The D’Karon Apprentice Release and a New StoryBundle!

The D’Karon Apprentice is available Now!

As promised, The D’Karon Apprentice is available everywhere now!


I already tooted the horn about this last week, so I’ll just give you the short version. The D’Karon Apprentice is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Smashwords, iBooks, and just about anywhere else you can think of! So if you like The Book of Deacon, pick it up and find out how the story continues.


I’ve curated a “name your own price” sci-fi bundle!

Of those of you who are fans of my science fiction stories, many first discovered them as a result of my appearance in StoryBundle’s inaugural bundle, The Big Bang Bundle, which featured the first two installments of my Big Sigma. Well today, I’m happy to say I’m back again! And this time I’ve been asked to curate my favorites of their massive list of submissions. We’re calling the result, The Sci-Fi Spectrum Bundle.


If you’re not familiar with StoryBundle, it’s a site that runs short promotions in which you can name your own price for a bundle of books following a theme. This time, for as little as $3, you can get five great books!

  • Terminal Mind by David Walton
  • The Serpent’s Head by Bryan Young
  • The Lead Cloak by Erik Hanberg
  • The Debt Collector Season One by Susan Kaye Quinn
  • The Genehunter by Simon Kewin

And if you pay the $12 price for a bonus, you can get four more stories

  • Operation: Montauk by Bryan Young
  • Artificial Evolution by Joseph R. Lallo
  • The Ruins of Karzelek by Ruby Lionsdrake
  • The Debt Collector Season Two by Susan Kaye Quinn

I picked these stories to cover a wide range. We’ve got dystopian thrillers from Phillip K. Dick Award winning authors, rollicking adventures with a steamy side, and even book three in my Big Sigma series!

Head over to StoryBundle to check out the bundle!

Seeking the Shadow

As a special treat for reading this far, here’s your latest newsletter perk!


As featured in Blackguards, here’s Seeking the Shadow! Another Desmeres story, but this one takes place between The Rise of the Red Shadow and The Book of Deacon. To download it, check your mailbox for this update in newsletter form, or sign up for the newsletter now!


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The D’Karon Apprentice Launch Week

Ladies and Gentlemen, if I seem a little frazzled, it’s because I’m dead center in a week that is threatening to drive me utterly insane in the best possible way. What’s the source of the madness? All of the festivities surrounding the long awaited release of the next Book of Deacon story The D’Karon Apprentice. Let’s take a look at what’s cooking.

iBooks Exclusive Early Release

The first and most important of the promos is this one. If you’re an iBooks user and a Book of Deacon fan, you may be reading The D’Karon Apprentice right now! That’s because I worked out a deal to release the story a week early on iBooks, and they’ve been kind enough to mark the occasion with some promotional goodness. If you were to check out the sci-fi/fantasy section of that store, you’d see this.

iBooks Banner

How cool is that!? My deepest thanks to Apple for the feature. And even deeper are my thanks to you, because it was the pre-orders of fans like yourselves that got The D’Karon Apprentice into the top 10 on the sci-fi/fantasy list on launch day. You can naturally still find the book on iBooks if you’ve not picked it up, and it’ll be available everywhere else on November 10th.

Three for two sale on Kobo

In another astounding turn of events, Kobo and Smashwords have partnered on a 200 title, 159 author sale and they have selected me to be a part of it. The Book of Deacon Anthology, which contains just about every Book of Deacon story except The D’Karon Apprentice, is the book they’d selected. You can find the full list of books for sale here, and my specific page is here. If Kobo is your supplier, this is a great chance to stock up on quality reads.

NaNoWriMo once again

And finally, that month is upon us again! I’m writing another Free-Wrench novel. This one’s called Ichor Well, and I’m about 20,000 words in. That should be just shy of halfway finished. I don’t suspect I’ve paced it correctly, so it probably is going to overshoot the 50,000 word intention. Big surprise, huh? Anyway, if you’d like to follow along with me, my NaNoWriMo page his here.

That about does it for today, but I’ll have another post soon, because I’ve still got the official release coming up, plus some goodies to share. Until then, thanks for reading!

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The D’Karon Apprentice Launch Week!

The long wait is over! As evidenced by the URL of this website, despite my many series, The Book of Deacon is still my most successful and most beloved series by a wide margin. And while I’ve danced and played around quite a bit with prequels, spin-offs, and inbetween-quels (they’re apparently a thing), the time has finally come for an honest to goodness, real deal sequel. And so, I present to you…

The-D'Karon-Apprentice-final-textThe cover is as always by the inimitable Nick Deligaris. Featured are the principle additions brought by this new story, Turiel and Mott. Early readers really seem to be enjoying this story, and if you’re an iBooks user you can pick it up right now! For the rest of you folks, you can pick it up Nov. 10th or pre-order it now on your storefront of choice.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords!


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NYCC and The D’Karon Apprentice

Once again I will be attending the New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center in New York City. I’ve been going since roundabout 2010, I believe. Last year I was lucky enough to meet four fans, and that was with barely a heads-up to folks about where they could find me. This time I’m going to try a little harder to arrange a place to meet, but only if there are people who want to meet me.

The convention is sold out, and has been for a while, so if you don’t already have tickets I’m afraid you won’t be able to get in. Those of you who do have tickets, however, speak up! If you would like to meet me, let me know. Last year I lingered in Artist’s Alley for much of one day. This time I’d narrow it down even more, and maybe even sort of flash-mob an artist I know who will be attending.

As for those of you who don’t have tickets, but will be in Manhattan on Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday, I’m sure I could see my way clear to wandering out of the building for an hour or two to try and meet folks elsewhere. Again, however, that will only happen if people are interested. I don’t know if you’ve ever made plans to show up someplace to meet people only to discover that literally no one actually showed up, but I have, and it’s not a nice feeling. At the show there will be plenty of stuff to see and do, so a lack of turnout for me won’t be so bad. If I wander out to a bar with my whole convention rig and then just nurse a diet coke and look anxiously to the door for an hour, on the other hand? That’ll stick with me for a while.

Let’s see… what else should I be talking about… Oh yeah!

The D’Karon Apprentice is a month away!

That’s right, after a long, long time, the next book in the Book of Deacon series is finally on the way. This isn’t a prequel. This isn’t a short story or a collection. This is a brand spanking new tale that comes shortly after The Battle of Verril. If you’re on iBooks, you’ll be getting it a week early, Nov. 2nd. The rest of the world will get it Nov. 10th. Review copies are in the hands of some lucky subscribers to my newsletter, and the sprinkling of early opinions seem to be fairly positive (except for the two typos that they’ve found, which will be fixed in the final release).

If you want to guarantee you have it on release day, there are plenty of places to pre-order, including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

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Catching Up and Weighing Anchor

As usual, I have been remiss in my updates of my page. There will be MAJOR page updates in the future, but as I realized when I did a podcast earlier tonight about websites that I really ought to give mine a poke.

So what’s been happening with me? A few things. The D’Karon Apprentice is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

The-D'Karon-Apprentice-final-textThe release date is Nov. 10th, 2015, so if you’d like to make sure you get your hands on it as soon as it becomes available, feel free to hop over and pre-order.

I’m also about 100,000 words into the next Big Sigma story, and it’s coming along pretty well. It’s my hope that I will have that thing finished up sometime next month. I know a lot of you folks are eagerly looking forward to reading about the further exploits of Lex, Karter, and Ma.

Last but not least, I’m going on a vacation! I don’t do that very often, but the family talked me into going on a cruise up north, so on Thursday morning I’ll be off on a trip to Nova Scotia and a few ports of call along the way. Here’s hoping it turns out I’m not the seasick type!

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A New Desmeres Story

I suppose it’s rather strange that, back when I was working a day job and pulling my hair out, I would post something here on my blog practically once a week. Now that I’m a full time author, I’m lucky if I remember to do it even once a month. BAH! No matter. I’m here now, you’re here now, and that’s all that matters.


So what news have I got for you? Well, first up is a new story! Experiments and Enchantments is an anthology put together by Moira Katson. It’s got eleven stories by eleven authors, and it spans the width and breadth of science fiction and fantasy. Check out this lineup!

Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart
Saira & the Magic Sword by Moira Katson
Twenty-Five Bombs Fell by A.K. Meek
Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun
The Dust Job by Aimee Kuzenski
Rebel Captive by S.K. Emory
The Redemption of Desmeres by Joseph Lallo
Memories Stirred by Colin Mobey
The Wanderer by Vincent Trigili
Voyage of the Orca by David Bruns
Gaslight Carnival by Tracy Cembor

Tucked in the middle there is a short addition to The Book of Deacon Series. The Redemption of Desmeres is a spin-off of sorts, or what I like to call a Sidequest. It follows Desmeres as he finally puts some thought into just exactly what he’s done in his life, and inparticularly what he did as a part of the events of the trilogy. Right now only this first chapter exists, but if folks are interested I’ll probably try to flesh out a 10 or 12 chapter set and release them on a monthly schedule. That’s the dream, anyway, my limited productivity potential might get in the way of that.

But until then, you can find it here!

Let’s see… what else… OH! Right. The autographs…

Myranda Book PlateAt long last, I’m all set up to start handing out these book plates. They’re stickers, 3×4 inches. To get yours, just send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the following address:

Joseph R. Lallo
PO Box 190
Colonia, NJ 07067

Please include a note letting me know who to make out the autograph to, and if there’s any special sort of message you might want. It’d also be handy if you’d send me an email to let me know your letter is on the way, so I can be sure to check the PO Box regularly.

INTERNATIONAL FANS: Since trying to supply postage on an international self-addressed envelope is a giant pain in the butt, you don’t have to include postage on your envelope. Instead, just send a self-addressed envelope and I’ll handle the postage. HOWEVER! If you’d like to send me something cool, or maybe write me a nice letter, that’d be cool.


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iBooks Book of the Week!

The good folks at Apple iBooks have selected The Book of Deacon as the Book of the Week

As even the previous post on this site suggests, the people at Apple have been great friends to the indie author community in general, and myself in particular. They are a great group of people who take a very real interest in the enjoyment of customers and the advancement of authors like me who do our best to give those customers something to enjoy.

Well, they’ve done it again. Users of iBooks in Australia and New Zealand are opening iTunes and iBooks today to find my very first book, The Book of Deacon, sitting proudly at the top of the page, their selection for book of the week! Knowing I’m not in either of those regions, the promotion organizers were kind enough to share some screen shots of the promo. Check them out!



Can you believe it!? I’d really love to say I’ve got some sage and profound words to share on the subject, but right now the only words that are coming to mind are “astounded,” “flabbergasted,” and “floored.” Seriously. To know that folks at this massively successful company have repeatedly given me their trust and support is a huge boost to my confidence. It’s also a little nerve wracking, because now that they’ve put their trust in my writing, it’s time to hold up my end of the bargain. My book has got to capture the imaginations of readers and prove to iBooks and Apple that their trust in me was well placed. Myranda and the Chosen have gotten me this far, so I’ll just have to believe that they’re up to the task!

If you are an iBooks reader who discovered me as a result of this promotion, welcome! I thank you for taking a chance on me, and I hope to continue to have stories and characters to share with you for years to come. And if you are reading this because you’ve been a fan of mine for years, thank you! It is because of you that I’ve been able to come this far. I owe you everything,

Thanks for reading!



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The Book of Deacon Anthology releases today!

The Anthology is released

A collection of every Book of Deacon story I’ve released so far is now available

While I’m not treating it as a major release, since most of you fine folk have probably purchased and/or read every book within its covers, The Book of Deacon Anthology has officially released on all major storefronts! Buy it at Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords!


I know that a series that grows above a certain size can seem really daunting and unmanageable for folks just starting it, so I wanted to make it easy and affordable for new readers to get caught up in preparation for the release of the next book in the series, The D’Karon Apprentice. Thus, this collection of stories includes the following:

The Book of Deacon
The Great Convergence
The Battle of Verril
The Rise of the Red Shadow
Entwell Origins: Ayna
The Stump and the Spire 

Most stories have received at least a minor polish beyond what they already had, including improved formatting and the often requested addition of chapter breaks in the Book of Deacon Trilogy. The price is $6.99, which is the combined cost of the trilogy and Jade, meaning you essentially get Rise of the Red Shadow, Entwell Origins: Ayna, and The Stump and the Spire for free!

If you’ve got any friends or family you’d like to turn on to the series, point them in the direction of the (still and always) free The Book of Deacon. If they end up liking it, The Book of Deacon Anthology will fill in the rest or the series. They can get it at Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords!

Apple gets The D’Karon Apprentice a week early!

As a thanks for all of their help in the past, iBooks will get The D’Karon Apprentice on Nov. 3rd.


If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ll know that of all the major retailers, iBooks has routinely been the best about supporting me specifically and indie authors in general. They’ve selected books of mine for Best of the Month and Best of the Year promotions in the past, featured my free series starters, and all around been great to work with. After a nice little chat with some of their indie author liaisons, and working with Mark Coker of Smashwords, we’ve decided that as a way of saying thank you, iBooks will be getting The D’Karon Apprentice a week early. That means that while Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the rest will be getting The D’Karon Apprentice on Nov. 10th (two days earlier than planned), iBooks will have it on Nov. 3rd!

The book is available for pre-order right now from iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, with an Amazon and Google Play pre-order coming soon!

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Fan Casting and other fun stuff

Let me begin by apologizing to any regular readers of my site. As I plunged myself deeper and deeper into the final rounds of revisions and edits on my latest novel, The D’Karon Apprentice, I somehow shifted to doing my updates almost exclusively on social media, particularly Twitter and the Facebook Fan Page. If you don’t follow me there, you’ve been missing out on the day-to-day nuggets. But lately the flood of updates has been coming at a stiff enough pace that I can’t really justify packing the info into a single Facebook post, and spreading them out to even on a day is causing me to fall behind. So it is time for the official site to triumphantly surge back to life again! (At least for this one post. I don’t anticipate turning over a new leaf.)

Where do we start?

Well, let’s start with The D’Karon Apprentice, shall we? If you’ve been keeping your eyes peeled, you’ve already seen a neat (and rough) little sneak peek of this story, which is a direct sequel to The Battle of Verril. It releases November 12th, 2015, but the pre-order is available now: iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Check out the exceptionally bland Placeholder cover!


There’s a lot to do in order to prepare this for release, but it’s already churning through the patented Lallo Literary Mill. The first round of beta readers are looking at as I type this, my editor is ready to get it at the end of the month, and my cover artist already has the rough idea of what I want on the cover. Once that cover shows up, we’ll kick this thing into high gear. And roundabout August it’ll go into pre-order on Amazon and I’ll really start promoting.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Newsletter subscribers got their hands on a fun little side project (hopefully the first of many) called Entwell Origins: Ayna. This is a novella focusing on, you guessed it, Ayna. It tells of her history and how she ended up in the role of Highest Master of Wind Magic in Entwell. It was great fun to write, and as my schedule permits, I’ll probably pick other Entwell natives to write about. Solomon and Calypso leaped to mind, but I’ve since had a request for Azriel, which could be a fun one too. Here’s the cover art for Ayna’s story. It’s by my new cover guy (not a replacement for Nick, but in ADDITION to Nick), Georgi Slavov.


And all of this digging into the Book of Deacon setting has sparked something in a long time and cherished fan (and beta reader, by the way), who has begun fan casting/face claiming the Book of Deacon universe bit by bit. Here are the first two batches:

The Chosen

The Entwell Dwellers

So good. Some really inspired casting in there. I HIGHLY approve.

Last but not least, something to help non-fans get into the series without having to hunt down and arrange every Book of Deacon title.


Yep! I’ve created a Book of Deacon Anthology! This collects every story from the first five years of Book of Deacon releases, including all three books of the Trilogy plus Jade, The Rise of the Red Shadow, and both previous Newsletter perks: Entwell Origins: Ayna and The Stump and the Spire. Every book involved has received a slight to major formatting upgrade including (gasp) chapters! Yes, The Book of Deacon Trilogy and Jade are split into chapters in this book, addressing one of the most frequent complaints about the series. It’s been submitted for pre-order, but oddly enough, Google Play is the only one to get it through so far. Correction, Amazon has it too, and iBooks! It releases June. 25th on all major retailers. The value of the books within is $10, not to mention it includes two very hard to find stories that have (so far) never been sold separately, but I’m charging $6.99 for it. If you’re a long time fan and have read all of my stuff, there’s not much in there to make the purchase worth your while. I’ve added a short foreword to each book, but those tell anecdotes you’ll have heard a dozen times if you follow me, and there’s a “Message from the Curator” which introduces the series and sets a bit of the timeline, but you can read that in the preview on the sites once it shows up. HOWEVER, if you’ve got friends or family who are interested int the series but haven’t picked up anything (or perhaps only picked up the free book) this is a great way to get the series so far in an easy to consume and economical package.

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Character Interview: Captain McCulloch West

Better late than never! As voted by the fans, the latest character interview is of the gruff but capable Captain McCulloch “Cap’n Mack” West, from my Free-Wrench and Skykeep books! I hope you enjoy it!

In the Captain’s Quarters, which served double duty as an office and a bedroom, McCulloch West was as near to sleep as he tended to get. The gentle motion of the airship in flight rocked him back and forth like a child in a crib. For a man who devoted himself as deeply to his role as captain as he did, one would expect sleep to be a black, dreamless thing. Not so for Captain West. The light tap of knuckles on his door were enough to bring him to full wakefulness without so much as a groggy slur to his voice when he answered.

“What is it, Ms. Graus?” he asked.

“How did you know it was me?” she asked through the door.

“You’re the only one who would knock. The rest of the crew would barge right in if it was something important or leave me be if it wasn’t.”

“Do you mind if I have a word with you? It is about what I’d discussed before.”

He heaved himself from the hammock and climbed down into his chair.

“May as well,” he said.

Nita pushed the door open and marched inside. She was dressed, as she tended to be, in her work gear, a leather and canvas ensemble that stood up well to the assortment of tasks that were expected of her. A strange addition was a small folio of loose, blank pages and a fountain pen.

“Refresh me, Ms. Graus. What’s this about?”

“As you know, my father is working to convince the council that the Wind Breaker deserves safe harbor. I’ve vouched for your character, but in doing so, I realize I your character is effectively the only thing I know about you. He’ll have questions I can’t answer. So I thought I’d ask a few questions that I’ve been wondering about, and I’ll record the answers for posterity.”

“Posterity ain’t something I’ve put too much though into. By matter of course it doesn’t concern me. But you Calderan’s have your own way of doing things. Ask.”

“Thank you very much. My first question is about Butch. I’ve always wondered, why did you divorce Butch?”

“… And this is about us getting safe harbor?”

“It further speaks to your character.”

He crossed his arms and leaned back. “You know the way it goes. There’s only room in a man’s life for one great love, and I had two. Butch and the sky. There comes a time when a woman gets tired of sharing her man. Can’t say I blame her. More curious, I reckon, is why she saw fit to say ‘I do’ in the first place. Can’t say I was any more devoted back then. Just a bit more… vigorous. We both were.”

“Do you ever miss being married to her?”

“Ain’t much room in a hammock for two, though we did have an awful lot of fun trying… But then, that’s not really talk for mixed company. Simple answer, you can’t have a woman as a wife and as a crewman. A crewman’s got to follow orders. I ain’t met a fella who found a wife that’d do that. Near as I can figure any wife who’d follow orders like a crewman hasn’t got enough life to her to be worth having. To each his own, though. Fact is, she’s more good to all of us cooking meals and cleaning wounds. If I could either have her by my side or at my command, the command is the better choice. Not having to put up with me in her off hours probably added a few years to her life, too.”

“I think I understand. Now, another question I had. How did you get the Wind Breaker?”

“Rich fella, over on the north end of Circa. Lots of plateaus that way. Lots of farming. Nothing like you’ve got in Caldera, mind you. But enough to feed the local folk with enough left to ship and sell. Any man who does enough shipping’s bound to run into wailers and suchlike. So a man with heavy enough pockets is best served to pick up a couple escorts. That’s when I first set foot on the old girl. Wasn’t called the Wind Breaker back then. Fella called it… Madeleine or some such. Name of his daughter. Anyhow, I kept my heap together a few years. Kept the raiders and them off his veggies. Time came he gave farms, the ships, the whole mess to his daughter. Not Madeleine, the younger one. Her husband and her reckoned they knew better than her old man, decided to sell the escorts. Everybody knew the two of  ‘em didn’t know the value of a good ship, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Like when you’re fixing to buy one from ‘em, for instance. Picked her up good and cheap, with enough left to keep the crew on. For a spell, anyhow.”

“I see. What made you start your life of crime?”

“Didn’t get started with that until roundabout when this young lady who was too smart for all our own good came aboard and put the thought in our heads about a heist.”

“I meant your smuggling and black market sales.”

“Ain’t nothing illegal about a little free enterprise. If you folk considered that spot we tie up to be a part of your land, you’d plop one of them cannons in front of it. Far as I’m concerned we’re just offering a service.”

“But why that service?”

“Takes money to keep a ship in the air. Something I worked out on my own when I was a boy, you want to get paid more than the next fella, you need to do the sorts of things he won’t. Same goes for a ship. No one else was willing to swing around them cannons and give you good folks a taste of Rim. Least ways not as often as we were. So that’s what we did.”

“And how did you assemble your crew?”

“‘Less you’re in the military and doing some drafting, ain’t but one way to put together a crew. Set down in a port, look for folk looking for a job. If they don’t die or quit, that’s your crew. Though… come to think of it most everybody died or quit. I ain’t the easiest man to work under, I’m sure you noticed. Gunner used to work for a fella I knew back in the Madeleine days. Heard I was lookin’ for a man who could do the work of three or four good stout deck gunners. Gunner, for his part, was lookin’ for a job that’d put his finger on the trigger a bit more. Turned out to be a good fit.

“I went through three or four cooks and a dozen medics before I finally found out Butch was running short of money and hadn’t found a new husband to help her make ends meet, so I asked if she wanted to handle the knives for me again. Turned out to be the best offer on the table. I reckon that doesn’t say much for the other offers. Or the table for that matter.

“Then Coop and Lil had that problem with their herd and a wind storm while I was nearby. Did a rescue, saw the whole herd got wiped out. They weren’t going to last long without some money coming in, and I figured I could use some extra hands. The pair ended up following orders better than the boys I already had on, so I kept ‘em on.”

“What were your first impressions of the crew?”

“Well, Butch is Butch. Just about the only thing that’s changed about her since I first met her is the size of her jowels. Not that I’m one to talk. Gunner struck me as a bit too full of himself. Boy leans more on that education of his than he ought to. Still, most of the things he blows up are on other ships, and to his credit, even if he says nay to almost every order that comes across, he still does as he’s told. Coop and Lil? Didn’t expect them two to survive two weeks in the air. Lil didn’t have the stomach for it. The fish got more of her meals than she did in the beginning. And the both of them were quicker to tackle an order than to figure out how they were supposed to do it. To talk to ‘em, you’d think they wouldn’t have half a mind to split between the two. But hammer something into ‘em hard enough and they’ll learn enough of it to get by. And I swear them two have got their own personal angels watchin’ over ‘em. The doings they get up to… I seen folk get killed for even coming close to what they do day in, day out. But I’ll be damned if they didn’t take to it after a fashion. Best deckhands I’ve had.”

“What do you like most about this crew?”

“I don’t have to think about ‘em. Doesn’t matter the job that needs doing. I say the word and I know they can handle it. Don’t need to tell ‘em how. Don’t need to tell ‘em why. Just need to tell ‘em, and they get it done. If I told my crew to bring me the devil’s tongue I’d have it by sunup, and a couple of his teeth besides.”

“Is it true what I’ve heard? That you’ve spent some time in prison?”

“It is.”

“How did that happen?”

“It was nothin’ I didn’t earn. This was in my military days. Westrim Navy. I was pretty high up on one of them frigates they run. Nothing so substantial as the dreadnaught, but ship enough to keep a few dozen hands busy below deck when cannons start boomin’. We were over on the East side of Rim, I was… How old was I? … Old enough to know better regardless. I was running messages for the first mate, and on that ship the cap’n said he ran things, but the truth of it was he ran things above deck and his mate ran things below.

“We were called in to settle a disagreement. Couple folks felt they owned this patch of the sea or that. Fuses got lit. Navy had to tend to it. Turns out when we showed up, half the mountain had joined in. Air was thick with cannon balls, bullets, nails, anything one boat could heave at another.

“The mate had more than he could handle, and he started ordering things that’d get folk killed at best, take the ship down at worst. I thought his orders were damn fool orders and told him so. He told me if I didn’t like the way he ran things I could return my last month’s pay and resign. I did.

“In those days they paid us in silver victors. I kept ‘em in a wool sock, and when I returned ‘em, I did it in an awful hurry, and right upside his head. He went down like a sack of potatoes. Like I said, I was running messages for him. Him not being awake to give orders didn’t seem to me to be a good reason to stop delivering ‘em. So I started handing out the ones I thought’d keep us alive.

“By the time he came to, the fight was clearing up. Out of the three frigates that ended up gettin’ called in, ours was the only one that didn’t lose any crew. Even so, there’s an awful lot of names for a man who’d do what I did, and none of them is sailor. They locked me away for a bit. First man I saw when I got out was Cap’n Dahl. Same cap’n who was running that ship. Seems he never forgot what I got up to, and decided if I could see my way clear to keep from swinging my pay around this time, maybe I’d like to give a tour as first mate a try. The other fella, to no one’s surprise, didn’t last too much longer after I got locked up.”

“I’ve heard whispers about the boiler being overfed once? What’s the story?”

“About what you’d expect. I wanted more speed, the general thinking from the crew was more heat and more water’d do it. It did. For a bit.”

Nita paused for a moment, as if debating on whether to ask the next question. “Do you remember when we figured out the truth about Wink?”

“I do.”

“You said you had more to say to him, but you sent me away before you said it.”

“If I’d’ve meant for you to hear it I’d’ve said it while you were still about.”

“If you’d rather not tell me, that’s certainly your right.”

“… I suppose there isn’t any harm to it. Wink’d always been an important part of the crew. But figurin’ the little bugger wouldn’t know what I was sayin’ if I said it, I never let him know what I expected of all the folk who work under me. So I let him know. And I let him know what’d happen if I didn’t get it from him. In words that it ain’t fit for a man to use in front of a lady.”

“A lot changed that day.”

“A lot changed once you set foot on my ship.”

“That’s true… Do you ever regret taking me on?”

He was silent for a few moments. “Every man’s got problems. When I took you on, I swapped out the ones I was used to for a whole new set. But if I were to lay it all out, I’d say you pushed us a lot further forward than you set us back. Not so fond of needing you as much as I do, seeing as how without you we ain’t got the knowhow to keep the Wind Breaker in the air, but before you we had the same situation with the fuggers, and I’ll take you over the fuggers eleven times out of ten. Plus, one of these days the rest of us’ll work out what needs working out to look after ourselves. That wouldn’t’ve happened without you. Regrets come pretty often, I guess, but they go pretty quick too.”

“I really appreciate that,” she said. Again she though long and hard before speaking again “I’ve never heard you say much about when you were younger. What was your childhood like?”

“Didn’t have much of a childhood. I was near the middle of a batch of youngsters that was closer to a dozen than most families get these days. Ma and Pa had their hands full keeping us from starving and/or killing each other, so they couldn’t care less if we got to mischief. By the time I was seven I was spending half my time stowing away on airships. I was pretty much a regular member of the crew of this one scout ship, the Quarrel, by the time I was ten. My folks were just happy to have to put one less plate on the table most nights. Come my fifteenth birthday I had more time in the air than half of the officers, and I finally made it official and enlisted.”

“Is that how you learned to fly the ship so well?”

“No crew would let a boy take the wheel. What I know about flying and running a ship comes from that man I mentioned before. Cap’n Dahl. First man to put the wheel of a ship in my hands, and to not take it out even after I almost crashed the thing. Had more close calls that year than in the last twenty. Every moment I’m above deck, I’m doing my damnedest to be half as good as him.”

“The man must have had an eye for talent.”

“I think it had more to do with how often he was into the bottle. Probably something he taught me that I’d have been better not learning.”

Nita wrote a bit more on her pages. “I’m sure you’d rather be resting than answering these questions, so I suppose I’ll make this my last one. Why did you let the Wind Breaker get in such bad shape? It’s clearly your whole life. Why was it so run down when I joined the crew?”

“You’ve had the good fortune of not having to do much business with the fuggers. They have two prices for fixing a ship. Good enough to keep running is one, and that’s as much as most folk can afford. Almost as good as one of theirs is another price. Seems like every time I ask, the fuggers give me a number that everything I’ve got, plus a few hundred for good measure. Never had much of a choice to get her working better than she was until you showed up.”

“But what about how it looked? Surely the Fug Folk let you make cosmetic improvements.”

“Well, see there, that’s your Calderan talking. I got a list of things I care about. How something looks ain’t on it.”

“I suppose that’s fair enough.” She scratched down a few more lines. “Thank you for taking the time to answer these. I think it will really help my father understand what sort of man you are.”

And that’s that! If you like the character, be sure to check out Free-Wrench and Skykeep, both of which are available now!

“I reckon understanding what sort of man I am is just about the last thing we’d want if we were after safe harbor, but he’s  your Pa. You’d know better’n me.”

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