Faith Hunter has given me permission to go ahead and post the story snippet I wrote up a couple days ago. She and I are now discussing the possibility of sometime in 2010 actually collaborating on a novella which would be set outside both characters’ timelines/real worlds–in other words, pure fanfic, except written by the authors themselves–to put up either as a commission like I did with “Hot Time”, or simply sell as a direct market piece. People should respond to this post and let us know if you’d be interested in buying a crossover story.
In the meantime, a teaser:
There was something weird about crossing the city lines into New Orleans. Not just that the Big Easy was by anybody’s standards–in fiction, anyway–the center of all things supernatural in the States. It was bigger than that, a nasty jolt that wrenched everything a couple steps to the left. Even the city’s aura looked different from inside than it had from a few miles out, and I had absolutely no clue why.
The exciting thing about my life was that I’d probably find out.
For all my traveling around as a kid, I’d never gone through New Orleans. N’awlins, the way the natives said it. I loved that sound, like it was a word to be rolled around in and licked off the skin. So I did what any tourist would do upon arriving in the heartland of American Weird.
I hit the French Quarter.
Three days before Mardi Gras, the Quarter was hopping. It was probably the worst time of year to visit if I actually wanted to see New Orleans, but it was the best time if I wanted to throw myself eyeball-deep into beads, streamers, costumes, half-naked girls–Gary was going to deeply regret not having come along–parades, parties, obscene amounts of incredibly good food, and bourbon. I’d never actually tried bourbon and was kind of looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t indulge right away, because the fish-hook sensation in my belly, the one that had been hauling me around ever since my shamanic powers had awakened, was getting tighter and more uncomfortable the deeper I got into the Quarter. I didn’t think my magic would give me an even break–let me heal up from a hangover, in other words–if I ignored it in favor of tying one on.
The city was a veritable teeming mass of humanity. Scent bombarded me from every direction: booze, perfume, pot, food, oh, God, the food, and the pervasive stink of sweat that no amount of deodorant or cologne was going to drown. Voices rose and fell in shrieks of laughter, joy, dismay; shouting was the only way to be heard, even if you were talking to the guy standing next to you. Everyone was beautiful in that flush-of-life way, though here in the heart of the city, so close to Mardi Gras, there were an unnatural number of genuinely beautiful people. They ran the color spectrum from rich blue-black all the way through to translucent white, with me thrown in on the whiter end, though when one of those really white girls stumbled into my arms, the skin tone comparison made me look rich and gold beside her. It was only back in Qualla Boundary, surrounded by others of Cherokee descent, that I felt stand-out pale.
Maybe it was thinking about North Carolina and the life I’d left behind there that made me notice her. There were too many people to explain it otherwise, though the fish-hooks in my gut pulled so hard and sharp that they might’ve been an explanation on their own. It didn’t matter: she was half a block away and visible for about five seconds through a break in the crowd. She wore black leather damned near head to toe, all of it so snug against her body it had to be custom-made. Silver sparkled all over it, zippers and other things I couldn’t identify from the distance. She looked hot, both literally and figuratively, and I thought the reason I’d glimpsed her at all was everybody else thought so too, and was backing up to get a better look at her.
She had to be at least my height, just a hair under six feet tall, even without the shit-stomping motorcycle boots she wore. And speaking of hair, if you took my crop cut and her four foot braid and divvied them out, we would both end up with what society considered a normal amount of hair for a woman. She was even built a lot like I was, rangy long limbs, though I thought I carried more muscle across the chest and shoulder from years of working on my car. Her skin tones were darker than mine, more pure Indian, but if somebody’d told me we were sisters, I’d have been inclined to believe them.
Particularly when she glanced my way and a flash of light caught the color of her amber eyes.
In my world, yellow eyes meant magic user. I should know: my own eyes were probably gold as sunrise just then, as the Sight kicked in to study one of the most complex, gorgeous auras I’d ever seen. Earthy colors tangled with something absolutely inhuman: dark, sleek, sentient and dangerous. A hunter, sharing body and soul with a human, and just ever so slightly bubbling with resentment over it.
I sure as hell knew what had brought me to New Orleans, now.
(x-posted from the essential kit)