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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

We hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt from the forthcoming novel The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. You can also read an interview with Davi Rhii and Lord Xalivar on GFTW.


A woman screamed around the bend ahead.

He quickened his pace, rounding the corner to see an Alliance Captain the size of an air taxi with a worker girl backed into a corner. His gray uniform was dirty and wrinkled, his hair graying around the edges. The girl looked to be upper teens, almost a woman, her face full of fear and apprehension. The Captain struck her across the face with the back of his hand and was preparing to do it again.

“Please,” the girl pleaded, “let me go.”

“You’ll go, when I say you can go,” the Captain responded, his voice like poison.

Neither had noticed Davi creeping toward them along a wall behind them. As he drew near, his nose crinkled at the overpowering smell of the Captain. He reeked of sweat and alcohol. Not even the girl’s sweet, flowery perfume could overcome it.

“What do you want from me?” The girl demanded.

“I want you to show me the proper respect.” The Captain swung his arm, but instead of hitting her face, which she turned away, he grabbed the collar of her blouse and ripped it open.

She slid along the wall, trying to get away. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”

“Workers like you are always disrespectful,” the Captain said. “Stop moving and come closer.” She shook her head as he grabbed her and pulled her to him, trying to press his lips against hers. She kept wiggling and pushing, making it difficult.

“I’m gonna teach you what it means to obey now, slut,” he said. Buttons popped as he ripped her blouse again and threw her to the ground, climbing on top of her and trying to force her legs apart.

Davi rushed up behind him, grabbing the Captain by the shoulders and pulling him off. “Enough, Captain,” Davi said.

The Captain swung to his feet and whirled around, pulling free with a power that sent Davi stepping back. The sobbing girl picked herself up and cowered against the wall behind him. “Who do you think you are?” the Captain sneered.

“A fellow officer concerned with a peer’s professional conduct,” Davi said.

“I’m off duty,” the Captain said.

“You’re in uniform,” Davi said.

“I guess this worker slut’s not the only one who needs a lesson in respect,” the Captain said, looking Davi over. He towered over Davi, muscles bulging from his jacket.

Davi stepped back. Maybe he has slow reflexes.

The Captain swung at him and Davi ducked, throwing a fist into the man’s gut. His fist throbbed like it had hit an iron wall.

The Captain laughed. “Is that the best you can do?”

“Run,” Davi said, his eyes meeting the worker girl’s. “Get away now!”

The Captain swung at him again as the girl backed away. “Where you going?” The soldier asked, missing Davi as he whirled and reached for her. Her blouse pulled loose into his hands.

Davi glimpsed a necklace around her neck with a blue-green crest at its center. The Captain knocked him to his knees with a blow he hadn’t seen coming.

Where are my friends when I need them? He struggled back to his feet.

The Captain swung again, and Davi dodged to one side. “You need to learn to mind your own business!” Keeping ahold of the girl with one hand, he swung again at Davi’s midsection.

Davi ducked to one side as the girl tried to pull free. His adversary found himself pulled in two directions but managed to grab Davi’s collar and jerk him roughly off his feet.

As the Captain pulled Davi closer and closer, the girl bit the Captain, who yelled and flinched, letting her go. Davi tried to use the moment to pull himself free, but the Captain pulled the collar tighter and cause Davi to slip and fall away from him and into wooden double doors which cracked loudly as they splintered from the force.

Seeing the girl slipping away, the Captain chased after her, turning his back on Davi.

Davi needed some kind of weapon. He thought for a moment of his blaster, but the Alliance had laws and he could think of none which would justify shooting a soldier, especially not to save a worker. Besides, the Captain had a blaster hanging on his hip.

As he climbed to his feet and stepped away from the door, part of it slipped back inside the house behind him. He looked at the splintered wood and began pulling free a section he could use as a club. Wood creaked and snapped as he pulled.

“Why are you doing this to me?” the girl screamed, as she continued dodging the Captain.

“Because you’re a worker,” the Captain said, grabbing her again as he looked around for something to tie her with.

Davi ran up behind him with the board. Seeing him out of the corner of his eye, the Captain turned, raising an arm, as Davi swung the board down hard atop his head.

The Captain’s arm deflected the board, sending it hard against the side of his head. He froze and emitted a loud gurgling sound, releasing the girl and falling to his knees as blood poured from his ears.

Davi pulled the board away and saw that a large spike had entered the man’s head at the temple. The Captain fell over face down and lay still as the salty smell of warm blood rose into the air from a widening pool around the Captain’s head. Oh my gods! I killed him!

“Is he dead?” the girl asked, petrified.

Davi knelt beside him, feeling for breath. The strengthened stench almost made him gag but he swallowed hard. “I think so. I don’t know.” The Captain’s chest wasn’t moving.

The girl gasped. Davi saw her pointing at his chest where his ripped uniform revealed his own necklace—an exact duplicate of the one she wore around her neck.

“Where’d you get it?” the girl asked.

“I’ve had it since I was a baby,” Davi responded.

The girl’s eyes widened as she turned and ran back up the corridor.

“Wait! Come back here a moment!”

But her footsteps faded into the night.

Davi glimpsed faces peering at him from nearby windows and heard footsteps behind him.

A worker stood in the splintered doorway as it finally sunk in—he’d killed an Alliance soldier.

Davi took dark side corridors all the way back to his quarters, ducking into alleyways every time anyone approached. Gasping for breath until his lungs were about to explode, he ran as fast as his feet would take him, his soaked clothes sticking to his skin. I hope no one got a good look at my face. How am I going to explain this?!


ABOUT THE WORKER PRINCE
What if everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world turned out to be wrong?

For Davi Rhii, Prince of the Boralian people, that nightmare has become a reality. Freshly graduated from the prestigious Borali Military Academy, now he’s discovered he was secretly adopted and born a worker. Ancient enemies of the Boralians, enslaved now for generations, the workers of Vertullis live lives harder than Davi had ever imagined. To make matters worse, Davi’s discovered that the High Lord Counselor of the Alliance, his uncle Xalivar, is responsible for years of abuse and suppression against the workers Davi now knows as his own people.

His quest to rediscover himself brings him into conflict with Xalivar and his friends and family, calling into question his cultural values and assumptions, and putting in jeopardy all he’s worked for his whole life. Davi’s never felt more confused and alone. Will he stand and watch the workers face continued mistreatment or turn his back on his loved ones and fight for what’s right? Whatever he decides is sure to change his life forever.

322 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook · Publication: October 4, 2011

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the forthcoming space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.