Title: Prelude to Sorrow
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: The Perseid Press
The task force dispatched from Arden to eradicate the Horde menace failed, and for those few left alive, the tenet by which they have survived for so long resounds as never before.
Fight or Die!
Now marooned, out of time and out of place, the survivors lick their wounds and struggle to recover while the Horde gather their strength for a final strike that will change the course of history forever. The fate of the galaxy – and more – hangs in the balance.
But fate, it seems, isn’t done with the Ninth, and our heroes find themselves forced to mount a last-ditch attempt to end the threat once and for all.
Will the darkness be vanquished, or will our heroes’ efforts finally signal the beginning of the end of their adventure?
The alpha continued to scan the swaying patterns of the veldt to ensure all was clear, and then joined the rest of his clan on the final leg of their two week journey.
Breasting through the gritty, fibrous grass always made him feel anxious, so every now and then he stood fully erect, waddling forward a few paces to make certain everything was as it should be. Around him, other members of the band mimicked his behavior, something he encouraged as he had gone to great lengths to instill in each individual a responsibility toward the safety of the tribe.
His lead scouts were just ascending the rise when something gave him cause for concern. The wind stiffened and commenced blowing from several different directions all at once. Free of the scent of carnivores, it nevertheless carried a sense of foreboding that made the other critters already gathered about the water’s edge fall quiet.
A series of low-pitched yips rippled through the troop.
He stood tall, bared his teeth, and employed all his senses, trying to read the danger.
A deafening cry split the heavens and boomed across the savannah. He looked up and saw what could only be a huge bird in the sky, roaring a challenge that twisted the fabric of everything he held dear and caused every other living creature lurking around the watercourse—both friend and foe—to flee in mutual panic.
Instinct took over, and the entire clan stampeded back through the reeds in a mad dash toward the welcoming protection of the jungle.
The alpha risked a quick glance over his shoulder at their nemesis.
Wings as voluminous as clouds and pregnant with fulgurous discharges blotted out the sun. A monstrous beak and unbelievably large talons blazed like a furnace, searing his eyes and baking the ground where they passed.
Morbid dread froze his heart, and as he watched, the awful thing belched fire and cleaved in two. While the bulk of its mass fell on prey to the northeast, the vehemence of its thermogenic gaze continued on toward his troop, shrieking of death and retribution.
He screeched, and the tribe increased its pace.
Moments later, he could hear his family crashing into the undergrowth. He had no doubt they’d be paying scant heed to the thorns scratching at their faces or the twigs yanking out divots of hair.
His concerns were timely.
Thunder pealed and the ground shook. A sweltering exhalation swept by, igniting leaves, bushes, trees, and exposed fur alike.
The alpha barked a warning and threw himself to the ground.
He lay there panting, curled into a tight ball, not daring to move until the dreadful reverberations rolled away. Even then, he waited.
Eventually, it started to rain, and the soft drumming filtering down through the canopy helped soothe away his memory of the scorching breath.
Over the next few hours the clan gathered together again, one by one, looking for guidance and mutual support. Thankfully, nobody was missing. And while the alpha knew they should move away immediately, inquisitiveness eventually got the better of him.
Selecting a handful of his hardiest fighters, he left the band in the care of the matrons and younger lieutenants, and ventured out again, eager to determine more about this new and terrible foe. Forewarned was forearmed, and he hadn’t lived this long by simply cutting and running.
He was glad he’d made the effort, for the plain had become a wilderness of cinders and blackened, flattened grass.
Bewildered, he and his team slowly made their way across the ruined terrain until they reached the crest of the embankment. Only now it was much higher and steeper, as if a leviathan of immense proportions had scooped out a nest in which to lay its giant eggs.
Venturing in, he quickly ascertained this was no longer a place conducive to life.
Instead of reedy pools and softly flowing tributaries, the alpha discovered the vast bowl contained the bare bones of a bent and twisted carcass, sprouting death in petrifaction and ruin. Muddy pools, full of a viscous black substance, bubbled with unseen noxious processes that added an acrid stench to the already thickening pall. Fetid puddles and pieces of calcified shell burned, while unknown things sizzled or crackled and popped. Here and there, the smell of roasting flesh indicated the presence of those not swift or lucky enough to escape.
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/IX-Prelude-Andrew-P-Weston-ebook/dp/B079J2DWZL
Amazon CA https://www.amazon.ca/IX-Prelude-Andrew-P-Weston-ebook/dp/B079J2DWZL
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/IX-Prelude-Andrew-P-Weston-ebook/dp/B079J2DWZL
Barnes and Noble (coming soon)
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series, along with Hell Bound & Hell Hounds, (Novels forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
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