Traveller Probo by @robshackleford is a Fall Into These Great Reads pick #timetravel #sff #giveaway
Title: Traveller Probo
Author: Rob Shackleford
Genre: Science Fiction / Historical Fiction
Would you survive if sent one thousand years into the past?
Development of the Transporter saw highly trained researchers, called Travellers, successfully sent one-thousand years back in time to early medieval Saxon England.
Traveller Missions now mean enormous national prestige and the recovery of priceless lost artefacts and knowledge, so nations vie for the use of the Transporter and more daring Traveller missions are planned. Politics and power soon come into play.
To study lost peoples and civilisations, Special Forces researchers have to be even better trained, equipped and prepared to put their lives on the line.
While Michael Hunter continues to build a life in Saxon England, the tragically injured Tony Osborne finds his resurgence in a mission to ancient Byzantine Turkey, a mission Professor Adrian Taylor joins to better outmanoeuvre his calculating academic colleagues.
From the misty shores of New Zealand to the shining splendour of the ancient Byzantine Empire, it is proved how sending modern researchers into the past carries enormous rewards and tragedies.
Traveller Probo is Book 2 of the Traveller Trilogy.
The thin rain fell in a chill, shrouding mist that reduced the conscious world to silver-encrusted foliage and black, haphazardly leaning trunks. The warriors were oblivious to the cold and Ruhi simply smiled as he squatted silently in the ferns to revel in the thrill of the hunt. They were not far from the homes of the People, yet from where they watched they could barely see the dwellings or smell the smoke from cooking fires. There, fresh shellfish waited, ready to eat, with yams baked in the coals. Food was plentiful and the men were hungry.
But that did not concern them now.
Ruhi peered warily through the foliage and caught the eye of Tapata, who crouched behind a huge log, remnant of a forest giant felled by a storm some years earlier. Now, in a mantle of moss and fern, it was the perfect place to hide. Tapata returned the glare with a slight narrowing of his eyes and then looked again to their prey.
One of the children had seen the patupaiarehe the day before. The enigmatic forest spirits had not been witnessed for quite some time. The old fathers spoke of long ago, when the People had killed a few patupaiarehe. That was when they had first arrived to this land. Since then, the mysterious people of the mist had left the villagers well alone. The crones around the late night campfires described how the patupaiarehe belonged to the deep forests and mountaintops. But this interloper had all of the villagers confused. For it just sat, barely moving, and simply watched.
Ruhi cautiously peered again over the foliage, scarcely breathing. All knew that albino birds and eels, red flax and red eels were of the patupaiarehe and that trouble befell any who took possession of these. But, after scrupulous scrutiny, it was found that there had been no such transgressions. So for one of the mystical beings to take so much time in watching was too much of a wrong, too insulting for the People to tolerate. Ruhi felt his anger rise as the spirit-man stirred slightly, as if sensing it too was under observation.
The patupaiarehe was not as Ruhi had imagined. Described by their elders as of pale complexion and with white hair, this patupaiarehe was the colour of the forest and could be barely seen unless one knew exactly where to look. It was not one of the People, that was certain, so its forest-colour was put down to magic. If it was not one of the repulsive fairy folk, lovers of darkness and the mist, then what was it?
Ruhi tensed and glanced again to Tapata, who barely nodded as he stealthily began to move forward. Every hunter knew that to remain too long in observation might risk the prey sensing their presence and fleeing.
As two of the People’s mightiest warriors and hunters, Ruhi and Tapata had been requested to investigate this patupaiarehe interloper. Gathered together the night before, the warriors and the elders had said much. Finally, Tehu, he who was first among them, had pondered as ghost-like fingers of campfire smoke coiled about them in the darkness. Ruhi and the others watched and held their breaths. Then, Tehu’s great head nodded. Struggling to hide his elation, Ruhi glanced at Tapata while the others sighed. The decision was made.
The hunters crept silently as heavy rain masked their movements even further. Ruhi could no longer see his friend, but the big man was there, shadowing his every move.
He paused as the watcher again scanned the surrounding forest, another sign that the spirit-man was becoming increasingly alert. Ruhi froze in place and became invisible in the dim morning light, willing himself not to be seen. The patupaiarehe returned to its watching. They heard a thin hum as it talked to itself and chuckled, odd behaviour so beyond Ruhi’s understanding. Was it singing up a strange curse? Was it planning something dire for the People, such as a storm or sickness? Its look, actions, sounds, and even its slight but unmistakable odour were foreign, unfamiliar and detestable.
Ruhi felt a rare pang of fear that brought a sheen of sweat to his face and under his arms and was grateful for the rain. But he could never turn from his task.
They knew what to do.
As agreed, they crept to the shelter of a small clump of trees and rocks only a short dash from the watcher. Ruhi gripped his short club, his mere, tightly. Carefully crafted from whalebone scavenged from the stormy shores, all agreed the weapon was a fearsome work of art. It had been created by his father, the great warrior who had taken long, patient moons to refine this elegant death-bringer. Its power had been further enhanced by the appropriate chants and muttered offerings to the great gods and spirits. Though never used in battle, the weapon’s smooth strength reassured the young warrior. He felt the magic surge, as if it recognised that the glorious work of death was finally at hand.
Eyes glaring and legs coiled, Ruhi tensed and then leapt in an explosion of energy that propelled him in a swift dash to his victim. He made only a whisper of sound through the short ferns. In one fluid motion he struck savagely with all of his awesome strength. Whether it heard the whisper of sound or saw a flicker of movement, it was too late for the crouching spirit-man who was in the act of turning. As Ruhi had been taught and endlessly practiced, he thrust his mere at the side of the unprotected head with a twisting flick of the wrist that was designed to wrench the victim’s skull open. In this case he was successful, so the second shattering blow dealt by Tapata was entirely unnecessary.
Blood and brains flew and the spirit-man fell without a sound.
In silent self-congratulation, the warriors smiled triumphantly. With faces splattered with blood they grasped their prey and ran, dragging it quickly to the waiting village.
There they would be welcomed as the heroes they were.
Today, there would be better things than shellfish for the People to eat.
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What’s your favorite thing about the fall season:
For us, this time of the year is spring!
So, we are heading for summer. The southern hemisphere loves to confuse things.
Thankfully our winters are not too rough. Having moved to a mountain area to the west of the Queensland’s Gold Coast, the temperatures have dropped 5 degrees, so the evenings are worthy of a fireplace.
Our autumn, around April and May, does experience a tree change and falling leaves, something we rarely see near the coast.
For us autumn is an excuse to wear nice clothes as we normally are too warm to wear a jacket or even long pants. It’s a time of fires, even if it isn’t cold enough yet, a time to wave goodbye to salads, where warmth is appreciated.
What inspired you to write this story:
I wrote Traveller Probo as a sequel to Traveller Inceptio. A sequel wasn’t planned, but after some readers insisted, I thought the story could be developed considerably.
Besides, I wanted to see what happened to Michael Hunter and Tatae, two of the heroes in Traveller Inceptio.
The concept of Time Travel has, I feel, been treated rather shabbily, where Time Travel movies and programme series have the natives speaking in Southern Californian accented English, where everyone looks similar and they tend to understand one another, both linguistically and culturally. As a lover of history, and feeling the historical realities to be different to what we have experienced in stories so far, I felt the challenge to write the story as realistically as I could make it.
Finding the historical resources was both a joy and a challenge.
If I was a historian who had the gaul to send researchers back to Saxon Aengland, and the mission was, after all was said and done, outstandingly successful from a scholarly and financial perspective, then one would need to consider another, more ambitious project.
That had to be the Byzantine Empire, the pinnacle of civilization in the early 11th Century. To visit the city of Constantinople would be far too tempting.
Meanwhile, the whole Transporter issue, of being the only device and controlled by a group of academics, would attract the spectre of political and military interference.
It had to happen.
A third part of this trilogy, Traveller Manifesto, had to be written and is now ready for publication.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or CA account to win.
Runs September 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on October 1.
An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.
With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas. Despite that, he is actually not that boring.
Rob is father of two and has made his green escape with his lovely lady into Australia's Gold Coast hinterland.
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