Luxonians—light beings from planet Lux that can transform into any form they wish, usually matching their host’s physiology.
Crestonians—amphibious beings from the planet Crestar. They have no bones and wear a mechanical exoskeleton when out of the water. They have long, soft bodies and tentacles, while their eyes are large and watery. A large “brain sack” is tucked in a spiral shell on their head.
*Ingoti —androids from the planet Ingilium are large beings—up to seven feet tall with extensive weight and girth but still fast and powerful. They are never seen outside of their techno-organic armor and breather helms
Bhuaci— shapeshifters from the planet Helm are gelatinous beings and often called the “perfect race” as they mold themselves into the physical ideal of any race they encounter. They have suffered massive persecution, and their sister planet was destroyed by the planet-eater Cosmos.
Cerulean, in his human form, wore casual clothes and stared at the magnificent painting before him—his gaze absorbing the hues of the landscape and the textures of the OldEarth farmhouse like a dying man inhaling his last, wholesome breath. Though the airy space surrounding him framed a myriad of OldEarth masterpieces in pristine clarity, a weary, echoing silence hung in the air.
Supreme Judge Sterling, a tall, ascetic-looking Luxonian arrayed in long, formal robes with flowing sleeves, strolled across the art gallery and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Cerulean—kindred spirits with vastly different points of view.
Before either acknowledged the other, slapping footsteps drew near, rhythmically pacing the distance across the highly polished floor.
A Crestonian, Taug, in high, thick boots eyed the two Luxonians. He stopped two meters away. His bulbous eyes followed the zigzagging path of a horsefly, which suddenly alighted on a bench and morphed into a lithe, almond-eyed, young woman. The Crestonian exchanged grins with the Bhuachi female—Faye.
Sterling lifted his arm in salute. “Welcome, Taug, Faye! We’re glad you were able to come. We are still expecting Riko—”
A Uanyi in a crisp, white shirt, tight, blue slacks and wearing an OldEarth ball cap clumped into the room, his gaze swung right and left in long, sweeping arcs. As he met Cerulean’s gaze, he slowed and tilted his head in inquiry.
Refusing any delay, Sterling ushered them into a right corridor where the light dimmed to a faint glow. Landscape paintings of ancient OldEarth monuments arrayed the walls in somber reminiscence.
The passage flowed into a smaller, mustard-yellow room simply furnished with a circular table, chairs, and a counter armed with assorted drinks. With a snap of his fingers, Sterling illuminated a brilliant hologram of Newearth turning in space. Docked at one of the three modest satellite stations off Newearth, a small, red ship glowed in readiness.
After clearing his throat, Sterling’s deep timbered voice broke the expectant silence. “My friends, may I introduce—The Summons. She awaits her crew—ready for her glorious mission—to chase a riddle and ensure our salvation.”
Taug’s bulbous eyes flickered from Sterling to Cerulean, one tentacle rose. “Translation?”
Darting a glance at Sterling, Cerulean stepped forward. “I’m leading a small crew to the Divide to find Omega in the hopes that he will help us to defeat Cosmos before she arrives.”
Faye’s naturally pale face, blanched to sheer whiteness. “You go to your death. No one goes to the Divide.”
Taug flicked a tentacle airily. “Well, some go in, but none come out.”
Sterling strolled around the hovering hologram and pointed to a black mass. “It’s true; the Divide is a vast mystery leading unwary ships to their demise, but in our own desperation, Luxonians investigated further than any other beings, and we have found it is possible to get very close, jumping from safe space to another, like jumping from stone to stone across an ocean.”
Riko plodded forward, staring at the black mass. “Fool’s errand.” His wide-eyed gaze lifted and surveyed the assembly with a slight shrug. “Of course, since death is imminent anyway—”
Cerulean clapped his hands in impatience. “We have no choice. I have no choice, and I’m leading a willing crew. No one is forced to come. But while I search out Omega, there will be another ship—”
Sterling snapped his fingers again and another spacecraft—smaller, more angular, and metallic gray—floated at docking bay two, next to the Summons. “The Merrimack—a marvel of modern engineering—is ready to search out our common enemy and monitor her every movement.
Riko’s glare zeroed in on the small craft. “With all our abilities, one of our races should have destroyed Cosmos generations ago. Why is it left to Newearth to defeat her now?”
Touring around the hologram, Cerulean’s fingers slid along the table edge. He stopped in front of Riko and stared down. “Because no one dared. She is a planet-eating terror, and she always strikes the weakest planets. Like a virus, she smells discord and pounces when the inhabitants are obsessed with turmoil.” He sighed and moved past Riko, circling around, his gaze flowing over Newearth, absorbing her marble-like beauty.
“Newearth has been ripe for a disaster since her inception, but we have been gaining strength of late. We’re at a crossroads, whether to sink into a morass of divided beings or grow into a stronger world, ready to embrace a universe of possibilities. Cosmos knows this. She has waited for this ripening and now turns her appetite toward us.”
“We’re doomed?” Faye’s child-like eyes brimmed with tears.
Placing a firm hand on Cerulean’s shoulder, Sterling surveyed the assembly. “Not—if you save yourselves.”
Cerulean opened his arms. “This is Newearth’s hour of Common Destiny. What shall it be? An ancient death, devoured by an unfeeling beast or rising to new life?”
Taug nodded to the floor, then raised his bulbous eyes and grinned. “I’d like to stay alive. Where would you have me serve?”
Cerulean’s gaze flickered over Faye.
Grabbing Taug’s tentacle, she stepped up to Cerulean. “We’ll serve together.”
Four pairs of eyes swiveled toward Riko.
Riko pursed his lips and rubbed his jaw. “Yeah, yeah. You’ll need a communication center on Newearth, and my café serves up the wildest gossip possible—this side of the Divide—right along with our quality food.”
Sterling grinned. “Common Destiny prevails.”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 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
Highly imaginative and intelligently executed, Last of Her Kind is a spellbinding science fiction that is rich in imagery, rippling with conflict, and peppered with deeply moving scenes. ~Cristina Prescott, The Book Commentary
“Enjoyed the read. Characters were actually fun to learn about” ~Walter
“The Newearth world is wonderfully descriptive and the story is compelling.” ~Ellen
“Science fiction at its best! Creative, thought-provoking, and visual.” ~Lindens
“…delightfully, yet seriously, points to the great value in simply being human.” ~Kaye
Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity. Her freedom hangs in the balance. Is she a woman—or a weapon?