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Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway
On the planet Kelanni, life is cheap.
With the aid of the fearsome “Keltar” enforcers in their flying cloaks, a ruthless invader is forcing the native population to mine the colloquially named “lodestone” – a substance from another universe with infinitely destructive power.
The only ones who can stop him are a tiny girl with a fiery disposition, a former Keltar, a failed revolutionary, a musician and the mysterious creature Boxx, who seems to speak only in riddles.
From the Author
Winterberg, F. “On Negative Mass Propulsion,” International Astronautical Federation, Paper 89-668, 40th Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, Malaga, Spain, Oct., 1989.
Forward, R. L. “Negative Matter Propulsion”, Journal of Propulsion and Power (AIAA), Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1990, pp. 28-37.
About the Author
Mark Whiteway (1959- ) lives in rural West Sussex, England, near the former home of H G Wells. The Lodestone series of novels is built around the speculative concept of negative matter.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Madness? Obsession? Keris knew little of such things. It was impossible to believe that this was the same man; the man who had taken her in and nurtured her; who had impressed on her the conviction that the Kelanni needed to be protected and cared for. Yet somehow he had turned into a monster.
His hands slipped to one end of his staff and he swung it towards her in a wide arc. She jumped back instinctively, the diamond blade passing inches from her midriff. “I’m gratified to see that your reflexes are as keen as ever, Keris.” He spun around and then leapt into the air a short distance, aiming the staff at her head. She side stepped neatly, and the blade flashed past her harmlessly. “Good, very good,” he approved. “Now are you going to obey my wishes or are you going to defend yourself?”
He was advancing on her again. Keris felt as if she were in a waking dream. One hand moved involuntarily to her own staff, gripping the smooth darkwood. It felt solid, reassuring. Her other hand moved to her neck control and she adjusted the bronze layer of her cloak, seeking the pressure of natural lodestone. As she registered the strengths and directions of the familiar push of the ore, it was bizarrely the words of Mordal himself that came back to her, spoken in a different place and at a different time.
“Battling another Keltar is unlike any other battle you will ever fight. When encountering anyone else, the lodestone will furnish you with a decisive advantage in height and momentum. However, when you are facing another Keltar, those advantages are cancelled out. Instead, the field of battle and the configuration of lodestone deposits become all important. A clash between Keltar is primarily a battle of tactics. Even superior strength and agility can be overcome by superior positioning and spatial orientation. You must immediately determine the location and strength of any deposits and then ‘own’ them, denying your opponent any advantage.”
Keris tested the push on her lodestone layer from different directions, mapping out the floor of the corrie in her head. One directly behind her – weak. Two behind Mordal; one to the left – medium strength, and one he was almost standing on – the strongest of the three. His was the clear advantage. No doubt he had planned for this eventuality when arranging to meet her. The spot he had selected, even the place he had chosen to stand were far from random. Keris cursed her own lack of foresight. She would have to go on the defensive and stall for time, hoping to reposition herself so as to challenge his dominant stance.
Start with what you have. She backed off rapidly and activated her cloak, leaping and pushing off against the deposit behind her. It was more to see what Mordal would do than anything else. The next move was clearly his. The aged Keltar flared his own cloak and pushed off the big deposit, soaring over her. She descended, holding out her staff with both hands defensively. He dived, his staff meeting hers with a loud crack, then let loose with a flurry of blows as they both descended. He drove her down, finishing off with a powerful slicing move as her boots hit stone, forcing her to her knees. He locked staffs with her, eyes wild with elation.
Keris gritted her teeth and strained for a moment, before shoving him back. Mordal swung his blade and slashed her arm as she rolled away. Keris felt the flash of pain. She embraced it, allowing it to keen her senses. Getting her feet under her, she rose to face Mordal once again. He was still positioned between her and the main deposits of lodestone in the ground. In spite of his age, his reactions seemed unimpaired. If I don’t come up with something soon, I’m finished.