Lily and her crew had surveyed dozens of worlds in the five years since she had been assigned to the colony/mining detail—without a single hitch—until she and her crew crashes on one of Alexandria’s moons. Stumbling from the wreckage, Lily is rescued/captured—she isn’t sure which, but it feels like capture—by, Zor, one of the winged natives of the primitive world ….
Word Count: 40,268
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, 2014
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Lily didn't know how long she had blacked for, but the smell of burning rubber and an oppressive heat all around her roused her from unconsciousness. She shook her head a few times to try and get her thoughts back on track. The cabin had already filled with smoke, and it immediately flooded her lungs, making it almost impossible to breathe.
Ignoring her gut feeling to follow protocol, Lily unbuckled herself from her seat, but she was thrown violently to the floor from the pitch of the ship. On her hands and knees, she pawed at the floor, trying to find either Turner or Stephens, but the smoke was too thick and her vision was starting to blur.
"Stephens! Turner!" she managed to call out between dry heaves.
The sound of the alarms was too shrill but she swore she could hear one of them calling out to her.
"Can you guys hear me?"
Lily used one arm to cover her nose and mouth but somewhere beneath the alarms and the sizzling wires dangling around her, she could hear something deep, some low-pitched scraping sound.
"James! James! Get your ass outta here, ya hear me? Go!"
Lily slinked forward, still feeling her way across the main cabin, hoping she would reach out and grab Stephens' arm or Turner's leg but before she knew it, she was at the door on the starboard side.
The impact of the unknown object had blown a hole through the cabin door, so she was able to simply hurl herself out the door. She landed with an unceremonious thud.
She grasped at the mossy ground, mustering whatever strength she had to pull herself up onto her knees as she gulped in huge lungfuls of clean, fresh air.
"Remember your training," she whispered to herself. Her thoughts were scrambled, her heartbeat racing, but something inside of her when onto autopilot and she managed to drag herself up onto her feet and stagger away from the ship. With every ounce of strength in her, Lily tried to slow her breaths and keep the panic from escalating, but her entire body was tense with adrenaline. If she didn't get her wits about her and come up with a game plan, getting out of the ship safely wasn't going to mean much.
She staggered up onto her feet and made a beeline for a small grove of palm trees to her right. As she got closer, she felt lightheaded and had to grab onto one of the trees for support, but it gave her a chance to stop, catch her breath and finally, after allowing her thoughts to clear, she took a look up at the airship that only moments before had been airborne.
The hull of the ship was blackened and the entire starboard side jagged from the impact of whatever had brought them down. She clutched at the arm of her air suit where the jagged metal had torn through her suit. Her arm was bloody but she didn't feel any pain.
Must be the adrenaline, she thought. Could have died, been vaporized, and no one would know what happened.
And no one would unless she could get back onboard and get that radio working.
Against her better judgement, Lily staggered back toward the ship, eyeing the cloud of white smoke billowing out of the trashed door. As she approached, she remembered the homing beacon on her suit and activated it, slipping the tiny earpiece in and waiting for the communication device to ping lightly.
"Global control this is Captain James, leader of the Antares over."
There was no response and no sound other than static. She jabbed at the button again.
"I repeat, Global Control this is the team leader of the Antares. Over."
She waited for a few moments but still, nothing.
"Global Control this is Lily James, team leader of the Antares reporting to you from Alexandria. We've had some sort of impact from an unknown source and we have crash-landed. Please advise."
The wait was agonizing and even more so when Lily realize that she had lost all communication with Global back on earth. Without direct communication, Global might assume that they'd gone down and that Alexandria was too hostile for them to continue. They may even halt or cancel the exploration and just consider the entire crew collateral damage as they'd done with other such expeditions.
According to Global's protocol, if they did not report back within 24 hours of a loss communication, Global would consider the mission a failure and the planet prohibited. That also meant they would not send any other spaceships in the galaxy to check on them. And with no other ships in the vicinity and none scheduled to land here in the foreseeable future, Lily had a sinking feeling in her stomach that she and her crew would be marooned here for the rest of their lives on this primitive planet. If they were still alive that is.
"No way, I'm not going to allow us to become another statistic," Lily said, gritting her teeth before taking a few shaky steps forward. She looked tentatively from side to side as she made her way slowly back towards the Antares. Step by step, it was a battle just to make her way through the oozing muddy ground.
She lurched precariously forward, picking her way through the tough grasses that dotted the swampy area. She did her best not to let her imagination run away with her as she stepped through the deeper pools of dark liquid, imagining strange creatures lurking beneath the waters that she can see. Every now and then, a strange bird or insect would cry out, sending Lily to her knees with her heartbeat thundering in her chest.
As she neared the downed ship, she braced herself for what she might find. Just as she was about to poke her head in through the battered hull, she heard a strange whooshing sound above her. She darted her gaze upward and screamed as she saw a dark figure descending toward her. Before she could try to run, there was a flurry of blackness around her. Something grabbed her by either shoulder and all the sudden she was lifted off the ground and being carried away from the ship, the only thing that was familiar to her here in this strange place.
Screeching until her throat felt bloody and raw, Lily tried to look up at the thing that had her. But the thing threw her from side to side with each flapping of its wings so that she couldn't see clearly.
Maybe I'm dead, she thought to herself, frantically. Maybe this is just some strange vision I'm having and soon there'll be nothing but darkness. That's it, I died. We're all dead and this is just some dream.
Below her, she could see a vast valley nestled between immense mountain ranges. The trees and plants that she'd seen on the ground where pinpricks to her now and the higher she went the more dizzy she started to feel.
Just as she started to lose consciousness, something deep inside jolted her wide awake.
"No!" She shouted. "I'm not going to let this happen!"
She started kicking her feet violently out from under her hoping that the momentum would cause the creature to drop her but then she froze, realizing that the last thing she wanted was to fall down to the ground from this height. The crash hadn't killed her but if she fell from here, she would surely die.
She reached up behind her to where the creature had her in its talons and tried to pry them loose but the more she fought, that deeper it dug into her skin. She squealed at the feeling of blood oozing from her shoulders, and that, coupled with the velocity and height that they were flying, not to mention the injury she suffered in the crash, made Lily so lightheaded that before she knew it, she had passed out completely.