Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Enemy Within (Ambassador, Book 6) by Patty Jansen

Release date: March 14, 2017
Subgenre: Space opera, space exploration

About The Enemy Within


Two men went on a surfing trip in a remote area. Only one came back, accused of murdering the other.

Sounds simple, right?
Not quite, because the alleged murder happened on another planet, the accused is a member of the secretive Pretoria Cartel of super-rich business tycoons--with illegal off-Earth ventures--and the only person who can remotely be called a witness is an alien, the elder Abri from the Pengali Thousand Islands tribe.
Diplomat Cory Wilson is asked to accompany Abri to the Nations of Earth court, but when he and his team arrive there, their contacts have been moved to different cases, their rooms are bugged and their movements restricted. No one is answering their questions, but it is when a lawyer is murdered and Cory's team captures a mysterious stalker that things get interesting.
Just as well they are prepared in the usual way: alert and highly armed.



Then there was a commotion in the hall, accompanied by Pengali voices, followed by thunks and thumps and clangs and then Eirani said, “But I’m sure Muri does not like you leaving all these things here.”
What things?
I rose from the couch and met Eirani at the door, coming in with the food trolley full of cups. “Tea will be ready very soon. Don’t go too far away.”
“Just seeing what’s going on.”
The front door was open and something was being delivered to the hall.
“Oh, Muri, these people will be the death of me.” She shook her head and continued into the room.
The Pengali had indeed returned. Ynggi and Kita were carrying in a giant eel-hide covered drum. Idda sat on Ynggi’s shoulder waving her tail in his face. The front door was still open and through it I spotted the building’s concierge with a trolley carrying the hollowed-out tree branches of an instrument called an irrka which was the vital component of a betanka orchestra. The concierge’s face carried a bemused expression, like he wanted to say, Having a wild party in here?
I’d been to a betanka party a few times, because if you lived in Barresh, you could simply not get away without going at least once, but those were the sanitised tourist versions of it. They were orchestrated, staged shows where one paid to see the orchestra and they each had arranged parts of drumming, playing pipes or singing, and none of the songs contained any rude words or gestures.
There were also the keihu-influenced city versions, where Pengali played in seedy, airless cellar bars and keihu men gambled and got extremely drunk and would embarrass themselves trying to sing or dance to the music.
Betanka proper was a community performance, where the leader played the five-beat rhythm on the irrka, tuned drum, and people improvised their parts.
This irrka drum was a huge thing, made up of a central barrel constructed from a huge hollowed-out tree trunk covered on one side with eel-hide leather. There were holes in the bottom half of the drum, for slotting in hollow branches of different diameters so that the whole thing looked like a giant spider. The betanka leader would sit near the top of the barrel perched on two platforms on the side of the drum for his feet, hitting the branches with a set of drumsticks with a rubbery resin head. The different pipes produced different notes.
The instrument came apart for transport, because Pengali measured their possessions by how easy it was to transport an item in a boat.
“They’re not wanting to take that thing, are they?” Sheydu asked next to me.
“I think they are.”
Sheydu hadn’t spoken quietly, and now Abri turned to Sheydu, and, as a Thousand Island Pengali, she understood and spoke Coldi. “How else can we solve disagreements? We sing. We play betanka.”
Veyada’s eyes met mine. I could see he was thinking the same as I was: And we thought we had it all sorted out?
Sheydu scoffed. “You can’t expect us to take this much luggage. Besides, these people we’re visiting don’t sing their disagreements. You’re asked to give a testimony and answer questions by a bench of formal people. It has to do with their laws, not yours.”
Abri was not as easily put off by Sheydu’s curt tone as most other people. “It does have to do with our laws. Hairy face killed tribespeople. We are going to put in an official protest about that. We will do that properly by putting it in a betanka.”
Put like that, it made perfect sense. The Earth lawyers had been waiting for a formal claim in writing, but while the Pengali had understood very well what they wanted, they responded in their manner. These people never disappointed with their last-moment surprises.
Ynggi and Kita proceeded to stack the irrka tubes next to the pile of luggage in the hall.
“There,” Abri said when the door shut and the building’s concierge had left with his trolley. “Now we have luggage.”
They did, indeed.
But still no clothes.

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About the Ambassador series:  


Ambassador Book 1: Seeing Red, is available for 99 cents until April 26!


About Patty Jansen: 

Patty lives in Sydney, Australia, and writes both Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has published over 15 novels and has sold short stories to genre magazines such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Patty was trained as a agricultural scientist, and if you look behind her stories, you will find bits of science sprinkled throughout.


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