Read Paw-Prints Of The Gods Online

Authors: Steph Bennion

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Paw-Prints Of The Gods

BOOK: Paw-Prints Of The Gods
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PAW-PRINTS OF THE
GODS

Ebook Edition

 

Table of contents

 

Title and
copyright

PAW-PRINTS OF THE
GODS

Prologue: A thief in the
night

Chapter One: Mind
games

Chapter Two: Down and out
in Newbrum

Chapter Three: Tomb of
the ancients

Chapter Four: The deserts
of Falsafah

Chapter Five: No news is
bad news

Chapter Six: The woman in
black

Chapter Seven: The cloud
mine of Thunor

Chapter Eight: Valley of
the spiders

Chapter Nine: Private
investigations

Chapter Ten: Missi and
the watcher

Chapter Eleven: Ice-cold
in Arallu

Chapter Twelve: In the
shadow of Hursag Asag

Chapter Thirteen: Star
man, cats and clones

Chapter Fourteen: Close
encounters of the eight-legged kind

EBOOK EXTRAS

Illustration: Tau Ceti
system

Illustration: Barnard’s
Star system

About the
Author

Also available from
WyrdStar

 

Please note that the
hyperlinks within this ebook may not operate uniformly across all
types of ebook reader hardware and software.

 

* * *

 

PAW-PRINTS OF THE
GODS

 

[About the
author
] [
Contents
] [
Paw-Prints of the Gods
]

 

WYRDSTAR BOOKS

www.wyrdstar.co.uk

 

Copyright (c) Steph
Bennion 2013

All rights
reserved.

 

SMASHWORDS EDITION

 

Smashwords license
notes

This ebook is licensed
for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or
given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not obtained for your use only, then please return to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

 

Smashwords publishing
history

First published
September 2013

 

The right of Steph
Bennion to be identified as the author of this work has been
asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1998.

 

Cover artwork copyright
(c) Victor Habbick 2013

www.victorhabbick.com

 

This novel is entirely
a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in
it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely
coincidental.

 

The worlds of HOLLOW
MOON

Paw-Prints of the
Gods
is a sequel to the novel
Hollow Moon
. You do not
need to have read the earlier work to enjoy this latest story, for
any salient plot devices are reintroduced and explained wherever
necessary. If you wish to read
Hollow Moon
and the
associated short stories (and I hope you do), the ebooks are
available from all major online stockists.

 

* * *

 

PAW-PRINTS OF THE GODS

 

[Copyright
]
[
Contents
] [
Prologue
]

 

A Novel by

Steph Bennion

 

WYRDSTAR BOOKS

www.wyrdstar.co.uk

 

Acknowledgements

The author would like
to thank Karen for friendship, wine and invaluable help in
proof-reading
Paw-Prints of the Gods
; Victor for the front
cover artwork; and of course Sarah, who despite all evidence to the
contrary, still keeps me sane in this big, bad city.

 

* * *

Prologue
A thief in the
night

 

[Title Page
]
[
Contents
] [
Chapter One
]

 

THE CABIN WAS DARK,
its inhabitants sound asleep. No one saw the burly yet stealthy
figure as he stole through the door, plucked a bag from the floor
and quickly retreated.

Outside, in the
sweltering heat of the dome, the thief withdrew a touch-screen
slate from the bag and switched it on. The scan of their latest
discovery was in the list of recent items, but upon looking at the
image of the strange carvings he saw the slate’s owner had
superimposed twelve lines of text that were all-too familiar:

 

frozen traveller
created anew

watchers to history
stir

hidden by slaves and
masters

Tau Ceti’s wandering
tomb

reborn beneath twin
suns

orphaned child of
Sol

pawn to watchers and
weavers

king by the great
game

father of the
twelve

believers unite as
one

Sol’s children shall
not fear

paw-prints of the
gods

 

“The Falsafah
prophecy,” murmured the thief. He switched off the slate and
dropped it back into the bag. “This is one damn fool student who
knows too much.”

 

* * *

Chapter
One
Mind games

 

[Prologue
]
[
Contents
] [
Chapter Two
]

 

RAVANA OPENED HER EYES
and stared groggily at the grey shapes at the foot of her bed. The
nurses never seemed to stop moving, but it was a silent ballet
devoid of all personality and warmth. Yet the rest of her
surroundings were no more inspiring, with the only attempt to
brighten the white-walled windowless room being the pot of wilting
flowers upon her bedside table. Now she was awake Ravana felt the
need to make her own presence felt, but when she opened her mouth
to speak she found herself lost for words, her mind sinking beneath
a weight both heavy and cold as if a wet blanket had been draped
over her thoughts.

The thinner of the
hazy blurs moved closer and presented Ravana with a small glass of
water and the customary daily cluster of brightly-coloured
tablets.

“Your medication,” she
snapped. Her English was tainted by a harsh Indian accent. Seeing
Ravana hesitate, she thrust her hand closer and frowned.

“We must make you well
again!” her portly colleague added merrily. She spoke with a
sweeter Asian twist, which she then ruined by smashing her fist
against an innocent spider upon the wall. “You must take them. They
will make you big and strong!”

“Big and strong?”
retorted her colleague. “Or do you mean fat and butch like
you?”

“Let’s not get
personal, Sister Lilith! We’re all professionals here.”

“There’s only one
professional here, my dear Jizo,” grumbled Lilith. Still holding
out the glass and tablets, she pointedly looked towards the mirror
on the nearby wall and regarded her own reflection. “And I’m
looking at her right now.”

Ravana hesitantly took
the tablets from the nurse’s grasp, popped them into her mouth and
washed them down with a gulp of water. The reassuring words of Jizo
were hard to accept when the nurse herself stood licking bits of
spider from her hand. The few hours Ravana was awake each day
passed by in an unchanging haze, with the same dull migraine
clouding her thoughts and the same ache gripping her muscles and
bones as she lay upon the bed. Every morning, if it was indeed
morning, saw a fixed routine of waking, taking medication, a trip
to the bathroom, then the interview room and back to bed. It could
almost be the exact same day, replayed over and over again in her
head. Even the bickering of the nurses and the conversations in the
interview room continued to go over the same ground. She had no
idea how many days had passed since her arrival, for how and when
she got here was part of the gap in her mind where memories had
once been.

Her eyes remembered
how to focus and the nurse-shaped blobs resolved into two
middle-aged Indian women wearing nun-like grey habits and
headscarves. Ravana vaguely recalled being told that she was in
some sort of church-run hospice, for reasons not fully understood
but something to do with not having enough money or the right
insurance to be taken to the city hospital. Nurse Lilith had
commented on more than one occasion that being ill away from your
home world was a risky business in the late twenty-third century.
Lilith now waited to take Ravana to the washroom, as she did every
morning, though at the moment appeared to be more interested in
whatever it was on the computer touch-screen slate in her hands. As
far as Ravana could tell it was the same nurses she saw every day.
Although their faces were far from memorable, the mean-spirited
squabbling was a constant theme.

“Time to rise,” Jizo
told her, interrupting her thoughts.

Ravana pulled back the
thermal blanket, heaved herself out of bed and cringed as her
weight fell heavily upon her weak right arm. She was getting more
tired by the day, her hair felt dirty and lank against her face and
she was desperately in need of a bath. She was dressed as always in
a green smock that would never win any awards for fashion.
Shuffling over to the wall mirror, she scrutinised her reflection.
A bleary, drawn face stared back; she looked as bad as she felt and
certainly a lot older than her sixteen years. The scar on the right
side of her face lay vivid against her pale brown skin, the strange
silver lines that faintly followed the crevices of the damaged
tissue more apparent than ever. With a sigh, she pushed aside a
matted length of black hair and turned as Lilith approached.

“Breakfast?” asked
Ravana, weakly. She always awoke feeling hungry.

“Later,” Lilith
replied, looking as if she did not care less. “Follow me.”

The nurse led her
through the door and down a familiar white-walled corridor to the
washroom, then waited outside while Ravana relieved herself in the
cramped toilet and splashed a little water on her face to wake
herself up. Every bare-footed step was painful and her muscles
throbbed with the effort of moving bones that felt like fractured
lumps of iron.

By the time Ravana
emerged from the washroom, she was exhausted and ready to return to
her room. The nurse instead led her in the opposite direction, past
dozens of other blank doors until they reached one standing open.
The routine was so familiar that Ravana did not wait for Lilith’s
signal before stepping inside. The nurse did not follow but closed
the door carefully behind her.

As Ravana’s gaze fell
upon the two figures seated behind the desk, a flicker of both
recognition and panic flashed through her thoughts and then fell
back into the recesses of her clouded mind. It happened every time,
then moments later the figures returned to being nothing more than
grey shapes, wearing their habitual hooded cloaks that left their
features in shadow. Both had the same curious halting and
screeching voice she had decided sounded male. From previous
meetings, the only way she had managed to tell them apart was by
the motifs embroidered in silver thread upon the red sashes they
wore around their shoulders and waists. One had tiny lions upon the
scarlet fabric, while the other had stylised symbols of an archer
ready to unleash an arrow. The nurses referred to them as the
monks, which was as good a description as any.

“zz-raavaanaa-zz,”
rasped the one with the lion-patterned sash. The edge of his hood
trembled slightly as he spoke. Not for the first time, Ravana
jumped as the words emerged like the muted wail of a steel grinder.
In her mind’s eye she could almost see the fiery sparks issuing
from the speaker’s hidden lips. “zz-taakee-aa-seeaat-zz.”

Ravana hesitantly sat
down in the empty chair opposite the two figures, taking care not
to look too closely into the shadows of their hoods. Other than the
desk and chairs, the room was empty, with a large window behind
where the grey monks sat. The enticing view, a deserted strip of
coastline beneath a deep blue sky, she remembered being told was
Pampa Bay on the moon of Daode. The window was open a fraction and
the sound of distant crashing waves drifted in to fill the room
with a soothing murmur.

“zz-brootheer-siimhaa-aand-ii-aaree-pleeaaseed-zz,” said the other
monk, his buzzing tones identical to those of his companion.
“zz-yyoouur-miind-haas-beeeen-shaatteereed-buut-iis-reecooveeriing-weell-zz.”

BOOK: Paw-Prints Of The Gods
13.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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