Miltan Epsilon – Preview Pages – Jazz Healy, Reunion Series Book 1

Would you like a sneak peek inside Miltan Epsilon, Book 1 of the Jazz Healy, Reunion Series? Well, here you go.

I hope you enjoy…

Miltan Epsilon – Chapter 1 – Scene 1

Jazz Healy slapped the cockpit dash of her Z-Class long-hauler but the extra life-sign on the internal scan refused to go away. She scowled. “That’s the last time I let Rankovic talk me into a job.”

The tiny splice-kitten in the cot at her feet mewled.

“Don’t stress, little one.” Jazz rose, mentally cursing that she hadn’t made time to replace the broken mote cameras in the cargo hold. “I’ll feed you when I get back.”

The surplus life-sign radiated too much heat to be one of the other baby animals, escaped from its pen. That meant a person lurked below and Jazz wasn’t getting paid to transport people to Garbadon Minor.

After closing and locking the cockpit door she hesitated. Was it really safe to leave the kitten alone inside? Rankovic’s instructions had been to keep the red-and-black striped fluff-ball away from the other animals but that was out of regard for its safety – value, in all honesty – not theirs. The splice-kitten’s buyer was forking out a very large sum of money for successful delivery. So much, in fact, that Rankovic was willing to pay Jazz one hundred thousand Commonwealth dollars for nothing more than a basic intrasolar freight run.

Yes, definitely safer to keep the kitten behind a locked door.

She ran a diagnostic on the nanomachines that fortified her body – optimal; good – before rotating her cybernetic right arm and flexing its metal fingers. Finally, with her left hand, she drew her gun and set off.

Sneaking aboard should have been impossible. She had personally overseen loading, not once leaving the entrance ramp, and she’d closed that ramp as soon as the process finished. The animals had all been carried on by hand, their holding pens erected earlier from scrap pallets already in Jazz’s possession. There had been only one crate of supplies – feed, sedatives, straw, and the like – and she’d opened that in the company of the Customs officers who’d arrived with the delivery people. She’d even counted off everybody as they entered and left.

The internal scan, now hooked into her enhanced optics and displaying in the upper corner of her right retina, showed the life-sign continuing to drift aimlessly about the cargo hold.

She passed through the common room, an area filled with magnetized wooden chairs, a table grooved by a myriad cuts, cupboards, a bench, and other necessities for storing and preparing food. She barely spent any time in here nowadays, preferring to while away flights in the cockpit eating ration cubes and watching B-grade thrillers.

From there she ghosted through passenger alley, noting that each cabin remained locked and showed no signs of tampering. Her ship could berth nine but she had come to despise carrying human customers. They always wanted to socialize and took to complaining if she left them to their own devices. And the ones who didn’t want company usually planned to shoot or stab her while she slept. Nope, much easier to transport animals than people. At least, that’s what she’d thought until a few minutes ago.

Past the cabins the corridor branched, one appendage heading to engineering and the other to the cargo hold. Jazz skirted the engine housing – protected by blast-strength steel twice as thick as her – and stopped on the cargo hold balcony. Floodlights mounted in the ceiling gave scant opportunity for shadows to form on the large open area below but did highlight the many scuff and paint marks that decorated the grey walls and floor. The array of makeshift pens, open-topped and filled with straw, food and moisture-absorbent underlay, took up the center of the hold. Each hosted a young animal destined for a pet store on Garbadon Minor. Only the kitten in the cockpit had been privately bought.

The intruder stood out like a wheel-fruit in a field of crawling grass. A man, thickset, wearing a poor imitation of a Customs Officer’s uniform, the jumpsuit’s blue pants tucked into faded and fraying boots. He leaned over one of the pens, his back to her.

The scan showed no other unexpected life-signs. Jazz brought her gun to bear, braced herself, and said in her roughest voice, “Stop right where you are, put your hands on your head and turn around slowly.”

The man squealed and whirled about, both arms flying upwards. The words ‘Port Authority’ were plastered across the torso of his jumpsuit in thick white script. Brown hair in that awful yet timeless bowl-cut style and a bunch of multi-colored bracelets on his right wrist completed whatever look he was going for. He dropped into a half-crouch, hands pointing at the ceiling, sweat patches under his arms.

“Who the hell are you?” Jazz said.

“Um,” the man stammered, then sucked in a deep breath and stood upright. “My name is Darren Tollett, Port Authority, Exotic Animals Division, and I demand you turn your ship around this instant.”

Jazz let out a gravelly chuckle. “Never heard of it.”

“It’s a very important division, I can assure you. You are carrying prohibited fauna, therefore you must immediately regress to Halinder Intergalactic on Garbadon Major. Upon arriving you will be charged with unlawful export as well as aiding and abetting illegal genetic exploitation. Depending on the state of the animal in question, you may be charged with animal cruelty as well.”

“I see. Well, I’m not turning around.”

“If you do not I will have no choice once we reach port but to press additional charges for kidnapping.”

Jazz started down the stairs, her gun never wavering from the intruder below. “How did you get onboard my ship?”

Tollett, or whoever he was, lowered his hands to rest on his head. “I came aboard with the other Customs’ officials, of course.”

“No, you didn’t.”

He bobbed his head emphatically. “Yes, I did.”

Jazz reached the cargo hold floor but moved no further forward. Best to stay well out of arms’ reach. Wisdom borne of experience. “Then you should have left with them.”

“I would have but I was busy looking for an animal listed on the manifest but not present here.”

Jazz cocked an eyebrow. “Oh really?”

“Yes.” Tollett dropped his hands to his sides before vigorously rubbing them on his pants. “There is a kitten listed on the manifest that is not in any of these pens. I want to know where it is.”

“There must be a mistake on the manifest then.” Garbadon Major didn’t do manifests for living organisms. They did scans and bio-prints. Time to reverse the heat. “And, speaking of charges, I’m sure as hell gonna do you for trespassing. I don’t know who you are, but I know you didn’t come aboard with the official Customs’ crew. They arrived in a group of three and they left in a group of three, happy as pigs riding choppers.”

Tollett furrowed his brow. “Cool, I guess. Weird but cool. Cooler if they’re wearing leather helmets and have nose rings.”

Before Jazz could figure out a response to the sudden change in persona, her peripherals – silver teardrops at the forehead corner of each eye – picked up a blur of movement and something pressed into her side. The following pulsating jolts told her she’d been bushwhacked by a high-grade incapacitator. Typical Commonwealth police issue. She snarled and turned towards the new threat, fighting to keep her gun arm raised. Her assailant swore and jammed the incapacitator into her again.

“You’ll have to do better than that,” she ground out, coming face-to-face with a skinny teenage girl wearing a deactivated stealth suit. The kid’s eyes widened, the freckles on her face wobbling in surprise. No, the freckles weren’t wobbling. Jazz’s vision was. If she didn’t act fast her nanos would overload and the kid wouldn’t need to do any better than she was already.

Footsteps sounded behind her and then another incapacitator – where had this Tollett guy stashed that? – entered the fray.

“Dammit!” Jazz managed before her nanos rebooted and excruciating, pulsating pain racked her entire body.

The last thing she heard before losing consciousness was the girl’s squeaky yet triumphant voice: “Score one for the animals, you jacked-up scum-su—”


Thanks for reading! Book 1 and 2 of the Jazz Healy, Reunion Series have a planned release date of May 4th, 2021. So if you’d like to read on, please make a note of that date. You could also bookmark my release timeline, which will give you the most up-to-date information.

Too, if you’ve enjoyed this preview and would like to support my ongoing fiction endeavors, you could consider buying me a coffee. Writers do be needing their coffee! 🙂 You can do so either by going to the site linked just before or by clicking on the coffee cup to your right. Buying me a coffee gives you access to an exclusive short story, Orion’s Belt. There is also a monthly or yearly membership option, which opens up more exclusive content, including Jazz Healy’s origin short story.

Again, thanks for reading!

S.C. Mae

If you’d like to join the conversation, you can do so here.

An Interview with Jazz Healy

Without further ado (I had a whole few intro paragraphs typed up but who needs those, right?), I present an Interview with Jazz Healy, the protagonist of the upcoming Reunion Series.

I hope you enjoy…

(Actually, because I can’t help myself: I wrote this interview after deciding that Jazz, who I’d created for a short story – available to my Buy Me A Coffee Members! – was going to feature in a novel or four. Interviewing primary characters during the character creation process helps me get to know them better and to find their voice. I’ve recently edited it a wee bit to better reflect the Jazz in Book 1 of the Reunion Series but most of the original interview remains)

Again, I hope you enjoy…

An Interview with Jazz Healy


Jazz Healy, isn’t it? 


So, what’s, like, your deal?

You mean, my job?

Hey, I’m asking the questions. But yes, your job?

I’m a contractor.

I see. Well, so am I, but I’m not off every week collecting bounties or exploring ancient ruins or delivering medical supplies to quarantined planets. And I definitely don’t have Federation warrants out on me. Or Commonwealth ones. Or any warrants anywhere. Mostly, I do data entry.

We must subscribe to different job feeds. And to be fair, I’m not off every week doing those things. Fortnightly, maybe.

Not that I think I’d want to do your kind of contracting. You look like you’ve been through the wars.

Thanks. You sure know how to compliment a person.

I just mean, well, where’d you get the black eyes from? And what’s with the metal arm?

The black eyes? Nothing, really. My nose got a good whack in a recent fight with a Novus Replicate, is all.

But you should see him, right?

Yeah, sure.

What were you doing scuffling with a Novus Replicate, anyway?

Can’t help crossing paths with them occasionally when you do what I do. This time I just walked around a corner and there he was, guarding a door I needed to go through.

Well, I hope the nose heals up soon. Must be hell if you want to sneeze.

It’s basically healed up already. What you’re seeing is just peripheral bruising. My nanos have taken care of all the internal stuff.

Your nanos?

Yeah. The nanite machines in my bloodstream. They’re good for a whole lot of things. Apart from repairing injuries they can filter out poisons, regulate blood pressure, reduce pain. Mine are a pretty basic model, really. There are nanos out there that can do a whole lot more.

There are risks though, right?

Sure. But isn’t there risk associated with everything worth having?

If you say so. And the arm?

It’s a cybernetic arm. Surely you’ve seen one before.

Not up close. Can I touch it?


Fair enough. Anyway, why did you get into this line of work?

Why does anybody? Money, of course. Well, that and I like being able to roam the galaxy. Imagine living fulltime on a world, working the same job every day. Ugh.

Yeah, stability is just awful. What did you do before this? 

Data entry, mostly.


No. I’ve done this since I was a kid.

Wow. You were raised as a mercenary?

Contractor. And the answer is sort of. My Mother’s a gangster way up the tree. So high up everybody just calls her Mother.

(gulps) Mother is your mother?

Yeah. But I do my best not to travel in her boost-lanes. My Dad used to be a lawman before he fell in… something with Mother.

Sounds like an unusual match.

The Milky Way is full of unusual matches.

Are they still together?

Well, that’s basically the answer to your question about whether I was raised a contractor.

Then don’t let me interrupt you again.

I won’t. So right after I became a teenager Dad finally climbed onto his moral high horse. Sort of. We lit out when Mother was off somewhere else and put a whole lot of space between us and her. And we started working jobs together.

Gotta pay the bills.


Are you and your Dad still working together?

Last I saw him, he was on a cruiser venting atmosphere, exchanging gunfire with some pirates who’d double-crossed us, and I was in an escape pod, heading towards the planet below.


(shrugs) That was twelve years ago.

Still, that sucks.

I’ve come to terms with it. Life goes on and all that. Though he should never have pushed me into that pod unless he was coming too. We were a team. Supposed to stick together through everything.

Seems pretty heroic on his part, from where I’m sitting.

Whatever. You weren’t there.

Anyhoo… Your Dad died—

His body was never recovered.

Okay. Your Dad probably died twelve years ago. You would’ve still been a kid.


But you never went back to Mother.

No way in hell! Our paths cross sometimes – it’s a small galaxy, once you’ve been around it a few times – but I keep my distance and she mostly respects that.


Well, every so often she tries something on. Though not so much for the last few years. I’m sure she’s got some master plan – she’s always got a master plan – but I’m not going to waste time trying to figure it out. Got far more interesting things to occupy my time.

Such as?

I’d prefer not to disclose my current objectives. Past experiences and all that.

Care to elaborate?

Not really. Let’s just say that I’ve learned that sharing usually leads to losing.

Okay. It most get lonely, though, doing all this by yourself.

I’d take a little bit of loneliness over getting backstabbed or double-crossed or letdown, any day of the week.

Because those are the only outcomes.

They’re the most common outcomes.

Moving on. What are your hopes and dreams, Healy?

That’s a stupid question.

Well, you don’t want to answer my interesting questions so I’ve got to fall back on something.

I guess I’d quite like to have something named after me.

Heh. You’re a funny lady.

I’m serious. It’s about the only way I see that a person can become immortal.

Anything in particular?

Not really. I’d even be happy if I got a beetle named after me. Jazz-bug has a certain ring to it, right? Or if I spawned a popular term. Like if people started calling getting the job done in the nick of time: ‘jazzing it.’

I can see that catching on. Let’s see what else I have on my question list. Ah, what’s your favorite place in the galaxy?

The cockpit of my ship.

That’s not really what I meant.

I know. But my ship is what gets me to all the fun places, and the cockpit’s where I like to be when I’m on it.

That ship, just outside?

That’s the one.

It’s not much to look at.

There you go again, with the whole looks thing. That ship was my Dad’s ship. Now it’s mine. I’ve spent more than half my life on that ship. It’s my home.

Okay, okay, I get it.

And it suits my purposes for it to look like a typical old freighter. Sure, I’ve fallen a bit behind on maintenance and I really need to replace the broken mote cameras in the hold and the common room but it’s a good ship. A really good ship.

I’m sure it is.

Anyway, there are so many beautiful places in the galaxy it would be disrespectful to have just one favorite. For example, there’s this moon in the Fyar Pen System. Half-terraformed, site of a massive intrasystem war a few centuries ago. The air is saturated with dust and rock particles that get blown about by random gusts of wind. Though they’re probably not random if you’ve got the time to analyze them. Anyway, you really can’t walk the surface unless you’re wearing armor, but even top of the line armor suits get shredded if you’re too long outside the ship. I only went there because it was a rendezvous point for a delivery. Stayed inside with the shields running, though that didn’t stop the hull getting all scratched up. While I was waiting for my contact to show, the sun rose. And it was just amazing. Light glinting off all these particles. Every color you can imagine. And then the wind blew and, well, it was indescribably beautiful.

Sounds awesome. How long did you have to wait?

Huh? Oh, for my contact? He never showed. His debts caught up with him before he could make the exchange. Which left me with a ship that needed half the hull plates replaced and a hold full of black-market rip-off Sauchi V-Goggles that nobody would touch with a hundred-foot grappling line.


I ended up dumping them in a cave on another moon within that system. Win some, lose a lot, as they say.

They do?

They do.

Well, it’s probably time to wrap this up. Before we go, though, tell us what’s next for Jazz Healy.

(shrugs) Who knows? I’m about to start on a delivery run. Baby animals, of all things.

That sounds a bit boring, to be honest.

(laughs) Hopefully. The plan is: collect paycheck, go back to the treasure hunt I was on.

Ooh, a treasure hunt. Tell me more.


Aw, c’mon.

Fine. One detail only. The money from this delivery run will go towards a map.

A treasure map? Really, in this day and age?

You’re the one who’s calling it a treasure map. I’m just calling it a map to help me on my treasure hunt.

Yeah, well color me skeptical.

What do they say? The devil’s in the details?

I’m not sure that saying works here.

Perhaps I haven’t told you the full story.

Nobody ever does. 


Uh, well, I guess I should let you get back to delivering animals and buying treasure maps.

Yes you should. Time is of the essence. The map goes up for auction in less than two standard day cycles.

Then you best get moving. Thank you, Jazz Healy, for consenting to this interview. I hope you get that beetle names after you soon.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe a beetle isn’t such a good idea. Nobody likes beetles. A plant sounds much more my style. Something like ‘Healy’s Carnivorous Fighting Vine.’

Whatever flies your freighter, I guess. Thanks again, Jazz, and safe travels.


Want to join the conversation. Head on over here!


Am I the only writer who finds blurbs tough? Surely not. Writing something succinct yet attention-grabbing, something hooky yet not corny. Something that will make people want to read the book but doesn’t give away the plot.

I guess if you go the publishing house route then blurbs aren’t a thing you usually have to worry about, as someone on the editorial staff will take care of that. Still, long before you get to that stage you’ll have had to write query letters and synopses, and all that stuff. Ugh, query letters…

Anyway, I have a blurb up here for Miltan Epsilon, Jazz Healy Book 1, but I’ve recently been revising it. This’ll be the book description I use across all self-pub platforms. The recommendation for these is about 150 words. I’m at 160-ish. Paragraphs 2 & 3 I’m happy with but paragraph 1 – the paragraph that really has to hook – not so much.

Here’s the opening paragraph currently up:

“Estranged from her mother, the head of a galaxy-spanning criminal organization, Jazz Healy flits between bounty hunting, cargo running, treasure seeking and, well, nearly anything to pay the bills and keep her ship in the spacelanes. Twelve years ago she lost her father when pirates attacked a freighter delivering supplies to a frontier planet. For a long time Jazz refused to believe he had died but she’s finally coming to terms with the idea.”

It was recently pointed out to me that the first sentence is a bit of a chonker. I couldn’t see an easy way to shorten-slash-split it so I got to revising, and here’s where I’m at currently (though this now balloons the entire blurb to nearly 190 words):

“Life can get lonely for a solo operator in the space-lanes. Even for one who flits between bounty-hunting, cargo-running, treasure-seeking and, well, nearly anything to pay the bills and keep their ship running. But Jazz Healy tells herself it’s better this way, that attachments are to be avoided. She’s estranged – purposefully – from her mother, who runs a galaxy-spanning criminal organization. Twelve years ago she lost her father when pirates attacked a freighter delivering supplies to a frontier planet. For a long time she refused to believe he had died but she’s finally coming to terms with the idea.”

I like the new thoughts I’ve introduced re Jazz but overall this just reads bloated, to me.

Gah, what to do, what to do?

For context, here’s the rest of the blurb:

“Right now, she’s delivering pets, of all things, to a lawless space-station. Apparently even the most hardened criminals like animal companionship. One critter especially is making the cargo run worthwhile: a gene-splice kitten. Jazz will earn a cool hundred thousand Commonwealth dollars if she safely delivers the little fluff ball to its new owner.

But cargo that valuable brings out all sorts, from wannabe animal activists to tech cultists with enhancement fetishes. And maybe even Jazz’s mother. Though the cat is only one bullet point on her agenda.”


Only one thing to do: Keep working at it!

S.C. Mae

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