Saturday, May 11, 2019

My Fifth Anniversary as an Indie Author of Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories


 SeriesStarters

This May, I’m Celebrating my Fifth Anniversary as an Indie Author

In the last five years, I have published a total of 14 full-length novels in four main series, 1 standalone novel, two novellas and a few short stories. These stories run the gamut from fantasy, science fantasy and superheroes to SciFi adventure and romance. It is still a struggle to find time to write because I have a family and a full-time job.

I write science fiction and fantasy adventures entwined with romances. You can find a list of my published stories HERE.

My Series

 GM Galaxy

SciFi Fantasy - Super psychics in space. One young woman challenges the super psychics ruling the galaxy, and finds an impossible love
Grand Master’s Pawn, Book 1  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay  PRINT  - 99c SALE
Grand Master’s Trilogy, Boxset of Books 1-3 – Cheapest option  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay
Cosmic Lock, Book 6, coming later in 2019


 Atrapako

SciFi Romance. Feisty scientist solves puzzle of scaly aliens.
The Lady is Blue, Book 1  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay  PRINT - 99c SALE
Dragon Lady, Boxset of Books 1 & 2  Amazon  Kobo  Apple  B&N  GooglePlay


 Secret Supers

Fantasy adventure & romance. Superheroes with quirky animal sidekicks tackle murderous villains in three fun adventures with a dash of romance.
Secret Supers, Boxset of Books 1-3  Amazon  iBooks  B&N  Kobo  GooglePlay



 TaxyonSpace

Near Future SciFi thriller & romance. Daredevil scientist and scarred alien in perilous alliance
Europa, Book 1  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay  PRINT
Jupiter, Book 3  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay



 Colony

Standalone novel
For refugees from an overcrowded Earth, dreams of a better life on an alien planet transform into a terrifying battle for survival.

Anthology of my shorter works
Trudge over the rocks of Mars, trek through a hazardous alien jungle, or pop across the galaxy in a pirate ship in five fun tales of adventure and romance.

Novellas
Captured by the Hawk A space operetta, fun and fast-paced.
Rosemary’s Quest Young adult fantasy: teenage witch meets demon king and white wizard.

 Gifts

Gifts of Jangalore FREE short story set in the Grand Masters’ universe.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Read the First Chapter of Trapped on Vkani


 Trapped
    

Marooned on a desolate planet, joining forces with the enemy is their only hope for escape.     

     Maya Pandita spent years preparing for an expedition to the Deadlands. But her dreams of unearthing ancient artifacts are shattered when her shuttle is buried by a violent sandstorm, and her team is abducted by the scaled inhabitants of the planet. Maya and her companions must try to outwit their blue captor and call for help before they die in the toxic atmosphere.  

     Sa Vittaran has a problem in his claws. Along with treasures from the ruins, he has retrieved three smooth-skinned foreigners. They will die if he leaves them in the desert. Yet the puny creatures have little value as slaves, except perhaps for the impudent woman who claims to be their leader. He plans to keep her. Her knowledge of the ancient texts will be an asset if she can survive the long trek to his house.
     An attack by marauders forces Maya and the Blue leader into a wary alliance. They must work together to thwart the bandits and reunite their company. Can Maya convince Sa Vittaran to help her team? If she fails, they are doomed to a short unpleasant life on the desolate, war-torn planet. 




Pre-Order at Amazon  Apple  B&N  Kobo



Chapter 1. Sandstorm in the Deadlands


     The sandstorm whirled out of the desert and plowed into the shuttle.
     Red grit rattled on the windshield. Maya flinched. Surely the transparent screen wouldn’t shatter? The prospect of a delay annoyed her more than the storm. Her team was ready to land and explore the ruins, remnants of an ancient civilization destroyed millennia ago in a nuclear catastrophe. She glanced at the tablet embedded in her armrest. Their instruments had detected the walls of a city under the sand, and she had pinpointed a landing site in the center of a large complex. But, they had overshot the outlined walls and were shifting further away.
     The shuttle bucked in the violent gusts.
     “Helmets on,” Jack yelled, struggling to control the shuttle’s erratic path. “I’m taking her down.”
     The four surveyors had discarded their headgear in the climate-controlled cabin. Now, they hurried to fasten their helmets, or more accurately, head masks with built-in goggles. They wore military-issue suits, provided by the Terran Space Authority for exploring dangerous environments like the Deadlands. Its heat and acrid atmosphere made the Deadlands unfit for life, but the high radiation levels posed the severest hazard. Their suits even had boosters to facilitate walking and lifting in the planet’s high gravity.  
     Rocked by the powerful winds, the shuttle lurched to starboard. The floor tilted. A cascade of rust-red sand blocked their view. The external monitors darkened under the onslaught of sand particles.
     Abruptly, screens blanked.
     The air recycler coughed to a halt.
     Lights flickered out.
     Maya froze in a flash of panic. Her first mission, the first she had led, might be her last. She fingered the bridge of the nose filters under her mask. If the air scrubber failed, she would need the filters to block the grit and toxic atmosphere. Her team must also be realizing their deadly peril. For the most part, they were handling the shock well.
     In the co-pilot’s seat, Hong gasped. She glanced over her shoulder at Maya, dismay written in her eyes, although the mask muffled her face.
    Seated next to Maya, their tech expert, Felix, cursed as he jabbed his fingers on his tablet.
     A beep announced the switch to emergency power. Spots of orange light illuminated the cabin. In the eerie silence, Maya surveyed her companions with a new clarity. The dim orange glow highlighted their goggles and special suits, giving them an alien appearance. The insulated suits were colored and patterned with scales to mimic the native inhabitants in case her team was spotted from the borders of the Deadlands. She had recruited her assistant, Hong Dinh, on Terra. Hong’s role was to make digital records of the ancient artifacts, and she had basic medical training in case of any accidents. Felix McCree was their tech expert, a genius with any type of machine, from electronic devices to mechanical engines. Lastly, Maya focused on Jack. Major Jarvi had been assigned by the Terran Space Authority as their pilot and expert on inhospitable environments. He would know what to do in this emergency.
     “Jack?” she prompted.
    “Felix, check the instruments,” he ordered, tapping the control panel. “Hong, call the station.” Their support staff, Lieutenants Kit Rangi and Ross Wu of the Security Division, were based in the orbiting station.
     His eyes fixed on the screens, Felix played his fingers over the keys.
     Grabbing the mike, Hong called, “Mayday, mayday. Come in Big Bird.” After repeating the call for the third time, she swiveled to face Jack. “There’s no answer.”
     He directed his laser beam at the windshield. The light reflected on a dull red surface with tiny glints of crystalline particles. “The shuttle’s buried under the sand. A thick layer. Too thick, I’d guess, for our radio transmissions to penetrate to the surface.” Twisting to look back at Felix, he asked, “What’s the damage?”
     “Bad. We’ve lost power. Engine’s jammed. Sensors indicate silica particles everywhere.”
     Pinpointing a critical factor, Maya asked, “How much oxygen do we have?”
     Felix punched the pad and groaned. “Enough for about three hours. Possibly longer if we don’t exert ourselves.”
     “Or less if the tank’s been holed,” Jack warned. “The oxygen was intended for our trips to the space station and not for consumption on the ground.”
     “Won’t Kit and Ross send a shuttle to search for us?” Hong asked.
     Maya said, “I’d signaled them the landing site we’d selected. But, the storm blew us way off course. They won’t know where to look.”
     “I saw mountains in the distance,” Jack volunteered, “just before the sand hit the screen. The shuttle might have landed near the border of the Deadlands.” The explosion creating the Deadlands had carved out a basin rimmed with high cliffs and mountains.
     She shook her head. “It doesn’t help. We’ve no way to signal the station and they could take days to locate us. We’ll have to manage alone.” Shooting a glance at Jack, she said, “Any suggestions? You’re our expert on hazardous sites.”
     “Okay.” Jack exhaled a slow breath. “Here’s my suggestion. We wait one or two hours. If we still can’t make contact, we’ll try to tunnel to the surface.”
     “Can we unload the digger?” Hong asked.
     “Won’t work,” Jack said flatly. “We’ve nowhere to dump the sand except inside the cabin.” 
     Swiveling to tap Maya’s arm, Felix said, “It’s your decision. You’re the boss.”   
     Weighed down by the responsibility for their lives, she nodded. “Okay, we’ll wait one hour.”
     Every ten minutes, Hong sent the distress signal.
     After trying for the fifth time to restart the engines without success, Jack said, “I reckon the intake’s clogged with sand.” 
     Felix unscrewed the base of the control panel and began to test the wiring.
     While they waited, Maya checked the storage lockers and made an inventory of their supplies. They had food concentrates and water to last five days, lasers, and miscellaneous detectors for the expedition. The bulldozer and sand blower were in the cargo hold. They had brought everything needed to excavate the underground ruins and explore the ancient site, including ropes for climbing into subterranean rooms. According to the scientists from Eden who fielded the earlier expedition, the underground levels of the buildings might be intact. But, they had expected to use the shuttle as their base, with its controlled temperature, filtered air, and generator to power the excavation tools. At this point, they must abandon the mission and concentrate on escaping the shuttle and calling the space station for help.
     Anger and frustration swelled inside her. They were trapped. Buried under the radioactive sands and low on oxygen. What a stupid way to end her first mission!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Atrapako on Eden - Characters


 Lady

Characters in Book 1, The Lady is Blue

Terran Colonists
Dr. Lucy Anne Stannis, chief biologist                   
Dr. Colin Murti, physician                                     
Roger Fourno, Lucy’s boyfriend
Dr. Trisha Duran, biologist                                              
Dr. Jun Danzhu, physicist                                    
Peter Angelino, actor                                           
Mossy Fairweather, governor                                         
Don Vargo, governor                                                      
Bernal Mathis, governor                                                 
Sammy Lee, curious boy                                                    
Sonia Conde, Lucy’s student
Anton Garin, Sonia’s friend and Jun’s student
Celia and Tom, farmers
Dr. Anne Winter
Alan

Terran Space Authority
Admiral Simon Sinclair, Lucy’s uncle

Atrapako

Sa Kamizan Veedak, Blue captain of their spaceship
Te Suzzaine Sukla, Green scientist
Te Tamarkis Varenne, Green scientist
Sa Radekis Volkin, Blue
Sa Marakur Zolan, Yellow musician
Venerable Lady Kamilla, Blue
Sa Varasek, Blue, Lady Kamilla’s son
Zora, mates with Sa Radekis

Note: Atrapako colors represent their caste.
Reds are given no names and do not speak to superior classes.



 Vkani

New Characters in Book 2, Dragons of Vkani

Edeners and/or Terran Stock
Asher, Lucy and Sa Kamizan’s son
Mrs. Lee, Sammy’s mother   
Pat Hammer, inept assassin

Space Traders
Jamie Stannis, Lucy’s brother
Elissa, Jamie’s wife
Eloise and Elliot, children of Jamie and Elissa

Atrapako on Eden
Zod and Vin Ziggurak, Red brothers, emancipated from caste system
Zoltan, son of Sa Radekis and Zora
Kamlin, Sa Varasek’s son
Sa Zorkin, Blue leader of anti-human faction
Sa Garmis, Green in Sa Varasek’s team
Sa Takanur, Blue in Sa Varasek’s team

Terran Space Authority
Annamarie Sinclair, Admiral Sinclair’s wife
Lieutenants Mike Barrat and Andrea Wintroski, liaisons for rescuers

Atrapako on Vkani
Lady of Ravenak, Te Kamizan Veela, Blue, Sa Kamizan’s sister
Raven/Ravenna, Blue, Veela’s daughter
Colonel Gunilaz, Green, Veela’s master of arms
Te Seekara Lallaine, Blue ex-lover of Sa Kamizan
Te Ziggurak Gistane, Yellow, Zod & Vin’s sister
Giri, Gistane’s son
Sa Mantikur Ilinuz, Green scientist
Te Mantikur Ilina, Yellow
Sa Volan Taran, Yellow mate of Te Mantikur


Monday, November 12, 2018

#New - JUPITER, Book 3 of Taxyon Space #SciFi Thriller


 Jupiter

A simple hop across hyperspace turns deadly, smashing hopes for a human-Warrish alliance
Nikki and Kiron Ramis Bell, the unique Warrish-human duad, are studying the marine life of Rishalt when they are summoned for an audience with the Prime. Tol-Jadel sets them the task of investigating a hyperspace perturbation near Jupiter. This anomaly threatens to sever the routes connecting Earth and Rishalt. They must return to the ocean of Europa to identity the cause of the disruption. But, tensions are rising between Warrish Watchers and the humans on Galileo Station, and Earth’s governments are squabbling over the proposed alliance with the aliens. Can Nikki and Kiron erase the obstacle before their home planets are separated forever?

Available for at Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay



Chapter 1.

A dozen lengths below the rippling surface of the sea, Kiron Ramis Bell rotated in a full circle, alert for predators or the transparent threads of stingers. As he spun through the water, he slowed to admire Nikki’s slim figure, her curves accentuated by the wetsuit she wore, and her dedication to studying the marine life of Pallivan Preserve. She crouched five paces away, her camera aimed at a sedentary triale. Its slender stalk thinned below the three-petaled magenta top. As he watched, the imitation flower broke away from its stalk and rose toward the surface. They had discovered this phenomenon only yesterday, and she had woken him before sunrise to record the budding.
His qtel vibrated. He descended to plant his feet on the seabed, carefully avoiding the triales, and read Sora’s message, “Come as fast as you can swim.” One of the Prime’s daughters, Brisa Sora Tarlin Galamis had no need to justify her summons, and he guessed she preferred to explain in person.


He tapped the qtel on his wrist and held out his hand in mute invitation. She furrowed her brow and shook her head, clearly reluctant to quit her observation of the triales. A large cluster of the flower-like animals covered the bottom of this submarine valley. Nikki had already netted a hexad of the mobile triales that were destined for an aquarium in Sora’s laboratories.
Guilt washed over him. He ought to have taught her the hand signs his people used underwater. She had so much to learn. They both did. Living as a duad with the combined name of Ramis Bell was unique in Warrish society.
As Nikki bent down to examine the triale, he dove toward her. Holding her shoulders and pressing his lips to her ear, he said, “Sora calls.”
She scrunched her face in annoyance. Instead of complaining, she lowered the camera onto her chest, repacked her kit and tucked it into the side pocket of her backpack. She knew how indebted they were for Sora’s hospitality. They had spent five peaceful hexads living with Sora and her triad sister, while Nikki collected data on the local wildlife. During the day, they had explored the preserve, and in the evenings, they shared stories of other worlds with the sisters. Sora had traveled widely before her triad settled in Pallivan to manage the preserve. Sometimes, Viala would sing folksongs, keeping time by beating a drum and rattling a string of shells.
He pulled Nikki onto her feet and pointed at the surface. Shallow waves rolled across the calm sea. Something tickled his sixth toe, and he glanced down at his bare foot. The stem of a triale snapped, freeing a pink flower. Acting on an invisible signal, tiny pops sounded all around as the entire field of triales released their mobile florets. Like a flock of three-winged birds, pink, white and purple flowers shot upward, fluttering in the currents.
Instantly, Nikki activated her camera to capture the rising mass of petals.
As the florets drifted away, he grasped her elbow, urging her to stop. She nodded and stowed the camera in her pack.
They kicked off simultaneously, swimming through the green ripples toward the sunlight. Emerging above the surface waves, he inhaled a deep breath to inflate his lungs. Low on the horizon, the rising sun lit the wave crests, while the red crescent of the Rudea, third moon, gleamed high in the cloudless sky. Twisting to face Nikki, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her lips. As they floated together, he said, “Honey Nikki, Sora wants to see us. Fast.” He spoke Warrishan to help Nikki become fluent in his language.
“Why?” Puzzled, Nikki cocked her head. “We’ve been out for less than an hour, and the triales have only just budded. What’s so urgent?”
“Sora didn’t say. It must be important. She wouldn’t interrupt your studies without a good reason.” Sora and her sister, Viala, were ardent biologists and shared Nikki’s love for nature.
Squashing her disappointment, Nikki grinned and squeezed his arm. “Okay. Let’s race to the island.” They both wore jet tubes for speedy travel in the sea.
“Urish,” he agreed in the convenient Warrish word encompassing, “Yes,” “Okay,” “I see,” or “I’m on the job,” and a variety of equivalent phrases in the Earther language.
With practiced coordination, they ducked under the waves. Activating the jets, they zoomed toward their hostesses’ lodge on the island of Primo Pallivan.
He glanced sideways at Nikki’s face. Her resolute expression suggested the thrill of their race had swept away her initial annoyance. Of course, he quickly drew ahead. He had spent his entire life swimming in the sea and knew how to angle his body to maximize the thrust of each ocean swell. Also, his combined adaptations of gills and lungs pumped oxygen into his bloodstream more efficiently than her breathers, the artificial oxygen extractors inserted in her nostrils.
In less than a sixth of an hour, the sea bottom slanted up to the shore of the island. When he reached the outer reef, Kiron slowed to allow her to catch up. In the shallow water, they switched off the jets, and glided toward dry land. A beach of white sand sloped gently up to the coral-walled residence. Purple fronds of zantal trees shaded a wide veranda, and its windows opened onto cool rooms with floors of pale ocher tiles.
As they waded to the beach, Nikki caught his hand. “I hope this won’t take long, so we’ll be able to chase after the mobile triales. I wanted to trace their migration.”
Gripped by an uneasy foreboding, Kiron stifled a groan. After four miserable years under an abusive First, he treasured every happy moment with Nikki. But, their peaceful interlude couldn’t last forever. Did this summons mark the end of their honeymoon? Unwilling to upset Nikki by voicing his worries, he gestured to the veranda. “Sora is waiting for us.”
Their hostess walked to meet them at the top of the beach. With her weathered face and practical clothes, Brisa Sora did not resemble a lady of the highest rank. Indeed, their benefactrix preferred her occupation as a scientist and overseer of the marine preserve to mingling with the fashionably dressed courtiers in the Pearl Pyramid.
Brisa Sora crossed her hands over her heart and uttered the standard greeting, “Calm Seas, Nikki and Kiron. Forgive me for interrupting your studies. Please come in and take a seat by the fire.” She led them up the wooden steps to the cool veranda, where an awning decorated with shells shaded the sandstone floor. 
Kiron stowed their jets in the wall cabinet and slipped on the tunic he had left on a shelf. In his amphibious culture, bare chests were extremely vulgar on dry land, while the opposite held true underwater. When he returned, the ladies sat cross-legged on cushions around the firepit. He took a subservient position, crouched on one knee behind Nikki, ready to serve as her protector and adviser on Warrish protocol. She glanced over her shoulder and reached back to tug him onto the cushions.
Smiling at Sora, she said, “We came quickly, and we’re torn with curiosity.”
“Haste is needed. Prime Jadel has summoned you,” Sora’s gaze flicked from Nikki’s face to Kiron’s, “both of you, to an audience in the ninth level of the Pearl Pyramid.”   
“An audience with Tol-Jadel?” Nikki breathed. As First in the Prime triad, Jadel stood at the pinnacle of the hierarchical Warrish society.
A smile flashed over Sora’s olive-green face. “My exalted mother.”
“Sora, can’t you give us a hint of the Prime’s reason for recalling us to Pucklerakt?”
In her blunt manner, Sora said, “No clue has come to my ears. I swim clear of politics.”
“As we do, by preference,” Nikki agreed. “Whatever Tol-Jadel wants of us, I cannot agree to act against the interests of my people, the Earthers.”
“Her goals are ever subtle. You may be unable to decide whether her demand will benefit Earthers or not.”
Exchanging a dubious look with Kiron, Nikki said, “We’ll have to find out what she wishes.”
“Her jetter will arrive in a twentieth cycle,” Sora said. “Jadel will not be pleased by any delay in obeying her orders. I recommend you pack your possessions and prepare for a journey. You might need to depart immediately after your audience.”
“An hour and a half?” Nikki protested. “Must we leave so soon? What about all my specimens and the fish tanks?” 
“I advise you to prepare as well as you can. Don’t worry about your research samples. If necessary, I can send your specimens to the Earther Embassy for transport to your solar system.”
“You’re very kind,” Nikki murmured. She glanced at him, cocking her head in a mute appeal for his opinion.
Kiron smiled fondly at her. As long as he traveled with Nikki, he did not care about their destination. “We’ll be ready in the flick of a finger.” He took her by the hand and they retired to their bedroom to pack.

* * *

First, Nikki sat at the table and transferred the latest images of budding triales onto her data store, the silver shell-shaped pendant she always wore under her wetsuit. Next, she laid her clothes out on the bed and pulled on her best dress, an ankle-length pink gown. Besides the dress provided by the Triarch’s seamstresses, she had only a casual tunic, a spare wet suit and her overalls from Galileo Station. Everything, including her biokit, tablet and camera, fit neatly into her light travel pack.
Kiron also had few belongings. His clothing comprised two white shirts, a durable winter jacket and his best outfit for special occasions. He kept his prized possessions in a pouch on his belt, the spy gadgets he had acquired as a Watcher on Europa and the medical kit from his military service. Muttering a mild complaint, he knelt to fasten well-polished boots on his wide six-toed feet. She smiled in sympathy. Warrish seldom wore shoes, only for formal occasions or when hiking over rough terrain.
She paused to gaze at him, assessing the changes since she had met him at the party on Pucklerakt. He wore the same slate blue jacket and glossy black trousers, formal attire suitable for the audience with Tol-Jadel. After weeks of good food, he had regained the weight he had lost during his exile on Obelle. His bruised cheeks and haunted eyes had healed, and his angular features showed happiness rather than wariness. The jagged scar under his left eye had acquired a silver sheen from Jadel’s touch when she released him from the betrothal arranged by his parents.  
Irritated by the Prime’s summons, she wondered how he could appear so calm. “Don’t you find it strange that Tol-Jadel has called on us so unexpectedly? Aren’t you upset about leaving sooner than we wished?”
“Why would I be upset? We owe our union to the Prime’s generosity.”
“I’m thankful she freed you from your family obligations. But, do you imagine she permitted our marriage for our benefit? I’d guess she had an ulterior motive.”
“The Primes are subtle. They follow hidden currents and knit the hyperthreads into the destiny they desire.” Drawing her into his arms, he kissed her, then murmured, “Don’t be anxious, Nikki. The Primes are never capricious. They approve of our union and will not separate us on a whim.”   
“I hope you’re correct.” Signing in resignation, she said, “We’d better carry our bags to the dock and say goodbye to Sora and Viala.” Easing out of his embrace, she slung the pack over her shoulders.
“I’m ready.” He lifted his pack and followed her out of the bedroom.

The two Galamis sisters met them on the veranda. Viala, a shorter and meeker version of her sister, hung back as befitting the Third in their broken triad. She preferred to wear pastel shades of ruby, their triad color, while her elder sister chose the darker hues as more practical.
Nikki smiled at the two sisters. “Brisai Sora and Viala, we’ll always be grateful for your kindness.”
Standing at her side, Kiron gave a deep bow.
Sora said, “My sister and I have enjoyed your company. We’ll miss your tales of distant worlds.”
Viala gave a shy smile and murmured, “Calm seas.” As the junior sister, she conceded the bulk of the conversation to Sora. 
Grasping Sora’s hands, Nikki said, “I hope we’ll meet again, either here, or perhaps you can visit us in my solar system.”
“A wonderful idea.” Sora smiled. “Until we meet, we can exchange notes via our quantels.”
Shrugging in frustration, Nikki said, “Kiron has a qtel, but I don’t. After I escaped from the kidnappers, I disgarded my com so they couldn’t track my location.” She rubbed the bronze bracelet on her left wrist, thankful she hadn’t lost Kiron’s gift.
“An easy problem to fix.” Sora gestured to her sister. “Viala will fetch one of our spares for you.”
“Urish,” Viala agreed. She ran into the house on her errand.
They waited quietly, gazing beyond the harbor to the open sea to catch the first sight of the Prime’s jetter.
Viala returned and fastened a qtel around Nikki’s wrist. Giving Nikki a brief hug, she sobbed, “Farewell dear sister. We may never meet again. May the Great Mother ward storms from your path.” Tears filled her eyes, and she raced inside the lodge, ignoring Kiron in her sorrow.
Watching her sister leave, Sora sighed. Then, she turned to stare across the waves and gestured to the harbor. “Let’s walk to the dock.”
Nikki walked down the wooden stairs beside Sora, while Kiron trod behind the two women.
As they descended, Sora said, “My sister is saddened by your sudden departure. She still mourns the sister we lost to illness a half year ago. Viala hoped you would stay and complete our broken triad.” 
Appreciating the strength of the triad bond, Nikki considered her response with care. “We are sisters in science. Yet, I cannot complete a triad. It wouldn’t be fair to Kiron. He has no triad. We are the Ramis-Bell duad.” 
“Your duad has the blessing of Tol-Jadel.” Sora’s eyes twinkled. “I have no complaints. You and I share a love for exploring new worlds. Viala does not. Notwithstanding the lofty goals of my exalted mother, we may indeed meet again, even on a distant planet.” 
“Brilliant,” Nikki cried. “I’ll call when we have leisure to talk.”
Touching her hand to attract her attention, Kiron indicated the harbor entrance. “The jetter’s in sight.”