As a Confederation pilot, Trina McQueen had visited more than twenty worlds, varied in their cultures and use of technology. The Confederation’s arch enemy, the Ceberian Empire, has come up with a new way to cripple the Confederation— putting a bounty on the head of each of their pilots. After a night of revelry, Trina falls victim to the scheme, and soon she is a captive onboard a ship headed away from the quadrant she’d called home, traveling light-years away from anyone or anything she has ever known.
Handed off to callous slavers and injected with nanobots and drugs to help her acclimate to her new environment, she is sold as an “exotic” for her blonde hair and perfect teeth, rather than her piloting skills. With little knowledge of the language or customs, Trina faces the ultimate culture shock on an unnamed planet she immediately labels “a primitive dirtball.” Given over to the care of a handsome yet barbarian overseer, Trina must make her way in on a world where justice depends on one’s skill with a blade and horses are advanced transportation. Will the skills she acquired in her military training be enough to help her survive her exile on this primitive planet? And will she find something there she hadn’t found as she traveled the known galaxy?
Targeted Age Group:: 17+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always enjoyed researching what life was like in ancient times. Once Upon a Dirtball puts the heroine on a world that is not unlike this one a couple of thousand years ago. The science fiction part is how she got there and how her worldview differs from the other characters.
How is writing SciFi different from other genres?
For some books, there is a lot of research into what could happen, such as extrapolating technology trends. I really love those articles (or television shows) which look at science fiction gadgets which become reality after a while. (Ever seen the YouTube video of characters on Star Trek using what looks a lot like an iPad?) But, science fiction is even broader than that. There are so many themes: time travel, space travel, galactic empires, aliens, man vs. machine, and many more. Science fiction is a sophisticated genre, so it can be challenging.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most characters are composites, incorporating bits and pieces of people I have known. After a while, they seem more real than the people who served as templates, however. Maybe that’s because I spend so much time with them while writing.
“No way, uh-uh, I ain’t going with you.”
“Ma’am, if you resist arrest, then you’ll have a bigger problem. Much bigger.”
Trina McQueen tossed her blonde mane back behind her shoulders and straightened to her full height, a head shorter than either of the law enforcement dweebs who flanked her. That she was dressed in civilian garb didn’t help, either. Wearing a Confederation pilot’s uniform didn’t add height, but the attire always made her feel larger than life.
“I’ve done nothing which warrants arrest. I had a few drinks with friends, and I’m heading back to my ship’s berth. On my feet. And walking while under the influence isn’t against the laws of this station. Or any other that I can remember.”
“Ma’am, we do have a warrant for Second Lieutenant Trina Cole McQueen, an officer assigned to the Confederate Ship Methuselah. You aren’t wearing a uniform, but some four witnesses have ID’ed you, and you answered to the name. Come along with us, and this will all be settled directly.”
“What part of ‘no’ are you gents having trouble understanding?” Trina wasn’t sober, but she was not nearly as intoxicated as she’d been ten minutes earlier. Adrenaline was kicking in, burning up the alcohol in her system.
A station law enforcement transport glided up beside the group of three, its rear hatch opening. A stench emanated from the holding tank.
“In you go, Lieutenant.”
In unison, the husky law dweebs grabbed her arms and shoved her inside. Silently, the hatch closed, as they wrestled her to the transport’s floor. She continued to struggle, biting and kicking. With a curse, one of them kicked her left knee, causing intense pain as it twisted in an unnatural direction. As she screamed in pain, Trina’s nose was mashed flat as the other assailant pinned her upper body to the floor, while the one who had injured her secured her wrists with ordinary flexi fiber cuffs. Once her hands were fixed behind her, the huge law dweeb rolled off.
“Get off me, dammit,” Trina ground out as her face came up.
“No need to get so testy, Lieutenant.” He chuckled as he pulled himself onto the bench at the side of the transport.
“How much is she worth?”
Trina lay panting, trying to control her reaction to the pain in her leg. What could he possibly mean?
“McQueen has been assigned to a squadron for less than a solar year.” She saw him looking at a handheld data pad. “We’ll get only twenty thousand credits for her. But a credit is a credit, and she wasn’t hard to locate.”
Grimacing as she rolled to a sitting position, Trina posed a question. “What am I charged with, again?”
The dweeb on the bench grinned, no longer playing his ‘you’re under arrest’ game.
“No charges, Lieutenant. We’ll get our credits, and you’ll get a new home.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Just making a bit on the side, slave. Confederate pilots have a price on them— even young ones like you. So we’re gonna claim the prize.”
“Slave? Have you lost your minds? Did either of you ever have a mind? Slavery is illegal on this station and on every world in this quadrant.”
“You won’t be piloting again, Lieutenant. Where you’re headed, you’ll be doing good if someone lets you ride in a wagon. Your new home is many light years outside the quadrant, and that’s all I’ll tell you.”
Trina sat on the floor of the transport, her hands fixed behind her, glaring at her captors.
“You can’t get away with this. The fleet will come looking for me.”
“Like they did for Cass Carpenter? Of Sofia Ramerz?”
Trina gulped. Neither of those officers had returned from leave on Sonoma Station. Disappeared without a trace, and eventually, the Methuselah had moved on. Now, Trina would be the third pilot lost to her squadron.
“You were behind that, too?”
“Absolutely. The Ceberian Empire pays well for pilots. The more experienced ones pay even better, of course, but you’ll make us a significant profit.”
“Who did you say is paying?” Trina’s brain moved into the higher bands with the mention of the empire whose pilots often engaged her and her squadron.
“The Ceberians have decided it is cheaper to pay us to take out Confederation pilots than to engage you in space. This is the end of your career.”
The law enforcer knelt beside her on the floor, with an injection pen in hand.
“Bon Voyage, Lieutenant McQueen.”
With one smooth motion, he jammed it against her neck and depressed the switch, sending her into oblivion.
About the Author:
Pilar Savage is of mixed heritage but thoroughly American. For fun, she travels and reads, and she enjoys a good film from time to time. Ms. Savage grew up in the Gainesville, Georgia area.
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