Stardust by Ron Collins

Stardust by Ron Collins

Author:Ron Collins [Collins, Ron]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Scoence Fiction
Publisher: Skyfox Publishing
Published: 2022-04-15T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter 16

Crissandr lay against the shade side of a banka tree, her back padded by the pack that was now half-empty, her worst leg propped on a rock. She held her arms out to capture the breeze and had her legs aligned to keep them in that same shade.

Eldoro had set a few minutes earlier, and Torrance could already feel the difference against his skin. Katon was still high enough in the sky that there would be light for about another hour.

It was their third break since going it on foot.

They had been moving only a short while since their last stop, and for several minutes Crissandr’s chest heaved with a mix of exertion and pain.

“I’ve killed us,” she said.

“You have done no such thing,” Torrance replied once he understood her. “We are both struggling to maintain.”

“I broke the cart,” she replied.

Torrance wasn’t going to let her dwell on the crash.

“Accident,” he tried to say, though the only quadarti he knew for such a term translated as mistake. Though they were rapidly finding ways to share more bits of language, communications were still sometimes frustrating. “Could have been me,” he added. “And I didn’t say for you to stop.”

Crissandr gave a spicy piff out of the side of her mouth. “I broke cart.”


“I did.”

They could go on like this for some time if he let it.

Fact was fact, though. He had to admit their trip — which was already going to have been a tough one — now carried more risk. Without the motor cart, and with Crissandr on a leg so gimpy she couldn’t move without support, he felt out of sorts. They chose this path — down mountain, but high in the foothills — because it was comparatively comfortable and because enough vegetation still grew here that they could take cover as they rested. Their position now, sitting in the shade of the combination of a natural stone pillar and a gnarled banka tree, was a good example.

Its comfort was a double-sided favor, though.

The foliage and broken rock also provided ample cover for the wide mix of predators that roamed this high in the mountains.

Torrance had already chased away one such encounter, though that had been a half-hearted stalking by a smaller form of the feline rela beast. Torrance called it a mountain lion until Crissandr gave him the quadarti term chikarel.

Torrance eyed their remaining water skin.

It was barely half full now.

Crissandr pointed to the base of the banka. “There,” she said.

Torrance groaned as he got to his feet.

His shoulder was stiffening, and his knee was tender where it had skimmed rock during their crash. He rotated his shoulder to loosen up. “Lucky I didn’t break my collarbone,” he said aloud.


“Nothing,” he said. “What did you want?”

She directed him to the tree’s root system where, buried in dark cracks, he found a small patch of kado. His heart jumped.

“Oh, come here, you beautiful tuber you!”

He was worried about food. Last night he’d tried to trap a piela lizard, but had failed miserably.


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