So, poll results (13 votes out of 200 followers… neat! Not) say 7 votes for giveaway and 5 for free fiction. Not counting the 13th vote, I’ll give you both. Free fiction is the prologue of Technological Angel, that was taken out of the final draft of the novel. It might be “recycled” or it might be completely changed when I’ll write about Kol-ian’s stay on Earth, but here’s how it started. Short and sweet.
by Barbara G.Tarn
When Kol-ian saw the blue planet, he thought he was safe. His computer readings told him it was a Humanoid planet where he could easily disappear, as it wasn’t part of the Galactic Empire yet.
The impact with the planet’s atmosphere was harder than expected, but Kol-ian ignored the warning signals. Maybe the part of him that had pushed him to run away also wished for death. Crashing on an underdeveloped planet could be a nice ending to his stupid story. And maybe it was the only way for him to be free.
He drove the starship towards the night side of the planet as he glided closer to the surface. At the same time he got the identification request.
“Saurians,” he muttered. “Don’t even think about it!”
He was gliding over a peninsula roughly shaped like a boot when he received the radio ultimatum.
“Go to hell.” Kol-ian got out of his pilot seat, mildly irritated by the interference. He grabbed his backpack.
Outside the sky was clouded with sparkles of rain. Perfect for my mood! Just the warm welcome I expected, Kol-ian thought, getting off the flying starship.
Lombardia, June 12, 1933: a mysterious flash of light lit up the night on the road between Magenta and Novara. No noise could be heard, but at dawn of June 13, the Blackshirts recovered a flying saucer. First news spoke of “landing”, immediately turned to “crash” to hide the fact that the starship was damaged but whole.
The Fascists hid the flying saucer in the buildings of Siai Marchetti of Vergiate, covering up the fact that remained secret for at least half a century.
The Blackshirt shivered before entering the room. His superior sat at a desk wrapped in darkness, as if he didn’t want his face to be seen.
“Nothing, Sir, the flying vehicle is empty,” he answered, saluting and staring into space so he wouldn’t have to focus on the intimidating shadowy figure.
“It’s imposssible!” The hissing sent shivers down his spine. “There was a pilot or a passsenger!”
“We found nobody, Sir.”
The man muttered something, then threw a picture on the desk. “Find this man. He must be around.”
“Yes, Sir.” The Blackshirt grabbed the photo and left the dark office as fast as he could. Why was that man so slimy? His hissing was most unnerving, almost like talking to a snake – if snakes could talk, that is.
He took a closer look at the picture and stared at it, puzzled. The young man on it looked normal enough – dark hair and eyes, pale skin, flawless features – but it was a color photograph with a different resolution of the normally very expensive color prints of the time. And in spite of showing a close-up of the model, the background looked strange and the collar of his shirt very unusual.
German technology? he wondered. Whatever. It was bigger and better than usual, it must be easy to find someone with such a perfect picture.
He called his team and showed everybody the strange color picture, then they split to start searching for the mysterious youth.
Kol-ian made the first contact as he came down on foot from the top of the Appennini. He was following a track in the forest of chestnuts when his long legs made him catch up with a petite woman who was carrying a wheel-shaped basket full of grass that was almost as big as her.
“Do you need help?” he offered, as his own backpack was much smaller than the weight the woman was carrying on her head. She looked in her thirties and dressed like a local peasant – human peasants, what an interesting notion.
She stared at him, surprised. “No, no, thank you!” she said, quickly.
“Really, I can help carry that,” he insisted. “What is it for?”
“Rabbits food,” she answered. “We have some. And hens.”
He managed to unburden her. She smiled, relieved, and thanked him. “My name is Caterina, yours?”
Kol-ian hesitated and searched for a name that could sound familiar to her. “Pietro,” he said as they emerged from the trees and reached a small village on the side of the mountain. “What is this place called?”
“Fosciandora,” she answered. “Is it your first time in Garfagnana?”
“Yes… but it looks beautiful.” He looked around, quite pleased. The little houses looked old and there was no trace of technology, but the place seemed peaceful, almost out of time. A great change from the galactic frenzy he came from.
He followed her to a stone house where he put down the wheel-shaped basket next to an external wall. He saw the cages with rabbits inside and hens wandered around them. Cows mooed from a part of the building that must be the stable.
“Thank you,” Caterina said. “Would you like a glass of milk?” she offered.
He accepted and entered the house. The windows were small, so it was quite dark inside. Three children sat in the small kitchen and stared goggle-eyed at the guest, too intimidated to speak. He smiled at them, but they didn’t react.
Caterina shooed them off while she offered Kol-ian a glass of foamy milk. She mentioned her butter – the best – and her cheese as well, but he wasn’t hungry, so he accepted only the drink. It tasted strange – very rich compared to the diluted beverages he was used to. He licked off the foamy white mustache over his upper lip with a sigh of satisfaction, putting down the empty glass.
“You’re so tall!” Caterina looked awed even now that he was sitting down. “Where are you from?”
“Roma.” Again, he fished for an answer in her unprotected mind. He hadn’t really studied where he was yet, but it was obviously impossible to avoid all contacts with locals. He needed to rethink his strategies for his stay.
He thanked the woman for the milk and headed out again. He’d stop on the way to the bottom of the valley to check his laptop, so when he’d reach the closest town (Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, from what he could tell), he’d be ready.
That was it! Caterina is a real person and I had to ask my dad how old she would be at the time and if she already had kids and whatnot (my dad himself was barely 1 then). She died in the 20th century (can’t remember if it was the 1980s or 1990s), but I still remember her handmade butter, cheese and fresh milk. Her daughter has sold the cows and was never as good as she used to be…
Now, to the giveaway! I shall celebrate also the 1000likes you gave to posts on this blog (with special thanks to WordPress for keeping count)! Leave a comment to have a chance to win a Smashwords coupon for a free download of one of the Star Minds books – Technological Angel if you’re new to the series, Mind Link if you have already started on it, or Slave Traders, the brand new third book that completes this (short) saga of science fantasy (and even if you’ve beta-read it, you might want to check the modified ending…).
Official announcement of Book 3 will be repeated next week when it will be live on all platforms like the previous books. At the moment it’s only on Smashwords – which allows me to get those coupons for free downloads. Thank you for stopping by!