A Tangle of Fates
By Leslie Ann Moore
Series: The Vox Machina Trilogy, Book 1
Published: August 11th, 2014
Publisher: Muse Harbor Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Recommended Age: 13+
What if Snow White had been a revolutionary… instead of a pawn?
Nuetierra. An alien world where twin moons light the night and massive air-breathing jellyfish float through the violet skies trolling for prey.
Nue Bayona. A gaslit, steam-powered city caught between the iron fist of a despot and the bloody fist of a terrorist…
Four hundred years have passed since a great war toppled the fusion powered civilization created by refugees fleeing a dying planet. Since its fall, Old Earth’s descendants have gradually rebuilt a new society on the bones of the old.
Deanna Hernaan, daughter of Eduard, the former Alcalde of Nue Bayona, spends much of her time caring for her younger sister, Ceilia. Six years ago, her stepmother Lourdessa led a brutal political coup against their father. With the consent of the city’s elite, Lourdessa rules through patronage and oppression while Deanna’s father languishes in prison.
The common citizens chafe beneath Lourdessa’s yoke and yearn for their lost democracy. Many in Nue Bayona support a resistance movement led by the mysterious rebel leader known only as Faustin, despite the fact his violent tactics have left innocent people dead.
Threatened by Deanna’s popularity with the common people, Lourdessa jealously arranges for her assassination. But the attempt fails and Deanna escapes from the city. Cast adrift in a hostile wilderness and near death, she is rescued by a band of diminutive hunters, members of a mysterious race she knows only from history books—the Tiqui.
Recovering in their distant village, Deanna meets a remarkable woman—the Tiqui chieftess Yellow Bird. The chieftess possesses the shamanic gift of foresight. Her visions have revealed that a girl from the race of tall folk would one day come, a girl whose fate is inextricably linked to that of the Tiqui.
When Deanna’s safe haven is destroyed in a night of horrific violence, she must make a choice: leave the Tiqui for a life of exile, or dare to embrace her destiny by embarking on the road to revolution. Dangerous and uncertain, disaster or salvation waits at its end—for both Tiqui and tall folk alike.
from A Tangle of Fates by Leslie Ann Moore
Darkness. The feeling that large shapes hem her in on all sides is overwhelming. She tries to move, but her body is held fast by unseen hands gripping her arms and shoulders.
Yellow Bird! she cries. Help me!
Easy. I am here. Remember, none of this is real. Step out of your dream-self and become the watcher.
Deanna struggles to break free, but the grip of the hands grow stronger. I don’t know how!
Yes, you do. Let go of your fear! Concentrate!
Deanna relaxes, and the panic threatening to overthrow her sanity flows through her like water through a sieve, leaving calm in its wake. Her unseen bonds loosen. She steps away…
…and sees herself, standing before her stepmother in Lourdessa’s mayoral office, flanked by two huge shadows that ripple in the half-light, as if made of black water. They hold her arms pinned at her sides. Lourdessa sits at her desk, tapping nails like crimson daggers on the shiny wood. She regards her stepdaughter with a hatred so profound, Deanna wonders how it could exist whole within one person.
What did I ever do to you? Deanna asks.
You made me feel naked. Lourdessa flicks her hand. Sparks shoot from her fingertips and drift around the room like electric snowflakes. Take her away.
Deanna watches the shadow-Specials drag her dream-self, unprotesting, from the room. She turns and sees…Ceilia, crouching in the corner, a strange half-smile on her lips. Something in her eyes isn’t right.
The scene dissolves like smoke on a stiff breeze, to reveal a dim, trash-strewn alley. Deanna senses Yellow Bird’s steady presence, anchoring her to the unseen reality beyond this realm of drug-induced visions. She draws strength from it, and waits.
Soon, she hears rapid footsteps. Two figures plunge into the alley at a dead run. They hurtle toward Deanna, then skid to a stop several paces from where she stands. She cannot see them yet in the shadow. Their breaths rattle and wheeze in their throats. She hears stark fear when one of them catches enough breath to speak.
They’re right behind us, Zander!
Horrified, Deanna realizes that, somehow, Zander has been caught up in this deadly scene.
Mierda! This alley’s a dead end! he cries.
A black cloud congeals at the alley’s entrance. In eerie silence, it floats toward the shivering fugitives.
Deanna can only watch, helpless to intervene. I wanted to see this, she reminds herself.
Zander takes Deanna’s dream-self into his arms and kisses her with the passion of a man savoring the last beautiful thing he will feel before death.
The cloud becomes a pack of Specials. They halt and raise their ee-pistols. The barrels crackle with blue static.
Zander pushes dream-Deanna behind him, offering his body as a shield, paltry though it be, in a vain attempt to save her life.
This is your last chance to come with us, Deanna, one of the Specials shouts.
No, she whispers, then lays her head on Zander’s shoulders and closes her eyes.
Leslie Ann Moore is an award-winning science fiction/fantasy author who serves as Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, the largest writers’ group in Southern California. In 2008, her debut fantasy novel Griffin’s Daughter won the prestigious IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Literary Landscapes, the official magazine of G.L.A.W.S, and have been produced on the ClonePod sci-fi/fantasy podcast. In 2011, her short story Invisible won Honorary Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. She made her first international appearance as a panelist at the 72nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention–home to the celebrated Hugo Awards– in London, U.K. in August 2014. A practicing veterinarian since 1988, in her spare time, she studies the ancient and beautiful art of belly dance.
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