Excerpt from The End of Childhood First Draft

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The first warning they had was the general alarm.

Fulinia's datalink brought her out of deep sleep, WARNING, TEFRIN IS UNDER ASSAULT. DEMONIC FORCES AT LEAST THIRTY FIFTHS IN NUMBERS HAVE GATED ONTO THE PLANETARY SURFACE. MOST SEEM TO HAVE ARRIVED IN AREAS NEARBY BUT OUTSIDE MAJOR CITIES. SPACEBORNE UNITS ARE ENGAGED, PLANETARY SURFACE UNITS ARE RESPONDING TO INCURSIONS BUT ARE SIGNIFICANTLY OUTNUMBERED. EXPECT TO BE ON YOUR OWN FOR AT LEAST FOUR HOURS. ARM YOURSELVES AND SHARE INFORMATION. STAY ALIVE!

Checking the well, she saw reports that demonic forces had entered Red Splines Arcology, where she lived. "Vadha, get up!"

"What? Just another voluntary drill." Her speech was slow and confused. Vadha would sleep through anything if Fulinia let her.

"I don't think so! For one thing, the others all said they were voluntary drills. This one didn't. And I just checked the well and there are reports of manesi, terostes, and lemuure in the building!"

"Calm down! The building is five ithirds on a side and five high. We're right in the middle. Let's stay in; we'll be fine."

"Are you sure? The warning said there were at least thirty fifths! That's nearly as many as there are people on Tefrin!"

"I'm sure! Nothing is going to challenge the Empire, and it's not like we're in one of the newly settled galaxies. This is Fifth Galaxy; there were colonies here twenty prime before the Interregnum!"

The sound of muffled crumps reached them from somewhere.

"Vadha, I just checked again! There's fighting reported at the portal! If we get moving right now, maybe we can get to the next portal before it gets to us!"

"We don't have any weapons, Fulinia. They can't check all the units; there's too many of them! Just sit here and be quiet and nobody will bother us."

No sooner were the words out of Vadha's mouth, however, than the main door shuddered from an impact. Something big. Then again. The outside camera showed a manes and a couple of smaller demons, the manes' mottled dark bluish gray hide armored with metal of some sort.

"Quick, close the bedroom door! Maybe they won't look inside!"

"That might have worked if we hadn't both screamed!"

"Got any better ideas?"

"Hide?"

They both ran into the bedroom, hiding in the back of the closet. Unfortunately for them, the manes was not only capable of battering the door down, it could also - with difficulty - squeeze through. Once in the apartment, their smells were fresh, and the demon was hungry. Unlike the noble castes, manes did not torture their food, they simply consumed it efficiently. It found Vadha first, catching her by the arm. Her struggles and screams were no serious impediment to the manes' superior strength. It was a small mercy that it fed Vadha headfirst into its shark-like gullet, lined with cutting, triangular teeth. It bit Vadha squarely in two, crushing her head in the process.

Screaming Fulinia was not so fortunate.

The likahn scouts consumed what the manes left.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on November 2, 2020 2:42 PM.

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