Book One of Angel’s Luck
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“Precious Cargo is my favorite book of the trilogy. When I decided to continue the story of Duke and May, I knew the end of the story would be the trouble they had turning in the Essence Phials for the reward money. But I had to get them from point A to B first. That’s when the story became a trilogy.
“Going into the story, I didn’t even have an ending in mind, which is unusual for me. All I knew was that the junked Angel’s Luck was going to be picked up by a salvage team that turned out to be led by May’s ex-wife. I also knew that I wanted Duke’s struggle with the essenced pilot Eric Dickson to be the main plot line. I think all I told Del Rey about the book was that ‘this one explains how they get rescued.’
“I think maybe it turned out so well because I had no expectations going into the book, and I ended up really surprising myself.”
“What again places this above standard space opera fare is theunderstated sense of humor… this book is a rare treat, an intelligentand humorous deadpan space opera.”
“Faust brings a half-zany half-serious approach to space opera. If you are looking for fun reading with old-fashioned virtues and novel twists, PRECIOUS CARGO is for you.”
ABOUT THIS EXCERPT:
JCF on the following excerpt: “I’m a firm believer in the old rule that you never make it easy on your protagonist. Here’s an example of how to ruin a perfectly good rescue.”
Excerpted from Precious Cargo by Joe Clifford Faust
Copyright (c) 1989 by Joe Clifford Faust
Reprinted by permission of the author; no part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.
“Officer on deck!”
The door opened and Margaret O’Hearn, now in her Working Command uniform, stepped through with Ensign Tesla at her heels. The other uniforms came to attention and the five survivors felt their backs straighten.
O’Hearn looked down the line of them, stopping with May, the last in line. She stared for a moment, then her lips turned up almost imperceptibly.
“On behalf of the United Terran Empire Fleet, I’d like to welcome you aboard the Hergest Ridge. I am Commander Margaret O’Hearn, and this is my aide, Ensign Revel Tesla. We are pleased to be able to assist you and we’ll try to make your stay here as comfortable as possible. Each of you will be provided with the necessities of daily life, and we have five berths waiting for your arrival.”
Vonn took Roz’s hand and smiled. “We’ll only need four.”
O’Hearn glared at him. “We have prepared five berths for you under the guidelines of the Transgalactic Transport Treaty. Due to the size and nature of this ship, your presence will in no way be an imposition on us. Rather, we are delighted to be of service to you.”
She began to pace past the line of survivors. Tesla followed them, a tube with a sighting device in his hand. He peered through it at Roz and said “Smile”.
“The Ensign will be taking your pictures and you’ll be given complementary Badges Of Passage for our trip to Council 5. They will be good for food, personal items, three changes of clothes, and limited drinks, and may be used at any of our shops and stores. In return we request that you follow the rules and regulations of this ship as if you were a paying passenger with the according contract of liability.” She stopped and stated hard at Vonn. “A copy of the contract can be found in your private Berth.”
All of them nodded.
“Smile,” said Tesla. Vonn scowled at him.
O’Hearn looked them over. “Which of you is in command?”
May stepped forward. “James May at your service, ma’am.” He made a polite bow.
She nodded. “As you know, we will need to discuss your ship’s situation and we will need to work out the details on the salvage negotiation and liability waiver. Because this is a rescue, the UTE Fleet will compensate you for any damage done to your ship that we might have caused.”
“Thank you,” he said gallantly.
“But that can be done later. In the meantime, I’m sure you all want to find your berths and get cleaned up. Lieutenant Stanns will escort you to the proper section of the ship and see that you each get a properly sized UTE Fleet uniform — with our complements.”
“Smile,” Tesla said to Winters.
“Mister May, when you are ready to meet with me, feel free to ring the administrative office and make an appointment.”
May touched three fingers to his brow in an informal salute.
“Enjoy your stay.”
She turned and left the room, Tesla rushing to get Duke and May’s picture into his device. He was out the room a split second after his commander, and the uniform at the door shouted “Dis-MISSED!”
“I am Lieutenant Stanns,” said the ranking uniform. “If you would follow me to your berths, please.”
“Gladly,” said Roz.
“Incredible,” Vonn said as the party started down the hall. “You’re going to try and negotiate terms of salvage with that woman?”
“I think she’ll be very reasonable.”
“Yeah? What about suppression of certain information?” he whispered.
“The UTE Fleet chooses their commanders based on Officer Presence, Respect, Judgment–“
“I know all of that, but you saw what she was like. She’s from the old pike and saber crowd. She’ll be tough to crack.”
“She won’t need cracking,” May said confidently. “She’ll listen to a logical presentation.”
“Even if it means bending the rules, huh? Do you have some kind of inside on this Commander O’Hearn?”
“I know her from the Academy.”
“Really.” Vonn laughed. “Well, was she a frigid bitch then or is that something she learned at command school?”
May’s hand shot out and grabbed Vonn by the lapels. He stepped back from the rest of the party and pushed the mercenary against the wall.
“Watch your mouth,” he hissed. “Don’t you ever talk about her like that again.”
Vonn’s mouth dropped open in shock. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Was she special to you?”
“She’s my ex-wife,” snapped James May.
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