Missed Episode 3? Click here to read it.
The Unity Room door slid open and in walked a woman even older than the Hadune Mother, with a benevolent, child-like grin and steps that seemed far too light and energetic for her age. She paused to acknowledge the others present with a small nod, then glided to the empty seat with an expression as fresh as though she had just stepped from the garden.
Something about the way that she moved suggested something unusual to Jossu, but he could not determine what it was.
"This is Ombura," the Hadune Mother explained. "She is our foremost Beast expert, having studied them since she was a child."
Jossu hardly knew what to think. The foremost Beast expert had arrived with bare feet.
My apologies if you've been following HIDDEN FACE and are awaiting Episode 10. This past week got out of hand for me, but expect the next installment on Friday, as usual.
Here's a peace offering: 10 words that every book-nerd should now add to their vocabulary to impress their friends. You're welcome.
Pain threaded through Colgren's voice, some deep agony of soul that chilled Jossu's palms inside his gloves, tightened his throat. Did the Beasts remember their humanity and grieve for what they had been? Or were those last glimmers of speech like the final twitches of a being already dead to consciousness?
He should not listen, but the voice drew him, magnetic in its despair. "Jossu!"
Jossu observed Special Advisor Rast from beneath eyelids heavy with fatigue and shadowed with doubt. Rast waited with a feline patience, sliding his eyes sideways at intervals, just often enough to release Jossu from the impression of staring. Rast refused to challenge and pressure him, then.
Interesting. A Loystrek with actual people skills, without the almost robotic calculation common to their people.
It could be a trick, but, with sudden decision, Jossu claimed the risk. His people did not deserve to die because of his weakness or incompetence; he could not do this alone. And if the Loystrek double-crossed him, well, Jossu could die knowing that he had done all possible and could breath a dying curse upon the treacherous Loystrek. A clear conscience, the assurance that he had given of his best loyalty--that might be all that was left to him. But it was something. It was something.
His mission was a fool's hope anyway.
Drawing a deep breath, Jossu marshalled his memories and began to speak of the events that had brought him to the Loystrek Third.
The first rule of the Kayso Beast Containment Unit was simple: Never touch or kill a Beast.
If you touched or killed a Beast, you became one.
You couldn't always see them in the shadowy corridors. The dim scarlet glow of the ship's emergency lights seemed to cast a blood-light over the blank walls and worn yellow carpet. The Beasts left no blood, but their presence always seemed to suggest it.
Oh God, oh God, don't let them get me.
Jossu flinched--Eyes! No, it was only the reflection of light from the buttons of a security panel near the door of the evacuation pods. The Beasts always left the pods unguarded, as though it did not matter to them if someone ejected into deep space. But it mattered to Jossu. The Triangle was the only livable space for light-years. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide from the Beasts.
Except the Loystrek Third, the only part of the Triangle not overrun by Beasts.
If the Loystrek would even let him in.
It all starts on Friday.
A new adventure will blast through the speculative fiction galaxy and YOU and your fellow readers will decide how the story progresses.
Last Friday, I promised a sneak peek at this February's adventure. Here it is: