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.
“Brilliant…Julie E. Czerneda is one of the best world builders writing today.”Midwest Book Review
Excerpt from Regeneration
(Everything’s a spoiler. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)
The Portents will come. And Change will follow, to take the landscape, to bring death.
Those who can flee, will.
And still that which is Dhryn must wait–too frail to risk confrontation–too slow to race others from the doom.
Only in the lull time, when the emptied land has finished dying around them, will the Dhryn venture forth. Scouts first, to taste the land, seek routes to what the Progenitors will crave. They will find where the great forests rot, bring the feast to sustain.
That which is Dhryn shall cleanse the land, removing debris, clearing blocked rivers. All will sustain the Progenitors as they move behind the rest.
Most will not complete the Great Journey, spent by the effort, worn by toil. Lost. Left. Remembered.
All that matters is the Progenitors reach Haven, the place of safety and plenty. There They will rest, setting the Path in memory, bringing forth new generations who will not know Change in their lifetimes.
Until it begins again.
inscription found at southern hemisphere haven site 9903-ZA,
pre-alloy Dhryn ruin,
Chapter 1: Beer and Bother
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Dr. Mackenzie Connor, Mac to those she intended to talk to more than once, gave her closest friend a wary look. She’d learned the hard way where such conversational gambits could lead. Especially when Dr. Emily Mamani was this bored. “That,” she ventured, “depends on what you’re thinking.”
That tilt of the elegant head, with that smile, spelled pure mischief. “Then you are!”
“Am not.” As this didn’t seem a particularly adult retort, Mac added primly, “I never think such things.”
Emily’s laugh, as rich and contagious as before, as always, warmed Mac’s heart. She wished it could erase the shadows clinging to the other woman’s cheekbones, haunting her eyes. Time might do that.
“You’re allowed, you know,” Em continued, leaning closer. They were both sitting with their elbows propped on the dark, polished wood of the bar. The bar that stretched in a friendly manner right to the door.
The door Mac eyed wistfully. She’d left so much work…
“Oh no, you don’t,” Emily protested. “You promised.”
“So now you think you’re thinking what I’m thinking?” Mac asked, dragging her attention back to her beer. “Hah!”
“Hah, yourself. We get a night away from that bunch of loons. You promised.”
“They aren’t–” Mac stopped as Emily raised a shapely, black, and highly expressive eyebrow. True, Wilson Kudla, author of Chasm Ghouls: They Exist and Talk to Me, was presently conducting the third night of what boded to be a prolonged–and already very sweaty–exorcism attempt, having, like the rest of the Origins Team, become convinced the Ro were not beings to welcome under one’s roof. Or inside one’s tent.
Not that the rest of the team had tents, Mac corrected hurriedly. Particularly tents full of perspiring Humans chanting themselves hoarse. “Not all of them are loons,” she qualified. “Archaeologists simply have their own approach to the work. You’ll get used to it.” This last hope echoed inside her half-empty glass as Mac lifted it to her mouth. She took a long swallow, thought about it, then took another. A local brew. By now too warm by her standards, but with an excellent aftertaste. She squinted into the foam. Honey?
Despite its colorful name, The Takahe Nest was a little more than a long room, two-thirds filled with wooden tables and assorted chairs. The floor was wood as well, rough and scarred by hiking boots–from the look of the trail leading past the bar, soaking wet and muddy hiking boots. The bartender, a big friendly man who’d introduced himself as “Kevin McLean but not the actor,’ claimed it had rained every day of the first fifty years the Nest was open. The occasional sunny day since hadn’t helped much. Mac and Emily had been directed here to experience firsthand a slice of the unique Fiordland atmosphere.
It had that. Mac surveyed the eclectic and dusty mix of objects suspended from every exposed beam and wall. Perplexed-looking stags’ heads, antique hunting weapons, and odd-shaped drinking cups vied for space with what could only be bits and pieces of skims–most broken. The tip of a helicopter blade–Mac’s curiosity had made her ask what it was–easily two hundred years older than the pub itself, held place of honor behind the bar. Nor’easters ripped down the mountain valleys without warning, Kevin had explained cheerfully. The wind took its tithe from anything that dared be in the sky.
The clientele matched the bar. Well, except for themselves. Emily–in her long black shawl and yellow top, with a full red skirt swirling around her calves–stood out like some exotic flower transplanted in the wrong place. Mac herself, in dark pants, blouse, and sweater, had attracted only slightly fewer stares when entering. She eased her toes in the dressy sandals Emily had insisted she wear, missing her boots. The few folks here looked to be straight off a hiking trail or farm–people who worked with their hands and weren’t afraid of a little deluge.
Felt like home. Although she’d never had a beer as a namesake before. Mac tipped the rest of her bottle of “Mac’s” into her glass and smiled.
“How long are we going to stay here?” Emily demanded in a low voice, with a gesture including more than The Takahe Nest.
Back to that again? Mac held back a sigh. “Your guess is as good as mine, Em,” she said, truthfully enough.
The Gathering, the collaboration of every Dhryn expert the Sinzi could find within the Interspecies Union, had been–disbanded wasn’t the right word, Mac decided. Sent packing was more like it. The synergy provided by their being in the same place, namely housed at the IU Consulate for Sol System, had been irrevocably outweighed by becoming a single, convenient target. The Dhryn assault could have eradicated not only life on Earth, but the best chance of coming up with a defense for the rest of the IU–those thousands of worlds, linked by the transects that permitted instantaneous travel between star systems.
“The sum,” Mac mused into her drink. “More than the parts, you know.”
“Gods, Mac. Philosophy on the second beer? Way too early.”
Mac’s lips twitched. “Sorry.” She ticked her glass against Emily’s. “Bad habit.”