by Branwen OShea
GENRE: YA Sci-fi
When Bleu’s little sister shows symptoms of the deadly Sickness, a strange vision directs him to leave humanity’s subterranean haven and seek the cure on Earth’s glacial surface. Joining the expedition team, Bleu expects extreme temperatures, not a surface ruled by ingenious predators.
Rana and her fellow star beings have co-existed with Earth’s top carnivores since the humans disappeared. But when her peers transform into Crowned Ones, the final stage of star being development, she fears remaining Uncrowned like her parents. To prove her worth, she undertakes a dangerous mission—contacting the hostile and nearly extinct humans.
But Rana’s plan backfires, and Bleu’s team retaliates. As war with the more advanced star being civilization looms, both Rana and Bleu separately seek a way to save their people.
She knelt, and with trembling hands, she grabbed the extra piece of soaked wood. If she put one log in the back of the cave and kept one in the entrance, then maybe she’d be safe between them until daybreak. Of
course, that assumed whatever predator lurked outside lost interest in her by daybreak.
Two fires were her best chance. Her only chance. She quickly placed the second piece of wood, filled its opening with tinder, and grabbed her stones.
The growling grew closer. At this rate, she’d never get the log lit in time. Her mind raced through possibilities, but they all required skills she lacked and ended with her death.
Wait. Furred ones sense energy. In desperation, she expanded her energy to appear larger and hoped her fake size might give the predator pause.
In this enlarged-energy state, she struck the flint and fire stone together. They sparked, but the log remained unlit. Long claws scraped against the floor. She peered up from the flint. The pale light of the first log
reflected off two eyes.
Rana Through The Eyes of Kahali
As I crunch my way across the icy plain toward Rana’s village, several star beings out for a stroll greet me with their traditional bow. I return it. “Where can I find Kahali?” I ask.
They point me toward a large boulder on the outskirts of the village. I make out a tall star being teen lying on the top of the boulder, watching the clouds. As I approach, Kahali sits up, recognizes me, and glares. “It’s you. That’s never a good sign. Last time you came it was to apologize for all the stuff you were about to make happen to me in the book.”
I laugh. “Yeah, sorry about that.”
He grunts, clearly not happy with his current lot. “So,” he puts his hand to his brow, shading his dark eyes from the glare on the ice so he can better see my face, “is my life about to get worse again?”
“No, I have an assignment for Rana’s closest companion, and that probably means you.”
Kahali’s whole face lights up in a grin. “You agree I’m the best one for her, eh? That’s a good sign.”
“You certainly know her better than anyone else,” I counter. He’s smart, and can read my mind. I have to stay focused, and not reveal his future. “I came to see if you would help tell my human readers about Rana.”
“She’s quite capable of speaking for herself, you know.”
“The assignment is for her friend.” He frowns at the word friend, and I give him a sympathetic smile. “Trust me that you both find what you’re looking for.”
“That’s a bit…vague.”
I snort in laughter and then nod. “May I?” I motion to the boulder and he nods. I climb up to sit beside him. The massive stone could easily fit five more people. “Tell me how you became best friends. What’s so special about Rana?”
“I would hope you know that, but this is for the readers, right?”
“Yup. Why would they like to read about her?”
“I don’t pretend to understand humans, but I can tell you how we started hanging out. She loves everything to do with the furred and feathered ones. Even when she was only five, she’d watch the peleguins build their nests all day, trying to figure out what each call or movement meant. She observed the salt deer and lions too. We’d watch together. She would point out behavior stuff, and I heard rhythms and music to their songs, breaths, and movements.”
“So you connected over animals?”
“Yeah, but she loves them in a different way—she loves them the way I love music.”
“Okay. Let’s talk about love for a minute. Has she ever done the star being version of dating or fallen in love with anyone?”
He snorts. “I wish! No, she’s liked a few guys, and the two of us use to discuss the guys we liked, until, you know, it got awkward.”
“Because of how you feel about her.”
He swallows and gives a slight nod, clearly not wanting to say more.
“Sorry, okay, new topic. What motivates her?”
He sighed. I know the answer, and he’s clearly not happy about it. “Everything goes back to her parents.”
This was not what I was expecting. “Oh?”
“She was only eight when they died. She was devastated, and was really quiet for a long time. Even my best jokes and antics didn’t help. Believe me, I tried everything.”
“I met her when she was sixteen. She misses them, but its not like that anymore. What changed?”
“When the first star beings from our cohort Crowned, she became obsessed with her own Crowning.”
“Can you explain what Crowning is to my readers? Humans don’t Crown.”
He snickers. “Clearly not.”
I raise an eyebrow at his attitude.
“Right. I’m being a jerk.” He sighs. “Crowning usually happens between ages twenty to forty, though much more often during one’s early twenties. It’s like a metamorphosis. Our hair turns white, we glow with energy and we develop more mental powers. I think Girak said it’s a bit like the human term enlightenment, but its normal for us.” He frown. “Well, for most of us. Rana’s birth parents never Crowned.”
“I know the significance of that, but can you explain it for the readers?”
“To be the best possible parents, star beings don’t have kids until we Crown. Rana’s parents broke that rule, and no one is sure how it will affect her. She’s obsessed with doing every possible thing to help her Crown. She thinks somehow it will help her parents and fix things for herself.”
“What do you think?”
His face tightens, then fills with determination. “I’ll do anything to help her Crown.”
“You’re not worried about Crowning yourself?”
“No, I think you ruined my chances of that.” He gives me the side eye, then grins. “Just kidding, kind of. My focus is helping Rana. I don’t know of anyone who’s kinder and deserves it more.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.
Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her previously published works include contributing to a nonfiction yoga book,
wellness magazines, and her published science fiction novella, Silence of the Song Trees.
Branwen OShea will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Enter the contest below.
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