It's been a while since I've posted any excerpts, so I thought it was about time. This is sometimes tricky, because the further I get into writing a novel, the harder it is to find a segment that makes sense without a lot of context and/or doesn't give away significant events in the plot.
This bit from Surgeburnt, though, is one of the past-storylines / flashbacks. The reader has encountered references to Iskedelis, the non-human inventor who worked with Maren (the narrator) and her crew, but this the first time she's appeared directly in a scene:
Iskedelis' lab spanned most of a single abandoned floor, a labyrinth of improbables with a ridiculous number of reflective surfaces. She had always loved shiny things.
"Desi!" she called. “Come over and have a seat. Would you like some tea?”
I surveyed the collection of slanted, paneled, and protusion-laden surfaces looming around her. “Where should I …”
“Oh, foolish of me,” she chirped, spinning about with surprising dexterity despite the length of her frame. Vrin bodies were divided into three segments, and they were most comfortable with the first two segments parallel to the ground. She picked up a device that looked suspiciously like a toaster to reveal a bench beneath. “Right here."
Iskedelis was small for her kind: in first-joint stance, she stood only four feet tall. Her carapace was a soft, gently burnished silver in hue, dusted with soot-grey spots. The eyes that sought mine were the faceted compound eyes of an insect, with a saffron undertone I had only noticed at the tenth look. A lot of Vrin wore sunglasses even indoors, not just to give humans normal to focus on, but because their eyes were unusually sensitive to light. Iskedelis’ lab was dim, and she had long ago learned she didn’t have to hide around us.
“What kind of tea?” I asked, sitting.
“It’s Liber,” she said, then paused expectantly.
“Never heard of it,” I said. “But whatever.”
She drooped, her segments slumping together. “You don’t get it? Liber … tea. I laughed when Archer told me.”
“Remind me to smack Archer upside the head for feeding you bad comedy,” I said. “Whatever kind of tea it is, I’ll have it.”
Iskedelis recovered, scurrying over to her teapot. Her seven-fingered hands were vastly overqualified for the task, though the lack of a shorter digit sometimes made handling human objects tricky. She could bend any of those fingers multiple times, but it wasn’t quite a substitute for a thumb.
Infinitely polite even with such news waiting, Iskedelis hustled back with two cups, handing mine over along with the sugar bowl. She perched back on her haunches, watching me as I took my first sip.
Only once I had set down the cup did she speak. “Well? What did you find out?"