RETALIATION IS HERE!
Put some sci-fi in your stocking this Christmas, and enjoy the exciting 2nd book in The Oceanstone Initiative series!
One doctor, one alien lover, one botanist, and one engineer on a desperate mission to save earth from human destruction.
Sakota saved Astraeus and her friends from certain death, but in doing so, she gained the attention of the Oreck, who will stop at nothing to destroy everything in their path.
With their ship severely damaged, Sakota and her crew land on a nearby planet and seek sanctuary while they make repairs to return home. But nothing on this perfect planet is as it appears, and Sakota soon learns they’ve traded one danger for another.
Hunted and targeted, will Sakota be able to carry out her mission, or will everyone she cares about be destroyed?
Sakota took a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s do it. We’re not going to survive if we don’t.” Hisoka and Tatiana turned around to man their consoles. She ate the last of her ration piece and slipped her hand into Astraeus’s. The escape pod reached the mouth of the black hole, then without warning, surged forward.
When Sakota was a child, long before Alistair rescued her from the orphanage in the squalid wasteland of London, the other children liked to play a game called Lights Out. In the main room where she bunked with fifteen other girls, a shaft of light streamed in from the hallway, in the same spot every night, like clockwork. The adult on night duty would check in once an hour and perform a headcount as they slept.
A few nights a week, a handful of the girls awakened and killed the hallway lights so they could scare and torture whomever they didn’t like among them. It was a powerful systematic lesson, however cruel. Sakota grew up knowing her place at the bottom rung of life. She’d never fit into the cookie-cutter type molding the upper-class girls had been bred for. She’d proved early on that she’d fight back with a vengeance when provoked, but she wasn’t certain which was worse; being preyed upon or listening to other girls’ pleas for help as she lay in the pitch-black room. The memory had stayed with her well into adulthood, as well as the countless times she could and should have stepped in to help instead of being crippled by primal fear and self-preservation. Children could be cruel. But the fear she’d experienced then was nothing, nothing, compared to being sucked into a black hole.
The escape pod whirled inside the conduit and pitched them around in a circle. They spun, at the mercy of inexhaustible energy along the black hole’s trajectory. Though she’d experienced raw fear when the Oreck had taken over the Sleipnir science vessel and killed everyone, this was different. Before, she at least had an idea what she was up against. Three razor-sharp talons emerging from claws didn’t lie. Being sucked into the black hole was like being an ant in a cyclone.
Astraeus squeezed her palm reassuringly. She turned and looked at him. They were both strapped in, tight.
Astraeus squeezed her hand. “Don’t be afraid.”
The speed of the escape pod amplified. Ribbons of light streamed past the windows like gossamer silk as the ship darted into unknown darkness. Sakota gritted her teeth. Oh, screw not acting afraid. She was terrified.
Sakota bolted up in bed in the middle of the night.
Her dreams of blood and fear were monopolized with pointed teeth, cartilaginous faces, long, double-jointed arms and legs, and cruel, black alien eyes. The Oreck. They haunted her, perpetual alien God-ghosts with their eerie, electromagnetic glow beneath papery, gray skin.
Beside her, Astraeus slept, his arm flopped over the groove in the bed where she’d lain as he held her. He stirred, frowning. Was he having a nightmare too? She reached her hand out and searched with her emotions, as she’d learned to do.
He tossed, fitful, in the clutches of a nightmare to do with Upsilon’s destruction. She couldn’t remember what her nightmare had been about, but it had ended violently. Peace, she sent silently. Tranquility. Calm. Rest.
Astraeus sighed in his sleep, relaxed, and rolled over. She feathered hair out of his face. His existence had blown her away, and it still did. Astraeus’s genetic code far outstripped her own. He had defense mechanisms in place to protect him from climate extremities that she could never even dream of having. But more so, for the first time in her life, she’d fallen in love. It went against her pragmatic nature, but his comforting presence anchored her amid the wreckage.
She scrubbed her face with her hand in the darkness and swung her legs over the side of the levitating bed, careful of the bed’s height when she stood.
Humans were either a lot shorter than most of the visiting interplanetary delegates, or for some strange reason, they liked their beds high.
Her limbs ached, fatigue from the action of the last several days. She suspected healing from microgravity had something to do with it too, but she’d been through the wringer. The way she walked, the weight of her lips when she spoke, her arm and leg muscles seemed heavier and more visceral, like someone had injected them with a heavy drug. Ridiculous, of course. She was in the best shape of her life.
In the center of the room, she stretched and did some yoga until the tightness lessened. She rotated her neck. In a day or two, the slight dizziness and disoriented inertia would subside. As a physician, she knew the symptoms. She’d be fine. But telling a patient about them versus experiencing them were two different things.
She padded barefoot out onto the balcony, drew a silver cup from the shelves, and dipped it into the fountain. Distant light illuminated the Chuleron buildings along the skyline in the distance. She brought the brim of the cup to her lips and drank. Cool and refreshing, much cleaner than the sterilized water she’d had back on Earth. Tastier too. Earth water had to be purified at least five times before it could be considered healthy enough for consumption. Bacterial pathogens ran rampant in food and the polluted streams and springs back home, so sterilizing was essential. The delightful coolness soothed her throat.
She twisted her hair and pulled it over her right shoulder, taking in the strange, tantalizing city. Did her suspicions about this place come from her subconscious, because of the death and violence she’d experienced? Or was Hisoka right and something seemed off?
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/retaliation-haley-cavanagh/1135488266