With hearts and lives on the line, a kiss may be all they have time for...
Time has dumped Ashe on a dying planet and she needs to figure out why before she ceases to exist. Or gets vivisected by some Keltinarian scientists. Or worse.
Vidor Shan might help—since someone somewhere is trying to hose him, too—if she can convince him to trust her. Probably shouldn’t have told him that only someone he trusts can betray him. Also wouldn’t mind if he kissed her on the mouth.
Vid would love to kiss the girl, but his brother is lost, he’s got hostile aliens on his tail, and the stench of betrayal all around him. Can he trust the woman who told him to trust no one?
Then a time quake hurls them to a nasty somewhere and some when...
Hi, my name is Ashe, star of Kicking Ashe (which was SO the wrong title by the way. I totally kicked back) and I’m here to answer questions—
With my help.
Yeah, I sort of, well, actually not so sort of, host a nanite named Lurch. He’s really old and thinks he knows everything.
I don’t think. I do.
Should never have let you watch Star Wars. Welcome to my head. Anyway, a little about me, because that’s why they are here.
I’m a time tracker—which means I sort out wrong time for the Time Council. I’m a Garradian, though I’ve got a lot of species mixed into my bloodline, including a little Earth DNA thanks to my not-so-great, great-great-great-a-lot more greats—not to mention more than a little creepy—grandma.
I thought she was quite charming and yes, a bit creepy by choice.
Can we talk about this later? In middle of interview here.
Perhaps if you answered the questions then, instead of slamming your ancestors.
Fine. Let’s take a shot at some questions….
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
Well, having just had my tush kicked all over the universe, I’d kind of like to go home. I could use a hug from my mother.
And I believe she’d like her caftan back.
She gave it to me.
She lent it to you.
You don’t have to play the scene back for me. I’ll return her caftan, if I can just remember which time I left it in….
Who is your favorite author?
I am fond of Gallifius Galfron’s Discussions of Time Theory—
She likes romance novels, particularly those of Earth authors from 18th-22nd centuries. A particular favorite is Linnea Sinclair, who writes about aliens and romance.
And you have a particular addiction to time travel novels. (Ashe clears her throat.) Moving on to the next question….
Tell us about your family.
My family! Do you have that much time? I mean I do, because I travel through it but—
Which tells them nothing about your family.
Aren’t your bytes in a twist today. Fine, I come from a prominent family in Garradian history. We number many Leaders in our lineage and we’re known for being devious and Machiavellian. (whispers) I got that right, didn’t I, Lurch? Devious and Machiavellian?
Indeed you did. You have perfectly captured your family.
Then why do I feel, I don’t know, insulted?
I have no idea.
Right. (clears throat.) I believe there are a few more questions requiring my attention.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Moment? Oh my. The life of a time tracker is fraught with scary moments and minutes and hours and sometimes even eons, but I think the scariest was in that hallway with the (shudders) huge bugs.
The bugs beat the time tsunami, the bomb and the vortex?
Hmmm, that was bad, but those bugs were seriously huge. You know I hate bugs.
I am unable to not know it.
What are you passionate about these days?
Oh (Ashe face softens and she smiles.) Vid, definitely Vid. He’s so cute.
(Ashe leans forward to whisper) Lurch has some unresolved issues with Vid. There was this thing in another time line, which technically never happened, but Lurch can’t forget it because of some time anomalies. He’s getting counseling to deal with it.
I am not getting counseling because I do not need it.
Can I eat some chocolate or something for you?
You could move on to the next question.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
It’s a family mantra to never apologize. Right after the mantra to: keep your enemies close enough to shoot.
I must have imagined you apologizing to me not long after we got your tush kicked into the unknown.
That would be why it got added to the list.
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
I wish there were only one. My family has hundreds of mantras recorded over centuries of Machiavellian interaction, but let’s see, my current top one would be: Don’t get caught without a weapon. I added it right before don’t get shot cause they kind of go together.
Mine is: the impossible just takes longer
Which might explain how we ended up looking down the barrel of that time tsunami?
I don’t believe a tsunami has a barrel.
(Ashe’s mouth curves in a sly smile.) I think I’m going to find Vid and kiss him on the mouth.
But it could have a barrel in a metaphorical sense. Now that I consider it, it is a most apt description. Truly.
That’s a good try, but I still want to kiss him. (Ashe begins to edge toward door) If you’ll excuse me?
I believe they said you could answer eight questions.
Leave them wanting more would be another family mantra.
You need to provide an excerpt from our adventure in getting your tush kicked—
It’s so close it would have bitten you if you had a body part to get bitten. Thank you very much for giving me—okay, us—a chance to chat with you. But now I really do have to go. Vid gets restless when I’m gone too long. It’s post-traumatic time travel stress thing.
Unfortunately I must take my leave with her. Thank you for hosting us. It was pleasant to get away—I mean out for a while.
Pauline Baird Jones reads across genres, so it shouldn’t have surprised when her writing went cross genre. Thankfully she does not need to understand cross genre-ing to do it, though she does concede it is a bit whacky for a confirmed hermit to write about crossing space and time.
She began her writing career penning romantic suspense (because fictional murder doesn’t get you strip searched) but she had a secret longing to ramp up the spills, chills and daring do.
She wrote The Key, sure it was an action and adventure romance—and it was—but someone pointed out it was also science fiction romance. Wait a minute. Could it be that she’d been mixing fiction into her science since high school? (Oops, sorry science teachers!) Hmm, why not go where she hasn’t gone before? So she did.
The Key was the first in her Project Enterprise series, which will conclude with #6,Kicking Ashe.
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