Book Two of The Colonial Scouts Adventures
Trace Hanson is an average, insecure teenager with an unusual job--he travels to alien planets through programmable wormholes and reports his findings to the Colonization Board. He's grateful to have this job not only because the alternative is prison (he was sent to the Colonial Scouts as a plea bargain for a crime he did not commit) but because here is where he met Impani, the most beautiful and brilliant girl he'd ever known.
Their relationship is tested, however, when Trace is named captain over Impani, and their team is sent to assist a colony under attack by unknown assailants. Only Trace knows of their orders to rescue the fifteen colony leaders and leave the other fifty-five people stranded. The team believes Trace was chosen captain because the colony is headed by his estranged father.
Trace's father, a wealthy land owner with political ties, funded the expedition to the planet because plants grow there at an accelerated rate. He intends to harness the planet and end the Federation's food shortage. The plants fight back as indestructible mold creatures.
After several people disappear, Trace realizes that the creatures they are battling are actually missing colonists who have themselves been colonized by the sentient jungle. His only chance to salvage the situation is to fall back on his roots as a farm boy and learn what the plants really want. He gains their trust by allowing them to enter his mind and experience his thoughts. In the end, he saves more than the lives of seventy colonists. He strengthens his relationship with his father, his friends, and the girl he loves, as well as gaining faith in himself.
Look for Book Three: Watery Deep
For the first time in his life, Aldus Hanson wished he were someone else. He sat in the cargo area of the utility vehicle with his assistant and four field workers, and he was afraid. But he wasn’t allowed to be afraid. This was his show.
“Faster. Go faster,” a woman groaned behind him.
“Excuse me,” the driver shouted, “but you may have noticed that the road is missing.”
Aldus glanced out the mold-spotted windshield at the riotous color outside. The roadway had indeed been overrun, the fungus jungle encasing it like the closing of a wound. The treelike mushrooms that had been plowed under a week ago now stood as tall as a man. Bright yellow bracket fungi grew larger than truck tires. How could they mature so fast?
This world was to be his crowning conquest. If he could harness the secret of accelerated growth, he would feed the universe. But more than that, he would give meaning to his wife’s death. Chagrin filled him.
He wished he could take back the last two months.
Suddenly, something heavy struck the truck, causing it to swerve. Aldus wrenched forward. He heard a patter of footsteps across the roof, and then a loud thump as a man-shaped creature landed on the vehicle’s hood. Moss and lichen covered its body, draping the heavy arms like gray fur. It turned its eyeless face to peer through the windshield.
The driver yelled and veered. The truck teetered on two wheels. With a groan of metal, it slammed onto its side, skidding. Aldus fell hard upon his shoulder, gasping with the weight of someone upon him. The engine roared and died. For a moment, all he heard was the tapping of falling pebbles. Then one of the field workers kicked open the back doors. Hazy light broke over him.
“Get up, Mr. Hanson,” Cole said in his ear. “Sir, we have to get out of this truck.”
“I’m all right,” Aldus said, although his voice sounded distant.
Leaning on his assistant, he clambered out of the vehicle. A blaze of color dazzled him—bright purple puffballs, stringy orange vines. The toppled truck had dug a trench through the thick undergrowth. To the side, three men and a woman huddled together.
The woman wept. “Is it gone? Did you see where it went?”
“With any luck, it’s buried,” said a man.
Then a sound met them—like wind whistling through pine boughs. The howl of the monster.