Daniel Arenson: The Heirs of Earth (Children of Earthrise Book 1)

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Daniel Arenson The Heirs of Earth (Children of Earthrise Book 1)
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    The Heirs of Earth (Children of Earthrise Book 1)
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The Heirs of Earth (Children of Earthrise Book 1): краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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David knew him.

Here rose the emperor himself, the lord of the Skra-Shen. The creature that had murdered David's brothers.

David spat out the beast's name, twisting the words with his hatred.

"Sin Kra."

The arachnid clattered closer, grinning. Two long white tongues emerged from his mouth, sizzling, and licked his teeth.

"David Emery," the scorpion hissed, his words dripping saliva and mirth. "The great warrior, second-in-command of the Heirs of Earth—found cowering in a hole like a maggot."

David stood, shielding his family behind his body. He raised his chin. "I left the Heirs of Earth long ago, Sin Kra. I sought merely life for my people."

Sin Kra chortled, the sound like shrapnel jangling in a can. "You are still pests. You are humans." The scorpion's face twisted, and he spat out severed fingers. "There can be no life for you. I will purify the galaxy. All pests must die."

David raised his railgun. He had only a few rounds left. Perhaps enough to slay the beast.

"You will not harm my family!" he said. "Take me if you must. Spare them."

David tried to sound strong, but he couldn't help it. His voice cracked with those last words. The memories flooded him. The birth of his daughters. Joyous days, reading the few books they had salvaged from their last hideout. Nights of gentle lovemaking, his wife in his arms. Rowan's eyes widening in delight as Fillister, her dear dragonfly, sang and danced. Evenings around the campfire, singing the anthem of Earth, an ancient song called Earthrise.

As if they could read his mind, Rowan and Jade began to sing that song now. Their voices were soft and pure.

Someday we will see her

The pale blue marble

Rising from the night beyond the moon

Cloaked in white, her forests green

Calling us home

Sarai joined the song, her voice shaky but clear, singing the second verse.

For long we wandered

For eras we were lost

For generations we sang and dreamed

To see her rise again

Blue beyond the moon

Calling us home

And now David sang with them, voice soft.

Into darkness we fled

In the shadows we prayed

In exile we always knew

That we will see her again

Our Earth rising from loss

Calling us home

Calling us home

Their song ended. The scorpions crept in from all sides, surrounding the family, crushing corpses beneath their claws. They covered the ceiling, the floor, the walls, slowly advancing, black and demonic, a shell of death. Between them, so small, the two girls began to sing again, voices nearly drowning under the shrieking cries of alien hunger.

Sin Kra looked at the girls and snorted. He turned his massive, serrated head toward the scorpions behind him.

"Take the children alive," he said. "We'll bring them home. Our hatchlings can torture them for sport. Kill the adults."

The scorpions roared and stormed forth.

David fired his railgun.

His shell slammed into Sin Kra's head. It was a blast that could have torn through a tank, but it did nothing more than knock the emperor's head aside, leaving the smallest of dents.

The creature laughed.

The scorpions lashed their claws.

Sarai shouted, firing her own railgun. At such short range, her rounds did real damage. One bullet slammed into a claw, tearing it off. Another bullet cracked a scorpion's exoskeleton, and gooey flesh oozed out, gray and quivering. David fired too, round after round, wounding but not killing the beasts. Even little Jade was fighting, swinging her crystal sword.

"Into the Whitehorse!" David cried.

He backed toward the starship, firing rapidly. A scorpion leaped from the ship's roof, but a blast from David's gun knocked it aside. Claws tore into David's thigh. He fell to his knees. He rose, Rowan weeping in his arms. He fired more rounds, inching toward the starship door. If they could only fly, break through . . .

He reached the airlock.

He swung the door open.

"Sarai, into the ship!" he cried.

His wife nodded. She ran, holding Jade in her arms.

An instant before she could enter the starship, Sin Kra reached her.

The massive beast lashed his claws, severing Sarai's arms.

Sarai screamed.

The crimson scorpion lifted Jade in his pincers, careful not to harm the girl. Sarai's hands still held the child.

"Mommy!" Jade screamed.

Sin Kra laughed—a sound like shattering stones—and tossed the girl toward the scorpions behind him.

Then his stinger thrust, impaling Sarai, tearing through her chest and ripping out her heart.

As she fell, Sarai looked at David. Tears filled her eyes. And then those eyes went dark.

David stood by the starship's open airlock, holding Rowan in his arms. The toddler stared around in shock.

"What happened to Mommy?" she said.

"Daddy!" Jade screamed, the scorpions clutching her, carrying her off. She was swinging her crystal sword, unable to harm the pincers.

David stood, torn. To one side—an open starship, a chance to maybe save Rowan, precious and pure. To his other side—his sweet Jade, his firstborn, carried away to torture and death.

Smirking, Sin Kra tossed down Sarai's severed arms. The scorpion met David's gaze.

"Choose," the emperor said.

David unslung the Earthstone amulet from around his neck. The gem gleamed, hanging from a chain, more precious than any crystal in this cave. Here was a crystal from home. It was no larger than his thumb, yet it contained the cultural heritage of Earth. He placed the amulet around Rowan's neck. She looked at him with huge, teary eyes.

"Keep this stone safe, Rowan," he said. "Keep yourself safe. I love you. Always."

"What happened to Mommy?" she said, lips trembling.

Tears in his eyes, David shoved Rowan into the airlock, then fired his rifle, knocking scorpions back.

"Fillister!" he shouted. "Fly her out! Fly high!"

The tiny dragonfly extended wings and rose from Rowan's arms, buzzing. He nodded. "Happy to comply!"

"Daddy!" Rowan screamed, and David wept as he slammed the airlock door shut, sealing her inside.

David knelt and lifted his wife's fallen rifle. He rose, a railgun in each hand. Before him spread the swarm. Dozens of scorpions. Maybe hundreds. Filling the chamber. David stood before them alone. In the distance, Jade was still screaming, but her voice was growing dimmer. He could no longer see her.

But I can still give Rowan a chance.

He screamed and pulled the triggers, firing both railguns.

Scorpions shrieked as bullets peppered them. Behind David, the starship's engines were rumbling, belching out smoke. Fillister would be hovering over the controls, operating the starship. Scorpions leaped onto the Whitehorse, tearing at the hull. David fired on them, knocking them down.

The starship began to rise.

"Daddy!" Jade screamed somewhere deep in the caves. "Help me, Daddy!"

The ISS Whitehorse blazed out fire, soaring toward the opening in the ceiling. Scorpions leaped from above, but the Whitehorse extended her cannons and fired, cutting through them. The ship blasted out into the smoke and clouds. David heard the cannons still booming as the Whitehorse engaged the enemy starships above.

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