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Quinn’s Gambit

by Angel Martinez

After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities, all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called Random Anomalous Reality Events or RARE, have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living in. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course, for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically induced luck, he works as a ‘freelance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small-time con, according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus, when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.

Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.

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Surely just a kiss, an embrace… These things can only be beneficial. Valerian let his hands slide down the lovely human boy’s back. He leaned in to press his lips against those full, lush ones offered up to him so willingly…

Perhaps it was the human scent or the way the boy ground against him a bit too eagerly. None of it was right or familiar, all of the foreign human-ness grating on his nerves. He pulled away and turned to face the window, arms crossed over his chest.

“I’m sorry. This isn’t working.”

“You telling me this was a waste of my time? You drag me all the way up here for nothing? Time’s money, big boy.”

Val ground his back teeth together, fighting his temper. “I neither break nor bend my promises. Your money is there, on the bureau. You may take it and leave me.”


“Hey.” The sharp voice calmed to something more soothing. A gentle hand caressed his arm. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just gotta be careful, you know? We don’t have to do anything. I have clients that just wanna talk or cuddle. I have one who just wants someone to hold him while he cries.”

Is that what I’ll soon be reduced to? Paying someone to comfort me? “I spoke harshly. I apologize. But I have… It was a mistake. Please. I occupied your time. The money is yours. I simply need to be alone now.”

“Okay. I get it. But you change your mind, you call me, yeah?” The boy shoved the roll of cash into the pocket of his threadbare jeans. “Give me a chance to see if those yummy pointed elf ears are as sensitive as they say.”

With a grin and a wink, he swaggered out of the room. A moment later, the door to the apartment clicked shut. Val leaned his forehead against the cool glass, gazing down at the late evening traffic ten floors below. He could open the window. Lean out. Tumble to the waiting pavement.

Val heaved a weary sigh. A human would die, but with his bone structure, he was likely to survive—in a good deal of pain, but still alive. Living alone had begun to wear on him, nothing more. Perhaps he should have a roommate. It wasn’t the same as having a senrist of young males waiting for him, but at least it would be someone with whom to converse. Gods, but he missed them. He had tried to describe the senrist to his human work partner once. The closest parallel he could pull up had been a harem, but it didn’t begin to convey the love and devotion he had once been so privileged to have.

There were days he felt better, days when he thought, perhaps, he could adjust. Then something like this would happen to remind him that this was not his world. He would never belong here. The city bustled below him, sunlit streets and people hurrying about their days. Life—all around him life—while every day he died a bit more inside.


About the Author

Angel Martinez writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author's head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.