Here's a special sneak peek of Dwarves in Space 4: Finding Nadja
This book explores the pasts of Ferra, the recalcitrant engineer, and Orn, the sugar-addicted pilot. When they both try to take a vacation from the unending ratrace that living on the Elation's become, they get swept up in a past Ferra's tried to escape her whole very long life.
“Airlock unlocking. Pressurization complete. You may enter when ready.” The voice was calm, designed to put those about to test a rickety spacewalk at ease.
“Cap, you think we could replace ol’ East’s circuits with this one before it notices?” Orn, pilot and general shit stirrer, asked.
“I have already reported you to the proper authorities,” WEST clipped back over the speakers in their helmets. It pronounced its name Weest because making life needlessly complicated was the only joy a welcoming engine could find in the galaxy.
“You heard it, Orn,” Variel said, slotting on the last bits of her spacesuit. A fine goo coated the gloves and she couldn’t remember why.
“Psh,” Orn whined, his face bobbing inside a too large helmet. They had a dwarf-sized one onboard but he refused to use it after ‘The Incident’. “Why am I even here?” he turned his complaints to Variel, the lone human on the ship and occasional leader.
“Because it’s actually full of ice cream? Because the Great Nectar at the pit of the galaxy told you to? Because invading aliens have compromised your brain and are trying to lure us all into their traps to feed a teeming mass of their young?”
“Because I said so.”
Orn grumbled. “I knew you were gonna say that.” He kicked his toe into the still sealed airlock like a petulant child waiting outside the dentist’s office. “But I can’t stand centaurs.”
“Centaurs are a perfectly lovely people,” Variel said diplomatically. She hadn’t been ecstatic when one sent out a distress call in the middle of no man’s space, but she wasn’t about to leave a ship limping through it unassisted. Karma may not reward those who did a good deed, but — despite evidence to the contrary — there were times the galaxy seemed a tiny place. Refusing to help someone in need could doom you the next time one of those tiny but vital p-rings shatters for the hell of it.
“Oh yes, perfectly lovely as they gawp at you, dance around like they all have to piss, and then…”
“We all know about that,” Variel interrupted Orn’s whining. “Modesty isn’t a universal requirement for sentience.”