The Hive Queen Saga’s Thrilling Conclusion!
Rhiannon and her Hive have mastered space travel. Sort of. At least, they’re better at it. They’ve outsmarted kidnappers, survived severe oxygen deprivation, and heisted back their own ship engine from would-be thieves.
Since joining up, they’ve traveled further and further away from their home planet. But out on Yin He Garden Station (in Chinese-owned territory), home catches up at a physics symposium.
When Alan’s former research advisor makes an offer that’ll bring them home as respected members of society, Rhiannon knows she has to accept. But home isn’t exactly as she left it, and a hostile space fleet stands between her aging ship and her new/old life. Should she be running towards the fleet, or scurrying back into international space as fast as her craft can go?
If Rhiannon had known how much time she’d spend in her ship’s airlock, she might have decorated. As it was, the place was small and bare aside from the bright spacesuits of its current occupants. Grey metal covered the walls and the un-adorned floors. A spoked wheel—in the same grey metal—blended into the door that would open the ship to the outside.
The vestibule barely had enough space for her Hive to cram inside.
Would the wheel be hot or cold to the touch? Rhiannon would never know, only coming here when she was already kitted up. Hands slick in her spacesuit’s recycled air.
The staging room where she’d donned her red crackle-painted suit—I still wish I knew whether the paint was supposed to look like this—was barely better. Banks of grey metal lockers held full-body suits that might protect a wearer from the void.
For the moment, she left off her hood-like helmet. If someone asks, I’ll say it’s to save oxygen. Her nose would itch the second she couldn’t touch it, made worse by the sweat-scent of everyone who’d ever worn the red gear. Her fingers and toes were already clammy in their rubber casings. She’d spritzed the inside with perfume to combat the rankness, and she hoped to find herself ensconced in a cocoon that was still human-humid, yes, but also vital with amber notes, like a thick waft from a nightclub. This next outing would prove the idea’s worth.
All five of her Devoted readied themselves beside her. Gavin flexed his knees to check his black suit’s range of motion. Luciano had chosen the bright yellow rubber that made him look like a deformed chicken, not that she’d tell him that. Victor wore a grey suit that matched the rest of his clothes, and Alan poked at his pad with a blue-coated finger.
Mel, of course, had chosen to go au natural—aside from his regular vest—since his metal body held up well in vacuum. He wouldn’t have been able to fit all his limbs into a human-shaped spacesuit anyway.
Janine A. Southard is the IPPY award-winning author of Queen & Commander (and other books in The Hive Queen Saga). She lives in Seattle, WA, where she writes speculative fiction novels, novellas, and short stories… and reads them aloud to her cat.
All Janine’s books so far have been possible because of crowdsourced funds via Kickstarter. She owes great thanks to her many patrons of the arts who love a good science fiction adventure and believe in her ability to make that happen.
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