QSFer Skye Kilaen has a new FF sci-fi book out, All These Gifts book 1: If I Were a Weapon.
See the future. Set things on fire. Fall in love? A superpowered sci-fi romance.
When dying alien ships materialized across the Earth, their nanite infection knocked Deneve Wilder out cold. She woke up with the ability to see the future. Determined to keep anyone from using her visions for evil, she took to the road. Giving up everything was a small price to pay for freedom.
The ship that hit Jolie Betancourt’s town gave her the power to set things on fire. It was safer to start over in a new city. Then one terrible mistake demonstrated far too clearly that for her, solitude is safer. For everyone.
So when Deneve shows up after a vision of Jolie being kidnapped, Jolie wants little to do with the frustratingly attractive drifter. Deneve’s surprised by how much she wants to thaw the pretty shopkeeper’s chilly attitude, but the idea of staying in one place sets off her alarm bells.
If they can’t evade whoever’s abducting people with powers, however, the growing connection they both feel in spite of themselves might be the least of their problems.
The first installment of a near-future science fiction F/F romance series, which is slow burn to high heat with a guaranteed HEA at series end.
Deneve woke up with dirt in her mouth. That happened sometimes when you could see the future but couldn’t control when it kicked in. Getting lost in a vision was reasonably safe if you were lying on a stranger’s couch late at night after a day of working for cash under the table. Not so convenient while walking down the side of the road with everything you owned in a backpack and a guitar case, on your way to the next town. That’s when you ended up in a drainage ditch after collapsing and tumbling down an embankment as visions of a car crash or a tornado took over your mind, and your eyes glowed blue.
At least this time she hadn’t broken her fall with her face.
She pulled herself up, spit, and started brushing the dirt off her clothes. This vision hadn’t been a car crash or a tornado. Just some flashes: a woman’s leg, the edge of a skirt, a dark blue van, a struggle.
It had been a while since she’d lost consciousness entirely, or since a vision had been so piecemeal. Before this incident, Deneve would have said the alien nanites in her body and brain had been getting better at their job. Whatever that job was. It’d been six months since the ships full of dying aliens appeared on Earth, and as far as Deneve knew, nobody had yet figured out what the damn things were for. If anyone had, they’d likely have discovered it by experimenting on people like her.
Hence her current location on the side of a Texas highway between Houston and Austin, instead of back in Colorado where home had been. No way was Deneve going to become part of someone’s laboratory collection. Or worse, a tool. A lot of people would probably pay good money for someone who could see the future, even if Deneve couldn’t perform on command.
At least she hadn’t broken anything, torn her dress, or snapped her sunglasses in the fall. Deneve finished brushing herself off, retrieved the guitar case, and climbed back up to the frontage road. She watched the cars pass, waiting to see if the nanites would give her anything more to work with.
The cars heading towards Austin looked better.
She didn’t know how the nanites had figured out her human nervous system, but their signals had gotten more clear over time. Contentment, anticipation, or delight meant she was doing what they wanted. When she wasn’t, she felt increasingly sick and jumpy, a yellow alert escalating to a red alert. Not like an anxiety disorder. She wouldn’t ever compare the two, because she could control it. All she had to do was let the nanites run the show whenever they chose to.
At first she hadn’t been able to tell their directions from her own emotions, and having no clue if she was herself anymore had been gross and horrible. Now she mostly had it down. Deneve waited, watching the cars, and that magnetic, alluring feeling strengthened.
Towards Austin, then. She’d been dropped off by her last ride at a combination Czech bakery and truck stop halfway between Austin and Houston. The nanites hadn’t complained when she’d started down Highway 71 instead of continuing on I-10. Deneve certainly didn’t want to visit San Antonio, so close to the only ship that had hit Texas. Getting anywhere near the government-industrial research installations that now surrounded every dead ship didn’t seem smart.
Why did they come here? she wondered, not for the first time, as she stuck her thumb out and waited for a car to stop. Possibly more relevant, why release the glittering clouds of nanites? Had it been planned, or a side effect of the aliens’ and ships’ deaths? The ships themselves had been alive, that much scientists had somehow figured out. Those twenty-six lumpy white shapes and their inhabitants had arrived on Earth in the space of a heartbeat, and whatever and whoever had been in those locations a moment before was just… gone. People. Their homes. Whole neighborhoods. Just gone, no one knew where, and a few minutes later all the beings who could have explained it all were dead.
Deneve walked more than three miles before a car pulled over. She smoothed her hair back and her knee-length dress down. Her hitchhiking look, including the guitar case that held only more clothes, was engineered as more free spirit traveling than down-and-out homeless. Of course there was no shortage of the latter these days, along with shuttered businesses. She’d slept in a few of those.
The car was electric, a blue Honda hatchback. The nanites liked it so much that in the early days of Deneve’s nanite coexistence she would have started petting it before she realized what she was doing. She was lucky the few people who’d been around her had assumed she was drunk or high.
The passenger side window rolled down.
“Where you headed?” the person in the driver’s seat called.
Deneve bent down so she could see into the car. The driver had bright pink hair, a nose ring, and full sleeve tattoos. That seemed about right for a person who’d pick up a woman with a guitar and drop her off safely.
“Austin,” Deneve called back over the noise of cars passing. Well, it was Austin unless the nanites gave her another signal along the way.
“Live music capital of the world, am I right?” the driver called back. “Throw your stuff in the back seat, there’s plenty of room.”
Skye Kilaen writes queer romance, both contemporary and science fiction, that’s sometimes about polyamorous relationships. She’s bi/pan and she currently lives in Austin, Texas because of all the libraries and breakfast tacos.