Tarkos looked out at the thousands of robots. He cleared his throat, hesitating. When these intelligences were forged, on Earth humanity numbered only a few million, and lived in ignorance and fear, without science, without understanding, and in constant warfare. What could he say to these creations of an ancient golden age? To these brilliant products of brilliant minds?

“I need your help,” he called. “I need you, the made minds, the children of our dreams, the progeny of our reason and our hopes.

“Will you follow me?”

[From Ice Sky Storm]

Tarkos bent under the forbidding black flanges of the ship. The hull loomed above him, blotting out the sky, like a spider collecting the stars in its fangs before it sucked the life from their planets. Tarkos sneered at it, angry at himself for his involuntary frisson of fear.

He was about to transmit again when Bria leapt down from the partially open door.  She set her suit to glow white, in order to give them both visuals of the scene.  It made the sickly green ice suddenly white and pure, and it made the ship seemed to retreat into its charcoal darkness.  Bria held a sample box and she set it on the ice between them.

She had come out alone.  It could only mean one thing:  the Ulltrian was dead, and Pala was….

“Where’s Pala?” Tarkos asked, almost choking on the words.

“Passed,” Bria said, her voice so soft Tarkos almost did not hear it.

The illusion of dapper civility evaporated as the robot added, “Your carbon came from a class G star.  It is old and stable.  You also have interesting quantities of phosphorus and manganese.  You shall serve well on your world when you die and decompose.”

Tarkos stared.  After a moment, Ki’Ki’Tilish said, “You must understand that Tiklik’al’Takas was not developed in social intercourse, among Galactic citizens.  You must treat it as a child.”

Easier said than done, Tarkos thought.  He had no idea how one treated Kirt children.  “What is a Kirt child like?” he asked Ki’Ki’Tilish.

“As larvae, we drift without purpose on the dark ocean currents while sentience emerges.  It seems to us that the tides are thoughts.”

“Whoa,” Tarkos said quietly in English.  “What a day.”  Then he added in Galactic, “Please, come.  I will show you the ship.”

“Please do so,” Ki’Ki’Tilish said.  “I want to see the place where we shall perish in flame.”

For long moments the robot did not move. Tarkos wondered if it had fallen back into slow time. “What are you doing?” he finally asked.

“I listen to the gas giant, Dâk-Kir.”

Tarkos frowned. This didn’t seem the best time for radio astronomy. But then, in a flash, a thought hit him. He furrowed his brow. “You miss space, don’t you?”

“My functions are unrealized,” the robot said, “when I am bound within ships or low in a gravity disturbance.”

Tarkos frowned in confusion.  He had never seen a being of this kind.  Through its translucent skin he could see its blood pulse through pale organs.  It appeared to be naked, but for a belt around its waist that carried several black pouches.  Rotund and laterally symmetric, it stood on two legs, and had two arms with which it repeatedly touched the floor as it approached.  Tarkos suspected it could move equally well on four or two legs.  It lumbered forward, waddling slightly, making its flesh jiggle.  It walked as if under gravity, and Tarkos wondered how it managed to keep its feet on the hull.  Two huge eyes, yellow but for a tiny star-shaped iris, gave its flat face a surprised appearance.  The mouth was a slit, proportionally small for the big face, and over that its nose was a long lambda that opened and closed as it breathed laboriously.

“Human, Sussurat,” it said, speaking Galactic in a gurgling,…

A scene from Well of Furies.

“Gowgoroup!” Bria shouted, letting the gun bounce the transmission on.

“Sussurat,” a gurgling reply came.  Wind howled in the background, so Bria assumed the naked slug did not have implants, but had brought a transmitter with it.  It may well have planted such a transmitter on the steps, calling Kriani here.

“Why betray us?”  Bria said.  “Homeworld Onus will suffer.  Surrender now.  Tell us what know.  Then we can save Onus.”

The slugs made wet, slapping sounds.  Bria wondered whether it were derision.  Or laughter.  “You see so little, with your eyes buried in your head, unable to stretch your gazes and see around you,” the leader slug gurgled.  “You have only a single brain, trapped in a skull bone.  It cannot grow.  You cannot learn new truths.  I tell you:  I huddle with the victors.  As do many.  There are followers of the Ulltrians in every race now.”

“Not among Sussurats.”

“No.  Not…

Scenes from Well of Furies, chapter 1:

The engines of the cruiser, a lean shark-like ship, hummed in ascending pitch, up and out of Tarkos’s hearing range.  Tarkos flopped back in the copilot seat, which seized onto his armor, holding him tightly.  The ship lifted from the pale dirt of Qualihout One, stirring up dust that blotted their view until they shot a hundred meters above the ground.  They continued on, up into thin clouds and then through to blue sky.  In minutes, the blue darkened to black as the cruiser pulled above the atmosphere.  Bria swung the craft’s nose toward the outer planets and sped for their rendezvous with the Neelee ship that had carried them to this system….

Slingshotting over the pole of a blue gas giant of the outer system, the Neelee starship looked like a snowflake the size of a city, gleaming silver and white against the mist of stars.  It had a Neelee name, which…

These posts combine scenes from The Predator Space Chronicles (and a few from other novels) and AI art which was generated using that text. Enjoy!

FROM Well of Furies, Prologue:

“You are human,” the Rinneret said, in poor Galactic.  It waved ten of its arms, writhing.

“So my mother told me,” Amir Tarkos answered in English.  The Rinneret, Tarkos knew, would have no English language translation program available.  Humans were just too new to interstellar civilization, and too primitive, to earn that kind of interest.  Tarkos added in very precise Galactic, “You are very observant.”  It was the closest he could come to sarcasm in the formal lingua franca of the Galaxy.

The two of them stood on hard-packed sand, surrounded by black spires of rock.  No other life graced the landscape but a few scraggly plants that crept like vines over the dry ground.  The air was mostly nitrogen, with only a suffocated hint of oxygen, and even less…