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The Forgotten Commander (The Lost Planet, #1)
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Our planet, Mortuus, is lost and dying.
Five females—a chance at a future.
I am Breccan Aloisius, the forgotten commander.
My mind is made up…until she wakes and nothing goes as planned.
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The sound echoes in the command center but it’s one I look forward to each solar. Every morning at sunrise, my routine is the same. I slide back the zuta-metal door that hides the massive window that covers the entire wall and allow the sunlight in.
I exhale heavily and close my eyes to bask in it. The warmth on my pale white skin heats me to my chilled bones. Ultraviolet rays are harmful to our sensitive flesh but we crave what it offers nonetheless.
“This journey is imperative to our survival,” Galen repeats for the millionth time this solar cycle.
I open my eyes just so I can roll them. Gritting my teeth, I drag my gaze from The Graveyard, what we call what’s beyond the window, to our faction’s botanist. “So you’ve said,” I grunt back, a slight edge to my tone.
Galen frowns and his black irises flicker from round orbs to half-moon slits, a telltale sign of his frustration. Guilt niggles at me for upsetting him. He’s only trying to do his job, and he’s absolutely correct. But as much as I want to test the soil beyond what we can see of The Graveyard, like he’s been suggesting for ages, I’m leery.
“How are the R-levels in the air?” My eyes dart to my closest friend here, Calix.
Calix scratches at his jawline and his pointy ear wiggles on his left side, a common trait when he’s deep in thought. His glasses—that once belonged to his father Phalix—sit perched on his head. Phalix perished mysteriously on a trek into The Graveyard. Our best guess was a sabrevipe got him based on the state of his body.
“Hmm,” Calix says. His nostrils flare as he taps on his zenotablet and the device lights up in response. After a moment of reading the results, he glances up at me with worry marring his features. “Plus point four.”
“Lethal levels are point eight and above,” our computer system, Uvie, chirps in her feminine, digitized voice.
Galen lets out a hoot and rises from his chair. If he thinks he’s running out there without some sort of plan, he’s lost his rekking mind.
“Halt,” I bark out. “Plan?”
He puts his large hands on his hips and stares out the window, his onyx orbs gleaming with excitement. The lab coat he always wears over his minnasuit is smeared with soil samples that, if I prayed to any gods, I’d pray have been properly decontaminated. By the way Calix hisses when Galen brushes against his chair, I assume he’s just as concerned as I am.
“There,” he says, gesturing for the horizon with a sharp black claw. “Beyond Bleex Mountain.” He taps the incredibly thick and impenetrable glass, pointing at the highest mountain within our view. Somewhere beyond Bleex Mountain is an old facility that’s long been abandoned. “I want to assemble a team and travel there. Five morts. From my calculations, it would only take three full solars to make it there, at least two solars to collect samples, and then three solars back. The data doesn’t predict any geostorms anytime soon. Perfect travel conditions.” He turns and beams at me, baring the double fangs on each side of his mouth.
“No.” My instant reaction is always no. It’s unsafe. Despite the R-levels being in the mild zone, there are other threats. Sabrevipes are known to prowl the area, especially in good weather. They’re rekking huge, vicious, and tricky to kill. At least their meat is worth eating.
“We could always expand our search beyond the old Sector 1779 to see if maybe we find any working facilities—”
I cut Galen off with a warning growl. He presents this argument often, and even Calix agrees that it’s a terrible idea to go traipsing across The Graveyard in hopes of finding any mort life or working facilities.
“Breccan,” Galen says in a low voice. “We have to try. What if the soil is good for planting? We could take the seedlings that aren’t thriving and replant them.”
I wave a hand at him to dismiss his words. “The seedlings will die.” We’ll all die.
He flinches as though I’ve struck him. “But we need this for our survival because eventually—”
“No!” I roar, fisting my hands as I storm over to the window. I stare out into the barren wasteland outside of our mountain home and shake my nog. It’s dead. A few animals roam about that are worth capturing and eating, but other than that, it’s worthless space. Empty. Desolate. Rekking cruel. Rage bubbles up inside my chest and my ears flatten against my nog, a natural mort physiological reaction when preparing for a fight. “What good are thriving seedlings when our own race is dying out? The thing we need for the continuity of our people are females. And as you can see,” I hiss and gesture to the empty nothingness, “there isn’t anyone left.”