Book Six of the Celestial Serenade

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Two wounded souls seek salvation.
Only one can be saved.

Kantis has been compromised, and the humans have fallen under attack – resulting in the disappearance of one of their own. Their alliance hovers on the verge of collapse as their new enemy closes his sinister net and the mistakes of the past come home to roost.

The only hope for the human-Caltaran alliance now lies with their hated enemy, the Ruvalli, who flee before the terror of the weapon they unleashed. But old biases are hard to kill – and the Caltarans have fought the Ruvalli for nearly 10,000 years.

While Anten and Salis rush to tame the tempers of the Council, and Liam attempts to keep the military united, Gaia races to save the shade of a once-innocent, long-forgotten boy who used to worship the ground Kantis walked on.

The ultimate fate of the Earth hangs in the balance as the Caltarans wrestle with the long elusive concept of peace. But it is individual relationships that might determine the outcome.

A new perspective…
At first, Gaia thought she was dead. How else could she explain the odd, upside-down world in which she drifted? A world that seemed to be simultaneously spaceship and sun-washed plain, the latter shifting and changing as time went by. Sometimes the field was inhabited solely by trees, grass and flowers. Sometimes the blossoms were in full bloom, the leaves vibrant green. But sometimes everything turned brown and grey, the flowers withered and the leaves drifted from their branches at the slightest provocation.

Sometimes people moved across the plain, though they were both distant and dim, little more than indistinct shapes with indistinguishable features that spoke in a droning buzz. Often when the people disappeared, fireflies took their place, drifting ever skyward until the light they exuded became stars.

The stars danced and swirled like an old computer screensaver. Planets sometimes hovered into view. Often they were rocky and barren, but sometimes they were bright with gassy swirls or green and blue with hints of life.

Gaia had no idea how much time passed before she realized the star scenes must have been images captured by her captor’s external sensors, then converted back into visual data for him to interpret. That would explain the wash of color and dazzling movement that sometimes set her head spinning before it resolved into a more traditional interpretation of stars, planets, solar systems and nebulas. Which made her wonder if Cerendi saw the world the way a typical Caltaran did, or if everything he experienced was filtered through the cold data analysis of a computer system. Did his brain use memories to transcribe that data? Or had she simply replaced the white noise with information that made more sense to her?

If she was glimpsing into the mind of her captor, who were the people moving through the dream-scenes interspersed between what she assumed to be physical travels? And why was she sharing his thoughts in the first place? Her understanding was that the connection between them should have worked in reverse; he wanted to know what she was thinking, wanted to manipulate and use her to his own purposes. Did everyone he added to his network of mindless drones gain access to his thoughts? Or was this some side effect of trying to keep her consciousness intact?

How much time had passed outside her body? Were Kantis and the others yet aware of what had happened at the colony? Were they looking for her now? Where was Cerendi headed? Was he fleeing that pursuit? How long would she drift like this before she managed to wake? Or was her mind forever severed from its physical container now that Cerendi had set his claws in her?

Would you cease this endless and pointless questioning? an unfamiliar voice snarled in the back of her head. If you cannot present some useful Vision of the future, be silent!