“You reek of rum,” said Saya, striking her parasol against the pavement. “Go home.”

            He held his gaze steadily as the trio stepped around the threatening point of Isaac’s swordstick to pass by.

            “That’s what you think!” Isaac cried, lunging forward to attack the group from behind.

            Cailloux reached out to shove Ismael aside. There was a flash of orange and ring of steel as Saya spun around with a parry and counterthrust, all in one fluid motion.

            Isaac stumbled backwards at the unexpected interference.

            “I have no patience for weak men,” said Saya, pressing a button on her parasol. Hidden gears began to grind. “There is no honor in attacking an unarmed youth, man, and lady from behind.” Metal slid against metal. The shaft of her parasol telescoped into something longer, spearlike. The ruffled orange silk fell away. A wicked blade latched into place to form a glaive. “I take it you don’t know who you threaten?”

            Isaac shook his head mutely, the point of his swordstick trembling.

            Saya smiled. Her teeth shone like pearls in the darkness. “Few living men do.”

Who are you?

I am Saya, a free woman of color. Pleased to make your acquaintance, monsieur.

And what is your occupation?

Pleased to make your acquaintance.

And your profession?

*Saya smiles*

I only ask because your story in the Rococoa anthology didn’t say.

There are some things better left unsaid. But the story in the Rococoa anthology is not just mine. It is the story of my friends Cailloux and Ismael more than mine, but men often need rescuing, so I tagged along.

It appears you are quite skilled in the martial arts, particularly fencing. Where did you learn?

Here and there. If a woman is to rescue men, she should be fit to do so. I am fit.

To fight?

Always.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

There is much I like. But I have no patience for weak men.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

That she is a woman. We were blessed to be born with a power incomprehensible by men. Men cannot fathom the depths of women, which is why you enjoy our company so; we are always a mystery and you men love your mysteries, Oui?

Yes, we do.

We all do, I suppose.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I am very fond of Cailloux. His brilliance intrigues me.

Who are your favorite writers?

Actually, my protégé is the best author I have ever read. For the sake of this interview, we will call her Deanna Baran. She told the story of Cailloux, Ismael and my first adventure together in the Rococoa anthology. There are many more adventures to come.

Do you have a motto?

No. I let my weapons speak; they are much more loquacious – and eloquent – than I.

Check out Deanna Baran’s story, The Adventure of the Silver Skull, in the Rococoa anthology. Available now!

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

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