Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Free for 30 days, then $9.99/month. Cancel anytime.

The Triskelion: New Earth Chronicles, #2

The Triskelion: New Earth Chronicles, #2

Read preview

The Triskelion: New Earth Chronicles, #2

Length:
511 pages
6 hours
Released:
Sep 9, 2019
ISBN:
9781622533718
Format:
Book

Description

Royals like Dora d'Arc manage the human herd; they don't fall in love with rebels like Caellum Nichols that face execution for challenging imperial reign.

  • WINNER: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award - Best Science/Fantasy Fiction
  • BRONZE MEDAL: Readers' Favorite Book Awards 2021 - Visionary Fiction
  • FINALIST: American Book Fest - Best Book Awards - Visionary Fiction

"...contrasts in lifestyles and approaches run the gamut... They make The Triskelion especially intriguing... This brings a delightful complexity to the story, in which shades of gray create ever-changing, absorbing interplays between characters, politics, social evolution, and the world's uncertain progression." ~ Midwest Book Review

The Imperial Governor wrestles with worries about dangers that lurk in the Zone of Destruction (ZD), demands from his off-world reptilian handler, approaching famine, and the urgency to inject the restless population with docility-inducing nanites.

Dora holds a secret meeting with citizens and weds Rolf Scholtz. Meanwhile, Caellum escapes prison, a van loaded with vials of nanites appears at a local school to inject the children, and a stranger approaches from the ZD.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a compelling speculative/visionary tale, with post-apocalyptic elements, to bring the past full circle into the future, in this second book in the "New Earth Chronicles" series. [DRM-Free]

"...The Triskelion is an accomplished science fiction novel of high literary quality, expanding a fantastically developed new world... ...a gripping read and a solid continuation for the 'New Earth Chronicles.'" ~ Readers' Favorite Book Reviews (5 STARS)

"The tight plotting, clear prose, engaging storytelling and Victoria Lehrer's creation of characters as well as world-building are impeccable. The Triskelion is as impressive as its predecessor..." ~ Readers' Favorite Book Reviews, Lit Amri (5 STARS)

"I loved the story, the characters, and even the villains. There was nothing I would wish for the author to change in the story. It is perfect the way it is!" ~ Readers' Favorite Book Reviews, Rabia Tanveer (5 STARS)

BOOKS BY VICTORIA LEHRER:

  • "The Augur's View" (New Earth Chronicles – Book 1)
  • "The Triskelion" (New Earth Chronicles – Book 2)
  • "On Winged Gossamer" (New Earth Chronicles – Book 3)
  • "Tall-ah Earth" (New Earth Chronicles – Book 4) [Coming Late 2021]

MORE GREAT SPECULATIVE/VISIONARY FICTION FROM EVOLVED PUBLISHING:

  • "The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky" by David Litwack
  • The "Grims' Truth" Series by Isu Yin & Fae Yang
  • The "Call of Destiny" Series by D.M. Earley
  • The "Eloah" Series by Lex Allen
  • "The Seekers" Series by David Litwack

 

Released:
Sep 9, 2019
ISBN:
9781622533718
Format:
Book

About the author

In seventh grade, Mrs. Trader inspired me both as a writer and a teacher. In her class, I learned I loved to write and that my classmates liked to hear my stories. Her spirited students engaged in dramatic performances, hands-on projects, and lively discussions—nothing like the poor subdued souls across the hall, managed by the teacher with long green eyes. So Mrs. Trader was my model when I started a school and set aside my writing—that is, until it dawned on me that tribes of children have loved learning by listening to stories for thousands of years. So I wrote about a million words that speak to head and heart, which I am still reading to my child listeners. But now I’m writing stories, my second million words, to speak to the heads and hearts of adult readers and listeners, and hoping my classmates will like them.


Book Preview

The Triskelion - Victoria Lehrer

In late September 2037 in an airfield that served primarily as a flight hub for sparrows and hawks, Dora d’Arc waited, captive to the current obligation of royal status, as a twin-engine craft coasted to a halt, but her mind withdrew to attend the drama unfolding at the Techno City Jail.

Caellum. She imagined her attorney, at this very moment approaching his cell, would advise him to cease and desist seeding a coup d’état, yet Caellum would stubbornly refuse. But if she were there, she would clasp his arms and lock eyes with him to urge, Caellum, you must agree to this—it’s the only way.

The touch of her father’s hand and the opening of the plane’s exit door shattered Dora’s reverie. After the bodyguard emerged, Imperial Governor Charles Scholtz paused at the top of the ramp. She shivered. The governor’s air of ruthless power drove a stake in the heart of any hope of saving the man she loved. A second bodyguard and personal secretary completed the staff that accompanied the supreme authority over Sector 10.

Next, that sector’s Union of the Americas ministers, including the Minister of Economics, the Minister of Public Media, the Minister of Reconstruction, and the Minister of Social Engineering descended the ramp. After greetings and introductions, the chauffeurs opened the car doors. The imperial governor and his ministers entered the 2030 beige Cadillac while Peter d’Arc, Dora, the second bodyguard, and the secretary headed for the 2027 blue Subaru. Voice commands triggered ignitions; seat belts and door locks clicked; and the water-fuelled cars sped the dignitaries toward the d’Arc mansion.

The impetus for the emergency meeting at the d’Arc estate was to generate a plan to once-and-for-all squelch the rise of insurgent activity. Now that Caellum, the long sought poster child of such insolence, was in their grasp, the descendants of Anu needed to make an example of him—an example such that no others would dare to challenge their superiors—the ultimate goal being to demonstrate that such ingrates earned the wrath of the royals, or landlords as they were known to the workers, and such behavior culminated in a well-advertised and very public demise.

After a twenty-minute drive, the royals and ministers assembled with friendly facades that masked contenders for power under the vaulted ceiling of the d’Arc den. Gathered around the fireplace to sip tea and munch pastries, each presented a persona of smiling affability. Yet, the manicured nails that clasped raspberry tarts were like sheathed claws sharpened for deadly advantage while edgy comments, hinting at cunning assessment of the weak points of companions, sliced through the proffered friendliness.

After the appropriate interval, the genteel clinks of teacups signaled time for the delegates to convene upstairs around the shining teakwood of Peter d’Arc’s conference table.

Dora longed to join the charged assemblage, but with an apologetic expression, Abner, the butler, closed the door on the bodyguards and her. Left to her musings, she gazed out the office window at two acres of manicured greenery where the guards patrolled the perimeter of the property.

But certain that Caellum’s fate would be high on the agenda, she burned to hear the connivings of the enclosed leaders and glanced toward the double doors. To eavesdrop on her father’s meetings was unthinkable. And yet....

She smiled warmly at Abner, who was more like an uncle than a servant, and ushered him out the office door. I think the meeting will be a long one. You’re free to see about lunch and attend our wandering guests.

In the silence that followed the click of the lock, the double doors beckoned, and Dora succumbed. But the thick hardwood barrier effectively muffled the enclosed voices, and with an ear pressed against a walnut panel, sentence fragments were all she gleaned.

Insert ... chip.

...nanites... directly to the forebrain.

...test results?

...unquestioning compliance.

...endorphin blockers... inhibit initiative.

...circuit interrupters... interfere with creative thought.

...mass insertions?

...propaganda campaign....

...chip will make them smarter... keep them safer.

Laughter followed this statement.

Announcements in theaters....

...chip insertions by spring—in approximately six months.

Alarmed, but not shocked, as she would have been for the prior twenty-three years of her life, Dora’s mind raced as she listened. Apparently, the nervous elites were planning to insert behavior-modifying chips on a mass scale to eliminate the growing plague of dissenters.

She glanced toward the leather sofa where she and her Dad sat days before when his revelations shattered her illusion of the royals as benevolent guardians of humanity. Peter d’Arc held up his mug for Abner to refill. That will be all, Abner. And leave the coffee pot and decanter here on the table.

The confiscated Three Mountains brochure, the one that landed Caellum in jail and lay conspicuously beside the pot of coffee, unnerved her.

As the servant closed the door behind him, her dad poured brandy in his coffee before his gaze turned inward. "Thousands of years ago our ancestors from off-world engineered Anunnaki/human hybrids, the royals, to help govern, and bred the rest of the human stock to mine gold and tend the royal gardens. According to the mandate of King Anu’s son, Enlil, geneticists switched off human genes that fostered independent thought and the urge to seek autonomy.

When the Anunnaki departed Earth, they left behind the hybrid royals to rule the subjugated populace—a self-perpetuating system, which would perpetrate an upward flow of wealth until Anu’s return.

Dora sighed, realizing how sheltered she had been, and glad to remain so—at least prior to Caellum’s incarceration.

The twists and turns of her father’s account reached the point of his revelations. "Today, as pedigreed descendents and heirs of Annunaki DNA, we manage the human herd on planet-encompassing real estate—our collective royal estate. We regard them as our chattel and deny and hold hostage the inherent genius that has slept through generations of gullible docility."

The next words in the conference room startled Dora to full attention, and she pressed her ear hard against the door panel.

... make an example.... What’s his name?

Caellum Nichols.

...poster child of terrorists.

...threat to the safety and freedom of the people.

Like a drum roll leading to the next words, Dora’s heart pounded in her ears.

...public execution....

...larger population center....

...transport to Transtopia Metro.

...execute as soon as possible.

Dora’s breath stalled at her throat.

No... June Solstice....

Okay... but immediate transport.

...several months... stir up anticipation for the spectacle.

...call it Freedom Festival....

Rumbled chuckles ensued.

Media hype?

Official protection of population.

Precisely. Warning to insurgents.

The eavesdropper could take no more. Pressing her palms and splayed fingers against the smooth surface as though to push away the schemers, she hurled a silent scream. But, deaf to her heart’s cry, the conspiratorial black hole sucked her desperation into its relentless event horizon.

Spent, Dora sighed and lowered her arms below slumped shoulders, while she moved mechanically to open the window for fresh air. Turning toward her dad’s chair, she collapsed onto the plush leather and cradled her head on the cool mahogany of his desk until a sudden gust from the fall breeze cascaded chills down her hunched spine. She raised her head as the intrusive force hurled a captive leaf across the room and, like a harbinger of fate, suspended its hapless prisoner over a trash bin, prelude to an ignominious drop.

Startled as if from a bad dream, Dora sat erect in response to both Abner’s knock and a thought that banged on her awareness.

Caellum. She had to see Caellum.

The next morning at the top of the jailhouse stairs Dora checked her reflection in the plate glass as she adjusted the collar of her white linen blouse. Framed by shoulder length black hair, the return gaze of her blue eyes shone with anticipation, and she opened the door and beamed a smile at the guard.

But as the jailer faced her, his normally friendly expression was somber, his eyes wide. Police took Caellum earlier today. He’s on his way to Transtopia to await trial as an enemy of the state.

As though struck, reeling from the blow, she turned, and her legs like those of an automaton carried her to a place where she wasn’t likely to come in contact with anyone she knew. The pain in her chest constricted her breathing, and with sporadic breaths, she choked back the tears and trudged straight, left and right along city sidewalks, then through sparse clumps of grass in the city park toward an isolated bench beside an old cottonwood tree.

Under strong limbs that sheltered her grief, she allowed the sobs to heave freely, and her tears watered the resolve to do everything in her power to free Caellum. As though in response, a gust released a shower of red-gold leaves, and a newfound strength brought clarity to her thoughts. Ironically fulfilling her parents’ wishes, she would move to Transtopia where she could be close to him.

Eena. Before the move Dora had a small window of opportunity to inform Eena of Caellum’s transfer and pending execution. Since Eena’s return to Three Mountains Community, Dora had kept careful track of the days when the connectors would be in range for contact. According to her calculations, today was the day Ronin would be in position twenty miles north at Cinder Gulch.

An hour later with a furtive backward scan of the outskirts of Techno City, Dora approached the La Plata River to search for the stashed bike, gear and radio. Finding them hidden in the shade of a scrawny mesquite tree, she removed her backpack, pulled the radio from the bedroll attached to the bike, and clicked it on.

Anyone there? I’m a friend of Caellum and Eena. Over.

Pause, and then Ronin here. Over.

I need an escort to Three Mountains. Over.

Mind telling me who am I speaking with? Over.

Dora d’Arc. Over.

Silence. I should reach you by noon. Over and out.

Warily watching a black ant haul a spider’s carcass, she collapsed on the sand to wait and re-visit the final portion of her father’s recent disclosure, punctuated with throat-clearings and additional swigs of fortification.

As Dora’s father pieced together a surreal scenario, she asked questions that had never occurred to her before. How was it that we, the landlords of the world, retreated underground prior to Solar Flash?

Her dad lifted his legs to the coffee table and crossed them as he leaned back holding his mug. We have in our possession carefully preserved ancient manuscripts, records of vast cosmic cycles. Forewarned of impending massive solar eruptions, the royals expanded subterranean tunnel systems leading to cavern enclaves.

For the first time Dora grasped the age-old machinations that triggered her family’s yearlong sojourn a quarter of a mile below the surface.

Which brings me to our present circumstances. Peter poured another cup of coffee laced with brandy. After Solar Flash when we returned to the surface, we were anxious to lock down social engineering protocols before returning workers began flexing psychic muscles, so to speak.

So, Dad, your worries about insurgency began prior to Solar Flash?

Yes. Decades before. After a long swallow, Peter’s mug clunked on the coffee table. You see, according to those manuscripts, cyclic cosmic events trigger accelerated spurts of human evolution. They predicted the plasma stream, which intersected our Solar System at the turn of the century and excited Solar Flash, would activate, and I quote, ‘exquisite and transcending powers encoded in human DNA.’

Dora recalled the deep sink of this anchor of truth. Wait a minute, Dad. For as long as I can remember, you have maintained that the masses are an inferior race, fit only to serve as our labor force.

Heavy concern weighted the shoulders of her larger than life idol. At quantum levels the excited photons act like a cosmic alarm clock. Coupled with thousands of years of human evolvement, they have been shaking Rip Van Winkles awake.

Her dad’s brevity yielded to an alarmed expression. Thanks to the bombardment of cosmic particles, the genetically engineered suppression of human potential, evidenced by ‘junk DNA,’ has begun unraveling.

Feeling the need to move, Dora walked across the room to stare at an abstract painting splashed with black and vermillion over an orange and neon green substrate.

George Scholtz generated a scheme to test, discover and annihilate those with activated genes—a targeted population including children, even newborns.

Dora remained absolutely still, her voice like the crunch of dry leaves. And you?

I refused to support most of the schemes.

Dora’s attention shifted to the ground and the increasing ant traffic, which she apparently was attracting. As she stood up and brushed sand from her pants, the sun was directly overhead and she looked ahead to see Ronin pedaling into view.

After greetings he looked at her apologetically. It’s a three-hour trek between here and Cinder Gulch. Mind if I rest before we head out?

Of course not, she lied, smiling to hide her impatience to get going.

Although it was early fall, the direct rays of the midday sun seared her skin as she moved restlessly among the mesquite trees, seeking the meager shade. As sweat poured from her hairline and down her chest and back, she recalled Peter d’Arc’s final words.

He refilled his cup and plunged forward. Evidence is trickling in that the codes in certain workers are switching on. This activation manifests as an alarming level of self-determination, a restless quest to shake us off like fleas.

Waving the pamphlet beside his head, Peter spoke with forcefulness edged with panic. These brochures promote, and I quote: ‘humanity’s integral sovereignty—the right to self-governance.’ This group, which is infecting the populace with its ideas, is becoming increasingly troublesome.

The group that you protected from wholesale elimination when I was a child?

Her father shrugged. Prior to Solar Flash, when we, the d’Arcs, were the more powerful family, I couldn’t approve vaccines to harm infants and children.

Her larger than life role model slumped, looking haggard and vulnerable. But before our descent to Cavern City our fortunes reversed, and the Scholtz’s rose to preeminence. Peter shifted and re-crossed his legs. And George blames me for Caellum’s very existence. The fact is, the whole situation has brought the ire of the Imperial Governor and his ministers on my head.

Dora sat beside her father and gently took his chin in her fingers. Dad, your shred of heart earned you George’s wrath, but my gratitude. At the moment, this knowledge is the single, fragile thread that unites you and me.

Peter shook his head. You don’t seem to comprehend how threatening this turn of events is. With a flick of his wrist Peter tossed the brochure onto the table and swilled the last of his morning stimulant. If Caellum and his kind who were likely born with switched-on genes had died from prepared vaccines, there would be no present-day insurgent underground. Our family is in danger of being squashed like bugs between the citizens we govern and the Charles Scholtz faction."

Dora’s blouse was soaked when Ronin finally stirred. Got a towel? she asked.

He blinked and grinned. Sure. Get’s pretty hot out here.

She dowsed the towel with the last of the water from a water bottle and rubbed it over her face and around her neck, finally swiping the coolness between her breasts and shoulder blades.

Ronin straddled his bike. Ready?

And how. As she pedaled behind him through a grove of cottonwoods, the wind at her back rustled a cascade of leaf music, and invigorated by a surge of hope, she pedaled faster. But sand, dry, loose sand that formed quicksand dips and dunes, tugged on the tires and sank the wheels. Navigating bushes and flotsam that reduced her speed to a crawl, she pushed harder on the pedals until her calves and thighs ached. By the time the bank of sand turned her wheel and tossed her to the desert floor, she scoffed at the idea that she, the landlord’s pampered daughter, was scheming to free Caellum Nichols, enemy of the state.

When Dora’s legs began to ache so much from pedaling that she could barely walk, she gave up riding the bike.

Sorry to slow you down so much.

Grins and reassurances of I’ve been there soothed her embarrassment if not her sore extremities.

Then came the sleepless nights with How do you sleep on the hard ground? at Cinder Gulch, Will those coyotes attack? at Lake Night Horse, then Is it daylight already? snuggled in a farmhouse bed. After pushing the bike for three days, Dora was glad to stash it before entering the path surrounded by towering pines between Quartz and Thunderbird Mountains—the way into the valley.

Eena had told her of the stranglehold of the rovers, but to all appearances, life in Three Mountains Community had returned to pre-rover normalcy. The children, old freedoms restored, ran about the grounds shouting and laughing and playing chase. A cow and her calves grazed on grass dressed in the golden hues of summer’s end. As gardeners cut down brittle corn stalks that were the sole remains of the three sisters’ crop, robust cabbages graced the vegetable gardens with slate green and purple.

A detour through an orchard invited the passersby to pluck red-gold apples, and munching on the crisp fruit, they approached the river that mirrored the periwinkle blue of the sky. The rhythmic thwack of someone cutting firewood for the winter echoed across the valley as though to announce their approach into the heart of the community.

A man with dreadlocks that hung to his shoulders wedged the ax in a log and, amid the whoops of children, introduced himself as Rigel. As Dora offered her hand, a crowd gathered for introductions all around. But Eena wasn’t among them.

Eena? She lives on Crystal Mountain, that one. Rigel pointed toward one of the three peaks that guarded the valley. But since evening’s approaching, I suggest we take you there tomorrow.

Dora nodded gratefully; she was tired anyway.

You can stay in my home tonight. The heel of Rigel’s hand rested on the ax handle as he addressed the surrounding group. How about we start a fire at the pavilion?

People drifted apart, and Dora followed her host toward a log cabin set back in the woods where she met his wife, Evonne. An hour later the smells of good food and the glow of an open fire drew the household to the people gathering at the Pavilion.

The friendly banter around the fire invited her to open up to these people and tell them the reason for her unexpected visit. But offering only reticent smiles, she awaited Eena’s ear because she trusted her and felt that if anyone could help Caellum, she could.

Eena checked her pack: three rolled up changes of clothes, fifty Sovereignty Movement brochures, toiletries, shoes—the shoes were a problem. Besides mountain boots, she had only the moccasins made by Matoskah. Well, the moccasins would have to do. Thankfully, James had welcomed her to stay with his mom and him, so she’d have access to a bed, kitchen and shower.

Since Eena’s return from Techno City the prior week, she had called a meeting at the pavilion to tell the community about Professor Neil and the growing group of spreaders. Painfully, she informed them of Caellum’s capture and his refusal to escape to Three Mountains.

Although the door in the cell was wide open, he held his ground. ‘I’m of more use to the movement remaining here.’

She had returned to Three Mountains simply to update everyone, and with that done, she was preparing to go to Techno City to help the Sovereignty Movement and to work for his release.

When she heard the knock and opened the door, the last person she expected to see was Dora d’Arc.

Dora!

I had to see you.

Please, come in.

Dora saw her backpack. Going somewhere?

Techno City.

If you’re returning to help Caellum, forget it. He’s no longer there.

Since Eena had only one chair, she and Dora faced one another sitting cross-legged on the bunk, as Dora unloaded. She told her of Caellum’s transfer, his pending execution and the information gleaned from the meeting of her father, the Social Engineering Ministers and Charles Scholtz.

Guilt tinged Eena’s reaction. Why didn’t I see this coming? Why didn’t I force Caellum to escape while he had chance?

There was nothing you could do.

Perhaps I never should have concocted the plans to infiltrate the townships.

Dora shook her head. The ruling bloodlines have schemes to maintain—no, increase—their power.

Those words and Caellum’s dire situation sank Eena’s hopes to murky depths.

Dora touched her hand. I don’t mean to discourage you. Apparently, humanity has a window of opportunity to free itself.

Eena grasped the silver pendant at her throat, and the etched labyrinth that depicted the journey of man sent a tiny charge through her fingertips. She absentmindedly rubbed her finger across the surface.

Dora’s voice was hesitant. According to my dad an infusion of photons is switching on human genes that foster independence and initiative.

A ray of hope penetrated Eena’s morass. So, Mother Nature is assisting our movement.

That’s my understanding.

So we either accept further erosion of our rights to the point of becoming automations, or apply every ounce of strength and intelligence we posses to win our independence.

Concern shadowed the return gaze of the landlord’s daughter. Most seem to accept their lot in life.

True. And in the beginning, I admit to being one who enthusiastically welcomed the leadership of the social engineering officials. Eena shook her head. Gullibility assuaged our desperation.

They talked until dawn, pausing to head outdoors, prepare a pot of coffee over a campfire and devour a hearty breakfast. When the conversation returned to Caellum, Eena was touched by the sincerity in Dora’s tone.

I will do anything—I mean, whatever it takes—to save Caellum’s life.

Mid-morning Eena grabbed her bow and hoisted a quiver of arrows and the strap of a pouch over her shoulders as she motioned for Dora to follow her. I have something to show you.

As she led Dora along the path to the portal, she said, Watch out for roots. But her brain looped the phrase, Watch out for the landlord’s daughter.

But the impressions from the vision atop Crystal Mountain a few days back remained strong. Feeling as real as in the flesh, her gentle Hopi/Dine´ mother, midwife at countless births, had sat to her left on the log, and crackling flames accompanied her message. Dora carries the blood of the oppressors, but the soul of a midwife.

The words of her amá had startled her, but confirmed intuitive nudges.

Grandfather had sat to her right, sprinkling sage on the fire, and the pungent smoke curled around her mother’s next words. Help one another to birth a new era.

The recollection relaxed her, and with a cautionary glance, she pointed to a chunk of quartz protruding on the path. As Dora side-stepped the crystal, Eena intimated the properties of the mountain. Veins of quartz crisscross this peak. Apparently, Solar Flash super-charged the mineral with such piezoelectric power that it stalled and crashed a plane on Blue Lake Mountain.

You’re kidding.

No, and to make matters worse, the pilot, Nathan Abelt, is a spy, who has now returned to Transtopia.

Just ahead was a peculiar configuration of a vine arch. You’re about to experience an even stranger aspect of the Quartz Mountain phenomena.

Pausing in front of an arch of vines between two trees, Eena turned toward her silent guest who was carefully navigating the trail. Now step here and follow me.

As the pair entered the cool humidity on the opposite side of the portal, the towering umber trunks of giant sequoias brought the expected gasp.

Eena smiled at the play of shock and confusion on Dora’s face. You’ve just stepped through a portal and into another time in an ancient land.

Alarm rang in Dora’s cry. Where are we?

Don’t ask me how, but this gateway connects Quartz Mountain to a segment of an ancient landmass known today as Lemuria, or Mu, or the Motherland.

While Dora ran her fingers over the smooth bark of the nearest redwood, Eena recalled her own initial awe of being dwarfed by the enormous girth of the trees and the reach of the green caps into the cloud layer.

Dora’s tone was childlike. I’ve seen photos of such trees with cars passing through an opening in the trunk.

They lingered in the nearby meadow where lavender asters and yellow borage graced the grassy expanse until Eena suggested they hike down to the valley. The trek down the mountain would give Dora a chance to acclimate to the strange world before introducing her to the next giants—the augurs. Eena decided not to call Cesla, not yet anyway, as she headed toward the sound of water gurgling over stone.

We’ll follow this stream to the valley. It’ll take a half hour and give us a chance to discuss strategies.

Eena led Dora down the slope through the undergrowth of pine seedlings and exotic flowering shrubs.

"So, Eena what can we do to save him?"

I don’t know, but I’m glad we have until the June Solstice Celebration—oh yes, renamed ‘Freedom Festival’—to devise a plan.

The sound of a small waterfall filled the interval of silence before Eena mused aloud. I think the augurs can play an important role.

Augurs? What’s an augur?

Eena smiled. You’ll find out soon enough. Then she grew serious. You know, Dora, several feet of snow will soon cover the distance between Three Mountains and Transtopia. A rescue attempt won’t be possible until May.

Disappointment tinged Dora’s response. Oh, of course.

When the valley came into view, Dora laid her hand on Eena’s wrist as a signal to halt. Those birds! she exclaimed.

Eena gave her a sidelong grin. The augurs. Come on.

As they approached the plains and the rumble-coos of the birds browsing in the grass grew louder, Dora’s hand flew to her chest.

Eena explained the familiar sensation. The augur communications resonate low frequency waves beneath our hearing. We can only feel the vibrations.

When they reached the base of the mountain, Dora stopped to stare at the sky as Eena stooped to gather fruit from the base of a tree and place it in the pouch. Within moments Dora took two steps back as a bird with shining teal plumage and a wingspan easily as wide as a large room landed in front of them.

Meet Cesla. Eena reached out to stroke the bird’s jaw beneath a crown of raised white feathers.

Dora’s mouth fell slack in astonishment. It... it’s huge!

Hugely enjoying the introduction, Eena took a guava from the pouch so Cesla could devour it from the palm of her hand. You can pet his neck if you want.

With a quick shake of her head, Dora remained where she stood, arms locked by her side.

When the powerful beak had dismembered the last of the fruit, Eena motioned Dora away while she walked behind the bird to straddle the tail and lie prone on the blue-green plumage of Cesla’s back. Stand there and watch.

Even after a year of patrolling the Three Mountains perimeter, Eena still relished the powerful lift of the wings as her bond-mate rose in an ascending arc. Only after completing a full circle above the spectator did she peer below to see that the blast of air from the powerful flap of the wings had knocked Dora to the ground.

Chuckling at Dora’s state of shock, Eena flew a wide swath of sky before mentally communicating descent to Cesla. After the landing whoosh blasted the already unbalanced spectator, Eena dismounted, and Cesla moved away.

Dora stood up awkwardly and stammered, But how do you guide it?

Cesla and I developed a psychic connection when he was a chick, and our bond allows me to communicate mostly through mental images and feelings.

Eena touched her bow and started toward a line of trees in the distance. Stay close. Most predators that hunt on this prairie stand at eye-level with you and me.

Augers flew from huge nests to sink into the pale sea of grass as the pair crossed the valley headed toward a grove of cypress trees that lined the river. Despite Dora’s obvious state of overload, Eena led her into the shadowed realm of trees to navigate tangles of enormous roots until the sight of a human head peeping over the rim of a nest elicited a gasp.

Eena sympathized with Dora’s glazed expression. Keeping her voice low, she explained that Leiani was a chick-sitter. Moments later, when the mother augur returned to the nest, Leiani climbed down the ladder that leaned against the tree trunk.

Chick sitter? Dora’s gaze followed Leiani’s descent.

As Leiani faced Dora, her smile revealed white teeth in bronzed Polynesian features. Normally, the augur parents take turns foraging so that one is always with the chick. But an eagle killed this chick’s father. Hence, my services.

After introductions Leiani led them through the darkened understory beneath entangled cypress limbs until they reached a nest perched on the sturdy lower branches of a giant cypress. The border of interwoven sticks, evidencing less messy construction than that of an augur, formed a regular polygon, and the folds of a large canvas umbrella, which hung from an overhead limb, leaned against the rim.

A ladder provided access to Leiani’s tree dwelling, and once they were inside, the padded ledge that extended the width of the stick enclosure offered seating. Leiani explained the reason for her elevated home. Seasonally, the river rises several feet and floods the banks.

While the facets of the new world impressed Dora, concern for Caellum’s future tugged at Eena. Changing the subject, she addressed Leiani. Given favorable weather conditions, how do you think the augurs would fare in a flight to Transtopia?

Leiani reflected before she mused aloud. I’m not sure. I do know they consume several pounds of fruit daily.

So, how many miles per day do you think they can fly?

I believe they can cover a couple of hundred miles in a day, with rest stops every fifty miles or so. The return trip should be the following day.

Eena mused allowed. That would get us near Transtopia. Is your map handy?

After Leiani retrieved a map of southwest Colorado, Eena studied it before she spoke. "So, if we dismount east of Pike’s Peak at this landmark called the Garden of the Gods, we’ll be just a couple of hours hike from downtown Transtopia.

Leiani poured water in wooden cups. How long do you think you’d need to be in the city?

Well, it may not be realistic, but we’d like to free Caellum within a few days and return.

After a sip of water Dora shook her head. Who are we kidding? An expression of despair knotted her features. It’s as though we’re talking about you presenting yourselves unarmed, entering the most well-guarded, heavily-armed stronghold of Sector 10, saying, ‘Hi, we’re here to take Caellum,’ and expecting to walk out with him.

Eena fought down the sense of hopelessness that re-emerged. You’re right. Logically, the odds are stacked against a rescue effort... but we have to try.

She faced Leiani. I think I need to go ahead of the others to scope out the city as soon as weather permits. Think you and an augur could accompany me and Cesla to the Garden of the Gods in April?

Leiani considered for a moment. If it’s a warm early spring.

You could fly the birds back to Mu and return for me in a week.

Eena’s brain leaped past the flight, and she turned to Dora. The problem is how will I find you?

Apparently, I’m to live downtown at the only skyscraper with restored power, the Imperial Ritz Hotel, where the Scholtz’s also live.

Eena eyed Dora as a startling thought grabbed her. The rescue attempt’s going to require your help.

Dora hunched her shoulders and raised her palms in a How? gesture.

Eena backed down the ladder. You’ll be hobnobbing with Charles Scholtz—the supreme ruler of Sector 10.

I suppose that’s true.

Eena smiled as she extended her hand to Dora at ground level. Seems you’re to be our first infiltrator in Transtopia.

Infiltrator?

To infiltrate the upper echelons with the intention to empower the Sovereignty Movement.

A dubious expression knotted Dora’s brows as she shook her head. I wouldn’t even know how to begin.

After thanking Leiani, they backed down the ladder and carefully navigated a cluster of raised root knees before Eena replied, Honestly, I’m not sure how to proceed either.

Beyond the tree line, sunlight cast a soft glow on rolling waves of grass and glinted on the wings of augurs taking flight. The sight that had met Eena’s gaze countless times still took her breath away and lent a mystical quality to her next words. But I’ve learned to persistently point myself in a direction and take one small, insignificant first step.

As Dora turned to wave to Leiani, she tripped over a large root.

Grinning, Eena steadied her. Though I must admit that often a first step is more like a big, ignominious stumble.

Raindrops beaded Dora’s raincoat as she stepped through the entrance to the jail and took a number from the dispenser. Pulling back her hood, she

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Reviews

What people think about The Triskelion

0
0 ratings / 0 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews