New Liaden Universe® Chapbook available for preorder

Shout of Honor:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 is now available for pre-order from Amazon, BN, Kobo, Apple Books. Eventually, it will be available at Baen.com, Tolino, Baker & Taylor, Scribd, Google Books, and all the others that I’m forgetting right now.

Publication date is May 15.

Things you should know about this book!

  1.  The chapbook contains one novella, “Shout of Honor,”  which is a brand new story, never before published.
  2. In order to offset the rising costs of production, fees, and cat food, Steve and I have taken the painful step of increasing the cover price of our Pinbeam Books ebooks, to $4.25, starting with this title.  The price of our backlist books will remain the same, going forward, Pinbeam Books eChapbooks will be priced at $4.25.
  3. As has become our custom, this title will also be for sale as a paper book from Amazon only.  We cannot place paper books on preorder, because Amazon, so that edition will go on sale, hopefully, on May 15.
  4. Except for Amazon and Baen.com, Pinbeam Books are distributed through Draft2Digital.  D2D has been distributing to library distributors, who have, as is their custom, been charging libraries in excess of three dollars over cover to add our books to their collections.  This meant that Pinbeam Books received a Very Respectable “royalty” from library sales, but the idea of making libraries pay so very much more than everybody else on the planet offended us.  Therefore, as of last night, we have adjusted the price the library distributors may charge libraries for our books to cover price.  We make less, the libraries can afford to buy more.

You may read a snippet from “Shout of Honor” below:

SHOUT OF HONOR: ADVENTURES IN THE LIADEN UNIVERSE® NUMBER 29
SHARON LEE AND STEVE MILLER
 

CHAPTER ONE

They came into Inago for news, and supplies, and other such items of interest that a way station might be expected to offer. Vepal had chosen this particular way station because it was in a more populated sector and enjoyed a level of traffic that the ports they usually chose did not.

Traffic, then, he had expected.

He had simply not expected so much traffic.

Nor that so much of it would be . . .martial . . .in nature.

Some might have leapt to the conclusion that Inago was under attack. Commander Vepal’s trained eye immediately discerned the lack of lines, the lack of order in committed approaches. Oh, there was station order, this ship to such berth on that heading – but nothing like military discipline, or thinking, here.

But if not an attack, then – what brought so many soldiers and fighting ships to Inago Prime, surely among the least warlike location in this section of space?

His board pinged receipt of a communication originating at the station. Not, according to the wrapper, from station admin – they were too far out, yet, for the station master’s attention. No, this message originated inside the station; sent from a private source.

Intrigued, Vepal opened the packet.

Perdition Enterprises is hiring soldiers, pilots, techs, and specialists for assignments starting immediately! All may apply – papers or paper-free; lone guns to entire units. Soldiers and specialists must have own kit. Working units will be retained intact, if possible. All contracts with Perdition Enterprises. PE provides transportation, target, mission goals, and timeline. Generous bonuses for early completion! NDA required. Come to Core Conference, station center, any hour, any day. Recruiters standing by.

The message began to repeat, and Vepal killed it.

“Are we looking for employment?” Pilot Erthax asked, and waited just a breath too long before adding, “Sir.”

Vepal considered him.

“I’ve been going over the mission’s funding. Temp Headquarters used to omit only one of our five stipends per Cycle. Of the last five due, we have received . . .three.

“This lack of funding decreases our efficiency and our scope,” Vepal went on, talking quietly, gaze on his screen. “It might be . . .to the benefit of the mission to find what this Perdition Enterprises considers reasonable recompense for the skills of a pilot. If there is a signing bonus, as well . . .”

Though he kept his eyes scrupulously on his screen, Vepal’s peripheral vision was good enough that he saw Erthax’s hard, dark face flush, and his mouth tighten.

“Yes,” he continued. “You make a good point, Pilot. We should definitely find what assignments are on offer, and of what duration. It seems to me that we have become soft in our small unit here. A stint in the field might be what is required.”

He was. . .not joking. Jokes were made between comrades. No, he was deliberately egging Erthax on, out of temper and dislike.

Which, he thought, with some chagrin, proved his point. They had become soft of discipline. He had become soft, for it was true that the troop was the reflection of command. And a commander who would taunt one of his own soldiers . . .ought to offer himself to the High Command for a field tour at reduced rank.

Which, interestingly enough, was what Perdition Enterprises offered.

Vepal frowned at his screen. It was outside of his authority to enlist in a military action, even if Perdition Enterprises included Yxtrang among those it found acceptable. Papers or paper-free, was it? Legitimate, licensed soldiers fighting beside pirates, renegades – and Yxtrang?

Still, there was opportunity here. The point of his mission was to discover, per the continuing orders from Headquarters, the proper entity for those of the Troop who had survived the collapse of the old universe to offer their allegiance, and their skills.

It seemed. . .unlikely that Perdition Enterprises was that entity, but it was not. . .entirely unlikely that they might have information about such an entity.

For almost the first time since he had re-discovered their continuing orders, lost for hundreds of Cycles, Vepal felt a stirring of hope, that this was not entirely the mission of a fool.

#

The answer to his request for an interview with a recruiter upon their arrival on Inago, was – an application.

A form letter asked that he complete the application and send it ahead so that an appointment with an appropriate recruiter could be made. There was also a brief and uninformative blurb, from which he learned that Perdition Enterprises was in the business of brokering military and quasi-military assignments. There was no information about those in command, the owners or directors. The planet upon which Perdition Enterprises was registered was – not Waymart. Not quite Waymart.

It was, however, registered, licensed, and approved by the Better Business Bureau of Gilstommer, which, as Vepal understood it, was to corporate entities precisely what Waymart was to ships.

So, the application.

He applied as “Vepal Small Troop,” listing their personnel as one senior officer with advanced piloting and command skills, one line pilot, and one line soldier, detailing the skills shared among the troop, save those specific to Explorers. In a section headed “Other Assets,” he noted that the troop maintained its own vessel, lightly armed and armored, suitable for reconnaissance or courier. He admitted that their treasury was small, and added that each member carried a complete and well-maintained kit.

Put thus, they looked a sad case, indeed, and he hesitated overlong, wondering if he ought to expand their worth. It was his purpose to gain an interview to learn about these immediate assignments, and to put particular questions of his own.

In the end, however, he sent in the nearly-truthful application.

And, to his very great surprise, a communication from Perdition Enterprises met them at the dock, naming an hour not too far distant for Commander Vepal to meet with Recruiter pen’Chouka, in the Core Conference Center, Room 9A.

Vepal considered the name, which suggested that the recruiting agent was . . .Liaden. It was well to consider beforehand, how a Liaden might react, confronted with an Yxtrang, even a certified and guaranteed safe Yxtrang.

Still – Perdition Enterprises encouraged all to apply – papers or paper-free, eh? Surely Recruiting Agent pen’Chouka had seen worse than a well-behaved Yxtrang commander, respectfully reporting for his interview in dress uniform, with only small arm and grace blade on the belt; his honor-marks old and faded, and grey showing in his hair.

He had been instructed to appear unaccompanied before Recruiting Agent pen’Chouka, which Ochin would not like. The central belief of the Rifle’s life was that Commander Vepal ought always to be accompanied by an escort appropriate to his rank – an honor guard at least! – or by the escort available, which would be Ochin Rifle.