Raven visits Bestmartin – Excerpt from Book 5!

We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, but this is an excerpt from Book 5  (title unchosen so far).  At the start of the new season, Raven returns to the ‘scene of the crime’, Bestmartin for 3 days of teaching and encouragement.  Lots of foreboding here.

After so many months at Central, the landing port at Bestmartin seemed tiny.

Has it really been only seven months since I was here, thought Raven.

Raven walked down the arrivals ramp with her old backpack over her shoulder.  The feeling was definitely different.  Six months ago she had set foot on her first alien planet with almost no money to go home and no real prospects.  Now she was returning to the ‘scene of the crime’ as an honored guest.

Glancing out the windows, the sky was a deep blue.  Just the weather for a nice long walk to Iskandar Bestmartin.  When she got to the baggage claim, Raven frowned.

Iskandar Bestmartin sent five people to greet her.  Four humaniforms, and a Lumbor.  Raven recognized the slightly bovine features of the lumbor but had never yet met one.  Lumbors were slightly less intelligent than other races, but their great strength usually relegated them to manual labor.  Surprisingly the lumbors didn’t seem to mind.  You found many of them around spaceports and other places where large amounts of material were moved.  Generally they were not put in management positions because of pedantic tendencies and lack of decision-making ability.  They made great finance people.

The odd thing about this lumbor was that he was in a suit.

Of the humaniforms, three were male and the fourth was a dark female.  The female had whitened her face and was wearing a short leather jacket.  This was the uniform of Raven’s Raiders.

They’re everywhere, was the thought that drifted through her mind, but she recognized her.

“Greetings, Raven,”  began the Lumbor, shaking her hand in both of his.  “I’m Kelsori, the director of the Bestmartin facility.  It is great to finally meet you.”

“Thank you for having me down,” she replied.  “It seems like an eternity since I’ve been here.”

“You are our most famous alumni,” he continued.

Raven burst out laughing.  The lumbor looked surprised.

“I’m not so sure I can be called an ‘alumni’,” she laughed.  “I spent less than an hour here.  I’m not so sure about the time but Josie would probably know better than me.”

She indicated the dark girl in whiteface.  Josie broke out in a big smile.

“If I remember correctly, Raven,” she smiled.  “It was about 25 minutes.  I remember running toward to lobby to wish you luck and not only were you already gone and so was transport.”

“It took me an hour to walk from here to Iskandar and the transport took all of ten seconds on the way back,” laughed Raven.  She walked up and gave Josie a hug.

“And you’re a raider,” she commented.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Kelsori was not entirely comfortable with what was going on.

“All the way.  It took a while for there to be a local down here, but I joined right away.”

Raven turned toward the other three.  They were obviously earth-type and dressed in ‘business’ casual.  A lot better than the lumbor.

“And you guys are?”

“Darin Jackson, manager of communications.”

“Hojo Zennisore, chairman of training staff.”

“Zeph Samolian, chief tech,” said the shortest one. “And, uh, we have already collected your baggage.”

“And we have transport waiting.”

“And we have an itinerary and schedule,” added the lumbor, waving a paper.

“Let me see that,” she said, taking it out of his hand.  She carefully turned it sideways and ripped it in half, then put the two pieces together and ripped it again.  She did this four times and put the stack of pieces back in Kelsori’s hand.

The lumbor stared at the pile in his hand and began to seemingly bark.  Raven raised her eyebrows.

“He’s laughing!” laughed Josie.

“Shit man, I’ve never seen him laugh!”

Raven didn’t catch who made that comment.  The lumbor continued laughing as he neatly deposited the pieces of paper into the trash.

“Thank you, Raven,” he bowed.  “Your schedule is my schedule.”

Just the fact that they had five people here to greet her and herd her around grated on Raven.  She reflected that she’d never felt like this before.

Does it have something to do with what I planned?  Thought Raven.

“Okay, next question:  Why are all of you here?”  she began.  “I can figure out Josie, but what about the rest of you?”

For several seconds all that was heard was the ambient sounds of the spaceport.

“For my part,” began Hojo.  “I’m just thrilled that you’ve come down here to talk to the students.  Well, I’m also honored to meet you.  Come to think of it, if you had spent any longer than a half-hour here, I’d be learning from you.”

“Good answer,” smiled Raven.  “Taking it a step further, what do you guys think I expected when I came down here?”

You can almost smell the thinking, thought Raven.

Zeph started laughing.

“I get it,” he said.  “You expected the same situation as when you first came here!  Dare I say that you weren’t pampered that time and don’t want it now.”

Raven smiled and gave Zeph a high-five.

“At least some of you are thinking,” Raven quipped.  She turned and looked at the lumbor, who appeared to shrink into himself.

“Well, this probably wasn’t fair to you guys,” She started.  “So, since you have my luggage, why don’t you take transport and I’m going to walk.  Meet you in about an hour.”

“Heather and I will meet you in the lobby,” said Josie.

Raven smiled and nodded her head.  She shouldered her backpack and began her walk toward the Bestmartin facility.

I wonder what idiot put a lumbor in charge, she thought.

Excerpt from Raven: Mirabelle

The team is on Mirabelle, the first planet on the tour.  They visit a museum and the result is typical Iskandar.

Chapter 24:  Museum

After they had walked a block west, they reached the top of the hill and could see the museum about a kilometer away.

“Ugly sucker, isn’t it?” quipped Chaoschick.

There was open area all around the museum but behind it, stretching north was a wide swath of grass extending into the distance.

“That’s weird how all the buildings are crowded here and there, nothing,” commented Zinaida.

“Apparently,” said Grabby, consulting his wristmon.  “The first transport to land here missed the soft ocean landing and slid about two kilometers, knocking down trees and making a big scar in the landscape, finally stopping just where the museum is now.”

“And there was a lot of laundry to do that night,” quipped Chaoschick.

Everybody laughed.

“So we’re going to go see a burnt-out hulk?” quipped Raven.

“It probably smells really bad,” said the brunette, continuing the joke.

“It seems amazing that the Bellans put up a museum to memorialize a mistake.”

Raven had her hood down as it did not seem to be too cold.  This meant that people began to notice her.  This really became apparent as they approached the doors of the museum.  There was a ‘doorman’ between the two sets of doors and as soon as he caught sight of Raven, his eyes grew big and he hurried inside.

“Raven strikes again,” laughed Chaoschick.

Raven just rolled her eyes.

The fourteen of them began queuing up to the admissions booth.  Raven hoped that the museum would be as flexible as the convenience store was.

An older Bellan woman with too short a dress for her age, came running on high heels to where they were queuing up.

“This way, please!”  she said in her horrible accent while waving to the booth operator.  She was wearing a nametag that said ‘Penelope Dermerot – Director’.

They pooled as a crowd in the lobby where the Director was standing.

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen of Iskandar,” she said.

“What did she say?” quipped Chaoschick.

Raven elbowed her.  “Don’t start that again,” she hissed.

Chaoschick laughed.

The Director hesitated when she heard that exchange.

“You can go ahead,” said Grabby.  “We can be pretty silly at times.”

“Ok,” said Director Dermerot.  “If you would care to wait a moment, we will have a special tour guide for you and you can tour the museum with our compliments.”

“Rah-vaan, Graa-bay,” Raven suddenly heard in hushed whispers.

Everybody looked up to see some Bellans beginning to gather into a crowd.

Raven smiled and waved and many of them sprouted cameras.  One young guy, who had done something awful with his hair, gestured like writing.

Raven looked at Grabby.

“Sure,” they said together.

Raven snatched the pen out of the Director’s hand and walked over to the growing crowd.  Chaoschick, Zinaida and Grabby joined her and they began signing just about everything.  Luckily some of the people had pens also.

Chaoschick looked back.  “Hey, Nova, get your butt over here,” she yelled.  “And you too, skunk boy.”

Raven looked and noticed that the more reserved Badger had joined them.  He must have been at the back of the group.

As they signed autographs, some of the group wandered over to the gift shop.  A Bellan showed up in what looked like a ballerina’s tutu around his waist and around his neck.  Chaoschick stared at him.

“This is,” he began in a less garbled accent. “The traditional formal dress of the early Bellan colonists.”

“I’m glad you mentioned that.  I was about to call the police because you were in an accident,” she groused.

He just stared at the brunette.

Badger made a hand gesture over the top of his head and said, “Whoosh.”

Everybody laughed while the Bellans all around them seemed lost.

“O-k, why are you here?” drawled Chaoschick.

“I will be your museum guide.  My name is Pierre Petain.  You can call me Pee-Pee.”

Chaoschick put her face in her hand.  “Oh, God, it’s just too easy,” she groaned.  “Now we have the piss boy.”

The Bellan guide looked confused.

“You do realize that Pee-Pee is Galact slang for urination?” said Zinaida.

Pee-Pee turned red and his mouth moved but nothing came out.

Raven and Grabby moved Chaoschick behind them.

“Why don’t we just call you Pierre?” said Raven.

“Besides do you realize that your outfit isn’t used by clowns anymore because it’s too silly?” said Grabby.  Raven elbowed him.

“Do…do you mind if I change first?”

“No, don’t change, we’ll just laugh at you,” quipped Chaoschick.

Raven rolled her eyes and gritted her teeth.

“Don’t bother. Why don’t you just show us the wreck?” said Grabby.

“Uh, no, uh, the spaceship is on the lower level and not on display,” answered Pierre.

The Bellan was very uncomfortable and Raven noticed that the Director, though she had walked a distance away, seemed to be debating whether to come back.  Raven guessed that she was suddenly regretting inviting them in.

“Not on display!” Chaoschick whirled around and was right in his face.  “You mean to tell me that the one object that helped create a world of 4 billion people is locked away so that nobody can see it!  The one ship that hundreds of people risked their lives in to start a new life, a new life that you are enjoying and there’s no monument to them, no plaque commemorating their sacrifices?  The people that nearly died so that you can have a museum where nobody can see…”

At that point, Chaoschick lapsed into Bellan and nobody, except the Bellans themselves, could understand her rant.  Raven’s eyes bugged out.  The brunette had said that she couldn’t speak Bellan.

Chaoschick was backing Pierre up.  The director joined him and Chaoschick launched into her also.

“She’s going too fast,” said dark Max.  “I can’t tell what she saying.”

“We can tell it isn’t good,” said Grabby.

“The Director is saying ‘please, please.’”

“Should we stop her?” asked Raven.

Grabby gestured as Bellans were gathering around Chaoschick, apparently lending their voices in support.  Chaoschick and her supporters continued to back up the Director and Pierre.  When they got back to a rather large door with a plaque on it, a short round Bellan man came out.  He was totally gray, hair, bushy beard and bushy eyebrows.

“You are correct, Chaoschick,” he said in Galact with a deep voice with a horrible accent.

“Oh, ok,” stopped the brunette, returning to Galact abruptly.

“It is our shame,” the man continued.  “That the great beginning of our society is hidden away to protect it.  Yes, you and your Iskandar mates can view the spaceship.  And any other of you that wish to see it.”

Chaoschick had a crooked smile.  “Thank you very much,” she said.  She gave him a hug and came back to the group.

“What’d you say?” asked Zinaida.

Chaoschick gave her a strange look.  “I couldn’t be louder, I’d say,” she laughed.

“Yeah, but you were yelling in Bellan,” replied Zinaida.

“What you been drinking, girl?  I can’t speak Bellan!”

Grabby tilted his head toward Raven.

Raven turned the brunette around and held both her hands.  “Chaos, really, you started in Galact and right in the middle of a sentence, Bellan started coming out.  You didn’t come back to Galact until the fat guy said something—in Galact,” said Raven.

“You’re kidding!?!”  Chaoschick looked around.  “I can’t do it now!”

“You were really cranking.  Actually it was pretty cool,” said Zinaida.

“Thanks, Zinny,” said the brunette.  “Crap, I had no idea I was doing that.  You mean to tell me I’ve got to deal with a Bellan personality on top of the other three?”

Everybody busted up.  There was some relief in the fact that at least Chaoschick was not taking it seriously.  Raven believed it to be seriously strange.

The short round Bellan appeared again with a huge key.  It was almost comical.  Chaoschick moved up to him and took his arm.  The Iskandar contingent and a large number of Bellans followed as they walked toward the back of the museum.

“Thanks again,” began the brunette.  “You know who I am.  Who are you?”

“Emil Blastior, I am the burgemeister of Nova Parienne,” he began.  “And I am honored to meet you.”

“Uh, Chaoschick, burgemeister is an official, not a cook,” mentioned Grabby.

Blastior laughed.  “In many ways, Mirabelle is stuck in the ways of ancient Earth,” he said.  “I should mention that your genealogist has been in contact with me.  It seems that you are an unusual case.”

“Probably from the day I was born,” quipped Chaoschick.

He opened up a large sliding door which opened up to a stairwell with a spiral staircase leading up and down.  They proceeded down.

“I am very disappointed,” continued Blastior.  “That your history is so difficult to find.  It makes me believe that someone is trying to cover it up.”

“Well, he did find my grave,” quipped Chaoschick.

The short round Bellan stopped on the stairs to look at her.  “Very unusual,” he said, resuming the climb down.  “I have never heard of the like.”

They reached the bottom and there were no more stairs.  It was a large area with huge sliding doors in front of them and behind them.  The doors were a minimum of 20 meters high.  The ones in front of them had a huge key slot into which the burgemeister inserted the huge key.

He turned the key and began pulling the left door back.  They were linked doors so as one slid back so did the other in the opposite direction.  Chaoschick helped him by grabbing the other door and pulling.

The crowd gasped at what they saw.  A huge room towered in front of them and as the centerpiece was this long ancient space vessel.  It was the ancient torpedo shape, probably a kilometer in length and just short of 20 meters tall.  Raven figured that the doors behind them were the access that brought the ship inside.

The ship was mounted by metal bands to a platform and there were concrete barriers, waist high, all around it.  Raven thought that they probably shouldn’t try to enter the ship.

Grabby showed no hesitation and walked right in, leading the group.  People were taking pictures and Tri-Vs.  Grabby used his wristmon as a pointer and indicated the markings that were still visible on the hull.  The ship was in remarkable shape for its journey and landing.

“In case you’re wondering,” Grabby said to everybody.  “This is the actual ship that took off from Earth and landed here.  All the markings and reference numbers are correct.  Most people who fake this kind of stuff wouldn’t think to put rocket boosters in line with the Helios drive. “

“How many people were on this flight?” asked Zinaida.

“Seven hundred and fifty-three,” answered Blastior.  “Unfortunately twelve died in the landing and another one hundred and twenty-two were injured.”

“How many survived the first year?” asked Grabby.

Raven realized that this was the key question.  They would have had to grow their own food after their stores ran out.

“We don’t know,” replied the burgemeister.  “In those days all they had were radio waves.  Bell EL communications was still a couple of years away.  When the next convoy arrived five years later, they found a small city.  The colonists had stripped the inside of this ship of everything they could use.  What you see here is practically a shell.”

“Is there anything left of the original city?  Crap, it started right here under our feet,” said Chaoschick.

Blastior laughed.  “Actually, no,” he said.  “When they left the ship, they walked a couple of kilometers east until they found the New Seine River and put up their enclosures there.  That area has been built over many times, but never have we found anything old enough.”

“Oh,” said the brunette.

“We have had many people try to trace their ancestry back to the first landing,” continued Blastior.  “However, none of the last names of the first settlers match any of our current names.  Oh, we make believe, but no one knows for sure.”

“There must have been a lot more colonists to land, now that they knew the planet was habitable,” said Grabby.

Blastior laughed.  “That’s where the name problem started.  As more colonists arrived, they patched together bits of names as if that were the only entertainment they had during the winter.”

“So you’re not the only one with an ancestry problem,” said Raven to Chaoschick.

Excerpt from Raven: The Call From Central

Note:   This excerpt concerns a match during the Conference Championship round and is from the point-of-view of Raven’s parents.

These days the Tournament room was never very quiet, but the sudden uproar caused Dennis to look up from making another sandwich.  He glanced up and saw that both teams outside the ‘brane.  Iskandar was clustered around Raven.  “What’s going on?” He asked a Raider.

“Not sure,” he replied.  “The final greeting was weird and they blanked the audio.  Now Raven looks like she wants to kill somebody.”

The audio was still off.  Dennis had assumed that the noise in the room was the reason he couldn’t hear it.  Sure enough, Raven looked angrier that he’d ever seen her.  Denise was always a sweet kid, what could have done this to her?

The audio came back on at Soria’s last instructions and they heard the traditional ‘Iskandar!’ as the team dived through the ‘brane.

“They’ve got two mids on Raven!” A Raider exclaimed.

Dennis noted that Soria’s last instruction was for Lara to mid her also.  Trying to keep her out of trouble?

Two seconds into the match and Raven scored First Blood.  Then the next four frags were all Raven’s.  His daughter was out after Victorious Secret with a vengeance.  Chaoschick and Lara were having a hard time keeping up.

“Hey, lady,” commed Chaoschick.  “Slow down and leave some frags for the team!”

The Raiders laughed, and witnessed Raven fragging another three opponents in succession.

“There are too many Secrets on this map,” growled Raven, fragging another.

Raven got fragged and Lara and Chaoschick were dashing around trying to find where she re-spawned.

She spawned in the central area and ran to the far side and around to where a lot of spawning happens.  There were four opponents there, she dove in, nailed three and then got fragged.  Her two mids were now rushing to a different spawn point.

“Crap, I didn’t want to work this hard,” quipped Chaoschick.

There were answering laughs over the comm.

The score was 35-11 and some of the Raiders were talking about it being over.  Raven was leading the scoring.

“Guess you don’t need me this match,” quipped Grabby.

The Tri-V swooped up to the top of the ramp and showed Raven clearing three opponents off with her mids trailing behind.

“No dirty laundry!” yelled one of the Secrets.  “What were you thinking, Suhi!?!”

Iskandar topped 100 frags with Raven having 35 and Grabby 27.  Victorious Secret was totally disorganized and trying to figure out what to do.

“Jeez!” commed Gothgirl.  “This is the first time I’ve ever just watched a match with me in it!”

The Secret comm was full of pleas to gather together and avoid Raven.

“Can you get kicked off the team for killing a teammate during the break?” commed Loan.

Neither team was on double, so only the audience heard both sides of the story.

Raven slowed down a bit, and now her mids could cover her back.

“Crap, about time I get some frags,” commed Chaoschick.

Dennis noted that Victorious Secret was totally muddled with a lot of them hitting their own teammates in the back.

Secret tried to gather at the elevator area only to find Raven and her mids coming down the upper ramp.  They spread out to create a wide area of fire, but Raven dived off the platform and picked off three, while Lara and Chaoschick got the other three.

It was 223 to 85, and Raven had 51 already.  The other team began to avoid her.

“Stay away from Raven,” commed the Secret captain.  “We need to slow her down.”

“Why bother?  We’re fucked already!” Another Secret commed.

As a result of the Secret strategy, Grabby began to get a lot of frags.  He was seeing a lot more targets and when you are running from someone, there are more frags from behind.  Soria and Skylla began to pile up the frags.

Raven was now at 65 frags and increasing.

“Lyn, Yelena, Liu,” commed Suhi.  “You’re on Raven.  Keep her down!”

The Tri-V began focusing on this as a mini-war began.  Raven was getting three to four frags to every death.  Lara and Chaoschick were taking hits, but getting more on their opponents.  Yelena was probably the most accurate on the Secret team, and Chaoschick and Lara began to focus on her to protect their forward.

Halfway through the match, it was pretty much over barring a complete collapse.  The score was 337 – 174.  Raven seemed to be tiring, or at least the rage diminishing, and the triple-teaming was taking its toll.  This did nothing for the score however, as the rest of Iskandar began taking out the rest of Secret.

Grabby seemed determined to make Secret realize that their plan wouldn’t work by fragging everything in sight.  Gothgirl and Zinaida did what Iskandar does best, thinking on the run.  They double-teamed Yelena, freeing up the mids.

The Raiders and the Tournament crowd began chanting ‘Ring the Bell’.  Iskandar barely missed it by the final of 694-311.

“Only one more!  Only one more!”  The Raiders began chanting, adding to the noise level and chaos in the Tournament Room.

The individuals were posted on the Tri-V.  The analysts were discussing what got into Raven who beat Grabby for high score by 161 to 139.

“Generally the audio gets blanked out,” said one analyst.  “When something very personal or insulting happens.  Whatever it was did not turn out for the best for Victorious Secret.”

“We know that the Committee will not release any information regarding why the audio was blanked out.  Our reporters on the field will attempt to find out from the players and coaches.”

“Iskandar never reveals anything, they are as bad as the Committee and in this case, I doubt that Victorious Secret will reveal anything to their embarrassment.”

The commercials came on, and everybody decided it was time to hit the food table.

 

Excerpt from Raven: The Call From Central (Chapter 2)

The lobby was filled with Iskandar images and trophies.

She was only two steps inside before a human female waved her over to the front desk. “Hi, over here,” she smiled.  “Welcome to Iskandar Bestmartin.”

Her greeter seemed to be a standard humaniform.  Short blonde hair, some makeup and a ready smile.  “Nice to meet you, I’m Heather,” she continued.  “What’s your handle?  I never met a Necris before.”

“Raven,” she replied.

They shook hands.

“What brings you to Central?”

“I…I came to apply for a try-out,” she stumbled, silently cursing her nervousness.

“Oh, one minute, please,” expressed Heather who circled behind a counter and began pressing buttons.

Raven wondered if she were calling Security.

“Josie, I need you quickly.  Walk-in to deal with.”  Raven overheard.

A thrill of fear shot through her.

Heather came back smiling. “It’s close, but I got you in.  You’ll have to hurry, there’s a free-for-all in five minutes.”

Another thrill shot through her.  Now?  Right away?  Her mind spun.

This is my chance, she thought.  Have to go through it no matter the circumstances.

Josie was a dark human who stripped Raven of her beltpack and backpack, and led her in a trot down corridors.  Before Raven could get her mind around it, she was in harness and being pushed into a pod.  She had a brief thought as to how comfortably fit the harness was, when she was immediately on the field.

Her first thought was this is Niflheim.  Then she was nailed.  The match had already begun.  It was a free-for-all deathmatch with Instagib.  She was nailed twice more within the first minute, but then got her first frag.  After getting nailed again, she became angry.  She channeled it into concentration, and began to get frags.  However, she was getting nailed too often.  There must be 50 players on the field, she thought, and she was constantly getting nailed from behind.  It was a tough grind.  No subtlety here, too many competitors.  Spawn and frag, or be fragged.

The bell rang. Raven was exhausted and depressed.  Those 15 wild minutes had passed quickly.  She went through the traditional final greeting with the smile she could muster and then was back in the pod.  No extractor was there, so she let herself out of the pod and harness, and redressed.

She hadn’t looked at the scores all match and didn’t now.  She knew she did badly.   Raven started down the hall, saw the sign for the lobby and headed that way.

She did not get far and she heard herself being paged.

“Raven please report to the main office, yellow, third level.”

The message repeated twice.

“At least I’ll get a ticket home,” she sighed to herself.  Raven was close to tears.  It seemed as if all those years had suddenly amounted to nothing.  What was to be her future now?

The main office was a huge room full of desks and one large counter.  As she entered, a few people looked up and she noticed how diverse the workforce was.  Almost every race and civilization, except Necris.

“Raven, I’ve got a ticket for you,” said an older human female.

Raven noticed her belongings leaning against the counter.  Very efficient in getting rid of people, she thought.  Makes sense, they probably have thousands of walk-ins.  Raven took the ticket and sighed, glancing at it.

It was for Carson Main. Everyone in the universe knew Carson Main.  That suburb of Central City was the heart and home of the professional Tournament.

“This…this is for Main,” she stuttered.

“Yeah, they want you up at Prime,” began the older female.

A thrill of fear shot through Raven.  It almost didn’t register.  She was speechless.

“They want you up at Prime as fast as you can get there,” came a male voice from the side.  He was a Skaarj.

Raven’s stomach flopped and her mind slipped a gear.

“They want you for an assault match at 19:30 and if you get the next shuttle, you’ll have time to eat and rest before the match.”

“Uh,” was all that she could get out.  She’d never trained for an assault.

The Skaarj smiled, which was a frightening display of pointed teeth. “When we saw the stunts you were pulling on the field,” he continued.  “We piped a feed up there for them.  They watched the last five minutes and want to see you in person.  Congratulations.”

“And good luck,” added the female.

Raven heard a beeping and the Skaarj touched his earpiece.

“Grab your stuff quickly. There’s transport waiting for you outside.  You can just make the next shuttle if you hurry.  Go girl!”

Raven grabbed her stuff and ran.  Heather shouted ‘Good Luck’ as she ran through the lobby.  The transport door was open and waiting for her.  For an ordinary Necris girl, having a plush two-seater all to herself was luxury.  However, she didn’t have much time to even breathe as the driver made the shuttle in ten seconds, and they hurriedly waved her through the gate.

The FA, a ‘bobblehead’ from Tractis Minor, ushered her to First Class and showed her a triple. “We saved you a row so you can relax a bit,” he lisped.  “I’ll be right back with a menu.”

She managed to choke out a ‘Thank you.’

“Special dietary?”  He inquired hesitantly, turning back.

“Anything human, Earth, Tractis, whatever,” she replied quickly.

He murmured thanks and departed.

Raven flopped into the large over-stuffed seat and breathed deeply.

The realization hit her.

She was headed to the Iskandar Prime facility at Carson Main.  They wanted to see her!

She dissembled that it was probably Secundus that has the assault, but she might get a chance to meet some of the Prime team.  A long-forgotten fantasy from when she was 12 years old came back: meeting Grabby and having him fall in love with her.  She shook her head to clear it.

Grabby was the top player in the Top Tier.  No others came close.  He was the only male player on Iskandar Prime, and had stood on the pinnacle of fame for longer than Raven had been alive.

She smiled thinking that they’d probably keep her now.  Where would they fit her in?  Even if it was back to Bestmartin, that would be excellent.  The taunting she endured from friends and family would fade away finally.

The ‘bobblehead’ came back with an immense tray.  It was a Tractis cold seafood platter.  It didn’t matter: Raven began sampling everything.  Being wary of the upcoming match, she tried to limit herself, and only wash it down with surgis.  No stimulants because it was a match, and no depressants so as to keep her quick.

Between the good food and wide soft seats, Raven inadvertently fell asleep.

Synopses for Books 1 & 2 in one place!

Synopsis — Raven:  The Call From Central

Raven heard the call from Central when she discovered the Tournament and her icons of team Iskandar at four years old. Then and there she made the decision to train her way onto her favorite team. Despite her home planet, Necris, banning women from competing in the now over 200 years old Tournament, Raven was not dissuaded from her calling. Her driving passion saw her train hard solo in order to give herself the best chance possible of achieving placement on her favorite Top Tier team at Central: Iskandar Prime.
Her dream propels her to the long light-years journey through the Alliance of Planet to Central, arriving broke with no real alternatives. Raven is the first Necris in Central, her bone-white skin and tall stature sets her apart from the crowd as she approaches the AA minor league team of Iskandar: Bestmartin. Her dream is to perform with the heroes of Iskandar Prime, Grabby the oldest and most decorated player in the Tournament; Soria, Captain and only elf in the Tournament, and this is the first step in the journey.
Iskandar Prime is searching for their tenth and final member. Can she leverage her skill in an immediate and unexpected trial? Can she enter this world of replicated warfare, where the line between simulation and reality blurs, and perform in an arena of professional competition?
Disturbed by apparent failure, she is suddenly thrust into the spotlight by a trial with Prime itself. On the field surrounded by her Iskandar Prime heroes, she realizes that she could be the tenth and perfect team member. “Let me stay here,” she wishes. However, is this an opinion that is shared by the most successful organization in the Top Tier? Will she be given a permanent place in her dream team – or a one-way ticket home?

Synopsis — Raven:  Mirabelle

Raven: Mirabelle takes up where the first book, Raven: The Call from Central, ends. Iskandar Prime has won the Tournament Championship by sweeping through their opponents without one close match. After a week of banquets and celebrations, the team is sent on a goodwill tour by the Tournament Committee. The tour is to encompass the ‘Inner Circle’ of planetary colonies around Earth and is to include Earth itself. The first stop on the tour is the second-oldest colony, Mirabelle which is also the birth planet of Chaoschick and the search for her family intensifies. The team is greeted right at landing by an enthusiastic fan base that includes Raven’s Raiders. The team terrorizes the opposition, the local and regional teams, but also encounters the Royal Family, irate hairdressers, malfunctioning translators, fans chanting about fruit and ocean-going predators. Who is the guy in the red parka? Why are there purple bears all over the island of Elba? Why do all of the statues of Napoleon hold salad bowls? Why is Skylla suddenly talking different? What are the secrets Chaoschick is keeping about her family? Why are the team arming themselves with real machine guns and plasma lances? And why is Raven’s mother all cranked up? The planet of Mirabelle will never be the same as the team brings their own brand of behavior to one of the oldest cultures in the Alliance.