Terra is overcrowded, but a solution may have been found -- tucked away in Roswell is alien technology that leads to the creation of a method of space travel known as portaling .
A party of soldiers and scientists led by Dr. Emma Bradley, Colonel John Berger, and Dr. Layton Tremayne are about to take what they believe is the first step into the unknown. But what they discover is not only a wonder but a puzzle. The city of Eden on the distant planet Nibiru has obvious Terran influences. Who was there before them?
When Emma, John, and Layton return to Terra, they're dismayed to find things are even worse than they were when the trio left. The atmosphere is on the verge of toxicity and the population is reaching Malthusian proportions. Worse, there are plans afoot to portal the excess population off Terra to planets which may not be what their new inhabitants expect. Most won't survive.
Then they learn that a platoon of soldiers were portaled to Eden for a planned invasion of Nibiru and the surrounding planets. Emma, John, and Layton scramble to stop the military action, but will they be able to take back the city that’s become their home?
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Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Pairings: F-F, M-F, M-M
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 2
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Lesbian
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Word Count: 41099
Setting: Terra, Eden on Nibiru, planet of the crossing
Languages Available: English
In their portaling, they came across planets whose inhabitants they could trade with, but they also learned that some of them were best left to themselves.
The Beta-team sat slumped in Emma’s office, being debriefed.
“They appeared friendly. Agrarians. Who would have thought --” Lieutenant Fredericks rubbed a hand over his tired face.
“How many were lost?” she asked, a cold grip around her heart.
“Four.” He looked up, but his eyes avoided hers.
“Who?” Colonel Berger’s voice was quiet, but Emma knew him well enough by now to hear the fury beneath the deceptive calm. His own team had been scheduled to go to the planet designated as MA0-4433, but they’d come down with a bug -- the common cold, which seemed to have somehow traveled from Terra in dormant form with them. They’d learned through hard experience that no one who was ill portaled, not if they wanted to live.READ MORE
“Jones. Benitez. Eriksen. Pan.” Fredericks was pale. Emma knew the names. Three soldiers and a scientist. “We brought their bodies back with us.”
Men and women they could ill afford to lose. “How did you let them get the jump on you?”
“I don’t know, Colonel.” He shrugged helplessly. “They were farmers!”
“Obviously not. Was the ferryman at least paid?”
“In spades, sir.”
“Then that’s the best we can expect. We’ll hold services for them in the morning. Dismissed.”
Lieutenant Fredericks and what remained of his team saluted and left.
“This is the one aspect of the job I hate,” Emma murmured. Twenty people gone now, through hostile encounters, through portaling when ill, through just plain bad luck. She’d need to make a note of the names and add them to the list of their honored dead, for each one, no matter what the cause of death, was honored. One day, that list would be passed on to those back on Terra.
“I know. I hate writing eulogies. And Lay -- Dr. Tremayne. He’s going to be seriously pissed. He and Pan have been battling it out over that chessboard from the time we found it and realized what it was.”
“Yes. Each was certain he was about to win.”
“Lay would have. Genius there, as he’s so fond of telling us.” The Colonel rose and walked toward the door. He was one of the few people Emma had had it programmed for, and it would slide open at his approach. “Forrest was supposed to go, you know. Lay is going to hold him responsible.”
“It wasn’t his fault he became ill.” Emma felt obliged to defend the young scientist, although she’d never understood his abrasive attitude. Everyone had volunteered for this mission, and if he hadn’t wanted to be here, why had he done so?
“Lay’s still going to blame him.”
“John.” She waited until he looked back at her. “I’m going to order the Portal staff to destroy those coordinates. This is not subject to debate. I think it’s in Eden’s best interest.”
“You won’t get an argument from me. I was about to go there now and order that myself.”
“I’ve given myself the easier task.” She studied his eyes. Having to break this news to their chief scientist ... “I’ll tell Dr. Tremayne of the loss of his people, if you prefer.”
“No. He’s my friend. He deserves to hear it from me.” He was gone before Emma could protest that she was his friend also.COLLAPSE