Species Imperative # 3
Everything and everyone is out in the open, moving towards the final confrontation. The Interspecies Union is at risk from without and within. All may be lost.
Where on that scale is a salmon researcher ... those she loves ... or even her world?
Mac isn’t waiting for the answer.
First published in 2006 by DAW Books Inc.
Cover art by Luis Royo
On the 2007 Preliminary Nebula Ballot
Finalist for the 2007 Prix Aurora Award
Main Selection of the SFBC
From Chapter 6: Farewells and FindingsHer eyes caught a glimpse of light and Mac moved in that direction, hands still up.
They met something cool and slick and hard.
“Gods, no,” she breathed as she stopped. Mac stared ahead until her eyes burned, gradually making out details.
She might have been looking through a porthole into abyssal depths. The lights she could see were indicators on shapeless panels, pulsating greens and blues and yellows. They were stacked in a pyramid arrangement, the other sides and top beyond her view. The dim flickers reflected from the waving arms of anemones, the lacy fronds of sea fan and tube worm, flashed from the back of a small white crab. They were residents of a rising mound of pale bone, stacked before the pyramid like an offering.
Whale bone, Mac identified, sagging with relief.
Some of the glow marked the edges of swaying spirals of kelp. The immense plants grew up into the darkness. Between, darker shadows teased, sending back glints of moving green or blue or yellow, as if the artificial lights caught knife blades slipping through the forest.
Mac pulled back, only now aware of the throb beneath her feet, and braced herself.
The Sinzi-ra had rebuilt her tank.
She’d counted on it.
“I’m here,” she announced, proud of her clear, firm voice. “Mackenzie Winifred Elizabeth Wright Connor Sol.” She wasn’t talking to the trapped things. She was talking to what she couldn’t see. Yet.
Silence. A curious octopus tiptoed towards her, its huge eyes unblinking. After a long moment of mutual scrutiny, the mollusk made its decision about the Human and suddenly jetted backwards into the dark.
“You talked to me before. Here I am.” Talk? Mac’s hands became fists. She remembered all too well how the Ro’s version of speech had seemed to rip through her skin and burn itself into the flesh beneath. “In case you’re confused on the topic, I’m not dead.” She replayed that last bit mentally. Another gem of interspecies communication.
The darkness developed chill fingers, pressing against her face, working their way down her throat. Mac wrapped her arms around her middle and cursed her imagination. “What do you want from us? Answer me!” she ordered, careful not to shout, but her voice echoed.
An echo complete with the tinkle of small silver rings.
Mac turned as far as she dared, unwilling to put her back to the tank and what might -- she dreaded as much as hoped -- might be hiding inside. “Anchen?”
A ball of translucent red ignited between them; Mac assumed it was some kind of portable light. It cast a warm pink glow over the Sinzi-ra’s white gown and skin. The great topaz eyes remained in shadow. “Hello, Mac,” Anchen greeted her.
“What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you ...”
Excerpt from Regeneration © 2006 Julie E. Czerneda and DAW Books Inc. Used with Permission.
Some of the treasures readers gave me for Species Imperative.Thank you so very much! What I can't show here are the yummy ribs or the trays of smoked salmon. Ate them all! (Note to self: put more food into stories.)
I liked Mac's ceiling so much, I have one too. There are more fish above these, and I suspect more to come. I love them all.