The Astronaut’s Princess
Cosmic Cowboys Series
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Publisher: Big Cedar
Date of Publication: 02/16/16
Number of pages: 111
Word Count: 33K
Cover Artist: Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs
Astronauts, Aliens, and Apaches? What could possibly go wrong?
Working for a billionaire space entrepreneur has its perks: a nice paycheck, free room and board, and all the space flight hours a guy could want. But everything has a price. Astronaut Noah Wright has survived an alien attack, time travel and a wormhole, but the Apache princess he brought back through time may be the death of him.
Ela, only daughter of Chief Itza-Chu of the Mescalero Apaches, finds herself out of place and out of time. Everything she knows of her early 1800’s life has vanished. Her savior and protector, Noah, is kind, but he’s not her family and certainly not Apache. Her only wish is to get home, but returning through the wormhole that brought her to the future threatens more than her past, causing her to have to rediscover what home really is.
SpaceXport Base Antigravity Bay, New Mexico – the near future
“Use the grab bars, Carlton. You’ll never make it to the cargo bay without using the grab bars,” Noah Wright instructed through the intercom to a struggling member of his astronaut training class.
These folks were engineers and scientists, yet the very basic, common sense tasks were somehow the most difficult for them to grasp.
“Stop spinning, Ramirez. What are you? A trapeze performer?” Noah turned the dial on the antigravity control panel. “Prepare for gravity. That’s it for today.”
The class of five settled ungracefully to the ground.
This team tested what remained of his patience. The only saving grace was the first crew was already working on the hotel pod construction. This group? These guys wouldn’t have lasted two months in the NASA program. Noah pinched the bridge of his nose, willing the headache pounding behind his eyes to go away.
Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
Except they were.
The door behind him opened, and Noah closed his eyes tighter, not turning. “Captain? You have a call from sick bay. It’s Ela,” the intern said.
Of course it’s Ela.
Ever since they’d returned through the wormhole with the Apache princess, his literal and metaphorical headaches had begun. Technically, she wasn’t his responsibility. His morality insisted otherwise. He’d been at her bedside for weeks after their return, nursing her back to health. She had begun to recover quickly from a severe case of measles after the first round of vaccines. Considering the shape she’d been in when they’d arrived home, she wouldn’t have made it another week in her time. Hell, she wouldn’t have made it in his time, forty years ago. They even had a vaccine for cancer now. Medicine had come a long way. Physically, she’d recovered. But mentally? Emotionally?
Apparently being dragged more than two hundred fifty years into the future from her 1800s New Mexico home and tribe was going to take longer to adjust to.
Hell, he got it. He did. When they’d landed in the desert and into the past, he’d been overwhelmed and confused. He was currently one of three people on Earth who understood her predicament, but that didn’t make her any more cooperative.
You could take the princess away from the Apaches, but you couldn’t take the Apache out of the princess.
“Captain?” the intern repeated.
“I heard you. I’ll be there in a minute.” The door clicked closed behind him, and Noah took a deep breath. He waited for the training class to clear the hallway before he made his way out. Conversation was the last thing he wanted at the moment. Well, maybe second to the last. Making the long trek to the sick bay for an earful of Apache was currently topping that list.
So far she’d lived up to his every expectation of the title of princess.
Curt. Rude. Demanding.
And 90 percent of the time, he didn’t understand a word she said.
Noah wound his way through the complex, past the construction bay where his transport shuttle was currently being filled with supplies and construction equipment. The ground crew walked with clipboards, doing their final flight checks of the supply-laden transport. Cole and Tessa were already aboard the first of the launched hotel pods, now anchored to and floating near the Moon, readying it for his arrival.
Their employer and benefactor, Duncan Janson, had carried on without them the six months they’d been assumed lost in space after their asteroid mining debacle. And when they’d returned with an alien ship shelled with platinum and a fuel hopper full of asteroid samples? The boon had provided the financial boost Janson needed to launch the next phase of his plan for space tourism.
“Captain,” a voice called from behind him.
Noah spun around abruptly. “What now?” he bit out.
The look on the intern’s face tweaked at Noah’s conscience, but he didn’t apologize. The kid was on his last nerve.
“Never mind. I’ll take care of it.” The intern slunk away, avoiding further eye contact.
The overhead page requesting his presence in the sick bay nearly pushed him over the edge. For a second, he considered walking out of the building, getting into the Bombardier, and driving across the desert until the blasted thing stopped.
Instead, he lowered his head and pounded across the campus to the sick bay.
To his Apache princess.
Noah sensed the tension the moment he walked through the sliding doors of the sick bay. The doors closed behind him with a whoosh, seemingly sucking the oxygen from the room as they sealed. The bay was in chaos. Broken glass and medical instruments lay scattered across the floor. The entire glass window of the ER room lay in shards before him. He raised his eyebrows, asking the question he already knew the answer to.
“Ela,” Dr. Alice Franklin said.
“Where is she? Is she injured?”
Dr. Franklin shook her head and motioned to the only closed door. “No, she’s fine. Pissed, but fine.”
“What happened here?” Noah asked.
“We cut a strand of her hair for further DNA testing. She took exception to it. Grabbed the scissors and nearly jabbed Curtis’ eye out with them.” Dr. Franklin swept a hand in front of her indicating the room. “Then she did this. She’s barricaded herself in her room. We can see from the video feed that she’s okay, but she’s been screaming for you for the past twenty minutes.”
Noah nodded. “Leave us.”
“I don’t think that’s a great idea. We would have sedated her, but we’d need a tranquilizer gun. She’s like a wild animal. She still has the scissors by the way.”
“I’ll be fine. Go. I’ll take her out for a while so you can set your lab to rights. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I just don’t know what we’re going to do with her while you’re gone.” Dr. Franklin turned to her remaining team. “Everyone, out. Let the lion tamer work his magic.”
Noah watched Ela on the computer monitor through the video feed.
Dr. Franklin put a hand on his shoulder. “Good luck.”
The staff’s footsteps faded down the hallway as the doors closed slowly behind him. With everyone gone except him, the room was silent. Ela pressed her ear to the wall, trying to listen. Her face scrunched up, and her lips thinned into a grim line. He knew that look. She was curious and trying to determine what was happening outside her room. Her instincts were to be wary, but her curiosity won every time.
He pressed the intercom button then held down the translate button. “Ela, its Noah. Please let me in.”
She looked up at the speaker on the wall then sent a torrent of angry words toward it. Noah pressed the intercom/translate buttons again. “Use the transcom, please.”
She didn’t. Instead, she began flinging the furniture and equipment away from the door, dismantling her barricade so he could enter. Several long minutes later, she backed away from the door and sat on the quilt-covered bed, arms crossed, and waited.
The transcom was helpful, but only when she used it. The transcom’s universal software learned the user’s voice. Once a user had utilized the device long enough, it recognized dialects and characteristics. It worked with any Wi-Fi or satellite connected device, static or personal mobile units. High tech algorithms then translated from the speaker’s language into any language in one’s natural voice milliseconds after they started to speak. It was a bit off-putting at first, like the un-synced sound and picture of a television, but it was a million times better than pointing and grunting.
If only she’d use it more.
Noah took a deep breath, steeling himself against the confrontation to come. He crossed to her door and turned the handle, pushing against it with his shoulder, and swung the door open slowly. He hadn’t seen the scissors in her hands. That didn’t mean she didn’t have them at the ready.
He scanned the room quickly, left to right, but found her where he’d left her on the monitor, sitting on the bed, back straight, her expression fuming. For a quick second, he imagined cartoon steam rolling out of her ears and stifled a chuckle. It wouldn’t do to laugh at her, and he’d never be able to explain the reference to her anyway.
“Ela,” he said.
She ran to him, burying her face against his chest. His arms wrapped around her in automatic response. A tumble of words flew out of her, undecipherable even if she had used the transcom. When she quieted, he pushed back from her, lifting her chin to look into her eyes.
“What have you done?” he asked, unable to keep the disappointment from his voice.
She shrank a little under his hard gaze, casting her eyes to the floor briefly, the tone of his words clear even if the message wasn’t. When she looked up at him again, though, her resolve was evident. She’d had enough.
He couldn’t blame her, really. She didn’t know he was going away for a couple of weeks. In fact, he hadn’t planned to tell her at all. Cowardly, he knew, but she was stubborn. A characteristic he doubted had anything to do with her being a misplaced Apache and everything to do with her being a woman. He could feel the eye roll Tessa would give him at that thought.
Janson would stroke if Noah took her off the base, but she wasn’t his property. Since her arrival, she’d been treated more like a science experiment than the refugee and survivor she was. It was time to do something about that. Janson couldn’t throw too big a fit. As far as the government knew, Ela didn’t exist. No birth certificate. No social security number. Nothing.
She’d quite literally fallen from space. No way would Janson bring attention to her in the media or with the government because doing so would expose his top-secret side project: time travel. The wormhole was unpredictable, but Janson had a team anchored to Amun, studying it right now. Noah prayed they never figured out how to open and close the damn thing. The ramifications were unimaginable. He, Cole, and Tessa would have kept their entire experience in the early 1800s New Mexico desert with Ela’s tribe and the alien that followed them through the wormhole a secret. But Ela’s very existence on their ship when they arrived home negated that opportunity.
Still, he could set this right. Or, at least more right than it was now. For his sake as much as for Ela’s.
Stepping closer to Ela, he extended his hand to her. He’d never been to the Mescalero Reservation west of the base.
It was time to remedy that.
About the Author:
Lisa has always enjoyed reading about monsters in love and now she writes about them, because monsters need love too.
She adores beasties of all sorts, fictional as well as real, and has a farm full of them in her Southwest Missouri home, including: one child, one husband, two dogs, two cats, a dozen hens, thousands of Italian bees, and a guinea pig.
She may or may not keep a complete zombie apocalypse bug-out bag in her trunk at all times, including a machete. Just. In. Case.
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