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Travis and Jacey’s orienteering contest in a vintage Mark 4 Jaguar car becomes a journey through a belt of fog and into a strange village that is not shown on any map. The people there appear to be living in the 1950s, a time when the car was new.
They become involved in a time space continuum. Life identities of solids, androids, gaseous and organic intelligent species are using Jacey’s family to prove or otherwise that humans are an inferior life species. This test is one to show that androids have superseded humans as the superior solid life identity.
Her family are but the pieces in an intergalactic chess game with the umpires seemingly neutral but in reality either for or against the human family finding one another. How can one play by the rules when the umpires are biased?
Jacey and Travis do not know why it is happening, who is helping and who is hindering their efforts to find out the truth.
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Zorell woke to the sound of buzzing in her ear. It was light but after a glance at her watch she found it was a still before six in the morning.
“Everything is arranged but you need to come immediately.” Bee Rahis’s voice sounded urgent.
She slipped into her nearest clothes consisting of a top and shorts but never even had time and climbed off the hovercraft. The hanger door was open. Outside were the long shadows from the rising sun. It was cool but by the look of the sky, going to be another hot day. On the tree branches nearby were bees, hundreds of them.
“This is the third and fourth flights from our home hive,” Rahis said from Zorell’s shoulder. “With me is Flight Commander Laru. I’ll let her explain.”
“We need you to see something and the only way is to take you over it,” the second bee said. “Our kind are far stronger in relation to our mass than humans. You will be perfectly safe.”
“Perfectly safe?” Zorell said using her ordinary voice. “What do you mean?”
“We will fly you out over the desert,” Laru said.
“Fly! I can’t fly!”
“Come,” the bee said.
She saw Laru fly out before her and along the track. They went around a corner where net about three by two metres in size lay on the ground. More unusual though, were the two lines of bees sitting on each side of this net. No, they weren’t sitting but hovering for their wings were a blur. The net rose on each side but still touched the ground in the middle like a giant hammock she had once played on when she was a child.
Zorell felt her heart race. “You want me to lie on the net and be lifted above the trees?”
“Yes. Lie on your stomach so you can see the ground below with greater ease.”
She gulped. Perhaps it would be fun!
It was terrifying as she shot straight up in the swaying net with the buzz of the eighteen bees being the one reassuring thing between her and certain death as the ground and trees shrank beneath her. She was on her tummy with straps across her back, butt, and knees to hold her to the net. Her arms and lower legs were free but she dare not move them.
They continued higher until the trees looked like toys and the valley track that led to the cave disappeared beneath the foliage.
“Relax. You’re too tense,” said Bee Rahis after she landed on the net just above her eyes and folded her wings as she scurried along one strand. “Turn your head to the right.”
The net dug into her neck and chin so it was a relief to turn, Once achieved she did relax a little as she lay back so her hair cushioned her left ear from the net. She could now see over the adjacent hilltop and further out the brown desert that stretched into the distance to rolling parched hills that were completely different from the green ones beneath her. The whole net swayed and dipped as they turned out towards the desert. She stifled a scream and held the netting so hard the rope cut into her hands.
“Okay we are way above our valley and heading out into the desert, but why?” Above the buzz of flapping wings and the hiss or the wind it was easier to just think the words now.
“See the base of that far hill shaped like a wave in the ocean? What do you see there?”
Zorell squinted in the morning sunlight. There were long shadows that played patterns on the ground but nothing more. Perhaps the bees had keener eyesight than herself!
But what was that! At the edge of one shadow several thin lines of white curled into the air.
“Smoke!” she cried out loud.
“More than that Zorell. It’s an army and it is heading straight towards our valley.”
“That is what we need you here for. We are from the village where Anneke was enslaved and have not encountered human armies before. We need you to determine whether it is your Pioneer Mounted Constabulary or the Theist Parishioner Co-ordinators from Anneke’s homeland.”
“How will I do that?”
“We will fly closer. There is a risk we will be seen but I doubt if either side has weapons capable of hitting us. If they try the third flight are under orders to attack. “It was Bee Laru now talking.
Zorell shifted her head slightly and saw a balloon shaped swarm of bees about a hundred metres away. She thought back. She had seen this army before. They were the line of lights she had seen out in the desert when they had spent the night on the hilltop. An ominous feeling hit the base of her stomach. These were the forbidden lands but they were far closer to Theist territory than their own. Huang may have sent a military force out to help her but if he was going to do that, surely he would have told her.
“Take me in!” she said.
The excerpt above is from The Truth About Terra. Also available is Terra Incognita,
“Creep forward and have a look,” Troy whispered. “If you all go to my left there’s a small rock outcrop to stay behind.”
Kim manipulated herself between two tree trunks, reached out, pushed a clump of spiky grass aside and gasped. Below them was their cove but it was the submarine that had surfaced in the centre of the cove that caught her attention.
The central conning tower was already manned with the outline of several officers standing there.
“Don’t move,” Roger hissed. “They are using binoculars.”
Kim said nothing as she continued to study the submarine. A forward hatch opened and a line of sailors rushed out in a line. Within seconds a sinister looking machine gun was clamped to a turret and swung around to face them. More sailors appeared and a flag unfurled above the conning tower. It had two blue stripes at the top and bottom between a wider red middle stripe that contained a white circle surrounding one red star.
“Communist North Korea,” Troy whispered.
“And they were waiting for us,” Kim replied. “But how could they know we were coming?”
“More radio bugs placed in your home, car or school. They could have been monitoring your conversations for weeks.” Roger grimaced. “It took us three weeks to organise our trip here, plenty of time for the submarine to travel here from somewhere out in the Pacific.”
“Why North Korean?” Janine asked.
“They’re known to support terrorist organisations,” Roger said. “Come on we aren’t out of danger yet. I think we’re well hidden but if they have heat seeking equipment…”
Kim felt a cold chill crawl through her body. Everything was happening too quickly!
Kim walked several metres and out of the trees to find the waterfall tumbling down a series of rocks ahead. Her heart lurched for, though the falling water was only a metre across, the exposed area was six or seven metres wide with damp rocks covering the exposed part. Probably after heavy rain the water would covered the entire width. They were above the base of the fall with the water tumbling into a deep pool ten metres below them. Kim turned her head to look upwards. The crest of the waterfall was twenty metres or more high but it wasn’t one sheer drop. There were really three separate waterfalls, each tumbling down a rock face into a small pool that overflowed into the next drop before the final drop that was across from where they were standing The terrain looked like four gigantic steps punctured by smaller outcrops of rock.
Kim studied their surroundings. The cliff they were leaning against, had the waterfall on one side but opened out into a bush covered valley on the other. She turned. Below them was the cove with the Seal’s Bark floating by the shore, the submarine anchored further out and twenty or more sailors moving around. A rubber dinghy was bobbing in the surf behind their boat and at least three men were aboard. The kayaks were pulled up on the sand nearby with one sailor guarding them. The noise of the waterfall drowned out any sound but there appeared to be some sort of argument going on between the occupants of a group standing on the beach.
One man was stabbing the air with a finger while three others stood with hands on their hips. Suddenly, the first man broke away and began walking up the beach. Another held out his arm, there was a puff of smoke, the guy staggered and collapsed on the sand.
“Did you see that?” Roger gasped. “They up and shot the bastard.”
Kim gulped. He was right! The three walked up to the man on the sand. The guy with the gun sort of kicked his downed companion and walked away. The other two stood there a moment before they also turned and walked back up the beach. Tiny waves surrounded the man and Kim was sure the only movement was made by the surf rocking him.
“Nice types,” Troy muttered. “If they do that to their friends, what would they have done to us?”
“Or still will if they catch us,” Janine’s face appeared gaunt as she stared down at the scene below.
Karla Spicer finds her position as Senior Teacher at Tui Park Primary School in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is hindered by the Associate Principal Val Cook, who resents her progressive ideas. Principal Murray Norwood, is an easy-going man drifting towards retirement who avoids controversy whenever possible. However, through a conscientious attitude and by supporting junior staff and parents Karla becomes a popular staff member.
Karla becomes romantically involved with Ryan Purdon, the school’s property manager and when he tells her about problems back at Top Plateau, a tiny school near his family farm where he grew up. After being approached by the Ministry of Education, Karla agrees to take the acting principal’s position there and Ryan goes with her to stay in his farmhouse.
Life in a remote area is different than expected with problems at the school and also on Ryan’s family farm where he has problems with his sister, step-father and mother who are all trying to sell the property divided between them by his late father’s estate.
Tensions arise in the district with a marijuana plantation discovered near the farm and a local bikie gang being suspected as the growers. However, nothing is as it first seems, potential enemies become friends and the trusted, untrustworthy.
Back in Tui Park, teacher Chrissy Ancell is attacked and turns to Karla for help. As Chrissy’s attacker is a respected person, their efforts to get justice seem to be thwarted.
It appears that the problems are intertwined with Karla being the kingpin and more than just a teacher striving to do the best for the children under her care.
This is a modern story with romance, crime and human personalities mixed together to create Ross’s latest exciting novel.