The second draft of the fifth Clans of Kalquor book is underway. I have to give a big thanks to my hubby for providing the inspiration for this one.
Most of the action of Alien Slave takes place on the moon LXS-42. It's undeveloped, a former Earther base used during the war with Kalquor. Now abandoned, it's the backdrop for where a ship containing Earther-on-the-run Dani Watson crashes.
Survival takes a brutal turn for our heroine, who was a pampered girl of privilege back on Earth. The few primitive skills she possesses come from my exposure to the survival shows my husband is addicted to.
Survivorman. Man Woman Wild. Dual Survivor. Man Vs. Wild. Hubby watches them all, coaching from the couch for the hungry stars to "Eat it! Eat it!" whenever they find something gross and nominally edible. Seriously, if I have to watch Bear Grylls drink his own pee one more time, I'll lose it.
Hey Bear, I can drink my own urine too. I just choose not to.
Anyway, it's been an education, one I've reaped the rewards of to put Dani and the clan of Gelan, Wynhod, and Krijero in wondrous peril. Let's take a peek:
The ship had come to rest in a small clearing, surrounded by blue-barked trees with leaves that resembled gray scales. Dani could see the path the shuttle had taken by the sheered tops of the nearby wooded area. The ground beneath the trees looked darker than where the crashed ship lay, as if it was wet. That didn’t bode well for needed fire, though there were plenty of broken branches at hand.
“I’m on high ground. I can bring the branches up, and they’ll dry,” she consoled herself. But she needed boiled water sooner rather than later. The air was muggy, leeching moisture from her. Thirst made her throat click when she tried to swallow.
An iridescent-winged creature that resembled a dragonfly whirred past Dani’s head. She stared after it. It was at least the length of her forearm. Edible, she wondered?
Several more darted through the air, coming close enough to catch easily. Dani wasn’t squeamish at all at the thought of eating them. She’d downed squadrons of insects back on Earth to survive after the war. Her only concern was that the flying beasties might be poisonous.
Her little bit of food wouldn’t last long, and if she didn’t find help soon, she’d have to consider taking the risk. At least she had good shelter in the downed craft. She’d have to removed Reggie’s body though. She couldn’t share the cramped space with a corpse.
First things first: fire and water. She’d look for a water source and dry kindling.
Priorities set, Dani slipped back into the ship to find a container worthy of carrying water. She looked at the covered body of her dead companion before starting her search.
“Sorry Reggie. I don’t know the funeral customs of your people. I’ll bury you with as much dignity as I can. I hope it won’t offend you.”
She located a closed cylinder with a sealable lid, perfect for storing two gallons of water. She decided once she found a water source, she could use it to bring manageable amounts back to the ship and fill up one of the larger storage containers.
Hope burning bright with the rising tangerine-stained sun, Dani started down the slope towards the woods. With dry wood and a reflective surface, fire was almost guaranteed. She allowed herself a little smile.
The ground squelched beneath her soft-soled slippers the lower she went. Well, that at least meant water wouldn’t be too hard to find, she reasoned. Her smile grew bigger.
She paused at the tree line and looked at the dense foliage ahead of her. It would be too damned easy to get lost and unable to retrace her steps to the ship. Listening to the strange cries of unknown beasts deep in the woods, Dani needed the protection of the shuttle.
It took only a moment’s consideration before she bent to grasp the hem of her dress, pulling hard to rip a scrap of it away. She felt a kind of mean thrill in doing it, as if getting a measure of revenge on the Kalquorians who’d gotten her into this mess.
Here’s what I think of your ‘gift’, you big Earth-killing jerks.
She snagged the scrap on some brush. Its brilliant green color shone like a beacon. Better than breadcrumbs, Dani thought with an even bigger smile than before.
Dani wandered into the woods, leaving bits of her dress along the way while looking at the straight lengths of broken branches. She could make spears for hunting and protecting herself. Maybe she’d chance across the Earther base that had been here, and there would be help there. She’d at least find abandoned supplies, she was sure.
Things weren’t great, but they were certainly looking up. She’d survived Armageddon on Earth. She’d outsmarted Kalquorians and escaped Dantovon. She’d survived a crash.
Dani felt good enough to hum a little tune as she traipsed deeper into the woods, mucky ground squelching under her feet with the promise of water somewhere.