Nebador Archives presents an epic young-adult science fiction adventure - Book Seven

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Kibi and the Search for Happiness
2010
Rini and the Old Slave
2010
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2011
First Taste of Freedom
2011
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2012
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2012
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2012
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2013
The Magic Needle
2014
Still Voices
2016
Floating Away
2016
The Lonely Space Dragon
2016


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NEBADOR Book Seven: The Local Universe

This book includes the short story Buna's Search by Shadow Buffalo-walker, winner of the 2012-13 NEBADOR Writing Contest.

The crew of the little ship must first endure a long and constantly-changing deep-space mission with creatures they had never imagined working alongside, only to discover how much they admire them.

unseen guests at an event of universe importance
original cover art commissioned to artist Rachael Hedges

But their real challenge is a planet of humans who have their priorities backwards, where Ilika must go under cover while the rest of the crew searches for their elusive assignment. After several dead ends, they are finally rewarded with a visit to Nebador's majestic local universe capital.
Book Seven front cover Book Seven back cover

"I have decreed it, and I will bring it to pass. My word will not return to me empty."

-- Yahweh

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Chapter 1: Deep-Space Mission

    Melorania, a barely-seen blue mist, hovered near the ceiling of Satamia Star Station's main hall. People of all shapes and sizes went about their business far below, or swooped through the air in transit from balconies to corridors.
    A green mist formed near her.
    I want you to meet someone, Melorania said.
    A small purple mist appeared nearby.
    The green and purple mists touched. Welcome, Arantiloria, to Satamia Star Station, Kerloran said. You have journeyed far.
    It will be an honor to supervise a response-ship crew beginning advanced training and serious missions. I applied nearly a century ago, and have been observing fully-trained crews while I awaited an assignment. These ... humans ... are unique to Nebador, I believe. We do not have any in Kalidor.
    And that is best, Kerloran said, turning a slightly softer green. They have ... many challenges.

    Arantiloria decided to wander around the star station, to see what she could learn, before beginning her assignment. Many of the creature shapes were strange to her, so she remained invisible to all mortal eyes and floated down toward the activity in the main hall.
    The flying creatures delighted her the most, and she quickly realized why -- in Kalidor, no one had evolved feathers. Here, feathers were everywhere, sometimes floating in the air when a winged creature would shake itself, or take off from the floor with powerful strokes.
    The floor ... something about the floor of the main hall called to her, so Arantiloria floated down and opened herself to its memories.
    She smiled as she saw Kibi, with bucket and scrub brush, crying and trembling as the young human steeled herself to be mocked and abused, based solely on memories from her home planet. Yes, Arantiloria silently agreed with Kerloran, these humans have challenges.
    The low-gravity pathways remembered Mati well, and a dishwashing room had a fond memory of Boro, struggling to get his priorities straight.
    Arantiloria let herself wander, following her instincts, getting used to the mortals of Nebador, and listening to any stories that came to her. Before long, her intuition led her up to the third balcony. A little bubbling fountain in the middle of a small patio nearly reached out and grabbed her, so she went close and listened carefully.
    It knew all six members of the human crew, five very recently, and the captain a few years before. Ilika had whispered his loneliness to the trickling water, sending out his hope that someday he would have a companion. It also knew of Kibi's sexual desire for another mammal, and then her shame. Sata's prayers for Boro to find his passion were clearly recorded, and Rini's joy when Mati began to walk.
    After wandering for several more days and listening to countless plants, stones, tables, and the great station tree itself, Arantiloria decided it was time to meet her new charges.

    When the call came, a day later, for the crew of the Manessa Kwi to attend a meeting in a small chamber near the Mission Assignment Room, Ilika knew no more about it than anyone else. The dimly-lit room was silent and somber as they entered and beheld three large insects studying a star chart that glowed on a low table. The crew quietly settled themselves onto benches along the outer walls.
    After another minute of silence, the mantis drew himself up to full height, towering over the others. "I don't like it one bit. The numbers don't add up to the usual interstellar-probe situation. It smells of desperation. T'shlix, you have more experience with such matters."
    The large, dark beetle shimmered with many iridescent colors as he twitched his mandibles. "I thought I did, but there's something way-wrong here, as you also sense. Never before, in all the records of Nebador, have ships of this size been seen. What think you, M'palta?"
    The large, furry arachnid shuddered for a moment. "My food pouch is tight with worry, and I counsel against any assumptions we might be tempted to make."
    A smaller insect, that the crew hadn't yet noticed, suddenly unfurled wings that moved faster than sight, leapt into the air, and hovered over the glowing chart. "It's exciting! Definitely not a routine assignment. We shall learn much, and make many new dances and songs, although some may be sad." As she bobbed in the air over the table, her delicate arms stretched out to the sides and her two tails hung down, sometimes touching the chart. "This is truly deeper than deep space. But, M'palta, I believe our ship's crew has arrived."
    The spider stretched up taller on eight legs and tucked her head to look under and behind her. Her many eyes met Kibi's two. "Greetings, monkey mammals. This might be a long mission. Please consider our dietary needs."
    Kibi looked around, then remembered who the steward was. "We will."
    M'palta raised her head and looked back at her fellow insects. "Four days?"
    The beetle shook his head. "Could take that long just to find and examine the lead ship, and there are three of them. We'd better be ready for six or eight days. Thoughts, Filia?"
    The little hovering insect hopped to another part of the chart. "I feel ... we will not understand until we have embraced all three ships ... and danced upon their home planet."
    The green mandibles of the tall mantis twitched nervously. "That could take ... twenty days. I will have to find a substitute for some classes I was supposed to teach."
    T'shlix nodded his iridescent head. "I, also."
    M'palta ducked and looked at Kibi again. "You'd better stock for twenty days."
    Kibi's mouth was dry, but she managed to speak. "Do you mean ... twenty Satamia days?"
    The spider's many eyes darkened slightly. "Is there another kind in use on Satamia Star Station?"

    Half an hour later, Ilika, Kibi, and Boro all had lists of extra supplies they had to stock for a mission that would push the limits of even a deep-space response ship. The four insects had gone back to discussing the glowing star chart on the table, when suddenly the smallest of them started gazing up toward one corner of the ceiling. Her wings flashed and she floated upward, an intense look of curiosity on her tiny face.
    "Someone is here," she shared. "Greetings, spirit. You need not remain hidden. We welcome any wisdom you have about this difficult mission."
    Arantiloria quickly made the decision to let herself be seen, and chose to take monkey-mammal shape since the crew of the Manessa Kwi were her primary charges.
    To the mortal eyes in the room, a purple mist appeared, settled toward the floor, and swirled into a girl with purple hair and bright eyes. All six crew members were quickly on their feet, most gazing at her with surprise.
    "You are very perceptive, little one," she said to the insect, still hovering near, as she touched it gently with one finger. "I am Arantiloria, an advanced training specialist from the local universe of Kalidor. I have the great honor of being assigned to the Manessa Kwi, and have spoken at length with the ship, but have not, until now, revealed myself to the crew. I was wondering when the right moment might be. You decided for me, little one."
    The hovering insect bowed. "I am Timorafilia, linguist and mission language specialist."
    "T'shlix, technology specialist," the iridescent beetle shared.
    "K'storpo, mission leader," the tall mantis said, bowing low.
    "M'palta, biologist and mission steward," the arachnid revealed.
    Ilika was about to speak when Arantiloria put a finger to her lips. "I will speak with the crew more as time allows, but right now I do not wish to interrupt your planning session any further. I'm sorry, but I have no special knowledge concerning this mission."
    K'storpo took a deep breath. "I think we would accomplish little by staring at the chart any longer today. Let us all do the research we need to do, let the crew prepare their ship, enjoy the evening party that approaches, and depart after a good sleep."
    The other three mission specialists nodded their agreement, and all four left the room.
    Arantiloria became purple mist, then vanished.
    The six humans looked at each other, shrugged or smiled, and headed for their ship to figure out where they were going to put enough supplies for twenty long Satamia days.


The setting of Part 2, a place called Lyceum:

a place called Lyceum

Book Seven front cover:

Book Seven front cover

Book Seven back cover:

Book Seven back cover

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NEBADOR
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the narrow streets of a medieval walled city
Book One:
The Test
Spring 2010

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Screenplay 1

a lonely beach along a wild seashore
Book Two:
Journey
Summer 2010

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Screenplay 1

the colorful aurora above majestic mountains
Book Three:
Selection
Fall 2010

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Screenplay 1

stranded on a frigid ice continent
Book Four:
Flight Training
Spring 2011

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fascinating planets with strange life forms
Book Five:
Back to the Stars
Fall 2011

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a shining jewel floating in the blackness of space
Book Six:
Star Station
Summer 2012

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unseen guests at an event of universe importance
Book Seven:
The Local Universe
Summer 2013

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stillness and silence where movement and sound should be
Book Eight:
Witness
Summer 2014

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Heather's meeting circle at a top-secret military facility
Book Nine:
A Cry for Help
Summer 2015

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a strange eco-system deep underground
Book Ten:
Stories from Sonmatia
Summer 2016

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