by K. J. Harrowick (@KJHarrowick)
Editor: Carly Bornstein-Hayward (@FromCarly)
Adult Science Fantasy
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Toss a female Witcher into a Firefly-style universe in this multi-POV, sword-and-planet science fantasy novel with an added dash of Altered Carbon’s continued quest to find lovers across multiple lives. BLOODFLOWER is the first book in a series of standalone adventures and complete at 109,000 words.
Born into a world of futuristic technology, ecologist Jàden Ravenscraft wields starship fuel like magic but she’s losing control of her power. Marked as a dangerous weapon, she’s trapped in hypersleep for 4000 years and wakes in the backwoods of a terraformed moon. Now she’s determined to find her reincarnated lover and escape back to the stars before her captor discovers she’s no longer asleep.
Because one life is not the end.
The man she loves has lived more than twenty lives without her, and Jàden’s alone in a world of swords and sorcery. When exiled prison guard Captain Jon Ayers shields her from an attack, Jàden seizes the chance for safety and human connection. Using her magic, she ties her energy to Jon, forging a bond to keep him close to her side.
But Jon is hunted by mercenaries for the pendant he carries, a key to the gateway between worlds, and their bond stirs a desire neither can ignore. When the jackass who trapped her in the future ambushes them at sea, Jàden will be faced with the hardest choice of her life between Jon and her reincarnated ex. Saving one lover will destroy the other, and the wrong choice will land her in chains she can never escape.
I’m a fantasy and science fiction writer and co-founder of the Writer In Motion and Rewrite It Club writer communities. I won first prize in the #WonderPitch contest (2017), contributed to Dan Koboldt’s Science in Sci-Fi series with the article “Erroneous Code in Fiction” (November 2018), and was a panelist at the WriteHive online convention (April 2020). When not submersed in another universe, I operate as a developer and graphic artist to create digital media.
Thank you for considering BLOODFLOWER,
K. J. Harrowick
First Five Pages
“There is no courage without fear.”
- Commander Jason Kale
Waking from hypersleep burned like touching an electric fence with a bad chest cold. The final pulse hit Jàden’s heart with the grace of a hammer shattering glass. Her pain unfolded to heavy grief as the cover slid open to pine scented air blowing through tall sequoias.
Jàden gripped the edge of the hypersleep capsule and squirmed onto the ground, a mire of rain puddles and thick mud riddled with hoofprints. Her hands sank into the chilled earth and she heaved green ooze, clearing serum from her searing lungs.
Every inch of her body ached from those final horrifying minutes before the darkness of hypersleep embraced her. Tears slid down her cheek as images of her boyfriend’s ship, an exploding fireball of twisted metal, flashed across her memories. She’d screamed her anguish at his death, the soreness still raw in her throat. “Kale.”
But the men who’d killed her lover and shoved her into hypersleep would be close and she had to run. A difficult task with a tangle of plastic tubes dangling from the needles in her body. Jàden crawled to her pod’s control panel and wiped the mud-splattered screen until four red numbers stared back at her.
That’s not possible. A row of pods stretched to her left, the furthest ones buried beneath crumbling stone blocks, as if someone had built around them before fading into history. Ghostly green faces formed the exterior holograph of each occupant’s features.
Red numbers flashed on the exposed chambers—3,654 years, 3,722 years.
No one could survive that long in stasis. There must be a mistake. Jàden pressed her thumb to the screen’s bottom corner. Please still work.
Thin blue lines scanned her biometrics, tracing across the glass to form her personal welcome message. Jàden Ravenscraft. Bioengineering Guild, Class 3 Trainee, Blue Sector - Hocker Hills. 1,365,480 days since your last login.
That number was too large to comprehend, but she didn’t have time to fight with the machine. Hypersleep pods were always stationed near a med-lab with a doctor on staff, but another glance at tall pines in every direction hit the panic button on her racing pulse.
“Where am I?” Maybe the central computers could tell her. The screen flashed blue, opening a map with a single black ring in the center. Hàlön, the starship she called home. But the image zoomed to the orb in the center of the ring, a moon trapped in the starship’s theric energy web.
“Sandaris.” She couldn’t be on the moon’s surface, but the computer data stopped on the smallest of the three central landmasses. Nashéoné, “the forbidden zone.”
The only place on Sandaris no one could go without security clearance. Hers was decent, but not that high. Jàden rubbed her eyes, this had to be an illusion or one of the holodecks. “Stop program.”
Last time she’d visited the moon’s surface the entire rock and water landscape refused to be terraformed. Everything should freeze, but the rain continued to fall against her cheek as an icy wind blew across her neck.
This wasn’t an illusion.
She had to get back to Hàlön. Pop the tubes free and yank the needles out because she knew the perfect place to hide. Somewhere no one would find her—Kale’s hidden ship. Their ship. “Release hypersleep tubes—”
The screen went dark, keeping her attached to the pod’s interior lining.
“No.” Jàden slapped the glass. She was terrible at fixing technology. That was Kale’s specialty—when he wasn’t strapped in a cockpit.
“Please, just work.”
How many lifetimes had he lived without her? She’d always wanted to share her future with him, to fly among the stars and travel to new worlds. Finding Kale in the next life would be easy, but twenty lives . . . She pressed a hand to her mouth to suppress a sob.
The image of a young man resolved onto the pixels, his skin pulled tight around a distraught expression.
“Kale.” She touched the glass, leaving behind a streak of glowing mud on his cheek. Raindrops splattered against her hand and dotted the screen as a pre-recorded video played.
“I wish I could see your face,” he whispered, rubbing a hand across his buzz-cut blond hair. Kale’s thin-stretched voice was no match for the haunted pain in his eyes. “Do you remember what I told you? About no courage without fear?”
She nodded, tears in her eyes.
Kale rubbed his head again, his stress clear. “I know what my father’s done to you. Jàden, my death, your years in that terrible cage . . . it’s not your fault.”
She leaned her head against the pod. Frank—Kale’s father. She’d spent two years before hypersleep locked behind glass thanks to that asshole without so much as a glance at another human being. The lights on bright through day and night cycles, he’d tortured her with sensory deprivation.
With so much time passed, she could only hope Frank had suffered a long and horrible death, but some deeper instinct told Jàden she’d never be that lucky.
Frank was a survivor.
“I’m going to get you back to our ship. It won’t be easy, but you’re not alone. I’ll be with you every step of the way.” Kale’s voice pulled her thoughts back to the present as he pressed a button on his console. An image appeared below his face—a zankata with black feathers fading to bright indigo fletchings beneath its wings.
Like a reflex, Jàden’s hand traced her birthmark through the threads of disintegrated fabric along her left shoulder. Hints of the same crow-like bird peeked through the ragged sleeve. “This is your symbol now, Jàden. Not just on your skin, either. Here is where you’ll find safety.”
“Not after four thousand years,” she muttered. Raindrops splattered against her cheek.
“No matter what happens, know this: I’m out there somewhere, recycled into a new life.”
A new body, a new face. How would she ever know who he was if she couldn’t recognize his features? She had to find him, to save him from his father. It would be just like Frank to try and use Kale’s next incarnation to finish breaking her spirit.
Kale pressed his hand to the screen. “Find your zankata and go back to the beginning. I’m coming for you.”
The bands of light disappeared.
“Kale?” She smacked the empty transmission panel to bring it back to life, glowing hypersleep serum smudging the glass as grief swelled in her chest. “Replay video! Please, don’t leave me.”
A surge of electricity frizzled across the screen, flames bursting through the metal seams and dissipating into wisps of smoke.
“No!” Jàden pleaded as tears mixed with rain on her cheeks. “Don’t turn off. Don’t—”
Other pods hissed open as sparks trailed through the connecting walls. Serum splashed to the ground, followed by several waking sleepers crashing to the mud.
Voices shouted in the distance and something pounded against the ground. It sounded like horses. The sound was so familiar from her childhood, yet they were never brought to the moon’s surface. Jàden whipped around to find the source of the noise.
The last pod hissed open. An old man fell to his hands and knees, vomiting up green stasis fluid, unaware of the danger.
Midnight black horses charged across the clearing, riders on their backs dressed in woodland browns and greens with hoods over their faces. One of them looked right at her, his gaze so intense the force of it hit her like an energy spark. She shrank against the smoking console.
The other rider held a wooden bow with the arrow pulled tight. The bizarre weapon was legendary in the hands of Saheva, Guardian of the Breaking Sun, but Jàden had never seen a real person use one before.
As the rider fired the arrow behind him, both hooded figures and their horses disappeared into the trees.
In their wake were half a dozen more riders in black leather uniforms, a silver emblem on their shoulders, but not one Jàden recognized. One of their company fell in the mud, an arrow buried in his neck.
Fear hammered against her heart, yet desperation screamed at Jàden to jump in front of the next arrow. Kale was dead, she could die too, but his voice wouldn’t leave her alone. “Go back to the beginning.”