Storyteller’s fateful words change Halerine Ananda’s life forever: “You, my children, are the Rainbow Warriors, and you must journey to the secret underwater city called Maniton.”
By the year 2128, Mother Earth has exacted her revenge and is no longer habitable. The wealthy abandon Earth for new planets or corporate space stations, but the First Peoples refuse to leave.
Halerine Ananda of the Siksika Blackfoot First Nations lives in a northern refugium far from the floods, hurricanes, and firestorms consuming the planet. But when the biodome over her village cracks, and the poison clouds dip lower, her people have run out of time.
Storyteller receives a fateful vision. The Elders must send their children to Maniton where they will wait out Turmoil. To save her brother and sister, and the young man she loves, Halerine agrees to lead the children across the barren lands of Beforetimes Canada in a sentient biopod named Voyageur.
With General Cardiff, leader of the powerful New World Arkers, and a gang of bandits on their trail, the Rainbow Warriors must evade a crazed assassin, a shiftless polygamist, khakhua cannibals, and most of all Mother Earth’s wrath.
Targeted Age Group:: 13-18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The concept of 'other' has always bothered me. I wrote this book and the rest of series to show that regardless of where people come from, what they look like, or what they believe in, they all have the same needs–to be loved, safe, and happy. I wrapped the lives of the indigenous young people in this series in the environmental collapse of earth's ecosystems that we are facing in order to show their struggles will be our struggles.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted the lead protagonist to be a strong young woman, but I also wanted her to be flawed. This coming of age story shows how she grows in strength as she faces the impossible odds of getting her friends and family to safety. Matwau, who figures prominently in five of the seven books is also flawed due to a tragedy he keeps secret. The plot for this story is quite intense and action-packed so I also created younger characters who added comedy to the story.
The Silver Tower
Elk Ridge Siksiká Blackfoot Refuge
I blamed the silver tower for everything that had gone wrong. It even smelled evil, a metallic stench that puckered my nose and burned my eyes.
Storyteller sang of Southerners building the tower before my People moved north, but why would anyone build a tower in the middle of nowhere? Chief Roy fancied the tower linked all the ancient satellites orbiting in space, but what was the sense in that? Most everyone was dead or long gone from Mother Earth.
“Come on, Honey, let’s do this.”
Honey pranced her way up an abandoned animal trail and stopped near the chain-link fence surrounding the tower.
I looked up, hundreds of feet up. Blue and yellow light imps streaked up and down the tripod legs, and a disk the shape of a flying saucer circled the tower’s peak.
I slipped off Honey’s back and wiped down her golden coat. “Bet you’re dreaming of a swim in the creek, aren’t you, girl?”
She nickered and her soft nose nudged me. Then she snorted and her ears flattened. She shook her mane and pranced on the spot.
“Easy girl, what’s wrong?”
An invisible force slithered up my legs. Hopping from one foot to the other did not stop the needle-like stings. I took a deep breath. Big mistake. Tiny sparks slid down my throat, burning and choking me. Soon my People would need breathers even on a good day.
A red light shot up the tall spike jutting out of the revolving disk. The beam pierced the swirls of pink and green poison floating across the sky and disappeared. Was it heading to one of the space stations where rich people hid from Turmoil?
A pulsating siren blared and tore at my ears. I dropped to the ground and cowered behind a boulder. “Great Apistotoke, protect me.”
Honey shrieked and galloped away.
A flying machine flickered in and out of my vision, then settled on the revolving disk, and the siren faded. Four strangers dressed in black hazmat suits climbed out of the flyer and disappeared into the tower.
I staggered to my feet and rubbed my burning ears. The stinging shocks ran up my legs and tingled the tips of my fingers.
But enough. None of it mattered, not the sirens, nor the flying machines, and not the nasty, stinging ground. I was going in. I wrapped my sweat-soaked hair in a messy twist and fetched wire cutters from my backpack. “Okay, let’s see what secrets you’ll give up.”
“Hali! What’re you doing?”
I dropped the cutters, and my heart skipped a beat.
Atian limped toward me, a scowl on his handsome face. His black braid was dripping down his bare back, and water droplets glistened on his broad chest. He had been swimming in the creek again.
Faded blue jeans hugged his buff body, and here I was, wicked in raggedy cut-offs and a dingy white t-shirt two sizes too small. I tucked stray hair behind my ears. “Why don’t you go home, Atian? This is none of your business.”
He snorted. “Oh really, so telling Nootah and Ida I found your fried carcass draped over the fence is none of my business?”
Always the same with him, he knew it all. “What are you babbling about?”
He flipped his wet bathing suit onto a metal pole holding up the fence. Sparks and flashes of fire shot into the hot air. His bathing suit sizzled and shriveled into a ball of melted syntho.
I jumped back and landed in his arms. “What! That fence has been dead as darkness forever.”
He wrapped his arms around my waist and nuzzled my neck. “Started up a couple months ago, my pa said.”
My skin tingled where his smooth hands touched me, and his breath smelled of cinnamon. I leaned into him for a brief moment, then slipped out of his grasp. “But where are they pulling the power?”
His piercing black eyes gazed at me, and an unreadable expression flitted across his face. “Hali, we don’t even know who they are.” He nodded at the tower. “That thing has power, why not the fence?”
“Well, they are inside the tower, didn’t you see them land?”
He backed away, like I knew he would.
“Outsiders are here? Let’s go before they spot us.”
I stamped my foot and an extra strong shock travelled up my leg. “I’m not leaving. I’ve had enough of secrets and archaic taboos. I need to know what this tower is for and if it’s a danger to us. Maybe those suits will give me some answers.”
The famous Atian frown appeared right on schedule. “Kind of risky, don’t you think?”
Shocks rippled up and down my legs, and my inner spirit screamed warnings. We should be moving, not quibbling. “Aren’t you tired of not knowing? We’re stuck up here in the North while the rest of the world is going to hell, and I’m pretty sure that tower holds some answers.”
I headed for the fence. “No buts, come with me or leave.”
He wrung the water out of his braid and pulled on his black t-shirt. “What choice do I have, you’ll get yourself killed if I leave you alone.”
I sneaked a peek at him from beneath my lashes. A trick I learned in middle school. A frown creased his perfect brow, his usual expression around me. We were childhood besties, but lately he acted all weird and bossy around me. At first his behavior confused and hurt me, then it ticked me off, but now I mostly ignored him. If only he wasn’t so good-looking.
He brushed past me and took the lead. “How do you plan on sneaking inside, mighty trailblazer?”
A good question. “We’ll keep looking until we find a way in.” Lame, but Mr. Know-it-all was not getting the last word.
We followed the fence, slipping behind scrubby thorn bushes and long-dead tree trunks, and searched for a break in the links. Sweat trickled into my eyes and blurred my vision, but I kept going.
Atian broke the awkward silence. “Are you going to the gathering tomorrow night?”
A snort slipped out before I could stop it. “What choice do I have? The tribal council commands and we obey.”
“Well, it sounds important.”
His words sent a chill up my back. Important meant bad news, like low water levels, herd disease, or more poisons in the air.
Atian stopped suddenly. I ran into his backside and hit the ground hard. He grinned down at me, and my stomach flip-flopped. The same grin from middle school when he liked me.
“Next time watch where you’re going, but you might as well stay down there. I’ve found a way in.” He pointed to a small hole dug under the fence, behind a stunted willow bush.
I measured the opening with my hands. A skinny person would fit. “I wonder who made this hole.”
“Who cares? It’ll get us in, and if we’re lucky and nobody shoots us, it’ll get us out.”
My hair crackled as I slid through the hole, and my teeth ached from the fence’s hum, but on the other side the stingy shocks stopped. I ducked behind a dying ninebark bush and studied the tower. “It seems bigger from up here.”
Atian crouched behind me. His breath tickled my neck and distracted me from my scouting.
“What’s next, Sherlock?”
How should I know? Besides, when did exploring become a planned event? Trust Atian to ruin my fun.
I peeked around the lone snowball flower hanging from the bush. Glacial boulders, some the size of a woodshed, lay scattered across the field, and a door I never noticed before flickered in the tripod leg closest to us. “We’ll use those rocks for cover and head for that door.”
Atian pointed up the tower. “See those drone-cams?”
Four whirly-birds floated fifty meters in the air. They swiveled back and forth, their shifty red eyes searching the perimeter around the tower. “Yeah, so what?”
“No way are we gonna sneak into that tower without being spotted.”
“So what if they see us. We’re just nosy kids. Why would they hurt us?”
I kept my head down and dashed for the first boulder. Atian gasped for breath behind me. Scared or was his mangled leg hurting when he ran?
He touched my arm. “Let me go first.”
When he was halfway to the next boulder, I ran after him. We did this two more times without the drones reacting. Maybe we could pull off this caper afterall.
A searing red gash ran the length of my right arm. Yellow blister bubbles popped up along the welt, and my arm burned as bad as when I tripped and fell against our wood stove. Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I bit my trembling lip. “Oh crap.”
“Hali! Get down! They’re AI lasers, not cams!”
No kidding. I flattened against the dead grass. A beam of sizzling heat swept past my ear and scorched the ground beside me. I rolled behind the nearest boulder. First one, then another beam hit the rock, sending heat pulses and shocks through my body.
“Hey, over here!”
The drones swiveled their sensors, and a flurry of laser fire erupted on the other side of the clearing.
A tall, thin man dressed in green camouflage zigzagged across the clearing and ran around the boulders in crazy-wild circles. His tactics worked and two of the AIs collided, but the other two hovered above us.
The man waved at me.
“Hey, that’s Matwau.”
Atian grunted. “What’s that pain in the butt up to?”
I grinned. “Showing more balls than you.”
I ran after Matwau, and we reached the entrance to the tower at the same time. But Atian chose a different route. Almost there, a laser beam caught him on his good leg. He fell and rolled the last few meters to the door. The drones zoomed around the tower.
A smirk crossed Matwau’s gaunt face. “Nice finish, hero.”
Blood seeped through Atian’s jeans. I knelt and stretched the scorched hole. His thigh resembled a semi-cooked elk steak.
His golden skin paled at the sight of his seared leg, but he pushed me away. “It barely nicked me.”
Okay, be that way. “Fine. Your sizzled hide, not mine.”
Matwau fiddled with the door’s touch screen. “Those bugs will be on us any second.”
“Did you see the flyer land on this thing?” I said.
He nodded. “A neo-glider, it’s the only aircraft flying in this soup, but I’m surprised we spotted it, they’re stealth most of the time.”
He tapped codes on the screen but nothing happened. “Okay, enough playing nice.” He kicked the door, and the frame shattered from the force of his boot. He winked at me and offered his hand. “Care for a look-see, my lady?”
A warm flush crept up my neck, despite my best efforts. Atian could learn a few manners from this guy.
I took his hand and stepped into a twenty-first century shrine. “Oh! The air’s so cool, and I taste clean.” Good, maybe my blush would go away.
The hexagonal room resembled photos of first class airport lounges in my father’s Beforetimes magazines. Silver columns supported the high ceiling, and pearly white walls gave off a soft sheen. Most amazing of all, hundreds of books lined wooden bookshelves on either side of a gold and black fireplace. My father would love all the books.
I rubbed my feet on the plush, white carpet. “Oh yes, I could live here.”
Matwau surveyed the room. “Somebody’s living the good life in this lounge.”
I had to agree. “No dust bunnies or cobwebs. This isn’t some Beforetimes relic, this baby’s in use.”
Atian hobbled into the tower and fell onto one of a dozen blue lounge chairs. He did not say a word, but the scowl on his face told me loads.
Matwau leaned against the broken door frame. “I don’t suppose you two cray cray’s thought about how you’re getting out of this fix.”
Atian clenched his teeth against the pain and lifted his wounded leg onto the lounger. “We’ll figure it out.”
The AIs zoomed around the tower and opened fire. “Mat!”
Matwau dived into the room a second before a beam scorched the door frame. The AIs flitted away.
I ran my hands along a gleaming cherry wood bar on the far side of the room. Sparkling wine glasses hung behind the bar, and an assortment of dark bottles with strange names like Jack Daniels and Smirnoff sat in a neat row on the counter.
Matwau joined me and opened a bottle labeled Dalmore single malt. He sniffed the bottle. “These guys enjoy the good stuff.”
I touched his shoulder and whispered, “Mat, please don’t.”
His lips tightened into a thin line, but he set the bottle down. “Sure, no problem.”
Yeah right. How long before he gave in?
Matwau plopped down on a lounger and waved his hand in front of the monitor. “Update.”
The monitor lit up, and the lounger swiveled to face a platform in the middle of the room.
“How’d you do that?”
“We had comps linked to the Net at Duck Mountain Refuge when I was a kid. Lost it by the time I turned thirteen.”
Holographic images paraded across the platform. Grim-faced men in gray military uniforms stared into the distance, then tigers, elephants, and polar bears snarled at an invisible audience.
“I thought they were extinct.”
“Who? Pompous military-types or wild animals?”
The holo transformed into vast fields of vegetables and flowering fruit trees inside a warehouse so large I could not wrap my mind around its size. Little children were planting seeds in raised rows of dirt, while an overseer waved a laser at them. “Where is that place, and who are those kids?”
Matwau coded the console. “My guess is trafficked kids doing somebody’s dirty work.”
A blue-eyed woman sparkled and took form on the raised platform. Her blond hair was pulled back in a flawless bun, and she wore a tight-fitting gray uniform that showed off her perfect figure. String music played in the background when she began to speak.
The Ark will provide worthy humans with shelter for hundreds of years while Earth restores its ecosystems. Then man shall rise again.
“Man shall rise again?” Matwau’s dark eyes narrowed. “By all the spirits above, hasn’t man done enough to this poor old earth?”
“How about, women shall inherit the earth?” I said.
Matwau shot me a mischievous grin, and my cheeks flamed. Again.
The avatar settled on the holo platform. A hostess will be with you shortly.
“They know we’re here.”
“Relax sweetheart, it’s a sensor recording.”
“Actually, the young lady is correct.”
We turned. A middle-aged man dressed in a gray uniform stepped through a flickering door and aimed his laser at us. He appeared well fed, even paunchy, something not common among my People. He had the same blond hair and blue eyes as the avatar.
“Who are you?” I said.
The man you are referring to is General Cardiff, Commander of the New World Ark.
Matwau scowled. “Arkers, like in the holo? You’re commander of that slave pit?”
General Cardiff’s brows knitted together. “Thank you, Alice, that will be all.”
The avatar sparkled and disappeared.
The general glared at us. “You delinquents have broken into a top security installation.”
I glared back. “This is Siksiká land, you’re trespassing.”
General Cardiff rocked back and forth on his polished shoes and chuckled. “You know little girl, you’ve got spunk. Too bad your breed will be of no value in our new world order.”
My breed? New world order?
Matwau pushed the monitor away and stood up, his body posture keyed for flight or fight.
I touched his arm. “No Mat, don’t do anything.”
“So what kind of sick game are you playing, Cardiff?”
The general focused his glare on Matwau and sniffed. “Young man, are you aware that break and enter is an offence punishable with life in prison? And you destroyed two of our drones.”
Matwau folded his arms and adopted a stance similar to Chief Roy when he was annoyed. “And what government would that be? And this prison is where? Come on Cardiff, what gives?”
A smug look crossed the general’s fleshy face. “The Ark will save the best of mankind, and we will repopulate the Earth.”
What mankind was he referring to? Not First Peoples, I’d wager, nor women. “What about the rest of us?”
His steely eyes shifted and took on a glazed sheen. “Survival of the fittest, what a bunch of humbug. Survival of the richest, I say. We’ll rule the world without riffraff like you tagging along, begging for crumbs.”
Atian limped over to us.
The general noticed his twisted foot and grimaced. “Enough silly questions, none of this applies to your kind anyway.” He waved his weapon. “Let’s go, upstairs with the lot of you.”
I followed the boys into an angular shaft with shiny golden walls. A whoosh of air lifted us high into the tower. I took a moment to collect my stomach when we stopped. We followed the general into a cold, round room jam-packed with whining machines. The metallic odor was back. No one was working at the crowded workstations. “Where is everybody?”
General Cardiff’s expression darkened. “They were no longer needed.”
I swallowed. Okay, this wasn’t funny anymore.
Cardiff waved to chairs. “Cool your heels in here while I take care of some business, then we’ll decide your fate.”
The general stepped out of the room and waved his hand. A sparkly barrier shimmered in place. We were trapped.
Photos of grim-faced men dressed in military uniforms lined two of the dull gray walls. The general’s cousins? Red dots flashed across a holo map covering the far wall. The largest dot hovered over the Amazon forest in Beforetimes Venezuela. I poked the dot and the holo jiggled. “I wonder what these dots mean.”
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