tbj afro puffsIn honor of Black Speculative Fiction Month, the homie Zig Zag Claybourne of Obsidian Sky Books and the website Write On, Right On, is giving us a sneak peek at some of his next book, The Brothers Jetstream: Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe, the follow up to his 2015 novel The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan.

Desiree Quicho shouted, “Move your ass!” once and only once. Anyone unclear on the concept stared at her retreating back. She whipped hell to get to the shuttle’s quickly descending ramp. Three others followed her. Friendlies. She hit the comm on her shoulder even though she was certain their engineer had watched for them: “Inez, we’re in.” The soft rumble of engines would kick, they’d ascend and spin, and the Aerie would be off this forsaken Japanese moon base for good. Didn’t matter that there were ten enraged ninjas training weapons on the ship. If they were lucky they’d get maybe three or four ineffectual shots off before the pulse engine flashed and they were all left, hopefully, with ninja testicular cancer, dumb bastards.

Unless the ship sat long enough for the space ninjas to wheel out a weapon large enough to do damage. Which they did.

“Inez? We’re in.”

“I know,” came back. Bit of attitude. Shade from frantic.

Dios mio en frio. Captain Quicho turned to Yvonne DeCarlo Paul. “Might need you to…”

“On it.” Yvonne grabbed a large rifle-ish gun and palmed a port open. Two shots took out the gunner and his weapon, then she picked equipment targets in the huge bay she hoped would explode. It felt right.

Desiree hoofed it to engineering. “Inez, what—oh.” Body on the floor, relatively new recruit. “Another one? Jesus! Thoom?”

“Thoom,” said Inez LaFleur, not really knowing but comfortable in her bet. She tossed a very heavy hex wrench to Desiree. “He misaligned a coupling just enough for a misfire. Finish tightening that cover plate.” Pieces of a vibrant, colorful headscarf peeked from beneath the massive hex bolt needing tightening. The captain had learned not to ask. She tightened while Inez managed controls. “Who’s in the pilot room?” she asked Quicho.


Neon liked quick takeoffs. Inez hit the comm. “Power gradually till we clear these tunnels.” The shuttle lurched upward. “Bit more gradually, gorgeous.” The clank of the wrench signaled Desiree’s departure. Inez could now safely secure the saboteur.

Neon liked Inez. In the thousands of catcalls she’d gotten in her life not one had ever been “Gorgeous,” unimaginative, prehistoric bastards. She throttled back on the power and guided the hovering shuttle expertly down the egress tunnel. Ahead,the exit door remained closed. Behind, a huge pressure door dropped surely from the ceiling to the floor.

Desiree entered the cockpit.

“They want us to blast it,” Neon said as the two exchanged positions.

“Hey, their money. Hit it four corners then dead center.”

“Got it.”

Four impact points quickly mangled the door’s integrity. The shot dead center blew it outward; the vacuum of space did the rest, sucking the battered metal past the ship laying in wait for them before the Aerie shot out of the egress tube and over the dry skin of Earth’s moon.

Quicho put the shuttle into a screaming parabolic arc around the lurking smaller vessel. “Fire everything!”

The Aerie unleashed focused energy and metal projectile hell at the little ship, coming around fully to face, upon completion, a ship that had not one scratch on it. Captain Quicho broadcast to it: “Next volley might not be so precisely aimed.”

Thrusters fired on the smaller ship, forcing it surface-ward.

“Lovely,” said the captain.

The Aerie zipped Earth-ward. A few moments out the artificial gravity gave out. “Inez,” comm’d the captain.

“Shit, fuck and damn,” came back from the harried woman. There were times to wonder how Inez LaFleur, former NASA aerospace engineer and gorgeous black woman with amazing afro puffs, found herself on a hijacking mission to a secret moon base full of ninjas, then there were times to fix a ship whose alien technology didn’t always play nice with its human cousins. This was the latter. She found she preferred the latter.

The Brothers Jetstream: Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe will be out spring 2019. For more information on Claybourne and his work, visit www.writeonrighton.com

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