Living in a treehouse restaurant in Florida, Sarah expects to encounter plenty of wildlife. But the huge lizards who suddenly show up in her tree aren’t the health conscious clientele she was hoping to attract when she expanded her menu to be vegan-friendly. She also didn’t expect one of the lizards to seem determined to kill her.
Disguised as a tourist, the Sadirian soldier Ari is investigating strange readings coming from a huge oak tree in Florida—a tree with an Earthling living in it. The Department of Homeworld Security has sent him to find out if something extraterrestrial is going on, and with the Coalition looking to bring Earth into the fold before humanity is ready, he doesn’t have much time to sort things out.
When Sarah is pulled into an alien duel, he discovers that more than Earth’s fate hangs in the balance. Can they navigate their nascent connection as they forge a new bond with a species that could save—or destroy—them all?
Main Content: Approximately 25,059 words, 121 (5.5 x 8.5) pages
(THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMEWORLD SECURITY, Book Seven)
Copyright © 2017 Cassandra Chandler
All rights reserved
Activating the scanners in his watch, he headed outdoors again.
The heat was a welcome change from the chill of Brendan’s mountain estate. His room at Homeworld headquarters was uncomfortably spacious compared to where he’d be staying during this mission. Ari was even getting used to the shifting sands, especially after walking around the tree to pinpoint his readings.
He glanced across the street and halted.
Sarah was up in the tree. High up. She was climbing along the branches, holding some sort of tool. Her movements were graceful as she weaved among the branches, but she still should be using a safety harness.
If she’d been over the treehouse or the soft sands, he wouldn’t have been as concerned. But she was out at the edges of the tree, with nothing but the deck thirty feet below.
This was not his world. She had to know what she was doing.
But physics worked the same everywhere.
He forced his attention back to his watch, scanning for more of the strange readings, trying to ignore the unsettled feeling in his stomach. Moments later, he heard Sarah scream.
He ran toward her without thinking, his heart pounding as he watched her fall through the branches. They slowed her descent, but not enough. He was too far away to catch her, and with her velocity and the hardness of the deck…
Five feet before impact, her body slowed. By the time she landed on the deck, most of her inertia was gone. She hovered above the wood for a moment, then lowered onto it, like someone was gently setting her down.
An antigravity field. No wonder she’d felt safe working in the tree without a harness. But where had she obtained it?
His stomach twisted. What if Sarah was the invading alien he was looking for?
Many species would modify their appearance over generations after entering the Coalition until they looked almost indistinguishable from Sadirians. The Tau Ceti were a prime example.
They had modified themselves to the point that they could walk among Sadirians—and Earthlings—without being noticed. Which made it easier for them to prey on humans.
Since humans were from a lost colony ship that had crashed on the planet millennia ago, humans didn’t need to change their appearance to look Sadirian. Technically, Sadirians and Earthlings were the same species—if Sarah was an Earthling.
He shook himself. If she wasn’t, then he would arrest her. It was as simple as that.
When he reached her, he realized it was complicated.
Her eyes were wild, her chest heaving. Tears streamed down her face. As he knelt at her side, he could see her entire body was shaking.
“I’m alive. How am I alive?” she gasped. “I don’t understand.”
He tapped his watch quickly, activating the scanners to check her for injuries. Slowly passing his hand over her body, he found that she was unharmed, aside from a few mild lacerations from the branches hitting her back, legs, and arms as she fell.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, then let it out slowly.
“Nothing hurts,” she said. “And I can feel my legs.”
“That’s good. You have some scrapes and bruises, but otherwise you’re okay. Let me help you up.”
“I’m a big fan of Reiki, but I think I’m supposed to lie still until the paramedics arrive.”
Bringing in other authorities might scare off whatever aliens Ari was hunting. He needed to avoid that if possible, and he knew that she was uninjured.
“What is ray-key?” He asked the question to buy time, but was gratified when she laughed.
“You’re definitely not a local. Reiki is a healing technique. It’s a form of ‘laying on hands’.”
“Humans can heal each other through touch?”
Moons, a slip like that could jeopardize his mission.
“Oh, that was weird,” he said. “Seeing you fall has shaken me. I can only imagine how you feel.”
“I feel…fine, honestly. A little awkward, though. I want to sit up, but if the adrenaline is covering injuries that aren’t hurting yet, that could be very bad.”
“You aren’t in danger due to your fall.” Other sources… He wasn’t sure yet. He locked her gaze with his, then picked up her hand and squeezed it. “I promise to keep you safe.”
He wasn’t sure where that had come from, but he meant it.
“How crazy is it that I believe you?”