Authors: Marianne de Pierres
Tags: #Science Fiction, #General, #Space Opera, #Fiction
A strong, sweet, familiar smell pervaded the air. Scraping sounds rasped along the floor.
Jo-Jo fought a compulsion to raise his head and look. As if sensing his desire, Randall pressed harder on his head.
He concentrated on his breathing, keeping it light and quiet. On Dowl station he, Bethany and Petalu Mau had escaped the notice
of the Saqr for a few minutes by keeping low, crawling until they’d reached a service lift.
Quiet. Still. Pray.
Jo-Jo imagined Randall spitting the words out in that order.
Maybe not pray. She hadn’t shown belief in anything much, other than her own ability. Even when things were bad in the Extro
ship, he’d never heard Randall call for any god’s help.
The sweet scent grew stronger; the scraping sounded right above them. A single Saqr? More?
Don’t move. Don’t!
The Parrish Plessis Novels
The Sentients of Orion
Published by Hachette Digital
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Marianne de Pierres
Excerpt from Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley
Copyright © 2009 by Michael Cobley
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DY
For Darren Nash
Belle-Monde chief of station Astronomein Balbao poured over his daily analysis data flow of the gas entity known to them all
as Sole. Something was wrong. Wave readings showed a disturbance in Sole’s near space. In the months that the OLOSS scientific
community had been studying the Entity, nothing like this had shown in their sweeps.
The Balol scientist pondered whether to discuss this with the tyros. For the most part he found the Godheads – as they liked
to think of themselves – a most self-serving and conceited bunch. There’d been a marginal improvement in their attitude these
recent weeks, with the absence of the Lostolian Tekton. Of all the tyros, the chief found Tekton the most unreasonable. The
pompous archiTect had even tried to foist an unqualified noblewoman upon him as an intern. The very thought of it made the
chief’s neck frill stiffen.
Tekton always acted as if he had influence, when the chief suspected that he had little. His cousin Ra, however, was a different
matter. It had come to the chief’s attention that Ra had been seen in the company of Commander Lasper Farr, veteran of the
Stain Wars and Defender of Peace. Though the chief wasn’t terribly interested in the specific nature of the tyros’ projects,
like all station masters (and for all intents and purposes, that is what he was – signing damn recreation passes
and maintenance schedules all day when he should be addressing more important things), he liked to know the state of play
on his station. Belle-Monde may have once been a pleasure palace, but the gigatonne, spinning superficial world was now his
And he found ArchiTect Ra truly the oddest of creatures – unfriendly and jewel-eyed since his most recent transformation by
Sole Entity. The chief admitted he’d felt a tang of jealousy knowing that the tight-skinned bastard from the Tadao Ando studium
could now see all the waves of the light spectrum. What an amazing gift!
And terrible. Having one’s humanesque thought architecture so profoundly changed
have flow-on effects, not all of them positive. But then the whole mind-shafting process that Sole insisted upon so that
he could better communicate with his tyros was as profoundly altering as a thing could be – and no great asset to the already
profoundly selfish natures of these professionals.
Take Dicter Miranda Seeward and Lawmon Jise. When they weren’t indulging in unashamed sex games in the rooms and corridors
of the pseudo-world, the pair were most concertedly trying to upset the research projects of the others. Labile Connit had
gone quite insane over Miranda’s constant prying into his affairs. Connit had come to the chief, begging protection from the
woman, citing that she was stalking him.
The only effect his begging had was to irritate the chief. Why should Balol’s pre-eminent scientist have to deal with such
petty doings when there was an unparalleled scientific discovery in front of his nose, excreting screeds of empirical data?
And now that data was telling him something had changed.
With more reluctance than he cared to acknowledge, Chief Balbao instructed his moud to call an immediate meeting of the
tyros. Decision made, he ordered a hearty roast beffer. The least thing he could do was face the glory-seeking parasites on
an empty stomach.
Mira lay in the Primo vein, struggling to deal with her dread. Even the soothing nano-replenishers swimming through her blood
couldn’t calm her emotion. She had begun to lose her pregnancy waters in the conference room on Intel station. Only a trickle
at first, but increasing by the time she reached her ship,
Will my baby die?
The biozoon did not respond through their mental link immediately, and she hoped it was weighing alternatives, not ignoring
There is a facility on Scolar that is trialling cell acceleration. They may be able to help us
Your foetus is too immature to survive. It’s only weeks old. Cell acceleration may save it. The Pod knows of them and approves.
But Thales believes Scolar society to be affected by the virus. We could be at risk if we go there.
The facility is quite isolated. I don’t believe it to be a problem.
You think that is the best option?
sounded patient, but Mira knew the creature was fretting to leave Intel station. The normal quiet hum of its biologics roared
through her body.
How is shift space?
relayed an image to Mira’s visual receptors. The rings of the Intel shift sphere flared with activity. Queues had already
begun to form. Craft jostled each other to gain advantage.
Word is spreading quickly that the Dowl sphere has reopened. ’Esques and aliens are scared. We must leave now, or they may
disengage the sphere.
I’ve caused mass panic
, Mira thought.
We don’t have time to absolve you of your mistakes.
All pretence of patience had left the biozoon’s mind tone. It sounded preoccupied. Its anger would come later.
You have shared the truth. The Post-Species have amassed significant weaponry, and some of it is thought to be located on
Araldis. OLOSS’s existence is under threat. Now is the time to concern ourselves with
The biozoon was right.
Can you shift early?
Imperfect shift again?
Of course. The Omniline are already preparing for it themselves.
They will return to the Pod?
Yes. Are you able to make a decision as to where to go? Or is your mind impaired by your hormones? If so, then I will choose.
’s last question held no trace of humour.
Mira hesitated, floundering. Where should they go? With the Dowl sphere open, they could try shifting to Araldis and attempt
to rescue the survivors on their own, but that would be dangerous, and her baby would surely die.
The Geni-carriers she’d seen leaving Extro space had been headed there, she was sure of it. The Post-
Species had sent a formidable force to her home world. But why Araldis? And when would they loose their arsenal on the rest
of Orion? Was that why the Dowl shift sphere had reopened? An attack?
The two ’esques to whom she would have looked for counsel, Rast Randall and Josef Rasterovich, were captives of the Extros.
She could not help them. They could not help her.
And yet it felt cowardly to retreat and abandon the survivors on Araldis. Cowardly to run to a distant world and hide and
hope that the Post-Species did not go there. But where could she hide? Which planets would the Extros choose to destroy first?
She broke from her inward reverie and glanced at the Secondo vein. The scholar Thales Berniere was enveloped by the vein-sink;
only his face and the tips of his fingers were visible where he grasped the edges. A tall broad female soldier in plain garb
bent solicitously over him. What was her name again? Fariss. Fariss O’Dea.
‘Thales?’ said Mira.
‘Yes, Baronessa?’ he croaked, lifting his head above the cocoon so that they could see each other.
‘My baby will be born prematurely.
tells me that there is a facility on Scolar that could save my child.’
‘Mount Clement,’ he said. ‘It is … I’m told … the best of its kind. But it’s foremost an experimental facility – not available
to the public, as far as I know. They focus on in-vitro genetics. Bethany spoke of it. She has expertise in that area.’
Mira felt a pang of loss for Bethany Ionil’s brief friendship. A woman’s company right now would reassure
her. Fariss O’Dea was not one, Mira guessed, to concern herself with affairs of childbirth. ‘Where is Beth?’
The soldier straightened. ‘Bethany Ionil travelled to Intel with us.’
‘Bethany? On Lasper’s ship? You didn’t say,’ said Thales, looking up at her in surprise.
Fariss laughed. ‘You didn’t ask. Figured it was best left at that.’
‘Bethany may know someone at Mount Clement, Mira.’
‘Can we contact her?’
‘Yeah, sure, if you want to attract the Commander’s attention to us,’ said Fariss in dry tones.
Mira, we do not have time to wait. Do you comprehend this? Insignia
’s urgency sent a skewer of energy through her.
She wavered for another moment. Wait and try and contact Bethany, or leave now? The memory of the Geni-carriers blossomed
in her mind. Waiting could mean death for all of them.
‘Soldier Fariss, seat yourself in the Autonomy nub. It will protect you through imperfect shift,’ Mira said.
‘Imperfect shift? Shit! Always wanted to do that.’ Fariss gave Thales’s shoulder a squeeze and stepped across to the command
seat mounted in a tubercle.