “Don’t break. I have no idea how to fix you.”

If that happened, they’d send her home and find a trained engineer. The only reason she’d been brought along on this trip to get a new smuggling ship for the rebellion was because she insisted she was the best candidate on Ferrashi. Hell, that wasn’t hard. Since there were no space engineers on the small farm colony.

She opened the schematics and training manuals. At the very least, she had to figure out how to start the engines before Tee—or Warrant—gave the order. The diagrams seemed to show that she needed to create the security protocols first. Then all it’d take was a hand scan and a push of the button. As long as the ship was fully powered, and it was, they could detach from the station as soon as they got clearance. Setting herself up with security clearance didn’t take long. She had the physical key to access the systems. With it slotted into place, she entered her data.

Holding her breath, she pushed the start button.

A green light clicked on and the lights grew brighter.

Immediately, the nearest intraship comm crackled to life. Techtei’s voice rumbled into engineering. “Since systems are online, I’ll put in for detachment.”

“Roger.” Sweat broke out on her forehead. Now was the time to figure out the ins and outs of this engine. No problem. This was easy. She knew about land rovers and auto-peds. This was basically the same. Just, bigger and more complicated. Plus, they were counting on her. Counting on her promise that she could do it and they didn’t need to find an outsider. “I’ll be ready.”

She sat down with the manual and flipped it to the beginning.

Four hours later, she’d managed to unhitch the Twelfth Night—mainly due to the step-by-step authorization procedures. Shaking a little, she glanced around the still empty engine room and cleared her throat before replying to Tee’s hail. “Everything going smoothly here. Surprised the junkyard dock held up long enough for us to get out of there.”

For the dozenth time, she swiped over the screens, flicking between the different readouts to be sure all the levels seemed stable.

“Our intel was good. I was never worried.” Tee clicked off.

“That’s okay. I’ll worry enough for all of us.” She didn’t think her wobbly legs would move her from her seat, and she didn’t think she should leave anyway. When she wasn’t eating or sleeping, she planned on sitting right here, learning this engine. They were headed back to Ferrashi to re-outfit the ship before starting her father’s plan to smuggle illegal arms.

Her father. Hannibal Dale had been in the Geonate military all of her early life. Her mother had tired of living without her husband and had dissolved the union, but Ursula couldn’t extricate him from her life. He was her dad. He’d talk with her over comm while he was on tour and when he was home, he gave her all his attention. By the time she was done with primary school and facing her own time in the military, he’d deserted. All that time wishing he’d come home and he’d shown up, told her he’d done something, and he could never come home again. She’d begged to go with him. By then, her mother was done with the marriage and Ursula—well, she could go, too. Then and there she’d realized she’d decided to join the military to be near him and if his mission was something new, that was hers, too.

That day, she’d joined a rebellion she’d never known existed and she’d lost her chance to be officially trained as a ship engineer. She’d never regretted it. Except, right now, she wished she’d gotten that training.

How could she be sorry about coming to live with the Scoriah? She was their heart-sister. They were unique, made in a military lab and saved by her dad when he came to realize the plans to make them berserkers would damage them completely. He’d loved them so much, he’d deserted for them.

Leave it to her dad to kidnap twenty-four lab experiments and make them his sons. They were truly her brothers and Hannibal had raised them all. They were family.

“Yep. Family of smugglers,” she murmured and smiled.

Learning how to maintain this engine and keeping a smuggling ship running was part of the family now. It was a risk she was more than willing to take. Time to study. The more she knew before they got home, the more likely she could keep her position instead of them having to hire a freelancer. They might be smugglers but they had integrity. Who knows what other smugglers were up to.

Sometime around hour five of their trip her tummy growled. Stretching her back, she winced. She hadn’t moved for most of the day. Time to see what Nick had cooked up. When she ducked through the hatch into the common area, the growls and yeows from the mess made her smile. They were at it again. Hopefully they’d work it out before they got back to Ferrashi, or it was likely enough one of the other Scoriah would jump into the fray. Hell, Aztei was off training to be some sort of operative in the Nex—an elite force in the Geonate military, their enemy—but she wouldn’t be surprised if he came back to fight to run the show just to shake things up.

Her grin dropped and she tilted her head. Something was there. The hair on the back of her neck rose. She stopped and squinted. There was a big, dark shape near the door to the mess.

The shape moved.

She froze.

It moved again.

Toward her.

She screamed.

The thing jumped then bounded away from her. It disappeared into the next section of the ship.

Warrant tumbled into the corridor. Knives drawn, the ridges on his gray cheekbones raised, he snarled, “What?”

Blinking, she pointed down the empty hall.

“It moved.”

“What?” he repeated as Tee shoved past him to crouch in a protective position in front of her.

“A shadow.”

More : Space Grit
Available from:
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Amazon: US · UK · AU · CA · DE
    ~ © 2009-17 Ella Drake
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