8 days to go...
This is the story that started the whole compilation off. A couple of readers, tantalized by a passage in Alien Embrace, specifically asked for this tale. I liked the idea, so I went for it. And once Hunted was written I thought, why not check in with all the major characters in all the books? A short story collection was born.
Amelia swallowed the panic in her throat as she hurried through the forest. The choking knot of emotion lodged in her chest, making her heart pound harder than her pace warranted. She navigated the woods with care but went as quickly as possible. She had a two-hour head start on the hunter, but when one was stalked by a Kalquorian Nobek, two hours wasn’t much of a buffer.
She’d walked these Kalquorian woods innumerable times with her three mates and their twins. She loved the patchwork quilt of jewel-toned leaves of the trees overhead, the springy ground that seemed to cushion her feet, the bright cheerful songs of drils, small blue Kalquorian reptiles that nested high in the trees. But today she was on her own and running from a cunning and ruthless hunter, one of Kalquor’s best. She knew his savagery, knew him for the predator he was. She’d seen one of his victims, his throat torn out from the brute’s fangs.
Her Imdiko mate Flencik, as big as he was gentle, had warned her only this morning, “Nobeks are set off by prey in flight. Never let one see you running from them. It brings all their primal instincts to the fore. Stand your ground. Fight back. Believe it or not, you’re less likely to get hurt that way.”
And the leader of their clan Rajhir had added, not very usefully, “Swinging big sticks or throwing heavy rocks would help. Or maybe it will just make him mad.”
Her mates were miles away now, having taken the twins to the pink-sanded beach close to their home. No doubt laughing at the babies’ cheerful antics while Amelia dashed through the woods with a stalking brute on her trail.