In the Cascade Mountains of Western Washington State, Dr. Lenis Taylor, astronomer extraordinaire, sat in the mountaintop observatory, with his eye pressed to the lens of a massive telescope. When he wasn’t here, he lived in the plush two-story mansion that nestled beside the observatory at the summit of the mountain he happened to own.
Dr. Taylor jotted down information in a notebook. Then his attention turned solely to what lay at the other end of the telescope lens: the star cluster known as Orion, but more specifically, the O.R.I.O.N Weather Station.
From scope to notebook, he switched his attention until he keyed a microphone that sat nearby. He said, “Hunter… do you read me?”
Crackling noise answered back followed by the faraway sound of Hunter’s voice. “You’re a little distorted, Taylor, but I can still make you out. How do we look from Earth?”
Dr. Taylor felt an intense rush of pure envy wash over him. It felt hot and uncomfortable. Still, he drew in a deep breath and answered, “Like a fly speck.”
Hunter quipped back, “Thanks for the encouragement.”
Taylor gave a short sarcastic burst of laughter. “No, really, the scope is picking you up crisp and clear.”
Hunter’s tone seemed relieve. “Good. I can’t talk long, got to concentrate on staring her up. Talk with you in two hours, Lenis.”
Taylor couldn’t stop the whine in his voice. “Roger. Promises, promises.”
Hunter laughed. “You’ll get your turn, Len.”
Taylor let out a loud burst of laughter this time, followed by. “Yeah, yeah, yeah…”
The last thing he heard through the microphone was Hunter saying, “Over and out.” He unkeyed the trigger and positioned his eye back on the lens.
In Hydroponics, a glass domed room where various types of fruit trees, vegetable gardens and herbs grew in profusion, Dr. Kiko Shindo wandered among the lush inhabitants. As the station botanist and agriculture expert, she was very much at home among the plant life as if she was a wood sprite guarding the forest primeval.
Kiko stood on tiptoes to check the sprinkler system and then she seemed to glide toward and kneel beside a tomato plant suspended in the air above a water cistern. Using a dipper, she took a water sample from beneath the plant.
She cooed Japanese to the plant as if it was a much loved child. “Let us see if your water is acidic enough.” Satisfied that her “baby” was otherwise doing fine, she carried the sample to a long work table.
So ingrossed in what she was doing, she barely heard Carmella call to her from the doorway, “How’s it going, Kiko? Are your babies flourishing?”
Kiko looked up, startled out of her daydream. She smiled broadly. “Good morning, Carmella-san.” Her loving gaze swept the entirety of the glass-domed room before settling back on Carmella. “We are doing just fine.”
Carmella gave her familiar nod of approval and crisp reply. “Very well, Kiko. Carry on then.”
Kiko beamed with childlike pleasure. “Yes, that I will do, Dr. Beaumont.”
Carmella smiled like an indulgent mother and then ducked into the corridor.
Koko frowned with purpose as she took out acid/alkaline checking chemicals, filled a dropper and then proceeded to drop the chemicals into the water sample. All seemed right with the world since she was exactly were she wanted to be.
Copyright Ledia Runnels 2012
Image at top taken from “Creation of the Cascade Mountains” http://highonadventure.com/Hoa08apr/Vicki/creation%20of%20the%20cascade%20mountains.htm manipulated with Photoshop filters.
Second Image taken from “Hydroponics Systems General” http://general-hydroponics-systems.com/ manipulated with Photoshop filters.
During a time of civil war, Karasu Hinata is born the son of a powerful warlord. When he is still a child, his family castle is taken by a rival clan. His father and mother are murdered right before his eyes.
Barely escaping with his life, he is spirited away by the king of the tengu. The shape-shifting raven leads him to the hidden mountain retreat of a sect of mystic warriors. Mountain priests who practice the magic of Shugendo.
Ten years have passed. The time has come for Karasu to leave the mystic’s protective lair and face his demons in the world beyond. But the fiend that haunts his nightmares is also the one that shattered his life. More than a bad dream, it wants him dead.
In Legend of the Tengu Prince, nothing is as it seems. Shape-shifting creatures, both good and evil, populate the magical world of feudal Japan. And a young man will pay the ultimate price for a deadly rival spawned in the mists time. This riveting first volume of a epic fantasy adventure will leave you stunned and begging for more.