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Blade Dancer

Blade Dancer

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Published by kmtolan
BLADE DANCER - Available now from Champagne Books

Emerging from an ancient civil war with only a patchwork of once-powerful technologies, the Qurls are threatened by new weapons in the hands of old enemies. Driven by the guilt of a comrade’s death, Mikial reaches out through her own divided heritage to discover the humans behind the guns. The one enemy she didn’t expect to face was her own people. The one ally she didn’t plan on being saved by was human.

2009 EPPIE Finalist
BLADE DANCER - Available now from Champagne Books

Emerging from an ancient civil war with only a patchwork of once-powerful technologies, the Qurls are threatened by new weapons in the hands of old enemies. Driven by the guilt of a comrade’s death, Mikial reaches out through her own divided heritage to discover the humans behind the guns. The one enemy she didn’t expect to face was her own people. The one ally she didn’t plan on being saved by was human.

2009 EPPIE Finalist

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Publish date: Feb 1, 2008
Added to Scribd: Mar 19, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/21/2013

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BLADE DANCER ByK M TolanCHAPTER ONE"Stand ready!" Cort Havada bellowed. The Datha Qurl slid his shoulderssideways among the camouflaged ranks crowding the troop cabin. Narrow black eyesdarted from soldier to soldier as the officer tugged at packs and rifles. Mikial pulled back her auburn combat braids, running them through the back slot in the dun-colored helmetthey had given her. Sensing Cort pause behind her, Mikial firmly planted her feet uponthe less-than-steady deck. There was a brittle crunch as her Line Officer found another of his bitter corul roots to chew on. He jostled the cannon strapped to her back, then gaveher braids a good-natured yank."Secured!" she said, her contralto reply cutting thrugh the deeper voices aroundher. Mikial's claws scraped against the brass support rails hanging from the ceiling,unwilling to retract themselves.The dirigible turned. Mikial watched as her shadow shifted in the first rays of anearly sun. The only other light was from the Curtain, the violet star mist swirling acrossthe sky. Propellers hummed through the black canvas skin of the troop compartment asthe airship aligned itself over a canyon."Brace!"
 
Mikial gripped the rails as the aft jump door swung up and open. Icy air washedacross the smooth caramel of her high-set cheeks, chilling any bare skin not covered byher armor and battle dress. An anticipatory surge from wrist glands sent sparks of energyacross her palms. Her thin lips pulled back into a scowl beneath the flare of a slender nose, revealing sharp canines. Tradition or not, she hated being first in line.Havada leaned over her shoulder, contrasting her relatively smaller height of tenhands. "Now let's not embarrass me with a broken neck, little Dathia. We've too fewfemales in this sect as is." He gave her shoulder guard a slap before he turned to the restwith a roar. "
 Jump
!"Teeth bared in a feral grin, Mikial hurled herself across the deck until her legsflailed on emptiness. Harsh winds slashed her face as she tumbled from the airship.Mikial spread her legs and arms for stability during the exhilarating fall. She countedthree breaths then tugged at the cord, enduring the endless moment before a silky gray plume expanded above her with a sharp crack. Leather straps seized her, exacting a gruntas if she was wrenched skyward again.Their drop zone was obvious, a wide trail that swayed far beneath her danglinglegs. Dark shadows of bordering trees beckoned like spears. The wind was faint andfrom the west, requiring little correction from her fingers on the guide lines. Beyond the bulge of her chute, Mikial saw the second airship approach. On board, the medical teamsof the primarily female Shandi sect were preparing for their own drop. When she lookedgroundward again, the windings of a deep gorge were coming up fast. Bramble Ravine.Mikial adjusted for a slight drift, the stony crests of the canyon rising around her.Legs poised, she aimed for a fairly even patch of ground. Trees hissed their welcome in

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