Hello all! I’ve been MIA for a few weeks and am thrilled to have gotten back in time to share something with you all. Since I’m currently in writing purgatory, waiting for edits, I’ll share one of my w.i.p with you.
This story started as a Clever Quickie, a 140 character scene that morphed into my first attempt at a sci-fi novel. I’ve called it Blood Moon Rising.
Here is your teaser:
Colonel Jim Striker stood guard in the sentinel tower, the charged weapon hanging loosely at his side. Eloisia’s double suns hung low on the horizon. Soon, its three moons would fill the sky, bathing everything in an eerie, red-gold light. That light had been mesmerizing and exciting those first few days, but now all it did was inject fear into his heart and that of what was left of his team. Everything was bigger here, more plentiful, and deadlier—definitely deadlier.
How had everything gone so wrong? When the ship had landed a year ago, they believed they’d found Eden. The uninhabited plain where they’d made landfall had abutted a jungle paradise full of lush vegetation. Nearby the crystal blue water was pure, unpolluted. It was as if God had sent them here. They knew better now.
Inside the ship, they’d followed protocol. His science team had checked the air for oxygen count, and dangerous gasses, but the air was cleaner than even their own bottled supply. Once they’d left Explorer Alpha, they’d gathered plants and found them teeming with vitamins and lacking any pathogens. Animal life was plentiful, and they’d taken down a deer, slightly smaller in size than the elk he’d seen in museums on Earth. The animal’s meat was tender and tasty, free of harmful bacteria, and so different in taste and texture than the replicated food aboard ship. He’d felt a little like what his ancestors must have felt like, foraging for food and carving out a home for themselves in the wilderness—until the savages had come.
He’d done everything right and yet wrong. He’d gone into the jungle with a reconnaissance team and sent another across the plain. His squad had walked twenty miles through the lush vegetation, and had found no sign of life.
We should have gone farther, he berated himself for what must be the thousandth time. Fifty men and women dead, and it was his fault. Why hadn’t he waited for the other team’s report? Twenty people changed, his own sister and her husband among them. No, he’d blindly radioed Earth to send out the ark. The ship was due any day now. Unless he could find a way to control the indigenous population, humanity would be extinct within ten years.
He heard someone approaching the electrified fence. Probably some idiot civilian from the rapidly dwindling science team who’d wandered too far into the jungle to get back before the gates were sealed. Only a fool would be out when the creatures hunted. As alert as he was, he recognize her sickly sweet smell drifting on the air and it turned his stomach. He knew that scent. He’d smelled it too many times—had lost good men because of it, too.
This female’s hungry, but there’s something else—fear?
When was the last time she’d feasted on his cattle? He’d found a bloodless fawn a week ago, but it wouldn’t have been enough. She had young to feed, and food was scarce in the Eloisian Desert. The electrified barbed wire he’d strung would keep her at bay, but only so long.
“She’s out there, isn’t she?” Brad handed him a java substitute.
“Yeah. I don’t know if she’ll take the bait, but it was worth a shot. We’ve got to stop her before the last change. Once she’s airborne, no one’s safe.”
“You mean kill her? I thought this stuff was only going to know her out. She’s your sister!”
“Was. Isn’t anymore.”
Striker took a mouthful of the bitter brew. “You know as well as I do, Marissa isn’t human anymore. Once infected, she’s as good as dead. I’m just saving her some pain and making sure she doesn’t take any more of us with her.”
“What about the twins?”
“They’re half-breeds, probably more dangerous than either of their parents. The sister I knew wouldn’t want them to live.”
The shrieks of an enraged animal rent the air. Striker looked up. She’d stumbled into the trap.
I’m sorry, Marissa. I did it to save you. But had he? Or had he done it out of fear?
“Get Mack and a lantern. We’ll go out and get the body and cremate it. At dawn, we’ll follow whatever tracks she left to wherever she’s hidden the twins. They’ll be hungry and easier to find.”
“What will you do with them?”
“I’ll do what I have to do. Half-breeds can’t be allowed to survive. Otherwise, they’ll destroy us in the end.”
“What if they aren’t? What if they’re one hundred percent human? You can’t be sure she wasn’t pregnant before her captured her. He killed Denis only a few days before he took her.”
“If they are human, do you think I want that monster raising them for food?”
The roar of an anguished beast filled the night. Striker cursed.
“I didn’t think he’d be hunting with her. I figured he’d be out stalking prey in the settlement.”
The anguished cry sounded again. “Damn you, Striker,” the monster called. “She loved you. Why can’t you leave us alone?”
“Let’s go after him. He’s in humanoid form.”
“No, it’s too dangerous. He’s angry, and he’s probably calling his followers to him right now. The SOB will take her body with him and try to bring her back.”
“So it’s all been for nothing?”
Striker smiled. “Maybe not. If he sinks his fangs into her, he may ingest enough of the poison to hurt him—maybe even kill him. This could work out just fine. One bloodsucking monster down, a thousand more to go before we can make Eloisia home. They’re counting on us back on Earth to make this planet safe. They can’t last much longer there. The sun is frying the place.”
“Doesn’t it bother you that we’re killing these creatures? It’s their planet. We’re the interlopers here.”
Yes, it bothered him, damn it. He wasn’t a murderer, but it was him against them, and this mission couldn’t fail. There were less than 5,000 humans left. He couldn’t allow his race to die out. This planet was changing, evolving, and the natural inhabitants were losing their food source, just like the dinosaurs had on Earth millions of years ago. The brass thought these creatures were vampiric, but they were and they weren’t. Striker knew the truth. It wasn’t the blood they needed, it was the salt. Marissa had kept Kynan at bay for weeks with salt tablets. In fact, he’d done the same himself with Yrenna, conversing with her, trying to understand her kind. It worked, but only for so long. Once the salt tablets disappeared, so did any chance they had of surviving.
“You saw what he did to Denis, and then he took Marissa.”
“It’s not right. None of them had been in the least bit violent until that confrontation with Denis. I think Denis provoked Kynan. I know you don’t believe me, but your brother-in-Law was a mean son of a bitch. ”
“Brad, I’m sorry, but coexistence won’t work. We’re nothing but walking meals to them. You know that.”
“But he didn’t feed on her.”
“You’re right. He stalked her, attacked her, and manipulated her mind and body to suit him. Is that what you want? A female to mate with?”
“Damn you, Striker. Do you always have to have it your way? They aren’t all killers. Some can control themselves. Reyna isn’t like that.”
Striker gritted his teeth. Brad didn’t see the danger here, just the exquisite haunting beauty of the Eloisians and their lush, green planet.
Now, please take time to read the other teasers this week.