[Guest post]: An Excerpt from Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story by Beth Cato

I'm delighted to share a release day with my fellow Harper Voyager Impulse author, Beth Cato. Nominated for a 2016 Nebula for her novella, Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth is both a dynamic author and a lovely person, who spins tales with fascinating characters in intriguing worlds.

And I have a portion of one of her stories for you today. In celebration of her latest release, I have a special treat for you: an excerpt from her Clockwork Dagger story, Final FlightAnother breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, Final Flight is set in the same world of her Clockwork Dagger series.

Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.

Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down … perhaps for good.

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An excerpt of the very beginning of the story:

I stood at the rudder wheel of my airship Argus, in command of a ship I did not truly control. We flew north, destination unknown. A soldier stood several feet behind me. His pistols remained holstered—he wasn’t daft enough or desperate enough to fire a weapon in the control cabin of an operating airship—but he had already proven adept with his fists. My co-pilot, Ramsay, was currently getting patched up, as the sarcastic commentary he had offered was not kindly received.

Throughout the cabin, tension prickled beneath the surface like an invisible rash we couldn’t scratch. Everyone stood or sat rigid at their posts, gazes flickering between their gauges, the windows, and the soldiers in our midst. These were soldiers of our own kingdom of Caskentia, in green uniforms as vibrant as the sprawling valley below. They had occupied the Argus since that morning.

This was the second time in as many weeks that my airship had been commandeered. The previous time, rebellious settlers from the Waste had claimed it by force. I rather preferred them. Wasters made for an easy enemy after fifty years of intermittent warfare. This occupation by our own government was ugly in a different way.

My fists gripped the wheel as if I could leave impressions in the slick copper. The futility of our situation infuriated me. I couldn’t stop the Wasters before. And now I couldn’t stop this, whatever this mysterious errand was.

My son, Sheridan, was on board somewhere. I needed him to be safe, not snared in any more political drama. The Wasters had used him as a hostage to force my hand; I didn’t want these soldiers to do the same.

“Captain Hue, sir.” My co-pilot saluted as he entered the control cabin. I assessed him in a glance. Bandages plugged his swollen nose. Blood still thickened his thin brown moustache.

“You are well enough to resume your duties?” I asked.

“Yes, sir. I’ve felt worse after a night of leave.”

Ramsay knew his job; if only he could control his fool lips. I stepped back to grant him control of the rudder and leaned by his ear. “Corrado said this would be over in days. Bear through.”

I saw my own frustration mirrored in his eyes, and in the other crew as I walked from station to station. I muttered what assurance I could and exited the control cabin. I needed to find my boy.

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Like the start of the story? Read the whole thing for just 99-cents--and that includes the first chapter of Beth's novel out in August, Breath of Earth!

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Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Her short fiction is in Clockwork Phoenix 5, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.