Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: October 31, 2018
As refugees in a vast sprawling empire, mankind must find and fight for a new homeland after Earth's destruction. Plains of Exodus chronicles this epic struggle.
Mankind's first contact with an extraterrestrial species didn't exactly go well. The inadvertent destruction of the Earth saw a call go out to the vast and ancient empire for help. Despite the quick response to this plea for aid, the remnants of humanity find themselves refugees in an overcrowded galaxy and at the mercy of an empire whose existence predates mankind's own existence.
Unwanted and unwelcome, humanity languishes in a dozen massive colony ships around an energy poor star.
As a young smuggler Jonah Mctier is one of those fortunate few who has access to this millennia old realm, and it is he who after fleeing a triad of imperial cruisers discovers the answer to mankind's dilemma.
In desperation Jonah finds refuge in a parsecs deep dust cloud where he discovers not only a habitable and empty planetary system but one of the most sought after resources in the Milky Way: a spatial conduit. Except this is no ordinary conduit.
Exploitation of this unique and unknown type of spatial gateway offers an alternative to the slow but inevitable descent into extinction for the children of Adam. Key to this bright future is the need to keep their phenomenal find a secret from the resource hungry empire who would take this discovery for themselves and themselves alone.
To complicate matters Jonah discovers that there is more than one of these gateways, and for humanity to be successful in their quest mankind must hold and eventually destroy all of these rare portals.
Jonah didn’t hear. He was staring at the two birds atop the four conjoined thrones. “Are they alive?” He asked, unsure whether the unmoving birds were alive or simply another of the fantastic pieces of art.
“In a sense,” Enselkar turned his own gaze to the twin birds.
The two birds, butter yellow in hue, were about the size of the eagles Jonah had come across in the databases of old Earth. The sharp beaks were black and the opened eyes a bright emerald green, the alien necks long and sinuous. They were as still as the other statues and sculptures in the throne room, but so alive-looking that he felt sure one or both of the beautiful birds might take flight any moment and give cry.
“What do you mean?” He asked, never taking his eyes off the animals atop the impossibly dark thrones.
“They were of a time long ago,” the deep voice had taken on the lilt of someone who was telling an oft told story, and Jonah looked to the older alien, “and the Chidar took up the scepter of Empire for the first time in their history. The son of the new Emperor had been a courageous and famous explorer even before his sire took up the imperial scepter.”
Jonah stared at the birds—half expecting to find them in a different position—and back to the Taarkylan whose gnarled hand rested on the throne’s dark material. “The Chidar prince had discovered the black hole which now anchors the Palka conduit, and for reasons still unknown to this day his ship had become ensnared by that incredible gravity well.
“A massive response went out to his distress call, but by the time help was to arrive the prince and his ship had become dangerously close to the event horizon. Too close for any conventional rescue attempt.”
The major-domo stole a glance at the birds before continuing. “A ship outfitted by the Emperor himself had been equipped with one of the experimental matter translators, and although the technology was in its infancy it was decided to try a last ditch rescue using this unproven science.
“With the ship seconds away from the event horizon, the translator was employed and as you can see it was successful. Not in the hoped for manner but successful nonetheless. These birds you see above you were the companions of that long ago prince, and they arrived before the ship was lost.”
Fascinated, Jonah asked again, “And are they alive?”
“Yes,” the major-domo answered, looking with an odd reverence at the still animals, “but not in a contemporary sense. It is speculated that the birds either touched or came too close to the event horizon and now remain in this temporal fugue.
“Incredible,” Jonah said.
“Indeed.” The major-domo said. “Legend and recorded history has it the birds awaken when those of great import pass before them. I have seen the holo images of honored Tampay’s summons to the Emperor some sixty thousand years ago after that Taarkylan’s discovery of the fourth and last great conduit, the twin to that Palka wormhole found by the lost prince.
“This one,” and Enselkar pointed to the nearest frozen creature, “stirred enough to flap wings once and cry harshly.”
Motionless movement. The words seemed contradictory, but the paired hunters were exactly that: a surging frenetic motion of atoms and energy frozen into static stillness. The magnificent creature Enselkar indicated was caught with its long muscled neck craned about as if in the act of preening itself, and the other identical bird had its powerful wings outstretched and its beak partially open.
A small shiver of superstitious dread chased over Jonah’s flesh as he imagined the bird’s cry of honor.
“We must go now,” the major-domo turned away from the throne and unmoving birds.
Jonah was about to turn away when a great shriek tore through the stillness of the enormous pyramid. He had a brief glimpse of the first bird whose partially opened beak suddenly widened to allow that single terrible call peal forth.
The shock nearly tore a scream from his own throat, and a harsh deep cry erupted from his companion as the Taarkylan stumbled against him.
Heart hammering and adrenaline flooding through his body, Jonah made a grab for the elderly major-domo and caught the alien before he fell from the raised dais upon which the multiple thrones sat. Then they were both staring in a mixture of awed horror and wonder at the again motionless creatures.
The harsh angles of the face turned to him—the skin a bloodless mask upon which the tattoos stood out like carvings within stone. “Get out,” Enselkar gasped, amethyst eyes wide with wonder.
November 19 - December 1, 2018
Visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! For more information, visit the Plains of Exodus Book Page at Book Unleashed.
About Robert J. Burnett
After crisscrossing the country on more than one occasion, Robert J. Burnett and his wife Louise are currently living in northern British Colombia where they hope each day that they won't be burnt up in the massive fires ravaging the province. Coming a close second to these fears are the worries about being eaten by bears. Mosquitoes scare him too.
Rob's favourite religion is Christianity, but he's never met a druid or a pagan he didn't like. That said, he doesn't like them if they're smelly. Same with bears.
His fondest wish is to be abducted by aliens and taken to their home-world where he will miraculously return to his mid-twenties and be given super powers.
His music likes could be said to be a bit eclectic, ranging from classical to Celtic, especially those composed by non-smelly druids or pagans.
Voted in high school as most likely to lose all his teeth before sixty, he can proudly state that this has not happened as he still retains twelve. It is this ferocious smile, he believes, that scare off most bears.
Today he lives a productive life of non-work, listening to Ancient Astronaut and Hangar 51 shows, a hobby he has cultivated in his expectation of being abducted and taken off-planet. At least he won't lose his job for failing to show up for work.
As a father to four sons, Rob fervently hopes that all his children will breed and produce offspring who in their turn will support him in his dotage.
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