Last Friday, we revealed the cover for Iced, the first book in the Chronicles of White World series from M. Terry Green. This week, Green has granted us permission to reveal a sample of the story. Enjoy!
Iced by M. Terry Green
It was perfect slaver weather: visibility a hundred clicks, temperature a few degrees below zero, wind out of the northwest. Thirteen kept an eye on the horizon and opened the vent another notch. She watched steam pour from the opening and bend severely into the frigid wind stream.
They’d have to be blind not to see that—blind or dumb.
Slavers weren’t the brightest. She let slack into the control line and dumped more wind. The perlon sail fluttered and flapped, and the rigging slapped along the mast, audible over the high wind of midday. Her speed dropped a notch. The ship already sailed so slowly the wing couldn’t generate enough lift. Under the skimmer’s three hulls, the blades sliced the ice with a scraping and rattling sound.
“Where are you?” she muttered, scanning the infinite white.
The bright gleam of the Pacifica Sheet stretched to the horizon in all directions. Where the pale blue sky met the planet, a hazy seam divided them. Few mountains and no volcanos were in sight. The huge crinkles, saw-toothed hills, and sculpted blocks that pocked the ice near volcanos were absent here. It was easy to make good speed, especially in this weather. High cirrus clouds covered the sun. The sextant shot would wait.
She saw it then, ten points off the stern—a speck.
But as it came closer and grew a little larger, she recognized it: a sloop, typical for this far out, likely a crew of four, so as to leave room for slaves. Although she’d done this countless times, her heart beat faster. She nudged the tiller, putting the ship into a slight skid that kicked up ice shavings in a high sparkling arc off the starboard outrigger. The slavers unfurled more sail.
She lightly touched the pendant through the fabric on her chest. Maybe this slaver ship would be the one. Maybe their captives would know something. Either way, the chase was on, such as it was. Her skimmer would make quite the prize for slavers. They’d be looking for a small family at least, but they weren’t going to find that—not even close.
No longer on the horizon, the sloop was taking shape. Though it wasn’t built for speed, it had three sails up now. It moved fast enough for the wing that connected the three hulls to lift the blades clear of the ice. Harpoons and shotguns were likely at the bow. Even in white, the ship was as plain as a rock. Though the shimmering ice reflected the sunlight, the hulls didn’t. Despite being the exact same color of white, it was like looking at a silhouette—growing larger. They were gaining fast.
In two quick bounds, Thirteen was out of the cockpit and up on the black deck. It was the only part of the skimmer that wasn’t white. Throughout the day it absorbed the heat of the sun and passed it to the cabin below. Thirteen gave the trigger on the winch a quick push and the rope under the railing a little tug. The switches were cocked. Everything was set. She glanced to stern.
Beyond the tall tail and stabilizer that were useless at this slow speed, the power turbine whirled. Via gears in the stern and deck and the belts that ran the length of the ship, it connected to the winch. When she needed power, it’d be ready. Beyond the turbine she watched the slavers.
They ought to see her soon even without a scope. Time to give them something to see.
Thirteen raced back to the cockpit and jumped down. She grabbed the light gray jacket from the steps. It was nearly as form-fitting as the first two layers, but the color was like a beacon against the ice or her ship. The way it clung to her would leave no doubt as to whether they were really seeing a woman on deck. Her petite frame would be the clincher. She took the matching cap from the pocket and put it on. Carefully, she tucked every strand of long hair under the snug hat. Then she put on the goggles. Of course they only looked like goggles. They were fake. She needed to look right, and the large, yellow lenses were the most important part of that deception. Already the gray fabric was picking up some heat from the sun. As long as she didn’t sweat it’d be all right. Judging by how fast the slavers were closing, she wouldn’t have to wear it for long.
She stepped into the safety harness, pulled it up, and slipped her arms through. The back was already clipped to the tether that ran up the mast. Bending at the knees, she tested her weight on it. She heard the carabiner rattle in the metal ring behind her as she took the tiller.
Off the stern, the slaver ship was clearly visible. Beyond the sloop’s protruding sounding buoy, a brief glint at the bow let her know the captain had his scope out. She turned profile for his benefit, pretending to look up at the sloppy mainsail, raising one hand against the sun as if it were too bright. At this point, even a fool would see they were being chased by slavers, so she turned to them. Their heading was on an intercept course, still closing fast, not taking any chances. On deck, there were three men. One had to be below. The slaver at the bow wasn’t using his scope any more. He’d seen everything he needed: an unarmed ship with a woman in the cockpit who didn’t know any better than to let steam vent and couldn’t set a sail.
“Come and get it, Slaver,” she said, almost inaudible over the wind.
©2015 M. Terry Green
If you're already hooked, pre-order it! Ship date is February 10th.