Authors: Bianca D'Arc
To all those who waited for Harry’s story. Thank you for your patience. As you may know, lots of bad stuff happened in my life between the time I started this series and now. Losing my mother—my best friend—to cancer knocked me sideways, and it’s taken years to get to where I am now. Not all the way back, but closer than ever. Each day I move forward is a little triumph. Thank you for allowing me time and for supporting me on this journey. You really are some of the best friends I’ve never met.
And a special thanks to my father, to whom I dedicate this book, even though he’ll never read it. He shared his love of science and science fiction with me from a young age. Without him, I don’t think I would have dreamed of the stars in quite the same way. He’s always been the rock—the foundation of this family—and he continues to be a source of strength and a role model for us all. Thanks, Dad.
The Oracle saw more vividly than he had in a long time, but the vision was one of confusion and pain. Personal pain. For it involved the son of his heart, his nephew, Harry.
“Ice. People—aliens—buried in ice. No.
in ice.” Caleb choked out the words as Harry listened. Caleb was in the grip of a strong vision. He’d been seeing these ice people for weeks now, but never so strong. And there was more.
“Crystal. From the home world. Your crystal, Harry. It’s the key. You’ve got to find them.” Caleb reached out and grabbed Harry’s sleeve, his grip urgent. “You’ve got to free them.”
Harry helped his uncle back from the almost violent vision, soothing him with quiet words, a touch of his healing energy and cool water from the tap in his apartment. Caleb was still housed in the alien city, a
of Harry’s biological mother, Mara 12. Caleb had been imprisoned in the guest quarters for a long time now, cut off from his wife, his brothers and his children. All except for Harry.
As the child of Mara 12 and Caleb’s brother, Justin O’Hara, Harry was more or less free to travel between the alien city and the ranch where he’d been raised by the O’Hara family. Harry also used his strong gift of telepathy to relay messages from Caleb to the family and back. So Caleb wasn’t completely cut off. It just seemed that way to the Alvians.
Each of the three O’Hara brothers had strong psychic gifts. Caleb, the eldest, was a seer. His ability to see the future had saved his family many times over. He was their leader.
Harry’s biological father, Justin, had strong telekinetic abilities and had been a Special Forces soldier in the old world. He was the warrior of the group, who protected everyone and taught the children how to survive in this brave new world.
The youngest of the O’Hara brothers was Mick. He’d studied to be a veterinarian in the old world, and was the closest thing the family had to a doctor. He also had a massive talent for telepathy over great distances. He was the one Harry spoke with most.
Harry was tempted to contact Mick right now, concerned as he was by Caleb’s strong reaction to the vision. He hadn’t had one this extreme in quite a while.
“Are you okay? Is there anything I can get you?”
“No.” Caleb sipped the water and closed his eyes as he leaned his head back against the sofa. Harry took the glass from him and sat on the coffee table, close to the uncle who had been more of a father to him. “Just let me catch my breath.” Caleb reclined on the couch, breathing deeply. Harry knew Caleb had mastered breathing techniques many years before and it helped when visions hit him hard like this. It didn’t happen often, but every once in a while his foresight could knock him literally off his feet.
A few minutes later, Caleb sat up.
“Sorry for alarming you, son. That one was a doozy.” Caleb reclaimed the glass of water Harry still held.
“You were talking about the ice people again. And the crystal. You said it was the key.”
“It is. That crystal necklace I gave to your father before he went off to meet your mother. He gave it to her for you, Harry. She still has it. You have to get it from her. Soon, Harry. The time is coming soon. Your time.”
“My time for what?” Harry dreaded the answer he could already read in his uncle’s eyes.
“Your time to save the world, son.”
“There is something here.” Cormac 7 pointed to a sector on the crude two-dimensional map they were using in lieu of the holographic display.
For some reason, a lot of their instruments were not working. There was some kind of electromagnetic interference that was sending even crude human compasses spinning. Alvian, crystal-based technology was sturdier, but even that was not working this far north. As they climbed higher in latitude, their instruments ceased to function one by one. The phenomenon was worst in the area he was pointing to on the map.
“We need to get inside the crevasse here…” he moved his finger to indicate another location, just west of the trouble spot, “…and see if we can approach from this direction. Whatever is down there, it will not give up its secret easily. Nevertheless, we must endure. I believe the secret to the electromagnetic anomalies in this area originate at that point. It is our mission to discover what it is and how it works. Such technology—or, more unlikely, natural phenomenon—is a tactical liability.”
“Agreed,” said his second in command, Liam 24. “I will have the climb team prepare a route down the crevasse.”
“Unnecessary. I plan to go with them.”
“Are you certain of the wisdom in that decision, sir? Climbing down the crevasse is a dangerous mission. It would be better if they prepared a path for you first.”
“Understood, Liam 24. However, I do not wish to drag this mission out any longer. As soon as I am down to an acceptable depth, I can make a determination as to whether this course will yield results. I need to be on scene to make that decision. With our unreliable instrument readings, I must take measurements using old mechanical methods and make decisions based on first-hand observations. None of the climb-team members are qualified to do that, so I must go myself.”
“Yes, the climbers are rather young and inexperienced. Shall I go with you?”
“No. You will be in command up top while I am in the crevasse.”
It didn’t take long to mount the operation. The climb team had all been chosen for their skill and stamina. The young Alvian team was ready at all times should their leaders want them to risk their lives in the pursuit of their task.
Cormac 7 had been designated the leader of this mission not only because of his seniority, but also due to his specialization in archaeology and geophysics. His genetic line was often found on the scientific side of warfare. Warriors through and through, Cormacs were known for their intellect and engineering expertise. Many specialized in battle technology despite being bred of supposedly inferior warrior stock.
Grateful to stretch his muscles, even in the extreme cold near the top of the world, Cormac 7 quickly suited up for the dangerous descent. He hadn’t done much climbing in recent months but knew how to work the gear to get to the level he needed to go within the crevasse.
Flying blind without their instrumentation, he had no idea what he’d find down there. It was somewhat…stimulating…if that was the right word, to feel his heart rate climb as his muscles did the work of lowering him into the deadly rift. His breath misted heavily in front of his face as he descended with one of the more expert and younger climbers, Fergal 51.
To say Cormac 7 was annoyed that none of their scanners were working would be going too far. Much too far. Cormac 7, like most Alvians, had little fluctuation in his normally placid emotional state. Warriors were a little more…
than other Alvians. That wasn’t quite the right word, but Cormac 7 had no real basis of understanding the small echoes he thought he felt every once in a while.
Like now, as he descended into the unknown. His heart rate was elevated with the physical exertion, but there was some additional spark driving him forward as well. Some faint spirit of adventure that appealed to him on a basic level he barely understood. He’d experienced similar situations during battle and in its aftermath too. At such times, he wondered what the humans he’d observed felt.
True feeling was beyond him, of course, but his observations of human prisoners over the years had made him wonder. Cormac 7 pushed such thoughts aside as the end of his journey downward came into view. There was a floor of sorts at the bottom of the crevasse—at almost the exact depth he required.
Fergal 51 went first, keeping safety lines firmly secured. He tested the area before signaling for Cormac 7 to continue his descent the last few feet.
“Stay tied to the line, sir, and watch where you step. My instruments cannot get a clear reading on the depth of this ice. It could be a false bottom, so be prepared should you step on a weak spot.”
“Thank you, Fergal 51. I will be cautious.”
After a quick glance at his instruments, Cormac 7 stowed them. They were useless with all the interference. As he’d thought, the electromagnetic source was somewhere down here. Very close now. The complete uselessness of his instruments was a strong indication they were in the right spot.
“In your opinion, is it safe enough to bring a few others down?” Cormac 7 asked the more experienced climber. “We may need to clear a path to get to the epicenter of the disturbance.”
“Yes, sir. I believe it should be all right, provided everyone keeps to the safety lines and some of my team stays above to ensure we can be hoisted out should it become necessary.”
“Make it happen, Fergal 51. While you oversee that, I’ll be scouting ahead.”
Cormac 7 dismissed the noise of Fergal 51’s shouts to the team at the top while he used every sense and a few old-fashioned tools, including a small pickaxe and shovel, to find what might be causing the problem. He knew the direction to move, but the way was blocked by snow and ice. They’d have to dig their way through.
“Sir.” Fergal 51 interrupted Cormac 7’s thoughts as he studied the path he planned to take through the ice. Cormac 7 turned to face the younger soldier, his expression giving the subordinate leave to continue. “I believe we have as many men down here as is safe. They are ready to proceed at your command.”
“Very well.” Cormac 7 turned back to his perusal of the snow and ice. “Two teams,” he ordered and was unsurprised to hear the men snap to behind him. “Clear a path in this direction. I will guide you as you go.”
Cormac 7 stood back as the men began to clear the way. The work went fast because it turned out to be mostly loose snow with only a little harder packed material and ice.
They’d been digging just under an hour when Cormac 7 thought he began to discern a pattern beneath the ice facing them. They’d dug several yards into the wall of snow when a soft glow ahead caught his attention. He called a halt to the digging and went into the small tunnel with Fergal 51 at his side.
Cormac 7 used his own hand tools to dig gently toward the glow he could just see faintly under the white surface of the ice. He stopped abruptly when his small pickaxe struck something that made it clang and vibrate.
Metal of some kind.
He turned to face Fergal 51, and without needing instruction, the other man began helping clear away the remainder of the ice and snow with gentle motions. There was something back there behind the wall of grey and white.
Little by little, it came clear. With a light brush of his gloved hand, Cormac 7 uncovered a smooth grey surface. Metal. Not only metal, but sheet metal that had been worked by someone to a finish unlike any found in nature. The surface had been manufactured.
“We need more light at the face,” Cormac 7 called back to the men who scrambled to comply as he and Fergal 51 continued to clear the snow away at a much faster pace.
In minutes, they had uncovered the outlines of a portal. Some small echo of excitement made Cormac 7’s hands almost tremble as he moved faster in his quest of discovery. The men set up additional light that allowed him to see there was writing on the surface of the portal. Very old writing.
“What is it?” Fergal 51 asked in a hushed voice.
All activity had come to a screeching halt the moment the writing had shown through the fine layer of snow. Everyone seemed to understand the gravity of this moment.
“It is an inscription in an ancient Alvian dialect,” he answered absently, even as he began reading the familiar figures. “Here rests Hara, son of Haroan and Nera.” He traced over the first line with his finger as he spoke the words.
“Hara?” the youngster spoke again. “This is the tomb of Hara?”
“It seems so, though the wording is non-standard. It doesn’t say here
Hara. Rather it says here
Hara. The two verbs are very distinct. It makes me wonder…”
“Do you see a way inside, sir? Or should I have the men lower cutting devices?”
“We can try to break in, but I doubt we’ll be able to cut through this. I believe this is a pod from the original exploration ship in which our ancestors first came to this planet. Nothing short of a supernova would be able to blast through such material. However, there is a way in.”