(Zero Point Light, Book 1) | SF
After the failure of their ship’s stardrive six surviving travellers are marooned on Nebura, a world facing a biomass crisis. Time’s running out as they encounter other forces onworld with less benign plans.
Pursued by the Siqdori, the small band joins forces with an eccentric scientist, and takes the fight to the one remaining stilling-free sector – Polarica. They know they may only get one chance to save themselves … and the planet.
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She nodded and drifted lazily away. She swam about twenty yards from the Boleyn. The water was much clearer now, almost normal. She unzipped her life preserver and let herself submerge a few feet. Bending at the waist she scissored her legs, pushing herself down. She was surprised that she could see ten yards now, easy. The water was much cleaner this far north, especially once you got below the upper ten feet. It flashed into her mind that only a few weeks earlier she had been onboard the Arcturus-4, in orbit around this planet, and here she was now, swimming through clear, emerald-green waters. She grinned at the incongruousness of it.
She was down about twenty feet. She rolled over, and was about to scissor her legs and make for the surface when she saw an out-of-place glowing from the corner of her eye. She stroked sideways, turned around and saw the glow again. It appeared to be a fairly strong reflection of light, about twenty feet further down. She looked up, saw that the sun was directly overhead – about noon, she thought. ‘Where is it being reflected from?’ she asked herself. She looked down again, and it was clearer now – a definite sphere-shaped bubble of light had appeared below her. But she needed air. She kicked twice and felt herself float peacefully up. Breaking surface, she saw Franklin on the platform talking with Mick, who was still in the water holding the stretcher. Aleesha and Marnie were over on the far side of the pilothouse, looking towards shore. She took a deep breath, and dived again.
Using long strokes she slivered her lean body deeper, and the sphere loomed swiftly into view. She slowed and hung suspended several feet above it. Kicking sideways, she moved in towards it on a half-parabola, and felt herself slowly drawn closer. She stopped again a few feet away. It was beside her now – a perfect sphere of light. Looking at it was disorienting, like being back up at the surface, as though the Boleyn would hove into view at any moment. She looked up and saw the sunlight reaching down, fading into a grayish-green relative darkness above her. The sphere was maybe thirty feet in diameter. She looked down between her gently kicking legs, white against the inky blackness below. She looked ahead into the light, trying to see inside. But there was nothing to see, it appeared empty. She tentatively pulled herself forward with short, paddling strokes, until she got herself within an arm’s length of the bright surface. When she reached towards it there was a slight tingling on her fingertips, as though the effervescing bubbles from a carbonated drink were tickling her skin. She again felt the need for air. When she stroked with her other hand her fingertips touched the surface of light, and broke through. Her fingertips were no longer tickling, they felt warm. They seemed to have broken through into a place empty of water.
A touch of vertigo stole in behind her closed eyes. The need for air scrabbled around inside her like a live thing. She opened her eyes, yanked her hand back from the sphere. Flailing, she backed away and kicked for the surface. Her hands reached through and she felt flooded with relief as her head broke above the welcoming light-dappled surface. She was about to call out to the boat – but it wasn’t there. Turning rapidly in every direction, she couldn’t see it. She floundered and suddenly realized she couldn’t see the sky, in any direction. She knew a moment of pure terror. All she could see was a bright concave surface of water, in every direction. She willed herself to be still. She looked down at her body, which was projecting half out of the water, and she wasn’t falling back down into it. A hysterical laugh burst from her lips, and she clamped her mouth shut. She thought quickly, realized she must have got disoriented and swum right back into the sphere. She was hanging inside an inside-out world of water, and was breathing air! Then she understood there was no gravity pulling on the upper half of her body. Suddenly she didn’t want to be half-in and half-out of whatever this was, and quickly kicked her legs. She felt herself shoot forward into the sphere. Her whole body was inside. It felt like a surreal version of a space-walk. Water-droplets were spooling off her skin in every direction, she was in a shower of suspended drops, which were gliding back towards, and flowing into, the globe of water that enveloped her. Then the terror returned – she was shocked into rigid immobility by its size.