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Borne On Wings Of Steel [MultiFormat]
eBook by Tony Chandler

eBook Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
eBook Description: Mother, Jaric and Kyle, along with their newfound friends, continue their search for other survivors of the human race who may have escaped the T'kaan genocide. They travel to the farthest known worlds of the universe, but fail to discover the first solid clue that anyone else survived. After many long months of fruitless searching, their hopes again begin to fade. But there is conflict even within Mother's family. Kyle and Jaric bitterly resent Becky's clone. They cruelly taunt her and treat her like an inferior being -- as if she is something less than human. Their heartless treatment creates division among the others who seek to teach and nurture the newborn clone as they also try to help the boys to accept her. Minstrel leads them to a world famous for its vast collection of data gathered from every corner of the known universe. Perhaps here among the greatest store of data ever gathered by any alien race, they might discover something that will show them that other humans survived. But even as they query the vast database, they quickly find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception and danger -- all orchestrated by the mysterious and powerful Paum. And when their acts of subterfuge fail, the Paum's agents boldly attack! Mother finally comes face-to-face with the Paum -- a life-altering encounter that shakes the foundation of her existence as an AI. The mighty Paum seeks to seduce Mother and even make her forget her own children. As the final battle reaches a climax, both her enemies and the terrible truth she has discovered threaten to destroy them all?

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, Published: Double Dragon Publishing, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2011


13 Reader Ratings:
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"Mother and her crew are back in an exciting action/adventure/mystery sequel that encompasses worlds peopled with a variety of alien beings rivaling even "Star Wars" eclectic collection. Chandler has the unique talent of bringing his characters to life and making you believe that they are not only possible, but maybe-just maybe they are waiting for you right around the corner." If you did read the first one, your experience will be enriched twofold--you will reunite with old friends and make new ones in this second in the series. I strongly recommend that you get both and take not just one, but two exciting trips into this innovative future that Chandler has created for you. ~ S. Joan Popek, award-winning author of "Sound the Ram's Horn" --


CHAPTER ONE

* * * *

DRINAR SENSED THE evil.

And it drew closer with each passing second.

He continued walking, but now his senses were on high alert and he wasn't quite sure why.

His pace quickened through the crowded labyrinth of Lyth City, surrounded by the seemingly harmless bustle of aliens.

Still, there was something new among the myriads of aliens crowding the streets now...

A reflection or a movement.

Yes. A movement!

Movement existed everywhere--the crushing crowds on the high-speed sidewalks, the countless air vehicles zooming between the metallic towers that reached skyward and kissed the swirling, violet clouds overhead.

But this movement was different...

He paced himself in order not to give away to his pursuer his awareness of the chase. With sudden resolution, he darted into the throng of aliens to his left and headed for the dock where his fast starship sat at the ready.

Every alien his glance fell upon revealed no overt threat.

Still, something watched him--something powerful, something evil.

Drinar's instinct was never wrong, especially when he felt it this powerfully.

A low growl rumbled from his throat as he caressed the butt of his holstered blaster. A split-second later, he stepped quickly to his right past another group of aliens and put his back against the base of the nearest city tower.

The murmuring crowds walked past him unabated as Drinar scanned more who approached.

Nothing.

Something caught his attention about six meters above the crowds a full block away.

Something moved.

As he gazed at the polished tritanium tower that rose like a gigantic needle to the clouds above, he saw nothing but the smooth, steel walls. He focused harder, mentally dimming the bright lights of the alien city and the countless air-vehicles whose reflections glistened off its metallic sides with an almost hypnotizing effect.

The Iraxx warrior fixed his gaze at one spot as his instincts hammered his body with an overwhelming urge to fight--or to flee. His breathing and heart rate increased ten-fold--but he willed his muscles to hold still one more moment. His eyes now refocused to another spot--watching and waiting. Nothing, not the crowds passing around him or the flashing lights of the city, distracted his piercing gaze.

He saw it--almost.

In that instant, a feeling of intense dread filled his soul.

A ghostly image resolved momentarily--a nightmare shape clutching the sheer side of the tower. The shape wavered as if he imagined it--not really seeing it with his eyes. In the next second, the huge, spidery shape vanished--melting back into the wall and into nothingness.

The muscular Iraxx burst into a quick stride through the late evening crowds of the great city. But the strange feeling haunting him all evening now exploded and pulsed throughout his body with each beat of his powerful heart. He fought against the urge to break out into a run.

It wasn't supposed to end like this, he thought. His mission was only half finished, and now it was threatened with total failure--for in his heart he knew what evil relentlessly pursued him.

He stopped abruptly at the next intersection and drew out his handheld sensor with a lightning motion. His fingers danced over the display as he searched for the signatures of his known enemies.

Drinar needed to know--and he needed to know now.

His heart missed a beat as the display of his hand-held sensor picked up a ghostly signal. The source of the mysterious signal quickly moved unseen above the crowds. Almost immediately, the signal disappeared.

But now he knew.

A Destructor pursued him.

Drinar ran through the crowded streets, scrambling between aliens, knocking down one and bouncing off another.

And still he ran.

A few moments later he fell, tripped by unseen feet.

Shouts and angry voices roared after him as he jumped up and increased his pace.

Now the bright, flashing lights of the city reflected with crazy lines off the glass towers that rose high above the thick mass of late-night revelers. Drinar quickly ducked inside one of the party palaces, hoping to hide himself among the thousands dancing in the crowded, glowing room. The dancers were packed so tightly together that their writhing bodies were in almost constant contact with everyone else around them. The whole room seethed as one great mass of movement.

Panting, he quickly surveyed the room and made his way deeper among the rhythmically moving bodies.

Drinar was bigger than most aliens; his muscular form stood head and shoulders above those dancing within the mesmerizing mixture of pulsating lights and loud music. His scaly skin glowed its true reddish color where it was exposed at his face and neck as white lights suddenly flashed. The rest of his body was clothed by a leather, one-piece jumpsuit, except for his thick tail which protruded just above his buttocks.

That short, muscular tail now curled with tension as he raised his face and sniffed the air. Drinar's short snout wrinkled as he took in quick breaths, tasting the air.

Reaching down, he felt the comforting handle of the blaster still holstered at his right side while his left hand firmly grasped his sheathed sword, keeping it tight against his leg so as not to get it tangled with a reckless dancer.

Maybe his bio-signs would be masked by the mass of aliens. Maybe the Destructor would continue past and lose his trail.

Maybe.

He pushed forward toward the far end of the room. But halfway through, piercing screams rose above the loud, pulsating music.

He turned and saw the distant commotion among the aliens--almost at the exact point where he had entered the room.

More screams of pure terror drowned the music.

The Destructor's main camouflage, its ability to match its background and avoid visual detection, became partially nullified by the pulsating laser lights and changing color schemes synchronized with the rhythm of the music.

The dancers saw, at the edge of their vision, the terrible form of the Destructor as it flashed in and out visibility.

Suddenly, everyone ran for the exits.

Drinar pushed others out of his way as he made a last bid for escape toward the rear of the building.

But even as he burst out into the clear, he knew his life was now measured in seconds.

He crashed down a darkened hallway, stumbling blindly in the dim red lighting as he searched for an exit out into the open city streets once again. The screams grew closer, telling Drinar that his executioner gained on him. Still, even if he made it out into the streets, he had no idea where to go or what he could do to escape it.

He simply ran for his life.

Drinar bumped into something in a darkened section and fell onto the floor, knocking the breath out of his triple lungs. Lying there, fighting to breathe, he heard the ominous humming sound for the first time and realized the chase was over.

Actually, his life was forfeit the first moment he realized it was a Destructor.

He lay there, still fighting for that first good breath of air as he pulled his weapon out and aimed it at the darkness behind him.

He fired. The laser bolt from his blaster illuminated the room for one fraction of a second like green lightning.

But the hallway was empty!

The flash of his weapon momentarily revealed a corridor empty except for debris that littered the floor. With wide eyes, the Iraxx warrior strained to see through the darkness, strained to see the slightest movement that would reveal the Destructor's position.

Had it left? Or simply given up just when it had closed upon its prey? Wild thoughts rushed through Drinar's mind as he peered into the darkness, trying to see the unseeable.

Drinar found himself able to breathe again--his own raspy gasps drowning all other sounds before they reached his horn-tipped ears.

A faint hope rose inside his broad chest.

And then something fell--a tiny piece of ceiling debris floated gently down in lazy spirals right before his face...

Drinar froze.

He heard it then, almost...almost as if he imagined it. He strained his ears as silence pressed in all around and choked him--strangling him as if he were awake inside his own nightmare.

He finally heard it again--a scratching sound mixed with a faint, ominous humming.

With a sickening dread, he knew the Destructor crouched somewhere above him in the darkness--probably braced against the ceiling with its multiple arms and legs splayed out and ready to make its final attack.

The sinister scratching sound echoed again--slightly louder, and closer.

The warrior screamed as he brought his blaster up and fired it in a deadly volley. Tracers pierced the pure darkness above him in line after line of deadly streaks, piercing the ceiling and sending chunks down in a steady stream of falling debris.

He fired upward in all directions.

But the invisible monster did not fall.

With a flash of movement, his weapon was knocked out of his grasp. Almost instantly, a suffocating weight fell upon him. He felt the many arms groping his body and grasping at his flailing hands until they pinned him down.

He struggled valiantly a moment, but soon could no longer move.

As he strained against the merciless strength that held him fast, Drinar regretted only one thing--he had not gotten the message to Qirn.

His eyes strained to make out the Destructor, but even though it held him fast just above, he could not make it out against the darkness.

The whirring of precision gears caused his eyes to fix on the source of that new, sinister sound.

Drinar steeled himself.

In the darkness, he saw a faint reflection against a shiny, black surface. Drinar's eyes made out the silhouette of the Destructor's pincer coming closer.

He saw it plainly now, a black steel needle outlined against the darkness as it came toward his neck. Its razor sharp tip poised to pierce his skin with only the briefest hint of pain. It would then allow the deadly fluid to flow inside his body until his guts melted into a fiery ooze--almost like being digested from the inside out by a giant, metallic insect.

But Destructors did not eat.

Drinar groaned.

No, his would not be a pleasant death.

As the wicked tip drew within inches of his neck, Drinar played his last card.

With a flick of his short, muscular tail, Drinar slapped the iron grip and freed his right hand.

In the darkness, the Iraxx warrior fought for his life.

And his frantic efforts were rewarded.

In the instant he felt its weight lift off, Drinar rolled over and jumped to his feet in one fluid motion. As he stood in a battle crouch facing the sound from where the Destructor gathered itself in the darkness, he drew the sword from its scabbard and held it before him--ready for action.

"Now, let us fight to the death," Drinar growled

The darkness suddenly filled with movement as Drinar's sword crashed against first one black shape and then another as the Destructor reached for him. The metal blade sent showers of sparks as it hit home each time. Again and again he swung his weapon as he slowly retreated.

Out of the darkness, first from the left, then the right, and even from below, Drinar fought the shadowy arms lashing out at him. He still could not see the Destructor itself, but sometimes with a blur of movement, his eyes caught a glimmer of it.

He swung his blade like a machine, sometimes feeling a steely grip almost grasping him just as his sword quickly knocked it away. It was disconcerting to almost see this evil, to feel it right upon him but still not see it.

The warrior grunted with each mighty blow of his weapon as he began to tire.

If only he could find a way back into the dance room, perhaps under the pulsating lights he could his see his enemy plainly and deliver a disabling blow.

Suddenly, his blade swung and struck nothing but air.

Drinar's heart froze as he held his sword ready before him.

But nothing came to his ears now except the rapid-fire pounding of his heart.

He was so close to escaping--he felt it.

Drinar lowered himself into a battle crouch, only to freeze again as the faintest of sounds came to his hearing.

The ominous scratching sound came from somewhere above him again.

He moved back another step as he aimed his blade.

But it was a ruse.

Too late, he saw the shadow of the outstretched arm extended outward to confuse him.

Out of the darkness the Destructor leapt.

Once again Drinar felt the merciless blows and cringed as steel talons searched and found their hold on him one last time. With all his strength, he tried to free his right arm for one more blow of his sword, but his enemy proved relentless and unstoppable.

Seconds later, shoved onto the ground and pinned, Drinar realized he couldn't move. In fact, he could barely breathe under the suffocating weight.

The warrior's heart melted with defeat.

With only the ominous humming as accompaniment to the faint music from the room beyond the wall, the needle came into view out of the darkness.

He cringed.

Slowly, he watched its deadly tip draw ever closer.

With a single, hot flash, the probe pierced his skin, and Drinar felt his body burn as if lava flowed inside his very blood. He grew disoriented, and in another moment he couldn't remember where he was--or who he was.

Or why he was...

Mercifully, the Destructor finished its grisly work in the silent darkness.

Silent, except for the faint sound of humming and a metallic scratching...

* * * *
* * * *

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