Author: Edward Hoornaert
Genre: Science Fiction
Jo Beaverpaw is born fully dressed, well-armed, and impatient to tackle her Destiny. Namely, killing her alien nation's most wanted fugitive. Her programmers want her to live a few hours, kill, then die.
But something goes wrong.
Darby Lapierre has the thankless task of protecting Jo’s target while the woman heals from gunshot wounds. It's a hard job, but not impossible for a skillful bodyguard like Darby.
Until, that is, Jo shows up at the private hospital after an accident. Beautiful, naive, young Jo knows nothing about life and love, and wants Darby to teach her. Just until she's well enough to attack her Destiny, of course.
And then Darby will be in her way . . . .
I was born.
One moment I didn't exist and never had existed and then, blink, I stood in a clearing, fully dressed, well armed, and impatient to tackle my Destiny.
Like a magnet seeking north, I turned in the direction of Destiny, downhill and to my left. I strode toward it—baby's first step—and nearly tripped. I crouched. I stood slowly, arms outstretched for balance against the world's unexpected hazards.
"Careful," I whispered—baby's first word, spoken in a creamy soprano that soothed my ears. I looked around, which I should have done before taking a step. How could I kill if I couldn't even walk?
I stood on a slab of granite underlying the clearing. Rain blessed my face as I gazed up through a ragged opening in the evergreens—the birth canal through which I'd been born? A wall of underbrush ringed the slab, with no exit. A jailbreak, then, was the first test of my worthiness for glory. But how?
The granite was craggy, a miniature mountain, so I crept up its peak. Pleased with my strength and agility, I stood there like a totem pole, one-point-seven meters above my birthplace.
Green-grey light revealed a hushed immensity. Except for the birth canal over the slab, branches formed an impenetrable ceiling. Starved of sunlight, the ground beyond the clearing supported few shrubs, but fallen logs and boulders would make leaping over my jail walls perilous.
To my left, however, was a tiny patch of flatness. Could I leap over the bushes and land there? It would be tricky. Maybe impossible. The high-powered rifle over my shoulder could shift, throwing me off balance. Worse, I'd never jumped, not even once. I didn't know what I was I capable of.
Destiny insisted I try. I climbed down and hopped in place once, then again, as high as I could. Ha. There was nothing to this jumping stuff.
Satisfied, I backed up four paces. I crouched…breathed…broke into a sprint and at the last moment thrust upward, curling into a ball. I soared up and over the jail wall. Angry at my escape, a branch spanked my bottom. I flew for nearly as long as I'd been alive, because the forest floor lay three-point-one meters down.
I uncurled, spread my arms, and landed on my feet. I waited, not knowing what to expect. Would the ground hold me? Swallow me? Spank me?
But nothing happened. I'd landed perfectly. Pride blossomed.
No one shouted at me, either, because no one had witnessed either my birth or my jailbreak. The forest was empty of mankind, as it should be.
"This is how Kwadra used to be, before," I whispered without knowing either Kwadra or before what. I was, after all, a newborn.
Although I had nothing to compare it to, this body seemed strong and capable. I ran my hands over my arms, shoulders, breasts, belly. My hiking clothes were high-quality and brand new—except for the boots, which were worn to the contours of my feet even though I hadn't been alive to break them in.
Hesitantly, fearing what I might find, I raised fingertips to my cheeks. They were smooth. Was I pretty? It didn't matter, of course, but I wondered.
What did matter was that inside this strong wrapper of flesh, my heart was pure, my conscience was clear, and a scalding sense of right and wrong possessed me. It was right that I head downhill to a mountain creek and turn sixty-one degrees to the left. After one-point-one-three kilometers, I must skirt a pathetic little village and proceed to a fishing lodge turned hospital/old person's home, near the ocean.
Destiny lay inside that lodge.
I headed toward it, but after forty-nine steps, a tree blocked my path. Ropy bark spiraled around the trunk. My mind supplied a name.
"Western red cedar," I said aloud.
I reached two conclusions. First, my words didn't disturb the forest. Speaking must be acceptable if no one heard me.
Second, I would have to detour around the tree. Although it irked my sense of right and wrong, the route to Destiny could not follow a straight line.
I pondered this realization, which seemed obvious as soon as I thought about it. This was the first piece of wisdom I'd ever deduced. Was I, then, intelligent?
More importantly, if I must detour out of necessity, would it be acceptable to detour—briefly, briefly—for pleasure? Dare I savor this magnificent cedar, for example, or the stream that gurgled unseen off to the right?
My mind insisted I should pursue Destiny with no deviations at all, like an arrow streaking to its target. But I wasn't an arrow of wood and feathers. I was a human being of flesh and blood.
I pondered that for a massive time—seventy-four-point-eight seconds—but was unable to decide about my humanity. Insufficient data.
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The Alien Contact for Idiots series is unique in that the heroes are First Nations men and women of the Kwakiutl (kwakwaka'wakw) nation – but not the Kwakiutl living today on Vancouver Island. Nor the Kwakiutl I taught on Gilford Island years ago. These Kwakiutl are from the future of an alternate Earth, and since using almost inconceivable technology to move their island kingdom to our Earth, they’re the most advanced people on the planet.
But all is not peaceful among them. An unsuccessful revolt against the king has seen one of the uprising’s ringleaders escaping across the water to Canada. The Kwakiutl dispatch a unique assassin to deal with the miscreant.
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Edward Hoornaert (a.k.a. Mr. Valentine) is not only a writer, he’s a certifiable Harlequin Hero; he inspired N.Y. Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson to write her favorite Harlequin Desire, “Mr. Valentine”, which was dedicated to him. In the past, he wrote contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he writes science fiction adventures—usually with elements of romance and humor. In addition to novelist, he has been a teacher, technical writer, salesman, waiter, janitor, and symphonic oboist.
After having 30 different addresses in his first 28 years, his rolling stone slowed in the mountains of British Columbia and stopped in Tucson, Arizona. His high school sweetheart has been his wife for more years than he has fingers and toes to count. Ed and Judi have four children, a rescue dog, and the galaxy’s most delightful grandsons.
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Author website: https://eahoornaert.com