The following is a short excerpt from "Rudiments in Faith." This has not been edited yet, so it is subject to change between now and publication. But it will give you an initial impression of this short story and its two main characters. I hope you enjoy it.
Aside from the occasional staleness of the recycled oxygen in the spacious passenger compartment, twenty-five-year-old Carson Smith was enjoying this trip through space to Hofmari Prime. He had found the seats comfortable, the meals and drinks satisfying, and the speed of the vessel more than adequate since he really wasn’t in a hurry to his destination.
His young Kalli bodyguard, Ilyazi, took every opportunity to stand up and pace the cabin like a cornered animal ready to pounce. And when the tall and muscular blue woman wasn’t striding around angrily, she was complaining.
“How far is it to this stupid planet?” she muttered in her raspy voice. “I feel like we’ve been in this crate for days!”
Carson tried to suppress his amusement at her impatience. “We have been aboard for three days. And it will take us another five days to reach Hofmari Prime at this speed, which is optimal for this vessel and our comfort. So, you may as well relax and enjoy what this ‘crate’ has to offer.”
She swirled around and gripped the tops of the seats on either side of the aisle as she glared at Carson, who remained sitting. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you — having me drink your fancy beverages and devour your expensive food, maybe read some classic Republic literature while I’m at it?”
He smiled at her calmly. “You’d enjoy the trip a lot more.”
She narrowed her near-feral gaze and gave him an insincere smile. “No, thank you. Such things would make me soft and fat like you.”
He laughed. If that didn’t upset me yesterday and the day before, why does she think it will work now? he mused to himself. Even if I were slim, she’d still see me as weak because I’m not Kalli. “You’re just jealous,” he smirked.
She snarled at him and sat back down in her seat.
Truthfully, he admired her mix of strength and beauty. She had long white hair that she kept braided. Her skin was a pure, deep blue and her eyes were as white as her hair with dark pupils. She had short dark horns that swept up into sharp tips. And her only blemish was a small scar than separated her left eyebrow in the middle.
He was well acquainted with Kalli culture. That was why he had requested one as his teammate, the bodyguard for this assignment. He’d expected a male but was pleasantly surprised to sign a contract with this female. Despite being loud and rude, she’d been fine company so far.
“Tell me about the race we will be observing on Hofmari Prime,” she demanded as she stood up again and walked to the back of the cabin.
He watched in silent glee as she poured a glass of berry-infused sparkling water for herself then grabbed a ceramic plate and began filling it with cheese cubes and some kind of meat from the large cold storage bin. “They are called the Sekdavi,” he told her.
She tasted some of the cheese and washed it down with her drink as she leaned against one of the seats nonchalantly. “Why are they so special?”
“They are nearly extinct now,” he replied more somberly, brushing his caramel blond bangs away from his eyes with one hand. “ Only a few thousand remain in one or two cities there.”
She apparently wasn’t sure how many thick slices of meat comprised a single serving, so she grabbed four of them, rolled them together, and chewed on them from one end like a celery stick. “Is that why we’re using the time crystal? To go back and see what they were like when they thrived?”
Carson unbuckled his harness and stood up. “Exactly! The Council wants me to observe and record not only what life was like when the Sekdavi dominated the planet’s population, but also how they survived a surprise attack by invading forces nearly four hundred years ago.”
“Didn’t they have a military?” she scoffed.
“They did, but the Sekdavi hibernate for nearly three months during their cold season,” he answered. “The invaders attacked when the Sekdavi should have been hibernating…but they weren’t. And they held on long enough for the Republic to send in troops to repel the invaders.”
“Impressive,” she said respectfully with a nod. Then she gnawed some more on her meat. “Maybe this assignment won’t be so bad after all.”
Carson walked closer to her, took a piece of cheese from her plate, and held it in his hand. “How could it be bad? You’ll be with me.” Then he confidently popped the cheese into his mouth.
She stared daggers at him. “You’ve obviously studied my people’s culture, so I will say this once, historian: stop flirting with me. It’s disgusting.”
He grinned. “Admit it. You like me.”
“I admit that I have a contract with you.” She spat the words at him. “And I am being paid to protect you. Otherwise, I would have cut out your tongue or slit your throat by now.”
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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