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World's Third E-Book—Published On the Web in 1997 For Digital Download

an Empire of Time SF novel

by John Argo

 Preface   Chapter 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42 


5. New World—Year 3301

The derelict mother ship with its priceless library burst into flames halfway across the sky. A thick trail of black smoke widened, grew longer. The air shook, and the ground shook. Buffalo herds scattered in flight, running very swiftly close together. The black contrail, twinned with a white one of condensation, roared on across the sky and down over the horizon like an ancient express train on its tracks. Just over the horizon, an explosion slammed through the air.

At least nobody had been aboard the mother ship—assuming the other two lifeboats had successfully detached. But all six pioneers had awakened from their long sleep, rubbing each other, offering comfort for sore limbs and aching backs. The life support systems had functioned beautifully—a tribute to the best minds in all the world's aeries—and the six were intact and robust. The mother ship had inserted itself into orbit—evidently, Paul now knew, too low and too slow—and the lifeboats had auto-launched. Licia had handled her well enough, until—

The alien world returned to its vibrant normal self. Buzzing insects nuzzled and droned. Big colorful flowers bobbed on long red stems. Licia took out the range finder gadget, a black radio which she mounted on Paul's backpack but whose earphones she wore herself, so that a thin cable connected them.

"Hear anything?" he asked, shifting the heavy radio from one side to the other.

She held up a hand. "Tremendous amount of static, that's about it. We'll have to climb to the highest point around. Dammit, the battery is weak."

The alien grass was thick-bladed and scoop-stemmed, and scraped against their boots as Paul and Licia sought the highest ground, a grassy hill about a mile away.

Paul and Licia descended to the plain below in long, easy strides. He was more accustomed to shuffling through snow. "Earth must have been like this once," she said.


Copyright © 1990-1996-2014 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.