Children of the Fifth Sun: Echelon
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: August 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
***SEQUEL TO THE AWARD-WINNING CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN***
SHE THOUGHT THERE WAS NOTHING STRONGER THAN A MOTHER’S BOND.
SHE WAS WRONG.
Fifteen thousand years ago, the knowledge bringers—an amphibious, non-humanoid species known as the Huahuqui—came after a great global flood, gifting humans with math, science and civility. We killed them all.
Seventy years ago, we found one of their corpses preserved in ice and eventually created a clone, named K’in. Our governments squabbled over the creature and we killed that, too.
Now, a sinkhole in Siberia has opened revealing new secrets and humans may once again have a chance to prove we deserve the gifts the Huahuqui bestowed.
Freya Nilsson has spent the last five years trying to forget her role in the Huahuqui cloning program. Instead, she hid her son, KJ, from the regimes and agencies who she believed would exploit him for the powers he acquired through his father’s bond with K’in.
An innocent trip to help KJ understand his abilities results in the global conspiracy she fought to bury exploding back to life. Chased by new foes, and hounded to put the needs of the world first, all Freya can think of is protecting KJ—at all costs.
Location: Yamal Peninsula, Siberia
Svetlana was nowhere to be found. The ice-laden wind whipped about the leathery face of her mother, Anuska, rendering her blind. Defying the storm, she pulled the thick reindeer-skin hood over her raven-haired head and trudged onward through the snow, away from the tents, in the only direction her daughter could have gone. With unsteady steps, she called into the blizzard but her voice carried no more than a few feet.
Pushing farther on, Anuska searched with outstretched hands, feeling her way forward. The snow concealed jagged rocks that cut into the leather of her reindeer-skin boots, letting frigid water seep in and freeze her toes. Still, she pressed on. She was Nenets; used to the perils of living in the open—and children often became lost. Though, this was different. Svetlana had not been herself. Not been awake. She’d wandered off several times since they set up camp near the sinkhole. Normally a girl who always completed her chores, tending to the reindeer, Svetlana had become obsessed with visiting the deep crater and peering over the edge for hours at a time.
Anuska could only hope her daughter had not tried to visit it on a night like this.
Before long, she stood at the edge of the sinkhole. More than one-hundred feet wide, it was an almost perfect puncture in the Earth’s crust. Here the wind seemed to swirl around the black hole, but never over it. Anuska could make out the twenty-foot thick rim of gray rock that encircled the hole, and the pitch black center that absorbed all light, even during the day. She edged her foot forward, sending crumbling rock into the void.
“Svetlana!” she called again.
Anuska held her breath, squeezed her eyes shut and listened—hoping against hope.
The Nenets mother faltered at the edge. “Svetlana?”
The wind howled. But on its very edge, the voice came again. “Mama …”
Anuska scrambled to the ground and crawled backward into the hole, searching for a foothold. Through snow-soaked boots, her toes found an outcropping. She tested it for stability. It didn’t move. Anuska allowed her weight to rest on it, then lowered herself a little more and with her other foot began the search for another base.
Slowly, she climbed down into the pit, one awkward step at a time. Her reindeer-skin mittens prevented the dexterity needed to properly grip the rock face, yet she clung to it with all her might. Her forearm muscles burned and her legs ached.
As she lowered farther and farther down, the storm’s power lessened. The wind didn’t bite as hard, and visibility got better. She chanced a glance below, but it made her stomach roil with vertigo. The gray lip of rock was almost at its end, and there seemed to be nothing more beyond but a bottomless quarry. As she stared into the pitch, her vision blurred and her world spun.
“Mama …” came the voice from the void.
Startled, Anuska lost her footing. She scrambled to regain purchase, but it was no use. Her legs slipped out from under her and she slid down the remainder of the rocky gray rim. Her knees smashed into a ledge, and then she fell screaming into the darkness below.