Pushed out of her village, Sage’s only option is to begin the grueling trek to the city, a place so evil in her imagination that she might be better off if she didn’t make it. The dangers she faces and the challenges she must meet on her trek are only the beginning of the much greater journey she has begun, carried on the sound of the hooves of the Plainsrunner.
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Business as usual turns out to be something else. When Tallgrass shuttles diplomatic staff out to the big cargo vessel, it turns out to be not as routine as expected. When a merchant tries to set up shop there, he discovers another meaning for business as usual. Business as usual a million kilometers from home has a lot in common with the business of greed and intimidation back on the street.
When the aliens came, returning their stolen resources, Tallgrass thought it meant a bright, enlightened future for his people. When he finds more of the same old thing, he’s tempted to forget about it and just do his job. Why should it matter to him who’s running the business? Honest merchants or thugs and criminals, what business is it of his? It would be easy to keep his head down and mind his own business, but it’s not likely to work out that way.
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It was just a quick visit to see his friend’s home world, but it turned into a run for their lives. Pursued by the state police for the crime of blasphemy, and by the revolutionaries to protect their secrets, Tallgrass and Phi soon run out of options. They must take the risk of trusting strangers to try a final desperate plan. Failure will mean not just the end for them, but disaster for Phi’s world. Success will depend on their courage and their friendship.
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Vin Stone — Freelance Accountant
Vin Stone decided to take a diiferent route home from the baseball game that night and discovered a side of the city that was completely new to him. Normally he walked with his friend Boe, on bright, familiar streets, but on this night he felt like he needed a change. He got a change, but it wasn’t anything like what he expected. Gunshots on dark, misty streets. Punks on streetcorners. Homeless in an alley. Maybe he should have walked with Boe.
Vin was a good walker. Thirty or forty blocks were nothing to him. When he was in the zone, he could catch all the traffic lights without breaking stride. He knew the city well and had an instinctive sense of how long it would take him to walk to any client. If they were outside a reasonable walking distance, they wouldn’t become his client. They could find another accountant.
He knew the city well, but he didn’t know this part of it. It wasn’t the sort of place where clients of his would be, so he had no reason to come down here. It was run-down, and on this damp night, it was dark. Long before he would get home, he would learn a few reasons to not come this way again, especially in the dark.
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Vin Stone — Not a Detective
Vin Stone left the courthouse feeling good. The inquest had turned out as well as could be expected, maybe even better, and now he was on his way home. Time to get back to a normal life after six months of disruption and uncertainty.
Things were back to normal. Life was good. Then he met the red haired girl. More accurately, she ran into him and knocked his life back off the rails. Vin Stone wasn’t looking for trouble that fine spring day, but it must have been looking for him.
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Vin Stone — Night Soil
Vin Stone is a freelance accountant who loves to walk to meet with his clients and to visit his friends. He feels about the concrete sidewalks the way a bear might feel about the forest. It’s his natural habitat. He also loves coffee and when someone vandalizes the source of his beans, he works with the police to find the culprits. It turns out to be more than a simple case of vandalism and before he’s done, Vin learns how far he is willing to go to help his friends.
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