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Far Come the Eyes of Light
cover design 2005 Ardy M. Scott.

 

Book Excerpt

 

 

Far Come the Eyes of Light - Book II

 

Geoff Geauterre

 

 

 

Chapter Three

He did not know it yet, but essentially, he was as good as dead. The genetically altered poison had crept through his body with such subtlety there had been no sign of anything wrong.

Just as he was in the process of making out a memo to his Chief of Staff, the plunging sense of disorientation hit him. Instantly, he remembered that last cup of chaffee brought by the servo-rob.

Cursing, he fumbled for the panic button under the edge of the desk, reached for a personal recorder because he had something damned important to say, but important as it may have been, it was too late.

A squad of security personnel broke in a few moments later, only to find a gibbering old man rolled into a ball on the floor, sucking his thumb, and soiling himself.

A.S.D., short for Advanced Senility Disease, was often a diagnosis for rejuvenation rejection. They made a check into the medical history, and sure enough, there it was. Rejection of treatment on three separate occasions.

It was odd no behavioral symptoms revealed themselves beforehand, but perhaps somebody should have kept a closer eye on the old man. Medical personnel shrugged and made out the proper forms. A lift gurney picked up the body and transported it to a med lab for removal to a long-term care facility. Maybe they could do something for him there.

A cursory scan of the personnel record offered nothing new. A notorious partygoer and bachelor in his heydays, there was no immediate family to contact.

Such was the passing of Star Fleet Admiral Broswell. It took two standard days for a complete transfer of authority, and only one to affect the course of human history.

Experienced staff people were replaced. Individuals passed over for having extreme viewpoints were reestablished. A general population of malcontents and incompetents about to be given the boot were instead offered surprising plums. Everything the Admiral had accomplished was systematically undermined.

Three months following his departure, the changes in command even had their effect in the heart of the elite Survey Group.

There, a particularly unstable individual desk-bound for failing to pass his third psychological exam, was astounded to find career-damning commentaries and reprimands erased from his record.

Put back on the promotions list, jumped three ranks due to his seniority, he now had the authority to replace the current director whom he despised.         

The next day, those finding themselves under his command cursed and swore something was foul. A few started an inquiry, but without influence, it didn't go anywhere, and soon after that, a transfer to some dingy station ordering about dumbbells dressed as privates.

It was a lesson learned, and it could not have come at a worse time. The Survey Group had been classifying a few new planets out in a far-flung sector of the quadrant, and a report from one galvanized the Analysis Section into overdrive.

When they were finished a report went to command, and the Quemeldian analysts named the planet Calysia. Quemeldians always did have a bizarre sense of humor. The Calysian plant was deadly to the touch.

***

Charles Penderforce Riley looked upon the alien horizon and thought of the circumstances that brought him to a planet so far from his home. He leaned on the deck railing and stared thoughtfully, not so much at what he saw before him, but deep within, where his hopes and dreams had been.

Here he was, the scion of a house of great wealth and power, cowering on a distant world, hidden from his enemies and glad of it. If it weren't such a pathetic ending to a promising future, he would have laughed aloud.

However, given the circumstances, it was not only what he deserved, it was better than he deserved. The bearer of a name that should have showered him in riches instead plagued him.

He was a pariah. There was no other word for it. Unless, of course, you replaced it with dunderhead, nincompoop, knucklebone and failure…

It certainly couldn't be said he gained anything from his illustrious family. He had proven to be a constant, never-ending headache and embarrassment.

In a sane society, he might have been put out of his misery.

Now C.P. Riley, the founder of his house did not have any of his difficulties. The giant of industry was a proven genius. Inventor of the first sub-space communicator, he openly laughed at his detractors when they scorned his ideas and later demanded a share in the wealth.

He told them if they wanted a piece of the pie, they better get out their credits and then get in line. Those who hadn't scurried as fast as they could to do so regretted it.

The next in the line was C.P. Riley II. A marketing guru, who stole buried technology, bribed patent officials, improved products under his own name, and then sold them in the open as fast as he could.

Those who tried to stop him, including the government, didn't know what they were in for as an avalanche of public opinion buried them in outrage when news of it was broadcast.

Industrial leaders found themselves shying from defending the actions of robber barons and their governmental stooges, while C.P. Riley II basked in the acclaim of a hero.

Then C.P. Riley III, Charles' father, followed their example. He was the one who began Riley Engineering Spaceways, Inc. His pedigree seemed too amazing to be real. A decorated military officer, a trained scientist, an inventor, an explorer, and he even did a stint as a successful diplomat.

If that had not proven the man's worth, then there was his choice for a wife. Now most men, ostensibly known for their greatness, had some hidden fault in their character, a fault revealed with the choice of a wife. Impostors chose weaklings. Those who were true chose equals.

A professor of botany, with a penchant for exploration, asteroid mining and navigation, with a background in the Intelligence Service, was approached to do a delicate job.

C.P. Riley III became an assignment. She had to find skeletons in the closet. She looked for them, looked hard, but none were found. She was intrigued. There had to be something in the man's background that was fishy. She took more time, dug deeper, felt in all the dark corners…spoke to people…and soon after that, it became apparent C.P. Riley III was too good to pass up.

His Dad once admitted he was never quite sure who made that decision, but as far as he was concerned, it didn't matter. Separately, they were unstoppable, but together they were unbeatable. Moreover, no matter how their one and only screwed things up, they loved him.

Charles Penderforce clenched his fists. That is what made their loss so hard to take. Last heard exploring a phenomenon that existed in the region of X2P-Q3T2 46198 with his mother along as navigator, everything seemed all right, when they just disappeared.

The coordinates were supposed to depict a point in the space-time continuum that for some reason did not appear on navigational instruments. Discovered a hundred years before by a drunken pilot, who never realized he was lost until he stumbled back into civilized space, when techs doing a refit found the no-time sequence in his electronic log.

Astrographers retraced his steps and found they were in trouble. It was with heartfelt relief they made it out. However, over the years scientists studying the record concluded that hundreds, if not thousands, had become lost in that area. It was anybody's guess why no one ever stumbled across artifacts, ships, or other material.

Some postulated the idea that if one stayed long enough, they ended up slipping into another dimension. Their conclusion was the place had to be avoided.

Another group felt further study was necessary to determine how space could differ in certain points of the continuum. They felt a great deal could be gained if they continued with further investigation.

C.P. thought he could conclude a postulant that made sense, and during a light moment at a dinner party, he said so. A guest challenged him to prove it. Without a second's hesitation, he said he would. In the silence that followed, the challenger hastened to add, he was only jesting.

However, calculated looks flashed around, and realizing it, C.P. smiled and said grandly that a challenge of this nature was almost on the scale of a wager. And as everyone knew, wagers were serious business. Moreover, it would be important research. It would dispense, finally, the notion of rampaging space monsters gobbling up hapless ships and helpless crews.

Laughter dispensed the tension, and he could have shrugged the matter off then, but refused. Instead, he prepared for the venture. Seeing he was serious, Charles Penderforce's mother smiled and announced she better come along because she didn't want him to starve to death the way he cooked.

He sighed. It was just about that time everything went sour.

In his younger days, he had concluded that somehow, he had taken after a cursed ancestor. Whenever the family gathered for pleasure or business, the first question asked was, what had he done lately?

"What had he done lately?" he whispered, then shook his head in disgust.

On one of his birthdays, around the fifth or the sixth, the clan gathered and declared it would be appreciated if Charles Penderforce the Fourth were sent off somewhere -- and it didn't matter where. It was one of the few times he saw his mother really get mad.

Then a more diplomatic solution came to mind. Since no one's feelings could get hurt this way, why didn't they change his name? Drop the number and no one would know who he was. Moreover, as members of the Riley Board of Trustees, they should be able to agree to that, couldn't they?

C.P. and his Mom looked at each other and shrugged. What was in a number? As he was under the table at the time they didn't notice his eavesdropping. In any event, the number behind his name vanished, and for a while the pressure on his parents relented.

Later, when he realized the importance of that moment, he did think it unfair, but the old man said it was a stupid tradition anyway, and his mother slipped her arm over his shoulder and told him it didn't matter one way or the other.

He could barely remember the incident that first took the family by storm. It had something to do with his nurse. Or was it that other time when a rattle lodged in a rolling cart's wheel? But were any of them really his fault? He thought it was just bad luck.

However, Riley Spaceways stockholders did not think in such amenable terms where their investments were concerned. A notice would appear in a fax sheet that little Charles Riley the Fourth was at the center of some new difficulty at the Riley Home and stocks took a dip. Another notice followed the first and the stocks took a bath. It seemed at times they were the most celebrated family on the planet -- nothing they did was private. The entire sector was privy to the news.

Then came the fateful day when a whole batch of notices hit the market and someone, they never found out who, spread rumors that the Riley Child was a changeling. He shook his head with regret. He didn't want to remember the incident that caused that one.

The university offered a reprieve. He felt he had a flair for experimental chemistry and applied for lab time. He had an idea concerning binary compounds with low yield temperatures and wanted to prove how effective they could be.

It took a lot of hard work, but finally, when his calculations were proven, he rushed out to get someone -- anyone -- to witness his ongoing experiment, but in his excitement, he'd inadvertently left a power switch on.

Fortunately, no one was killed.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath to clear his head. He could still see the stupendous mountains off to the west, the purple mist from the marshlands and the deep blue and green of the strange-looking jungle forests to the east. He wished he was free to investigate the canyons to the south, but he would have to be content with just satellite observations. The hover sled was only to be used for emergencies.

It didn't matter. He was tired and thought he'd turn in soon. He had accomplished a good deal, surveying the immediate area. It was larger than he thought.

A memory came to mind that made him smile. He was good with calculations, and at one time, he thought he could make a fine addition to the family business. All he needed was a chance, and he would emerge from his stifling cocoon like a butterfly.

His experience at the university should have taught him something, but apparently, he still had a lot to learn. He talked his way into a position at Riley Spaceways shipping department. He needed to prove something to himself if to no one else.

As things would have it, while he was tooling about with inventory lists on his branch terminal, he overheard a conversation that sparked the imagination. It seemed the department was trying to cope with endless shipping delays, and an idea for improvement came so easily, he was stunned.

If he wanted to beef up productions, increase sales, and deliver items and spare parts faster than ever before, the means of doing it were right in his hands.

Feverishly, he sorted out the details. First, he had to get a master's list from inventory. That was easy. Next, his terminal branched into the secured-access channel for research, where he requested information concerning the wear-usage rate of their largest machined items, and he asked for a list of the companies that usually ordered them.

Information poured onto the screen, and he formalized his ideas. He checked the figures and found he was headed in the right direction.

Plasma turbines wore out faster than titallium sleeves. Piston gears working nonstop for one year in an environment of 700 degrees needed replacement every six months if their bearings were liquid-sealed. What about camshafts? Or dampening rods? Or -- he discovered a plethora of items that wore out at varying times, but those times could be calculated… and therefore could be fore-ordered. He felt it was a tremendous find.

Feeling as if he were on the verge of a change in life he dived into the work.

When he was through, when it looked fleshed out and perfect, he called up the department heads of the firms they dealt with, who ordered parts steadily, and asked if they might accept deliveries of said items on a timed schedule, coinciding with projected failure rates.

The only question they asked in return was would they have to pay for said items before they were needed? He smiled in their faces, shook his head, and told them what he believed the truth. No. Instead, when a failure occurred they would already have the necessary item in stock and wouldn't have to wait to reorder. Instead, all they needed to do was contact Riley's, inform them what they had taken off their own shelves, and then they would be billed.

It was such a revolutionary concept that many who'd been queried, coupled with the name of the "Riley" they spoke to, had them leaping at the idea. Anything that could cut the cost of replacement time was a proven value.

Unfortunately, several factors were overlooked. Charles had forgotten to rewrite their contracts, or notify the billing department, or his immediate supervisor in shipping and receiving.

Three weeks later, the orders he had written kicked in and customers received double and triple deliveries, along with the charges that went with them.

Fourteen transport services faced bankruptcy, two solar systems screamed for blood, and there was no end to the headaches.

In a single month Riley Spaceways Inc., dropped a hundred and fourteen points, and ended up paying close to thirty-seven million in hard currency credits as compensation.

He chuckled dryly. Who would have thought he could have had so many people bent on doing him harm? Besides desperately unhappy stockholders, angrier stockbrokers, an unending number of market speculators, and a group of veteran pensioners who offered a reward for his capture -- what they would have done had they got their hands on him, he shuddered to guess -- was simply too unbelievable.

In any event, in the middle of the night he was packed, bundled into a heavily armored hover van with twenty circling police sleds and before he knew it, he was stowed away on a space-bound cruiser and that was that.

A month later and Charles found himself established as the warden of the family's newly acquired Planetary Preserve on the planet Calysia. Of course, Planetary Preserve Warden was pretty much an honorary title. In practice, he wasn't required to do anything, just make observations. If anything, it would keep him out of trouble.

Besides, the view was magnificent. The purple-gold horizon cast its magic every evening and the swaying treetops seemed to hum in the breeze. It calmed his weary soul, and the twenty-acre estate that enclosed his home felt like an island refuge.

The rest of the planet, on the other hand, was forbidden. One satellite made an orbital pass each a day. The monitors revealed some climate development, a rough topography, and his position. No other data was collected, which he thought was odd.

In fact, although there was an area for a computer bank, and the cases were set up for connection, they were empty. Aside from his own terminal and a relay receiver-transmitter, he didn't have anything remotely like the equipment of a planetary observation post.

There were some charts listing the names for a number of animals, plants, trees, mountains, valleys, deserts, forests, and curiously linked canals. Outside the five thousand square feet the building sat on, or the twenty acres that marked the entire station, the place was one big question mark.

He couldn't get near enough to anything to study it up close. Having read what a Planetary Preserve Warden was supposed to do, he knew that sticking it out in one isolated area with a pair of electronic binoculars and a skimpy communications outfit was not what the job's description entailed.

He wondered if his parents had known about these restrictions when they planted him there. Of course, at the time, all they were thinking about was his safety, as they were reacting frantically to the death threats he got.

The family made good on all losses and after a while, everyone breathed a little easier. Several months later, he heard the news of his parents being lost. He sent word to his uncle Tolthis that he should join in the search, and Tolthis arrived in his fastest ship to dissuade him of the idea.

He still had many enemies out there, and besides, everything that could be done was being done and he would just get in the way.

Perhaps Tolthis hadn't meant it to come out quite like that, but it had. When he saw how the eighteen-year-old took it, he bit his lip, opened his arms, and held him close. They shared a terrible loss.

Before he left, he obtained a waiver from Charles for his inherited proxy votes and intended to have them registered. To Charles' credit, he never hesitated in the slightest and signed everything over, either uncaring or unaware of the implications.

His uncle left to arrange more rescue parties, but as time would tell, when one got into such an area of space it was extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to know where to look. After fifteen attempts failed to locate them, the search ended.

Therefore, he was where he was, and it looked like he was going to stay for a while longer. He didn't mind. Even inside the compound, Calysia was a delight. After all, how much simpler could it get? All he had to do was remember to record any observations he made, be careful whenever he ventured forth, and remember the warnings.

His predecessor told him the markers were clearly established and only a fool could stumble across one and not see it.

In addition to that, the planet was wild. It was dangerous out there. So long as he remained within the perimeter, he was safe.

However, with the setting of the sun, the solar generators shut down, and the sonic field to keep large animals out of the area turned off. That was why, after sundown, he was supposed to remain indoors. He didn't mind that either.

A slight rustling caused him to look down. At first, he saw nothing, but leaning over and peering into the growing shadows, he became aware of one of the great creatures of the place sitting placidly, staring at him with big yellow eyes.

It was one of the Yoolooets, which he correctly pronounced as Yuh-luh-wet, named by the scientists as an offshoot branch of the cat family. Although he liked cats, he couldn't quite fit a three-ton kitty into the role of something lolling in one's lap.

They had the appearance of a giant Snow Pard crossed with a Desert Leo. Any ideas he might have entertained for a quick stroll before sunset died.

He looked around for more of their kind, but then his attention drew back to the one below. The creature was curious. He'd noticed them earlier, watching him from a distance, and often when he was stumbling around in the bush he'd look up and see one, closer than he liked.

It was one of the few times he wished the perimeter sonics worked at night, and wondered why the station hadn't been fitted with the more stable power grid that fed off fusion energy.

Well, as long as they didn't act as if he was part of the food chain, he could get along. Still, something about the place was odd, and even more so when he considered the man he replaced.

The fellow practically screamed with joy when he realized he could leave. He rushed around, gathered a handful of belongings, shouted instructions, pointed to things Charles mustn't forget, and then literally raced for the still warm shuttle.

Charles sniffed. Obviously, some people weren't suited for isolated posts. He'd been here for some time now, and neither saw, heard, or experienced anything to make him that jumpy.

Leaning over the railing he stared dreamily across the horizon and pictured himself years from now, not as someone entrapped, but someone free to roam at will. He had the idea that once he got used to the place and the place got used to him he could --

"Man!"

The reverberating tones plowed furrows across the delicate neurons of his brain.

"We have decided you may stay upon our world!"        

Fists cupped the sides of his head as he fell back, brain ringing with pain. With a sudden sweat-cold chill, he groaned and collapsed, slumped in a sprawl, and then struggled against the agony that threatened to claw out his sanity.

The huge, yellow-eyed Yoolooet yawned. Then with a sinuous twist, the creature turned, and with a few light strides became one with the lengthening shadows and was gone.

Close to a quarter of an hour later, Charles crawled into the shower-steamer and the automatic switched on. Within the enclosure a light, misting steam bath sprinkled down and he passed out.

Several hours later, he woke up, stiff and cramped, and laying in a mess. Stripping off the soiled clothing, he scrubbed himself down, stumbled around until he found a mop and bucket, and cleaned the bathroom.

When he was through he dropped the clothing into the automatic washer, and feeling a whole lot better, he planted himself in front of the washbasin, stared in the mirror, and brushed his teeth.

The last he remembered was sinking into bed and telling himself he was pretty lucky. They were a race of feral telepaths, and moreover, they seemed to be saying hello. How often had he ever been welcomed anywhere?

With that in mind, he dropped off to sleep and dreamt of soaring among the clouds.

"I am the one you named Yellow Eyes!"        

"Please," Charles croaked, staggering out of the blankets, fists pressed against temples, "tone it down."

He stumbled out of bed, shambled between three mighty Yoolooets calmly filling up the space in his bedroom, and made straight for the shower, where he overrode the automatics and palmed the controls for a cold, needle-hard spray.

After a few minutes, he felt better. At that moment, his brain slipped into a higher gear. His eyes blinked as the water diffused, and there was a different feel to it. An unnatural scent, like waste-treatment chemicals. He spit the taste out of his mouth.

Then he realized he wasn't alone. He swiveled around and found a curious-eyed Yoolooet with him.

There was calmness to her expression that spoke of wisdom and patience, and perhaps a bit of humor, too.

She nodded, and feeling a trifle foolish standing buck naked in the shower, he nodded back.

Suddenly, he was aware that his perceptions were different. He could taste chemicals he should not have been able to taste and sense strangers looking at him. In addition to that, he knew that the Yoolooet was a female. He knew it without looking.

She purred in a deep rumble and flexed a paw so she could check out the gleam of her claws. She was rather proud of herself. She had done something to him and hadn't killed him in the process.

He gulped. How did he know that?

From around her shoulder he could see at least a dozen or more padding back and forth, rumbling in a half dozen keys, licking at each other in sudden passes and slapping at rumps when someone got in the way.

They were sniffing at things, gouging scars in materials that should have been impervious, and generally being curious.

Several stopped to look at him, but then they just snorted and went about the business of browsing.

Slipping on robe and slippers, he tried figuring out the best way to handle this, then shrugged fatalistically and decided what the hell, it was time for breakfast anyway, so they may as well join him.

Half an hour later, munching on sweet cakes covered in berry syrup and sipping a hot malta, he looked at his audience, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a now very small kitchen.

Ten pairs of dimly glowing eyes stared at him, but not with any hostility that he could judge. He waited patiently. It was their move, after all. Thirty thousand tons of kitty, and lucky the place was built of high-stressed materials.

"All right, waiting games were never my strong point. So keeping it down to a dull roar, what is it you people want?"

Powerful furry shoulders bunched, and the one who spoke earlier stepped forward.

"Charles…Penderforce…Riley," came the massive feline's rumble, "I am the Yellow Eyes." The Yoolooet paused, tasting the sound of that name and liking it.         

Charles nodded. "How do you do."

Yellow Eyes snorted. "Without permission you would not have been…allowed to stay…for long."

Charles took a deep breath. "Why is that?"

"A number of us would like to kill you."

The cake he'd been about to bite into was put aside, and he took a moment to weigh this language-learning quick study.

"Mind telling me why?"

"No, we do not mind telling you."

"I see." Charles pictured himself making a run for it in his bathrobe and slippers, somehow getting into the hangar bay, starting the emergency sled, and then finding out he didn't know where to go. Ludicrous.

"Yes," agreed Yellow Eyes. "It would be…ludicrous."

"Okay, what would you suggest?"

"It is already done."

"What was done?"

"You. We have taken you into our Clan. You are now Ooroomooriss."

Charles winced as nails shrieked across a plate glass window.

"Yes. Our name not pronounced well in your language. But Yoolooet. Your name for our people. Your name…a good means of definition…is acceptable. You are now…Yoolooet. Fa-m-ily."

Something settled in his gut. What had he gotten himself into this time?

Yellow Eyes looked over his shoulder. "My mother. My father. My aunt. My aunt's sister. My uncle. My uncle's cousin. My uncle's cousin's mother. My cousin's mother and my cousin." Feline heads rose with each introduction and nodded solemnly in time to their rank.

Charles returned their nods as solemnly. "You honor me. You honor my house. I wish my parents were here to greet you in turn, but as that is not possible, please accept my gratitude."

Yellow Eyes' fangs showed in a quiet pant -- which probably was a form of laughter. In any event, he jerked his head downwards.

"Now you are one of us."

"Ah, yes," Charles said, hoping his quick acceptance might change any opposing views, especially the ones who wanted to tear him limb from limb. He had an idea said person or persons were right there.

So, as they promised him life, what had he to offer in exchange? He had a flash of insight.

"Ah, and what may I be able to do for my family, now that they have done this great thing for me?"

A female cat snorted disdainfully, and moving with a graceful viciousness, she slipped out of the kitchen, glared at him over her shoulder, and her slanted eyes promised mayhem if she ever got the chance.

"Bah!" She coughed in disgust. "Icannotstandthesmellofhim!"

Charles felt his temples ache. "So that was the one, eh? An aunt? Reminds me of a few nasty customers I once had."

Yellow Eyes bunched his shoulders and then let them go slack, as if a tension was released. The others then slipped closer, but it was more a gathering than anything else.

"Charles Penderforce, our fa-m-ily has a problem."

The way they hunched towards him told him a lot. For one thing, said Aunt had probably been against him from the start. But now that she quit the gathering, they could be a little more informal.

"Well, if it's anything I can help with…"

"Yes. You can."

"What is it?"

"Your kind and ours are about to go to war. We wish to know what you would suggest."

 

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Author Bio

Geoff Geauterre is a retired civil servant with a degree in History and special interests in Journalism and Research. He has lived in Florida, New York, Chicago, Boston, Maine, Montreal, Northern Quebec, Calgary, Northwest Territories, and parts of Alaska. He's said he gained his sense of humor from the back of a mule.

Experienced in Medicine, Administration, Security, Publications and News Services as a reporter and commentator, with over four years in the U.S. Navy, he later applied that background when attending the University.

Geoff has traveled to England, France, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and the Mediterranean Islands. He likes studying Philosophy, Comparative Myths, Legends and Religions. He is also reasonably certain of having gained prior experience in writing in another life. He only hoped it wasn't one that led him to the guillotine!

TTB Titles: A Nightful of Mages - sf/f novel
A Play of Shadows - suspense

Eyes of Light SF/F series
Behold the Eyes of Light - Book I
Far Come the Eyes of Light - Book II
Within the Eyes of Light - Book III
Beyond the Eyes of Light - Book IV

The Fourth Guardian - sf/f novel

The Soapmaster's Apprentice - sf/f novel

Author web site.

 

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Far Come the Eyes of Light Copyright 2005. Geoff Geauterre. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

 

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  Reviews

The second book in the Eyes of Light series is a little bit different. We learn a bit more about the mysterious cat-like creatures, the Ooroomooriis, a vastly intelligent race outstripping humans. For some reason, I kept imagining them as the size of domestic cats, but they are in fact more akin to their big cousins such as lions.

While most of the first book took place in a fantasy world, this book encroaches more on the world of Man, be it Man in the future as he explores the stars and discovers things that cannot be explained. What exactly is on the planet of Calaysia? Why do instruments go haywire in the vicinity? Charles Penderforce Riley, heir apparent to Riley Industries is a walking disaster area. He tries his best in every position his parents put him in, but things never quite work out the way he hoped and he is shuffled off to Calaysia as its warden/governor/man of all work after his parents disappear.

The rest of Riley Industries is quite happy to forget about Charles, in fact some people would prefer it if he never returned. Accidents sometimes happen on remote outposts and murders can be disguised.

Charles is the only human on the planet, but he soon learns that he is far from alone. Something is stalking the Ooroomooriis, an entity that feeds on energy, living energy is heading towards their universe. They have appointed Charles as one of their protectors and as far as they are concerned, the rest of the human race can be destroyed and they would be quite happy to do it themselves.

It soon becomes clear however that the only way forward is for all the races to unite in order to defeat the common foe.

An interesting story, but it's the characters who make the tale and despite many of them being aliens of one sort or another, the book still relies on common human traits such as greed, jealousy, love and fear and I think it is stronger because of that. It's easy to relate to characters who share our traits, even if they look nothing like us.

...I loved the character of Charles and could have read plenty more about him. He wasn't your typical hero, but that's what made him so much more interesting.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of "Drowning Rapunzel" and "Shadows of the Rose."
 



 

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