“You've been very brave, Sam,” her mother said, stroking her cheek with a cold hand. “But I need you to be just a little bit braver.”
“What do you mean?”
“The dock will be a target,” Anna explained. “I need to check if it's safe, but I can’t do that if you’re with me.”
“No,” Sam protested.
“I won’t be long,” Anna said, leading Sam into a recess that housed a heavy iron door. For a brief instant Sam saw the exhaustion etched into her mother’s face. Then Anna reached up and unscrewed the doorway’s overhead light, shrouding the alcove in darkness.
“I’ll come with you,” Sam said, reaching out. Her mother pulled away.
“Wait here for me. I'll be back in five minutes.”
“What if something happens to you?” Sam asked, horrified at the prospect.
“Nothing will happen to me,” her mother insisted. Sam didn’t believe her, but her tone didn’t brook argument.
“Wait for me,” Anna said, kissing Sam on the cheek with a numbing finality.
“Mum,” she pleaded, but her mother was already running into the shadows. Sam collapsed into a hopeless and awkward crouch against the metal door.
She was alone.
Listening to her own breathing becoming faster and faster she tried to distract herself by reaching beyond it, letting her hearing explore the deeper layers of sound resonating all around her. The faintest vibrations resolved themselves into footsteps, breaking glass and angry shouting. There were at least three different groups within her range, the closest less than five hundred metres away. She kept a close ear on that one, until five hundred metres became six and then seven. She was safe.
More than five minutes had passed, she was sure of that, maybe a lot more than five minutes. Time had become broken somehow, had she fallen asleep? Surely her heart was beating too fast for that? The sound of the surf hitting land was nothing next to the blood beating in her ears. She struggled to hold back the panic, letting the world retreat around her.
It was the echo of a gunshot that brought it back, the shouting and cries of pain that followed dragging her to her feet. The clatter of hurried footsteps almost made her run except for the fact her legs refused to obey. Instead she watched as six figures passed by with more than one gunshot in pursuit. They hadn't seen her, she was sure of that. They hadn't even registered her existence. But what about the people with guns? They were coming, she knew it.
Cowering in the alcove, her breathing seemed absurdly loud. They would hear her! How long since her mother had left her here? She couldn't tell, hours perhaps.
Inhaling sharply, she peered beyond the confines of her hiding place and saw three figures emerge at the end of the street. Two of them were holding what must have been the rifles she heard. Between them stood a slightly shorter figure, unarmed, an outstretched finger pointing in her direction. Sam recognised the silhouette at once. It was her mother.
Sam stepped out to meet them.
Title: Hunter No More
Author: G.D. Tinnams
Genre: Science Fiction
The Hunter Class Spacecraft designated ‘The Amberjack’ disappeared during a routine mission to Seek, Locate and Destroy the enemy Machine Mind contingent known as ‘The Ochre’. Conclusion: It was either destroyed by the Ochre or went rogue for reasons unknown. If sighted, approach with extreme caution.
On the planet Borealis, a violent revolution forces Samantha Marriot and her parents to flee their home for the relative safety of ‘The Rainbow Islands’. Once there, Sam discovers a secret her father has been keeping from her all her life, a secret that will change everything.
Meanwhile, The Machine Mind Hierarchy of Earth dispatches a ship to rid themselves of the planet’s troublesome human population. The only hope of a defence lies with a damaged binary Hunter unit that has long since abandoned both its programming and weaponry.
In order for the unit to succeed it must call upon the aid of an ancient enemy, and prove, once and for all, that it is a Hunter no more.
G.D. Tinnams has worked as a barman, a call centre operator, an IT support analyst, and a software tester. But during all this time he was also an insatiable reader of science fiction and fantasy books like Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark Is Rising Sequence’, Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’, Robert Charles Wilson’s ‘Blind Lake’ and Greg Egan’s ‘Permutation City’. He is very fond of weird, mind-bending stories and decided quite early on to try writing some. ‘Hunter No More’ is his second novel.
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