Mass Effect Andromeda: Reaction to the first 5 hours

Ryder

My version of Sara Ryder.

It should come as no surprise that someone who writes science fiction with romance would enjoy the Mass Effect universe created by Bioware. Yes, I played the trilogy. Despite its flaws, I still consider it one of the greatest RPGs of all time: it did something no other RPG series had done. It created a trilogy, with unique choices from each game carrying over into the subsequent games. You can argue about how the ending of ME3 made those choices superfluous, but that is for a different day. That third game had a weight that few roleplay games have matched. I still remember tearing up during Liara’s conversation with my lady Shepard about the time capsule. I cried when Mordin died. That game hit so many emotional beats there were times when I had to walk away because I needed a break to process what had happened.

So to say that I am excited about Mass Effect Andromeda’s release would be a huge, massive understatement. Sure, I have my reservations; as stated, ME3 wasn’t without flaws, and I’ve been burned by Bioware before (Dragon Age: 2 was pretty terrible). But that being said, I enjoyed the heck out of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I’ve been excited to see how Andromeda turned out ever since.

I played the first five hours last night, once EA Access opened up their ten hour trial early. But before it did, I’d already seen some early “first impressions” posts go live. The scathing one at Rock, Paper, Shotgun by John Walker being the one that got the most play, largely, I think, because the internet loves nothing so much as a good roasting. What struck me about it, however, was the absolute delight he seemed to take in writing the most negative “review” possible…while then admitting in the comments that he never even played Dragon Age Inquisition. Since his post went live, some other “mixed” reviews came out. And one thing is very clear: there are people absolutely loving the game, who love how it feels like Mass Effect, and people who are ripping it apart for following the same basic formula Bioware always has, and because it…feels…like…Mass Effect.

No lie. A camp of people, including the most scathing review above, seem inclined to hate the game because it “retreads familiar territory”. They also aren’t getting too attached to the characters yet, some going so far as to call the writing or voice acting clunky, or worse. Others really dislike the “chosen one” format, where your character becomes the chosen one hero who can lead everyone to salvation within the first hour of the game. After my play experience last night, I would like to address these from my perspective, and I suspect it is a perspective that will match many other player experiences – I mean, I can’t be the only one enjoying the game!

  1. The “retread complaint”. Well, speaking as a writer, I would like to point out that Andromeda is a new entry point into the series. They actually have to retread some ground to introduce new players to the universe. I suppose they could have handled some of that exposition better, more smoothly. A lot is accomplished through conversational options with the NPCs…and if you are a veteran ME player and don’t care to hear what the genophage is again, or how it affects the krogan in Andromeda, you don’t have to ask. So…rather like the fetch quests that some say bogged down DAI – you can just skip a lot of it.
  2. The characters – your squadmates. Okay, just how iconic were Garrus, Kaidan, Wrex or Liara in ME1? I challenge you to think about that game, in particular the first few hours. I think you only really met Kaidan, Ashley and Garrus in that time, and certainly they seemed a bit generic, even forgettable at that early point. Time was needed to really get to know them. To experience major story beats alongside them, to feel that Garrus became your best bro, or that your character was falling for anyone. Time is irreplaceable. No one is going to feel totally involved in Cora or Liam, Vetra or PeeBee in the opening hours of the game. Give it a chance! Give Bioware a chance. Their characters are something they’re known for, especially in this universe.
  3. The writing. Yes, in some places the writing is clunky. A couple lines of dialogue are just “meh” (I cringe every time I see the opening sequence where Cora says “It seems centuries since we spoke.”) But the story is just getting started. I think if you review any game, there will be moments of clunkiness in the writing, easily ignored. I mean, Gears? Gears 4 had some clunky writing, y’all. And in DAI, it didn’t click in and really feel like Dragon Age to me until the first confrontation with Corypheus. I remember the moment clearly. My character uses the trebuchet to blow up a mountain and bury the village, and then must struggle through a storm to escape, and wakes to a camp full of arguing companions and advisors, and then a song breaks out. That whole sequence put me back in the emotional place of playing DA:O. When you are playing games as massive as these, give it time to settle in before you make a judgement. I’ve already felt a glimmer of that ME magic, in a significant if short cut-scene between Sara and her Dad that I can’t be more specific about without major spoilers. (Not to mention all of the little nods – anyone else notice the dialogue happening during the tram transport from your ship to the Nexus? Remind you of, oh, any elevator rides at The Citadel?) I also love that Ryder’s Dad is an N7. That is a great tie back to the trilogy. To me, this already feels like a Mass Effect game, and that is a huge win at five hours in.
  4. The voice acting. I really don’t see an issue at all with this so far. Like, what are these complainers even talking about? The voice acting, as with most Bioware games, is superb. (I know there were some complaints about male Shepard’s monotone, but I played as lady Shep, so…no comment, I guess.)
  5. “The Chosen One”. Dude. Seriously? One, you are playing an RPG – your character is the hero. They are supposed to be special and awesome! Two, you are playing a Bioware RPG! This is the format! The one they’ve been using for…forever! If you want something different, play some other RPG and hope it doesn’t use the same trope, I guess. After how many games of “The Warden”, “The Champion”, “Spectre”, “The Inquisitor” – if you are upset that Bioware is using a “chosen one” story, I have news – you probably shouldn’t be playing their games. As to it happening in the first hour of the game, well. Yes, it might have been nice to get a little prologue with some interaction between Dad Ryder, Bro Ryder and Sara, maybe back in the Milky Way before the Initiative began. If I were writing this as a book, it’s what I would have done. Joseph Campbell calls it establishing the Ordinary World before you sink your hero into his or her new, heroic world. I call it establishing an emotional link to the characters and who they are before events start to change them. It’s one of the reasons that Pirate Nemesis has a prologue, introducing Mercy as a thirteen-year-old. But, it’s not like we have a long history of getting that ordinary world piece in Bioware games…or any RPG. As I’m thinking of The Witcher 3, one of the best RPGs of all time, it, too, starts Geralt off right in the middle of things, chasing Ciri and Yen.

And I think that is my biggest takeaway. How many companies are making big, character driven RPGs like this? Personally, I can only think of two – Bioware and CD Projekt Red. Maybe there are more I don’t know about, but the Japanese RPGs I have played don’t really seem to allow you the same choices or be as character driven (to me), and Bethesda’s games, while entertaining, are what I call “beer and pizza” RPGs. Beautiful, sprawling open worlds. Very little actual characterization. I don’t really care about anyone. It’s a dungeon crawl with a big story I almost never really care about or finish. I have never cried at a Bethesda game. In fact, as excellent as Dragon Age: Origins and DAI were, I have only ever cried in two game worlds: Mass Effect and The Witcher. (Although, if I had romanced Alistair in DA:O and he died at the end, I probably would have cried. As it was, it was the first time I ever sat and just let all of the credits play at the end of a game, because I felt so emotionally invested I didn’t want it to end. The Witcher 3 was the same.)

I get that ME:A has some graphics problems, particularly with the faces. I was stunned to find my customization options limited to a few alterations to a handful of presets. DA:I you could take the preset and literally change everything about it. ME:A, not so much. I get there are flaws. I understand that, and I hope there are some patches that come out addressing some of them. I hope the next game improves on the character animations. (But didn’t we all say that about ME1, 2 and 3 as well? Who can forget the horror of no eyelashes on your character during cut scenes? Or the “giraffe neck” problem of lady Shepard?) I view these as minor annoyances, not game-breaking issues.

So everyone out there posting these scathing first impression reviews, I guess I just want to know: what is it you want from Bioware? What game out there emulates the perfection you are seeking? And before you answer, yes, there are certain things CD Projekt Red does better. Just like there are certain things Bioware does better. For me, both of these companies do a great job, and yes, I did like The Witcher 3 slightly more than DA:I, but it also feels a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Both are excellent roleplay games, with very different feels, systems, strengths and flaws. I think Andromeda is going to be an amazing game. I can’t wait to be 20 or 30 hours in and totally immersed.

Oh, and one more thing: I haven’t played multiplayer yet, but from everything I hear it is an updated version of ME3 multiplayer, and that is perfect for me. To those complaining it isn’t “like Gears 4 Horde”, why would you want it to be? G4H is an awesome bullet-sponge horde and I really enjoy it. ME was never like that. It’s about different classes and powers and killing the bad guys in whatever way best suits your mood or style of play. Gears is building fortifications and a base and shooting until they’re dead. It’s okay that each game is different, and I’m super excited to be able to play both.

If anyone from Bioware happens to read this, kudos to you for producing a game I think I’ll be enjoying for many, many hours to come. Don’t let the haters get you down! Always remember that the negative is the most vocal online, and the positive are too busy actually playing the game.

Important Announcement

Hey everyone! I tend to be a lot more active on my author Facebook page than here on the blog. However, in truly baffling news, Facebook has begun randomly deleting author Facebook pages! I know two people this has happened to. No explanation, no warning – just suddenly their page is gone, and they’ve lost all of those posts, comments and followers. I can’t do anything to control whether or not I’m targeted, since no one knows why Facebook is doing this.

So, with that in mind, from now on every single FB post I make to my author page will start here, as a blog post. I’ll then link the blog via my FB page. If people want to be sure they never miss anything, I strongly advise following me in both places. Sorry for the inconvenience. Believe me, authors are not happy about this.

HUGE Announcement!

I have news.

You might not all know this, but I work a “day job”, meaning, I work full time and write when I can. I would love to write full time. That is the dream, that is the goal. Not only would it allow me to produce books faster, but that has been my dream since I was ten years old. I’m not giving it up now.

So this announcement is about moving one step closer to that. I’ve been offered a new job. I’m going to take it. It will mean working with one of the best book and author marketing wizards in the business. It will replace my day job, while allowing me to work fewer hours, giving more of that time to writing. She is awesome and amazing, while my current day job is extremely stressful and often a negative work environment. You can imagine the impact that has on my ability to write words.

Here is “the catch”, so to speak. I will be working both jobs for a short period of overlap. Between now and Christmas. Which means my writing time for the next two months will be extremely limited. Yes, this means a small delay in the release of Pirate Consort. I’m sorry. That is the ONLY aspect of this move that is in any way disappointing. However, a small delay now means more writing time, more books in the future. Like, starting in January. That feels like a win, even if it means one book is delayed.

Please stick with me, readers. You mean the world to me. This series and these books mean the world to me. 2017 is going to be a big year.

Pets in Space Release Day!!

pets-in-spaceIt’s here! Today is the day Pets in Space launches. This project was truly a labor of love for all of the authors involved. We love pets. We love SF.  Nine authors come together to write nine fantastic stories of science fiction romance…with pets! Everything from a telepathic fox (my story, Escape Run) to a bearded dragon!

10% of the first month’s proceeds goes to Hero-Dogs.org, an organization that pairs service dogs with our military veterans. So what are you waiting for? Go get your copy today!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pets-Space-Other-Worldly-Creature…/…/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-petsinspace-212756…
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pets-in-space-p…/1124712730…
GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/…/…/details/S_E_Smith_Pets_in_Space…
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pets-in-space/id1160010182…
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/pets-in-space

 

Guest Post: Far, Far Away…and Closer to Home with S. E. Smith

 

What pet would be the best fit for living on Mars? 

 Does a pet rock count? LOL. My age might be showing. I remember when they were all the rage. Due to a lack of water and the ensusan1vironment issues, I’d probably have to stick with a couple of Furbies. I see they are going for a pretty good price on eBay. If I had to choose a live pet, it would probably be PIA. She is so affectionate, I wouldn’t have to worry about being lonely. I don’t ever think I’ve met a cat who loves to touch you as much as she does or who is quite as vocal. She even loves to snuggle as evidenced by her loud snores the other day. Yep, nothing like having a slightly malfunctioning cat as your partner if you were stuck on Mars.

 

 What animal companions (if any) currently ‘help’ you write? 

PIA and the squirrels are wonderful ‘writing’ companions. PIA loves to rub on the screen of my laptop as I’m trying to write and if I’m not careful, she’ll flop down on the keyboard. If that wasn’t enough of a distraction, the squirrels in my backyard are just as bad about pulling my attention away from what I should be doing. I’m kicking myself because I have some really awesome pictures of the squirrels, including Notch, but of course, I can’t remember where I downloaded it. *** Update! Determination pays off and I found Notch! You’ll see why we call him that.

He is in the Mulbersusan2ry tree. Purple paws and all, Notch the Squirrel was enjoying a feast of Mulberries at the time. Mangos, bananas, mulberries, and pineapples are a few of the delicacies at the Smith residence. Current update: Out of 11 pineapples: Squirrels 7; Humans 4. Mangoes: Squirrels too many to count; Humans 7.

 

 

susan3PIA in one of her, ‘You’re mine!’ moods. You can’t see that she has her claws embedded into my jeans to make sure I don’t go anywhere!

 

 

 

Teaser from A Mate for Matrix from Pets in Space:

“May I pet your dog?” The girl asked Jana.

Jana paused before she nodded. “Sure, just be careful and let him sniff your hand first,” she said.

K-Nine stuck his head out of the window when Jana and the girl called Gracie walked around the back of the transport. He tilted his head and closely studied the little girl. She had curly blonde hair that flew out around her head, a small nose, and rounded cheeks, but it was her eyes that captured and held his attention. They were a vivid green and danced with innocence and intelligence.

“My name is Gracie Jones. We’re from New York,” Gracie said with a smile. “Where are you from?”

And just because, here is a second teaser for you:

Matrix licked his lips when he saw the creamy flesh of her thigh exposed by the gaping towel. If it moved just a little to the…. His eyes widened for a moment when her hand suddenly struck out.

He blinked as the world grew hazy while his eyes slowly rolled back in his head. Matrix could feel his body starting to collapse to the floor. Three things flashed through his mind before everything went blank; first, he was thankful the creature on his leg had released him, second, the female was pretty, and, third, he should have checked both of her hands.

Click here for your copy of Pets in Space http://sesmithfl.com/pets-in-space-anthology/

S.E. Smith, New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling author of Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance brings another action, adventure, and suspense- filled story to transport readers out of this world. Readers can check out her website at http://sesmithfl.com and chat with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/se.smith.5.

 

Guest Post: People Make Space for Pets with Alexis Glynn Latner

 

agl-blog-1Consider the bark park.

It’s a special, fenced area for dogs to romp freely. The first bark park I ever saw was in Berkeley, California in the 1980’s, and it was all in the news – a California cutting edge kind of thing.  Now bark parks are everywhere. The popularity of bark parks may owe something to the increasing tendency of urban dwellers to have apartments and condos, rather than yards.  It could also have to do with the sheer numbers of dogs that share cities with us and the undesirablility of having dogs off the leash in parks shared by everyone. At any rate, there are more and more bark parks, and more and more happy good dogs.

This is but one way we accommodate our pets.  There are dog houses, bird cages, ant farms, lizard terrariums.  We can buy cat habitats so elaborate that the father of a friend of mine once referred to the one in their home as a “cat condo.” There are special boxes you can extend through a window to give a house cat a place in sun. Of course if we have a pet, it has to have a place, but our culture goes beyond giving pets a place, all the way to making very special spaces for them. The effect can be pretty funny or quaint (or conceivably excessive;  but excessive may be in the eye of the beholder.)

In a fine public park in Cody, Wyoming, I discovered two fenced bark parks—one for large dogs and one for small pooches. This was the big dog bark park. The fire hydrants defined an area specifically for doggie bathroom use. It was a kick to discover the fire hydrant area as I explored the park. And it made me wonder:  what does this say about our culture?  That dogs are seamlessly integrated into American city life is one likely conclusion – and that this includes small cities like Cody.

What do you think an uninitiated alien might anthropologist think?  Do you suppose that an inexperienced and alien student of anthropology, looking at our world in some kind of post-apocalyptic era, would think it was like an elephant’s graveyard, where old and ill fire hydrants came to die?

Guest Post: To Name a Champion with Susan Grant

Dogs and cats are my life. My house does not seem like a home without furry friends. Both rescue pets and show pets have brought joy to my life. Here’s a cool thing that happened to me that I wanted to share with you.

Erin, one of my readers is the daughter of a Marine Corps “Gunny” (the highest non-commissioned officer rank) and the sister of an Air Force captain. Erin has always been so proud of them. She even wanted to join the military herself when she was young. But life intervened in other wonderful ways, and she ended up on another path. One of those paths led her to breeding and showing champion Collies.

I got to know Erin back in 2007 when she wrote to tell me how much she loved my action romance The Legend of Banzai Maguire. She explained that she bred and showed dogs. Quite a few of my friends breed dogs, so I was familiar with the love, hard work, and dedication this demands. Erin and her husband were about to show their dog Vita at Westminster (think: the Olympics of dog shows in the USA). She planned to breed Vita afterward and she hoped to have a good female in that litter to name after the character Banzai Maguire. Well, not only did they get a good puppy, they got a great one. It was love at first sight…

 

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Baby Bonzai

Erin would mail me updates as to how Banzai was progressing. It was almost surreal to see Banzai advance to become the #1 female Smooth Collie in the country! Living up to the female action hero after whom she was named. It is very unusual, almost unheard of to have the owners be the show handlers. Most times that’s contracted out. But Erin always was hands-on, and was there with Banzai every step of the way. They were an incredible team. I’m so proud of them!

 

Top dog!

Top dog!

sgrant1

All that winning makes a girl hungry!

Erin says, “I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of her. There will NEVER be another like her.” Yep, BIS/BISS Gold Grand Champion Tir Na N’ Og The Legend Of Banzai Maguire, aka “Banzai” is one of a kind, just like her namesake, Bree “Banzai” Maguire. I’m so proud, too!

I have named pets after airplanes and Pokemon characters but never after any characters in books (have you?) but now I totally want to.

Since there’s so much in a name, I would love to share an excerpt (in the dog’s point of view!) from Stray, my story in the Pets in Space anthology, when the hero, Lt. Lukas Frank names his new K-9 partner:

“There’ll be no getting rid of him now, Sir. You’re gonna have to name him. How about Kabob? We can call him Bobby.”

“Kabob? What the f—?” The Tall One sounded unhappy.

He cowered all over again, tucking his tail.

“Because the Baréshtis like to eat street dogs—”

“That’ll be all, Staff Sergeant.” The Tall One turned back to study him. “A backfire sent you running—straight to me. I could call you Backfire…” Then he shook his head. “Nope. Doesn’t fit. It was more like a double bang. A bang, bang.” A hand ruffled his fur. “That’s it. Bang-Bang. A good name. Come on, boy. You’ve just been recruited to be an Interplanetary Marine. Bezos Station could use a few good dogs.” The Tall One hoisted Bang-Bang high off the ground into his arms. “But first, dinner and a bath. Definitely a bath.”

Thank you for having me on you blog! I love chatting about pets AND books!

Guest Post: The Cats with No Name with Pauline Baird Jones

 

pauline-blog-postWhen I was younger we used to have a cat that liked to sleep with me at night. He was the softest gray and he’d snuggle up next to me with his kitty head on the pillow next to mine, like he was person, not a cat. Sometimes he’d nudge me until I was almost off the bed. I loved that cat, even though he was a bed hog.

And…I don’t remember his name.

So I asked my sister and she said, “I don’t think any of our cats had names. We just called them here kitty kitty, nice kitty, cat, darn cat…”

I sort of remember us talking about names, but I don’t remember us deciding. Maybe that’s the problem. Too many people trying to agree on one thing? (I had four brothers and one sister.) So apparently we had a series of Cats with No Names. (Except for Clarence, our cross-eyed cat who was named after the cross-eyed lion. No, these were not what I’d call politically correct times. So maybe it is a good thing we didn’t name our cats…)

Now I feel like the ghosts of all those cats are lined up in front of me, giving me those very penetrating cat-guilt stares, daring me to NOT name them.

“Here, kitty kitty…”

Okay, they are not amused, so I’m going to move on. I do want you to know that when we left home, and became owned by pets, we DID name them.  The two cats who owned us were Felix and Oscar. While Felix was named after a hurricane, Oscar got his name because of The Odd Couple. And yes, they were a feline version. Felix was fussy and cleaned up after Oscar, who always had a “what?” expression in his eyes.

When it came time to name the bearded dragon in my short story, “The Real Dragon,” I actually did a Google search for dragon names. I thought it was a long shot, but I didn’t even have to type the whole search string into the bar. There’s even a dragon name generator out there.

Don’t’ believe me? Try clicking here. Just be prepared to name a dragon.

But if Peddrenth comes up, that’s taken.

If you’d like to “meet” my dragon, I hope you’ll check out “The Real Dragon.” You’ll find it in Pets in Pets, with seven other original stories and one expanded story of romance, adventure and PETS by some amazing authors. AND, bonus! If you buy Pets in Space, you’ll also be helping to benefit Hero-Dogs.org, a wonderful organization that trains dogs to help veterans cope with PTSD and other war related injuries.

 

I saw a flicker of reptile tail near the last pew, then his snout poked out from behind the wooden base. I looked away as Iris closed on us. What was Peddrenth doing in the chapel? Wasnt he supposed to be cloaked with Mazan?

Iris reached my dad and gave him a coy smile as she grabbed his arm and almost yanked him around to face the minister.

It was a good thing I hadnt expected to enjoy my dad’s wedding. From “The Real Dragon,” Pets in Space

 

Pauline never liked reality, so she writes books. She likes to wander among the genres, rampaging like Godzilla, because she does love peril mixed in her romance. You can find out more about her books (and get a free story for subscribing to her newsletter) at: http:///www.paulinebjones.com

Guest Post: Snakes on a Starship, Rattlesnake in the Garage with Laurie Green

laurie-blog-postA bit of serendipity occurred while I was in the process of writing my story, StarDog for the Pets in Space Anthology. Okay, serendipity may be way too light-hearted as a word choice. More like “Are you kidding me?”

Because you see, a rattlesnake had slithered its way into my garage. And I encountered said trespasser coiled up next to the door while carrying my very small dogs outside for their break.

In my slippers, I might add.

EEEEeeek!

What did I do? Well, there’s a brief scene in the story where one of the characters dances on his toes upon first encountering a viper. Guess where that came from?

Turns out—though having a pit viper in your garage is never a good thing—it actually helped lend a bit of realism to my fictional situation. Because my story opens with a very bad situation when the crew discovers they have snakes infesting on their starship. My mindset of “watch your step,” “check the corners” and “scan the path ahead” wheedled its way into the characters’ actions and thoughts near the start of the story.

Ironically, my real life horror story was perfectly timed to apply creatively to StarDog.

Loose in my garage, the rattler could have been virtually anywhere. (They’re even known to climb objects!) It was easy to take that scenario and move it onboard a spacecraft. Imagine deadly vipers invading the ventilation system, the ductwork, the mechanical room…the crew quarters!

Like the rattlesnake-in-my-garage, venomous snakes on a starship is a problem that needs to be addressed, right now.

And that’s where fate steps in for two of the characters.

You can read StarDog to see how this plight is quickly resolved onboard the starship Calypso. As for the real life rattler in my garage? He apparently let himself back out the same way he’d let himself in.

No rattlesnakes were harmed in the making of this story. J

StarDog

Navigator Taro Shall has a mission no one wants – find a way to eradicate snakes on a starship. He never expects to find the answer to his problem in a charming street vendor named Adini. His already unusual mission becomes more complicated when he suddenly acquires an adorable StarDog that soon sweeps him and Adini into the maw of a brewing insurrection.

 

Author Bio

Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, an award-winning author, and a science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which is now nearly 900 members strong.

She confesses to being an Andromeda Galaxy groupie and would someday love to own a vacation home on Mars or Titan. She’s enthused to be a part of this wonderful anthology mash-up of two of her favorite things–pets and space.

Her family includes her husband, David, four dogs, three cats and several horses, all who reside on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico. A former military budget director and reserve state trooper, she now spends her time writing, networking, researching, enjoying the Southwestern lifestyle and, naturally, stargazing and daydreaming about other worlds.

 

Website:          http://www.laurieagreen.com/

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/Laurie-A-Green-139849829386292/

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/SFRLaurie

Twitter Handle:           @SFRLaurie

 

 

Guest Post: Lea Kirk Tells Us Her Favorite Scene in Space Ranger

lea-kirk-blog-postLea Kirk’s story for Pets in Space is Space Ranger. Today, she tells us about her favorite scene! Welcome, Lea!

Graig stomped along the corridor toward the ship’s atrium. Others he passed acknowledged him with a nod or salute, but few seemed eager to make eye contact as if they feared being on the receiving end of his attention. That was fine, as long as they left him alone. The only one he wanted to interact with at this moment was that insolent Terrian woman, Alex Bock.

Without a doubt, my favorite scene in SPACE RANGER is the confrontation between our hero, Graig Roble, and his best friend’s wife, Alex. The two of them always seem to set each other off. Alex once described her relationship with Graig this way:

“It’s a love/hate relationship. I love to hate the man.”

These two are stubborn people who care deeply for each other. Alex’s fuse is shorter than Graig’s, and she tends to lose her patience faster. In this contribution to the PETS IN SPACE anthology, Graig can’t seem to grasp that he has a serious problem which is affecting his job performance. Frustrated, Alex goes for the most extreme solution to get him to acknowledge his issue, a solution that leaves Graig with no options. This leads to an epic confrontation that lands them both in hot water.

Here’s a small bit from this scene:

Warm, humid air rolled over Graig laden with the heavy scent of tropical flowers. His gaze took in the lush plant life growing in this section of Atlantis’s atrium. Simone loved tropical plants, especially hibiscus.

Focus. This wasn’t about Simone, it was about Alex and what she had done. Most likely, she would be in the farming section, which was beyond the section housing the tropical plants. He continued to stomp along the path—because stomping was justified—and through another set of doors.

The farming section was much less humid, but still warm and bright with artificial sunlight. He could call out to her and she’d probably hear, but why give her any advantage?

A few turns later his quarry came into view. Alex Bock, his best friend’s wife, the esteemed Profeta, savior of Terr and Matir, first Terrian ambassador to Matir, and all-around pain in the ass was kneeling in the dirt picking little red berries.

“Alex.” Her name rolled from him like a threat.

She startled, looked up at him, and smiled. Smiled! Damn her.

“Hi, Graig.”

Her cheery words grated on his nerves like the high-pitched whine of one of those blood-sucking mosquitoes from her home-world. “Is that all you have to say? ‘Hi, Graig’?”

She tipped her head to one side with a puzzled expression, as if she had any reason to be puzzled. “Would you rather I said, ‘What’s up, dick wad’?”

***

You know the saying, “It’s all downhill from here”? Yeah, that.

I hope you have as much fun reading this excerpt as I did writing it. And I hope you enjoy reading the other out-of-this-world stories in the PETS IN SPACE anthology. 10% of this anthology’s first month’s sales will be donated to Hero-Dogs.org, an organization dedicated to providing trained canine companions to our military veterans, free of charge. These dogs help improve quality of life and restore independence for their serviceman or woman.

Check out Lea’s books on Amazon!