The human race is in trouble. After narrowly claiming victory in the first invasion, an assault by advanced militaristic aliens armed with light speed capable spacecraft is a continuing threat. Even so, Chrysalis is in danger, and Whatsit is determined to rescue his fellow Chrysallamans. It's a task he knows he cannot accomplish without the help of his human brethren. With the threat of future attacks looming, the humans will have to decide whether it's best to go on the defensive at home on Earth or take the fight to its source and save the Chrysallaman race.
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The Last Flight of the Phoenix is the sequel to the Novel - The Warrior's Stone. In the first book the T.S.S. Phoenix is lost behind enemy lines. In this new novel we discover what became ofthe Phoenix and its crew, while Roy and Katreena face a new evil that threatens their world.
The war was over except for the crew of the T.S.S. Phoenix. Lost deep in enemy space, crippled, but not dead. The odds of survival were stacked against them, but they were still determined to fight their way back towards allied space.
On New Terra, Roy O’Hara had discovered peace for his spirit and joy in a simple life. Yet he had only fulfilled a portion of the Commander’s Prophecy. It told of a darkness that would fall on his new home from the stars and he would be called upon once again to save them all.
The Alliance turned a blind eye to the sudden growth of the Sa’larie Empire just beyond their borders, but some in the intelligent community could see the clues of a new threat. A covert team is sent to discover the truth of the alien’s goals and they discover much more than they could have ever imagined.
Different paths of unlikely allies and new foes will intersect in the skies and on the ground of New Terra once again, where everything will change and destinies will collide.
The First Star has been named and claimed. Answering the call of a quest, the Master Traveler has ventured far from home to a place called the Rims. In many ways it is much like the two systems of his people; the premise of Technology in competition with the Energies is debated on many levels, with neither side able to claim and hold higher ground. Still, it is the matter of the quest that beckons him – the Star Chaser – to engage this place and find not only the source of the rising plight of humanity, but the solution which will deliver the race of the Founders. It has been several years since he came to the Rims, and the time approaches for the Traveler to remove his veil and be seen.
It is an awesome task that awaits Dungias. The final picture is not yet in frame, only the pieces that may or may not contribute to the overall scheme.
In Pieces of the Dark Eight, factors that are still beyond the comprehension of the Master Traveler are found, forged, and finalized. Though the many eyes of the Rims do not see the Master Traveler, he has indeed introduced himself to this place and the ripples of that event are being felt. What part will they play in the matters to come? Will they even play at all?! Only time will tell. In this exclusive story bonus bridging the Prelude to Book One of the BEYOND THE OUTER RIM Series, these hidden pieces of the game are marked and recorded.
Sewer-rat children screamed obscenities at one another and laughed. Somewhere far away, a siren wailed. Late-afternoon faces gloated down at the spectacle and faded from my view. I felt her claw my hand and heard her weep. I never did learn her name. My breath whistled through red-stained nostrils. Warm blood lazily oozed out of holes somewhere in my chest. Useless arms and legs lazily stretched out to enjoy the last of the sidewalk’s heat. Death straddled me and hummed a playful tune. I half closed my eyes and smiled back. Everything was going to be OK.
■ ■ ■
Even in a Sarjeta (the Gutter), there is always somebody lower than you.
If you’re faster or stronger, someone else pays a price. Could be money. Or favors. Could be that someone weaker pays the ultimate price: his or her life. I’m better than most people stuck here because I dream big. And dreams will show me how to escape this shithole.
The wind scattered dirt and grit, biting my face and the window’s ledge that faced out at Canto do Diabo (Devil’s Corner). The streets of the Gutter dead-ended here, where wall graffiti and littered garbage stopped and the Prodigal Son resided. I was lucky to be this close to the charity’s main building.
Lank curtains hid the waiting room. Several coffee-colored men, coughing up throaty words and inhaling Turkish cigarettes, stood outside by a front door painted red, the dark color of worried eyes. One of them looked at me as I approached. I tried not to fidget with the waxy pouch in my hand. He signaled something, and I was quickly surrounded by four pairs of uncertain eyes.
“Você fala inglês?” the one man said. He grinned, and I spotted gold bordering three missing teeth.
“Yes, sure,” I said.
His greasy thumb gestured at the other three. “These clowns don’t. So you talk to me, OK?” His accent wasn’t Portuguese. Or English.
“Sure,” I said.
I glanced at his face, spotting a tattooed circle on his left cheek. Despite his smile, I sensed something darker hiding behind the mask he now wore.
“A delivery. For him.” I placed the pouch into the gold-toothed man’s hand. My fingers touched his slimy palm, causing me to shiver for a moment.
“Come back next week.”
“What about my money?” I asked.
“Next week. You’ll get another package and your money.”
All four men stared at me. I couldn’t read their alien faces. The tattooed guy jabbed his finger at me.
“You know, I see something in you. Maybe something great, huh?”
I didn’t ask what he saw and quickly left. I decided that Devil’s Corner was not a part of the Gutter where I wanted to be alone after sunset.
■ ■ ■
I stood on Amélia’s concrete balcony and gagged. Inside her apartment, sickly sweet beans, dumped out of dented cans, cooked on a hotplate. Two half-naked children with swollen bellies rubbed messy fingers on my sister’s worn-down apron as they cried for dinner. They didn’t know anything else. This was the same meal served at breakfast. At yesterday’s dinner. And the day before. But I’ve walked by the açougue (butcher shop) and seen real meat. I’ve smelled the bloody flesh. Steak and hamburger and food that people with money could buy. I don’t want to eat beans anymore.
Scraps of faded sunlight crawled down the balcony rails, exposing lag bolts desperately grabbing at the block wall. It was a miracle I didn’t fall into the darkened alley below. I could see someone down there licking at the emptied tins we’d thrown out with the rest of the garbage. I shouted at him to get some self-respect, but he just laughed. I kept shouting.
Amélia looked out at me with worried, dark eyes. “You don’t know that man out there. You don’t know what he could do to us. Come back inside.” Both children clung quietly to her, sensing their mother’s fear. My sister tightly gripped the plastic spoon she used to stir the beans. Her eyes pleaded, seeming to say, “At least we eat.”
“I don’t need to be afraid. I don’t need this shit,” I said.
“Please, the children.”
“I’ll be a famous artist. I’ll escape. And you’ll be forgotten.”
Amélia started to cry. I stormed back to my room and locked the door. An hour later, I ignored her knock when she came to ask if I was hungry. Sleep came soon, and I dreamed that the man in the alley chased me. Then my dreams went black, and I tossed and turned the rest of the night.
■ ■ ■
I didn’t know his real name, so I called him Ben. He didn’t mind. Ben dropped my money and this week’s package onto my sister’s flimsy coffee table. I tried to figure him out. I guessed that he was about ten, only two years younger than me. I asked him where he lived.
He didn’t answer my questions. Ben just looked nervously around.
How does someone so young become a collector?
“You alone?” Ben asked.
“My sister is sewing today. She takes the babies.”
Ben wiped his nose. “That’s good. I guess I’ll come back next week at the same time.”
I pointed at the waxy paper. “What’s inside?”
“Don’t ask. And don’t steal anything.”
He looked down at my drawing pad. I had been sketching from memory a park I once saw in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade. His wide eyes studied every penciled line, every cross-hatched tree as if it were the fucking Mona Lisa or something. Ben held his breath, and for a moment he seemed to have transported himself somewhere a million miles away from the Gutter. I bet he had never seen the avenue or anything else like it.
“I take art classes. The church gives them for free,” I said.
“I couldn’t do that.”
“How do you know? Have you tried?”
“I couldn’t do it.”
“I’ll take you. Come back tomorrow.”
Ben looked over the pad once more. He blinked his eyes and swallowed hard. “Don’t steal anything,” he said. And he left without saying good-bye.
I quickly flagged down one of the casino workers—I swear to you that it seemed to be a requirement for employment at this hotel that the women all had to look like they’d just stepped off the photoshoot for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—and the platinum blond pixie cut, would make any man quickly forget the throaty beauty in the café, whose name I didn’t bother to read smiled and pointed in the direction of the blackjack tables.
I hurried over, hoping to find Charlie, and grab onto the one lifeline I could count on to help drag me back from the edge and make some sense out of whatever the hell was going on. It wasn’t hard to find him at all once I got to the area; his booming laugh at some joke he’d just heard was a welcoming beacon to my ears.
When I got to his table, the first thing I noticed was a ridiculous number of chips piled up around his area of the table. Much like I had seen at the baccarat table earlier, it looked like everyone at the table was doing well but Charlie’s stack was approaching Mount Olympus in size. He was good at this game, I easily admit, but not that good. No one was.
The second thing I noticed was the enchanting young Carrie—still in her hotel uniform but her nametag was now gone—draped on Charlie’s right arm and looking like she was there to stay. That wasn’t the least bit ridiculous at all. He was good at that too, as I’ve mentioned before, and he really was that good in that arena.
“Hey, Pete,” he exclaimed when he saw me. “Pull up a chair and join us.”
“Not right now thanks,” I said. “Hey, I think they got our bags mixed up and one of mine is in your room. I was hoping you could let me in so I could get it.”
That seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable explanation to get Charlie out of the casino where I could talk to him without any unwanted eavesdroppers. Unfortunately, my lifeline went and threw me the anchor and sank my plan in less than a heartbeat.
“No problem, buddy, here’s the key.” He flipped his room card in my direction with one of those Friday night goofy grins of his face that I knew all too well. “Just leave it in my room. I don’t think I’ll be needing it.”
Somehow, Carrie managed to snuggle even closer to Charlie than she had before. Even as I snagged the tumbling card out of the air, I tried to come up with some excuse, some pretense to get Charlie up and moving. But something in both of their expressions told me that it wouldn’t matter one bit what I said or did next. Charlie wasn’t moving from that chair anytime soon and when he did, he wasn’t doing it just to go off somewhere with me.
I’d lost my wingman, my lifeline and maybe my only hope of figuring out what had happened to us. Charlie turned back to the table, and his new girlfriend, without so much as another word in my direction and I stumbled away without any direction in mind other than to get away from the creature who’d once been my best friend.
Before I realized it, I found myself in an abandoned area of the casino, empty chairs stacked around a few unused card tables and standing face to face with Liz. How long she had been watching me, how much she had seen, I simply did not know. But there she stood with an odd, sad look in her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how you can be of service?” And I am sure there was more than a hint of bitterness in my voice, certainly more than she deserved to be on the receiving end of.
“No,” she replied without reproach for my tone. “At this moment, Mr. Childress, you are looking for any exit that will lead you back to the outside world. I simply can’t help you with that. All I can suggest to you is this—perhaps you are looking for the way out of here in the wrong direction.”
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion.
Something from behind me suddenly caught her attention at that moment. Her eyes quickly flickered to whatever it was for a brief moment before returning to meet mine.
“Your room opens up to the central park,” she said after a moment’s pause. “We see so very few of our guests ever bother to go out and fully explore it. Perhaps you should visit it. You may find it to be peaceful and relaxing.”
She moved suddenly then, as if to walk past me without another word. But just as she drew even with me, her lips just inches from my right ear, I heard her whisper in a tone almost too soft for me to hear.
“You might even find it very enlightening, Mr. Childress.”
Then she was gone, moving on into the casino to engage some of the other guests in conversation. As I turned to watch her walk away, I noticed what it was that had distracted her earlier, what had appeared to make her suddenly cautious not only in what she said but how she appeared while saying it.
Standing out there in the middle of the casino, clearly scanning the crowd for someone in particular, was the hotel’s manager. But before he could look over in my direction and take notice of me, I darted toward a much darker area of the casino and eventually made my way back around to the entrance without him seeing me at all. For a reason that I could not put a logical explanation to, I suddenly had a very strong urge to be as far away from that man as I could possibly get myself and do it as quickly as I could.
Even within the seemingly limited, but very gilded, confines of this nightmarish trap that I found myself in.
Found in suspended animation after being forgotten for over 250 years, Levi Garret emerges with no memory of his life. Now trying to make his way in a high tech universe he has discovered a love for investigating and a knack for finding trouble.
Now hired to solve a murder someone wants to remain unsolved, can Garret dodge bullets, bombs and babes as he tries to crack the case?
Find out as Garret and his friends take on the case of the Engines of Deception.
That used to be Genie’s mantra. Little did she know that the wave would literally take her out of this world. Now, faced with a new life, unbelievable dimensions and unexpected dangers, she’s got to pull off the ride of her life, or wipe out.
The prelude to the EdgeWorld series serves as an introduction both to the new world Genie finds and the plight that has found her.
An American teenager living in Bolivia with her father and younger brother, Genie was trying her best to take care of her family in the wake of her mother’s death. But that was before she crashed headfirst into the curious stranger and her whole world turned upside down. Now new possibilities, good and bad, await her at every turn, but she cannot allow concerns of the outcome affect how she rides – surf’s up!
In the future, the only solution to mass overcrowding and dwindling resources is the lottery. A game where people are paid to play but, if they win, they legally become food. Two such lottery-winners, a suicidal teenager named Sammie and an impoverished middle-aged woman named Kim, find themselves 'purchased' by the upscale Bistro Viande which is run by celebrity Chef Nick Delano and his jaded sous-chef, Anne. In the few remaining days of their lives, Kim decides to make the best of her life in enjoying what few pleasures remain for her, while Sammie decides to make the best of her death in ensuring she is at her tastiest. Little does anyone else know, however, that Sammie hides a dark secret, one that could both save her life and destroy the Bistro.
Anne stalked in and shouted “What the hell are you doing!?” Sammie and Kim looked at each other. Sammie stammered and Kim said “What do you mean? We just did as you told us. We weren’t trying to escape or anything like that. Just sitting here.” Anne pointed at them and said “You took that shower and then put your grungy, dirty clothing back on!?”
Sammie nodded quietly “Yes ma’am.” Kim squinted at first, but then smiled. Kim said “Wait, you’re so pissed, that you’re going to send us back into that hot shower.” Kim chuckled and said “We should piss you off more often.”
Anne stared at her coldly and replied “It’s not cheap!” Sammie pulled off her shirt and said “…or legal.” Anne shot her a look and Sammie held up a hand “Not that I’m complaining at all. We really enjoy and appreciate it.” Anne smiled wryly “It’s a perk of being food. The law says using hot water to wash a person is an illegally wasteful practice.” Anne cocked her head to the side lightly and continued “But… you aren’t people anymore and the use of hot water in cleansing of food in its preparation is legally allowed.” Sammie’s jaw dropped “That’s freaking genius!” Kim started to unbutton her pants and said “But, you’re not allowed in, Anne, are you?” Anne shrugged “The only time I’m ever in there is when I’m force-shaving a runner chained to the wall. Trust me, I’m not enjoying the water during those times.”
Sammie said “But, you never, you know… when no one is looking, or maybe between shipments ever want to hop inside this thing and get an actual, nice shower as opposed to those two-minute ice-bucket pieces of crap we’re allowed to have?” Anne shook her head “Never.” Sammie cocked her head to the side and said “Really? I mean, aren’t you even tempted.” Anne replied darkly “It’s an instrument for cleaning food. All the women who shower in there, they die.”
Kim pursed her lips and asked “Is it because of too many bad memories?” Anne’s gaze softened, but only for a second. She shook her head and it was gone “Just rinse off and get ready.”
They both disappeared in while Anne waited outside. In a few minutes, giggles and splashing could be heard coming from the shower. Anne shouted “Hurry up!” Sammie called back, laughing, “I suddenly feel like running, Anne. Maybe you should take off your clothes and come in here to hold me down. Why don’t you bring a bar of soap in for yourself while you’re at it?”
Anne threw a hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that yearned to raise from her mouth. She clenched her jaw tight and squinted her eyes hard. She whispered to herself “They’re food, not friends. Food, not friends.” She leaned her head back against the wall and whispered to herself “Come on, Anne. Don’t make the Mary Jenson mistake again.”
Anne closed her eyes and remembered Mary. Over Mary’s short stay at Bistro Viande, her and Anne had grown incredibly close. She had a hard time remembering, between Mary and herself, who cried harder when she eventually loaded Mary into the oven. But, the end result lay seared in Anne’s mind…
Anne had to live on knowing herself to be Mary’s killer.
Anne took a deep breath to force the growing emotions away. Anne whispered “Die inside. Live outside.” She closed her eyes and pictured herself dead until the waves of memories and emotions passed. She reopened her eyes once more…
She remembered who she was. A consummate professional fully capable of a job that required her to kill two people per week.
Her face returned to its normal cold stare.
Lightning ripped across the northern California sky, then splintered down through the rain and disappeared behind our neighbor’s house. Letting the door slam shut behind me, I ran away from the warmth of our porch light into the darkness of our backyard. My mom would’ve killed me if she’d caught me outside that late at night. Especially in a thunderstorm, and on the night before my fifteenth birthday, with the big party she had planned for tomorrow. But I had to get out of the house before I fell asleep and they came for me. And they were coming!
A gust of wind blew my hair against my face. I swiped it out of my eyes just in time to see a plastic lawn chair tumbling through the air. I covered my head with both arms, but a leg of the chair smashed against my elbow. Ouch!
I dropped onto the wet grass, pulled my knees into my chest, and rocked nervously back and forth. Water soaked up through my nightgown and my underwear, making me shiver.
None of these things mattered, though. Because something far worse was happening inside my head. A memory of me as a little girl, on the night my grandpa Dahlen disappeared from his cottage, was trying to claw its way into my consciousness. And I didn’t want to think about that night. Ever.
Still, I couldn’t stop it, which didn’t make sense. I was awake, and outside, where I was supposed to be safe, yet the aliens from my dreams were somehow messing with my thoughts, rearranging things, trying to make me think about that night! But how?
And why? It happened eight years ago, and my grandpa was dead now.
Although, before he disappeared, he’d—
No! Stop, Courtney! I yelled at myself.
I bit my fingernail and took a deep breath, hoping to calm down.
No luck. I was remembering the musty old-books smell from my grandpa’s bookcase. Butterflies rushed into my stomach and I sprang to my feet.
“All right. Is that what you want me to do?” I shouted into the rainy darkness. “Remember my grandpa? What happened that night? If I do that, then will you leave me alone?”
I wiped the rain from my eyes, and suddenly it was like I was right there, in the cottage. His notebook sat on the plaid couch, opened to a map he’d drawn of the ancient wormholes linking the alien world to our own.
I stumbled backward over a tree root and my butt hit the ground; my head clunked against an even bigger root. Oww! I started to sit up. But suddenly the memory I’d been running from took over the screen in my mind. I fell back into the wet grass and watched the scene unfold as if I were seven years old again, right there in the cottage.
It was raining outside, and the air smelled like old, musty books and burnt hamburgers. I glanced over at my grandpa Dahlen. He was busy in the kitchen, forking ears of corn out of a pot of boiling water. Standing tiptoe on the comfy reading chair, I reached up to the bookcase and ran my fingers along the dials of what he called his ham-radio/alien-transport machine.
“Courtney!” Grandpa stared at me over his steamed-up glasses.
“Fine.” I plopped down on the reading chair and crossed my arms over my chest. Then I lowered my eyes. Blood was seeping through my shirt again from earlier in the day, when my grandpa’s nun friend had stopped by with a guy with a tattoo gun. They’d come to give me a tattoo. I hadn’t wanted a tattoo! But my grandpa had told me it was important, and the way he’d said it, I’d believed him. So now I had a blue mark on my rib cage that looked like four dead bugs arranged in a square.
“So tell me this, Grandpa,” I said. “If these aliens who visit you are really your friends, then why do they make you keep everything secret?”
He turned away from the steaming pot and eyed me with suspicion. “Because people are frightened of what they don’t understand. And frightened people can be dangerous, Courtney,” he said. “Now come sit down for dinner.”
I slipped into a wobbly kitchen chair, rested my elbows on the wooden table, and stared down at my burnt ham- burger. “Mom doesn’t believe in aliens, so does that make her dangerous?” I asked.
Grandpa chuckled. “Your mother is only interested in facts and evidence. Even when she was a child, she had no tolerance for intangibles. Or even comic books, for that matter. Can you imagine?” He set a plate of corn on the cob in the center of the table, then sat down across from me. “But dangerous? No. I think we’re safe from her.” He flashed me a wink.
I winked back. People always told me that I shared his silvery-blue eyes. Hearing someone say it would make my mom cringe, though, because she thought Grandpa was crazy. And the last thing she wanted was for me to turn out like him. But she and my dad were spending the weekend with their old law school friends on Lake Tahoe, so they’d dropped me off with Grandpa on their way.
“Well, if these alien things are real living creatures, then did God make them?” I asked. “Or are they just imaginary?”
I smiled proudly. I was about to finally get the truth from him.
“How’s your burger?” he asked.
“But you didn’t answer—”I started to protest, when a bang on the front door made me jump.
My grandpa ran over and covered his ham-radio/alien-transport machine with an afghan.
More quick pounding! Grandpa shoved his notebook under the couch.
I tried to read his expression, to see if he was frightened or just cleaning up, but he wouldn’t look at me. He rushed to the door and glanced through the peephole, and I held my breath.
When he unlocked the door, three men barged into the cottage.
I immediately recognized them as professor friends of my grandpa’s from when he’d taught at Berkeley. But what were they doing out here at night? I mean, hadn’t they heard of cellphones?
They stared over at me. “Hello, Courtney,” said one, a tall man with a thick beard and black suitcoat.
I shot my grandpa a pleading look, like Make them go away. But he quickly shook his head. I stomped into the guest bedroom and slammed the door.
“They’re coming,” one of the men whispered, loud enough for me to hear. He sounded worried. Which made me worry. About what, though, I wasn’t quite sure.
I bit my thumbnail, and it tasted like wormy dirt from the woodpile. Gross! I wiped my mouth with the bottom of my shirt.
“She’s not safe,” another man said.
Not safe? I froze. “She”? As in me? My heart started racing, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs.
I grabbed the black metal latch of the window next to me and opened it. The chirr-chirr of crickets filled the bedroom, and I breathed in the smell of wet leaves. Pressing my face against the screen, I glanced up at my grandpa’s ham radio tower, standing tall along the side of the house. The siren on top of it glistened with rain under the silvery moon. It would sound off if any bad guys snuck into the backyard and tried to mess with my grandpa’s things. Or that’s what he’d told me, anyway.
Suddenly a familiar shiver trickled down my neck. Oh wow!
I turned away from the window and locked eyes with Astra. “Nice of you to show up,” I said.
She was a few years older than me. Like eleven, maybe. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to the closet; her eyes shone bright green against her pale skin and black hair. She bit into her plump bottom lip, which meant she was worried about me. “You think I’m going to climb out the window and run away?” I asked her.
She didn’t answer. For an imaginary friend, she wasn’t very talkative. But she seemed to show up whenever I was in trouble. And there was no getting rid of her; our minds were connected. My grandpa said she was probably a real person somewhere, and that we shared consciousness because we came from the same bloodline. As crazy as the idea seemed, I liked to think that there might be someone real out there who would understand me if we ever crossed paths. Most people just thought I was weird like my grandpa.
“I’m glad you’re here,” I told Astra.
Outside my door, I could hear the men pacing around on the creaky wooden floor boards.
“When?” my grandpa asked.
“We don’t know,” another man said.
I didn’t like the sound of that. My stomach tightened with nerves. I sat down on my bed and rocked back and forth, staring at Astra.
“You’re crying,” she said. Or I could hear her voice in my head, anyway.
“No I’m not.” I swiped my cheek. Then I looked down at the spot of blood on my shirt. “I got a tattoo,” I said, trying to change the subject.
A siren wailed outside. The alarm! I jumped up, turned toward the window. But the bedroom door burst open behind me. I spun back around, and my grandpa stood in the doorway.
“Grandpa! What’s happening?” I started toward him. He quickly shook his head and then pressed his finger to his lips: Stay quiet.
Grandpa looked scared. And he was never scared. My heart pounded against my rib cage. Astra was gone. This was bad.
Bright light lit up my grandpa’s face. It was coming through the window behind me. Oh no! I whipped around to see who was there, and someone grabbed me from inside the room.
I started to scream, but a hand covered my mouth. My feet lifted off the floor. Frantically I twisted my head around to see who it was, but I was being dragged backward, down the hall, into the bathroom. Kicking at the bathroom wall, I bit into the hand covering my mouth, and for a second my head was free. I whirled around to see my grandpa, his finger gushing blood from where my teeth had cut into his skin.
“Grandpa? What are you doing?”
He whispered something in my ear. Then he lifted me up, ignoring my flailing legs.
The next thing I knew, I was underwater. Screaming!
Charles Willoughby’s youth was an ordeal of beatings by his God-fearing father and seductions by his grossly obese mother. A warped and cruel man, he marries a woman who is willing to submit to his jaded sexual demands. However, when she bears a child not of his loin, he holds her and the child captive on his isolated farm and severs all ties with the nearby town. Then when his wife is killed, he is left with the girl. Although his religious beliefs preclude him from killing her, he doesn’t feel obligated to treat her humanely.
The girl, Taffeta Moonrose, is treated like a dog under Charles’ care. But one day, she finds herself free when Charles has a heart attack. Now, weak with hunger and on her own, she ventures forth into an unknown, hostile world in a desperate search for food. After stealing from the towns people all summer, she becomes known as the wild girl of Ashville.
When Matt and Toby Claybourne arrive at a nearby cabin on vacation, they learn of the “wild girl” and become determined to find and adopt her. When they finally do find her, their relationship with her becomes one that will change each of their lives in ways unforeseen.
This is a story that will grab your attention right from the prologue and won’t let you go until you’ve finished the very last page. It will take you on a rocket ride of emotions that will allow you to hate, entice you to love, tease you with hope, and leave you crying with a smile on your lips.
What Charles Willoughby does to his wife and her bastard child begins you on a journey filled with fear and humor, suffering and joy, sorrow and redemption.
I feel sort of blessed, on being able to write this story. I(t) created a side-universe with a complex trail that embraces immense distances, immense populations, and severe implications, including three known species, and the humanoids plight to remain existing. There is a cadre of main characters among humans and another among the Ohnis, the main alien opposition to humans. Both cadres are endowed with values and cultures that clash and have to coexist.
A thousand year peace between the Solards and Ohnis has been broken by an outbreak of inter-solar war. The Solards are a new Ice-Age Earth meritocracy with equality for all its citizens who follow a self-imposed strict code of conduct. The Ohnis are humanoid and an ancient autocracy with deep differences and separation between inheritance-nobles and slaves. In this far distant future, Humans adore beautiful fit bodies and need mandatory interactions to live longer. The alien Ohnis have a tail for pleasuring and with it can multiply satisfaction many folds. Drawn by mutual needs, the two cultures interact often.
That interaction is under threat because of fighting for terraforming resources. The two cultures are now at war, pushed there by secret government entities, and corporate interests on both sides.
A long waited Redeemer has appeared among the Ohnis, a gladiator, who against his own aspirations will fall prisoner to fate, faith and politics. Simultaneously, a special Solard has developed insurmountable amounts of knowledge at such a pace that it will change the future prospects of both Humanity and the Ohnis.
The survival of each of their civilizations intertwines in intricate nuances of drama, crisis, sacrifice and bravery.
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