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excerpt: SPIDERS FROM MARS, Sylvia Stryker Space Case Cozy Mystery #4

Below find a brief excerpt from Chapter 1 of SPIDERS FROM MARS, out May 5!

The first thing I did was have Neptune declared legally dead. It was an unlikely start to a rescue mission, but it was my first one, and Neptune’s incarceration made it difficult to ask him for advice.

Neptune, of course, wasn’t dead. He was serving time in a minimum-security prison on Colony 1 after helping me hijack a privately owned spaceship. It was all in a day’s work for high-level security agents like ourselves, but to the Federation Council, it was a violation of law, and somebody had to pay.

Okay, fine, Neptune is a high-level security agent. I’m a lieutenant for an outer space cruise ship and a part time sales rep for Century 21 Uniforms. But I trained to be a security agent before a whole lot of crap that changed the course of my life, and when Neptune gets out, I’m going to hit him up with a proposal he won’t be able to turn down. Partners. The best-dressed security team in the galaxy.

(Not that Neptune cares all that much about uniforms, but I figure I should play to my strengths.)

But that’s later, and this is now. Neptune’s been in prison for the past four months, and no doubt anything I say now you’ll miss because you’ll be comparing “the first thing I did” with “four months” and asking yourself, “Geez, Sylvia. The man is in prison. What took you so long?”

I’ll tell you what took me so long. No matter how many intergalactic libraries you hack into, you’d be hard-pressed to find an article titled “Tips for Busting Your Mentor Out of Jail.”

What you will find are stories of corruption. Of people locked up for crimes they claim they haven’t committed. Stories about prisoner abuse, confessions from inmates on their death beds, and if you’re lucky, when your eyes are blurry in the middle of the night after weeks of combing through the Galaxy News archives, you’ll find an interview by a former warden who left the system and now fights against it from the outside. If you have any ideas of breaking someone out of jail, forget it. It’s far easier to get a dead body out of prison than a live one.

That’s where I got the idea.

Drafting a prison break is easy-peasy once you have step one. I had step one. I didn’t waste time studying the language needed to draft a suitable legal notice. I hacked an example from the local mortuary database, forged a signature, and filled in the blanks like a Mad Libs. I carried my paperwork on board Moon Unit: Mars, the cruise ship where I work as the uniform manager, and kept it under my pillow until today, when a twenty-four-hour layover left me a window to file it at Federation Bureau of Affairs before continuing our journey.

See? Easy-peasy.


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