When they rounded the trunk, they found themselves at the maw of a brown-stoned cave. A few lichens were creeping partway to the entrance, and a few vines draped over rocks near the inside, but the place seemed otherwise devoid of sunlight and life. It was as if someone had taken a torch, shoved it into the plants, and burned a hole in the jungle.
“Some of these tunnels lead directly to town,” Yim told them.
“We’re going through the gaping dark hole instead of the well-known pass with a lovely river?” Chroma asked emotionlessly.
“The Greens are likely waiting for you there. But when they figure out we’re taking the tunnels, they won’t know which one I lead you down. That’s why we’re not using torches.”
“I wasn’t complaining,” Chroma responded. “I’m just glad that if we get separated we’ll be in a dark labyrinth with no idea where the light of day is.” … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 6
Capac finally looked down. The Sisis were swarming his blood, never straying from its path for very long. But while he was not surprised that his blood had not formed a straight trail, he was utterly astounded at the shapes it made now. The Sisis themselves seemed to be relocating the red liquid, digging at the dampened dirt through which the blood had already disappeared and shoving it into odd loops and scratches. … More The Flood Thieves Chapter 3: Two Trails of Blood
The child turned around and dove into the foliage as Chroma frantically followed. The shouting behind them faded almost instantly as Chroma followed the child’s path through the growth, slightly uphill. Finally, between the brown and green brushes snagging at her body and hair, they came to a grove overtaken by the shade of the canopy of a single large tree. The ground was flatter, and Chroma had no trouble sprinting after the child as it deftly leapt between the gray, low-hanging branches to reach the safety of the bows. Chroma clambered up with ease and then held still as the child covered her mouth with a single, tan hand. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 5
Though distorted by the flowing water, Patcha’s eyes grew wide when she saw that they were the same characters of the system she had invented. She read the symbols, and pronounced, “Past, Protection, Change.” … More The Flood Thieves Chapter 2: A Net of Fears
I’ve dedicated nearly my whole life to becoming a voyager, and in the last few years it looked like I could even be on the First Contact voyage. Sailing uncharted waters with a competent group of adventurers. But no, apparently the system doesn’t work like that. They didn’t put the best travelers out there first. No, they put the princess and the translator who can’t even show up on time. Do you honestly think you were in the advanced class because of your skills? Or that you’re here because you deserve it? No. You’re here because you just so happened to be born into the family that violently conquered all of Cambia. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene #4
“Red Spirit…” she cursed. “It’s a spirit!” Making sure that her family was not awake, she slipped both legs out of the window. She wouldn’t be able to lock the door downstairs from the outside, and she couldn’t leave her family vulnerable to Soikles — this was the only remaining way out. She maneuvered down the path her sister always took to sneak out at night during the Southern Season and swim in the river. She slipped clumsily and crashed to the ground, her elbone digging into the soft earth. She yanked it out. The Qhilla was now all the way in between the homes adjacent to hers; this was no ordinary creature. Patcha ran after it, and found herself hard pressed to keep up. Every now and then, she would blink, and it would be lost from sight.
She was some ways out of the village and uphill, toward the temple, when a nearby holler met her ears. She faltered for just a moment, and the Qhilla vanished. She cursed, knowing that she had to help instead of following the spirit. She shot off in the direction of the cries. It wasn’t long before her blood ran cold at the sight of Soikle tracks among the shrubbery.
A boy was cornered on the foundation of an abandoned store house. He had a sling, useless to him at such close proximity, slung over his right shoulder. He instead used his gloved left hand to wield a traveling stick coated in frost. The pack of tiny Soikles, each no larger than a Meesee, seemed to have just cornered the cloaked young man, who retreated as far back as he could on the foundation before reaching a wall. He leaped forwards again as some of the Soikles attempted to climb the base with their hairy black legs, swatting them with his icy staff to keep them away. … More The Flood Thieves Chapter 1: The First Record
“They follow the orcas following the whales,” Gane finished. “Do we know how far behind they’ll be?”
“Dol says no one’s sure. It’s never happened before, and communication isn’t easy when visitors can’t speak.”
“Mmm,” Gane hummed. “Tell everyone we’ll be staying here until the Cambians arrive. Forage and hunt, but on the seaward side of the mountains.”
“Gane, what about the girl? Shouldn’t we keep searching for her?”
“If the girl escapes, we can manage. But if we allow the Cambians to reach the town? Unequivocal disaster.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #3
The night was not fleeting. It had been purposely made so. And yet while the darkness intended to conceal the messengers, the pounding of their feet was all too conspicuous. The birds themselves tried to act normally, but occasionally one would take flight at the sound of a twig carelessly snapped under a naked foot, or fallen leaves accidentally disturbed by a swish of cloth. The skies were clouded in their own attempt to hide the man and the woman, each with a babe clutched at their breasts. The wind tried its best to compose a gentle song, soft enough that it wouldn’t disturb the forests’ inhabitants, yet loud enough that it would aid the couple in eluding detection. The man and the woman, however, knew that without haste they would never reach their destination before morning. They moved hastily, and by misfortune or carelessness, they were noticed.
The ground suddenly erupted in tremors, and the couple forgot all caution, breaking out into a flight that rivaled the startled birds above their heads. A horrible rumbling emitted from the bare earth in a clearing they passed, and while they rushed passed it their own shadows appeared in front of them, bordered by a scarlet glow. The trees shook with the force of the quake, leaves flying into the faces of the adults while their infants began to cry out. While they ran, the roots of the surrounding trees reared up from their place in the ground, smoldering. Before long the cracks in the earth had cut off their path, but were narrow enough to jump. The couple now scented acrid smoke with every shallow breath, and the forest was illuminated with the red and orange light. … More The Flood Thieves: Prologue
“Tony says that Velocity is bad because he never helps people.”
Jalek sighed. When he’d volunteered to be one of the chaperones for the school field trip to Velocity Hall, he’d anticipated getting pelted with accusations like this — though he hadn’t been expecting it from his own daughter. He’d told her a thousand times at home, and the tour guide had just told her a thousand times for the past hour, but her attention disorder made her a horse led to water.
Maybe now that she’s asking the question, she’ll listen, he reassured himself as he prepared to tell the whole story again. … More Velocity and The Sleeper (2018)
“We are gathered here to make history,” the woman announced, stepping forward. “I don’t need to remind you all what this graduation, and the graduates’ journey, entails, but it is our duty to keep you always mindful of the consequences.
“Being the first people to sail the sea in a thousand years was no small feat, nor was being the first civilization to make contact and establish relations with the endless others out there. But we paid a price for our openness with others, and now we aim to pay our debt and stave off the threat of the March. What will be truly impressive is finding the solution out at sea. Allies willing to defend, hosts willing to take settlers, scientists willing to share technology…” She let the words hang in the air. “The possibilities are limitless, but urgent.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #2