Friday, February 28, 2020

BOOK: Dark Return by Carol Ann Kauffman

Dark Return is the sequel to Belterra, Time After Time, and takes place about ten years afterwards. When Belterra was populated long ago by a select group of humans sent here by the ancients in the hope of saving the human race, the indigenous race of bat-like creatures called the Batrach were forced into the ocean and underground sea caves by a giant force field. The force field has now weakened. The Batrach have emerged from their watery prison and they want their planet back.

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“Neeka,” called Lira at her door. “I hate to wake you when you get so little sleep as it is, but you are needed.”
“What is it, Lira?” she asked, putting on her robe.
“Your father. He is ill. I can do nothing with him. Will you come and see what you can do?”
“Of course. I’ll be right there. Call Ana and Fen.”
“They are already with him.”
Neeka dressed quickly and made her way to her father’s bedchamber. She opened the door to find a very ashy gray looking Lord Mica. She edged toward the bed.
“Father, I hear you aren’t feeling so well. What exactly is bothering you?” she asked, noticing his breathing was shallow and rapid. His coloring was off, greyish, pale. She touched his hand and head. No fever, that was good.
“I am sick.”
“Yes, we got that part. Sick from…?”
“Sick from war, sick from death. Sick from looking into the face of the certain demise of our entire species. Sick from my inability to rectify this situation. My heart aches. My people look to me for leadership and guidance; they expect me to figure out a way to save us. I am the Warrior Lord, but I’m no good at this war stuff. We have lived in peace all of my life. I am no strategist. I can hold my own against any human adversary, but not these reptilian monsters. I am, my daughter, a blatant failure.”
“Ana, Fen, come here,” Neeka asked. “Help me.” She put her hand on his chest. Ana and Fen did the same. They closed their eyes and breathed deeply, sending their vibrations into his body. Soon Lord Mica was breathing easier and his coloring had returned to normal.
“May I speak with my father alone please?” Ana, Fen, and Lira left the room.
“Ashamed of me, Neeka?”
She sat down across from him and stared at him. This war had certainly aged him. 
“Of course not. You are the Lord of the Warrior Clan, a man of healing and finesse. You know the ways of natural healing, of crystals, and light therapy. You know the natural cycles of the sun and the moon. You know the paths of the stars in the sky. You can predict the weather. And you can sense danger by sniffing the air. You know how to communicate with the plants and animals of our kingdom. You can handle any human problem that comes our way.”
“However, the problem facing us right now is non-human and I cannot understand or communicated with these damn bat creatures.”
“What does Lord Jamit say?”
“He’s praying. He’s cloistered himself away in prayer. He’s been praying for three days now.”
“How about Lord Milo?”
“Ineffective little punk. He never was leadership material. He takes orders well, but there’s not an original thought anywhere in his head. And Braedon? He’s the only one among us all who is a true leader and a strong fighter. He’s out there on the front line from dawn to dusk, doing battle with these beasts day in and day out. When I do see him, he looks so tired, so exhausted. Your husband needs rest. And maybe some loving attention from his wife. Your man needs time to replenish himself. Where is he?”
“He wasn’t home when I got back from the hospital. I really don’t know where he is.”
“Well, I do, daughter. He’s out there. If he’s not fighting, he’s carrying back the wounded before they can be eaten. He cannot go on like this. Insist that your husband rest. Take him by his ear and put him to bed.”
“Yes, Father, I will, just as soon as I find him. Now, back to you. Let’s see if I have this right. You’re having premonitions of impending doom.”
“You feel there is no way out of this.”
“You feel as our leader you have let whatever’s left of the human race down.”
“You feel we’re all going to end up dead.”
“Yes,” he shouted.
“And you’re making yourself sick over this.”
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Oh, Father, you are anything but a disappointment, to any of us. Yes, we have our problems. I, too, have had nightmares and premonitions that these beasts are gaining strength and have the definite edge over us in this fight. But, I know you’re going to find a way to pull us out of this. And you are not alone. You have your wonderful sons, the love boys, Lars and Omer and Vin and Emil by my stepmother, Lady Tela. You have your own personal fire-breathing dragon, my daughter, your granddaughter, Ana. You have Fen, My I’m-not-sure-what, but I know I’ve loved that young man since I first laid eyes on him as a sickly, lost, orphan child in Northford, and he grows more mature and intelligent and wise with every single passing day. You have Lira, the third woman you’ve bowled over with your kind, gentle, and loving ways. She is the absolute epitome of patience and devotion to you. And you have Braedon, my fantastic War Lord husband, and me, your wild, impetuous daughter. You aren’t carrying this burden by yourself.”
There was a knock at the door.
“I brought you some tea, My Lord,” Lira came in with a tray. “It will calm your nerves.” She poured and handed him the cup. He drank it down quickly. Lira stroked his head and smiled at him.
“Rest now, Father. Things will look better when you awaken.”
He nodded.
“Sleep, now, My Lord,” said Lira.
“I can’t sleep. I wish I could sleep, but I can’t, I’m so…”
“Of course you can, My Darling. I drugged your tea. Rest now. I will be back soon to check on you.” Neeka and Lira left and Lord Mica was soon sound asleep. Six hours passed. He was shaken awakened by his second in command, Cale. 
“Lord Mica, something is obstructing the view of camera three on the force field,” reported Cale. “I don’t like it. No, I don’t like it at all. They’re trying to obstruct our view for a reason. They may be building something, some large apparatus to break down our force field, then swarm us, and devour our flesh while we’re still alive. Do you want me to ask Lord Braedon to look into it?”
“No, Cale. Braedon needs to rest. I’ll get up and go find Keng and ask him to take a team and find out what it is.”
“Do you want me to go find him so you can rest?”
“No. I’m awake now.”
Lord Mica got up and went to the dining hall and found Keng. 

“Don’t you guys ever sleep?”
“We’ll sleep when this nightmare of a war is over, Lord Mica,” Keng answered. “We’ll eat like pigs, make love like crazy, get drunk, and sleep for a week.”
“I hope that day will be soon, my friend. Keng, something is blocking a security camera, number three, on the force field and Cale is getting all antsy about it. He thinks it’s a big batrach conspiracy to keep us in the dark until they find a way to destroy the force field. Do you think you could take a team and check it out?”
“Of course, Lord Mica. We’ll leave at first light,” Keng nodded. Keng looked around to find someone to go with him. He saw no one.

“Keng, what is it?” asked Braedon when he walked into the dining hall. “What’s the matter?”
“Oh, nothing. I have to go out and check a blocked camera. I was just looking for someone to take with me, and I can’t find any of our soldier clan.”
“I ordered them all to bed. Have you taken a good look at them lately? They are the most bedraggled lot I have ever seen. They look exhausted. But I’ll come with you. When do you want to leave?”
“At dawn.”

Braedon nodded.

Thursday, February 27, 2020



Good OmensThe Sniffer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Sniffer (Russian and UkrainianНюхач) is a Russian-language detective series produced and shot in 
Ukraine by FILM.UA Television, created, co-written, and directed by Artyom Litvinenko.

The show's protagonist (Kirill Käro) uses his unusually sensitive sense of smell, that allows him to detect and distinguish 
trace amounts of various substances, to investigate crimes. He works alongside his childhood buddy, Victor Lebedev 
(Ivan Oganesyan), a major (then colonel) in the Special Bureau of Investigations.[1]

The series premiered on November 11, 2013, on the Ukrainian TV channel ICTV and began airing in Russia on 
December 16, 2013, for 1TV. By 2014, the series is sold in 60 countries and has sold to a major French television channel.[2]
Even before its premiere, the series was officially renewed for a second season with eight new episodes. The second season 
opened on 1TV on October 5, 2015, with cinematography by Graham Frake, who had previously been head of photography 
In 2016, Amazon added the first season to their Amazon Prime line-up.[1]
Starting from May 2017, the first two seasons are streamed on Netflix. The third season is now available as well.
By Jan 31, 2017, filming of the third season was completed. Like the first two seasons, the third season consists of 8 episodes, 
which were shot over the course of 6 months.[3] In season 3, the Sniffer is set to encounter even more sophisticated criminals, 
already aware of his abilities. It is set to air in fall 2017 on Channel One Russia.[4]

  1. Jump up to: a b "The Sniffer" Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  2. Jump up to: a b Holdsworth, Nick (7 April 2014). "MIPTV: Original Ukrainian Crime Format 'The Sniffer' Sells to France"
  3. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Нюхач 3"Вокруг ТВ. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Kirill Kyaro Sniffed The Third Time"Кино-Театр. Retrieved 1 June 2017.

     People say they cannot read the subtitles and look at the film at the same time.
    I say "Of course, you can!"
    This is an excellent series with great acting and terrific writing. 
    To miss this because you do not want to read the subtitles is sad. 

There are three seasons of The Sniffer. It is available on Amazon Prime. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

INTERVIEW: Author John W. Nassivera

John W. Nassivera
Upstate Eastern New York

Good morning, John, and thank you for being with us this morning. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?
The Garden Raid, (middle grades fiction) presently a paperback. Being republished summer 2020 as an interactive eBook version featuring 15 original songs by various artists.
Chain Links We’re Better Together, an interactive eBook version featuring 19 original songs by various artists. (middle grades fiction) Also available in paperback.

The Magic You Don’t See, (children picture book) interactive eBook.
All my music is available through streaming on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. Also available on iTunes, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

What is your favorite genre to write?
I’m presently writing middle grades fiction and children books. I would also like to experiment with YA fantasy and adult historical fiction in the future.

Tea or coffee? 

Pizza or ice cream?

Wine or beer? 

Where would you like to visit? 
I would love to travel the US through a variety of adventure travels.

There are so many beautiful places to visit here in the US. The Grand Canton is a must. It's truly life-changing. Favorite musical artist. 
I enjoy artists who are storytellers, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, but I enjoy the guitar of Stevie Rey Vaughn, Carlos Santana, and BB King. Also enjoy classic rock; The Who, Beatles, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy. No favorites, but a lot of likes.

Do you listen to music when you write? What?
I don’t listen to music when I write.
I write music to complement my stories.
Books Set to Songs
I offer a totally unique reading experience by opening chapters of my stories with music. My books feature a variety of artists and music genres alongside the written text. Music and lyrics are composed to enhance the setting, character development, provoke an emotion, and allow you the reader to become more amerce in the story.

What makes you laugh? 
Young children and the human experience.
Favorite work of art or sculpture.       
I enjoy realism. 

How old were you when you started writing? 

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write? 
I have a story idea in my head that leads to research and sharing. Once my pen goes to paper I just write, which reveals new ideas that lead to additional research and conversations.

Describe your perfect evening. 
Hanging with family and friends in the natural environment, (forest, beech, mountain top, lake, ocean) especially after/during a physical adventure or challenge.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Growing up in small town America, my mother used our front porch as an outdoor living room for family and friends to pass the time. A place where advice was garnered, jokes were told, melodies were sung, and stories were spun. It was a place where my mother told tales that taught us the cultural ideals of family, friends, and community. I’ve carried her lessons into my approach to writing. My stories and music address subtle messages of friendships, community acceptance, respect, collaboration, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 
My mother.

My mission/vision for writing is Creating community one story at a time by complementing the good work our neighbors are doing, so that good work continues. When designing and developing my work, I try to use the following elements of JOY to guide my work. 

ConnectEngaging in the needs of the community.
RelationshipsForming and nurturing social groups that create and support healthy communities.
PurposeHelping people use their strengths to create innovative and sustainable solutions and deepen their sense of purpose.
ServiceActivating and cultivating Acts of service to humanity. 
Gratitude & CelebrationExpressing and nourishing the accomplishments of the work and giving back so that the good continues.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
Close the draft, walk away, do something totally different, and then come back.

Who is your favorite author?
At the moment I’m really enjoying Neil Gaiman.

I like Neil Gaiman, too. What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?

I just completed 30+ years as an educator in New York City. I started as a classroom teacher, designed curriculum, professionally published, presented at NSTA, awarded over 4 million dollars in grants, designed and open a new public high school, and was a teaching professor in the CUNY University system. I was fortunate to have many professional opportunities and I’m very thankful to all the people who made it happen. Without their hard work and partnerships, it would not have happened.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? 
Be ready to do the hard work to find and develop your voice. Most importantly just be you. There’s nobody else in the universe like you and the world deserves to hear from you.

Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Front Porch Storytelling blog:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

BOOK: Star Traveler Series by Theresa Snyder

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Excerpt: The Helavite War
Chapter - 1

            Many long years ago pivotal events occurred remembered by few modern historians.

            There lived a Henu… 
            He was the last of his kind… 
            The end of a dying race…
            His name was Arr…

            Arr could not remember the time when his people were many. He could only remember back to when there were two, he and his brother Nor.
            Nor told him wonderful stories of how the planet was peopled by hordes of Henu. His words drew pictures for Arr of forest communities where the Henu lived as gatherers, peacefully in their homes in the trees - homes that had laughing children and warm fires. Nor told of his memories of their mother and father, of the chilled nights when they would lie round the fire, snuggled deep in mounds of soft, fat cushions, listening to their father tell stories of his dealings as a trader with the galactic convoy.
            Arr's father was the backbone of the Henu colony. He was the trader of all the spices and herbs that the people gathered. He, like his father and his father's father before him, piloted the communal ship to the far corners of the galaxy, selling the goods and buying whatever the people of the planet needed. Being the older of the two boys, one day the position would be Nor's; then eventually Arr's. 
            However, none of this came to be. Arr and his brother's world ended the day The Others came. The day it happened there was no time to ask themselves where The Others came from or what they wanted - there was only chaos and death. Three days later, when The Others left the planet, the two brothers were the only ones still alive.
            Arr could just barely remember those three days. They were like a dream. They were still pictures in his mind like the drawings in the sand that they made in the summer, by the Crystal Lake. He heard his mother screaming to get to the trees for safety, his father calling his name right before he disappeared, in a cloud of dust. The Henu were all fleeing to the trees. The trees were on fire and the screams - he could still hear the horrible screams in his nightmares. Arr tried to go to his father and he would have died in the arch of the blast ray with him if it were not for Nor holding him back in the tall reeds by the water's edge. Three of the most important days of his life and that was all he could remember except for the numbing cold of the water as they crouched there waiting for The Others to leave.
            That was fourteen flowerings ago. Today he said goodbye to Nor for the last time. 
            It was a silly accident. They'd been stuck on the planet ever since The Others destroyed or stole everything, including their father's ship. They fled from the burnt forest and the smell of death to the opposite side of the tall mountains to the east. It was warmer there. The brothers took to wearing lighter clothing and sandals instead of the smooth knee high boots of their youth. Nor stepped on a thorn from a casha bush, when he tried to remove it the tip broke off. It was not long after that, that the foot began to swell and turned bad. Nor tried to remember all the herbs that his mother would have used, but so much was forgotten. He was only eight flowerings old when they lost their parents.
            Arr thought back as he sat watching Nor's funeral pyre engulfed in flames. It took Nor only five days to die. The last two he was delirious with fever. He talked of times long ago and called for their mother. Now Arr was alone, the last of the Henu.
            He could not imagine living without Nor. Nor taught him all he knew; all that was important in the world. Nor was brother, father and mother to him. He sat silently, as the flames licked at the clear blue spring sky. When there was nothing left but a pile of ashes, he cradled his head in his hands and cried until he could cry no longer. Then he gathered a few things together and headed back to where it all started, to the trees by the lake.
            The journey was shorter than he remembered it as a child, at Nor's heels. Then, it took what seemed like months to get to their new home. Now it took just eight days of dedicated hiking. Arr crested the small hills to the east of the forest about mid-morning. He somehow thought it would still look like that picture in his mind, all burnt and dead, but it was alive. The forest came back from its scorching. It was alive and green and beautiful again. He saw the lake to his right at the foot of the hills, still sparkling and crystal clear. As he made his way down into the valley, walking beneath the trees, he saw no signs that the Henu lived or died there. All was cleansed with the passage of time. 
            Since leaving the burnt forest his brother and he took to ground dwelling. Now, Arr had an uncontrollable urge to climb and climb high. His sandals were useless in the trees. He kicked them off and shinnied up the trunk using the natural handholds of knots and burls on its surface. He made a mental note to construct a pair of soft climbing boots as Nor taught him in the eventuality that they should return to the forest. 
            It was always Nor's plan to return home, but Arr was so reluctant that Nor put the deed off until a later time in the hope that his younger brother's memories might fade. In a way, this trip to the forest was really in memory of Nor.
            When Arr climbed to the highest branch, in the largest tree he could find, he found that he was home. The smell of the forest, still damp from the morning dew, the sway of the branches, the rustle of the leaves in the gentle breeze, were all so familiar to him. It all seemed so right. 
            He wished fervently that he had not delayed his brother from this trip.... 

            He wished they had come back years ago.... 
            He wished he was not alone....
            Arr spent several days camped by the lake. Each night he would climb a different tree and let the gentle sway of the branches in the evening breeze lull him to sleep. Before long he made the decision in which tree he was to build his home. The branches of one of the trees overlooking the lake were perfect. The tree lay open like a hand. In that palm he built his home. The wood from smaller trees made the walls. The reeds, still growing by the water's edge, made a waterproof roof. It was late spring by the time the house in the tree was completed.

Chapter - 2

            Jake Harcourt established orbit around the planet. He was a mercenary, the son of a mercenary. Jake had just come from ‘One Hell of a Battle,’ if you asked him. It had been on a small God forsaken planet in the Nubula System that was nothing more than a rock. The crunch came because the rock was almost solid galnon crystals. A very sought after item - worth your mother's weight in gold - and that's what Jake liked, the shiny stuff. Not that he didn't like the adventure of a good fight, but he found since he turned thirty-nine a few weeks ago some of the fun had gone out of the battles. Jake was finding more aches and pains after each confrontation. That's how he felt today, full of aches and even though he showered three times he still felt gritty from that dirty little planet. He wanted to see some green, relax for a few days and nurse his bad leg from that Arcanian pig sticker. He checked his father's log for the closest planet that was habitable, with a lot of green, where he could buy some fresh grub from the friendlies. His dad kept a detailed log of all the planets he visited and all the people he met in his forty odd years of mercenary work. The entry for this planet he was orbiting sounded like the ticket.

Met a trader today on Rigil Four. Name of Raa.
Nice robust chap with unusual bright, blue cat eyes.
Says his home is Sector 124, Section A10
Star Line 43/68/15/44, in the Nigula System. 
Sounds like a sweet place for R & R. 
Forested, tree dwellers.
He says the welcome mat is always out.
            Jake threw a few things in his pack. He tossed the pack in the planet pod for the trip down and called to Kay-o, a pet dar-dolf, something like a cross between a wolf and a bear. Jake picked up Kay-o as a prize in a game of chance, about two years ago. He had been trying to teach him manners ever since. The dar-dolf did not take well to discipline and he had very sharp teeth. However, even though he had a habit of chewing up Jake's best gloves every time he got a new pair, Kay-o was a loyal companion and a real scrapper in a fight. He'd saved Jake's bacon more than once.
            Kay-o planted himself confidently in the pilot's seat as though he intended to fly the pod himself.
            "Come!" Jake patted the passenger seat invitingly.
            Kay-o settled down in a half lying position in the pilot's seat, the sheer bulk of his massive, hairy body spilling over the edges of the chair. Even in this simi-reclining position he was still tall enough to be able to see out the front viewport. Jake thought for sure he detected a slight glint in the dar-dolf's eyes.
            "Kay-o! Come!" Jake commanded, in what he hoped was a more forceful tone. He followed the command with a tug on the dar-dolf's stout harness.
            Kay-o's eyes narrowed to slits and he emitted a deep rumbling growl.
            Jake removed one of his gloves from its place tucked under his belt and tossed it into the passenger seat. Kay-o obediently hopped over grabbing Jake's glove triumphantly in his paws. The mercenary thought he saw a sparkle of mischief in the beast's eyes as he tore into the leather of the new glove with his huge canines.
            "Enjoy it while you can," he muttered to Kay-o. "I swear that's the last one you get." Jake took his own position in the pilot's seat and powered up the thrusters for the descent to the planet's surface.
            When Jake got within scanner range he started looking for the settlement. There was none. Lots of green, but no people. His father's log was never wrong. Something must have happened. Jake decided to land and investigate. There was nothing he loved more than solving a good mystery.
            He set the planet pod down on the shore of a crystal blue lake at the edge of a grove of trees. The planet might not be inhabited, but it was a lovely place for a good rest. He and Kay-o piled out of the pod to start their reconnaissance.
            They found a tree dwelling almost immediately. There had been no effort made to conceal it. Jake was walking around the trunk of the tree wondering how to announce himself when everything happened at once.
            He saw a young man, hardly more than a boy, step through the bushes at the edge of the stand of trees. He was tall and slender. He wore britches and a loose fitting tunic of tan, with knee high boots of a soft fawn color. The kid was holding a knife in one hand, a bunch of reeds in the other. He had been gathering, not hunting. The boy was startled to see someone at his home. He stood transfixed, rigid in surprise, at the edge of the clearing under the trees. All of these details plus his beautiful, blue cat eyes, that stared out of an otherwise human looking face, Jake took in the few brief seconds before Kay-o sprung out of nowhere to attack the boy. The dar-dolf's sheer power and weight took the boy by surprise. His knees buckled and he was knocked to the ground. Kay-o saw the knife as a weapon. He went for the boy's throat, his teeth sinking savagely into the kid's shoulder. The boy screamed in pain and took a valiant stab at the dar-dolf, the knife glancing off the chain-mail coat Kay-o wore. This action reinforced the dar-dolf's feelings that this alien being was hostile. Kay-o went in for the kill.
            "Le-go!" Jake screamed. "Le-go! Back!" He hollered, as he tugged violently at Kay-o's harness. "Down!"
            Jake's commands to Kay-o were interspersed with kicks and curses. Eventually, he had to physically pull the raging dar-dolf off the boy and leave him lying there bleeding while he secured Kay-o in the planet pod. The dar-dolf had gotten his taste of blood. He was all for finishing the job. Flushed with anger, Jake dragged the snarling beast back to the pod. He couldn't be too angry with Kay-o. On Titan III there was a similar situation, but the guy in the bushes was an armed Adruvian and Kay-o's actions then saved Jake's life. After all, Kay-o was only a dumb dar-dolf. Sometimes, he had a hard time distinguishing friend from foe.
            By the time Jake made it back to the boy the lad was lying in a pool of blood, ashen colored and cool to the touch, but still alive. He had grabbed the first aid box from the planet pod. The mercenary went to work with that cool professionalism that only came from experience on the battlefield, many battlefields.
            He'd seen a lot worse injuries. This kid looked strong and healthy enough. If an infection didn't set in from the dar-dolf's filthy bite, he'd be okay. Even if an infection did develop, Jake had some antibiotics he'd saved for an emergency and in his opinion half killing a friendly was an emergency. Jake kept expecting someone else to show up while he was dressing the kid's shoulder. He was working on an explanation so they wouldn't lynch him, but no one came. Either they were out gathering and hadn't heard the commotion, though Jake thought that unlikely, or there wasn't anyone but this boy here as his instruments had shown.
            Once the kid's wounds were bandaged Jake decided to get him into the house in the tree. He had no difficulty slinging the unconscious lad over his shoulder. Jake's body weight was probably twice the boy's. And, he had another four to six inches of height on the boy, too. It was the climb up that hurt. His leg still bothered him when he stressed it. 
            He laid the boy on a pallet in the corner, covered him with a blanket of some unusual cloth and then started to look around.
            It was a simple place, but more than adequate. There were rush mats on the floor and over the windows. These were pulled back for the morning air and light. There was a pit carved in the middle of the wood floor, lined with clay and used as a fireplace, and there were cushions beside it made of the same unusual material as the blanket. The utensils on the low floor table by the fire pit, one wooden bowl, one wooden cup, indicated that Jake's guess was right, this boy was alone.
            Now that the emergency was over, Jake was starved. A reaction he often experienced after a crisis situation. He began to check the place for edibles. There were a group of storage baskets at the back of the room and he scrounged through them as quietly as possible in order not to disturb the slumbering boy. There was something that looked like a black potato, but smelled like an onion, something that looked like a cross between a carrot and a turnip, and some purple ball shaped objects that definitely were the potatoes of this planet. He juggled his assortment of vegetables in a loose embrace to the fire pit. Well, all he needed was some meat and he could make a decent stew. He checked to make sure the boy was still sleeping soundly, then descended to go hunt.
            When Jake returned to the planet pod he found Kay-o had calmed down enough to let him out for a run. The beast was curled up in the pilot's seat, glove between his paws, snoozing. 
            At the edge of the lake, he washed the boy's blood from the dar-dolf's face, than commanded him to ‘Seek.’ This was a universal command. It could result in Kay-o flushing out rabbits, quail, the enemy, or another friendly. But, Jake didn't have much fear that another accident would occur. He was relatively sure the only inhabitant of the planet was safe up a tree.         

            What had happened here? By signs that Jake was very familiar with he could tell that there had been a battle maybe ten to fifteen years ago. He ran his hand over the tree trunks where they were blaster scorched. He scuffed his boot across the laser dimples in the ground from ship to ground firing. Had they all been killed by some invading force? As hardened as Jake was it made him shiver to think that Kay-o almost killed the last of a race. Earthlings were very destructive in the past. Many species came to an end at their hands. Now they were almost fanatics about the preservation of diminishing civilizations. Even though Jake was basically a hired gun the thought that he was almost a party to, and the cause of a whole culture's demise, made him sick to his stomach. He'd have to make sure the boy was well enough to take care of himself, before he moved on.        

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