Today I decided to put an excerpt on the 'Love Romance Cafe' site just to let people know that I'm still around. All of my books are still available from Melange Books. Please, browse through my books on the right side, click on one of them and you'll end up on the Melange Books site to find out more about the book or any other.
Just for visiting, I'll send you one of my books for free in any format you would like. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for it.
As I mentioned in previous posts, Codename Salamander is the fifth book in my SF series 'The Spider Wars', but the book stands on its own. You might want to read the first book in the series 'Outpost Epsilon' or perhaps the second book, which is the first one in the trilogy. You'll find it in the column to the right: Epsilon.
Here is the first chapter of Codename Salamander:
Through tired eyes, Ahrragula watched the flock of black Cloudsingers circling above the Koura-trees. His eyesight, along with his ability to hear, had been gradually failing. Sick and weak because of his stiff joints and loss of muscle, he was of no use to the tribe now. Only young and strong males could protect the offspring and the females. There was no place for an old warrior like him. He had become a burden, so the tribe cast him out and left him in a remote area of the swamp to fend for himself. His chances for surviving more than a few days were slim to none. He had no illusions about that. Death would most likely come in the dark mantle of the night. Too weak to thrust the spear they left him he would not be able to defend himself against the giant Swamp-eels or the striped Windghosts roaming the sandy lands beyond the swamps. In his youth, he had been an expert with the wookka, always bringing down his quarry with the first throw. Now it hung from his belt of woven reeds, an ornament, useless for anything else. He even lost the ability to throw it in such a way to make it return to him when he missed his target.
He carried no grudges, because he knew the tribe had not made him an outcast to punish him or out of cruelty. It was the way of the People, and it had been so as long as he could remember. The tribe could not support the old, the crippled, the malformed, and those whose mind had been touched by the gods. The only thing they were still good for was to become nourishment for the wild beasts. It was their final sacrifice to the eternal gods.
A distant roar made him cast a look behind him, but he saw nothing in that direction but high grass, rocks, and the windblown skeleton branches of shrubbery foreign to him. He was used to the lush plants of the swamps, the tall, thick reeds with their purple globes of feathery seed carriers, and the broad-leafed giant Ferns.
Things were not the same anymore as they had been in his youth. The presence of huge, fierce beasts not native to this world and three times the size of the Windghosts forced the People out of their home territory. Used to living in the swamps since beginning of time, they felt uneasy and out of their element on dry land; it was not their natural environment. The plants were not the same and the animals were different. Unknown dangers lurked everywhere.
Some said the demons from the sky brought these beasts to the World. Not even the Seers-of- the-Future had seen this in their dreams. There had not been time to prepare the People for this new menace.
Even though resigned to have his life ended shortly, he was still curious enough to investigate when he witnessed the arrival of a massive silvery, oblong rock descending out of the clouds to land near the swamp amidst the tall Koura-trees. The rock had skin so smooth and shiny the reflection of the light from the Lifegiver nearly blinded him for a quick moment as he watched it coming to rest on the ground.
Crawling on his belly, he was careful not to give away his presence. He didn’t know why, because in a way it didn’t matter if the demons found him. He was destined to die anyway, but some survival instinct made him cautious. Survival instinct and the need to know what they were up to.
As he watched, he saw a crack appearing in the belly of the sky-rock and a number of demons spilled out of the opening, like seeds from the pod of a bursting Blood-flower. Then a larger hole opened in the rear of the sky-rock. A bulky object floated from it and settled gently onto the ground. The demons went to the object and began removing round spheres the size of a young male’s head. They carried them into the wooded area that surrounded the Koura-trees and deposited them among the tall shrubs.
In the meantime, another, much larger object had emerged from the hollow sky-rock. It looked like a cage and something moved behind the thick bars. The old warrior held his breath when one of the demons opened one side of the cage. A few moments later, a beast unlike any he had ever seen stepped into the open. It must have crouched inside the cage, because, now free, it rose on its powerful hind legs and it looked twice the size it had appeared behind the bars. It moved its giant head slowly from side to side as if surveying the area.
Shuddering with sudden fright, Ahrragula lay unmoving among the tall grasses. Pressing his thin body as best as he could against the ground, he peered over the small boulder he had chosen as his observation post.
The demon beast could not have sensed him, but it fastened its small, glittering eyes on the rock that seemed suddenly much too small. Its thick tongue lolled between double rows of pointy teeth in those massive jaws that were large enough to swallow an immature male with one gulp. A deep sound like thunder escaped from the beast’s throat as it moved sluggishly away from the sky-rock that had spawned it.
The demons stood watching the beast for a moment and then they withdrew into the belly of the sky-rock. A few moments later the silvery rock rose into the air and shot with ever increasing speed toward the Lifegiver hidden in the hazy sky.
Ahrragula watched it disappear behind the clouds, as he lay still frozen among the grasses. His gaze moved back to the scaly giant beast the demons had left behind. He realized its movements were slow and lethargic and he speculated that this was not typical for this creature. It seemed almost half-asleep, but Ahrragula knew the beast would soon be awake, and when that happened, he’d better be far away, unless he wanted to be its first meal in its new home.
Somehow, he didn’t have the desire to give up his life yet. With new hope, he slowly crawled away from the rock, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was a good chance the tribe would welcome him back if he brought testimony of what he had witnessed. This proved what so many had already assumed—the sky-demons released the menace that threatened the survival of the People on this world. To what end nobody knew.
He was certain that those round spheres were nothing but eggs that would hatch more of those demon-beasts. Perhaps he should try to destroy them before that happened, but he had to wait until the scaly demon left the area. He needed to be far away but still close enough so he could watch the beast.
When he found a safe hiding place between two large boulders, he crawled into the narrow crack and settled down for a long wait.
Available soon from Melange Books.
Thank you for visiting and reading this far. Watch for the book on my blog.