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Antonville, Mississippi, June of 1852

* Violence and Gore

* Transphobia
* Family Betrayal

The last thing Ash remembered before passing out was being beaten by his brothers and neighbors.

Ash had always known that he was a boy, but the fact that he was anatomically female meant that no one else agreed with him. People would point him out and scream at him in public, especially in churches and courts. He had learned to largely avoid contact with the outside world, and, at the tender age of fourteen, had moved into a house he built for himself and made a meager living as a fisherman.

Ash had skipped church again that day, because the pastor always singled him out. This made three churches in a row that Ash had missed. Before Ash turned seventeen, the pastor had never addressed Ash in a sermon, and church had been a place of solace and worship for him. Now eighteen, Ash had suffered the previous year being badgered in public by every single person he had ever known, telling him to get married to a man and stop acting like one. The pastor’s sermons were increasingly fiery and targeted squarely at Ash by name. Ash had, in a sobbing fit, realized that it was never possible to go back to church without being hurt. So he stopped going. This was unacceptable to Ash’s family.

Earlier that day, Ash had been walking home from the river when he was confronted by his brothers. Ash had greeted the other boys of the Gray family with a smile. They greeted him with sticks swung like clubs, beating Ash for the crime of being himself. Ash was taken completely off guard, never expecting such an assault from his kin. Within moments, Ash had lost consciousness.

Now it was getting dark, the sun just beginning to slip under the horizon, and Ash immediately felt that something was wrong. As he looked around, he realized that he was still sitting exactly where he had been when he was being beaten. The bloody clubs were on the ground, like they had been dropped there. His wounds had even begun healing. He felt his face and it stung when he touched his temples, but he didn’t draw back wet blood. Instead he felt scabs. The fact that he had been unconscious for so long was upsetting, but he seemed to be okay as he checked himself over. Getting up and dusting himself off, Ash thought to call upon his training in tracking game to try and figure out what had happened to his traitorous kin. From what he could discover, it seemed all the boys had run off towards town at once, and both very quickly and very suddenly.

When Ash looked towards town, he saw one reason they might have. There was a plume of thick black smoke rising from the town’s center, beyond the treeline. Before he knew it, Ash had taken off towards town, too. Whatever was causing the smoke was sure to be causing damage to at least property if not lives, and every hand would be needed.

The trees rushing past him, his uncovered feet bouncing off smooth river stones, rough tree branches poking up out of the rain-eroded soil, and sharp grasses and bushes cutting at his skin – Ash was focused on throwing a shoulder forward with each step, pulling the Earth backwards with each stride. The universe became nothing but the effort of each step.

He tripped.

His face crashed into the ground. He went tumbling.

After having passed out before, Ash was seriously concerned about having hit his head again. He couldn’t tell if he had passed out or not, and if so, for how long. Getting to his feet, it was immediately apparent what he had tripped over: a glowing rock in the middle of the path.

It wasn’t every day that Ash saw a glowing stone.

Ash’s toes had been jammed when he tripped, but they were otherwise unharmed, which meant touching the stone wasn’t dangerous. He walked over to the stone and touched it with a finger. It was cold. He picked it up. It was light. In fact, as he held it in his hand, it started to lift up off of his palm.

It wasn’t every day that Ash saw a glowing stone that hovered in his hand.

“Drop the Phasing Stone!” a voice growled.

The moment after it happened, Ash realized that he hadn’t heard a voice, but actually heard a growl, and his brain had understood it as words in English. It was confusing, and made Ash feel upset in a way he couldn’t fathom.

He turned around to find a massive bear-like creature, at least nine feet tall, standing on  two feet like a Human. It was wearing a pastiche of pinkish clothing, armor, and what Ash assumed were tools fastened to every surface. Most alarmingly, the creature was holding what appeared to be some kind of bizarre rifle, glowing in a manner not unlike the stone he had just found.


Read Part 2

Continue the Adventure with Time Wars Tales books!



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