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A Showcase in the Wormhole

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Today I’m taking part in the Science Fiction Romance Brigade’s Showcase of science fiction romance books. Today I’d like to showcase THE KEY, which is available by itself, in the amazingly priced NEBULA NIGHTS (best price – there’s 11 books in there!), or bundled in TOP GUNS IN TIME AND SPACE with OUT OF TIME.

Here’s a bit about the book and after it will be an excerpt. Hope you’ll follow the links and check out other books in the showcase. 🙂

“From the beginning, action is non-stop and filled with suspense. Sara is more than the quintessential kick-butt heroine. She is the perfect warrior, a woman confident in her abilities in the air and on the ground, and so loyal to her country that she is willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure its safety. Peripheral characters are well-developed and the plot so thrilling readers will be reluctant to put the book aside. This sci-fi adds a nice dose of romance and a touch of humor, placing it at the top of the list for a danged good read.” Midwest Book Review

A science fiction/action adventure romance novel

When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger…

An Air Force pilot – the best of the best to be assigned to this mission – Sara isn’t afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi.

After she’s shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn – a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own – he’s a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other?

A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks – about her baffling abilities and her mother’s past. She has no idea she’s being pulled into the same danger her mother fled – the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians.

The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it.

Sara will have to do anything to stop them…

And now for the excerpt:

The room was similar to the one Sara had just left. It had the two consoles, but this one didn’t light up for her when she stepped out of the whatever it was she’d stepped into. She shone her light on the wall beside the doorway. There was no map on either side this time. She wasn’t sure what that meant. If that ride was like the subway thing, then she was just in another part of the city. She should be able to get back in, and either go on to the next stop, or back to her previous one.

She wasn’t eager for the carnival ride, but she’d left her stuff back there. She was glad she hadn’t eaten all her sandwich, though. The one bite was riding uneasily in her gut. She stowed the flashlight and stepped back through the doorway, bracing for the stretching thing.

Nothing.

So, how could she could arrive, but not leave?

“I’m feeling a little hurt here. Was getting kind of used to the whole light-my-way thing.”

She looked around. Still nothing. It was almost as if the system were hunkered down. That was a bit unsettling. Sara tried to tap in to the systems mentally and had the odd feeling that the block was inside her own head. Did Ruby know something she didn’t? Okay, yeah, Ruby knew tons, but did she know something relevant to right now? Because her situational awareness was crap. Ruby needed to can the light show and just talk to her.

She tilted her head for a moment, but Ruby didn’t respond. Great.

Since going back or forward wasn’t an option, she’d just have work her way to the surface and make her way back to the command center that way. Up top, she should have a better fix on her location. Her spider sense was tingling, so Sara unhooked her P-90, flicked on the light and put it to her shoulder before she stepped out again.

“I’ll take point.” Hard to stack with one person, but it helped to pretend there was someone on her six.

As she moved forward, Sara shone the light around. The room was bigger, but emptier. And nothing responded to her. By the time she reached the exit, her fun meter was pretty much pegged.

Addendum to the sci-fi list of things not to do in a creepy place: don’t go through really dark doorways.

As the door slid open for her, she cleared the room, before moving forward. Off to the side, she noticed a security station like the other one, but this room had some seating. Ahead was yet another door. Panels slid back to reveal another one of those elevator-like things. At least it wasn’t stairs. She stepped inside. Green flash and it opened onto a corridor, with yet another security station. More ear popping, only the going up kind. That was good. She had to be getting close to the surface. No doors off to the sides. Just a long walk to yet another door.

This was taking her longer than planned. She’d better report in.

“Henderson? This is Donovan.”

Crackling silence.

“Captain?”

Okay, not good, but she’d been in some buildings where the radio didn’t work. She readied her P-90 and stepped to the side of the door again. It slid back and she cleared this room.

So far, so good.

Now she moved through a space that reminded her of the command consoles in the main control center, but on a smaller scale. And still no welcoming lights. She reached out to touch one and got a mental yank.

“Okay, I won’t touch. Just tell me where I am.”

Not even a crackling silence.

Her spider sense was going nuts. She didn’t want to keep going. She stared at the door. If it, they, them, whatever didn’t want her to do this, why didn’t it let her go back the way she’d come? You can’t sit here forever, she told herself, but her feet didn’t move. Apparently they disagreed. She could almost hear Briggs jeering about her being a girl.

She reined in her imagination and approached the door. Almost automatically, she held up her fist in the stop and quiet signal. She looked at it.

“You’re just sad, Donovan.”

The same spider sense had her turning off the P-90’s light. She stepped up to this door. It opened, with a blank wall ahead, corridors stretching off to her left and right. Sara crouched down and did a quick look in both directions. Could she hear footsteps some distance away? She wasn’t sure.

She quietly tapped her radio again. “Henderson? Anybody?”

If the owners of the footsteps had been friendly, they’d have heard her radio, even if a signal couldn’t get outside the building, it should work inside the building. She peeked out again, not sure which direction to go. It was lighter in this corridor, looked like natural light, but she couldn’t tell where it came from. Okay, that was definitely footsteps approaching. She angled her head from the right. She didn’t know why she felt the urge to move and move quickly. She just acted on it, turning and running in the opposite direction. She almost made the turn.

Almost wasn’t good enough.

A beam of light just missed her. She recognized it.

Where the crap was she? Okay, memo to self, Ruby’s flashing lights meant not just no, but hell no.

She raced for the next corner hoping to find cover.

Footsteps pounded behind her.

Sara reached the corner and stopped, waiting for them to come into view. When they did, she made them go away.
Two shots. Two kills.

She leaned against the wall. Her impulse was to return to her arrival point, but she’d already tried that. Okay, clearly she’d left the island. She thought about the maps she’d seen, about the circle of flashing planets. Was it possible she’d been sent to another outpost, one controlled by the Dusan? That world she’d touched? Was that like the subway, a sort of destination request? Man, those Garradians should have put warning labels on their stuff.

The presence of the Dusan might be the reason nothing would turn on for her. At least it was a working theory. Not anyone around to dispute it. But if the portal, or whatever it was, wasn’t going to send her back, then she needed another way off this rock. Just taking a wild guess, but the only available transport was probably Dusan.
So that was the plan: steal a Dusan ship and fly back to mother.

Okay, it wasn’t a great plan. There were lots of problems with it, but at least it was a plan.

Assuming the layout of this outpost was similar to theirs, and assuming she was in the building she thought she was, there should be another elevator with direct access to the outside. The problem, she was pretty sure she had to go back past the two gone gomers.

Weapon ready, and keeping close to the wall, she peeked around. So far the corridor was still clear. She paced forward. When she got to the two downed Dusan, she reached down and grabbed one of their weapons, tucking it in the front of her vest. Her ammo wasn’t going to last forever. And their ray guns were quieter. At the corner, she hesitated, listening. She did a quick look. More light blasts sizzled past as she jerked back. At least six, maybe seven bandits.

No joy that way.

She turned and ran full out to the next corner, then crouched low and waited. No single shot this time. As the patrol came into view, she opened fire with a sustained burst, then threw herself behind the protection of the wall and ran to the next corner. Did a quick look. Clear. She dodged around. These corridors were crap. She needed some place where she could go to ground and regroup. Figure something out. Improve her situational awareness, hell, get some situational awareness.

As she jogged along, she started looking for vents or shafts. This time she didn’t stop at the corner, just ran harder for the next one. They’d be expecting fire at the corners now. By the time they figured out she’d changed tactics, she needed to be out of sight. She stopped shy of the corner, did her quick look, then slid around. Maybe she should duck into a room. She picked a middle one. As she went in, she heard footsteps from the other direction. Hard not to feel like Custer, with bandits closing in from both directions.

She saw a ventilation grille and jumped up on the desk, but it was bolted in place. Trapped.

She dropped down in a crouch behind the desk.

Crap.

I hope you enjoyed this SFR Brigade Showcase and will check out other showcased books. 🙂 So—deep breath—what did you think? Is Sara in deep trouble? Okay, I confess I had a great time getting her into this particular fix. It even surprised me. So much fun. Please let me know what you think, because you know I love me some comments. I enter them into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). I announce a winner the first blog post of each month. 🙂

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Perilously yours,
Pauline

cover art for Top Guns in Time & Space

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