Title: A Broken Winter
Author: Kale Night
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 25, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, Fantasy, futuristic, hurt/comfort, soul mates, re-incarnation, political terrorism, prison, religious extremism, scientist
SynopsisGeneral Auryn Tyrus is tired of serving an emperor who turns political dissidents into expensive steak and claims to have swallowed Ankari’s sun. He is fed up with pretending not to know Emperor Haken is buying biological weapons and collecting taxes for a war that doesn’t exist. Auryn’s role in the entire mirage leads him to drastic choices, but unexpected news halts his plans. Seven-year-old Keita Kaneko, the son of a former lover, is captured by the emperor’s special forces. Auryn secretly intervenes and spares Keita from execution.
Keita changes everything. Instead of feeling helpless and oppressed by a self-proclaimed living god, Auryn works to expose the emperor as a fraud. But he knows exactly will happen if he’s discovered, and the extent of Emperor Haken’s lies is worse than anticipated. If Auryn expects anyone to believe the truth, he’s going to need proof. And a lot of help.
A Broken Winter
Kale Night © 2019
All Rights Reserved
Freezing to death took longer than expected. Auryn hadn’t moved in over an hour, lying in the snow, staring up at the stars. His toes burned and his bare fingers prickled painfully, flushed red from the cold. He’d considered a variety of other options, including shooting himself in the head, but feared screwing up and adding a traumatic brain injury to his list of grievances. He thought about hanging himself from a peach tree in Building A, but the fruit was being harvested and there were too many people around, even at night.
Forced to decide quickly, he hopped in a snowcrawler and sped off. He could’ve kept going, travelling beyond the oxygenated zone, opting for death by hypoxia, but he pulled over and picked a final resting place.
The radio in his earpiece crackled. The Special Activities Division were getting closer. It wouldn’t be long before they reached their target, terrorist Reisen Kaneko. Auryn hadn’t seen Reisen in over a decade, but his fondness for the man remained intact, uneroded by the passage of time. He’d hoped they’d be reunited one day, despite how impossible it was. No chance of that now. Abandoning his delusions meant being left with nothing, crippled under the weight of reality and longing for oblivion.
Countless stars illuminated the sky, radiant mothers to other worlds, a painful reminder of their own orphaned condition. His Holiness Emperor Haken swallowed planet Ankari’s sun centuries ago—punishment for widespread civil disobedience, or so the story went. While Emperor Haken’s fire-swallowing abilities were never questioned, it was whispered he may have simply taken credit for a dying sun’s disappearance. This explanation made sense to Auryn, but Reisen loved tearing it apart.
“A sun like ours doesn’t die the way most people expect it to. It burns bigger and brighter, swelling like an infected gash, incinerating planets nurtured from their inception. The final act of a deranged mother. Ankari is close enough to the sun that we’d all be burned alive instead of freezing our asses off.
“If the sun did disappear, it wasn’t due to natural causes.”
The radio blared with activity. Target location reached.
This was it. If he had any sense, he’d turn the radio off, but he needed to be sure someone hadn’t made a mistake.
Entrance is clear. Living room clear. Kitchen clear.
His heart pounded, chest constricting painfully.
Door’s locked. We’re going to break it down.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
There’s someone in the bed.
Auryn closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. The cold air choked him, scratching his throat and lungs like tiny, frozen thorns.
It’s a fucking kid. We do not have Kaneko. Repeat. We do not have Kaneko.
He struggled into a seated position, limbs stiff and heavy.
Kid says he’s Kaneko’s son. We’re bringing him in for questioning.
He pulled his hat and gloves back on, skin on fire. Reisen’s son would be sent to the capital and interrogated, treated not like a human being, but as an opportunity for promotion.
Auryn extracted himself from the snowbank he’d intended to be his tomb. He knew where they’d send the boy when they were done with him. Exhibiting the motor skills of a two-year-old, he climbed into his snowcrawler and turned the machine around, heading back to the Farm.
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Guest Post/ Excerpt
sharing an exclusive excerpt from A Broken Winter. In this scene, Auryn takes
Keita, who is now 18, to a temple in an attempt to teach him how to channel
energy for magick purposes. Things don’t exactly go as planned.
There was no smoking inside the
temple and Keita chewed his bottom lip in the absence of a cigarette, anxiety
twisting sharp knots in his chest. He drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly,
over and over again. Auryn regarded him with concern, but knew better than to
ask him if he was all right. Keita would only deny the obvious. He was okay. He
was fine. It was only his body
turning against him, fighting him from the inside, filling him with unnecessary
Unfamiliar situations and
settings amplified the feeling of constant, irrational panic. All he could do
was trust Auryn wouldn’t subject him to this without good reason, and did so
implicitly. The sense of security Auryn offered was the only thing standing
between him and a full-blown panic attack.
A private chapel stood to the
left of the vestry, accessible only through an armed door. Auryn keyed in the
code and ushered him inside. “You can smoke in here, if you want.”
“The gods won’t strike me dead?”
asked Keita, fumbling for a cigarette with shaky hands.
“They’ll have to get through me
Keita’s fingers closed around a
silver lighter, flicking back the cover with a metallic tink, swiftly
bringing his thumb down to strike up the flame. He revelled in the soothing
smoke, blue eyes falling to a momentary close.
Carbon monoxide, tar, benzene,
hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, and Arandano’s personal stash—mainly nicotine
in composition, but mixed with chemicals difficult to pronounce and a few herbs
of unknown origin. A divinely toxic combination.
They sat in front of a large
statue of a shrouded woman, her head bowed and palms upturned. The rock was
white and immaculately clean, devoid of imperfection. Its surface was
intricately carved, right down to the texture of the woman’s clothing.
“This is one of three remaining
sacred statues of Ibyx, Goddess of Healing,” explained Auryn. “It was donated
to the temple by Prince Elia, from his personal collection, to commemorate 500
years of operation at the Farm. Like all sacred statues, it has been blessed by
the Creator with a spiritual link to Ibyx. To form a contract all that’s
required is a blood sacrifice—your blood. You’ll act as a channel, directing
Ibyx’s energy for personal use. In this case, her energy is strictly viable for
healing purposes, so you won’t be storming any castles with it, but it may come
in handy the next time Arandano blows something up.”
“How does it work?”
“I’ll teach you. But first, the
easy part. The contract.” Auryn approached a small white bowl at the statue’s
feet. Upon closer inspection Keita realised the bowl was an upturned skullcap,
the bone bleached and worn. He finished his cigarette, carefully extinguishing
the flame and confining it to his pocket. He looked to Auryn for reassurance.
“Don’t worry. All you need is a few drops.”
The ceremonial dagger was large
for such a limited quantity, but true to his word, Auryn pierced only the tip
of his index finger and smeared the inside of the receptacle with several
An audible hiss was
instantaneous, filling Keita’s head with radiant noise, like the sound of an
off-air television station, riddled with static. There was something distantly
familiar about the sound. He wrote it off as too many nights spent flipping
through a limited number of channels. He closed his eyes and covered his ears,
wincing as the noise grew louder, only to halt all at once.
Keita opened his eyes. He knew
instantly where he was, despite never having seen one—aboard a starship. Sweat
dripped from his temples. A pair of armed men held a captive by the arms, one
on each side. Their prisoner was, by far, the largest man Keita had ever seen.
At least 7’5” tall with large white wings, he was some bizarre combination of
human and bird. Glowing chains bound the birdman’s hands behind his back. Naked
from the waist up, his well-defined muscles and broad shoulders briefly
captured Keita’s attention.
The birdman’s black hair had a
bluish tint, descending to his collarbone in thick, straight tendrils, tucked
behind pointed ears. His ears had numerous piercings—a set of silver rings
along the shell of his ears, linked together with tiny chains. The birdman had
a handsome, striking face, bluish-purple eyes, and a perfectly straight nose.
A man paced the length of the
control room, gripping a bone saw in his right hand. Keita recognised him as
Prince Elia. “You’ve taken something valuable from me. It’s only fair that I
take something valuable from you.”
“My advice generally comes at a
premium,” replied the birdman, “but here’s a tip for free—go stick your dick in
a syphilitic sheep.”
Elia withdrew a needle from his
cloak. “Hold him tight. He’s not going to like this.”
He injected the birdman with a
clear substance, draining his energy and forcing him to rely on his captors for
support. Elia grabbed a wing, placing the blade of the saw as close to the
birdman’s shoulder as he could get, teeth gnawing through bone with each swipe.
The birdman screamed—a shockingly human sound. Elia removed one wing, then the
other. He folded them neatly, placing them in a large cooler.
Elia stalked towards the birdman,
shoving him hard against the wall. “Fuck things up
again, Dezmodeus, and I’ll cut your cock off.”
“Your mother…would never forgive
Elia punched Dezmodeus in the
stomach, sending him sprawling on the floor. Keita’s body moved on its own,
piloted by an invisible captain. Within seconds of Dezmodeus hitting the ground,
Keita was at his side, hands pressed to the tattered wounds in his back to try
to stop the bleeding. He had no idea what he was doing, energy flowing through
his palms and hands tingling like a live wire. Blood welled up between his
fingers, undeterred. Fuck.
“Let’s get out of here,” said
Elia, turning and walking away. One of the men picked up the cooler with ease
and carried it away. The other remained standing, staring, hidden behind a
Keita pushed down harder,
directing more energy where needed but it made little difference. How did Elia
expect Dezmodeus to survive? There was already enough blood on the floor to
fill a small adult. He wished Auryn was there. Auryn would know what to do.
Maybe this was a test—the Goddess ascertaining his worth, only to be
disappointed by the result. It was too much.
The remaining man stepped forwards,
joining Keita at Dezmodeus’s side. “You’re not focused. Concentrate on what you’re
doing.” The voice sounded familiar, but the helmet obscured it, making it hard
Keita closed his eyes. Focused.
Dezmodeus groaned, and he wasn’t sure if it was out of pain or relief. The
bleeding slowed, wounds closing. Nausea washed over him in waves. When the
bleeding finally stopped, he collapsed, barely breathing. Instead of darkness
there was light.
When it faded, Keita saw himself,
no older than two years old. His clothing was covered in black stains. Inkworm. His mother lay nearby, not moving, her
blonde hair covered in slime. He shook her, trying to wake her.
The man who’d attacked her was
stretched out nearby, facedown. Blood no longer flowed from the gash in his
head, coagulating in dark puddles. Stiffening fingers gripped an empty needle.
Reisen burst through the door,
sweeping Keita in his arms. Keita clung to him and sobbed. Reisen hugged him
tightly, filling his ears with static.
Everything went black.
“Keita!” Auryn’s voice. “Are you
all right? What happened?”
“Don’t know.” The temple slowly
came into focus. Keita wasn’t sure how to respond. The memory faded quickly,
leaving him tired and confused. “My ears started hurting.”
“Strange. That’s not supposed to
“Lucky me. Must be her day off.”
He tried to stand, but his legs
gave out. Auryn caught him. He wanted to apologise for being too weak, but his
mouth wouldn’t work. His eyes refused to remain open. He had no idea what was
going on, yet having Auryn nearby made it okay. He caved to the allure of
sleep, knowing he was safe.
Meet the AuthorKale currently resides outside a small town in northern Alberta, where she works in a library. She’s an avid reader with an English degree from the University of Calgary. In her spare time Kale loves playing video games, making chain maille, watching anime, and cultivating a steadily expanding bonsai collection.
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