Hope everyone has had a great week so far! I’ve been working hard on Tamn this week thanks to an overdue fit of inspiration. It’s been a while since I’ve shared the latest from Heaven’s Edge, so thanks for your patience. My publisher and I are still aiming for an early to mid-fall release date. As the pieces of this story continue to come together I grow even more excited to bring you the best possible final product. The following teaser finds Tamn and Adi on the hunt to provide for the rest of the Pioneer crew. But they aren’t the only predators in the jungle…
Tamn: Heaven’s Edge #3 Teaser
We trailed the razor pack two leagues deeper into the valley core, over tangled roots and rubbery leafed plants. I kept the chole blade humming on stand-by.
Adi touched my elbow, then crouching to the earth, crawled into a thicket of blue ferns. I touched the ground and followed. We paused twenty paces in. Adi pointed and I looked through the thin leaves the same moment I heard the low-crawling beasts snorting in the clearing ahead. I assessed the pack. Twenty strong including their young, all marked by the odd spikes lining their hunched spines, short snouts and curved claws waiting at the end of their four feet. Last time we attempted to hunt these beasts, they’d swarmed my brother’s mate. It wouldn’t happen again.
Don’t let them be a threat, a sinister voice coaxed. “Grind their bones and spread it with the ash of the earth.”
I shook my head, determined not to give into the madness. I had to stay in control.
Adi caught my attention again with a gesture, motioning she would try and circle around, take a high position to fire. It was a tactic we had used before. She was stronger, yet had better accuracy with her projectile. I briefly watched her creep away to my left with barely a sound. The beasts continued to grunt and nose at the earth, snacking on roots or grubs. I shifted to the balls of my feet and pulled my scythe free, looking over the pack for the sign of the weakest prey.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Adi peek through the branches of the opposite tree. She lifted her gauntleted arm and aimed.
One of the beasts lifted its head, sniffing the air with a grunt.
A scream pierced the air, unlike any beast we had yet heard, drawing the pack’s attention. Wooden spears, lined with powdery blue dust impacted with the dirt an arm’s reach in front of me. A cloud of electric blue filled the clearing.
Tall, furred figures followed with more spears and screams matching their warning cry. The razorbacks squealed as the tall creatures found their pray.
Chole dust…they must be using chole.
The cloud began to dissipate, leaving a fine coat on the fallen razorbacks and the alien beings hunting them. We didn’t know there were sentient beings living on this world. Our scans had shown no technology resembling ours. They shouldn’t be here.
While some of their pack continued to chase the remaining herd, five lingered to gut the felled beasts. I struggled to make sense of the creatures entering the clearing. They weren’t furry, I realized, any more than my kind, but they did wear fur over their bare skins and carried long jagged spears tipped with glittering blue dust. Around their waists, they wore leather belts hung with pouches. I could smell the pungent scent of the chole from here.
I looked for Adi but she was no longer in the trees. I jerked back when she suddenly appeared at my side, knocking against the ferns. She grimaced at my reaction, then looked back to the clearing.
The alien beings turned their heads, some standing up from their crouched positions on the ground.
Were they related somehow to the ones who destroyed Datura 3?
Burn them all! Raze their village to the ground!
The madness roared against my head and I squeezed my eyes shut, desperately clinging to Qeya’s face. Her eyes were slightly mismatched. Her inner lids flickered every time we were together.
Adi squeezed my shoulder and I opened my eyes. The alien beings were entering the jungle, their meat in tow.
Stealing our meat! Cut their throats and steal it back, the loudest voice demanded.
But then Adi was hissing against my ear, entirely too close. “We should trail them, steal their chole dust.”
I shook my head and cut a glare at her. Adi flashed me a crude gesture with two fingers and crawled into the clearing, drawn to the scattered dust. I hissed between clenched teeth, tempted to leave her behind. It would serve her right if she brought the wrath of those creatures upon herself. Chole dust powered our vessel, true, along with much of miner tech. But there were some it was rumored, who were addicted to the substance. I had spent enough time around Adi to suspect her interest went deeper than tech.
Then I thought of the crew, the oath I took upon Ascension.
Live by honor, to protect the memories unto death.
Keep the code, live to die another day.
Defend your crew until the heavens turn dark.
I stood cautiously, scanning our surroundings as I ran to catch up to Adi. I wrapped my fingers around her shoulder and spun her to face me.
Her gills flared while dark green light danced in her gaze. “Don’t you dare try to stop me, Royal. We need that chole more than food.” She smelled as though she had bathed in the combustible mineral.
She barely budged when I shook her and checked the trees again for signs of our enemy. “Survival first,” I ground out, “food, water, shelter, then we can think of finding a way home.”