Aurelian Reva'la A'Qen has found her perfect man–except he doesn’t want her.
When Reva hears Aurelian Military Commander T'Van A'Ralle laughing at her with his friends, she's devastated. On impulse, she enters the mysterious new space jump device…and is ripped away from her world.
Van A'Ralle is on a mission to explore and claim a new planet in a parallel galaxy. Instead, he emerges from his jump pod in his own galaxy… two centuries back in time, with Reva at his side instead of his military team.
Stranded on Earth, in a strange little settlement called Landings, he must find help to locate his team somewhere in the future, while attempting to keep the rebellious Reva safe.
Van soon learns that he was all too hasty in his dismissal of Reva. With an unknown assassin in pursuit, she displays courage and heart. Van discovers his feelings for the fiery strawberry blonde run deeper than he ever dreamed possible.
Can Van convince the woman he scorned to give him another chance, before the assassin eliminates any hope of their returning to the future, together?
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Author’s Note: Since a total eclipse is a BIG EVENT for us Earthlings, I couldn’t resist including one in this sci fi romance. My little town of Landings, NM gets the ‘full’ effect. Hope you enjoy the results!
Commander T’Van A’Ralle, Aurelian warrior, son of a long line of warriors, leader of his own platoon, paced the pavement of the small spaceport of Outpost Fifty-Seven, planet Hamor, Aurelian Territories, Milky Way Galaxy.
His strides were steady, relentless, the prowling of a caged predator. And like such a creature, his path was short, back and forth, back and forth.
He was limited not by a physical cage, but by the shade of the terra-aqua troop transport that towered behind him. The big land vehicle, known as a ‘tatt’, could traverse rough terrain and water, while protecting the occupants from enemy fire.
The smells of fuel, machine lubricants, baked earth and his own sweat rose around him in the heat.
Although it was early summer, Hamor’s sun beat brutally on this mountain valley. A seasoned soldier, Van accepted the discomfort and ignored it, keeping his senses attuned to his surroundings.
Fighters screamed over, headed out for patrol of the airspace around the small, rocky planet. Around him on the ground rumbled the regimented business of an Aurelian defense post. Small hovercraft hummed by, carrying space port workers and hauling cargo and supplies, including weaponry for the big space fighters in the underground hangars.
Troops drilled on training courses set up around the spaceport terminal. Obstacles simulated diverse
locales, from the jungles of Pangaea to the decaying slums of Earth I.
Ordinarily, Van would be out there with his warriors and the other platoons.
Hamor and other Aurelian outposts were constantly on alert, ready to ward off an attack. The Gorglons had been getting bolder lately, prodding at the barriers set up to protect Aurelian space from the Gorglons and their equally foul allies, the Quark O’gren and the Ingoes.
Van was dressed like the troops, in camouflage of gaaulite, a light and stretchy, yet tough fabric. Tech imbued in its strands allowed it to change with the light, temperature and terrain. Thus, a fully-clad warrior was nearly invisible to the unwary gaze. Here on Hamor, the fabric showed tones of grey and tan, like the landscape. The fabric also helped regulate body temperature, both in heat and cold.
Officers’ uniforms were designated only by subtle marks. Aurelian scientists had discovered a portion of the light spectrum visible only to their race. They used it to create markings on the helmets and shoulders of officers’ field uniforms. Van’s gaaulites bore the doubled wings of a platoon commander.
The duffel at his feet held his kit, various small tech, a ceremonial banner, and a dress uniform. This was a fitted flight suit of dark grey-green, with rank markings that even other races could see on the shoulders, chest and the close-fitting cap. All items he would need if his mission succeeded.
And all items explained by his cover story, that he was assigned to protect a Tygean diplomat visiting from planet Bryght. Diplomats attended a procession of formal meetings, including meals and parties, thus guards would need to dress appropriately.
A hovey slowed to a stop beside Van, and both occupants spilled out, striding to join him in his meagre shade. His fellow officers also wore gaaulites over sturdy boots, with light helmets pushed back on their heads. Like him, their light hair and brows contrasted with their tanned faces.
L’Nola A’Sol was blonde and female, and R’Dalle A’Ronne had hair a few shades darker than Van’s reddish-blond. Like him, they wore their hair short on the sides and back, a little longer on top. Out of the way in battle, easy to care for.
“Why aren’t you two training on the field or flying maneuvers?” Van asked.
“My platoon drew cleaning detail today,” Dalle said cheerfully. “But since it’s hotter than a Serp stripper, my troops fought over who got to run the cryo-cleanse units. We finished for the day, in record time.”
“And mine are on rest cycle,” Nola added. “Sleeping, or losing as many pay credits at holo-dice as the top wings will allow.”
She glowered at Van. “Speaking of R&R. Arek’s gone, and now you’re leaving. It’s gonna be hella boring around here.”
At the mention of D’Arek A’Renoq, even Dalle sobered.
Recently, a startling new opportunity had arisen for the Aurelians.
A galactic media giant, Octiron Media Corp, had created a reality show.
The basis for the show was a race, a treasure hunt through the pitfalls—real and manufactured—of another galaxy, parallel to this one, the Paragon Galaxy.
Selected contestants would keep their race ship, any tech they were assigned, and the winners of the race would also win fabulous prizes.
As the base commander’s son, Arek had been volunteered to enter, to present a favorable diplomatic face to the galaxy.
It didn’t hurt that the A’Renoq male heirs held the hereditary title of prince. Viewing audiences quarking loved royalty.
“Think Arek reached the race HQ all right?” Dalle asked.
“I hope so,” Van muttered. If not, not only would he fear for his friend, but his own mission was quarked from the get-go. “We should hear soon. He just boarded the Octiron cruiser yesterday.”
“Yeah, he’s there by now,” Nola smirked, her eyes lit with the determination to believe only the positive. “Already sizing up the competition, picking out the toughest male to be his partner… and the hottest female to fuck him hello and goodbye.”
Dalle’s boyish face lightened. “Yeah, no doubt. And making sure his ship has a few ‘extras’ to help him win that quazillion credit prize.”
With an effort, Van returned his friends’ grins, because those were the things they’d all be doing in Arek’s place.
But in fact, Van happened to know Arek cared little about a new cruiser, and even less about the race prizes.
He wanted something else.
The same thing Aurelian top wings wanted. Thus, Van’s mission, which so far was a secret from all but General A’Renoq and a few trusted advisers.
“I’d love to be in that race.” Envy was clear in Nola’s grey eyes. “A kick-ass mission, but with no HQ breathing down your neck. Just free-form fun.”
“Yeah, and he gets to jump,” Dalle added. “I’d give my left testicle to experience that.” He smirked at Van. “Bet you wish you were going on that mission, instead of protection detail for a gremel-ass diplomat.”
Van had to bite his tongue against the urge to tell them that in a matter of hours, he would be using that very tech.
The story that he was on diplomatic duty, and his team was headed out on routine patrol of space between Hamor and Gorgol was only a cover.
Not even his team knew their destination. Their transport would take them, not on patrol, but to a space station.
One owned and operated as headquarters by the media giant, Octiron.
Somewhere in its bowels, Octiron Media HQ held a special piece of tech, able to transport living matter through a wormhole, and land them at a pre-selected site, unharmed.
The Inter-Galactic Space Forces, military police force for the Alliance of Planets, owned and operated a similar device. The only civilian corporation fabulously wealthy and powerful enough to afford one was Octiron Media.
For now, the Aurelian military were ‘borrowing’ the device from Octiron. How Gen A’Renoq had gotten permission from Octiron Media to send Van and his team through, Van didn’t know, would probably never know.
Octiron was so big they were their own political entity.
A’Renoq had likely opened negotiations with them, the way he had with the Tygeans on planet Bryght.
Lately he’d begun a campaign to repair and change the Aurelian reputation as ruthless marauders, and get their Alliance neighbors to see they were only keeping their quadrant of the galaxy from being overrun by real marauders.
“If we could get our hands on one of those jump devices… there’d be no stopping us,” Nola said, echoing Van’s thoughts.
“Yeah,” Dalle added. “Imagine leading a platoon right into the heart of Gorglon territory, wreaking atomic-force havoc, and then Pfft! disappearing before the Gorgs could retaliate.”
Van nodded. “Now that would be a fine thing.”
“Not that one of us would be tagged to lead such a mission,” Nola muttered. “It would go to Arek, or Bek.”
Her sneer as she said the second name told them both what she thought of that fellow commander. As if they didn’t already know.
Commander L’Bek A’Sauve was the top wings’ dream officer, humorless and utterly focused. The officer was held before of the rest of them as an example, and thus cordially despised by the rest of them.
Van’s smile disappeared, cerametal-hard determination hardening his jaw and straightening his mouth into a hard line.
He was lucky to lead this mission. He was well aware why his name had been drawn—the mission was a wild shot, with narrow odds of succeeding.
Just as he was considered a wild card, narrowly under control.
But he would succeed on this mission. He’d show the top wings he could fly a true path, and then it would be onward and upward for him. He’d be a general one day and show his family and everyone else who swore he’d never amount to anything, that he could and would.
Not that it would be easy. To succeed, he and then his team must first land in a specific place.
The problem was, they were just as likely to jump straight into a black hole, where they’d implode into matter so minute and dense only the Great God beyond could find them.
Or they might stray a few degrees off course and land in cold space, exploding to join the other matter and dust circling some unnamed moon.
“Well, you’ll be bored but safe, Van,” Nola teased. “Not much gonna happen on a Tygean diplomatic detail… unless some feisty Tygress scratches you to death.”
“He should be so lucky,” Dalle snorted. “Those females are hot!”
Van shook his head, a twist of melancholy piercing him. If he died, it would not be from hot sex with a clawed Tygress.
“If that happens, the only ones who’ll miss me are you two, and Arek—and maybe some of my troops.”
“What about T’Bele?” Nola asked. “Thought you and she were promised.”
Van rolled his shoulders. “Oh, sure,” he said. “Of course, T’Bele would miss me.”
His friends looked at the tatt and their boots instead of each other. Not saying what he knew they were thinking.
When it came to the general’s daughter he’d been courting… Van wasn’t in a position to harbor illusions. If he came back, covered in glory and on track for advancement in rank, she’d likely wed him.
But if he didn’t… he had a sudden chill, clear vision of her at his funerary, crying a few pretty tears, before she set her sights on another officer, one more likely to succeed. T’Bele may have allowed him to take her sexually in as many ways as he and she could dream up, but that didn’t mean she’d marry him.
Dalle elbowed him, grinning. “We know one female who’ll weep at your funerary.”
Van rolled his eyes, and his friends snickered. “Ah yes, little Reva,” Nola teased. “She’ll cry enough to make up for the rest.”
“Oh, yeah,” Dalle agreed. “Tanks of tears.”
Van sighed. “That girl is like a chunk of crystal lodged in my boot—pretty, but irritating as all hells. She pops up everywhere—seems to know without fail where I’ll be.”
As the quarter-master’s daughter, Reva’la A’Qen had the run of base camp, and since she came of age, she’d used this privilege to stalk Van.
She even turned up in his quarters one night, and nearly gave him heart failure when she popped up in his bunk, pretty and willing and completely off-limits.
Hells, even now he swore he could smell the herbal body lotion she liked, leaving the scent of honey and summer grass on her skin.
He blew out a sharp breath. He had no business remembering her scent. Not now, with his sights set on his career and T’Bele.
Dalle hooted. “Little Reva’s like a mawwr, pretty and soft, but once you stroke a mawwr, you’ll never get rid of it.”
“Have you been stroking her?” Nola teased. “I’m telling T’Bele.” A glint in her eyes said she’d enjoy it, too. She and T’Bele did not get along.
“No!” Van called, loudly enough to be heard over their laughter. “I’m not going to pet Reva, or do anything else with her. I want a woman, not a—a silly girl who blushes every time a man looks at her.”
“She doesn’t blush when I look at her,” Dalle assured him.
“Or me,” Nola added. “And everyone knows I like pretty girls.”
This was true. Dalle, Arek and Nola all treated Reva like a little sister, and the slender blonde blossomed under their teasing, her smiles lighting up her face.
She only blushed and stammered when Van looked at her. This just made her more fun to tease, and he had to admit he’d done more than his share of it. Not that it meant anything more, of course it didn’t.
He was an Aurelian warrior. He’d marry a woman who would help him ascend to a higher level of command. Not a sweet young thing who would expect him to look at her with stars in his eyes. Love was for those who believed in such emotions.
He scowled, and kicked the massive tread of the tatt. “You can try all you want to make Reva blush,” he assured them both. “I’m not interested, and it’s time the girl got that through her fluffy little head.”