By L. Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, futuristic, paranormal romance
Released: August 17, 2007
Formats available: HTML, Adobe PDF,
MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader
Life on the planet Raxis was a calm haven,
filled with peace and balance, until one day
the fiery crash of an alien space ship destroyed
Adam’s temple and threatened all that he held
dear. Little did he know, the galactic wars had
finally come to their territory.
Commander Evelyn Moonchaser didn’t mean to destroy the civilian’s temple or endanger his back-of-nowhere world, and she certainly hadn’t meant to claim his heart.
Coming August 17th to Cobblestone Press!
(*WARNING* Adult excerpt. Consider yourself warned.)
Adam Spotted-Paw glared at his younger but bigger brother. “You fight like a dying ox, all panting and no action!” Their game of sparring had gone past pleasure and into just wanting to get it over with.
A quick ending wasn’t worth the disgrace of losing to Josiah, though. Too much depended on this match.
His brother lunged at him, all anger and no focus. Idiot. Usually, Josiah lost for that very reason.
Adam dodged the rush, slid his leg out, tripped and, with a deft twist, flipped Josiah, pinning him flat to the ground under his knee.
“Let me up,” Josiah grumbled.
He pressed down just a little bit, pushing his brother’s face dangerously close to the mud-churned earth. “Not until you beg for mercy.”
“Fine. I beg. Are you happy now?”
Adam jumped back. “Almost.”
“So what will make you happy?” Josiah rolled over and held up his hand for help off the ground.
Their hands clasped with a slight squish and he tugged, pulling Josiah to his feet. “I’ll be happy if you ask Maria to the picnic tomorrow night.”
“But Maria wants you to ask her!”
“I want you to do this for me. That would make me happy.”
Josiah nodded. He couldn’t really refuse. He’d lost the match and so he’d lost the favor, but what Josiah didn’t know was that pretty little Maria would be just perfect for him.
“Go on. Go ask her now. I don’t want you to miss your chance.”
“You are a bully, my brother.” Josiah straightened his short black hair and dusted off his mud-splattered clothes.
Adam just watched. He held back on the laugh all of Josiah’s primping inspired. He didn’t need to do any of that. All it would take was one sincere look. Then those two would be as good as sold down the mating river.
That was how it always was with true love. Not that Adam had ever felt the elusive emotion. No, he’d never been so lucky, but he’d seen plenty. Someday it would happen for him, but so far...well, so far he was the oldest single man on the planet.
For seven hundred years, he’d helped pair up the first, second and third generations on Raxis. For the last two hundred years, he had attended every birth in hope of finding his own mate. For all that time, his gift had benefited everyone but himself.
What good is seeing where love fits when the blessing never fits me?
After his bath, he’d head back to the sacred temple. It seemed the only place he felt peace anymore.
As First Born, he’d claimed the temple as his territory, which had not been challenged by any other. The temple of Ra was more a shrine than the celebration Adam thought it should be, but the elders held that as custom. And on Raxis, custom was not questioned.
Once he’d bathed away the last evidence of his match with Josiah, Adam started for the temple, but paused at the door to his small home.
A strange whistle cut off all the natural sounds of people and other life. He looked up to find the sky on fire while the whistle grew into a roar.
Was it a shooting star falling on Raxis?
Someone cried out. Another screamed. Their small town became a backdrop of energy as people yelled and ran.
Adam looked around and saw his parents across the courtyard. They stood quietly, watching the falling fire with faces frozen in horror.
He covered his ears to shut out the horrible noise. Even that did little to help. The ground shook with the sound. It shook so badly that when the object crashed into the temple, the final explosion of noise was barely louder than the rush that came before.
He was running toward his burning temple when all the others were running away. The fire would burn the records, damage the holy relics. He rushed to the stone building, glad that the rock could not burn, and shocked that it had melted in places.
“Ra, help us...”
The falling star wasn’t a star at all. It was a vehicle of some kind.
The long plates of black metal were torn and wrinkled like fine linen. The spine of the thing was broken, spilling out strange materials, colored ropes that sparked and jumped as if alive.
All the black was in sharp contrast to the white stones of the temple. Black scorch marks and red flames fought to bring both colors closer to gray.
His temple was destroyed, its walls battered down and its strong stones scattered and even crushed. The room holding the sacred scrolls was blocked by the flaming wreckage. Still, he had to try...
Adam started forward, but was dragged to a stop at the tumbled outer wall. He jerked his arm, but Josiah wouldn’t let go.
“You can’t go in there.”
“I have to. The scrolls and relics need to be saved from the fire.” Why couldn’t his brother understand their importance?
“Don’t bother. The fire seems to be banking. It’ll go out soon enough.” Josiah kept hold of him, kept him from doing any good. But after a few minutes of watching the flames slowly die out, he moved closer to the wreckage. “What do you think it is?”
“A vehicle,” Adam said.
Other people gathered around them. The stench of smoke kept the immediate area clear, but onlookers circled around the temple.
“If that’s a vehicle...where is the driver?”
A driver? Adam wanted to scream. Why hadn’t he thought of that? He jerked free of Josiah in a fast, hard yank and jumped forward. If there was someone inside, then they’d have to act fast to help them. If it wasn’t already too late.
From one end to the other, the thing was probably about twenty wolf lengths long and half that wide. But at which end would he find a driver? If it were like a carriage, there would be a door of some kind, but he couldn’t see anything that looked like a door. What he did see was a great, menacing eye painted on the narrowed end that had been all but buried into the temple wall. That flaming eye would be on the front like a predator…wouldn’t it?
Adam climbed over the tumbled stones, making his way to where the metal smoothed out into some sort of glossy surface. When he was close enough to touch it, he hesitated. The metal vibrated like a living thing. It felt almost obscene in its likeness to life.
Surely it was just like a wagon with no life of its own, except for what drove it?
He peered more closely at the shiny black material, which was not metal but something more like window glass. Though, it must be much stronger than glass, because it hadn’t broken or bent like the metal. It was somewhat transparent. And inside...
Inside was a woman!
She lay awkwardly, partially in a seat. Her body hung limply, looking past life and on into the shadows of death. Blood smeared her pale skin, blonde hair and probably her clothing too, although the black fabric hid the red from sight.
“Josiah! There is a woman inside. Get me something to tear open this thing.” Adam didn’t bother to see if his brother obeyed him. He could feel Josiah moving away and knew he’d return with tools to help. Instead, Adam focused on running his hands over the metal surface, looking for any indication of an entrance or even a weakness that could be used to get inside.
The metal burned hot at his fingertips, but he didn’t let the pain stop his search. His fingers slid over the metal, dipping in just slightly. There was an indentation in a smooth line that ran up and down. He explored the aberration, searching for a handle or lever of some kind to open what must be a door.
Nothing. There didn’t seem to be a way to open it.
“I brought your bar and axe!” Josiah vaulted over the rubble to his side.
Adam took the pick axe and tried jamming it into the miniscule dent he’d found. But no matter how hard he hit or how precisely he aimed, the metal didn’t give.
“What’s that symbol?” Josiah pointed to the damaged coloration about shoulder high beside the line he’d been working on. “It looks like a paw print.”
It did, but when Adam dipped his head closer, the image changed to a man-sized palm print. He reached up and placed his hand over the strange image. In the moment of contact, a jolt of energy sizzled over his palm, dancing with his personal magic. It was both familiar and alien all at once.
But most importantly, it opened the door.
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