Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book 1: In the Beginning - Prologue

Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series!

PROLOGUE


The Planet Anduris.
47th day of the month of Holine

in the Anduran year 4572.

Magus was running for his life down the crowded market street of Hos-H’iyra. His long black hair was matted to his head with sweat and everyone was hurrying to get as far out of his way as possible. They knew what was coming next.
Suddenly, one of Zeus-31’s lightning bolts slashed down and charred the ground behind Magus. The ground buckled under the impact and Magus cursed in frustration and fear, fighting to keep his balance. Keep running, he told himself. Just keep running. You can do this.
The current Lighting-Wielder – Adelphos Palamara was his name, Zeus just his Ayviline title – was still far enough behind to throw off his accuracy a bit, but that wouldn’t last long. In flight, the Zeuses were almost as fast as the Hermes. Fortunately, the Swift-Foot was no longer a threat. Magus’ partner had killed the most recent Hermes only an hour before and the Ayvil had not yet chosen a replacement.
About thirty yards in front of him, Magus saw a Geyr ship with steam billowing out from beneath it, signaling that it was about to take off.  The rear cargo door was just beginning its automatic descent. If he kept running, Magus might be able to slide in before the door lowered completely. Like all Andurians, he hated the idea of space travel, but this was his only chance of escape and he was determined to take it.
He ran, dove, and rolled into the ship just in time to hear the door’s pneumatic lock hiss into place. A moment later and he felt the ship’s thrusters rumbling beneath him as the whole craft shot vertically into the sky. Even if Zeus had seen him run in here, he was too late to stop it now.
Terrified and unable to move from the upward force, Magus lay on the floor, struggling to take a breath. The ship soon leveled off somewhere above Anduris’ atmosphere and Magus exhaled in relief. He was still catching his breath when, a moment later, he was suddenly flung backward into the door. The Geyrs in the cockpit had obviously changed which thrusters they were firing and were now steering the ship forward.
His face and body stuck against the door, Magus fought to turn his head back toward the front of the ship. Large metallic refrigeration units covered most of the floor. Thankfully, they were strapped down. Otherwise, Magus would have been crushed by them if they had slid backward against the door like he had.
Now that he had a moment to think, he wondered what he had gotten himself into. We’re going to the Geyr homeworld. There aren’t any Andurians on the Geyr homeworld. I’ll be noticed and caught immediately.
Magus tried to think, to plan his next move, but the cargo hold became cooler and cooler. Soon the coldness of the metal door on his back became unbearable. He didn’t know what was happening, didn’t know that space was so devoid of heat. How can the Geyrs stand this?


The Planet Earth.
25th day of the month of May
in the terrestrial year 2063.

Magus woke up slowly. Every part of his body was stiff, his mind sluggish. How long had he slept – no, not slept – been frozen? There was no way for him to tell. But at least it was warmer now and he was alive. Had they reached the Geyr homeworld? What would he do when they started unloading the ship? They would surely find him. And then what? Take him back to Anduris and hand him over to Athena-13 for sentencing? He wouldn’t go back. He’d fight the Geyrs here, if he had to, no matter how many there were. He’d rather die than be imprisoned for the rest of his life.
Suddenly the ship plummeted, descending, and Magus braced himself against the door. Then it hovered. Magus cautiously pushed off the door, stretched, working each joint in turn, and lumbered forward. He was wobbly, but what could he do? Any moment, the Geyrs were going to land the ship and open the back hatch and find him, so it was now or never.
But they didn’t land. Instead, the ship jumped back up and Magus had to catch himself on one of the refrigeration units. Already, the cold of space was spreading again. If he froze again, he would die. He knew it. He had to do something now.
He reached into his robe, pulled a jagged knife from his belt and, pulling himself along from cargo strap to cargo strap, finally made it to the cockpit door and opened it.
The Geyrs spun around in their chairs, shocked to see him. They were ‘greenies’, young ones, but recognition had crossed their skinny faces. They knew who he was.
The first Geyr was dead before the other two could even stand.
Soon, the bodies of the three greenies lay crumpled at Magus’ feet, their wounds trickling blood as their long, oval, empty, black eyes stared up at him out of their bulbous heads. Ugly suckers! Magus thought, panting. At least they were easy to kill.
The other two Geyrs had tried to fight back, but everyone knew that Geyrs weren’t much for violence, especially not the young ones. It was only when a Geyr’s skin began to fade from the bright green into the light gray of adulthood that they gained any strength at all and that still was not enough to contend against a full-grown Andurian.
Sweating under his dirty robe, Magus walked over and stared down at the alien control panel. He had no idea what all the levers and meters and touchpads in front of him were for. He plopped down into one of the seats, the one with the most buttons in front of it, and stared some more.
After a second, he jumped back up, walked over to one of the round windows and peered out. All he could see was the black of space. He knew that they had been close to the surface a few moments ago, had felt the disc-shaped ship shoot back up and then suddenly level off again. He didn’t think it was moving now, though. Where am I? he thought in frustration.
He went back to the controls, willing for some sort of inspiration to leap up out of them. C’mon! Think! he urged himself. You’ve come this far! You’ve gotta be able to do this!
He even glanced down at the dead body of the alien closest to him, hoping to gain some clue from him, but it was useless. He turned back to the control panel and cursed again. Nothing was labeled. There were no instruction charts hanging on the wall. He was a scientist, but not a Geyr pilot. He had never even been inside one of these things before.
How long? he thought. How long is this ship just gonna float up here? Until the power runs out? Until the fuel runs out? I’ll starve or die of thirst first. Or the Geyrs’ll send another ship looking for this one.
“I can’t stay here!” he roared and slammed his fist down on the panel. He regretted it immediately. He looked around, warily waiting for something to change. What did I just hit?
Thankfully, nothing happened and he began to relax again. He sucked in a deep breath, forced himself to sit down calmly in the chair, and blew out again. Okay. I have no idea what does what, but I can’t just sit here. So let’s experiment a little, shall we? Gingerly, he stretched his hand toward a lever, gripped it, his sweaty, clammy hand closing on the cold metal, and inched it back closer to himself.
Twenty minutes later, after a few more brave ‘experiments’, the space-craft came down. Fast. It hurtled silently through the atmosphere and plunged swiftly through the cozy, warm dark of night, toward Earth’s surface below.
Inside the ship, the man who was ‘flying’ it, frantically pushed buttons and pulled and pushed levers. I can’t stop it! he thought. I can’t stop it! And then, throwing up his hands, he burst into laughter – nervous, giving up, come-what-may laughter – and leaned forward in his chair to meet the land below.
The people of the Chinese countryside could see the smoke from the crash for miles around and Chinese Coalition Air Defense teams were sent out from bases in both Ining and Urumchi cities. But before anyone arrived, a lone survivor crawled out of a side hatch and limped away into the night.


Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series!

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