Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Dying Embers tells the story of Drake McCarty; a sixteen year old boy with more than a few challenges in his life. As if it wasn't enough that he had begun seeing creatures that no one else could, he is suddenly thrust into the position of liaison to an alien race. He was just coming to understand that part of his life when he finds himself pronounced father to three Larian infants; embers.
They are injured, frightened, and carrying a pathogen with the capacity to destroy any technology it contaminates. Bole and the rest of the mature aliens are of limited help; exiled from their home-world following a bloody civil war, they arrived on Earth in a burned out spaceship just as the Cold War began, and for over half a century the military kept them a closely guarded, rather boring, and ultimately unproductive secret.
But when the other half of the conflict arrives, bent on continuing the war here on Earth Bole has no choice but to defend his new home and the family he has built here, leaving Drake to tend to the embers on his own. But Drake has other allies; a family with roots that stretch back into antiquity, and a reach that spans the world. They in turn know beings native to Earth, but far more alien than any of the Larians; creatures that hold no love for the species that they see as invaders, but might hold the key to his children's very survival.
“Was it really necessary to be that harsh?” Sever asked Healer as he turned to respond to yet another indicator on the main computer. Healer spun around, ready to lash out at the assassin, but stopped himself. He blinked his eyes for a moment and cleared his CPU.
“Sever,” he finally said, and the weight of all the deaths he had witnessed across the bitter civil war seemed to weigh in his tone, “if I were back on Lar with the full resources of the Imperial Cavern of Science, there would still be next to nothing I could do for those embers. Here…with this?”
His hand swept out to indicate his sparse lab and jury-rigged composite of human and Larian technology. “It would be far crueler to keep hopes up.”
The meaningful look Healer was giving him caused the assassin to tense defensively. He glanced to the side to make certain that O’Beirne was occupied. “Did you want me to take over the task for you? As I am so much better at administering cruelty than you?”
Healer shook his head with a dismissive flash of light. “Don’t try to intimidate me, Sever. I have known you for far too long. And no, this duty is mine and mine alone. I was merely fascinated that the only one of us to have yet accepted a name from the humans seems to be the most affected by their suffering.”
Sever gave a snarl of denial and leaped up to pace angrily, but there was no conviction behind the waves of irritation he radiated. Healer returned his attention to the maintenance program he was running, silently dismissing the second-in-command. Sever frowned at him, then gave a small sigh. He felt an uncomfortable burning in his core. Usually he did not care what the others thought of him personally.
But these were embers. He continued to watch as Drake carefully massaged the amber liquid into the purring children. If what they had been able to gather from Drake’s translation of the fragmented data was right, the little ones had never known anything but pain and cruelty. At least now they were in the care of someone who loved them. They already owed so much to a human who was barely out of the ember stage himself. Of course Sever was concerned about his well-being.
Drake tried—he honestly tried—to avoid interfering with the scientific work. He simply couldn’t resist coming to look over his sister’s shoulder as she ran the tests on Sal’s excretions. He left his three embers curled up together happily. Not asleep—Healer had explained that Larians never really slept in the same sense that humans did. With a planetary surface that was constantly in motion, their species had never had the luxury of shutting off motor function for a third of their lives. But they were quiet at least.
Drake was about to ask Ama a question when he felt a tug at his leg. He glanced down and smiled. Skyfire was using his pants to stand and look up at him earnestly. The young man was about to put him back to bed when the ember opened his little silver mouth.
“Daddy? Come snuggle us please?” a musical voice asked shyly.
Ama dropped the syringe she was holding in astonishment. Drake felt his brain turn to happy mush, and a huge grin spread across his face.
“Of course, Sky,” he said, scooping the ember up against his chest.
“Daddy coming?” Stormbreaker asked sleepily from the cot.
“Daddy coming,” Cometflare assured her.
Betty Adams lives in a particularly damp and remote corner of the Pacific Northwest and like a hobbit enjoys visitors so long as she knows them in advance and knows when they are coming. She was born sometime last century and will likely die sometime this century.
She works winters on a small organic research farm when not writing and spends most of her time herding eccentric genius scientists (she is absolutely certain cats would be easier) with the help of her 4 year old Great Pyrenees mix.
Summers she spends nomadically wandering the Pacific Northwest in search of material for her stories and a regular paycheck for a biology major (she is reasonably certain those are on the Endangered Species List). She has several works published in the National Park Internal Database which may or may not be classified documents.