Monday, January 5, 2015

Sneak preview of Ch. 5 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Five

“I challenge,” the voice said, and Emily stopped at the edge of the ring, turning to look over her shoulder. “My choice of weapon is shinai.”
“There is no need,” she said, rushing to the center of the ring to kneel at Kano’s feet.
“Do not insult me,” he growled. “You will accept my challenge… unless you think it is beneath you.”
“I would rather be your student, Sensei, than your opponent.”
A moment later, she stood on the side of the ring, as Ishikawa and Lt Otani helped her strap on protective equipment. Shinai are practice swords, made of bamboo strips bound together in a single shaft, lighter than a bokken, and with no edge. But in the heat of competition, an errant blow can still do some damage… and Kano did not look like he meant to tap her lightly.
“You should never have entered the ring,” Lt Otani said. “This could have been avoided if you had just let Sgt Tsukino have his victory.”
“Nonsense,” Ishikawa roared. “Moon behaved like a donkey. He deserved what he got, and she fought brilliantly.”
“What are they saying?” Durant asked from behind Lt Otani.
“Dice thinks I’m a fool, and so does Kiku-san.”
“No, Durantu-san,” Ishikawa said, in the best English he could muster. “I think Tenno-san is awe-inspiring. But she is probably in for a beating.”
“I’m sorry for getting you in to this pickle, LT,” Durant said, after Emily glowered at him.
Pic-kel-u?” Ishikawa said, with one raised eyebrow as he tried to fit his mouth around the word.
“Just like tsukemono,” Lt Otani proposed.
Emily offered an alternative translation: “He means this is a difficult situation.” When Ishikawa still didn’t understand, she said, “I’m screwed.”
“Yes, yes,” Ishikawa said with a big grin. “Screwed.”

Sneak Preview of Ch. 4 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Four
A Distinguished Personage

In the hot and humid season, merely standing in formation while a party of dignitaries made speeches could be torture. Emily managed to peek over at Oleschenko and Durant, both of whom had begun to sweat through their fatigues. A bit further along the line, she caught a glimpse of Ishikawa in similar straits, but Tsukino and Kano managed to put a brave face on the whole situation, even as the beads formed on their faces. She felt one hanging from her own nose.
“Man, this is interminable,” she muttered. “Why can’t a breeze find us on this infernal base? Is that too much to ask?”
Durant couldn’t suppress a snort at her words, and Oleschenko glowered at the two of them. “Shut it, you two,” he hissed.
Eventually, the proceedings on the shaded podium drew to a close, and several well-dressed people made their way across the front of the formation, accompanied by Colonel Kamakura, commander of the first Airborne Brigade, and Admiral Crichton, Commander of Fleet Activities at the naval base in Sasebo, and the officer in charge of the US contingent of the operation. The command to stand “at ease” made its way around and Emily’s platoon assumed a slightly more comfortable posture, feet apart and hands behind their backs.
“The tall one is Mr. Saito,” Oleschenko whispered. “He’s the Deputy Minister of Defense.”
“Who are the other two?” Durant asked.
“I imagine we’ll find out in a moment,” Emily said. She could just make out what they said to Kano’s unit. Praise for their service in the recent evacuations after the typhoon up north, and encouragement for the tournament to be held later that day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sneak Preview Ch. 3 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Book 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Three
Camp Narashino

Gaijin kusai,” said Sergeant Hiroki Tsukino, who the rest of the platoon knew as Moon. With a sneer and a snort, he looked across the table for moral support.
Takeishi Kano, who occasionally let his sergeants call him Tak, glanced at Emily sitting a few seats away, hoping she hadn’t heard, since he knew she’d understand. The third time club-hopping with their American guests in the Roppongi neighborhood of Tokyo had taken a toll on him, too. But he had other concerns.
“Shut it, Sergeant,” he growled in Japanese.
“C’mon, Captain. How many more hakujin bars do we have to take these guys to?”
“At least it’s not a karaoke bar this time,” Sgt Daisuke Ishikawa offered.
“Tenno, what are they going on about?” Captain Oleschenko asked.
“And do they have to call her that?” Moon said, loud enough to be heard the length of the table. “I mean, what the hell is she playing at with a name like that anyway?”
“Sergeant Tsukino thinks we smell bad, sir,” Emily said.
“We smell bad?” Sgt Durant chuckled. “What the hell does he think he smells like?”
“It’s an old prejudice, from the second world war,” she said. “Japanese didn’t eat much meat in those days, and they thought the GI’s smelled strange, you know, like old butter.”
Kano glowered at his men as she spoke. As irritating as he found her presence, having to guard against offending her made it so much worse. She wasn’t responsible for his father’s death, but she damn well reminded him of the infernal code of honor that propelled him to his end. His father had sacrificed himself to protect her, and he’d done it at the behest of the Crown Princess, even though it required accepting a pretended disgrace in order to go undercover… and even now, three years later, the Imperial Household still refused to acknowledge his sacrifice, or to restore his good name.
“Moon, you eat enough meat to smell like a slaughterhouse,” Sgt Ishikawa roared.
“What do you know about it, Dice?” Sgt Tsukino replied.
“Only what my nose tells me.”

Sneak Preview, Ch. 2 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Book 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Two
Treasonous Whisperings

A Few Weeks Earlier

The drive up from the gate of the Soga estate took a few minutes, giving Gyoshin Heiji time to reflect on the changing nature of fortune. More than a millennium had passed since her ancestors broke the power of Minoru Soga’s ancestors within the imperial court, and now the old man was willing to form an alliance with her family.
“How ironic,” she said, to no one in particular. “The Taika reforms undid them, and now they are much wealthier than us, who were only cheated of our influence during the Meiji reforms, barely yesterday.”
Of course, by that time scale, yesterday amounted to a century and a half. Exquisite gardens slipped by, tended by squads of men in pale green coveralls. The main house resembled a shrine from one point in the curving approach, but looked more like a castle as the car climbed the final slope. A man wearing gray gloves waited at the door, bowed from the waist, and ushered her into a lavishly furnished drawing room. Exquisitely carved wood panels decorated one wall, and a painted screen only partially concealed a small writing table in a far corner. She smoothed out a wrinkle in her skirt, and wondered if her navy blue suit, the standard-issue business attire of a civil servant—albeit a relatively high-level one—really suited the occasion.
“Welcome, Heiji-san,” the old man called out from across the room, walking stiffly with a cane. His daughter trailed behind, flowing tall and elegant in a rather non-traditional silk kimono, which, without an obi sash to bind it all together, resembled more a dressing gown than formal attire.
“I am honored by your invitation, Soga-san,” Gyoshin said, with a little bow that extorted more confusion from her than she’d anticipated. Should she bow to a vanquished enemy of her family, and if so, how low? She supposed he affected the cane in order to excuse himself from bowing as low as his ancestors would have been obliged to do a thousand years earlier. With a shiver and a shake of the head, she tried to put her grandfather’s preoccupations out of her mind. The Soga clan now held a controlling interest in one of the largest defense contractors, and was among the wealthiest families in Japan, and in her capacity as Industry Liaison for the Deputy Minister of Defense, she worked closely with Minoru’s daughter, who had assumed the position of Vice President at the Takenouchi Corporation.
“Gyoshin-san,” Jin Soga said. “Thank you for coming. We have much to discuss.”
“I will leave you two to talk,” Minoru said. “You must forgive an old man his hobbies.” With that he turned and hobbled off into another room.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sneak Preview: Ch. 1 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk #6 of the Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter One
How did it come to this?
With the inflatable safely stowed among the rocks, and under the storm-flotsam she’d collected to conceal them from any planes, or satellites, during the two days they were still out on the open ocean, Emily Kane hauled Sergeant Durant across the beach and into the cover of the trees.
“Damn, you’re heavy, Mick. What the hell have you been eating lately?”
He groaned back at her, semi-conscious, and only able to push off one leg. Blood oozed from his hip and shoulder, and a gash along one rib covered by an ill-fitting bandage, and he winced when she adjusted her grip. Once she’d found him a comfortable spot in some brush beneath a eucalyptus tree, she turned back toward the shore.
“I don’t like the look of those clouds,” she said over one shoulder, not expecting a response. “This may not be good enough shelter. I’m going back for the water and bandages, and then we can try to move again.”
It didn’t take long to gather what she needed, scowling at the horizon the whole time, and when the inflatable bobbed loose from its makeshift mooring, she hauled it higher up onto the rocks, trading concealment for security “A lot of trouble for a raft we may never need again,” she muttered.
“You should’ve left me back there,” he croaked as she came within earshot again. “I’m just slowing you down. We both know what they’re after.”
“Are you questioning my command judgment, Sergeant… again?”