Alien Chronicles 3 - The Crystal Eye

BOOK: Alien Chronicles 3 - The Crystal Eye
11.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

From the creators of the
Star Wars saga
and the adventures of
Indiana Jones
comes a story of triumph over adversity . . .


In a universe far from ours, the rule of the mighty reptilian Viis is coming to an end. Planetary resources have been wasted. Slave races are challenging their masters. And a prophecy will come to pass as the story of Ampris the Exile concludes . . .


Ampris’s days as a gladiator and freedom fighter are far behind her. She only wants to raise her children—half Aaroun, half Viis—away from the influence of their reptilian heritage. But the wilderness is taking its toll on her children and the other refugees. Desperate, Ampris returns to the ghetto that spawned her to seek the knowledge contained in the Imperial Archives that can save her people.

Instead she learns the truth behind the enslavement of her race—a shocking betrayal that forces Ampris to walk the warrior’s path once more. It is a path that will lead Ampris into a final confrontation with her old enemy Israi—and decide the future of a universe.



THE VIIS . . .
a race of seven-foot tall, beautifully reptilian creatures. Their physical attractiveness has convinced the Viis that they are the most important, godlike creatures in the universe. This has led to an underground race of the “uglies”—Viis that were cast off as unacceptable, worthless spawn . . .

The race of Ampris are powerful, golden-furred creatures with sharp teeth. They have long been kept by the Viis as slaves, or as in the case of Ampris, pets.

a submissive, doglike race with stiff, bristly coats and simian hands. Because they are so easily intimidated, Kelth are considered unreliable to handle important tasks. They are not to be trusted . . .

THE MYAL . . .
Renowned for their insight and memories. Myal stand barely three feet tall and are usually poets, musicians, and historians. They control the archives of the Viis empire.

They are filthy, noisy, foul-smelling, and socially repulsive creatures. Yet they are unequaled at maintaining and repairing quantum hardware (the only reason to tolerate them).

THE SKEK . . .
Less than two feet high, furry, multilimbed, and quick, the Skek live like rats in the ducts and garbage of the Viis. It’s a common slave belief that if you dropped one Skek in a barrel, the barrel would explode with Skek offspring within a day.

Big, stupid, and brutal, Toths roam the ghetto streets as thugs, but they are also used by their Viis masters as hired enforcers and brownshirts. Nearly as tall as the Viis, they have massive heads covered with thick mats of dirty, curly brown hair. Flies usually buzz around their long, floppy ears. Their faces are broad and flat, with wide nostrils, and their eyes are small and cruel.

Lucasfilm’s Alien Chronicles™
by Deborah Chester



An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ace edition / August 1999

All rights reserved.
Trademark and Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission.

For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York. New York 10014.

Cover artist Bob Eggleton
Alien artist Teryl Whitlatch

ISBN: 0-441-00635-3

Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. ACE and the “A” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.



Panting in the heat, Ampris dragged her harvest basket to the end of the row. She looked around warily, staying alert for the first sign of trouble, but no one was paying attention to her. Lugging her heavy basket, she walked over to the sorting bin and joined the end of the line, where workers were waiting to dump the contents of their baskets.

The sorting bin shook and hummed noisily, vibrating all over. Its belts screeched, in need of maintenance. Slaves stood on a platform above the bin, tipping the contents of baskets into its maw. Mechanical teeth and rollers shook the globular grain heads, each one as large as Ampris’s fist. They bounced through openings that determined grade and rolled along an open chute that fed them into the cargo hold of a parked transport. The heads too small to make grade went rolling out a side chute into a smaller bin.

Ampris hunched her broad shoulders and kept her head low to make herself look smaller. The line shuffled forward, and she dragged her heavy basket on her left side to conceal her limp. She wore a ragged jerkin, belt, and conical straw hat with a torn brim to protect her from the brutal sun. She looked exactly like every other slave at work in this stelf field. But she was no longer a slave; she did not belong here; and if all went as planned neither the guards nor the overseer would notice her.

She moved forward again, glancing ahead at a lean Kelth with grayish-brown fur and a slim, pointed muzzle. Wielding a long-handled rake, he was pushing the grain heads along the chute into the transport hold. Garbed in a coat with both sleeves torn off, its color long since faded to a nondescript gray, Elrabin snagged any grain heads that were too bruised or rotten to go to processing. As Ampris watched him from beneath her ragged hat brim, Elrabin raked out two deformed heads, then slyly snagged a plump, perfect one. He dropped the deformed ones into the stinking basin that encircled the base of his platform and with a flick of his wrist tossed the good one into the basket he had concealed in the weeds.

Ampris drew in a satisfied breath and lowered her head. All was going perfectly. She and Elrabin had slipped into the fields just after dawn, when the security nets were turned off. They had come down from the foothills in the dark, taking cover and waiting until morning. Ampris had watched the operations of this farm for several days, while she formulated her plan.

She knew the slaves were carted to the fields on the decrepit old grain transports, but once they were unloaded they were left unrestrained while the transports were parked and other machinery was set up. The guards all seemed to be Toths, which meant they were both stupid and lazy. They seldom bothered to do more than make sure no slave bolted for freedom into the hills.

With such a lax operation, it was simple to emerge from cover and join the slaves. Once inside the field with everyone milling around. Ampris and Elrabin found it easy to blend in.

Right away, Elrabin had climbed onto the sorting platform and talked a worker into letting him handle the job, probably saying he was ordered to take over. Ampris picked up a basket and a slicer along with the others, unremarked by the guards handing out equipment.

It was risky, what they were doing. If they got caught, they would be hanged from the boundary markers at one corner of the farm. Ampris had seen such dangling corpses. Now, despite the fact that the plan was working smoothly, she couldn’t help but think of death. She shuddered and stepped forward in line, telling herself to stop worrying. She wasn’t going to get caught, and she wasn’t going to be hanged.

A dirty haze of pollution obscured the sky, and the air held a faint stench of smoke. Sneezing, Ampris supposed one of the Viis cities was on fire. Maybe far away in Vir the abiru folk had finally rebelled against their cruel Viis masters and were burning the capital city. For a moment Ampris let her mind drift over her old dream of freeing all the abiru races. Years ago, she had been a rebel dedicated to the cause of freedom. She had established the Freedom Network and worked hard to unite the abiru into one cause. She knew that if they could ever be persuaded to work together, they could overthrow the Viis yoke. But those old days of rebellion were long since over. Ampris no longer traveled the length and breadth of the empire as she had when she was a champion gladiator. She no longer had contact with other members of the underground. She no longer plotted and schemed to bring down the Viis empire.

Instead, she lived free in the wilderness areas of Viisymel with her half-grown cubs and a little band of abiru folk. She spent her time hunting, trying to make sure she and her cubs did not starve.

When she led a raid these days, it was in the name of survival, not rebellion.

Sighing to herself for a past that had long ago ceased to matter, Ampris stopped gazing at the smoky sky and shuffled forward again in line.

BOOK: Alien Chronicles 3 - The Crystal Eye
11.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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