THE FIRST VISITATION OF THURIA
The bridge connecting the grand and storied Meeting Den Resort with the outside world has collapsed! The resort’s buildings are on fire, and the worst ice storm in five hundred seasons is on the way. Thurians of every age and rank are now trapped high in the Yarvea mountains without heat, communications, or food. With no ability to escape on their own, the coming sunrise might well be their last unless one female cast-out chooses to help them! What will she decide?
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QUAKE ON PLANET THURIA!
The bridge connecting the grand and storied Meeting Den Resort with the outside world has collapsed! The resort’s buildings are on fire, and the worst ice storm in five hundred seasons is on the way. Thurians of every age and rank are now trapped high in the Yarvea mountains without heat, communications, or food. With no ability to escape on their own, the coming sunrise might well be their last!
Nearby, a vehicle leaving the Meeting Den has been buried in a landslide triggered by the same quake that isolated and nearly destroyed the mountaintop resort. Close to death and entombed beside her unconscious employer in their crushed vehicle, Sahnassa de Orturu cries out into the stifling darkness for help, knowing that no one can hear…
… but someone does! She awakens inside the fantasy she’s always dreamed of – contact with life outside of her own world! An extraordinary being with astonishing powers heals Sahnassa and her boss, Vanarra Anasto, and places them back safely on the mountainside. With his secretive assistance, the two stranded Thurians must ensure that help gets to the Meeting Den before time runs out!
Fifteen hundred lives depend on it!
Sahnassa de Orturu was tired, from her pink nose all the way to her purplish-black tail-tip, but there was no way she could find relief. The dark purple fur of her chest and sides, accented by wide, silver-white stripes, was constantly being pinched and pulled by the safety harness tight across her chest. That device strapped her firmly into the passenger seat of her boss’s sporty and expensive new hover. While Sahnassa supposed the racy little craft might be fun to drive, riding as a passenger down twisting mountain roads, at high speeds, and in the dark gave her even more feelings she just hated: tense anxiety and motion sickness. As the hover swished and swooshed in erratic directions, Sahnassa’s claw tips slipped out of her paw fingers and dug hard into the grip bars on either side of her seat. Sahnassa de Orturu was tired, from her pink nose all the way to her purplish-black tail-tip, but there was no way she could find relief. The dark purple fur of her chest and sides, accented by wide, silver-white stripes, was constantly being pinched and pulled by the safety harness tight across her chest. That device strapped her firmly into the passenger seat of her boss’s sporty and expensive new hover. While Sahnassa supposed the racy little craft might be fun to drive, riding as a passenger down twisting mountain roads, at high speeds, and in the dark gave her even more feelings she just hated: tense anxiety and motion sickness. As the hover swished and swooshed in erratic directions, Sahnassa’s claw tips slipped out of her paw fingers and dug hard into the grip bars on either side of her seat. Opening tightly shut eyelids for a brief moment allowed her a glance at the speed indicator through her weary indigo eyes. That confirmed her worst suspicions; her boss was driving out her anger from the conference they had just left, or rather that they had been told to leave. Her employer, Vanarra Anasto, was beautiful, resourceful, smart, and more than a little proud, and when that pride was stung – watch out! Unfortunately, tonight, that had happened painfully and in public. Vanarra’s lucrative little “celebrations and catering” service was certainly something to be proud of, especially given the poor, sad past of its founder. Vanarra had grown up as an orphan on the streets of Shanandrae, begging or stealing food, sleeping where she could, and sneaking into the archives and family schools to steal books, since no school would have her. She had endured many tough seasons and humiliations, but her drive and her genetics came through for her. Being a mix between two breeds of Thurian – Faelnar and Vulpi – Vanarra had been graced with the most desirable qualities of each. Covering a frame that was predominantly sleek, as was the case with most Faelnar, her fur bore the exotic coloration of a Vulpi – mostly a rich, reddish-brown, except where it turned white under her chin, went down the front of her neck, and then framed her ample chest and tight stomach. Golden furs were evenly scattered throughout both colors, making her coat nearly shine and shimmer in the light. A Vulpi’s golden eyes and long tail – far more luxurious than that of any normal Faelnar, although not as full as a Vulpi – were among her most striking features. Taken as a whole, Vanarra’s body was intensely attractive to most Faelnar and Vulpi males, not to mention those of several other species. This attractiveness matched with a good mind and street-wise sensibilities soon allowed Vanarra to create a business that, while it may have started small and quite precariously in some respects, now thrived, and profitably. Traditional gatherings and corporate catering were the main businesses, intermixed with a little camera recording of the events. Everything her company did was executed with an artful touch one wouldn’t expect from an owner so young and with so hard a history. Van’s “colleagues” in the business world had reportedly made their own assessment, voting her an award for all of her achievements, or so it seemed. Sahni – Vanarra’s own pet name for Sahnassa – was supposed to be there to record Van’s moment of triumph, had there been one. Tonight, the recognition, praise, and acceptance Sahni’s boss had so longed for simply vanished. Instead, at the last instant, the Association of Service and Commerce (the ASC) pointedly snubbed Vanarra’s company for the fastest growing business award (which it deserved), the most charitable (which it truly was), and the greatest new company success story (which Van had obvious claim to, given the age of the other businesses under consideration). “Bigots! Prudes!” Vanarra thundered through bared teeth. “Hypocrites!” she growled, and they took another high gravity turn which almost pushed Sahnassa over the edge of nausea. “Yes. They were awful. If you keep driving like that, it’s going to get worse. I’m gonna be—” Sahni had to stop talking then, and Van looked at Sahnassa. The Nephti’s eyes were clenched shut, and her paws held onto the grip bars as hard as they could. The fire drained out of Van as she looked back at the road; embarrassment and anger, as painful as they were, could not stand up to the thought she was inadvertently harming Sahnassa. Van would never do anything to hurt Sahni; she cared for her too much to allow that to happen. Initially, Van was simply fascinated and amused by this young purebred, just out of academy. Sahnassa de Orturu was a winsome, high-society technophile whose blush furs rose at almost anything mildly suggestive. Here was someone who, growing up, had everything that Van didn’t, but now this lovely, smart, and timid creature worked for her. Over time, however, they had actually settled into a genuine friendship. After all, working for Vanarra wasn’t the type of job Sahni could tell her family of in detail, especially the family matriarch. Van knew Sahnassa would be undoubtedly disavowed if such a thing ever happened – a fact that made her feel Sahni stayed for more than just pay, and Van loved her for it. She was only a few seasons older than Sahni, which made their friendship all the stronger. “I’m sorry,” Van said, slowing their pace to something within the posted speeds. Her reddish-brown ears drooped down in apology. “Are you okay?” “Just … about,” Sahni uttered weakly, shifting her long, thickly furred tail and taking a big swallow. A few deep breaths later, she nodded. Van stated decisively, “I’m pulling over.” It was the kind of statement Sahni had learned long ago wasn’t arguable, and she was secretly hoping for the chance to breathe fresh air, stretch arms, tail, and legs. The little craft glided to a stop and bobbed slightly as Van placed it in hover mode. “Better?” “Much. I was hoping I could – what’s that noise?” It was a low rumble that was growing louder. Without any other warning, Van’s side of the vehicle crumpled with a loud bang, the lights went out, and they were thrown through the edge railing into a violent roll down the mountainside. Glass and dirt and noise and leaves and pain and blood and flame and blackness, and then … there was nothing. Sahni awoke to an agony so terrible and intense, she instantly threw up. Her legs felt like she had blades stuck through them; her chest was painfully crushed against the console by a huge weight on her back. Her tail had to be gone; the pain told her that. Coughing through bloody spit and foul air, she realized what had happened; they were hit by a landslide. To her horror, she realized something else – they had been buried by it. The air was dusty, stale, and laced with the smell of burning electrics and singed fur. Worse, it was pitch black. Terror and panic raged in her with what little strength she had left. “Van? Van!?” There was no response. She would have reached out for her, but she couldn’t move; her arms were pinned. She struggled, weeping hysterically and cried, “Oh no, no, no, no, no! Help us! Help! Help! Oh, please help—” At that moment, she felt her heart falter, and she knew she was going to die. She felt a strange buzzing sensation all about her, and then nothing.
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It’s been ... gosh at least 22 years since any book I was reading drew me in like that.
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THE RESCUE: THE FIRST VISITATION OF THURIA captivated me, drew me in so deep that I didn't want to stop listening, even during work or at home.
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This story nails it, in so many unexpected ways, and it does so delightfully.
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