A First Look at “The Great Healion Race”

Since it’s #SampleSunday over on Twitter, I decided I’d share the first part of The Great Healion Race, Book Two of The Steam and Steel Chronicles. Here are the first two scenes, which start four years after the end of the first book, Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris (available on Nook, Smashwords, and Kindle):


Late afternoon sunlight glinted off the turrets of Saint Basil’s Cathedral as the airship flew in from the east. Captain Stig Rayner looked out over Moscow as he came in for a landing. It was time for repairs and Russia was the place to get them done. Or at least the place to get them done on the cheap.

Things had been going downhill over the past eight months. First his airship was impounded for transporting stolen goods. He’d barely made it out of that one without spending some time in a Chinese prison. He had to borrow the money to get his ship out of impound and to pay for the cargo he lost. Then he ran into some problems when he didn’t have the money to pay back the loan. And now his ship was in dire need to repairs. It was a miracle he’d stayed in the air long enough to make it back from Beijing.

He still didn’t know where the money for them would come from, but something would turn up. It always did.

Once he was safely on the ground at the shipyard and his airship had been registered with the repair office there, Stig went for a drink. Maybe, if he was drunk, the cost of repairs wouldn’t be such a blow. Besides, what else was he going to do for the rest of the afternoon while the crews at the shipyard came up with an estimate?

It had been a few years since he’d been in Moscow. He hated it there. It was dirty, crowded, and he didn’t speak the language. But it had a couple things going for it: there was a steady supply of opium from Persia, and the vodka flowed like water.


Isabelle Feeny Hemsworth was just pulling into Moscow when she saw the airship coming into the city a few minutes ahead of her. She shielded her eyes against the sun and studied the outline. It had been four years since Stig had left her on a London street with twelve and a half thousand pounds in her pocket—half the reward for returning some stolen defense technology to the British government. But she’d recognize that ship anywhere, partly because it was such an outdated model, and partly because it was in such disreputable condition.

She brought the locomotive to a stop next to the platform in the freight yard and shut down the engines, opening the steam blow-off valves to relieve the pressure in the system. The airship had lowered out of sight by the time she looked back up.

The new rail route she’d taken on was working well for her. She’d gotten in early and now had the best reputation of any of the freighters on the route, even though the line was only a little over eighteen months old. She had so much business, she’d been considering hiring a second operator.

She watched as the dock workers unloaded the three cargo containers she’d hauled in. It didn’t take long. They were efficient on the Moscow end of the line. The same couldn’t be said for the workers in Samara.

“Any outgoing freight ready?” she asked the yard manager when everything was unloaded.

He looked over the papers on his clipboard thoughtfully. “Not till tomorrow, at least.”

Damn. “Let me know if anything comes up.”

“I always do,” he called after her as she walked toward the front gates to the freight yard.

Once out on the street, Isabelle headed toward her favorite bar. Maybe she could find cargo from one of the other shipping companies. The sooner she got out of the city, the better. It was feeling awfully crowded all of a sudden. But right now, she needed a drink.

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5 thoughts on “A First Look at “The Great Healion Race”

    • Thanks! The second one should be out toward the end of this month or the beginning of April. I’ll announce here, of course.

  1. I just read your first book and found your website while trying to see when the second comes out. I’m really looking forward to it.

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