Release Date: January 2021
Genre: Science fiction
“A sweeping epic and a wonderful return to these characters. Told across multiple timelines, it all comes together in powerful and beautiful fashion.” – Charles Payseur
“Dee and Eva are a married couple living a happy, isolated life. They come from entirely different cultures. The previous story told of a problem emanating from Dee’s past. This one deals with Eva and her connection to an AI she calls Sister. Their story shifts timeframes a bit to “Now”, “Then” and “Before” and we get a lot of their back story. Lot’s going on this novella and a pretty good story.” – SFRevu
“Caution warranted,” the Admiral’s sibling said, using four of the shell’s eight limbs to move aside inconvenient boulders. “Proceed, Sister-Marcus.”
The drone entered the cavern ahead of them, eventually confirming the original report by Brother-Adita. One shell, destroyed on entry, core dormant, 87 percent probability of irreparable damage.
It was the uncertainty of the remaining 13 percent that concerned the two senior members of the scouting party.
The drone returned to its dock and the shell’s powerful illumination came on, lighting up every corner of the chamber. Dust drifted down from the unstable hillside like ash as the three shells followed the trail of wreckage to the smashed-open craft half-embedded in the rock around it.
The Admiral’s shell accessed Mammy and began scanning for origin markers as they worked to remove debris.
“Advanced AI configuration,” the diplomat commented.
“Superior shell construction,” the Admiral confirmed. “Known worlds origin 98 percent probability. New coding—Mammy has no matches. Conclusion—prototype.”
“Acknowledged,” Brother-Adita said, the tones that played after her Kinnec reply an indication of her excitement over her first successful mission. No small feat for such a young shell. “Retrieval approved?”
The Admiral’s shell didn’t hesitate “Confirmed. Priority—preserve function.”
“Acknowledged,” came the twin replies over the Kinnec.
Metal screeched as they peeled it open. Below them, a light winked on and off on the side of the metallic ball that lay exposed at their feet.
“Activity noted,” Brother-Adita said, playing another set of excited tones. It stretched out an appendage, but the Admiral’s shell grabbed hold of it.
“Blue Protocol,” it said, warning tones underlying its transmission. “Avoid contact until—”
Without warning, the ball in front of them unfolded itself into a tiny, bronze, many-limbed bot.
“Bot identified. Mission compromised.” The Admiral’s shell grabbed the other two and flung them back out of the cave’s opening before yanking a boulder out of the wall.
The bot wrapped two tendrils around the shell’s nearest limbs as the cave came down around them with a tremendous, shuddering crash of rocks and dust.”
Read the rest of this story at Clarkesworld.
About the author
R.S.A. lives in Trinidad and Tobago with an extended family and too many dogs. Her debut science fiction mystery novel, Lex Talionis, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Silver Medal for Best Scifi/Fantasy/Horror Ebook from the Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY 2015). She has also published short fiction in international magazines, including Clarkesworld, Abyss and Apex, Internazionale Magazine (Italy), and in several anthologies. Learn more about her work at rsagarcia.com.