by Hawk MacKinney
Planet Terato has become a member of the assembly of the Confederated League of Allied Star Systems. The Murian Outpost Terato once commanded by His Imperial Majesty’s Lord High Chamberlain Herklo Korvo XXXIV is now Teratoan staffed and under the command of Teratoan Eklam a’Qoc.
From the uncharted reaches between galaxies, attacks of extraordinary weaponry come against Terato and the Myr worlds of the Murians. Terminus Terato’s expanded link-portals and converter power modules are virtually useless. Power loss, defenses, communications and travel are totally disrupted. High Chamberlain Korvo’s unexpected return to Terminus on a mission for His Imperial Majesty leaves him stranded on Terato. Attacks grow more massive, more unpredictable; spread across the worlds of the League, as an isolated Terminus struggles among the shattered rubble and whispering remains of an ancient Polity of star-walkers.
Family and friends are lost, empires and civilizations in disarray, Terminus and Planet Terato almost defenseless. Desperate for answers, their worlds being overwhelmed by this remorseless aggressor, Eklam and Korvo reach across unexplored space in a despairing gamble and the last reserves of converter star-substrate, seeking one insignificant star system of gas giants and rocky inner planets for possible relics of the elusive Lantaraan Polity.
“... eastern radials unstable... strengthening vortices opposing orbital realignment...”
Parn’s head throbbed as his thoughts forced the converter toward more output. The power graph flattening with the unremitting decline as the quantum particles of the shell alloys began to disassociate. Output had reached max and was slowly dropping.
The sound of crashes and roars still louder—Ek knew Terminus couldn’t stand much more. “Once antimatter reaches the hub, the self-destruct will trigger.”
Screens blinked unresponsive. Drok shouted above the bedlam, “The Downday hasn’t attained minimum horizon-clearance. Targeting beams holding on standby. Unless the moon clears the horizon, the beams could refract; bounce off into space; never engage the receptors.” Converters shrieked like a wounded Teratoan swamp crawler. “Showing orbital irregularities... orbital constants vacillating,” eyes glued to the inputs. Puzzled at the unexpected readings coming from a source near the a’Qoc hamlet. “Receiving quick output bursts from the altar,” his tunic dusted with more debris, rivulets of sweat-puddled the dust-furrows of his face.
Ek said, “What type of altar outputs?”
Drok said, “Plasma components—unfamiliar readings.”
“The hub will lose power once the antimatter penetrates those last banks of converter,” Ek said. “Before we lose hub power I want you to go to the sublevel vaults housing the encode archives. Should a power failure warning be announced while you are there, backup power will last long enough. Be sure you are some distance away from the archive vaults before backup power is exhausted.” Reached a small odd-shaped crystal to Drok, “Use this to deactivate any security scrims, and duplicate the protocol crystals. No matter what you have to do, keep those crystals safe. If Terato survives and a Murian survey team returns, they’ll know what to do with those crystals. Those duplicates might be the only records to survive; their information could be vital for Myraa City—if Myraa City survives.”
With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.
Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention. Walking the Pet is Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series. The first book in another mystery-thriller series is scheduled for release in 2015. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012. Its sequel, The Missing Planets, has just been released.
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