Each and every Shomi novel offers something different and unique, but with similar themes. Time Transit is one of the only time travels to come out of the line to date. I’m in the middle of reading it right now and I can tell you, it’s wonderful so far. I can’t wait to get back to it.
There’s a reason Maude Kincaid is one of the best Time Rogues, and it’s the same reason she’s now dead—or soon will be. Gut-shot and lying in a sub-orbital tram station reeking of brimstone, waiting for the atmospherics to give out, she’s exactly where she intended: She’s saved CORE, her friends and her reality. And only a woman willing to bend the rules could do it.
The time travel was nothing. That’s been as natural as breathing since Maude became one of the 22nd century’s elite cadre of protectors against temporal rifts. Jumps to Dealey Plaza and the old South were nothing. Taking the bullet was a little harder. Maude’s only regret is about Gil. Gil, with whom she shared the 21st-century delights called Sonic burgers and blueberry Slushies. Gil, who’s half cowboy, half-PhD, but all man. Gil, whom she abandoned with his memory erased because he was from another time, another reality, and because Time Rogues can’t afford to know love. Today, she can’t afford to forget it.
Time Transit by Kay Austen
Earth’s Core, 2152
I’m dead. I’m still breathing but I’m also gut-shot, bleeding, hurting, and alone. If help is on the way, it won’t get here in time. I’m doomed.
Death for a twentysomething gal, even a devil-maycare Time Rogue like Maude, was premature. She’d been forewarned, so it should have been preventable. Right? After all, Rogues saved lives and she was one of the best—a prodigy, they said. But she couldn’t save herself. Could she?
Maude sniffed the air. Sulfur. Brimstone. It was cool and dark on this isolated tram platform within an inactive volcanic flume. Too cool. The enviro-sensors only activated with movement, and she hadn’t moved for what seemed like hours but probably only amounted to a few minutes.
Her auto-transit from the past had been rough. Lacking safeguards, standard Core tracking devices and all but the basic time-travel protocols, her unauthorized mission to defy death and fix fate was iffy and dangerous for even the healthiest Rogue. And she wasn’t healthy— not by a long shot. Less than an hour ago, a bullet had changed everything.
She moaned and gripped the edge of the mesh partition helping to keep her upright as another wave of pain spiraled through her. She’d never endured such agony. After two hundred missions logged on her identilog and countless brushes with death, her luck, her skill and her time had run out. She wouldn’t survive the hour. She couldn’t; she’d lost too much blood. She’d given up trying to staunch the flow pulsing from the wound in her belly. But she hadn’t given up on rescue. Not entirely.
The cavernous dark space swallowed her voice. Maude released her hold on the partition and slid like a mass of ooze to the soot-coated tile floor. It was sufficient movement to activate the limited atmospherics. The ambient lighting swelled like a swift sunrise, accompanied by scratchy acoustics of chirping larks and rustling leaves. Without viewscreens, the simulated setting was incomplete but still a welcome comfort. Maude felt less alone. And when the flickering heat lamps struggled to life and dissipated some of the chill, she managed a smile.
Nominal accommodation. A default setting for atmospheric enhancements at isolated stations supporting minimal use.
But by the looks of it, this station hadn’t been used or serviced recently. If the lingering odor of rotten eggs was a true indication of elevated magma activity, this section of the sub-orbital tram system might have been abandoned. From countless evacuation drills, she knew all too well that it wouldn’t take much—a pyroclastic surge of heat or a burp of poisonous gas—to fry her stem to stern, teeth to toenails.
Drutz. Gut-shot or not, she needed to clear the area fast. “Hellllp.” It sounded like a pathetic bleat compared to the ear-bustin’, hoot and holler volume she could manage effortlessly until a few hours ago. But it still might be enough for the sensors in Core to pick up.
She blinked back the sweat blurring her vision and focused on the chunky device mounted on the mesh partition. More rotten luck. First the bullet and now this, a communications relay fouled with grime and nonfunctioning. Her cry for help hadn’t been received by Core.
Gigadrutz. What a day. With her transmitter smashed— the first casualty of the bullet that had also penetrated her flesh—her emergency and impending expiration were well-kept secrets from all who would or could save her life. Core could. Thanks to the cadre of super-intellects like Charlie, technology existed that could do almost everything, including fix time rifts and repair seemingly lethal wounds like hers.
Seemingly lethal? Maude’s lips twitched, curving into a half smile. It just wasn’t in her to give up. She clung to the faint hope that against all odds her arrival on this platform had somehow registered on Core’s grid.
By design, safety systems were full of redundancies. The presence of life-forms automatically dispatched retrieval trams: another system default for stations beyond Edgeville. But just how far beyond Edgeville was she?
She rolled her head from side to side, looking for some landmark to identify her location. She spotted a sign and gasped. That can’t be right. Outskirt 13? This was where her mission to save herself had started nearly thirty rotations ago.
Or was it? She rubbed her eyes and looked again for confirmation. Awash in the lemony light from the fake sunshine, the letters were unmistakable.
Thirteen miles from Edgeville and help. She was almost home.
On foot and bleeding she’d never make it, but on a suborbital tram she’d be patched up and sucking down some of Charlie’s bad tasting, cure-all liquid nutrient in no time. All she had to do was hold on until the tram arrived.
She glanced at the spreading darkness on her camocolored garb. She’d hold on. She had to. Not only for herself but to prove to everyone that Charlie was always right. Time Rogues never died on his watch.
Maude grimaced as another wave of agony buffeted her senses. She fought the urge to give in and pass out. It was a struggle, but by applying her Rogue skills she managed to briefly detach herself from the pain. She focused on Charlie: boss, surrogate papa, and resident genius for Core’s crucial maintenance and recovery department. He called her “Kid”—and maybe she still was one—but he’d also promoted her to Rogue status anyway, weathered her novice days, and saved her life more than once.
Memory of the first rescue—more than two thousand rotations ago—was sweet and vivid: Charlie pulling her out of the Children’s Cabala, an Edgeville orphanage, after a skill-scan registered her Rogue potential. It had been a momentous event for Maude. She’d been gifted with a friend, the Rogue family, and the will and purpose to survive against the odds.
Thanks to Charlie, no matter how bleak her fate seemed, her faith was unshakable. She wouldn’t yield to despair. Only cowards gave up. Rogues dug in and held on, no matter what.
Mega-mondo drutz. Where was the Rogue rescue squad, and more important, where was her hero and heartthrob, Gil? His image crystallized and pressed to the forefront of her thoughts.
Ah, Gil. For a brief moment, bliss buffered her pain and the rush of pleasurable memories supplanted her terror. She’d shared lip-scorching kisses and exquisite intimacies with Gil during their intense race to fix the future.
Strange, she mused, remembering her first Rogue mission to Gil’s century. She’d sacrificed her passion for the man to restore his world, his time, and his memory—a memory then made devoid of all reference to her. But like the dogged determination the man himself possessed, the bond between them had persisted. Stretched taut through the fabric of time, the connection had pulled them irrevocably together in an alliance to save the future while in the past.
Reunited in passion and purpose, love had flourished. Wonderful, sweet, torrid, amazing, and everlasting love. And they’d weathered the worst, or so she’d thought. Transit foul-ups, pit vipers in the Frontier Zone, a close call with a discharging stunner—they’d survived all of it. But a tiny bit of lead had severed their union and now promised to change everything permanently.
Did he know?
She didn’t doubt it. Gil’s uncanny and unnerving knack for reading her thoughts—some before she’d even thought them—might still save her. If anyone could figure out she was a bona fide damsel in distress, that hunka-hunka cowboy was her guy. Gil, her love, her one chance.
The atmospherics ceased. The sudden stinking darkness was complete. Gone were the sounds of spring and the comforting warmth. Maude tried to swallow. Terror had a taste, and it wasn’t good. She marshaled her remaining energy.
“Somebody help me!” she screamed.
Spent and hoarse, she didn’t have the energy to blink back the tears. Her body shook with silent sobs.
Is this it? Am I giving up?
So much for her damned faith and cursed optimism; she wasn’t invincible after all. Soon it would be too late for anyone—Gil, Charlie, and her rough and rowdy Rogue pals included—to fix anything. That is, unless they could bring her back from the dead.
This book is available from Dorchester. You can buy it here.