BuyMort – The Terna NoMort Saga

PROLOGUE –

The snarling winds of the Hundran Tundra funneled through the air, spinning up whorls of icy flakes as if the whole world had been created inside a shaken snow globe.

Terna walked slowly through the storm, her thick furry coat and trousers keeping her gray skin warm despite the chill. In one gloved hand she held a knife. It was chipped from flint, and though it was of poor quality, for her purposes, it would do.

She’d once seen a hobb with a vibro-blade. Its edge glowed crimson, burning as it cut.

That hobb had a las-rifle as well, one that throbbed with crystal blue energy in a stripe that ran along its side. 

There were many things that the BuyMort hobbs could have. But she was a NoMort, a member of the tribes that refused ascension. 

She slowed her progress near a tall pillar of rock. She eased her arm up it, slowly, her gloved fingers gently searching for evidence of a burrow.

There. She opened up a pouch on her belt and judged the position of the hole, maneuvering the pouch’s opening beneath it. Moving her other, bladed, hand upward, she slammed it into the hole of the burrow — and into the beast within.

It died without even making a sound.The juicy monrat tumbled and fell, making a perfect landing into her meat pouch. The dead animal squelched a little when it hit the water-resistant lining. A faint aroma of blood reached her nostrils.

Terna smiled. It was the sixth find of the day, and she knew how happy the whole clan would be knowing that they could eat so well this night.

And even better than that, she’d only stumbled upon this place today. Surely it was a ravine full of good pickings. The tribe might even move to be near it.

They might have months of heavy and hearty feasting.

The wind died down, and the pitter patter of smaller feet breaking through the crust of the snow crackled through the air. Terna paused, suddenly very alert. She might be a predator to the monrats. But to some of the things out here, she was prey.

She’d do well to remember that.

She hugged close to the column, ducking and peeking about in an attempt to get a good bead on her surroundings. The air of the tundra was crisp and filled with the scent of fresh cherries, an aroma that both tantalized and caused fear to rise up inside her. Cherries in the tundra? What sort of thing was out there? And why couldn’t she see it yet?

She spotted movement. An hernan ghost fox, its silvery-white fur so snow-like that it was nigh-undetectable. The fox bounded close to a stunted andor tree and bounded up its piny branches, bounding up from limb to limb before triumphantly reaching its top just ten feet up in the air.

Terna covered her mouth, afraid she might laugh. It was such a cute thing to watch. 

At least until the first of three spiny thorns tore through the air to pierce into the noble animal’s furry chest. It was such a quick attack with hardly any sense of motion, and yet there they were, one after the other.

The beast wavered, groggily, before toppling off of the tree, bouncing limb by limb down to the needled-snow mixture of the ground below. Terna gasped, an audible and involuntary cry, and her eyes went wide.

Whatever had just happened, whatever had just killed that thing . . . she’d just made herself a target.

She stumbled away from the stone pillar, casting her eyes this way and that. And finally she saw it. Perfectly albino, with a slightly transparent body-casing, it looked like something she’d never seen before. A giant albino cooked prawn, she might have said.

With wings, and an elongated tail that bristled with spines at the end.

She turned and ran, screaming aloud now that she’d certainly been spotted. It was a trick of the wild. Stay quiet until you were being pursued. Then be as loud as you could because it might draw in something bigger and badder to eat the first thing that was chasing you.

She turned and ran, eyeing the long stretch of ravine for a place in which to hide and stay safe. It was hundreds of yards long and it was almost equally wide. The icy ground beneath the snow would threaten to throw her if she weren’t careful, but it had some traction in the crispy detritus of frozen dead grass and bushes.

And maybe even some bones.

Sprinting through it at breakneck speeds, Terna worked her way through the ravine. Panting hard, she felt before she saw one of the stingers coming at her, and she dropped and rolled under its passing arc. 

She heard it hiss in annoyance. That wasn’t good. It was intelligent.

“Listen!” she yelled, stumbling back to her feet for a good sprint forward. “I am a sentient. Like you! I was just hunting. You don’t need to kill me.”

But no answer came.

Instead, a second set of spines shot out of the creature, and its tail arced toward her. She ducked, rolling down and over a patch of rocks, and landed in a ditch with the prawn-thing following. She scrambled out of the ditch, rushing on again, but then she stopped, gasping, and peered around.

In front of her was a small cave, obscured from the vantage of the creature by a great deal of thorny brush as well as another andor tree. It wasn’t the perfect hiding spot; not with the creature so close-by. 

But she’d have to give it a go. 

If she could just tuck out of sight, she could wait it out here and hide in the darkness. She dropped to her knees before the tree and crawled her way through, scratching up her face and hands on the way.

As she did though, another of the creatures appeared. This time it was larger, with more spines and a longer tail. It moved at her, and Terna turned to run again, but the monster had already struck, knocking her back onto her knees.

Its head swiveled in her direction, and she watched as its long snout drew close. She smelled its foul breath — and the expectation behind it. Slowly, her thinking got muddled and her tongue swelled.

“She’s down. Grab the harnesses,” she heard a voice say. Her vision was too blurry to see who. “No. No. Little bitch is a NoMort. She’s got the app but never uses it. Basically invisible to the system.”

Invisibility, she thought, a little ad box popping up in her mind filled with gibberish and the stalking figure of a cloaked man. Wouldn’t that be nice to have.

Terna passed into unconsciousness. Above her, an intergalactic corvette blasted by, riding on a tail of blue flame.

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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