QUESTOR – new except from chapter 6!

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Here’s a new excerpt from my SF novel, Questor, this one is from chapter 6:


Jon was shocked out of his reverie by an almost forgotten sound. His transmitter was beeping at him, as was Manny’s alongside.

Manny hurriedly tapped his and called, “Come in, Questor. Mannheim here. Come in.”

They waited and then, sounding distant and slightly distorted, came Barlow’s voice. “Questor to Mannheim and Hardesty. Come in, please.”

“We hear you, Questor. This is Lieutenant Mannheim. Come in.”

They waited patiently, only to be greeted only with a repeat of Barlow’s message. “Questor to Mannheim and Hardesty. Come in, please.”

Frustration flickered across Manny’s face. “You try, Jon.”

“Hardesty to Barlow. Come in, please, Questor.” They waited again. There was a sound from Jon’s transmitter and then there was a similar buzz from Manny’s.

“I think they’re trying to boost the signal,” Manny said. “It must be difficult to break through the interference.” He waited for a couple of minutes before trying again. “Mannheim to Questor. Come in, please.”

“Barlow to Mannheim.” The distortion couldn’t mask the relief in Barlow’s voice. “We read you, but the signal is very distorted. Please advise your situation and how you read the signal?”

“It’s good to hear you from you, Commander, even if the signal isn’t too good. However, we could hear you before you could hear us. Jon and I are in good health, which is more than can be said for the shuttle.”

“Have you had any contact with the Rhiava?” Captain Sullivan asked.

The signal seemed to have settled to an acceptable, if somewhat crackly level.

“Yes. They rescued us when the shuttle crashed, and we’ve been staying with them ever since. They’re an exceptional race, sir. In fact, we’re accompanying two of them through the foothills below the mountains on the northern continent. We need to cross this mountain range to reach more of the Rhiava leaders, but we have to avoid Midean patrols, Captain.

“I don’t know whether you’re aware of this, but the Mideans placed a shield around the planet to try to coerce the Rhiava to provide their technological knowledge. They came here on the pretense of wanting to trade for food which is abundant on this planet, but what they really wanted was the advanced technology of the Rhiava. Also, the Rhiava have some remarkable mental skills…all of them, but especially their elders. But this shield is somehow blocking some of that power.”

“I’m afraid you’re breaking up again, Manny. Did we hear correctly? It’s the Mideans who placed the shield in the atmosphere?”

“Yes, according to—” Manny was interrupted by a shriek of static from his transmitter.

Jon tried to operate his, but got the same result.

“Well, at least we know they’re in orbit; they know we’re safe, if trapped. I’m sure they’ll be doing everything they can to help us.” Manny turned to Triena. “Hopefully, whatever action they take to aid us may also be beneficial for you. I’m sure they’ll keep trying to contact us, too.”

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tell them very much about the shield,” Jon said.

“It’s possible they’ll be able to discover more from orbit than we can from down here anyway. The ship has excellent sensor devices, and it’s clear they scanned the shield in detail from orbit, which is more than we could do from the shuttle,” Manny commented.

“We may as well carry on for the time being. There’s nothing to be gained by waiting for further contact, since we don’t know how long that could take,” Jon said.

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