Authors: Ceallaigh, Adriane
Other Books by this Author:
Kayla Blackstone Book One
Earth’s New Masters
Drakken Press, Moses Lake
Earth’s New Masters Copyright © 2009 by Adriane Ceallaigh
All rights reserved under the international and pan-American copyright conventions. no part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
. your support of the authors rights is appreciated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the production of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
a Drakken press production
1004 w Bruce ST.
Moses lake, WA 98837
To order additional copies of this book, contact:
Richard At: [email protected]
Cover Art © 2013 by: Michael Baker
Production By Drakken Press
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Earth’s New Masters
A Riker-10 Story
For all her support and wondering what would happen if you had radioactive tumbleweeds.
Shura read through her contract again. It had taken a while to get used to the optic implant, but had proven well worth the cost. Data came in through the implant and out into her field of vision, untraceable and undetectable even with the best scanners. Bio-tech made her life easier.
She sat down, loaded the coordinates into her wrist unit, and prepared to leave. The next transport left in twenty minutes. She’d make it if she hurried. They’d already transferred the initial credits to her account. She’d have enough time to change her form on the forty-five parsec trip.
She wondered at the secrecy. Normally her jobs gave her a lot more details up front. More information gave her the chance to opt out, although if she did, she would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
She entered the passenger quarters on the shuttle, slid the door closed, and set the lock to voice recognition only. She flipped the dampening field into full silence and tossed her bag at the foot of the small decompression bed. She paid extra for the sound dampening field, but she always included the cost in her retainer fee.
She stripped, staring at the unfamiliar visage in the mirror. She couldn’t remember what form her body had started life as, just the never ending pain of transmutation.
She hated this part, the tearing of flesh as she snapped and reformed her bones to fit a role. She watched in the mirror as silent screams pierced the room. She focused, making sure she got the shape and feel of the body right.
Shura stepped into the sonic shower, cleaning the debris of dead skin and blood from her body. Then she crawled across the floor and into the decompression bed.
She lay down, hair damp, breathing heavy, resting. She reached over, disconnected the dampening field and relaxed into unconsciousness.
Shura watched out the portal as they approached Riker-10. A space station dedicated to orbiting, and defending, planet Earth. Humanity had decided to give their planet time to heal. She’d often thought it a good plan, but she wondered what millennia untouched had done to the health of the world. She turned away, gathered her stuff, and headed to the spacedock.
She took a small shuttle transport to Dark Woods. The spacer bar offered anonymity; no one really focused on the people coming in or out of the establishment. Not that it mattered to her, an unregistered body morph.
She changed her appearance so often she rarely worried about people picking her out of a line up. Her physiology allowed her to absorb the D.N.A helix of any living species she came into contact with.
She could be any other creature in the known universe, live as they did, love as they did, reproduce and mother her children as they did with maybe a one in a thousand chance of passing on her physiology to them.
Body morphs were outlawed, their parents required to register their child’s abilities with the Alliance. They were implanted with a chip that alerted scanners and transports all over the galaxy when they passed, letting the governing body of those places know that one of her kind walked among them.
Her parents hadn’t registered her. At least she didn’t believe that they had. She had no real way of knowing. She’d been raised by a spacer named Corbin who made his living hunting other species for pay, and he’d taught her the profession as early as she could remember.
Maybe he was her family. She’d never know. She didn’t know where he’d gotten her nor why a man like him had taken her in, but she did know that he’d cared for her in his own way.
She shook herself out of her reverie as the shuttle slowed and the disembark lights flashed. She followed a few people off the transport, being careful not to touch them. She didn’t like picking up random D.N.A.
The near sterile corridors of the space station made her slightly more comfortable. The short walk to Dark Woods allowed her time to calm her mind. She began the process of remembering all data coming in through her implants for later evaluation, documenting and cataloging the interior of the building. She placed her back against a wall and blended into the background.
A murmured “Shura,” brought her head around. She nodded almost imperceptibly to the tall, graying man who slid into the chair across from her.
“Tuoint,” he said and slid a small, clear film of data across the table.
She stared at it a second, 200 magnification, she thought. Words appeared in front of her. Earth compromised. Immediate action required. No known space craft has crossed the perimeter beacons. Movement on ground, evidence of civilization detected.
The disk ran on for several more paragraphs, but she’d gotten the gist of it and an inkling into why they’d hired her and not a standard squad.
They wanted someone to blend in and infiltrate this civilization. She stared straight into his eyes. “How long?”
“What do you want from me?”
“Infiltrate, figure out where the threat is from, and then eliminate the trespassers.”
It all sounded simple enough, but she had her doubts. “When do I leave?”
She nodded. “Who’s taking me out?”
“I am. I’ll monitor you through your implants. You’ll need to sign a waiver. Limited weapons allowed in zone. Sorry, but we can’t break the rules.”
“What are we talking then?”
“No explosives or artillery of any kind.”
She understood. Earth had become a shrine, and she could almost not blame them for wanting to keep it that way. Almost.
She stared in wonder at the blue orb of the Earth. It was hard for her to imagine that the humans had come from this glorious place. She’d heard tales of dark swirling clouds covering the planet, but if there ever had been, they weren’t any longer. Humanity’s goal of healing the world appeared to be working, and she couldn’t help but wonder what that first breath of unfiltered air would be like.
Tuoint looked over his shoulder at her from the cockpit of the jump shuttle. “Pack it in, pack it out.”
She glared at him. “Understood.” This mission was becoming more of a pain in the neck every second.
“We’ll be arriving at the jump altitude in twenty seconds,” he turned back towards the front.
Her implants gave her the read-out of the air temperature and wind velocity. They would give her ample warning on when to pull the chute.
He disengaged the door to the airlock. She stepped through without a backward glance. He’d told her he’d meet her in a few weeks at a landing site they maintained for scouting probes. It would take a day just to hike to the site from where the disturbances had been recorded.
She waited while the airlock decontaminated her and decompressed the air. She wore a re-breather to help with the descent and planet atmosphere until her lungs adapted to the unfiltered air.
She stocked several vials of compressed nutrients in her hip pouch. They contained everything her body needed to survive. Tuoint told her the water would be safe to drink, and she could cleanse it with the droplets they’d given her as long as she didn’t dump any onto the ground. Messing with the ecosystem of a planet was a big no no, as was killing and consuming animals.
She found it ironic, but kept her comments to herself and leapt from the shuttle. She loved the weightless feeling as the cold air whipped past her face. She took a moment to enjoy it before she pulled the zip cord and deployed her chute.
She landed with a well-practiced, running leap and hopped a few times as the fabric pooled around her. She slipped out of the harness and hit the button to instantly repack the chute.
Shura surveyed her surroundings. The forested area looked almost impenetrable. It would be a tedious two day walk. She sighed, determined, and set off towards the south. “Heat sensors on.” She rarely gave verbal commands anymore, but she felt the need to hear her own voice in the void.
It felt desolate. To think she might be the only known sentient creature on the entire planet. Sure, there’d been sightings of something, but they didn’t know for sure and that’s why they’d called her.
Several days later, she stood on the edge of the wood watching a billowing dust cloud headed in her direction. She scowled at it. “Magnification three hundred percent.” A swirling mass of tumbling weeds danced in an intricate pattern.
“Magnification five hundred percent.” She gasped, unable to help herself. As a weed stopped, thick branches became flowing hair down the back of its dusky grey form. The tall, thin creature turned in her direction. Even from this distance she could see grace in its movements.
It stared at her a long moment. Then it turned back and glanced over the mass of tumblers. Three broke from the dance and sped in her direction. They moved with incredible speed. She couldn’t keep her eyes off the first figure, but the advancing party needed her immediate attention.
“Magnification normal,” she whispered and pulled out a long, thin blade. There would be no infiltration on this mission after all. She sighed. She’d be lucky to make it out alive.
The station had bigger problems than just a few illegal colonists. These people had to be natives to the world. She flipped her blade around and braced herself. She was about to meet Earth’s new masters.
They came, swirling in one direction and then another around her body. They left her no room for retreat.
Their constant movement made her step toward the plain to avoid being touched. She allowed herself to be herded onward, wondering why they hadn’t attacked.
Shura stumbled on the uneven ground. She felt a sharp jab from behind. Blood trickled down her spine as she spun and brought her blade down through the one who’d broken her flesh. She didn’t think, only reacted, as her body took over and did what she’d been trained to do.
The vibrating shock hit her system first as a forced transformation overwhelmed her. She couldn’t control the shape. Her screams echoed through the plain. They’d injected her with undiluted D.N.A. Her body was absorbing and morphing to fit its new instructions.
She lay there among the creatures she’d butchered, changed and unable to move. She slipped into unconsciousness, not expecting to ever wake up.
She woke looking at the millions of lights in the Dark Father. She saw one flare brighter than the rest and shoot across the twilight blanket above. She’d often wondered what they were. She rolled over, her bracken slithering around and covering her in warmth.
She lifted a tendril, twirling it between her fingers. It shifted, hardening and softening in seconds. The clan cried through her mind, their pain palpable. An outsider had sent two brethren to Wind Father. A third lay unmoving in her bracken. Shura slid over. She paused momentarily as odd designs flittered in her vision.
She shook her head, sending her suddenly tense bracken rattling against each other. She stiffened and rolled them around her frame, hooking her legs into place. The hooks on her knees and the backs of her heels locked her lower half into the hardened tendrils. She stared, fascinated at her thin, wood-like legs.
They seemed odd. She frowned. Why? Her elbow and wrist joints had the same hooks that locked in, immobilizing her as she spun in circles across the clearing. She sent her outer mind across the plains, detecting shapes and movement. She found the still form of the wounded one as the others milled around.
They were tumblers migrating where Wind Father blew them. She shifted subconsciously, flicking hardened bracken this way and that, propelling herself towards her fallen sister. She rolled up and hovered on the outside of the circle, unfurling into her standing form. Her tendrils hung in limp sections down her back. A few of them curled around her wrist, and some of them around her waist and hips. She wanted to help but was unable to figure out how.