Book One of the Colonial Scouts Adventures
Impani is a homeless girl who turns out to be a technological whiz. Trace is a rich kid who struggles to prove he is more than his father's son. These two mismatched and insecure teenagers are paired together as they study to become Colonial Scouts.
But during a training exercise, a system malfunction projects them on a frightening journey across hostile worlds. Trapped in a fractured wormhole, they transport to a land peopled with telepathic animals, a jungle filled with eyeless green organisms, and a wasteland ruled by five-foot warrior ants. Each new world seems more perilous than the last, and they fear they will never return to the academy.
Look for Book Two: Susan's Gift
Impani flailed her arms, striking the ground. Pain exploded with the brilliance of stars. She turned her face from the sand, gulping the dusty air, drawing her knees against her aching chest. The hooves continued pounding, becoming distant.
Then Trace appeared at her side, brushing the sand away, helping her to sit. He leaned close, cupping her face in his hands. His eyes hardened.
“Some tour,” he said.
Laughter bubbled in Impani’s throat. She got to her feet. “Look what we’ve found.”
Animals clustered in a valley a short distance away. Some looked like small camels, others like bushy goats. They milled about, acting nervous and skittish.
Looking around, she saw why. A lizard creature circled the herds, pulling itself up to a full meter’s height and running on its hind legs. It held its thick tail out behind it, front claws close to its chest.
A predator. Impani dropped to a crouch, glancing to either side. If the creature turned toward her and Trace, the closest refuge was thirty meters behind them.
Her shaggy tour guide slowed to a stop, joining a group of similar animals. Impani saw a second reptile edge forward from the opposite direction. She thought the bovine beasts would run, but they moved only a short distance away, keeping tight within their group. Why were they waiting?
Suddenly, the sand rolled, forming a ribbon that darkened and oozed. The animals stirred, moving toward its edge.
Impani narrowed her eyes. Tugging at Trace’s elbow, she stole toward the valley’s sandy slope.
Liquid welled out of the ground—a thick, colorless liquid that rolled in currents like a river. The animals drank side-by-side, even the dragon-like predators. The stiff water dripped in strands from their jaws, leaving slimy patches upon their forelegs.
Leaves formed along the river’s edge, green shoots twisting and reaching for the light. The fluid ebbed, sinking into the ground, leaving a strip of depressed sand. In its wake, hundreds of plants shot up, their leaves unfurling rapidly, spreading like a carpet.
The predators moved back, apparently sated. But the other animals grazed feverishly, as if time were running out—and, indeed, many of the plants on the outermost reaches were wilted and dark, the heat of the sand crisping them.
Impani crept nearer, fascinated.
Trace grabbed her arm.
Fifteen meters away, a reptilian face lifted from a dune of sand, watching them, its eyes black and expressionless. Jutting out its neck, it opened its jaws, exposing a double row of hooked teeth.