Title: Sky's End (Cassiel Winters #1)
Author: Lesley Young
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: July 15, 2013
A secret she must never share. A secret that two warring species are determined to control. A universe's future at stake. Twenty-year-old Cassiel Winters joins Earth's new space academy in hopes of finding her brother, one of Command's top pilots and her only family, who's been reported MIA. But she quickly realizes she may not be cut out for life in space, where female cadets are outnumbered, competition's fierce, and she's already failed her hand-to-hand combat test once. Even the station's most respected officer, Lt. Damian King, probably can't help Cassiel pass the second time around-so why is he so interested in her progress? If only one of her freaky deja vu visions would offer an answer instead of mysterious messages like hide. When Cassiel's manipulated into a perilous mission, she encounters a warrior species bred to protect the universe from an even greater threat. And she learns that her secret visions are at the heart of it all. Now Cassiel must fight to control her own destiny and race to save her brother-even if it means pretending to be the pawn of Prime Or'ic, the cold-as-steel Thell'eon leader. Even if it means risking her life, facing hard truths, and making the ultimate sacrifice.
Character Interview with Cassiel Winters
Can you tell us something about yourself?
Well, um, like what?
How about where are you from, on Earth?
Oh sure. A city called Indianapolis. My brother and I keep the family dome there, even though we’re both working for ESE, Earth Space Exploration, on its main space station. My brother, Daz, is a great pilot. He taught me everything he knows, but that’s not why I’m with ESE. They don’t need another good pilot.
Can you describe your world to us?
Ha! Very funny.
No I’m serious.
Oh. You don’t know why I have my own guard at ESE do you?
Okay then. I’ll describe my current world. Let’s see. ESE station is all grit and human will, you know, the kind that smells like male sweat. Women are outnumbered here for a reason I am not allowed to divulge—lest fewer women sign up. Command and Earth’s Board of Directors want more of us in space.
Basically, we train, all the time. Good for the glutes! And then sometimes we recreate in the station’s bar Proxy. There’s always Lightvision TM.333 if we need a mini stayaway. If I use it, I often go to a tree fort in the backwoods of our dome in Indy. My dad built it for Daz and I before he and mom died. I love to nestle into the creaky ancient hand-built treasure with a good book, utterly safe from the whistling wind and lashing rains outside.
How was it going to space?
The first time I left the atmosphere was incredible. Daz took me out when he wasn't supposed to leave the dome—he’d been grounded (I don’t know what for actually).
Anyway, he’d just turned 16, which made him eligible to compete in the Intergalactic Championships being held that night. The only hitch was five-year-old me. When he asked me if I would help him, of course, not having a clue, I said yes! He put me in the co-pilot seat and we climbed orbit nice and slow so I could actually see the magnificent changes in light the gases create.
I’ll never forget looking back, at Earth, and seeing the tiny gumball. The sensation to a five-year-old was pretty simple. I thought—I am free, you know like a bird or something. That I could go anywhere, and no one or nothing could stop me.
At the starter block, I remember Daz turning to me, him saying, ‘Buckle up,’ winking, and . . . my whole life changed.
We ripped through time and space with absolute clarity and power. Even when I could tell we were taking chances, terrible chances, I was never scared. Flying is about the only time in my life when I feel invincible.
Daz gave that to me.
And I live for it.
Did your brother win that night?
No. He got second place. He was outraged the whole way back, and then crushed when my parents took away his velo for six months.
He won the next year, though, and the next two years after that! Hard to keep him down.
What do you miss the most about your brother?
His laugh. It corrects my world, especially when it slips off-axis.
What was your first impression of Lt. Damian King?
Well, the first time we met he’d broken into the dome, before I’d joined ESE. So since I thought he was an intruder, I would say, he was ominous.
Okay. Scary-sexy ominous. I mean he told me right away who he was! So once the horror of having a stranger checking you out in see-through pajamas passed, I was pretty enamored.
I mean the guy is striking-looking for sure—all the girls on the station drool over him. But it’s more than that. How do you adequately describe why you connect with one person and not another? I could count the ways he triggers perfect little bursts of joy inside of me, his incredible dimples making an appearance because of something I say or do, the way he strokes my hair, how he always says exactly what I need to hear even when I don’t want to hear it . . .but then he’s also elusive, all corners, drawing on me to want to learn more. His unpredictability is both magnetic and maybe a little thrilling, as in dangerous thrilling. I guess that makes me a bit of a thrill-seeker.
What do you see in these visions you have?
Have you ever experienced déjà vu, only for longer than a flash, like seconds even, so long you maybe wonder, ‘If I do something differently, maybe this won’t unfold the way I’m anticipating?’ And you feel a momentary sickness, that something very peculiar is at hand, but you also feel fractionally omnipotent, because you’re experiencing something that is greater, and maybe deep down you always thought there was something greater than what you are, now? That’s when my déjà vu splits into a double vision or a second scene. Often, it’s very similar to my reality in that moment, but with definite variations. Maybe I’m cross-legged on the sofa instead of standing. Sometimes, even, and here’s the freaky part, the second version of events happens in the future. I know this because some time later, that scene I saw in the déjà vu-vision happens for real.
What do you think these visions mean?
That I need to be handled with extreme caution? No, seriously.
If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?
*A universe with no conflict. And I am not just saying that because it sounds nice, believe me. It’s totally a selfish wish.
*To turn back the clock four months or so. There are a lot of things I would do differently.
*And. . . I guess, to thank a certain someone, another man, an alien, actually, who did something for me I wasn’t expecting, and probably didn’t deserve. Not because I want to see him again mind you.
Maybe I could thank using lock-protected teleportation, or just try to send a Missive. That’s probably the better route. Then again, probably best not to alert him to my whereabouts.
Any message to our dear readers?
A lifetime is not just a blip in the infinitely aged universe. Enjoy it. Be in it. It’s all you get.
About Lesley Young
Lesley Young writes edgy, action-packed stories that keep readers guessing. The futuristic setting of her novel Sky’s End was inspired by a life-long love of the trekkie franchise, and a desire to imagine and explore our universe from the unique perspective of a young, female cadet. Cassiel Winters is desperate to find her missing brother, but first she must solve the mystery behind her own unusual ability, and learn how to be human herself, including experiencing love and loss in an epic adventure of first contact with universe altering importance.
Lesley steals time to write novels between researching and writing health and lifestyle features for women’s magazines including Reader’s Digest Canada, Best Health and House & Home.
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