Justine’s rock-hard arms folded stiff against her body contrasting sharply with her tapping, slippered foot. “What do you mean you’re leaving?” Every millimeter of her perfectly contoured body dressed in a burgundy blouse and slim white pants strained for action.

The well-appointed ship’s deck with state-of-the-art instrument panels, a large, central screen, and two holograms of neighboring star systems surrounded Captain Xavier Pax as he sprang from his chair and zeroed in on the communication console. His bulky, dark green suit and tall, brown boots made him appear larger than he actually was. Turning his attention to the computer, he scanned a recent log entry. His voice rose with his irritation level. “My job was to get you here before Cerulean died. I did that. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to complete a thorough check of the ship before I head back home.”

Uncoiling herself, Justine pounded across the bridge. “You can’t leave. You know why we came and why we must stay.”

Pax turned and considered Justine through narrowed, black eyes. “I know, ‘We’re chasing a riddle in hopes of finding a mirage.’ I get the joke. But honestly, this place—I don’t trust it. Nothing is what it appears to be. I did a scan of the surface, and do you know what this planet is actually made of?”

Justine pursed her lips in controlled impatience, stepped to the captain’s chair, tapped the arm console, and pointed at the central screen. A rocky wasteland under clouds of vaporous mist, dotted by erupting volcanoes materialized larger-than-life on the screen. “That right? It’s the sister planet a few light years from here.” She clapped her hands together. “Amazing what advanced reconstruction can do.”

Blowing air through his mouth like a swimmer coming to the surface, Pax waved his arms emphatically. “Hold on! I’m not about to dive into this pool of make-believe Mirage-Reborn—or whatever they call it. It’s not just the planet, and you know it. The people living here are—”

“Varied and eccentric. Deal with it. That’s not why we’ve come, Pax!”

The bridge door slid open with a distinct high-pitched whine, and Clare marched forward, her shoulders arching as she scowled. “I thought you were going to fix that thing. I get shivers down my back every time I use it—takes me all day to straighten out my spine.” Her gaze swung from Pax to Justine, and her frown grew more pronounced. “What?”

With a dramatic arm-fling, Justine glowered. “He’s deserting us.”

Clare’s eyes widened. She zeroed in on Pax. “Oh, no you’re not!” She hurried forward and confronted him with every millimeter of her medium frame. “I have all the authority I need to lock you up, so don’t play games with me. You agreed to this little adventure—”

Pax sucked in a deep breath like a dragon preparing to toast a village. “Agreed? I didn’t know what I was agreeing to. Your friend, Cerulean, who nearly died before explaining anything, told me to get him to this planet. I did that. And you”—he jabbed a finger at Justine—“made all sorts of clever remarks about chasing riddles, but you never actually told me anything, even though I asked about a million times.” He adopted a mocking imitation. “‘We’re chasing Omega to stop Cosmos.’ By the Divide! What does that mean?”

~~~

A. K. Frailey is the author of 16 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/author/akfrailey

http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

The premise is bold and daring, a promise of an equally bold tale — and the author does not disappoint in living up to that promise, introducing plot points that are robust and characters with depth. ~Cristina Prescott, The Book Commentary

http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

“Newearth is a place to start over…gives us a chance to re-think many of the propositions that we take for granted, a chance to discover anew what is needed in order to live a good life.” ~Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/space-city-planets-night-galaxy-5319624/


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