Snow Days
Extra Features Free Reads

Snow Days Part 1: An Errant Interlude

Not every moment makes it into the novels. For instance, here are a few conversations that didn't fit into Outrageous Fortune, that Kelley McKinnon and I used to create a side story about that time the Errant crew were grounded in Stolichnaya. No spoilers, here, just some downtime with John, Jagati, Rory, and Eitan as they get to know each other.

Hygge Airfield, Stolichnaya
November 4, 1448 AL (After Landing)


Day 2 at Anchor

Whyyyyyyyyyy… 

The question, posed by Jagati, extruded in a long, foggy trail as she jogged into the galley and around the table, where John, Rory, and Eitan sat.

“Why what?” Rory asked from under the blanket he’d draped over his head and shoulders. 

“Why would anyone live here?” she demanded, taking another spin around the table.

John, watching, noted she’d added another layer of clothing, and an afghan. 

“Possibly it’s to do with the extremely fertile—” Eitan began, but by then Jagati had clomped across the galley and out the starboard arch. “–soil,” he finished, his own breath puffing out.

From the stairwell, John heard the thud of Jagati’s boots fading as she made her way down the stairs. 

At the same time, the tea kettle commenced whistling.

“Your turn,” Rory said to Eitan.

The Fujian arched his brow at the Campbell, but as it was, in fact, his turn to make the tea, he rose and fetched the kettle from the stovetop. 

While Eitan warmed the pot, John tapped the cards sitting in the middle of the table. “As I was saying before we were interrupted,” he said to Rory, “you can’t play the deuce as a knave.”

“According to who?” the mechanic asked, flipping another card over while, behind him, Eitan warmed the teapot.

“According to everyone in Ford,” John countered, but he, also, flipped a card. 

“That may well be, but this is how we play it in Campbell.” Rory flipped another card.

John grimaced, laid down a six of stones. “There are no wild cards in Mercedes Corkscrew.” 

“That’s a regional bias,” Rory declared, slapping down his last card, the ace of springs, before pumping his fist in the air. “And that, gents, is how it’s done,” he declared.

“You can’t be serious.” John leaned back and looked at Eitan. “Don’t you have an opinion on this?” 

But before Eitan, currently stomping his feet as the tea steeped, could respond, the tread of boots on stairs sounded. 

Jagati burst in the room and stood, hands on hips, glaring generally at the three men.  “What is WRONG with you?”

“Well, to start,” John said, “Rory’s cheating.” 

“I am not!”  Rory cut in.

“That’s not what I meant,” Jagati said, giving John the stink-eye before she started to bounce from foot to foot. 

“What did you mean?” Eitan asked, setting the teapot in front of Rory, who proceeded to pour out. 

“I meant, what’s wrong with you that you can just—“ she waved at them all. “Aren’t you cold?” 

“Of course,” John said. “But, winters in Moosehead are almost as cold as this.”

“The Campbell’s are nae so bad,” Rory said of his native islands, located in the northwest Oracle. “But the York spent some time in the arctic. Coldest swarming time o’my life,” he added with a shudder. “Stolichnaya is nigh high summer compared to that.” 

Jagati grimaced, then turned to Eitan.

“I have spent more than enough time in warm temperatures,” he said simply, reminding them all of his years as a slave in the tropics of Adidan Illyria.  “Besides, the cold provides opportunities to seek a different kind of warmth.” He smiled, “And speaking of such warmth, I have an engagement. If you will excuse me?” 

Jagati watched, slack-jawed, as he passed by her and out the arch. “When did he even get a chance to meet someone, never mind set up ‘an engagement’?” 

“Remember when we were offloading the hemp?” Rory asked.

“Barely, my eyelashes were frozen over,” she said, but her brows furrowed. “I remember Raul, but he’s married, right?”  

“He is, but Raul’s brother, who was helping move the bales, is single,” John said. “He and Eitan hit it off.” 

“Eitan could hit it off with a cactus,” she huffed and plopped into the chair next to John.  

“With luck, our Eitan’s charms will drum up more business with yon Raul,” Rory said, taking the mug John had just filled and clutching it in his gloved hands. “To the brothers Nyevsky,” he said in a toast before slurping the hot tea. 

“I don’t think I want any more business up here,” Jagati said. “Unless it’s in the summer. They do have summer in Stolichnaya, don’t they?” 

“Yes. Just a shorter growing season,” John said, then looked at the way she wrapped her hands around the teapot. “Would you like a mug?” 

“No. Just trying to fend off the frostbite.” 

“You could join us for the next round,” Rory offered, shuffling the cards before dealing. 

“As long as you don’t mind Rory cheating,” John added. 

“I’m telling you, it’s not cheating! Tis the Campbell rules.” 

“I think you made that up,” John said, though he took the cards. 

As the pair began to bicker, Jagati rose from the chair and shoved her hands under John’s jacket, sweater, shirt, and thermal. “Ahhhhhh...warm.”

“Ahhhh! Cold!” He jumped up, sending the hand Rory had just dealt flying. 

“And that’s the game,” Rory said, tossing in his cards. 

A note on Hygge: 

More than the name of a Stolichnayan city, Hygge embodies the Danish concepts of coziness and contentment, home and family.

For more on the subject, and a really good laugh or twelve, check out Helen Russell's The Year of Living Danishly. 

Peek Behind the Scenes

Sign up for Kathleen's newsletter and get a look into the evolution of the  planet Fortune.