Today I have on my blog fantasy/science fiction author Marie J.S. Phillips. Please enjoy this excerpt of her book, The Furlites of Aroriel: Book 1 – On Matissia Wings.
Thorius proceeded cautiously, getting a feel for the controls. By the time they merged onto the main road through town, he handled the small craft smoothly. Thorius maneuvered through the sleeping town easily, passing the Fundamental School he and Murkuria attended. A pang of regret flashed through him. He would miss the school.
At Gabbruss’ central hub, he turned right, onto the street that led out of the tiny village. Ahead, the wide road wound through the snow-covered Sepur and Sunip trees of Burstal’s largest forest. Murkuria took a moment to admire the snow-swept trees. The ancient, twisted, gnarled old trees reached into the grey sky, their long needle-covered boughs thrashing in the winds. How many such storms had those old trees lived through? How many more would they experience? Many, she mused, so many she could not imagine them.
Murkuria returned her attention to the road ahead. So far, everything went well. Could she and Thorius escape this storm unscathed? She kept silent, not wishing to distract him.
Thorius guided the vehicle with feigned assurance. Every tiny buffet the small craft took from the wind tossed his heart into his throat, and flung his stomach into the tip of his tail. Iggie’s nervous twittering twinged along his nerves, and he fought his rising annoyance. To yell at the Matissia to be quiet would likely anger Murkuria, and that he did not need. He shut Iggie’s crying from his mind, concentrating on the task at hand. Ahead, the thinning forest told Thorius he approached the main highway that cut through Burstal. Thorius accelerated the craft onto the main road. The shuttle swooshed onto the thoroughfare, spinning suddenly in a strong gust of wind. Murkuria gasped, clinging hard to the riding handles. She wondered if their obeying the message of her dream would hurt or kill them. She turned to Iggie, who yelped with fear. Murkuria soothed her little friend. Iggie’s yelping turned to soft whimpers.
Blood roared in Thorius’ ears as he struggled with the controls. He struggled to concentrate over his pounding heart. Fortunately, the shuttlecraft obeyed his trembling hands, settling into a smooth ride once they pulled onto the roadway. Thorius inhaled deeply, slowly, calming his racing heart.
Murkuria glanced over at her brother. His grim expression put age into his face. His size added to the illusion, and any Law Officer, on first glance, would never guess a mere child drove this craft. Iggie’s whimpering caught her attention. She glanced back at the frightened little beast, and wondered. Should she have left her with Elia and Ceria? Both loved Iggie, and Iggie liked them, but Iggie adored Murkuria. No, she decided, leaving Iggie behind meant, at very least, her alerting the household to their getaway, and, at worst, Iggie’s death. She sighed, and returned her attention to the road ahead.
Thorius pulled back on the accelerator, noticing the thinning of trees ahead, which meant only one thing — the dangerous Floodlands lay ahead. Thorius’ heart raced, and his eyes roved from road to control panel. Blast the circumstances that forced him to take his aunt’s shuttle instead of his mother’s! On this craft, the lortzing air power control pad eluded his questing gaze. He pulled back on the accelerator again, scanning the panel, but the location of the pad remained a mystery. He reached forward, and digits popped into view from behind the steering bar.
“Ah, ha! Not a pad, but a lever!” he exclaimed, and jabbed at the controls. A sudden gust of wind jolted the shuttle, shoving Thorius against the hatch. To his horror, his wrist slapped the accelerator lever, throwing it forward. The little craft surged ahead, breaking from the cover of the forest and onto the flat, treeless terrain. The swirling white wall of cyclonic winds snatched up the wayward vehicle like a wad of shed hair. The craft careened violently.
Murkuria clamped herself to the cushion, her arms wedged into the riding handles. Her talons ripped into the plush upholstery. Behind her, the backsacks bounced wildly against their restraints, and Iggie clung like a leech to one, screeching with every milliliter of volume in her little lungs, voicing her and Murkuria’s terror.
Desperately, Thorius strove to regain control of the vehicle. He clung to the steering bar, and moved all the flap levers, but the craft did not respond. Iggie’s screeching drilled into his ears, feeding his own dread. The pull of gravity told him they dove in, nose first! The craft thudded to an abrupt body-wrenching halt. Thorius clung to the bar, his breath rasping through his constricted throat. He glanced at his sister. She looked unhurt, but the plush fabric beneath her hands hung in tatters. Iggie’s hysterical shrieking filled the craft. Thorius breathed deep, calming himself. The craft hummed quietly, but snow covered the window. He cut the engines, heartened by the sound of their smooth running. Murkuria gained control over herself, and, in response, Iggie’s screaming subsided. She unhooked the seatbelts, and sat up.
“I am unhurt,” she gasped, in deep breaths. “Are you all right?”
“Yes. We nose-dived into a drift.”
“What happened? Why under the triple lortzing moons did you speed up??”
“Blast it, I did not do it purposefully.” He frowned at her anger. “The wind hit us back there. I hit the lever by accident! Great black sucking holes, Murkuria! I did not want to race onto the Floodlands like a fool!”
“I am sorry. I did not mean to swear at you. I did not really think you did it on purpose.” She tried putting her rumpled fur into place. “Did you find the air control?”
“Yes, but right when I went to disengage it, that wind knocked us silly.” Thorius reached back for a snow scoop. “We had best dig out before we do anything else.”
Without reply, Murkuria grabbed the other scoop. As one, they thrust open the hatches. Wind and snow howled into the warm interior. Iggie pricked her ears, her wailing turning to querulous twittering.
“Stay there, Iggie,” Murkuria commanded sternly, then jumped out into the storm. The icy wind sliced into their thick coats, and, for one of the few times in their young lives, both shivered.
On the cold distant world Aroriel — where primate species never developed — evolution spawned a furry saurian race that now reaches for the stars. Commander Geupetus of Clan Darius, offered command of the first near-lightspeed starship, hesitates to take the job, as Furlitian Law forbids his pre-adolescent twins Murkuria and Thorius from accompanying their Clan on this historic mission into interstellar space.
Clan Darius, after careful deliberation as a family, driven by their rigid sense of military honor, discipline, and duty, decide they must squelch their emotions and accept the commission – leaving the twins on Aroriel. But the paradox caused by the Clan’s traveling near the speed of light means that IF the twins ever see their family again, they will be older than their parents!
Distraught, Thorius conceives an outrageous plan to stow aboard the great starship. He and Murkuria borrow a family shuttle, and whiz off, determined to reach the Space Center before dawn launch. With the help of Iggie, Murkuria’s pet Matissia, they sneak aboard the starship, inadvertently causing the Sunpyne to crash land on an alien world, where dinosaurian life like their own is long extinct, and strange primate beings that call themselves Human populate the planet.
Following a violent first confrontation with two natives, they race to repair the ship. A second meeting, with a family camping out in the wilderness around the ship, results in friendship, and information exchange. However, after their Human friends leave to return to a distant home, the Human military locates the downed starship, just after they complete full repairs. Geupetus powers up the ship, but suddenly realizes his twins and one Cadet are not aboard. With enemy warcraft peppering the area with arms fire, and unable to lower shields to recover his children and crewmate, Geupetus refuses to leave without them. Will the furlites ever see their beloved home again?
Contains some sexual content.
About the Author
Born in 1957, in Huntington, on Long Island, I’ve been driven by an insatiable love of writing, art, and the sciences since very early childhood. My love of animal tales fueled my desire to write, always manifesting in stories from the non-human point of view. I invented my very first character at six years old, creating picture books with a tree as the main protagonist. I included, on the inside covers, my very own publishing logo, complete with rainbow and shining sun!
Back in my senior year of High School, one of my teachers, Mr. O’Connor, lent me a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, which changed my reading and writing life forever, driving me into the unique and futuristic world of Fantasy/Science Fiction.
In college, I majored in Art and Earth Sciences, where inspiration fired my vivid and eccentric imagination, planting the seeds for my Furlites of Aroriel novels, Over the years, I honed the complex world of this alien family saga. My husband’s love and support over the decades proved invaluable, since his scientific knowledge and expertise quickly surpassed my own, once we graduated high school, went off to college, and entered the working world. With his help, and that of my mentor, David Ayscue, who passed away in 2010, I completed the first two of these books, On Matissia Wings, and, Earth-bred Matissia-born,which are now available. Other tales are in the works, including the third book in this series called EYES IN THE DARK, CURSE OF KORIS, and FURLITIAN TALES, a book of shorter tales featuring other characters in the prior books.
I dabbled with another tale many years ago, using my Khan as a character, when my big Maine Coon became seriously ill. While battling Khan’s insidious disease, I completed the story, which took on deeper impact far beyond my intended feline fantasy yarn. KHAN: A Maine Coon is the result, a biography of his life, with fictional elements, written from his point of view. My special furbaby’s bit of immortality has collected all 5 star reviews in this short time.
THE WHITE DRAGONS OF SUVWILUR and OTHER STORIES, is a collection of fantasy /science fiction tales from the point of view of many characters, from an Appaloosa Pegasus, a white furry Dragon, and others, including a Collie /Human hybrid created by genetic manipulation by aggressive aliens.
In OLD GENT, I return to those very roots of my writing career, penning the true tale of our beloved ancient Norway Spruce tree and his sapling son, done from the trees’ point of view, reminiscent in style to my KHAN: A MAINE COON, and, an older tale I read as a child called BIG TREE. OLD GENT is available on Kindle and on Lulu in hardcover.
One of my favorite hobbies has been collecting, showing and customizing model horses. This hobby spawned a set of stories I call THE SECRET LIFE OF MODEL HORSES and soon, Volume One will be read to publish!
Owned by two cats, one of which is a very large 25 pound Maine Coon cat, I live with my husband in the rolling hills of northwestern Connecticut.