Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.
Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.
Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.
Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off our planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.
At spaceport, the sound of voices, two male and one female, make me stop. They’re coming from the back side of ‘port and speaking Coalition Standard. Strangers. Nobody in our village uses Standard. After school hours, Father teaches those who want to learn Standard—like Lukus and Wilanda. He makes me stay, too, so whether I want to or not I’ve learned the language of the Central Planets.
The speakers pass within a meter of where I’m making like a statue. They’re so busy talking in low tones about the target and their mission they don’t even look my way. As they head toward the village center, I slip around to the back of the ‘port building. I gasp at what’s parked there. A sleek Gilean Cruiser. What a fine ship. Jako would go ballistic if he knew. I’d seen one before, just once when Magistrate from the Consortium of Mines came after the riot. Basco let me work on it.
Okay, not really. I got to hold his tools as he repaired a small leak in the hydraulics. Father thinks I don’t want to improve my mind. I sure do. I want to learn to all about starships like this. And fly them, too.
I linger for a moment, wanting to reach out and touch the shiny skin of one of the fastest ships in the galaxy. Only the thought that they might have left a guard on board prevents me. Reluctantly, I make for the hills and the safety of the scrub trees. They offer some concealment, especially now that the clouds are breaking up. Looks like no rain tonight. First Moon is setting behind the mountains. Soon, larger Second Moon will rise in the south. When it does, it will flood the farmland and illuminate the foothills.
Heavy footsteps come from the southeast. I crouch under the thickest scrub tree in the copse and hear grumbling. The Dunpus brothers. If they catch me out alone, I’m done for.
“. . . gonna get that Teacher’s kid, teach her a lesson.”
“Yeah, and the little brat, too.”
“It’ll take too long for that little brilium rat to come out of the mine tunnels. The girl is easier. We’ll wait outside her house, and when Teacher leaves . . .” The oldest one’s voice trails off as they stomp away.
I’m clutching the tree so hard I have splinters. Jako and I’d better make sure we see them coming or we’re going to be in deep planetary poop.
After I climb toward a mine that was played out years ago, I crouch behind a rock near the entrance. I don’t want to run into any packs—especially not the two-legged variety, like the Dunpus brothers. Gangs usually roam the village late at night, searching for anything people haven’t locked up or just wreaking havoc. I’m lucky I haven’t run into them. Whoa. Maybe that was why Lukus pulled a knife.
Jako lives in one of the tunnels. He would be good company. With Lukus at the café, Jako will be alone. Finding him is my biggest problem. I could search the tunnels, call his name. But then I might run into a gang roaming the mine. Or, the Dunpus brothers could return.
When I took off from home, I didn’t think about the dangers. I guess I didn’t think, period. Running away is a stupid idea. Coming up here alone is even dumber. It’s one thing to come with Father or to explore with Jako during the day. Everything looks different at night.
I square my shoulders. I can’t depend on anyone except myself now. Father forbid me to go to Pamyria, to the Tech Institute. I’m going anyway. I just have to figure out how.
About the Author:
The first time D.M. Burton saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope, she was hooked on science fiction and space travel. The Star Trek movies made her want to travel to other planets. Alas, she is still Earth-bound. D.M. and her husband live in Michigan, close to their two children and five grandchildren.
Join D.M. Burton's readers’ group on Facebook.
For more info and excerpts, visit D.M.’s website: http://www.dmburton.com
She writes adult fiction as Diane Burton, where she combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
Connect with Diane Burton online.
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf
A $10 AMAZON e-GIFT CARD
Many chances to win.a Rafflecopter giveaway OR: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/16cf1daf22/?