Return of an ancient enemy

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 sounded to Tarkos like barking and which meant, in the Neelee language, something like Savannah Runner.  Though Tarkos knew the ship harbored immense power, to him nothing could have looked more delicate than this crystal ship.  It was like the Neelee themselves:  they appeared so fragile in person, and so esoteric, so fixated on diplomacy and ecoforming, that he found it easy to forget they were the most powerful race in the Alliance.  Seeing the Neelee as fierce was like trying to find the audience at an opera intimidating.  And yet, such they were, and this delicate-looking ship could transform planets and—though no Neelee would ever want such a thing—it could destroy worlds….

… A ship.  A ship rose from the nearby planet.  But it seemed not so much a ship as some kind of flying nightmare.  It had an irregular shape, which Tarkos knew meant the ship likely had interstellar probability drive.  But the probability flanges that covered its surface were not the bright thin towers that covered a Neelee or a Kirt interstellar ship.  They were hooked black barbs that seemed to claw at space.  To Tarkos, the black craft looked like some kind of medieval torture instrument from humanity’s dark ages….

…Tarkos started for the door, but then stopped.  “Commander… what is the Well of Furies?”  He could look it up, of course, but he had a hunch that it would be best to hear Bria’s answer to this query.

“Abomination,” the Sussurat hissed at him.  And then, when Tarkos thought she would not say anything more, Bria added, “Origin world of Ulltrians.”

Ki’Ki’Tilish had the last word.  She waved two red arms at the air, like a crab warding off some approaching danger.  “This one regrets having agreed to come on this mission and now would have preferred to die on her home planet, after having lived a little while longer.”

#AIart #HumanFiction #WellOfFuries

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