KARRIN: Warrior Woman
A young woman abandoned on a deserted alien planet.
An inter-dimensional life form that wants her dead.
Three years later, against all odds, eighteen-year-old Karrin has survived the harsh elements of planet Switch. Her only companion, Brownie, a mysterious two-tailed creature that appeared during her time of grief over the loss of Lurga.
One day, Brownie leads Karrin to a wrecked cargo spaceship. Encouraged by the ship’s computer, she lays claim to the contents to find that the contract on her life is still valid. And Calen has launched a fleet to kill her. Can she defend herself and Brownie without her psychic abilities?
Meanwhile, Weesa, a silver Calen ship, sits at the inter-dimensional time-slip searching for Karrin. For she is the only person who can cross into the time rift and save their universe from annihilation. Will Weesa find Karrin in time?
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“No, Brownie,” admonished a young woman as she wagged her finger at her friend. Once again, the monkey jerked his line out of the water. “I told you, you have to wait. You can’t keep pulling it out of the water. You’ll never catch any fish that way.”
Brownie glared at her, chittering in anger as he threw his wooden pole to the ground.
Three years ago, the monkey showed up in a blinding snowstorm. Brownie proved to be an intelligent creature, and Karrin taught him a lot of tricks. However, he was plain stupid when it came to fishing. He just didn’t have the patience.
The young woman huffed as she ran her hand through her long, dark auburn hair. All winter, Karrin looked forward to her first fishing trip, and spring, finally, got to her side of Switch. However, now, Brownie was ruining her enjoyment.
Karrin fumed as she sat cross-legged along the bank of the stream, fiddling with her pole. It was, also, three years since Lurga’s silver fighter showed up with another Ispepyein warrior flying it. The third spring since she gave up all hope Lurga Pukani was alive.
In those three seasons, with her new friend/pet by her side, Karrin learned to adapt. The cave she lived in when Brownie arrived turned silver from all the Lear ore she kept stashed inside it. Always nervous around the silver metal, Brownie quit coming into the cavern, so she had to find a different one. But, she had to admit, the new one is bigger and warmer.
Over the years, Karrin, also, practiced with her limited powers. She found that, with her mind, she could cut cured furs into thin strips that ended up looking like tough string. So, when Lurga’s heavy net rotted away, she replaced it with a lighter, easier one for her to use.
In addition, if she concentrated hard enough, Karrin ‘sensed’ the other animals living around her. She, also, figured out how to call them. Instead of setting up snares, she, now, brought them to her, mentally paralyze them, and then knock them on the head with a wooden bat. For some reason, though, that ability didn’t work on fish, so here she sat, trying to catch dinner.
The young woman leaned back on her hands, eyes closed. With her face tipped to the bluish sun, she savored the warmth on her skin. Birds twittered in the trees while fish splashed in the water. She smiled to herself. The winter had been long and hard, but it had passed.
Thanks to Brownie, he’d shown her edible nuts and berries even Lurga didn’t know. Between Brownie’s foraging and her hunting, they had enough food to live on, even during the harsh weather. She would never get fat living free off the land, but she wouldn’t starve either.
A shadow flickered across Karrin’s eyelids. Her eyes snapped open as she jerked to a standing position. She ducked under a tree and shielded her eyes with a hand as she scanned the cloudless sky.
Shortly after Tatum took off with Lurga’s fighter, spacecraft started appearing around Switch. Some of them Karrin identified as Ispepyein fighters, and a few were the round, domed Calen ships. Still, others, she didn’t recognize.
The Ispepyein and Calen ships frightened her, but the black, giant-sized ones scared the hell out of her. Every time one of those passed overhead, she became so weak, she could hardly breathe or move. She was sure Tatum told someone about her, and, one day, they would come for her.
You haven’t seen a spaceship in two years, she scolded herself. Why are you still so jumpy?
That was a good question. The vessels may have disappeared, but every once in a while, she’d get these creepy sensations like someone was watching her, spying on her. Whenever she would turn around, looking for who or what it might be, she never found anything.
Brownie always looked at Karrin like she was crazy. Maybe she was.
Karrin sighed as she swept back long strands of hair off her face, annoyed with herself she forgot to put it up in the morning. Seeing a thin twig on the ground, she wound her hair around it and tied it into a bun. Good. Now I don’t have to worry about it being in my face all day.
Part of the reason for her grumpiness was IT started again, marking its arrival with the, now, familiar low cramps and blood on her legs. Karrin sat down cross-legged and shifted around in discomfort. The thick pads she wore to stop the blood from staining her clothes felt unyielding and awkward. She still didn’t understand what IT was all about.
Maybe her body had too much blood and was trying to get rid of it? IT had barely started when Lurga disappeared, so she had no one to talk to about her problem. What she remembered from the Contruda, Lurga’s spaceship, was confusing and didn’t pertain to Humans.
Karrin, also, noticed when IT showed up, she got paranoid. That’s when her abilities were the most powerful. IT seemed to affect Brownie too as he would scamper off and hide whenever she bled. Sometimes, she wouldn’t see her friend for days. Angry at her body and life in general, she picked up a rock and flung it into the water, venting her frustrations.
Brownie’s loud chattering brought her out of her misery. He stood next to her, holding out his pole. Karrin took it from him. By the twitching of his tails and the wrinkling of his nose, she realized he was getting ready to take off again.
“Fine. Go,” the irate woman said in a huff. “Leave me alone. I don’t care. I won’t miss you, either.” However, she knew she was lying.
Whenever her friend did his monthly disappearing act, loneliness overwhelmed her, as if no one cared about her. Her empty cave became bigger, and she found it hard to get up in the mornings.
What does it matter? I have nowhere to go, she’d complain to herself. Still, she managed to keep going until he returned.
Karrin’s greatest fear was that, one day, Brownie wouldn’t come back. What would I do then? She didn’t like thinking about the possibility of being truly alone, so she pushed that fear to the back of her mind. Sometimes, it worked, most times, it didn’t.
Brownie scampered off on four legs into the woods, in the same direction he went every time. Karrin followed him once before, but couldn’t catch up. She ran, and walked, for several days. She, even, spent a chilly night in a desert and then wound up in some steep hills.
It was from that advantage point she glimpsed a vast lake in the distance. By the time she made it to the bottom of the first hill, Brownie had run past her, chittering and chattering, as he headed for home. Exhausted and unprepared for the long trek, Karrin gave up, and followed him back.
However, she always wanted to know where Brownie went because, sometimes, he carted or drug stuff back with him. One time, he came back carrying a thin, cloth blanket, which reminded her of the ones Lurga owned. Another time, her friend brought mesh clothing too big for her then, but fit her perfectly, now. Clothes she wore daily.
Once, he showed up with a belt and shiny knife. The dagger wasn’t silver, but chrome, and never needed sharpening. They became a permanent fixture of her attire.
Why not follow him, today? she wondered as she watched her friend scamper off in the distance. This time, I’ll be better prepared, and I won’t give up until I find where Brownie’s going.
Suddenly having a purpose, Karrin pulled in her line and leaned both poles against a nearby tree. She picked up the few fish they already caught and ran the short distance back to their cave. After cleaning their catch, she wrapped them with some other cured meat, into a bundle with her blanket.
In the areas she was familiar with, she would forage berries and nuts along the way. The parts of Switch she’d never seen before worried her. Not knowing what food sources would be available nagged her mind. She, also, needed water.
Grabbing a flask full of the necessary resource, Karrin slung it over her shoulder, followed by her bow and arrows. She didn’t know how useful the weapon would be because no matter how much she practiced, she couldn’t hit anything over twenty feet away. Still, having it with her made her feel safer. Hefting her wooden club on her shoulder, she stepped outside and briskly walked the way Brownie disappeared into the woods.
The first night, Karrin spent in a rock cave with a small silver fire to keep her warm. The next day, she picked berries as she traveled until she crossed into the desert. She journeyed uneventfully, then stopped for the night. Unable to find any shelter, she lit a small fire and curled up in her blanket, the cold air nipping at her nose.
She just fell into a weary sleep when she heard movement and scraping against the rocks. Snatching her club, she sat up and peered around. The grinding noise happened again, only louder and nearer. Tightening her grip on the handle, ready to smash whatever came into view, Brownie scampered from behind a boulder, dragging a heavy, long sword.
Karrin dropped her weapon, signing with relief. “It’s only you. You scared me, silly. Come over here and show me what you have.”
Leaving deep gouges in the soft dirt, Brownie drug it over to her, and left it by her side. He squatted and stared at her as he chittered away. He was trying to tell her something, but Karrin never understood his gibberish.
“Why, this looks just like the knife you brought back.” Karrin ran her fingertips over the engravings on the sword. “See, it has the same markings on the blade. I wonder what they mean.”
Getting no answers from her friend, she got up and patrolled the perimeter of the camp, to make sure there wasn’t something else lurking in the dark. Everything Brownie carried back so far indicated people lived on Switch somewhere, and he was stealing from them. She would find them, no matter how long it took.
Confirming nothing menacing hung out in the darkness, Karrin returned to the fire and lay down. The young woman was excited about meeting people for the first time in several years. Pondering the potential, she fell asleep, curled around Brownie for warmth.
Karrin traveled at a fast pace for five days before starting up a long, steep slope she knew laid between her and the lake. That night, when she camped, she smelled a hint of precipitation on the breeze, but it didn’t remind her of lake water.
She sniffed the air again. The scent reminded her of saltwater, like from an ocean, but, still, it was different, somehow. Whatever it was, she would find out in the morning.
When Karrin awoke on the sixth day, Brownie was gone. Frantic with worry, she searched around until she found his tracks in the fresh dew lying on the long grass. His footprints headed toward the reservoir.
Putting out the fire, and then gathering her stuff, she followed the monkey’s tracks. By mid-day, after scrambling up a steep, sandy hill, she stood on the top, catching her breath. She froze in place as her heart jumped into her throat.
The vertical bluff led down to an enormous lake where massive waves crashed ashore. Close to the shoreline, partially buried in the sand, sat one of the fearful giant-sized, black ships.
Karrin dropped to her belly. Lurga’s teachings echoed in her head about being highlighted against the skyline from an opponent’s lower position. Cautiously, she crawled to the edge, hidden behind some thin weeds, and peered down. As she studied the lay of the land, the young woman realized a high-velocity impact caused the steep hill she’d climbed. The alien ship stuck like an arrow in the middle of it.
If only I were that accurate with my bow, Karrin mused.
She watched for several minutes. All she saw were the numerous tracks from her wayward friend, coming and going, and birds wheeling and diving overhead. Then, a slight movement caused her to shift her gaze to the right.
A slight figure came from around the lake-side of the ship. It was Brownie, dragging something behind him.
Shaking her head at his penchant for thievery and apparent lack of security, Karrin proceeded down the sheer cliff, sliding on her butt most of the way. She was making too much noise as sand and small rocks tumbled down the slope along with her. Unfortunately, not being as nimble as her four-legged friend, she had no choice.
Once she came to a dusty stop at the bottom, Karrin notched an arrow in her bow and scanned the area for any trouble. Seeing none, she advanced toward Brownie and the half-buried spacecraft. The closer she got, the more the immense size overwhelmed her.
“Wow,” she mumbled as she craned her neck back to look up at the black alien ship. Scorch marks marred most of the hull, some with large, ragged, round holes in their centers. “I wonder what happened.”
Brownie chirped at her and dropped his prize. He clambered up her legs and torso until he was sitting on her shoulder. Then, his tails curled around her neck.
“What did you steal this time, you little thief?” Karrin scolded.
Next to her feet sat a brown and chrome rifle with a glass barrel and a plastic shoulder strap. Karrin picked it up, avoiding the buttons on the sides. Unlike the sword, it was unexpectedly heavy, and she almost dropped it. Even though she didn’t know how to use the weapon, she didn’t want to leave such a prized possession behind, so she slung it on her unoccupied shoulder.
Firmly gripping her bow, she crept along the side of the ship, following Brownie’s footprints. The sun glared down on her. The rays bounced off the ebony-colored vessel, making her break out in a sweat. She wiped dripping perspiration from her brow, wishing for a headband.
Constantly scanning the area before and behind her, all the young woman saw were the small tracks left by Brownie in the soft sand, which disappeared in the waves washing ashore. Taking a few more steps, Karrin paused when a ten-foot wide, jagged hole loomed in front of her. She squatted and peered around the area more.
Seeing nothing amiss, she laid down the heavy rifle and dropped her pack, the sword, and her bow. Tightly gripping the knife, she peeked into the cavity. Inside was gloomy, and it stunk of mildew and rotting seaweed from the incoming tides. Karrin wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant smell.
Brownie chittered in her ear, pointed inside, and rubbed his furry cheek against hers while he purred.
“I guess that means you want me to go inside.”
He nodded, grinning at her.
“Not yet, okay?” she said before returning to her assessment.
When Karrin’s eyes adjusted to the dim light, she noted a metal grate she took as a floor. It ran at a steep angle into the darkness.
The young woman squatted beside her pack and rummaged in it until she found a small piece of silver ore. Taking it out, she dropped it into the deep, black hole. The rock pinged and clunked as it bounced off objects she couldn’t see. After a few seconds, the noise stopped with a sharp, echoing thunk.
Jabbering away with excitement, Brownie leaped off her shoulder. He landed on a metal beam and scampered into the dark pit. His chittering and chattering faded as he raced toward the bottom of the ship. Then, it grew louder as he popped up next to her, holding out the silver nugget.
Karrin took it from him and rubbed his soft, furry head. She peered into the void again. “What’s down there, Brownie? Is there anyone alive or are there any dead bodies lying around?”
Brownie stared at her with his glittering, black eyes. Then, he quivered his nose at her, jumped back into the spacecraft, and disappeared.
Karrin sighed as she stood, gazing apprehensively down the hole. She was curious to see what the ship contained, but she didn’t look forward to running across any gory remains. Clutching her knife tighter, she followed her companion inside.
Madam Pince (Book Review Gal)
…As she and Brownie prepare to battle the hordes that outnumber them, Karrin has no clue about the surprises that will emerge from the ship. Ahead of her are introductions, trials, bombshells, and revelations that unveil just how much she’s changed from a terrified young child to a strong, confident, and powerful young woman, reinforced by knowing she has support for whatever the future holds. This spellbinding tale of Karrin’s maturity and mastery of her powers is a superb conclusion to the Excalibur saga.“
From page one she had me hooked. Sahara Foley has created a universe with new alien life forms. The magic she swirls around within her book is wonderful. She added some dimensional traveling, magic, new life forms and a little romance to make the perfect book. I would highly recommend it.“
“In Karrin: Warrior Woman by Sahara Foley, we find human Karrin alone, abandoned on the planet Switch, with only her two-tailed, monkey-like friend Brownie for company. Karrin has been alone ever since her rescuer, hero, and true love Ispepyein leader, Lurga Pukani, had seemingly abandoned her some three years earlier. When Brownie continually disappears from time to time and returns with “gifts” for Karrin, she is intrigued as to where they come from. Following Brownie on one of his sorties, Karrin discovers the massive wreck of a cargo ship. Discovering nobody aboard except the ship’s artificial intelligence, along with a cargo of a powerful, radioactive silver substance, she discovers that the Calens are coming for her and intend to destroy her. Regaining her Ispepyein Warrior Child mantle and her confidence, Karrin is determined to fight to the end like a true Ispepyein Warrior. She may die but she will take as many of them with her as she can. So begins an adventure through the galaxies, the universes and the dimensions that will see Karrin and her forebears locked in a battle for survival, not just for themselves or their species, but for the whole of their universe.
I like my science fiction to be less technically driven and more emotionally driven. Karrin is just such a character-driven story. Sahara Foley has written a tale of adventure, love, and survival that transcends the setting of science fiction. The author introduces some weird and wonderful creatures into her world but always underlying everything is the deep love and affection between the characters, despite their many physical and emotional differences. I think I was particularly drawn to this story as it used the notion of panspermia (seeding of life) as one of the basic precepts of the story. I love the idea that perhaps all life in the universe has originally come from some powerful, supreme race that has seeded the galaxies and created many diverse and fascinating life-forms – humanity included. I particularly loved the relationships developed and nurtured in this story, especially between former enemies and also between races seemingly so different yet still capable of feeling powerful and abiding love for each other. I haven’t read any of the earlier books in this series but that wasn’t necessary. The author was extremely adept at dropping gems of information into the narrative that explained what had gone before and why a character now reacted the way he/she did. This was a wonderful read and one I can highly recommend, not only to all science fiction fans but also to a wider audience. Ultimately it is a beautiful love story that happens to be set among the glories of the universe.“