The Missing Planets
By Hawk MacKinney
Planet Terato has become a member of the assembly of the Confederated League of Allied Star Systems. The Murian Outpost Terato once commanded by His Imperial Majesty’s Lord High Chamberlain Herklo Korvo XXXIV is now Teratoan staffed and under the command of Teratoan Eklam a’Qoc.
From the uncharted reaches between galaxies, attacks of extraordinary weaponry come against Terato and the Myr worlds of the Murians. Terminus Terato’s expanded link-portals and converter power modules are virtually useless. Power loss, defenses, communications and travel are totally disrupted. High Chamberlain Korvo’s unexpected return to Terminus on a mission for His Imperial Majesty leaves him stranded on Terato. Attacks grow more massive, more unpredictable; spread across the worlds of the League, as an isolated Terminus struggles among the shattered rubble and whispering remains of an ancient Polity of star-walkers.
Family and friends are lost, empires and civilizations in disarray, Terminus and Planet Terato almost defenseless. Desperate for answers, their worlds being overwhelmed by this remorseless aggressor, Eklam and Korvo reach across unexplored space in a despairing gamble and the last reserves of converter star-substrate, seeking one insignificant star system of gas giants and rocky inner planets for possible relics of the elusive Lantaraan Polity.
Uncle a’Qoc hadn’t been wrong; much had changed. Like the ancient Teratoan proverb… change is part of life, change had come. In ways big and small it had touched all of them. Touched worlds beyond what even Uncle a’Qoc and his determined nephew foreknew, and changed things even the mighty Murian Empire could not know—a tumult of the unexpected. Ek was already a Senior Apprentice the first time he met Herklo Korvo; was one of four honor escorts at the hurried change of command: ruddy-faced Outpost Commander Kartn Gurlo relieved by the steely green-eyed Grand Duke Korvo. Ek sensed Gurlo’s anxiety as Gurlo and the Grand Duke talked with one another. During his apprentice time in Outpost Terato, Ek had started learning the Murian syntax; had studied the complex grammar of the Murian tongue, usually spoken with a soft evenness, and caught only the uttered harsh bleak abrupt Murian idiom.
Since then Ek hadn’t heard the expression. The discordant tone of the expression struck a jar to Ek’s ears. In time he learned the expression came from the Malfesian War, when the slaughter of western Feldovat clans destroyed some bloodlines. “… s’ bleikovaat… ” Carried an intense meaning for Murians. “… events with unforeseen results… ”
None of the others in the honor escort picked up on Gurlo’s disquiet or the cause of it, Ek likely the only one with a grasp of the Murian idiom. And none of the apprentices were aware of its breakpoint implication, of the unexplainable upheavals rushing toward their home-worlds.
With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.
Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention. Walking the Pet is Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series. The first book in another mystery-thriller series is scheduled for release in 2015. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012. Its sequel, The Missing Planets, has just been released.
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