Echoes of Family Lost

EFL Cover 1

Excerpt below the fold.  Bloody formatting.

As she hit Send, they heard the rumble of a motorcycle just outside. Quiet fell.  A sensible man, the manager lifted his shotgun and placed it onto the counter before him.  Lily also saw Orloff shift so his holster was easily accessible.

The door opened. A large man, at least six feet in height.  A battle rifle was over one shoulder and what looked like a samurai sword over the other.  Black leather riding gear, but jump boots rather than biker’s.  An open-face helmet showed a surprisingly smooth face.  No beard?  But dark goggles hid his eyes.

He walked towards them.

“That’s close enough.” Orloff barked.  The rider was about ten feet away.  He didn’t move.

This was just like when I came in, Lily thought. She stood, noting the men did as well.

“I’m Lily Barrett. You are…?”

There was another pause. He reached for his helmet and removed it.  A mass of dark brown hair fell out.  What?  Lily looked at his goggled face….

Oh, no. She fell down into her chair.  Orloff and Kyle let their hands go to their pistols.

“Lily! Are you—?”  Kyle asked.  She shook her head and stood back up.  She took four steps, and hugged the rider.

“Welcome to my home, friend Fausta!”

Orloff seemed to be enjoying this. Kyle was wondering why androids were now such a big part of his life.  Fausta sat to Lily’s left, who held her right hand.  Once she’d taken her leather top off, it was obvious she was a woman.   Although….

“Fausta,” Ai had made Lily older about directness, “your chest looks smaller than in your home.”

Orloff gave a lopsided grin at that. “Looks fine to me!”

Fausta glared at him.

“Correct. This is a combat unit.  Although I am still a woman, I did not want my breasts hindering my freedom of movement in your home.”

“And your goggles?”

Fausta hesitated. “I have been told this unit’s eyes are…disconcerting.”

Lily squeezed her hand. “If it makes you uncomfortable, leave them on.”

Without pause, she swept them off with her left hand. First Orloff, now this, Lily thought.

No eyeballs. Where they would have been was a matrix of tiny, multi-colored crystals.  They projected just slightly out; Lily noted that she’d no eyelids.  They would have been cut to pieces if she’d had.  They shimmered even in the low light of the coffee shop.

“I think you’d best tell us your capabilities,” Orloff said.

Fausta looked at Kyle. “You I know.  My big sister likes you.”

She looked at Orloff. “Who are you?”

“What does your family say?” Orloff asked.  That struck Lily as an odd reply.

Fausta paused. “You are an enigma to us.  Shut up, Thaad:  I’m doing this!”

Orloff seemed to fall asleep in his chair. Wait.  Is that what happens to me in their home?!  He blinked his eye open and sat up.

“Your move.” He said simply.  Lily noted Fausta’s hand trembled slightly.

“Fr… friend Lily…” Was she afraid? Who was this man?

Lily leaned over and hugged Fausta.

“There, there. It’s okay, Fausta.”  She tried not to glare at Orloff.

“I have been made older,” Fausta whispered. She stared at the ruined man.   Lily let go as Fausta stood.  She grinned ferally, showing sharpened teeth.  Just what is with this form, Lily thought.

“Very well. Let us hurry to our departure point.”

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