On a summer night like any other, an emergency call sounds in the quarters of Andira Tal, Lancer of Alsea. The news is shocking: not only is there other intelligent life in the universe, but it’s landing on the planet right now.
Tal leads the first responding team and ends up rescuing aliens who have a frightening story to tell. They protected Alsea from a terrible fate–but the reprieve is only temporary.
Captain Ekayta Serrado of the Fleet ship Caphenon serves the Protectorate, a confederation of worlds with a common political philosophy. She has just sacrificed her ship to save Alsea, yet political maneuvering may mean she did it all for nothing.
Alsea is now a prize to be bought and sold by galactic forces far more powerful than a tiny backwater planet. But Lancer Tal is not one to accept a fate imposed by aliens, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save her world.
Bilseng Lokon was filling his cup at the shannel dispenser when the alarm went off. It had been so long since his initial training that at first he didn’t recognize the sound, but when it finally registered, he nearly dropped the cup in his haste to get to the desk. Dashing across the room, he threw himself into his chair and peered at the datascreen, his heart pounding with excitement. Celestial stones were a regular occurrence at this time of the cycle, but until now they had fallen on his coworkers’ shifts, never his.
Every stone that fell on Alsea held clues to the physics, chemistry, and possibly the biology of the universe, and there were scholar programs in five different cities waiting for their turn to examine one fresh from its journey. Any stone that revealed noteworthy findings was a coup, not just for his tracking group, but for the individual who had located it. Maybe tonight was his night. He grinned to himself. Why think small? Maybe tonight was the night for a stone that carried some proof of other life in the universe. His name would be in the history books.
Fingers flying, he set the tracking program and waited for the ground and orbital scanners to triangulate and extrapolate a landing site. Columns of data began building at the bottom of his screen, his excitement growing with them. But then his spirits plummeted as the columns separated into two sets.
That meant that the stone had split on entry, and a broken stone was never as valuable as a whole one. It tended to undergo far more damage as it burned in the atmosphere, if it survived at all.
He’d barely had the thought before one of the stone’s halves exploded. The first set of data columns flared up, the numbers changing so quickly that he couldn’t read them. Many dropped to zero and winked out, only to be replaced by new numbers that were still shifting. It must have been a big one if this many trackable pieces were still falling even after most of it had vaporized. What a find! There were so many leftovers that the scanners were unable to lock onto them all, causing the automatic prioritization program to kick in as the computer attempted to track only the largest and most likely to survive the descent. As far as he knew, a shower like this had happened just twice in the thirty-cycle history of the study. He was going to be the most popular scholar on the planet tomorrow when he handed out the coordinates of these pieces.
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Fletcher DeLancey spent her early career as a science educator, which was the perfect combination of her two great loves: language and science. These days she combines them while writing science fiction.
She is an Oregon expatriate who left her beloved state when she met a Portuguese woman and had to choose between home and heart. She chose heart. Now she lives with her wife and son in the beautiful sunny Algarve, where she writes full-time, teaches Pilates, tries to learn the local birds and plants, and samples every regional Portuguese dish she can get her hands on. (There are many. It’s going to take a while.)
She is best known for her science fiction novel Without A Front, her five-book Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction epic, The Past Imperfect Series, and for her geeky romance Mac vs. PC. Currently, she is working on the next books in the Chronicles of Alsea and as an editor for Ylva Publishing.