Reign & Revolution
Janine A. Southard
(Hive Queen Saga, #3)
Publication date: April 12th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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?
Previous books in the series:
“Hello, Alan.” Professor Cantor slipped into the twill chair beside his and poured two water glasses.
And that was why he’d told his Hive mates to visit the garden and check on the ship. Alan flicked his eyes in Cantor’s direction, a polite passing familiarity. He flicked them away again. They couldn’t know Cantor was here and wanted to talk with him.
Either they’d be mad at Alan for bringing them to the Dyfed establishment’s attention, or they’d give everything up in order to give him the chance to hear what Cantor had to say. Either way, Alan would be left to stew in a pool of guilt.
His cheeks tightened as he maintained a fake smile. Nothing wrong here, professor. Just your regular old protégé attending a conference. Alone. On his way somewhere else. Would Cantor believe Alan had amnesia and that was the reason he’d been avoiding the man’s messages?
“Hello, professor.” Alan squirmed in his “ergonomic” chair, clearly intended for some species not yet discovered by humanity, and looked out the tiny window at the nothingness of space.
“I was excited to see your name on the program. Congratulations on getting your miniaturized Alcubierre drive to work.”
“Thank you,” Alan muttered. Cantor had timed this perfectly. He couldn’t leave his seat so close to the start of a fresh talk, and he didn’t want to cause a scene. He was cornered.
“I know how much you like to keep busy, so let me tell you about this interesting new project. It’s a missile defense grid, and you’re going to want to look at the maths.”
Out the window, two Chinese scientists were setting up some sort of array. He’d seen their demonstration listed on the agenda, something about classical mechanics, showing that Hamiltonian orbits could be achieved around an object the size of a bowling ball when in space and far enough from a large planetary body. They weren’t half as intriguing as the innocent little pad Cantor slid in front of Alan’s water glass. It sat there, mocking him. Where’s your scientific curiosity? the pad demanded.
“All right!” Alan threw up his hands and snatched the device, scrolling through pages of diagrams that meant little and stopping on long lists of equations to make sure he was satisfied with the conclusions.
Beside him, Cantor hummed happily. Outside, the two Chinese scientists did their thing. All around them, physicists paused to check what the yelling was about, then resumed chattering away in their native tongues and making sweeping declarations in their shared mathematics.
Alan’s eyebrows rose and fell and pulled together as if trying to form a perfect rectangle. He hadn’t wanted to entertain Cantor at all. He’d intended to turn him down flat. But... the professor was right. The project was intriguing. And he’d already found three places for obvious improvements.
“I don’t believe you’re letting Naam work on this,” Alan said. In all three cases of inefficiency, Naam was the culprit.
“Only because I don’t have you.” Cantor smiled. “Yet.”
Alan put the pad down. “I’ll think about it,” he said.
It was a lie. He was done thinking. No matter how exciting the project might be, he couldn’t go back to Dyfed. Not with his Hive. They had to avoid scrutiny. And maybe some Devoted could leave their Queens, but Alan wasn’t that kind. He wasn’t even going to tell the others about this conversation.
Alan drew listless infinity symbols in the condensation on his water glass. Maybe someday they could go home and he could meet up with Cantor. Maybe at his year’s end, he’d be more interested in this particular application of physics than in staying with Rhiannon, Luciano, Victor, Mel, and Gavin. (In no preference order, except for Rhiannon. She came first, always.)
But he doubted it. Much as he liked Cantor’s company, much as he wanted to be on this missile defense project, the Hive was more important.
“Keep the pad,” Cantor said.
As if Alan could keep himself from poring over it in his spare time. And making notes where Naam (and others) had gone wrong, wrong, wrong.
Cantor knew him so well.
“Good morning, everyone,” said a panelist, getting the room’s attention. “We are ready to begin. I would like to start by introducing—”
A flash lit the room, coming from the window where the two scientists had been setting up something. Alan blinked, spots forming in his vision even after the light had gone back to black.
The wall around the window splintered and air hissed near it. A flame erupted at the panelists’ table and died out just as quickly as the room’s oxygen fled.
Scarf-wrapped men shrieked.
Qipao-wearing women ran for the doors.
The hole in the wall widened.
An alarm wailed.
Alan dashed for the spacesuit locker, dodging other attendees in various stages of panic. The lacquer-look plastic door tore off in his hand, and he jumped feet first into the suit he found. A little tight, but serviceable.
Zipped in and hooded, he grabbed the repair kit from the closet floor and headed straight for the leak. Behind him, scuffling overwhelmed the panicked screaming as physicists and administrators fought over the remaining five suits.
Alan didn’t have time for their foolishness. He was going to fix that wall before the cracks blew out the window.
The repair kit had a tube of resin, an insulated patch the size of his fist, and two aspirin. It would do.
A splash of not-black flickered in the window, and Alan looked away from his bounty. Only for a moment. Outside, the two scientists floated in zero-g, no purpose to their movements. They weren’t trying to get in or to repair their device. They just floated.
Alan couldn’t worry about the outdoor strangers. They were on their own. At present, they wouldn’t fit through the crack in the wall, so he couldn’t bring them in. And, Manawyddan help him, he’d make sure they’d never fit.
After pushing the insulated material into the widest part of the hole, Alan tried to open the resin tube. The cap was stuck.
If he removed his helmet-hood, he could bite off the top.
He could also asphyxiate and/or have his blood boil off when the wall inevitably blew out and took him with it. His breathing sped to dangerous quickness, proving he could asphyxiate even inside the suit.
No, let’s not do that then. I’d rather not turn into a prune.
Alan threw the tube to the floor and stomped on it, smashing the cap into red plastic particles that someone would later have to clean out of the floorboards. Freed, the resin flowed easily, pushing into the smaller cracks and sealing up the edges where it met the fabric patch.
He smoothed his hands over his work, feeling for tugs where the air wanted to vacate the room. None. The place was airtight once again.
Alan unzipped his suit. The room felt cool on his panic-heated skin, sweat starting to evaporate outside the rubber container.
“It’s all right,” he said.
No one listened, still panicking. Alan didn’t even care.
He slumped against the wall a few feet from his patch job and let himself trickle down it like mud until he sat on the floor, head balanced on his knees. People were screaming, though the alarms had quieted.
“Here.” Cantor appeared in front of him like a dream bearing a glass of water.
Alan opened the emergency repair kit again and took out those two aspirin. Now he knew what they were for: the sanity of the poor guy who made the repair. “Thanks.” He washed the drugs down with a sip of water, then gulped the rest. His skin inside the suit was sticky and sweltering, cooling rapidly now that he’d freed the fasteners so his body heat had somewhere to go.
“That was quick work.” Cantor refilled the glass with a sealed bottle from the table, making a weight in Alan’s hand that bound him in place.
It was nice to be appreciated. “I’ve been working on my emergency response skills.”
Cantor pointed at the fix. “Very impressive.”
Alan followed his gesture and couldn’t help tracing the crack with his eyes, up the wall and to the window sill and then out the window where the two bodies still floated. Unclaimed and insensate. All he could think to say was, “I’ve never seen a dead body before.”
The sweat cooling on his skin made him shiver.
“No, no.” A conference organizer came over with a blanket and stood in front of Alan, blocking his view of the outside. “No dead bodies here. But let us go to a more stable room.”
Warm blanket clutched to his shoulders, Alan was hurried away with the rest of the attendees. But he knew it for a lie. Death was death was death.
Thank the gods his Hive hadn’t been here. In the aftermath, however, all he wanted was to be with them again. To touch them and see them and breathe the same, safe air.
He wanted his Queen.
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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Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
- Print copies of books 1&2 of the Hive Queen Saga
- Complete Hive Queen Saga series in eBook