QSFer Jeanne G’Fellers has a new sci fi book out:
Worker. Trade Agent. Serf. Etain Ixtii detests the labels others give her, but there are some things she must accept. She was genetically designed to do specific tasks. Her breeding instincts interrupt her life every forty-five days. But workers like Etain are taught not to question so when she returns from training questioning her home world Gno’s profit-based caste system, she risks her life. She doesn’t want to be an agent and doesn’t want to cross through the wormhole to never return. Why does she have to go? Can’t someone else?
Usurer Serria, the owner of Etain’s birth and training debt, quickly tires of her problem worker and launches Etain through a collapsing wormhole so she can collect the insurance payout. Very bad business indeed, but Etain manages to survive the attempt, arriving on the other side plagued by debilitating headaches and hounded by a dangerous insectoid enemy that no one, including Leigheas Sternbow, the Takla royal physician, and Mercine Feney, the Empire’s powerful female leader, can make disappear.
“An agent’s coffin?” A male spoke in muffled Terran Common. “It’s crushed! How’d it survive entry?”
“Pure luck.” Another male voice as muffled as the first. “Watch yourselves. It’s still hot.”
Are they wearing masks too?
“Didn’t the Alyward send word of a four month delay?”
“Wormhole time distortion,” said someone. “It always makes sending and receiving between worlds a little off.”
“Then how long was this coffin in there?”
“Long enough for the gravity to play havoc.”
Trade Agent Etain Ixtii tried to call out, but any sound she made remained trapped behind her breather. I made it! I survived! But she knew she was injured.
“Glad it’s in the shallows,” said another voice. Female? Maybe, but Alyward gender-based inflections weren’t the same as this world’s. “Brr. I thought it was spring.” “Late cold snap. Say, why’s the Royal Physician here?”
“Witness for the death log.”
“Foreign particles check negative.”
“Rad counts are down.”
Get me out of this fly box! She struggled in her straps.
“Careful, Fiam,” said a soothing, male voice. “Splash water on those handles. Everyone use gloves. Easy now. I don’t want to treat my own staff. And use your masks. We don’t know if any micro-contaminants survived entry.” Pressure, light, and stifling humidity flooded over Etain. “Body intact?”
I’m here! Etain gagged when she inhaled.
“Yes. No, wait! The agent’s still alive!”
Splashing sound increased around the coffin.
“Hold on. It doesn’t look good.” This accent was different than the others.
“Decontaminate the case interior before you touch anything,” someone said and a cool mist coated her exposed skin.
Am I alive or hearing dead? She had to be alive—too much pain. And now they were touching her, taking off her breather, loosening the straps and—a hand ran down her front. “Female.”
“Isn’t the trade agent female?”
“Affirmative, but what’s that projecting from under her left hip?”
Everything stopped. What’re they doing?
A hand slid beneath her. No! Don’t! They bite!
“It looks like—what is that?”
“A leg! Another lifeform crossed with her!”
“Where is it?”
They removed her straps and rolled her side-to-side, searching for—Panpobal! She could move
if she wanted but her head—her neck—she managed to reach one hand to her face. I’ve got to warn them, have to—
“Found it!” A woman yelled, but her voice suddenly rose out of Etain’s range.
I’m an author, a Sci-Fi fan from very early on, an Appalachian Mountain girl, and one of those artsy-fartsy types all rolled into a nearing six-foot-tall package. I have a host of auto-immune issues, but none of them have me.