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*SPOILER ALERT* Chapter 1 of RESIGNED FATE


If you haven’t yet read any of the books of the scifi/fantasy Portals of Destiny series, PLEASE don’t read this! Get the books and begin reading immediately! Once you finish with book two (SHATTERED DESTINY), read this excerpt and hold onto your hats! The Chosen are in for a bumpy ride!!!

Astra

 

Something hurled toward them, moving so fast they could hear the scream of the object as it fell from the sky. Everyone scattered in all direction, trying to put as much space between themselves and the giant object falling at incredible speed.

Keera Flint heard a shout and turned so quickly she nearly tripped over her feet.

Time slowed.

Lub.

Gwen Heath lay in the dirt, arm held out, as if reaching for some invisible hand. Feeror had stopped and was moving back to Gwen, his mouth open in worry. Keera could hear nothing except the whining crescendo of the Mekan as it hurtled toward where Gwen lay helpless.

Dub.

Keera opened her mouth to scream at someone to help Gwen, her mind a whirl of terror. Her brain seemed incapable of thinking coherently enough as she saw the gap closing between Gwen and the Mekan much too quickly. A quick glance showed her that no one else had even noticed their fallen comrade. It was clear that Feeror, who was much closer than she, would never make it to Gwen in time to save her from the falling enemy. Tears of frustration and fear trickled down her cheeks.

Lub.

Use your power, you moron!

The voice in her head sounded strangely like that of her older brother, Thadeus. As she raised her arm, her chest constricted when she realized that each and every magic phrase completely eluded her. Come on, THINK! Keera took a few involuntary steps forward, hoping the movement would bring the words that would save her friend.

Dub.

Hurry, Feeror!

Keera urged the big warrior on though it was obvious he wouldn’t take more than a couple of steps before the Mekan crushed the life out of her dear friend.

“Someone help her!” Keera screamed but the noise from the Mekan drowned out her voice.

Lub.

Suddenly, Feeror flew backward, coming to a rough landing flat on his back. The look on his face as he struggled to sit up was like an arrow piercing her heart. Keera wanted to look away, didn’t want to watch as this metal monster killed her friend.

Her arm was still out-stretched, hoping against hope that she would be able to move Gwen from the path of the falling Mekan. Keera sank to her knees as she watched Gwen reach out her arm toward Feeror, a look of utter and complete adoration on her face.

Dub.

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

***

 

Keera screamed to loudly her throat would be raw and sore for days. She rocked back and forth, trying to come to grips with what she had just witnessed. After the painful noise of the falling Mekan, the silence was welcome. She could vaguely hear the shouts and wails of the others as they finally realized what had taken place in only a few heartbeats.

Feeror had managed to regain his feet and was running for the Mekan, crying Gwen’s name. It was strange to see the man lose control. Normally he was as stoic as a boulder. His reaction frightened Keera. It meant that what happened to Gwen was real and not a terrible nightmare from which she would awake at any moment.

Keera didn’t respond as Kaelin tried to help her stand. The thought of moving at all seemed much too difficult. Sitting on the hot sand didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

“Keera, you can’t just sit here.”

“Who says? You’re not the boss.” Keera knew she sounded like a petulant child but she didn’t care. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the hulking, crumpled form of the Mekan that had killed her best friend.

The sound of Feeror’s cry of anguish forced Keera to deal with reality. She felt compelled to offer what comfort she could to the man. It had been hard to believe that the one man who had been the most disgusted by Gwen had ended up falling deeply in love with her. The others thought it strange and were more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of the two starting a relationship. They were from two different planets and conflicting cultures. Gwen would never be accepted in Feeror’s world and Feeror would never be happy living on the peaceful planet of Astra.

Keera had been thrilled for her friend. Truth be told, she has been worried that Gwen would spend the rest of her life pining for Jon Stone when it was clear he would never return her feelings. Seeing the tough warrior and the tiny dwarf girl stealing kisses when they thought no one was watching brought a smile to her face.

As she stood on wooden legs, Feeror began making a sound never meant to be uttered by anything living. The big warrior hit his knees, tearing at his face with hands contorted into claws. Keera stopped short, skin prickling and crawling at the utter and complete loss in Feeror’s feral cry. No one else seemed to know what to do or say as they all stood mute while they simply watched the Volgon warrior mourn the loss of his love.

Feeror slumped, breath hitching in his chest. He was unable to bring forth a cry of the same magnitude. All he could manage was a few hoarse grunts and moans. Keera frowned as she forced her feet to move forward. Feeror caressed something as he knelt on the scorching sand.

Keera gasped in horror and turned away from the grisly scene, but the image of Gwen’s tiny hand sticking out from under the edge of the Mekan would be burned into her brain forever. I don’t want to remember her this way!

Feeror turned abruptly as Keera approached.

“Do something! Get this damn thing off of her!” Feeror grabbed Keera by the hand, forcing her to kneel or be dragged ungracefully to the ground next to Gwen’s hand.

“Feeror, I…”

“What? Use your power to lift it!”

Keera looked around for someone to rescue her from the situation. She wasn’t sure she could move the Mekan, even if she wanted to.

And she didn’t want to.

The contents of her stomach rose despite her best efforts to hold it down. She turned and vomited until her stomach ached and she feared she’d never get the taste of bile out of her mouth. Keera wiped her mouth and turned to Feeror but he was up and moving toward Jon Stone.

“You do it! Move. This. Machine.” Feeror gripped Jon by the front of his shirt.

Jon looked down at the ground and gulped audibly as he caught site of Gwen’s hand sticking out from under the Mekan. He shoved Feeror off, using a bit of the power to push the big man back a few steps.

Feeror growled low in his throat. “What’s wrong with you? Do you wish to leave her lying beneath the enemy?”

“No, but I don’t want to see what’s left of her either!” Jon shot back.

“I knew your race was nothing but cowards!” Feeror grabbed Jon once more and shoved him against the metal skin of the Mekan, slamming the young man so hard his teeth knocked together.

“Stop this, what’s wrong with you?” Saemus Barlow pushed between the two, forcing Feeror to let go of Jon.

Jon quickly moved out of the way, careful to avoid the area where Gwen’s tiny hand lay in the dirt.

“I need you and your magic to move this blasted machine!”

“Don’t you wish to remember her as she was? Full of life? Once you see what’s left under this thing,” Saemus pointed behind him. “You’ll never be able to get that out of your head. Ever.”

Feeror turned and gazed at the rest of his fellow Chosen who had slowly come to gather near the Mekan. Anger rose quick and hot as he gazed on the down-turned faces. The only two that met his eyes were Voilor and Moylir. They do not shirk from death.

“Besides, we can’t stay here. The water’s gone. We’ve got to get back over the Hills,” Saemus said.

Feeror’s jaw tightened. The boy spoke sense but the thought of leaving his mate buried beneath the hulking metal body of the enemy was almost too much to bear. You are a warrior from the planet Volgon, not some weakling! Take your remembrance and get on with the mission!

He knelt down and gently touched Gwen’s hand. He closed his eyes as he tried to force her last moments from his mind. For the first time in his life, he had faced a situation he couldn’t simply fight his way out of. All his strength, prowess and stamina had been for naught.

Feeror, through a blinding stream of tears, cut a long strip of Gwen’s sleeve, ignoring the shocked gasps and exclamations coming from behind him.

“It is customary to take a remembrance from a fallen mate,” Moylir explained to the others.

“I don’t care what’s customary on your bloody world! Here it’s considered a defilement!” Keera fumed.

“He’s not hurting her. See? Merely taking a piece of cloth,” Moylir said.

Feeror stood slowly and held out the piece of cloth to Voilor. Without a word, the big warrior nodded and tied the cloth around Feeror’s bicep.

“Now she will be with you, always. Mourn, but never forget.” The three Volgon warriors recited the ritualistic chant in unison.

— We will retrieve our ship and meet you at the portal. Number One said.

Saemus nodded and watched the three remaining Kromins stride gracefully across the hot sand, their pale gray skin and long limbs looking quite out of place. They had been forced to bring the Volgon weapons to Astra and therefore couldn’t travel through the portals. Saemus wanted them to remain out of sight so as not to frighten the locals.

Wordlessly, the remaining Chosen walked away from the fallen Mekan and made for the Mishrae Hills. The heat of the day was stifling. None of them would make it if they didn’t get water. Both camels had run during the fighting, leaving them at the mercy of the elements.

Saemus took the lead, the unwilling leader while in this planet. Though Gerok and Forka were Guardians and held higher status, neither knew Astra as well as her natural inhabitants. If Master Brok were alive, he’d know what to do. Saemus focused on the task of getting everyone over the Hills as quickly as possible. After that, well, he would figure it out when they made camp.

 

***

 

Keera awoke with a start, gasping for breath as she fought to control her galloping heart. She reached up to wipe away fresh tears from her cheeks. She shivered as a cool breeze caressed her skin. The fire had burned to embers. Frowning, Keera looked to see who was supposed to be keeping watch.

Jon sat facing the fire, his knees pulled to his chin, arms wrapped around them. His eyes were lifeless. Though they stared directly at the dying fire, it was obvious to Keera that he was not seeing it.

She had to fight a surge of anger at the him. If Jon had been paying attention, he could have saved Gwen with the forbidden magic. Keera knew that wasn’t fair; there was no guarantee he could have done anything to stop the tragedy.

Tears flowed again. Just when she thought she would have five minutes free of grief, it would crash into her, leaving her breathless and aching for the sound of Gwen’s laughter. How am I going to get through all this without Gwen?

Keera tried to ignore the cold seeping into her bones but the shivering kept her from falling back to sleep. She sighed and rolled slowly to her feet, padding across the ground to add more wood to the fire. It wasn’t long before the heat drove her back a few steps.

She glanced at Jon, who hadn’t moved an inch while she tended to the fire. Part of her wanted to yell at him that it had been his job to keep the fire going, that if he had, she wouldn’t have frozen nearly to death. Keera turned back to the fire. Part of her knew it wasn’t Jon’ fault the camels had run away with all their gear, and yet her anger was directed at him all the same.

Soon the sun was peeking over the horizon, bathing the campsite in gentle light. As her comrades warmed, they began to stir, blinking slowly, most hoping the events of yesterday had been nothing but a bad dream. Keera could see it in their eyes as they glanced around the camp. Cold, hard reality set in as they noted the absence of their tiny friend.

“What’s our plan?” Forka asked as the rest of the group huddled near the fire.

“We have to tell Gwen’s parents she’s dead,” Jon stated.

“I say we go to Gentra and tell the Master’s we have succeeded in destroying the threat,” Gerok suggested.

“The Kromins can tell the Masters what they need to know,” Jon said. “But we need to tell Gwen’s parents in person.”

“That will take too long—” Gerok began.

“So go! Go back home! We’ve done our duty so there’s no need for anyone to stay—”

Jon’s words were cut short by a loud rumbling that could be felt rather than heard. It went straight through them, making it feel as though their hearts were beating much too quickly.

“What’s going on?” Kaelin Barlow asked as she moved closer to Brad Phillips.

“I have no idea. Wait, Sloan, where are you going?” Brad shouted as he noticed his fellow Earth Chosen making his way quickly back up the side of the mountain.

After a moment’s hesitation, the rest of the Chosen followed, fear lending speed to their exhausted bodies. The vibrations were getting stronger and a tearing, groaning sound reached their ears.

As the group reached the top, a horrible sight was revealed.

The Mekans were up and moving, digging in the ground as if nothing had happened.

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