Excerpt from “The Robot’s Daughter”

Share

First Chapter of The Robot’s Daughter

Chapter 1: Near Earth

Yanitur, the youngest captain in the Associated Galactic Societies (AGS) Navy, was commissioned to Quantum, an Ajax-class cruiser powered by generation III dark-matter drives. Assigned to the frontier of the Second Galactic Arm, Yanitur pushed the engines hard and arrived at his patrol sector four years ahead of schedule, to the good fortune of Earth and the Amazonian child.
**

March 26th, 1954, in space near Earth
The observation deck was deserted and as dark as the void above it. Yanitur sipped his drink and gazed into blackness speckled by infrequent stars, their sparkle lost in the emptiness of the galactic fringe.
He thought of the Nirvanian home sky, its night thick with stars: blues, reds, yellows, and whites strung like lights overhead, declaring a perpetual raucous party. Home in another galactic leg, so distant its cornucopia of stars was a wisp as ephemeral as a morning haze hanging low, shifting, thinning, disappearing; the disbelieving eye wondering if it were there at all. Home, a haze so remote it might no longer exist.
Yanitur downed his drink in one long swallow and lowered the glass to the table with a loud clang.
The intercom beeped, followed by First Officer Kale’s voice. “Captain, we’ve picked up an interesting signal.”
Yanitur laughed. “Yesterday, we all thought this tour would be fifty years of boredom.”
“I wouldn’t say we were wrong, yet.” Despite Kale’s proviso, he sounded excited.
Yanitur’s curiosity heightened. “Signal? You do mean communication from a sentient being, right?”
“More like was a sentient being. It’s archaic.” Kale couldn’t restrain his enthusiasm further. “It’s AGS.”
The single known possibility flashed in Yanitur’s mind. He coughed and slammed the top of his fist against his chest. “Say again.”
“It appears to be an old AGS beacon. It’s been shredded by gamma, but the computers reconstructed a few segments. It contains two occurrences of the name ‘Gimish.’”
Naomi broke in near Kale, “Captain, wouldn’t it be crazy if we’re the ones who found Gimish?”
Her sexy, upbeat voice delighted Yanitur. It left no doubt why Uriel had used every chip ever owed him to get her on Quantum’s maiden mission.
“I gather,” Yanitur said, “that my officers have briefed you on the legend of Gimish.”
“The Gimish Paradox is a topic in the social ethics curriculum at the academy. Gimish, the first Nirvanian to reach the Second Galactic Leg, became stranded on a planet called Earth for three thousand years, then was rescued and time transported back to his original era.”
“Yes, and the paradox is?” Yanitur asked.
“History verifies that Gimish returned to his historical period; however, as of yet no AGS ship has found him. So he is both found and yet unfound, hence the paradox. Frankly, Captain, we cadets thought it was a myth made up to encourage us to persevere regardless of how dire our situation became.”
Yanitur chuckled. “You wouldn’t be the first class to think that.”
Uriel, also near Kale, solicited Naomi, “And what else is Gimish famous for?”
Yanitur flipped on the holographic screen and watched her eyes lavish Uriel with adulation while she answered, “He developed cell bonding, which allowed him to configure his intellectual seraph into the form of a humanoid, who he named Herman Rothe. Legend says, he left—or will leave—Rothe on Earth to guide its inhabitants into the AGS fold.”
“Well,” Kale interrupted, “if I can redirect the conversation back to our current situation. Of significance, we have inventoried a star with habitable planets about 2.34 light-years from here.”
“Have you pinpointed the ‘Gimish’ beacon?” Yanitur asked.
Uriel spoke up. “We’ll have to execute a search pattern to home in on it.”
“Okay,” Yanitur said, “let’s survey the habitable solar system then come back to find the beacon. Deploy a marker here.”
Yanitur signed off. In the background, he could hear Uriel and Naomi talking excitedly about how, as rescuers of Gimish, they would both be immortalized in history.
Yanitur swirled the ice in his glass and shook his head. He thought a moment then flipped the intercom back on. “Hey, Kale, it’s going to take a couple of hours to get to that habitable solar system. Can you cut loose for a game?”
Kale’s sigh roared in the microphone. “Cube ball? Yeah, I owe you one.”
“Good luck with that. Uriel, please relieve the first officer so I can give him a cube schooling.” Yanitur started for the ball court.
Only five decades separated them, with both in their prime, but Yanitur’s long body and limbs gave him the advantage at cube ball. The captain never challenged the first officer to stick sparring, a sport where Kale’s compact mass held the edge. When the crew kidded Kale about being a patsy, he shook it off, saying, “You wouldn’t want to ride with a captain who jumps into situations he can’t win.”
**

Two hours later
The ball smacked off three cube walls in a rat-tat-tat. Kale somersaulted off the ceiling and extended his glove to deflect it.
“Gentlemen.” Uriel’s voice boomed over the men’s heavy breathing and ball’s collisions with the walls.
For once Kale had gained position. Yanitur yanked the first officer’s ankle back. The ball tipped Kale’s mitt and deflected to the ceiling.
“Gentlemen,” Uriel repeated with school-master ire.
“To be continued,” Kale said, then twisted his foot from Yanitur’s grip.
Yanitur’s chest quivered with silent laughter. Kale flipped his mitt at Yanitur’s head then pushed himself toward the gravity control panel.
“May I speak?” Uriel asked.
“Just a second,” Kale replied. “You ready?” he asked Yanitur. Yanitur nodded and Kale counted down to the restoration of gravity, “Three, two, one, gravity initialized.” Instantly, they both slumped. Their legs wobbled while they regained their balance.
Yanitur placed a palm against the wall. “No matter how many times you’ve done it, you’re still never quite ready.”
“Gentlemen.”
“Yes, Uriel,” Yanitur said.
“The third planet in this solar system is in the early Nuclear Age.”
“A prospective AGS customer,” Kale wisecracked.
“Yeah, maybe in a thousand years.” Uriel spoke in a deadpan comedian tone. “And we’ve already got a competitor.” He let the humanoids absorb his words. “There’s a spook dogging the planet.”
A rush shot through Yanitur’s body. “Yesterday, we thought we faced fifty years of mental petrifaction. Now, we have a twofer, Gimish’s artifact and a snooper.”
The crew, at least the live ones, and maybe the new model seraphim, felt the same. He could hear it in the timbre of Uriel’s voice and the chatter coming from the bridge.
“What can you tell me about this spook?” Yanitur asked.
“We can’t get an ion read, yet,” Uriel replied.
“Move into analysis range, but stay hidden.” Yanitur had reason to be confident. In 19,000 years of galactic exploration the Nirvanians had never met a superior force.
“Shall we wait for you on the bridge?” Uriel asked.
Yanitur looked at Kale. Every contour of Kale’s body showed through the sweat-soaked cube suit.
Kale grimaced and hugged himself like a swimmer emerging from cold water. “The observation deck is closer, and warmer.”
“We’ll holograph in from the observation deck,” Yanitur said.
While the captain and first officer moved to the observation deck, Quantum glided into the solar system and hovered near the moon of a large ringed planet.
**

Uriel’s hazy holographic image grinned at the officers when they entered the room. “I’ve got a particulate signature.”
They approached him. The ghostly forms of the bridge and its staff filled in around them.
Uriel pointed to the alien craft’s image on a monitor. “It’s a class A freighter.”
“Verg?” Kale’s forehead wrinkled in disbelief.
Yanitur’s lips curled up in a half snarl. “Their modus operandi, but how are they here?”
The Vergish empire, broken by AGS over five millennia earlier, existed today as ragged bands of pirates that preyed on underdeveloped cultures beyond the borders of AGS control, cultures like the early Nuclear Age planet here.
“We’ve got a good trace on him now. From the pattern, it’s certain he’s monitoring the inhabited planet,” Uriel said.
Yanitur clicked his tongue against the inside of his cheek, making a popping noise. Scattered chuckles broke out across the bridge, relieving the tension.
Yanitur cleared his throat. “Okay, folks, it’s our job to protect this sector of the galaxy. Let’s shake him down.
“Feed the view of the solar system to the screen here.”
The dark void above the observation deck burst with pulsing reds and oranges that winced Yanitur’s eyes into slits.
“Geez, Uriel,” Kale said, raising his palm to shade his eyes. “You could have phased that in.”
Uriel groaned. “Sorry, guys, forgot about your biological frailties.”
“Lock him.” Yanitur referred to the Verg transport.
“Locked.” The holographic image of Uriel’s face turned to Yanitur. “He’s beaconless.”
“Put him on the screen,” Yanitur said.
The blinding sun vanished and the view shifted to the white and blue swirled globe of the third planet.
Yanitur studied the scene. “If he spots us, he’ll raise the insignia of a harmless merchant.”
“There’s an eighty-three percent probability he’s running slaves,” Uriel said. “Either he has them on board now, or he’s planning to take some from that planet.”
“Or both.” Kale spat his words, emphasizing his disgust.
“Or both?” Uriel knotted his eyebrows in reprimand, a pedantic assertion that the branches of an “or” statement are not exclusive.
Kale ignored him.
“Argus, energize your weapons,” Yanitur told his armaments seraph. “If he runs, destroy his generators.”
“Captain Yanitur, I am operational now.” Across the observation deck, Argus coupled himself to the ship’s battle stations, linking his internal computers to the ship’s sensors and weapons.
Uriel maneuvered Quantum into the shadow of the third planet and waited.
The alien ship drifted from behind the far side of the moon. An archetypal class A transport, with antennas and sensors protruding from its hull like spines, it looked like an inflated blowfish.
“They’ve retrofitted it with ion dynamic thrusters and a battery of mid-range sonic pulse weapons,” Uriel reported. “Statistically, they have a dozen combat träger robots on board. The standard deviation is two. The capacity of the hold, crammed inhumanely full, is about two thousand slaves.”
When the ship was close and vulnerable, Yanitur opened every communication channel, including short-range pulses that would resonate in the freighter’s hull. “Flagless transport, you are in violation of AGS naval code. Hold for an inspection boarding.”
The Verg ship accelerated in an attempt to put the moon between the ships. That action, among the thousands of data points flowing to Argus’s decision matrix, was the one he needed, and when the transport lunged, he struck its main generator, sending the vessel wobbling.
The Verg ship’s response was seamless. Regaining control while bringing auxiliary power online, it continued to run for cover.
If nothing else, Yanitur thought, Vergs are excellent pilots. When he considered it, there was nothing else good about them.
“Pursue,” Yanitur ordered. Quantum surged, but not fast enough. The Verg disappeared behind the curve of the moon.
As if locked in time, everyone froze and stared at the screen. They all knew what was next. With the moon as a shield, the pirates would shove their slaves into garbage bins and blast them into the sun.

***

The Slave Ship
Months ago, Katiri knew the Verg pirates would take Viekki, her thirteen-year-old daughter, during the orgies of Saint Eros. Days before Quantum attacked the slave ship, Katiri gathered her two children into the corner of their living space, no more than a cargo crate, one of many that lined the corridor of Slave Block 31A. Each had only enough space for sleeping mats and a stack of meager possessions: bowls, a water basin, and a few clothes.
Katiri told Viekki it was necessary for her to accommodate their Verg captors. Viekki, daughter of a warrior, protested. “We should have died. We should never have surrendered to them.
“When they come for me, I will pluck out their eyes and rip their ears from the sides of their heads. They will kill me and I will die a warrior, not a slave.” Her narrow face knotted, squishing her eyes into angry slits.
Meirri, Viekki’s four-year-old sister, sat on a mat and rubbed the soles of her feet together, a sign that the argument between sis and Mom distressed her.
For a moment Katiri disengaged from Viekki and sifted her fingers through Meirri’s long raven hair, letting it slide from her palm and down the side of her daughter’s head.
Meirri grabbed her ankles and held them still. She grinned, her coal black eyes twinkling at Katiri as if to say that squalor and subjugation, enslavement, and rape were just a game like the ones they used to play when they wore fine robes, vibrant in color and geometry. This game was the penalty round levied against them for being ill-prepared.
Had we been unprepared? Meirri’s feet began to slide against each other.
Katiri’s face turned stone hard. She locked eyes with the youngster.
Meirri stilled her legs again.
Katiri whirled about. Her arm shot out, fingers clamping on Viekki’s purplish-red hair, the same color as her own. She yanked the teenager’s face close and hissed, “These walls are thin. Make no more threats against the pirates. Hear me?”
Viekki’s teeth locked, trapping her words within. Her eyes steamed hatred at her mother.
Meirri’s fingers strained white to hold her feet motionless.
Viekki grasped Katiri’s wrist and shoved. Katiri gripped harder, her fingers knotting the hair and pulling against its roots.
They stood like that, frozen in tension. A silent tear dripped from the corner of Viekki’s eye and slid down the side of her nose. Her hand softened but remained against her mother’s wrist.
As suddenly as she had assailed Viekki, Katiri released her and pulled her close. She caressed her child’s cheek, then combed her fingers through Viekki’s hair, straightening and untangling the knots she’d caused.
“Daughter, be brave for our people and our family: Meirri, your mother, you, and me. Since you were young you have heard: When arms fail, minds shall rule, thus Amazonia shall prevail. We are here because the call to battle has passed from the military to the Katameiri.
“Go with the scum and buy us a few more days. Soon we shall commandeer this old dirigible and warn our people of the new enemy.”
She took Viekki by the shoulders and held her at arm’s length. “When we take the ship, you can kill the ones who abused you.”
Viekki clenched her fists until her fingernails dug into her palms. She looked to the ceiling and through gritted teeth she said, “I will pull their intestines out…”
Katiri held her finger to her lips. “Shush,” she warned, then smiled. “Just a bit longer. The Katameiri have learned how to run this ship. A little more time and the slaves will take it.”
She turned to Meirri and sang out, “Isn’t that so, my little Katameirini?”
Meirri pointed to three pluses carved into her inner wrist, the mark of the Katameiri, the eight percent of the Amazonian race born with eidetic minds capable of mapping and understanding things of great complexity. Even at four years, Meirri’s head was full of numbers, pictures, and diagrams regarding the operation of the Verg spaceship, all compiled from bits and pieces of information delivered to the Katameiri by slaves working throughout the vessel. Today, any Katameiri could operate the ship. They only waited for the slave revolt.
That was the goal, but if the revolt failed, then everyone, Vergs and slaves, would be killed. Killed in such a way as to warn their sisters and allies of the new threat.
Viekki glared at her little sister’s arm. Meirri dropped her wrist, hiding the scars against her inner thigh. Viekki repressed her envy of Miekki’s status and smiled. Meirri laughed, but kept her wrist against her leg.
Katiri pinched Viekki’s cheek and shook it gently. “When we get back to the people, your mother will be proud of you.”
**

It was the custom of the pirates to draw lots, letting a few have the young virgins the day before the entire crew used them. The morning the lucky ones were to take Viekki, Balo wandered into Slave Block 31A, the home of fifty-some slaves, both Amazonian and Nirvanian.
Meirri, sitting in the doorway, saw him approach. She poked her head inside and said, “Mama, Balo.”
Working a hypnotic spell on her older daughter, Katiri pushed her palms toward Viekki and intoned, “D-e-e-e-s-p-a-a-a-c-i-oooo.” She stared at Meirri and blinked as if coming out of a trance herself.
“Balo,” Mierri repeated louder.
“Sleep,” Katiri said to Viekki. The teenager’s eyelids closed. Katiri jumped to her feet and hurried to the doorway. Her back against the wall, she raised her left foot under her thigh, causing her slave smock to barely cover her vulva.
Balo leaned toward her in a lustful ogle.
“You got somethin’ to trade?” Katiri snapped then leered back at him.
“Fresh algae cake.”
“Let me see,” Katiri demanded.
Balo fumbled in his pants pocket then held out a bundle wrapped in crumpled paper.
“I need to see the cake, not your nasty old paper.” Katiri made rapid unwrapping motions with her hands.
He hurried to her, opening the paper, leaf by leaf, as if it held jewels. They spoke in hushed whispers.
“At breakfast, officers said Piddling Cluster Station marked a G cruiser banging our way two days ago. If it latches, they’re going to wipe.”
Meirri knew the lingo. It meant that an AGS patrol was in the region, and if it got too close, the pirates would push the slaves into the garbage modules and blast them into the sun.
The paper lay open on his hand, revealing four cubes of algae cake. “One or two?” He fixed his eyes on the cakes.
“Have you news from Kalininni?”
Meirri bent toward them and tried to focus on his half-hidden lips.
His answer was so heavy with implications that he had to pry it from his throat. It came out with a croak. “No.”
Meirri’s heart jumped. The child of four hadn’t been told the takeover plan, but a child with the mind of a Katameiri didn’t need to be told.
Now Katiri took extra time. She paused and flashed a quick glance to Meirri. Then she extended two fingers and pressed them onto the top of a blue cake. “Rotten,” she said then whispered, “Luck.”
The spicy odor of the pirates’ aftershave wafted into the hall.
“Mommy, Vergs.”
Katiri laughed at Meirri’s attempted stealth.
Her mirth sank into quick sobriety. “If Kalininni has the locks to the bridge, then she can change my decision. Now go! Out the back! The Vergs are here for Viekki.”
Balo dipped his head. “Yes, my Queen.”
It was nice, under the circumstances, that her AGS attaché still called her his queen.
The pirates’ footsteps rang down the hall while Balo slipped out the back alley. Katiri yanked one sleeve from her shoulder down to the crick of her elbow, tearing the cloth and exposing one breast when she did. She slapped her face several times, bringing a rosy blush to her cheeks.
“Awake, Viekki, awaken,” she said.
Eyes flinging wide, Viekki panted, “Are they done with me?”
The Vergs’ jovial voices became louder.
“No. I need you alert—both of you.” Katiri clapped her cupped hands, causing a loud pop. Viekki’s face blossomed with its first joyous smile in months. At the same instant two pirates stepped across the threshold of their cargo crate.
“No need for applause. I’m Curly,” a boney-faced Verg said. He made a mock bow, causing his stringy yellow hair to flip in ropey clumps over his face. His partner, a wide-shouldered dark man, contorted his cheeks into a disapproving frown.
Giggling lustfully, Katiri rushed to the blond and took his hand to her breast. Like a barroom wench, she clipped endings from words and added sounds to others while slurring the entire mess together. “Takes me too. I ain’t been funning for many a turn.”
She cupped her hand between his legs and squeezed slightly while grinning at the dark one, who did not grin back. “I’ll show the younging whats ya likes. Make her hot at the groaning and moaning. She’ll be begging ya to takes her.” Katiri winked at Viekki, who stared back, petrified, in a perfect mixture of horror and bewilderment.
Curly raised his eyebrows at the dark one, who tried to suppress a smile while he shook his head no.
“Eh,” Curly said. “It’s fucking Eros. Everyone should be funnin’, even the old hag.” Curly looked her up and down. “She be lookin’ good yet. Won’t last forever. Shame to waste it.”
Face stone cold, Dark One jerked his head toward the door and grunted, “Bring ’er.”
Katiri took Meirri’s hand and dragged her to her feet.
“Leaves the little one,” Curly ordered. His brows furrowed into threatening knots. “She’ll just whine when things get going. Takes the flavor outta it.”
“She ain’t no whiner.” Katiri held Meirri’s hand for them to see the scars on her wrist.
The Dark One recoiled in disgust. “These people be barbarians, carvin’ with knives on chillins.”
“You do that?” Curly growled through his teeth.
Katiri wobbled her head with sudden terror and stuttered, “It show she be one wit’ our people.” She rubbed her thumb over the scars. “But I cain’t left her wit’ dem utters. No tellin’ what da men folks doed wit’ her.”
“Bring ’er,” the Dark One huffed, “But keeps her mout’ shut when funnin’ starts.”
**

The five of them stood before the pirates’ playroom door. Curly, his face flushed with arousal, laid his thigh over Katiri’s hip like a dog. He cocked his head to his accomplice and said, “We ought work her over good first, so’s da virgin gets warmed to the idea.”
Dark One squinted at Katiri, who winked and pushed her chin down on her naked shoulder. His head bobbing in agitation, he said, “You oughts be sayin’ ya wants it, thinks ya so? Or want ya the little missy bein’ all scared and makin’ fits. Gets herselfs hurt maybe. Thinks ya on that, eh?”
Katiri’s eyes flashed while she licked her lips. In short hot breaths, she said, “Oh, yeah, me first would be pleasin’.” She turned to Viekki. “So’s ya sees what be funs for ’em.”
Curly leaned toward his darker companion and whispered, “What thinks we makes the tiny one sit outside while we be funnin’?”
The dark one smiled wolfishly. “Me thinks it good fer the young one to learn, so when her day come, it ain’t no surprise.”
Curly wrinkled his nose into a snarl. “Surprise be good. Makes ’em frantic not knowin’ what be next.”
That was when Quantum torpedoed the slave ship’s engines.
Even with auto-adjusting gravity, the floor lurched and they all staggered to regain balance. A speaker crackled in the corridor, “Man stations—man stations—wipe down—wipe down—commence full wipe down.” A siren wailed and drowned the broadcast, which continued to drone on.
“Damn!” Curly looked wistfully from the females to his partner.
From end to end, the ship rumbled with a deep hollow groan. The pirates’ faces went from lust to terror. They muddled about in mindless little steps while their lips twitched indecisive words back and forth. Their eyes flicked from the game-room door to the main corridor, where the distant rumble of panicked voices increased in volume.
“Perhaps it be a slug; all this commotion be for naught,” Curly said. Their eyes turned hopeful.
Viekki took Meirri’s hand. They watched their mother’s face and waited.
The escape chute, Meirri thought. Katiri had taught her the map of the ship. She knew an escape module was ten steps ahead and to the left. Katiri widened her eyes and glanced toward it.
She wants us to go there. Meirri tugged Viekki’s thumb.
The siren began to cycle in short then long pulses.
“No gamin’,” Dark One said. “We got to be wipin’.”
The pirates stood still, frozen between lust and duty.
“We might have time.” Curly spoke more to himself than to his partner.
The lights blinked, turned dim, then went flat dark. With a heavy click, the pistons of auxiliary units began to vibrate against their eardrums. Emergency lighting filled the space with a ghostly haze.
Curly jutted his chin toward the garbage dump.
Dark One shook his palm, signaling to wait longer. Curly nodded his concurrence. Sour-faced, they watched the lights.
Katiri’s feet slid toward the pirates. Her index finger twitched toward the escape chute. Again Meirri tugged. Now Viekki drifted with her.
A mechanic’s wagon raced up the corridor toward them. A loud staccato of crackles sparked in the air and the space again went pitch black.
The wagon slowed. Its headlights came on. Katiri stood next to it. She pulled a wrench from the wagon’s tool tray. The driver turned toward the scraping sound. The wrench blurred in an arc and crashed against his skull. He was flung across the seat and onto the vehicle’s floorboard. His foot hung out the side and twitched.
The cart rolled on.
Unaware of the driver’s fate, Curly pointed to the escape module and urged, “Let’s go.”
They pushed past the girls and ran to the chute. The Dark One held a light. Curly’s fingers fumbled over the keypad while Dark One read the access code from a tattoo on his inner arm.
Wrench still in hand, Katiri stood behind them. In the distance, the driverless wagon slammed into a wall, throwing a shower of sparks that illuminated the wrench as it shattered Curly’s skull. Dark One jumped sideways at the sound of the thud. An upward swing drove the wrench through his jaw and into the roof of his mouth. His body fell backward. Gurgling, he pressed against the floor to right himself. She kicked his arm away. His face smacked to the deck.
Katiri grabbed his broken jaw and yanked it toward her. His mouth lengthened grotesquely. His dazed eyes flickered in confusion.
Her thumb latched over his teeth, she spoke into his face. “You should have learned from your ancestors. Never attack an Amazonian.” She released his mouth and slammed the wrench squarely into the center of his forehead.
The sparks from the cart faded and darkness blanketed them. With a mind that simulated reality better than most beings saw it, Katiri punched the code into the escape module controller.
The hatch sprang open. Meirri guided Viekki in. Locking her fingers with Katiri’s, she said, “Mummy, come with us.”
“There’s only enough air for you two. I’ll take the one further on.”
“But I’m afraid.”
The mother caressed the child held between her arms and bosom. “Meirri, sissy will keep you safe.”
Then she held Viekki and said, “The planet below is inhabited; it’s a good chance. The ride will be rough, but that’s the atmosphere you will soon breathe.”
“Do I warn them down there?” Viekki asked.
“No. They wouldn’t understand. The beast is locked on the bridge. She’ll suffocate along with the Vergs. The AGS Marines will find her body. We’ve completed our mission.”
Suffocate? Miekki knew everyone on board would suffocate.
The portal squeaked then clicked shut. Meirri banged her little fist against it and screamed, “Hurry, Mommy! Hurry!”

***

The Message
The girls were gone.
Katiri, in a sprinter’s stance, pictured her way through the inky blackness to the next escape module. The pirates’ order to wipe clean should have triggered a slave revolt and, with it, the Katameiri’s doomsday plan.
Blood pounding in her temples, she listened for the whoosh that would suck the air from her lungs and drag her soul into the eternity of space.
Not yet.
She inhaled, cherishing the breath of life, then leaped forward, her footfalls fast and light. Her right foot landed and launched her body long and high into the blackness. She breathed again. One more time, her lungs filled with life-giving air.
From behind her came a whisper, a rustle like a mouse’s scurry.
The wheels spinning on the crashed cart.
Her left foot landed. She bounded again, her ears now intent on the sound that followed her.
It came again, clear and decisive. In midair her hope to join her children ended. A plasma slug sizzled into her right kidney, burning its way out through her abdomen. Flung by the slug’s momentum, she crumpled against the wall and slid to the floor.
First Chapter of The Robot’s Daughter

Chapter 1: Near Earth

Yanitur, the youngest captain in the Associated Galactic Societies (AGS) Navy, was commissioned to Quantum, an Ajax-class cruiser powered by generation III dark-matter drives. Assigned to the frontier of the Second Galactic Arm, Yanitur pushed the engines hard and arrived at his patrol sector four years ahead of schedule, to the good fortune of Earth and the Amazonian child.
**

March 26th, 1954, in space near Earth
The observation deck was deserted and as dark as the void above it. Yanitur sipped his drink and gazed into blackness speckled by infrequent stars, their sparkle lost in the emptiness of the galactic fringe.
He thought of the Nirvania home sky, its night thick with stars: blues, reds, yellows, and whites strung like lights overhead, declaring a perpetual raucous party. Home in another galactic leg, so distant its cornucopia of stars was a wisp as ephemeral as a morning haze hanging low, shifting, thinning, disappearing; the disbelieving eye wondering if it were there at all. Home, a haze so remote it might no longer exist.
Yanitur downed his drink in one long swallow and lowered the glass to the table with a loud clang.
The intercom beeped, followed by First Officer Kale’s voice. “Captain, we’ve picked up an interesting signal.”
Yanitur laughed. “Yesterday, we all thought this tour would be fifty years of boredom.”
“I wouldn’t say we were wrong, yet.” Despite Kale’s proviso, he sounded excited.
Yanitur’s curiosity heightened. “Signal? You do mean communication from a sentient being, right?”
“More like was a sentient being. It’s archaic.” Kale couldn’t restrain his enthusiasm further. “It’s AGS.”
The single known possibility flashed in Yanitur’s mind. He coughed and slammed the top of his fist against his chest. “Say again.”
“It appears to be an old AGS beacon. It’s been shredded by gamma, but the computers reconstructed a few segments. It contains two occurrences of the name ‘Gimish.’”
Naomi broke in near Kale, “Captain, wouldn’t it be crazy if we’re the ones who found Gimish?”
Her sexy, upbeat voice delighted Yanitur. It left no doubt why Uriel had used every chip ever owed him to get her on Quantum’s maiden mission.
“I gather,” Yanitur said, “that my officers have briefed you on the legend of Gimish.”
“The Gimish Paradox is a topic in the social ethics curriculum at the academy. Gimish, the first Nirvanian to reach the Second Galactic Leg, became stranded on a planet called Earth for three thousand years, then was rescued and time transported back to his original era.”
“Yes, and the paradox is?” Yanitur asked.
“History verifies that Gimish returned to his historical period; however, as of yet no AGS ship has found him. So he is both found and yet unfound, hence the paradox. Frankly, Captain, we cadets thought it was a myth made up to encourage us to persevere regardless of how dire our situation became.”
Yanitur chuckled. “You wouldn’t be the first class to think that.”
Uriel, also near Kale, solicited Naomi, “And what else is Gimish famous for?”
Yanitur flipped on the holographic screen and watched her eyes lavish Uriel with adulation while she answered, “He developed cell bonding, which allowed him to configure his intellectual seraph into the form of a humanoid, who he named Herman Rothe. Legend says, he left—or will leave—Rothe on Earth to guide its inhabitants into the AGS fold.”
“Well,” Kale interrupted, “if I can redirect the conversation back to our current situation. Of significance, we have inventoried a star with habitable planets about 2.34 light-years from here.”
“Have you pinpointed the ‘Gimish’ beacon?” Yanitur asked.
Uriel spoke up. “We’ll have to execute a search pattern to home in on it.”
“Okay,” Yanitur said, “let’s survey the habitable solar system then come back to find the beacon. Deploy a marker here.”
Yanitur signed off. In the background, he could hear Uriel and Naomi talking excitedly about how, as rescuers of Gimish, they would both be immortalized in history.
Yanitur swirled the ice in his glass and shook his head. He thought a moment then flipped the intercom back on. “Hey, Kale, it’s going to take a couple of hours to get to that habitable solar system. Can you cut loose for a game?”
Kale’s sigh roared in the microphone. “Cube ball? Yeah, I owe you one.”
“Good luck with that. Uriel, please relieve the first officer so I can give him a cube schooling.” Yanitur started for the ball court.
Only five decades separated them, with both in their prime, but Yanitur’s long body and limbs gave him the advantage at cube ball. The captain never challenged the first officer to stick sparring, a sport where Kale’s compact mass held the edge. When the crew kidded Kale about being a patsy, he shook it off, saying, “You wouldn’t want to ride with a captain who jumps into situations he can’t win.”
**

Two hours later
The ball smacked off three cube walls in a rat-tat-tat. Kale somersaulted off the ceiling and extended his glove to deflect it.
“Gentlemen.” Uriel’s voice boomed over the men’s heavy breathing and ball’s collisions with the walls.
For once Kale had gained position. Yanitur yanked the first officer’s ankle back. The ball tipped Kale’s mitt and deflected to the ceiling.
“Gentlemen,” Uriel repeated with school-master ire.
“To be continued,” Kale said, then twisted his foot from Yanitur’s grip.
Yanitur’s chest quivered with silent laughter. Kale flipped his mitt at Yanitur’s head then pushed himself toward the gravity control panel.
“May I speak?” Uriel asked.
“Just a second,” Kale replied. “You ready?” he asked Yanitur. Yanitur nodded and Kale counted down to the restoration of gravity, “Three, two, one, gravity initialized.” Instantly, they both slumped. Their legs wobbled while they regained their balance.
Yanitur placed a palm against the wall. “No matter how many times you’ve done it, you’re still never quite ready.”
“Gentlemen.”
“Yes, Uriel,” Yanitur said.
“The third planet in this solar system is in the early Nuclear Age.”
“A prospective AGS customer,” Kale wisecracked.
“Yeah, maybe in a thousand years.” Uriel spoke in a deadpan comedian tone. “And we’ve already got a competitor.” He let the humanoids absorb his words. “There’s a spook dogging the planet.”
A rush shot through Yanitur’s body. “Yesterday, we thought we faced fifty years of mental petrifaction. Now, we have a twofer, Gimish’s artifact and a snooper.”
The crew, at least the live ones, and maybe the new model seraphim, felt the same. He could hear it in the timbre of Uriel’s voice and the chatter coming from the bridge.
“What can you tell me about this spook?” Yanitur asked.
“We can’t get an ion read, yet,” Uriel replied.
“Move into analysis range, but stay hidden.” Yanitur had reason to be confident. In 19,000 years of galactic exploration the Nirvanians had never met a superior force.
“Shall we wait for you on the bridge?” Uriel asked.
Yanitur looked at Kale. Every contour of Kale’s body showed through the sweat-soaked cube suit.
Kale grimaced and hugged himself like a swimmer emerging from cold water. “The observation deck is closer, and warmer.”
“We’ll holograph in from the observation deck,” Yanitur said.
While the captain and first officer moved to the observation deck, Quantum glided into the solar system and hovered near the moon of a large ringed planet.
**

Uriel’s hazy holographic image grinned at the officers when they entered the room. “I’ve got a particulate signature.”
They approached him. The ghostly forms of the bridge and its staff filled in around them.
Uriel pointed to the alien craft’s image on a monitor. “It’s a class A freighter.”
“Verg?” Kale’s forehead wrinkled in disbelief.
Yanitur’s lips curled up in a half snarl. “Their modus operandi, but how are they here?”
The Vergish empire, broken by AGS over five millennia earlier, existed today as ragged bands of pirates that preyed on underdeveloped cultures beyond the borders of AGS control, cultures like the early Nuclear Age planet here.
“We’ve got a good trace on him now. From the pattern, it’s certain he’s monitoring the inhabited planet,” Uriel said.
Yanitur clicked his tongue against the inside of his cheek, making a popping noise. Scattered chuckles broke out across the bridge, relieving the tension.
Yanitur cleared his throat. “Okay, folks, it’s our job to protect this sector of the galaxy. Let’s shake him down.
“Feed the view of the solar system to the screen here.”
The dark void above the observation deck burst with pulsing reds and oranges that winced Yanitur’s eyes into slits.
“Geez, Uriel,” Kale said, raising his palm to shade his eyes. “You could have phased that in.”
Uriel groaned. “Sorry, guys, forgot about your biological frailties.”
“Lock him.” Yanitur referred to the Verg transport.
“Locked.” The holographic image of Uriel’s face turned to Yanitur. “He’s beaconless.”
“Put him on the screen,” Yanitur said.
The blinding sun vanished and the view shifted to the white and blue swirled globe of the third planet.
Yanitur studied the scene. “If he spots us, he’ll raise the insignia of a harmless merchant.”
“There’s an eighty-three percent probability he’s running slaves,” Uriel said. “Either he has them on board now, or he’s planning to take some from that planet.”
“Or both.” Kale spat his words, emphasizing his disgust.
“Or both?” Uriel knotted his eyebrows in reprimand, a pedantic assertion that the branches of an “or” statement are not exclusive.
Kale ignored him.
“Argus, energize your weapons,” Yanitur told his armaments seraph. “If he runs, destroy his generators.”
“Captain Yanitur, I am operational now.” Across the observation deck, Argus coupled himself to the ship’s battle stations, linking his internal computers to the ship’s sensors and weapons.
Uriel maneuvered Quantum into the shadow of the third planet and waited.
The alien ship drifted from behind the far side of the moon. An archetypal class A transport, with antennas and sensors protruding from its hull like spines, it looked like an inflated blowfish.
“They’ve retrofitted it with ion dynamic thrusters and a battery of mid-range sonic pulse weapons,” Uriel reported. “Statistically, they have a dozen combat träger robots on board. The standard deviation is two. The capacity of the hold, crammed inhumanely full, is about two thousand slaves.”
When the ship was close and vulnerable, Yanitur opened every communication channel, including short-range pulses that would resonate in the freighter’s hull. “Flagless transport, you are in violation of AGS naval code. Hold for an inspection boarding.”
The Verg ship accelerated in an attempt to put the moon between the ships. That action, among the thousands of data points flowing to Argus’s decision matrix, was the one he needed, and when the transport lunged, he struck its main generator, sending the vessel wobbling.
The Verg ship’s response was seamless. Regaining control while bringing auxiliary power online, it continued to run for cover.
If nothing else, Yanitur thought, Vergs are excellent pilots. When he considered it, there was nothing else good about them.
“Pursue,” Yanitur ordered. Quantum surged, but not fast enough. The Verg disappeared behind the curve of the moon.
As if locked in time, everyone froze and stared at the screen. They all knew what was next. With the moon as a shield, the pirates would shove their slaves into garbage bins and blast them into the sun.

***

The Slave Ship
Months ago, Katiri knew the Verg pirates would take Viekki, her thirteen-year-old daughter, during the orgies of Saint Eros. Days before Quantum attacked the slave ship, Katiri gathered her two children into the corner of their living space, no more than a cargo crate, one of many that lined the corridor of Slave Block 31A. Each had only enough space for sleeping mats and a stack of meager possessions: bowls, a water basin, and a few clothes.
Katiri told Viekki it was necessary for her to accommodate their Verg captors. Viekki, daughter of a warrior, protested. “We should have died. We should never have surrendered to them.
“When they come for me, I will pluck out their eyes and rip their ears from the sides of their heads. They will kill me and I will die a warrior, not a slave.” Her narrow face knotted, squishing her eyes into angry slits.
Meirri, Viekki’s four-year-old sister, sat on a mat and rubbed the soles of her feet together, a sign that the argument between sis and Mom distressed her.
For a moment Katiri disengaged from Viekki and sifted her fingers through Meirri’s long raven hair, letting it slide from her palm and down the side of her daughter’s head.
Meirri grabbed her ankles and held them still. She grinned, her coal black eyes twinkling at Katiri as if to say that squalor and subjugation, enslavement, and rape were just a game like the ones they used to play when they wore fine robes, vibrant in color and geometry. This game was the penalty round levied against them for being ill-prepared.
Had we been unprepared? Meirri’s feet began to slide against each other.
Katiri’s face turned stone hard. She locked eyes with the youngster.
Meirri stilled her legs again.
Katiri whirled about. Her arm shot out, fingers clamping on Viekki’s purplish-red hair, the same color as her own. She yanked the teenager’s face close and hissed, “These walls are thin. Make no more threats against the pirates. Hear me?”
Viekki’s teeth locked, trapping her words within. Her eyes steamed hatred at her mother.
Meirri’s fingers strained white to hold her feet motionless.
Viekki grasped Katiri’s wrist and shoved. Katiri gripped harder, her fingers knotting the hair and pulling against its roots.
They stood like that, frozen in tension. A silent tear dripped from the corner of Viekki’s eye and slid down the side of her nose. Her hand softened but remained against her mother’s wrist.
As suddenly as she had assailed Viekki, Katiri released her and pulled her close. She caressed her child’s cheek, then combed her fingers through Viekki’s hair, straightening and untangling the knots she’d caused.
“Daughter, be brave for our people and our family: Meirri, your mother, you, and me. Since you were young you have heard: When arms fail, minds shall rule, thus Amazonia shall prevail. We are here because the call to battle has passed from the military to the Katameiri.
“Go with the scum and buy us a few more days. Soon we shall commandeer this old dirigible and warn our people of the new enemy.”
She took Viekki by the shoulders and held her at arm’s length. “When we take the ship, you can kill the ones who abused you.”
Viekki clenched her fists until her fingernails dug into her palms. She looked to the ceiling and through gritted teeth she said, “I will pull their intestines out…”
Katiri held her finger to her lips. “Shush,” she warned, then smiled. “Just a bit longer. The Katameiri have learned how to run this ship. A little more time and the slaves will take it.”
She turned to Meirri and sang out, “Isn’t that so, my little Katameirini?”
Meirri pointed to three pluses carved into her inner wrist, the mark of the Katameiri, the eight percent of the Amazonian race born with eidetic minds capable of mapping and understanding things of great complexity. Even at four years, Meirri’s head was full of numbers, pictures, and diagrams regarding the operation of the Verg spaceship, all compiled from bits and pieces of information delivered to the Katameiri by slaves working throughout the vessel. Today, any Katameiri could operate the ship. They only waited for the slave revolt.
That was the goal, but if the revolt failed, then everyone, Vergs and slaves, would be killed. Killed in such a way as to warn their sisters and allies of the new threat.
Viekki glared at her little sister’s arm. Meirri dropped her wrist, hiding the scars against her inner thigh. Viekki repressed her envy of Miekki’s status and smiled. Meirri laughed, but kept her wrist against her leg.
Katiri pinched Viekki’s cheek and shook it gently. “When we get back to the people, your mother will be proud of you.”
**

It was the custom of the pirates to draw lots, letting a few have the young virgins the day before the entire crew used them. The morning the lucky ones were to take Viekki, Balo wandered into Slave Block 31A, the home of fifty-some slaves, both Amazonian and Nirvanian.
Meirri, sitting in the doorway, saw him approach. She poked her head inside and said, “Mama, Balo.”
Working a hypnotic spell on her older daughter, Katiri pushed her palms toward Viekki and intoned, “D-e-e-e-s-p-a-a-a-c-i-oooo.” She stared at Meirri and blinked as if coming out of a trance herself.
“Balo,” Mierri repeated louder.
“Sleep,” Katiri said to Viekki. The teenager’s eyelids closed. Katiri jumped to her feet and hurried to the doorway. Her back against the wall, she raised her left foot under her thigh, causing her slave smock to barely cover her vulva.
Balo leaned toward her in a lustful ogle.
“You got somethin’ to trade?” Katiri snapped then leered back at him.
“Fresh algae cake.”
“Let me see,” Katiri demanded.
Balo fumbled in his pants pocket then held out a bundle wrapped in crumpled paper.
“I need to see the cake, not your nasty old paper.” Katiri made rapid unwrapping motions with her hands.
He hurried to her, opening the paper, leaf by leaf, as if it held jewels. They spoke in hushed whispers.
“At breakfast, officers said Piddling Cluster Station marked a G cruiser banging our way two days ago. If it latches, they’re going to wipe.”
Meirri knew the lingo. It meant that an AGS patrol was in the region, and if it got too close, the pirates would push the slaves into the garbage modules and blast them into the sun.
The paper lay open on his hand, revealing four cubes of algae cake. “One or two?” He fixed his eyes on the cakes.
“Have you news from Kalininni?”
Meirri bent toward them and tried to focus on his half-hidden lips.
His answer was so heavy with implications that he had to pry it from his throat. It came out with a croak. “No.”
Meirri’s heart jumped. The child of four hadn’t been told the takeover plan, but a child with the mind of a Katameiri didn’t need to be told.
Now Katiri took extra time. She paused and flashed a quick glance to Meirri. Then she extended two fingers and pressed them onto the top of a blue cake. “Rotten,” she said then whispered, “Luck.”
The spicy odor of the pirates’ aftershave wafted into the hall.
“Mommy, Vergs.”
Katiri laughed at Meirri’s attempted stealth.
Her mirth sank into quick sobriety. “If Kalininni has the locks to the bridge, then she can change my decision. Now go! Out the back! The Vergs are here for Viekki.”
Balo dipped his head. “Yes, my Queen.”
It was nice, under the circumstances, that her AGS attaché still called her his queen.
The pirates’ footsteps rang down the hall while Balo slipped out the back alley. Katiri yanked one sleeve from her shoulder down to the crick of her elbow, tearing the cloth and exposing one breast when she did. She slapped her face several times, bringing a rosy blush to her cheeks.
“Awake, Viekki, awaken,” she said.
Eyes flinging wide, Viekki panted, “Are they done with me?”
The Vergs’ jovial voices became louder.
“No. I need you alert—both of you.” Katiri clapped her cupped hands, causing a loud pop. Viekki’s face blossomed with its first joyous smile in months. At the same instant two pirates stepped across the threshold of their cargo crate.
“No need for applause. I’m Curly,” a boney-faced Verg said. He made a mock bow, causing his stringy yellow hair to flip in ropey clumps over his face. His partner, a wide-shouldered dark man, contorted his cheeks into a disapproving frown.
Giggling lustfully, Katiri rushed to the blond and took his hand to her breast. Like a barroom wench, she clipped endings from words and added sounds to others while slurring the entire mess together. “Takes me too. I ain’t been funning for many a turn.”
She cupped her hand between his legs and squeezed slightly while grinning at the dark one, who did not grin back. “I’ll show the younging whats ya likes. Make her hot at the groaning and moaning. She’ll be begging ya to takes her.” Katiri winked at Viekki, who stared back, petrified, in a perfect mixture of horror and bewilderment.
Curly raised his eyebrows at the dark one, who tried to suppress a smile while he shook his head no.
“Eh,” Curly said. “It’s fucking Eros. Everyone should be funnin’, even the old hag.” Curly looked her up and down. “She be lookin’ good yet. Won’t last forever. Shame to waste it.”
Face stone cold, Dark One jerked his head toward the door and grunted, “Bring ’er.”
Katiri took Meirri’s hand and dragged her to her feet.
“Leaves the little one,” Curly ordered. His brows furrowed into threatening knots. “She’ll just whine when things get going. Takes the flavor outta it.”
“She ain’t no whiner.” Katiri held Meirri’s hand for them to see the scars on her wrist.
The Dark One recoiled in disgust. “These people be barbarians, carvin’ with knives on chillins.”
“You do that?” Curly growled through his teeth.
Katiri wobbled her head with sudden terror and stuttered, “It show she be one wit’ our people.” She rubbed her thumb over the scars. “But I cain’t left her wit’ dem utters. No tellin’ what da men folks doed wit’ her.”
“Bring ’er,” the Dark One huffed, “But keeps her mout’ shut when funnin’ starts.”
**

The five of them stood before the pirates’ playroom door. Curly, his face flushed with arousal, laid his thigh over Katiri’s hip like a dog. He cocked his head to his accomplice and said, “We ought work her over good first, so’s da virgin gets warmed to the idea.”
Dark One squinted at Katiri, who winked and pushed her chin down on her naked shoulder. His head bobbing in agitation, he said, “You oughts be sayin’ ya wants it, thinks ya so? Or want ya the little missy bein’ all scared and makin’ fits. Gets herselfs hurt maybe. Thinks ya on that, eh?”
Katiri’s eyes flashed while she licked her lips. In short hot breaths, she said, “Oh, yeah, me first would be pleasin’.” She turned to Viekki. “So’s ya sees what be funs for ’em.”
Curly leaned toward his darker companion and whispered, “What thinks we makes the tiny one sit outside while we be funnin’?”
The dark one smiled wolfishly. “Me thinks it good fer the young one to learn, so when her day come, it ain’t no surprise.”
Curly wrinkled his nose into a snarl. “Surprise be good. Makes ’em frantic not knowin’ what be next.”
That was when Quantum torpedoed the slave ship’s engines.
Even with auto-adjusting gravity, the floor lurched and they all staggered to regain balance. A speaker crackled in the corridor, “Man stations—man stations—wipe down—wipe down—commence full wipe down.” A siren wailed and drowned the broadcast, which continued to drone on.
“Damn!” Curly looked wistfully from the females to his partner.
From end to end, the ship rumbled with a deep hollow groan. The pirates’ faces went from lust to terror. They muddled about in mindless little steps while their lips twitched indecisive words back and forth. Their eyes flicked from the game-room door to the main corridor, where the distant rumble of panicked voices increased in volume.
“Perhaps it be a slug; all this commotion be for naught,” Curly said. Their eyes turned hopeful.
Viekki took Meirri’s hand. They watched their mother’s face and waited.
The escape chute, Meirri thought. Katiri had taught her the map of the ship. She knew an escape module was ten steps ahead and to the left. Katiri widened her eyes and glanced toward it.
She wants us to go there. Meirri tugged Viekki’s thumb.
The siren began to cycle in short then long pulses.
“No gamin’,” Dark One said. “We got to be wipin’.”
The pirates stood still, frozen between lust and duty.
“We might have time.” Curly spoke more to himself than to his partner.
The lights blinked, turned dim, then went flat dark. With a heavy click, the pistons of auxiliary units began to vibrate against their eardrums. Emergency lighting filled the space with a ghostly haze.
Curly jutted his chin toward the garbage dump.
Dark One shook his palm, signaling to wait longer. Curly nodded his concurrence. Sour-faced, they watched the lights.
Katiri’s feet slid toward the pirates. Her index finger twitched toward the escape chute. Again Meirri tugged. Now Viekki drifted with her.
A mechanic’s wagon raced up the corridor toward them. A loud staccato of crackles sparked in the air and the space again went pitch black.
The wagon slowed. Its headlights came on. Katiri stood next to it. She pulled a wrench from the wagon’s tool tray. The driver turned toward the scraping sound. The wrench blurred in an arc and crashed against his skull. He was flung across the seat and onto the vehicle’s floorboard. His foot hung out the side and twitched.
The cart rolled on.
Unaware of the driver’s fate, Curly pointed to the escape module and urged, “Let’s go.”
They pushed past the girls and ran to the chute. The Dark One held a light. Curly’s fingers fumbled over the keypad while Dark One read the access code from a tattoo on his inner arm.
Wrench still in hand, Katiri stood behind them. In the distance, the driverless wagon slammed into a wall, throwing a shower of sparks that illuminated the wrench as it shattered Curly’s skull. Dark One jumped sideways at the sound of the thud. An upward swing drove the wrench through his jaw and into the roof of his mouth. His body fell backward. Gurgling, he pressed against the floor to right himself. She kicked his arm away. His face smacked to the deck.
Katiri grabbed his broken jaw and yanked it toward her. His mouth lengthened grotesquely. His dazed eyes flickered in confusion.
Her thumb latched over his teeth, she spoke into his face. “You should have learned from your ancestors. Never attack an Amazonian.” She released his mouth and slammed the wrench squarely into the center of his forehead.
The sparks from the cart faded and darkness blanketed them. With a mind that simulated reality better than most beings saw it, Katiri punched the code into the escape module controller.
The hatch sprang open. Meirri guided Viekki in. Locking her fingers with Katiri’s, she said, “Mummy, come with us.”
“There’s only enough air for you two. I’ll take the one further on.”
“But I’m afraid.”
The mother caressed the child held between her arms and bosom. “Meirri, sissy will keep you safe.”
Then she held Viekki and said, “The planet below is inhabited; it’s a good chance. The ride will be rough, but that’s the atmosphere you will soon breathe.”
“Do I warn them down there?” Viekki asked.
“No. They wouldn’t understand. The beast is locked on the bridge. She’ll suffocate along with the Vergs. The AGS Marines will find her body. We’ve completed our mission.”
Suffocate? Miekki knew everyone on board would suffocate.
The portal squeaked then clicked shut. Meirri banged her little fist against it and screamed, “Hurry, Mommy! Hurry!”

***

One thought on “Excerpt from “The Robot’s Daughter”

  1. Pingback: Design word clouds of you stories to attract readersW. Blake Heitzman–The Shaman Gene

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>