Authors: Anna Zaires
The Krinar Chronicles: Volume 3
♠ Mozaika Publications ♠
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Anna Zaires
All rights reserved.
Except for use in a review, no part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
Published by Mozaika Publications, an imprint of Mozaika LLC.
Cover design by Luna Oliveira.
I would like to dedicate Close Remembrance to my parents, whose help during and after our big move has made all the difference in the world. In general, my husband and I are tremendously grateful to our families for being so wonderfully supportive of our writing. A big shout-out also goes to my nephew, who has made me a very proud aunt.
I must again thank my husband (Dima Zales – a science fiction and fantasy author) for being a phenomenal partner and collaborator in the creation of this work. As with the rest of the series, most of the credit for plot development, scientific elements, and general editing belongs to him.
I would also like to give special thanks to my beta readers and proofreaders, Tanya, Jackie, Erika, Lina, and Kelly. You girls are the best!
And, of course, I would be absolutely nowhere without you, my dear readers. Thank you for every review, for every kind word of encouragement – and, most of all, for buying my books and making my dream of being a writer a reality.
The Krinar walked down the street in Moscow, quietly observing the teeming human masses all around him. As he passed, he could see the fear and curiosity on their faces, feel the hatred emanating from some of the passersby.
Russia was one of the countries that had resisted the most – and where the toll of the Great Panic had been the heaviest. With a largely corrupt government and a population distrustful of all authority, many Russians had taken the Krinar invasion as an excuse to loot at will and hoard whatever supplies they could. Even now, more than five years later, some of the storefronts in Moscow were still bare, their taped-over windows a testament to the tumultuous months that had followed their arrival.
Thankfully, the air in the city was better now, less polluted than the Krinar remembered it being a few years ago. Back then, a heavy smog hung over the city, irritating him to no end. Not that it could hurt him in any way, but still, the K far preferred breathing air that didn’t contain too many hydrocarbon particles.
Approaching the Kremlin, the K pulled the hood of his jacket up over his head and tried to look as human as he could, paying careful attention to his movements to make them slower and less graceful. He didn’t delude himself that the K satellites weren’t watching him at this very moment, but no one in the Centers had any reason to suspect him. He’d made it a point in recent years to travel as much as he could, frequently appearing in major human cities for one reason or another. This way, if anyone cared to profile his behavior, his latest expeditions would not cause any alarm.
Not that anyone would bother profiling him. As far as everyone was concerned, those Krinar who’d helped the Resistance – the Keiths, as they’d been called – were safely in custody, and poor Saur had been blamed for erasing their memories. It couldn’t have worked out better if the K had planned it that way himself.
No, he didn’t need to conceal his identity from the Krinar eyes in the sky. His goal was to fool the human cameras stationed all around the Kremlin walls – just in case the Russian leaders became alarmed before he had a chance to visit the other major cities.
Smiling, the K pretended to be nothing more than a human tourist as he did a leisurely lap around Red Square, the soles of his shoes grinding into the pavement and releasing tiny capsules that contained the seeds of a new era in human history.
Once he was done, he headed back to the ship he’d left in one of the nearby alleys.
Tomorrow, he would see Mia again.
Saret could hardly wait.
“Oh my God, Korum, when did you have a chance to do this?”
Mia stared at her surroundings in shock. All the familiar furniture was gone, and Korum’s house in Lenkarda – the place she had begun to think of as her home – looked very much like a Krinar dwelling now, complete with floating planks and clutter-free spaces. The only thing that remained from before were the transparent walls and ceiling – a Krinar feature that Korum had allowed from the very beginning.
Her lover grinned, showing the familiar dimple in his left cheek. “I might’ve snuck away for an hour or so while you were sleeping.”
“You went all the way from Florida to here just to change the furnishings?”
He laughed, shaking his head. “No, my sweet, even I’m not that dedicated. I had to take care of a couple of business matters, and I decided to surprise you.”
“Well, color me surprised,” Mia said, slowly turning in a circle and studying the strange sight that had greeted her upon their arrival back in Lenkarda.
Instead of the ivory couch, there was now a long white board floating a couple of feet off the floor. From what Korum had explained to her once, the Krinar were able to make their furniture float by using a derivation of the same force-field technology that protected their colonies. Mia knew that if she sat down on the board, it would immediately adapt to her body, becoming as comfortable as it could possibly be. A few other floating planks were visible near the walls, with a couple of them occupied by some type of indoor plants with bright pink flowers.
The floor was also different – and unlike anything Mia had seen in any other Krinar houses. She tried to remember what those other floors had been like, but all she could recall was that they were hard and pale, like some type of stone. She hadn’t paid them too much attention at the time because Krinar flooring materials didn’t seem all that different from something one would find in a human house. However, what was under her feet right now had a very unusual texture and an almost sponge-like consistency. It made Mia feel like she was standing on air.
“What is that?” she asked Korum, pointing down at the strange substance.
“Take off your shoes and see,” he suggested, kicking off his own sandals. “It’s something new that one of my employees came up with recently – a variation on the intelligent bed technology.”
Curious, Mia followed his example, letting her bare feet sink into the cushy flooring. The material seemed to flow around her feet, enveloping them, and then it was as though a thousand tiny fingers were gently rubbing her toes, heels, and arches, releasing all tension. A foot massage . . . only a thousand times better. “Oh, wow,” Mia breathed, a huge blissful smile appearing on her face. “Korum, this is amazing!”
“Uh-huh.” He was walking around, seemingly enjoying the sensations himself. “I figured this would appeal to you.”
Her feet in paradise, Mia watched as he made a slow circle around the room, his tall, muscular body moving with the cat-like grace common to his species. Sometimes she could hardly believe that this gorgeous, complicated man was hers – that he loved her as much as she loved him.
Her happiness was so absolute these days it was almost scary.
“Do you want to see the rest of the house?” He stopped next to her and gave her a warm smile.
“Yes, please!” Mia grinned, as eager as a kid in a candy store.
Three days ago, during one of their evening walks in Florida, she’d mentioned to Korum that it would be nice to see his house as it was before he ‘humanized’ it for her sake. As thoughtful as the gesture had been at the time, Mia was now used to the Krinar lifestyle and no longer needed the reassurance of familiar surroundings. Instead, she wanted to see how her alien lover had lived before they met. He’d smiled and promised to change the house back promptly – and he’d obviously taken that promise seriously.
“Okay,” he said, staring down at her with a slightly mischievous look on his beautiful face. “There’s one room that you haven’t seen at all yet, and I’ve been dying to show you . . .”
“Oh?” Mia raised her eyebrows, her heart starting to beat faster and her lower belly tightening in anticipation. His eyes now had a golden undertone, and she guessed that whatever it was he wanted to show her would soon have her screaming in ecstasy in his arms. If there was one thing she could always count on, it was his insatiable desire for her. No matter how often they had sex, it seemed like he always wanted more . . . and so did she.
“Come,” he said, taking her hand and leading her toward the wall to their left.
As they approached, the wall did not dissolve as it usually did. Instead, Mia felt herself sinking deeper into the spongy material beneath her feet. Her feet were absorbed first, then her ankles and knees. It was like quicksand, except it was happening right in the house. Giving Korum a startled look, she clutched at his hand. “What –?”
“It’s okay.” He gave her palm a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry.” The same thing was happening to him too; she could see the floor practically sucking him in.
“Um, Korum, I don’t know about this . . .” Mia was now buried up to her waist, and her lower body was feeling decidedly strange – almost weightless.
“Just a few more seconds,” he promised, giving her a grin.
“A few more seconds?” Mia was now chest-deep inside the weird material. “Before what?”
“Before this,” he said as their descent suddenly accelerated and they fell completely through the floor.
Mia let out a short scream, her grip tightening on Korum’s hand. At first there was only darkness and the frightening sensation of nothingness beneath her feet, and then they were suddenly floating in a softly lit circular room with solid peach-tinted walls and ceiling.
As in, literally floating in mid-air.
Gasping, Mia stared at her lover, unable to believe what was happening. “Korum, is this –?”
“A zero-gravity chamber?” He was grinning like a little boy about to show off a new toy. “Yes, indeed.”
“You have a zero-gravity chamber in your house?”
“I do,” he admitted, obviously pleased with her reaction. Letting go of Mia’s hand, he did a slow somersault in the air. “As you can see, it’s a lot of fun.”
Mia laughed incredulously, then tried to follow his example – but there was no good way for her to control her movements. She had no idea how Korum had managed to somersault so easily. She was moving her arms and legs, but it didn’t seem to do much for her. It was like she was floating in water, only without any sensation of wetness.
She couldn’t tell which way was up or down; the chamber was windowless, and there was no clear distinction between the walls, floor, and ceiling. It was as though they were in a giant bubble – which probably wasn’t all that far from the truth. Mia was no expert on the subject, but she imagined it wasn’t easy to create a zero-gravity environment on Earth. There had to be a lot of complex technology surrounding them and negating the gravitational pull of the planet.