Welcome to the Traveler BLOG TOUR.
Hello wonderful bookish friends! Today, I have an exciting EXCERPT REVEAL from Traveler by S.E. Anderson to share with you. I absolutely love this sci-fi fantasy series and cannot wait for the third book to be out in the universe. So, please take your seat and strap yourself in for an out of this world tour!!!
Sally’s search for Earth isn’t off to a good start: chased out of her hotel room and into the broom closet of a spaceship, she’s accidentally become a stowaway on the Alliance Flagship, Traveler.
But when sabotage and murder show the crew’s true colors, Zander and Blayde are forced to stay and help them out of their mess. Lies, drama, and deceit lead them light years away to a mysterious planet on the edge of the galaxy, where the crew must band together just to stay alive. Which would be much easier if they didn’t have to deal with a diva first-mate, a droid with a religious obsession, and Blayde’s Ex whose brain is a spaceship.
Finding Earth has to be put on the back burner, as Sally’s stuck tending alien boo-boos – and she still has no idea what she’s doing. And she might live long enough to get off the planet in one piece.
The Most Interesting Closet in the Universe
When you hear knocking at the door in the middle of the night, you may be inclined to answer it; if you’re in an alien space hotel, it’s probably a bad idea.
My first instinct was to ignore it. For a few blissful minutes, I half-believed I was back on Earth waking from a bad dream—a dream in which my best friend had gotten me lost in some forgotten corner of the universe with no way of knowing how to get back to Earth. But that was a lie. The more aware I became, the more certainly I knew I was anywhere but home.
That might have had something to do with the giant window to my left, past which alien fish were swimming and paying a pretty penny to see what was unofficially an alien zoo. They stopped when they realized I was awake, probably hoping to glimpse some cool “alien” tricks. I groaned and tossed a pillow at them. It bounced off the glass, landing on the floor.
I sat up, groggy, letting my eyes become accustomed to the gloom. The room was dimly bathed in gentle waves of light, cast by the immense ocean outside. It would have been nice to watch, if it wasn’t for the pounding on the door.
“Coming, coming,” I grumbled, pulling myself from the warm sheets and shuffling to the door. It was probably Zander, back with an exciting story of Blayde’s exploits at the hoverpool table.
Before I could reach the lock, the door flew off its hinges, slamming into the window across the room. Three men shoved inside, their weapons glinting in the ocean’s blue glow. They pushed past the shattered doorframe toward me.
I didn’t have time to move. They lifted me off my feet and shoved into the wall before I could make a sound. The gloved hand was sticky against my neck, the grip was hella strong. My breathing was ragged against his palm, and pain radiated through my body.
Oh, shit. This was not good.
One of them flipped the light switch, illuminating not only the room but themselves. Finally, I saw their faces: definitely not human. Bald and green, with pointed ears and squashed noses, and taller than any human I knew. My first thought was of a goblin or an orc.
This really wasn’t Earth, but I still hoped it was a dream, the same way I’d hoped this whole disaster was a dream. I especially hoped this part wasn’t real because I had no intention of dying.
“Who … what …?” I hissed through my constricted windpipe. Bad idea. My mouth tasted metal, burning fire. Stars flickered in front of my vision, and not the pretty space kind.
I swung a foot forward and was rewarded with a grunt of pain. The hand around my throat loosened, and I crumbled to the floor, panting heavily. But there was no time to catch my breath. I psyched myself up to hop on my feet, take a fighting stance, and defend myself against the intruders.
Which I would have done, had I been someone with even a minute of training. Middle school karate club didn’t count. I didn’t have the strength to even get off the floor. All I could do was breathe as I struggled to get air into my lungs. Dark and bright spots flickered before my eyes, blinding out everything else.
Only three days had passed since I had survived my ordeal on Da-Duhui, falling miles down the chasm of their highways and taking a pounding from robot-zombie-aliens. The bruises had barely healed, yet here I was, being attacked once again.
“J’quad, that’s not her,” said one of the attackers. I was too busy staring at the ground to know which one.
“What do you mean that’s not her?” said the one closest to me, wheezing. Apparently, I had struck gold with my swinging feet. Maybe luck would go my way tonight after all.
“It’s human, though.”
“How would I know? They all look the same!”
“Woah, man, that’s specist,” said the third guy. “It might be true, but you don’t say that!”
“The human can’t understand me. Chill, bud,” said the wheezing one.
I could have pointed out that the universal translator sitting behind my ear did a great job of conveying what they were saying, though my lips stayed sealed. I might have been a survival novice, but I knew better than to throw away an advantage.
“Human,” hissed the one behind me. The tone of his voice changed.
I heard the words coming from his mouth but understood them as English. I was still getting used to the device, but it was probably the best thing to come out of this whole ordeal. Maybe after all this was done and I was home, I could watch anime without subs or dubs.
“Are you the human they call Blayde?” he asked, his sense of urgency clear.
Well of course they were after Blayde. The woman was unhinged. As an immortal, it seemed she had no limits; when she wasn’t off saving the world, she was cutting deals with shady lowlifes. There was no in-between with her. What she had done this time, I couldn’t even begin to imagine.
“No. I’m Sally Webber,” I said, pulling my legs under me and easing myself into a seat. It wasn’t a good position to be in. They had the upper hand on me, and I knew it. The one who had pinned me against the wall was wincing, still in pain from my kick. Go, me.
“She’s lying,” said the one closest to the door–or, more accurately, to where the door had been before they’d busted it. “Humans lie to get their own way.”
“The Blayde one has different colored hair, though, more…”—the middle one waved his gnarled green fingers around his head—“explody. Red, orange. This one doesn’t.”
“She might have changed”—wheeze—“before we got here. An alien camouflage,” said the one I had kicked.
“We know she’s with them! They’re the only humans in this place.” The third one stormed over to me, lowering his weapon so it pointed between my eyes. I strained to stare down the barrel, trembling. Good Lord, please let this be a dream. “Give us our falushing money!”
“I don’t have your money, please, I—”
They hit the floor simultaneously, and there, standing above them, was Zander, looking dapper in a trim crimson suit. He shot me a look, his brows furrowed.
Zander, one of my closest friends and interstellar… something. I still wasn’t sure if he was a mythical hero or an outer space outlaw, but I didn’t think he knew either. Like his sister, he was immortal and had lived so long his own home planet was lost to him. He was my best friend and the person who had stranded me on the far side of the universe rolled up into one, a paradox I was still trying to work out.
“Sally,” he said, eyes wide, reaching a hand to help me up. “Are you hurt? What did they do?”
“Nothing.” I rubbed my neck and took his hand. A few seconds was all it took to ruin a perfectly good throat. “They were looking for Blayde, but they didn’t have time to hurt me.”
“That’s a relief.” Zander helped me up, glanced me over, and nodded. “Look, Sally, I’m—”
“This is why we don’t let anyone come with us.”
Blayde stood in the doorway, her rainbow hair flowing in an invisible breeze. She wore a tight, silver cocktail dress, the kind a Bond girl would be comfortable in.
Zander’s sister and only other immortal in the room, perhaps in the entire universe, made me anxious simply by existing. The woman didn’t like me all that much, despite the fact I had proved myself to her at least twice. I had helped save my own planet then Da-Duhui. That had to count for something. She had been polite enough during our stay in this hotel, but only when she had to. Any other time, she avoided me like the plague–though maybe not the plague, seeing as how catching it wouldn’t phase her one way or another.
“Sally was sleeping and still managed to get in trouble.” She stepped over an unconscious alien. An incredible feat in those insanely high heels of hers. “I keep telling you bringing her along was a big mistake.”
“Excuse me?” I said. “I didn’t have anything to do with this, they were after you. It’s not like I asked to be stuck here. So, what did you do this time?”
“I was trying to pay our bill.”
“Our number one priority is getting her home,” said Zander and turned to me. “Sally, this won’t happen again. I promise.”
“Stop making promises you can’t keep,” said Blayde.
“Only when you stop hustling hoverpool.”
“It got us the money for the hotel, didn’t it?” She reached down to pick up a gun, sniffed it, shrugged, and hung on to it. “Sally, pack your things. We’re leaving.”
“Yes, now,” she said, glaring at Zander. Whatever problems she had with me seemed to emanate from him.
And so, I packed. I didn’t ask questions; I knew better than that. I had enough information to understand that she had been running a scam in the game lounge and had conned the wrong people. It was odd that the woman who had saved billions of people on Da-Duhui was also playing hoverpool schemes to get an easy buck.
Then again, it wasn’t like anybody paid her to save the world. A girl has to eat somehow.
The hotel was empty enough that no one had heard the commotion in my room. Zander dragged the bodies away (just unconscious, I hoped) as I packed. I stuffed all my earthly belongings into my duffel bag. IPod, dwindling prescription bottle, clothes, toothbrush, towel. I decided to keep the silky pajamas the hotel staff had given me, in case I’d be sleeping somewhere strange tomorrow night. I changed into jeans and a t-shirt, laced up my chucks, and was ready for the next jump.
Ready to go home, if indeed we were lucky enough to get there on the next try. The way jumping worked was randomized. You could only go back to the last place you visited. With Earth a few jumps behind us, finding it again would be nearly impossible.
But a girl can dream.
Zander came in next, changed from his bright red suit to something less conspicuous: a silver-gray pair of pants and a lighter gray shirt, hair standing tall and reaching for the heavens. Blayde followed in the same colorless clothes, tight leggings whereas Zander had loose pants.
“Let’s go,” she said, without asking if either of us were ready. She was ready, so we must be, too. I took their hands, and my atoms scattered across the tide of space.
For a few nauseating seconds, the only thing left in the universe was the dark. The dread. A cold nothing. It clung to me, seeping into my bones and freezing me to the core.
I felt like this would be my lot in life, forever. Like I would be stuck in this in-between, the backstage of the universe. But the darkness flickered, wavering like a candle’s flame.
Somehow, I felt the intensity of the universe, its size, its scale, but it was like there was a curtain between me and it. I felt part of the whole; part of the everything, and yet I was nothing.
And then, as quickly as it had struck, the darkness pulled away. Whoosh. The blindfold was ripped off, the universe snatched away—and I was in a broom closet.
The hair on my arms prickled as I was met with an unpleasant cold, the kind that nipped at your skin and made you regret not bringing a sweater. Not that I could do anything about that. Unless we had hit Earth on our first attempt, my closest sweater was a few light years away, along with all my other clothes, personal belongings, family, and friends. Which left me in a broom closet with two aliens, neither of whom seemed bothered by our being here.
I inhaled a deep gulp of stale air. It tasted processed, recycled. There was a hint of metal in the aftertaste, iron coating the back of my tongue. But it was real; not fresh, but real, and I forced the oxygen into my lungs.
My heart beat again. When had it stopped? The jolt surprised me, like a harsh reminder that, yes, it was supposed to pump blood through my veins. Warmth trickled through my body, silently re-acquainting itself with my limbs.
Or not so silently. My stretch smacked one of the mop handles, knocking over the carefully stacked brooms and whacked Zander on the head. He put them back in order like it was the most natural thing in the world to do after making it through vast distances in space.
Odd to think we were breaking the laws of physics. Maybe if we acted casual enough, science wouldn’t catch up with us.
“Arms-fingers-toes-shoulders-head-feet, all here,” said Blayde. She was close enough for her breath to make the hair on my neck stiffen. “All in one piece.”
“Arms-fingers-toes-shoulders-head-feet-Sally, all here,” Zander replied, composed and as calm as his sister.
There was a pause, and Zander finally made eye contact with me, his head twisting at an uncomfortable angle. The room was small, and I suddenly realized that his leg was touching mine.
“Um, I’m in one piece, too,” I said, awkwardly, pulling my foot away. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was after a jump, seeing as the only times I had traveled this way I had passed out or gone a little loopy.
“Not going to throw up this time, then?” asked Blayde.
I didn’t have to answer. Jumping randomly through space could do that to a person, sometimes, but the fact I was standing there in one piece, holding back the bile in the back of my throat, was enough to show I wasn’t going to. I nodded at her, head held high.
“Where are we now?” Blayde asked, trying to turn around. I let out a grunt as her elbow jabbed my back, and, per usual, she ignored me. I shot her a glare, not that she noticed.
“Broom cupboard,” Zander said, scanning the walls. “One unit long by one unit wide, maybe three high. Five brooms and a mop. And—”
“I can see that, you egg salad croissant,” Blayde snapped, reaching over me to smack his head. He pushed her back, jolting me around, and I pulled my arms close to my chest to get out of their way. Brooms shimmied and rattled in their wake.
“But, in all seriousness,” he said, lifting his arms as far above his head as they could go, “not quite three high.” He put his arms down and bumped the brooms again. They fell over, as was to be expected, and it was my turn to catch them, right in the shoulder.
“So, um, where is this broom closet exactly?” I asked, shoving the brooms against the wall and edging out of the way. Blayde’s shoulder in my back was starting to hurt. Zander lifted a corner of his mouth to give me a sly half-grin that his sister couldn’t see. I smiled back, a little shaky still.
“Want to make an educated guess?” he asked, gesturing to the room with arms as wide as they could go.
I snorted. “How am I supposed to tell where we are? You two are the space travelers. I’m fairly sure I don’t have the experience or know-how.”
“Go with your gut,” said Zander. “Use your senses. Smell, sight, touch. Tell me where we are.”
Well, I couldn’t see much; that was for sure. Nothing beyond the confines of the closet. I closed my eyes, trying to take in everything around me. I tasted the stale air, feeling the taste of metal on my tongue. But there was also a rumble: a small hum that I could hear if I listened hard enough; faint, but present.
Stale air, rumbling. Could it be true, or was I just projecting?
“Are we on a—”
“A spaceship, yes,” Blayde finished for me, shoving Zander against the wall to clear the floor.
“Hey, I was about to say that!” I snapped, but she was engrossed by the floor. She dropped to her knees and pressed her ear against the metal at our feet. Zander and I were smooshed against opposite walls, watching her work.
“We’ve heard these before. The engines sound like they belong to an interstellar ship, so I’d say… storm class. Possibly military but incredibly smooth, so they must be new.”
“We’re on a spaceship,” I muttered. Or, at least, the broom closet of a spaceship. Sure, I was lost in space, but this was Christmas.
“Isn’t that what I just said?” Blayde hopped back on her feet and brushed herself off, not that there was much dust in the closet.
“Does that mean we’re stowaways?”
“Not for long.” She reached out to grab my hand, none too gently. “Seeing as this isn’t Earth, let’s try again. On my mark—”
“No!” I ripped my hand back from hers, maybe a little too quickly. I might have made the jump vomit-free, but who knew what two jumps in a row would do to me. “Sorry, Blayde, it’s just… my stomach isn’t up to jumping any time soon. And you owe me for letting those creeps attack me.”
“Wimp,” she scoffed, but stopped as she made eye contact with Zander. There was a brief second in which they exchanged a collection of glares and eyebrow movements, further convincing me they had some kind of sibling telepathy going on. She rolled her eyes and looked back at me. “Fine, let’s give the earthling a tour.”
“Awesome!” Zander was practically jumping for joy. “We’ll be off in an hour, tops, okay? Just enough time to see the ship and not get spotted by the crew.”
Blayde rolled her eyes again, letting out a heavy sigh. She reminded me of my mother when I’d asked her if I could go to a convention: Why would you want to do such a thing?
“One hour. Not a minute more. One hour, and we’re gone, you hear?”
Zander nodded enthusiastically. He seemed just as excited as I was, maybe even more so, since he was furiously fumbling with the door.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you so much!” I smiled at her, but she didn’t even look at me. Instead, she took out her laser pointer and aimed it at the door. The red beam sliced through it like it was butter. Seconds later, it slid open to reveal a plain, white hallway.
“One hour,” she repeated, and I nodded again. How much trouble could we get into in an hour?
A MILLION THANKS TO S.E. ANDERSON FOR SENDING ME A COPY!!! CANNOT WAIT TO CATCH UP WITH MY FAVORITE SPACE SQUAD!!!
Read my Review for Starstruck (Book#1) HERE
Check out my Book Spotlight post for Alienation (Book #2) HERE
Read my interview with S.E. Anderson HERE
S.E. Anderson can’t ever tell you where she’s from. Not because she doesn’t want to, but because it inevitably leads to a confusing conversation where she goes over where she was born (England) where she grew up (France) and where her family is from (USA) and it tends to make things very complicated.
She’s lived pretty much her entire life in the South of France, except for a brief stint where she moved to Washington DC, or the eighty years she spent as a queen of Narnia before coming back home five minutes after she had left. Currently, she goes to university in Marseille, where she’s starting her masters of Astrophysics.
When she’s not writing, or trying to science, she’s either reading, designing, crafting, or attempting to speak with various woodland creatures in an attempt to get them to do household chores for her. She could also be gaming, or pretending she’s not watching anything on Netflix.
THE COVER IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!
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That’s it for my stop! I hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for other fun stuff and reviews. Oh and don’t forget, this beauty will be released in all the galaxies on April 27, 2018.