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Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.When they are hired to retrieve a shipment of bootleg medical nanobots, it seems like a routine job at first. But it quickly turns out that they are not the only ones who are after the nanobots. And their client has an agenda of her own. This is a story of 5100 words or approx. 20 print pages in the "In Love and War" series, but may be read as a standalone.
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by Cora Buhlert
Copyright © 2018 by Cora Buhlert
All rights reserved.
Cover image © Grandfailure, Dreamstime
Pegasus Pulp Publications
In Love and War
For eighty-eight years, the galaxy has been torn apart by the endless war between the Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds.
Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov are soldiers on opposing sides of that war. They meet, fall in love and decide to go on the run together.
Pursued by both the Empire and the Republic, they struggle to stay alive and free and prove that their love is stronger than the war…
The independent rim world of Kyusu was infamous for its pervasive cloud cover and its constant, never-ending rain.
Landing on Kyusu was dangerous because of the low visibility. Yet its spaceport was one of the biggest on the rim. For Kyusu was also a major hub for both legal and illegal trade along the galactic rim.
The capital Shusaku was a neon-drenched maze of skyscrapers and open air markets offering literally any legal good in the galaxy and most of the illegal ones, too, provided you knew where to look.
A man and a woman strode side by side through the neon labyrinth that was Shukasu, their movements perfectly synched, indicating close companionship.
The man was tall with pale skin, striking blue eyes and long black hair that he wore tied back in a ponytail that was now dripping wet. He was clad in a long back synth-leather coat, the collar of which he’d pulled up against the rain. This was Captain Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov, formerly of the Republican Special Commando Forces, now wanted as a deserter and traitor.
The woman by his side was a good head shorter, with brown skin, sparkling dark eyes and black hair tied into a straggled braid. She was clad in utility pants and an electric blue tunic, topped by a poncho of transparent plastic as protection against the steady downpour. This was Lieutenant Anjali Patel, formerly of the Imperial Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, now wanted as a deserter and traitor.
They’d met on the battlefield of the eighty-eight year war between the Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds, fallen in love and decided to go on the run together. Their flight had brought them to the independent worlds on the galactic rim, the only place in the galaxy where they could live in relative safety, far from the forces of the Empire and the Republic both that pursued them, determined to bring them to heel.
And now their flight had brought them to Kyusu, while their work as mercenaries had brought them to the rain-drenched markets of Shukasu.
Anjali looked up. Before her loomed two towers of stacked up freight containers, covered over and over in neon ads, many of them rendered in the boxy characters of the old script of Shukasu. A makeshift bridge stretched between the two towers, also covered in ads.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” she asked Mikhail, “Because I’m cold and soaking wet and not really keen on trudging through the rain for another couple of hours.”
“The pharmacist we interrogated said ‘the Open Market’. So unless you’re losing your touch…”
“I’m not,” Anjali replied.
The guy had practically peed himself as soon as he saw the dagger with the Shakyri crest at her wait. And afterwards he’d been only too eager to talk. He’d talked like the proverbial waterfall, confessing to every single substance of dubious legality he’d ever sold in his shop. No intimidation necessary, the problem was getting him to stop talking.
“…this should be the place.”
Anjali was still doubtful. “There are dozens, probably hundreds of markets all over the city. How can we be sure that this is the right one?”
In response, Mikhail pointed upwards at the makeshift bridge that stretched between the two towers. It was emblazoned with the words “Open Market” in Standard or rather what the Republicans insisted on calling Standard in their infinite arrogance.
“I’d say that’s a pretty big hint.”
Anjali still wasn’t convinced. “And how do we know that this is the Open Market the guy at the pharmacy was talking about? After all, the place where we found the pharmacist was also called Open Market.”
“Public Market,” Mikhail corrected.
“Not if you’re Kyusan, apparently.” Mikhail flashed her a quick smile. The rain pasted a few stray hairs to his forehead. “What’s the matter? I thought you liked markets and shopping.”
“I do,” Anjali said, “But not for days on end and not in constant rain.”
She tried to look dignified in spite of the downpour, but instead she only managed to look like a drowned kitten.
“And besides, we still haven’t found a decent Rajipuri spice merchant in this swamp. Let alone a clothing, jewellery or weapons merchant.”
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