Cycle of life the rise a.., p.1
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       Cycle of Life, the rise and fall of Tanya Vine, p.1

           Hannah Robinson
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Cycle of Life, the rise and fall of Tanya Vine
The Cycle of Life

  Part 1

  The rise and fall of Tanya Vine

  By Hannah Jade Robinson

  Copyright 2011 by H J Robinson

  All characters in this publication are fictitious

  and any resemblance to real persons,

  living or dead is purely coincidental

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.

  If you would like to share this book with another person,

  please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.

  Thankyou for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Chapter 1

  Time on our hands

  For ten years, Sendor Long, Husband and Father to Hummingbird Tower, had supervised the dismantling and thorough analysis of a strange vessel that had appeared overnight on the site of the new tower he was building higher up the slope of Slate mountain.

  The small craft was not aerodynamic, and had no obvious propulsion system, but was totally encased in a plastic type material and was air tight. It was removed to the Hummingbird factory unit where it was dismantled, away from the prying eyes of their competitors, and slowly it gave up it’s secrets. Where there should have been an engine of some sort, was a compressed mass of various metals, which also gave up it’s secrets to the micro scanners and macro scavengers in the Hummingbird plant.

  The vessel was obviously of earthly origin with mostly standard components, and only the motor unit was a mystery to Sendor and his robotic team of investigators. It slowly became clear that this was a craft built for time travel. Eventually, a replica time slip vessel was built with an enhanced logic core to give a greater IQ and navigation factor. After twelve trial runs, it was found that powering away from the time drive’s start up date was less efficient in fuel / years ratio than returning, and the girls in the Hummingbird household called it ‘Never Look Back’ after the dance troupe from La Via that had entertained them last Spring.

  It’s official name was ‘Hummingbird One’, which the girls thought was rather dull.

  Caren and her adopted sister Denzil Sazgood, had made six successful trips in the Never, and were now due to slip 366 years into the past to observe the last and final appearance of Halley’s comet.

  That was to be in the morning, but on the last afternoon before the trip, they were fighting, and even after 10 years together, ever since Denny had been sent to live at Hummingbird tower by the new mistress of Guardian’s Nest, Caren could still not figure out what Denny would be doing next. Her expression, as always, was totally unreadable.

  Caren’s armour groaned and pulsed with a deep blue light as Denny scored another hit on her left arm. Much more of this and the elbow joint would seize up automatically.

  “Forty two percent,” said the watching umpire, quoting from her vid screen.

  But as Denny danced back, she got the worst of the exchange when Caren thrust her stave into the ground and launched into a flying kick, making solid contact with Denny’s helmet. The helmet lit up red and the contest was over.

  Behind the plaz screens, the small but knowledgeable audience applauded as the perspiring girls were ushered out of the ring by Amber, their kendo mistress.

  They were watched by Caren’s younger half brother, Ari who had appreciated every spin, thrust and parry the two girls had made. As a male, he would never be allowed to take part in physical sport like that, but could only watch longingly, from behind the safety of the screens.

  “Nice move Cas,” he said smiling, as he slid her leg shields off. “You OK, Denny?”

  “Crafty sod, never seen her do that before. Going to have a good headache later.”

  “Sorry, Den. Got tired of losing all the time. Had to win this one, it’s going to be spears next week and that will be yours I guess.”

  “Or ours if they make it pairs,” added Denny.

  “Mmm.” Caren nodded. “Anyway, confession time. It’s too hard to beat you without having a few new tricks, and I learnt that one from old Marnie.”

  Denny’s eyes opened wide. “Marnie? The gardener?”

  “Guess that would explain it,” replied Ari, “she was Eastern champion for years. Well before your time love.” He started unlacing Denny’s body plates, “need any help getting rid of that headache you’re going to have later?”

  She put her hand to his cheek, “Is it my head you’re interested in?” she asked him with a smile, “because if it is, then the answer’s no. I’m my own physician, aren’t I?”

  “Not your head, dearest,” he confessed, “after prayers?”

  “No marathon though, big day tomorrow and we have to have an early night. OK Cas?”

  Caren shook her head. “Count me out, I’m going over the launch programme again.”

  Denny shook her head in despair as Ari smiled his goodbyes and left them alone to get showered.

  His value to the family in the next great rotation depended on him staying healthy and whole. In less than a year he would be living the role of suitor to the Deerward women, and would probably be a father to several children before he was twenty. He closed his eyes at the thought and said a silent prayer.

  “Lady of the night, let there be sons in my house.”

  The security drones kept a silent watch over the dark tower during the long night until the first bird calls of false dawn, when the damned birds woke up the sleepers on the East side first. Prayers that morning were read by the head of the house, Sylvine Hummingbird, who was now the oldest surviving mother of the clan since her sisters Margarita and Evangeline had died in the floods three years before.

  She read to the assembled family from the book ‘Mother and Lady’, which was not the original, (lost when the Valley tower was gutted by fire) but one of the first copies ever made and jealously guarded.

  “In the dark times of the new beginning, the hooded company were beset by cares and confusions, but were true to one another.” She stressed the last few words.

  “Each dawn brought a new day of trial and test, but they were true to one another.” Closing the book gently, she looked over her family.

  “We can do no less than walk in the footsteps of the first twelve knights of the forest, who were, first and foremost, true to one another. As you know, we have been in discussion with the other families, and before this year has ended, our son Ari will be a Deerward, and we shall be welcoming a new Son and Husband from Lakeside. It has been decided that Julio San Miguel will be coming to us. Trying times indeed.”

  A low muttering spread across the dining room.

  She raised her voice “
Silence and respect at this time,” and as the noise abated, finished with the eternal plea, “Lady of the night, we thank you for letting us see this new day, and pray that we may walk in your shadow again.”

  The rest responded, “Hasta la vista,” and the gathering broke up with the words, “anybody but him - arrogant - unfair - not doing it with me - better off keeping Ari,” being heard from the groups of older girls and women.

  Denny frowned. “Can’t see him being a problem for you and me somehow, Cas.”

  “Fortune telling again, sweety?” Caren asked.

  “Mmmm. Don’t feel that he’s going to be the father of our children,” was Denny’s slow reply. Denny had great intuition and had been right on more than one occasion.

  “Let’s hope that you’re right,” replied Caren fervently. “Don’t want him in my bed. Or house even.” She had seen Julio twice and had not been impressed with his attitude towards his family.

  Breakfast was a noisy affair with most of the 67 residents in attendance for the promised appearance of the long awaited porridge and honey.

  “Not a potato in sight,” said Ari with a great smile, as he supervised his younger sisters in clearing away the last of the dishes. Caren and Denny had already left for the underground laboratory where the Never Look Back was sited, waiting for their arrival.

  Denny stared unblinking into the scanner and whispered to the door, “open please.”

  After a brief pause, she was recognised and the door slid open. They entered the first chamber hand in hand, then went down to the changing rooms where they were helped into overalls by the lab assistant, Vanda. She walked with them to the time floor where Sendor and Wilma were fussing about the grey vessel.

  “Ah, Denny, Caren, we’re nearly ready for you, less than an hour to launch, I think.”

  “Shall we go aboard now papa?”

  “Yes, I think that would be best, then you can double check the final plot.”

  They both kissed Sendor and entered through the cabin door. It closed behind them and Caren’s pulse was racing by the time she eased herself into the navigators seat. Naturally, with her being ‘different’ and not easily given to panicking, Denny’s heart rate didn’t alter at all, and she was totally at ease as she took the pilot’s chair.

  “In position and ready.” She eventually announced to the ground crew, who were now in the control gantry above them.

  “I hear you and respond.” Came the reply from Wilma, who was checking her duplicate gauges. “Start overlap sequence when ready please, Denny.”

  They began the sequence they had successfully completed six times before.

  “Panel alive in all quadrants,” said Caren, scanning her instruments.

  “I concur,” replied Denny.

  “Gantry concurs.”

  “LOGIC CONCURS.”

  “Cells at maximum capacity.”

  “I concur.”

  “Gantry concurs.”

  “LOGIC CONCURS.”

  “Slip drive in yellow phase.”

  “I concur.”

  “Gantry concurs.”

  “LOGIC CONCURS.”

  “Activate navigation program.”

  “Activating”

  The gantry was ominously silent.

  “LAUNCH.”

  “What?” exclaimed Denny in astonishment.

  “Chiggers!” Spat out Caren. “It’s never done that before.”

  Sendor frowned as the time machine turned blue and disappeared in a swirl of dust.

  “What was that?” he demanded.

  Wilma looked up from the scope. “What was what?” she asked and then went wide eyed and swore under her breath. “They’ve gone!” Then she noticed the dust cloud settling onto the normally spotless floor. “Vanda, where’s that dust come from?”

  “It was cleaned last night, same as always.” Vanda replied instantly, taking a hand held analyser from the desk. “Shall I?” she queried.

  Wilma nodded and Vanda went down to the time floor to take a sample of the dust.

  “Cobalt,” she said, then quieter, “cobalt?”

  She finally looked up at the gantry where Sendor was watching her from the window. “Traces of cobalt,” she called up to him.

  “That’s in the drive core, isn’t it?” asked Wilma, frowning.

  He didn’t manage to reply, as a siren started to wail and a warning message echoed round the complex.

  “Warning. Warp drive detected. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor immediately.”

  Vanda raced up the stairs as the message was repeated and she gratefully slammed the security door behind her.

  “That was quick,” Wilma gasped. “They’re programmed for at least an hour,” and she lowered her head to the warp scope again.

  After altering some settings a couple of times she said, “it’s changed.”

  “In what way?” asked Sendor.

  “Brighter signal, and on a lower wavelength.” Then she turned to him and said slowly, “I don’t think it’s ours.”

  Sendor turned instantly and thumped an emergency button, locking the lab doors and bringing the shutters most of the way down until the gantry windows were almost completely covered. Outside, the security drones would be arming themselves and going to assigned positions, but what they would be capable of against the unknown, none of them knew.

  “Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival.”

  Soft blue lightning crossed the time floor, and there it was. Or rather, they were. Appearing through the heat haze were two stubby machines, dark green and stained with brown and black streaks. One of them was static, but the other sped erratically round the walls of the huge laboratory before coming to rest beside it’s twin.

  “Wave form building. Launch imminent. Clear the floor.”

  Then they were gone.

  On the gantry, everyone had been shocked into silence. Eventually, Sendor breathed a sigh of relief and said quietly, “Thank heavens, they have gone.”

  “Warning. Warp drive detected. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor immediately.”

  “Looks like they’re coming back,” muttered Vanda, as she stepped away from the window.

  Wilma looked into the scope again. “Different.”

  “I shan’t even ask,” retorted Sendor.

  “Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival.”

  The lightning was still blue, but richer, darker, and the massive machine that followed it was long and sleek, like a giant spear head. Coming to rest in the centre of the floor, it sat on six spidery legs and in the side of the vessel a hatch opened, from which an enormous figure appeared and looked around.

  There were gasps of surprise from all in the control room, and Vanda could be heard praying fervently, and she was convinced that her prayers had been answered when the creature returned inside and the hatch closed.

  “Wave form building. Launch imminent. Clear the floor.”

  “What the hell have we done,” gasped Wilma as the alien craft disappeared.

&nb
sp; “We’re going to need a better defence system,” whispered Sendor.

  “Warning. Warp drive detected. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor immediately.”

  “Lady preserve us,” mumbled Wilma. “Here we go again,” and shook her head as she looked up from the scope again. “Still not ours.”

  Vanda slid to the floor against the wall and covered her head with her arms, not wanting to be there.

  “Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival imminent. Clear the floor. Arrival.”

  Wilma was right, it wasn’t theirs, but it was very similar. Same size, slightly different shape but with extra bits seemingly stuck on at random all over the hull.

  As the haze cleared, they saw a hatch open and a woman step out. She was dressed in black boots and kilt with a faded pink tunic under a chain mail byrnie supported by a wide leather belt. An outlandish helmet covered most of her face and she held a sword casually in her right hand.

  She looked round the time floor and finally up at the gantry. When she sheathed the sword and removed the helmet, Wilma gasped in recognition.

  “They’re back. It’s Caren.”

  She threw open the door and raced down the steps, followed closely by Sendor.

  “Caren, darling,” he cried. “What happened?” Where have you been?” He held her at arms length and studied her face. “You’re older,” he whispered. “How long…?”

  She did not answer but turned towards the machine.

  A man who looked about forty and a boy of about eight years came out and stood beside Caren, who put her arm round the boy’s shoulders.

  “Michael, this is your grandfather. Introduce yourself properly.”

  The boy looked up into his grandfather’s eyes and stated confidently, “my name is Michael Hummingbird, cum Southgate ab Hummingbird, and I am pleased to meet you sir.” He held out his hand and Sendor took it gently in his.

  He was in a mild state of shock. Less than an hour ago, Caren had been only nineteen, but here she was, about ten years older, and with a son.

  At last, he spoke, “I have a grandson.”

  “And this is my good friend, Walter, he’s teaching me to play chess,” she said proudly. Then went on, but with less composure, “he is from Lakeside and he is now our Husband.”

  After a wide eyed moment, her father laughed and said, “so much for Julio. Your grandmother won’t be happy, but I love it, just love it.”

  Then his eyes flickered to the doorway and his smile disappeared. “Denny?” he asked quietly.

  Caren shook her head slightly as she replied, “it’s a long story.”

 
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