Technically, this isn’t a “first meet” for Ashe and Vidor Shan, cuz they kind of bumped into each other in Steamrolled, but this is the first meet in their story. Kicking Ashe is the final installment in my Project Enterprise series, though there are two, connected short stories in Project Enterprise: The Short Stories.
Expect the unexpected.
Ashe’s painful return to consciousness was not expected and shouldn’t have been. Why would she expect to survive a trifecta that included a time tsunami, their disrupter and a wonky time crevasse? Unless she hadn’t survived? Lurch?
A long, scary long pause ended with the sense of something unfurling inside her, not unlike how it had felt when the nanite first blended with her. Are you all right? He felt as off balance as she did.
I am alive.
He did not feel thrilled by this. She shared that not-thrilled-ness. Should open her eyes, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to see where they were. It didn’t feel great. Hard, lumpy surface under. Hot, humid air over. Achy body in between. And, adding insult to time tsunami injury, the air reeked of sulfur and was thick enough to feel like a blanket she couldn’t kick off. She shifted to ease hard and lumpy—
It? Outrage popped her eyes open, though they probably shouldn’t until she got a better sense of who thought she was an it. The circle of faces looming over her jerked back, a thicket of weapons sliding into view. Would have been kind of funny if every barrel of every weapon weren’t pointed at her. Seven of them, she noted, hoping her math was wrong as she eased her hands up by her ears into the classic surrender position. Would they recognize or honor her capitulation?
On the ground, flat on her back—if she didn’t count the lumps—gave her a unique perspective on the boys and their guns. The weapons appeared high tech—an interesting contrast with their rustic garb. The boys were all young, square and stocky in build, kind of what she’d imagined dwarfs would be like, except they were too tall and had better noses.
Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy—
This is not the time. Though she found herself finishing the list because she couldn’t help it when there seemed to be a face for each name…Bashful, Doc, Grumpy and Happy.
“It has eyes.”
It. Again. Their manners needed work, just in case the barrels in her face weren’t enough of a clue polite wasn’t in their skill set.
One of the boys licked his lips. “Do you think it’s dangerous?” His hand tightened on his weapon, the finger on the trigger twitching in a way she couldn’t like. Sucked to be called an “it,” though getting shot while being called an “it” would be worse.
Getting shot is worse than most things.
True. She’d picked a bad time to wake up. My shields?
“I do not know.”
The voice, calm and familiar, came from the region of her head.
Is that who I think it is?
Ashe did not mind the distraction from maybe getting shot by Dopey. And she’d rather hoped to run into him again.
I hope you enjoyed the snippet!