Aurora Award Finalist
Humans are just beginning to explore the outer reaches of our solar system when the wormships are discovered outside the orbit of Pluto. Abandoned? Lost? Or left to be found? Found with charted wormholes in Sol System. Found with incredibly ancient yet perfectly functioning Wormer technology. Five years later, humanity is exploring the stars.
But right now, Cassie Morant, ship geologist on the Johannes Kepler wormship, wishes that she was back on Earth in her tiny apartment, lost in one of her beloved jigsaw puzzles. Because that perfect Wormer technology is perfect no more. Something has gone wrong. The Kepler’s orbit is decaying, and Cassie has less than twenty-four hours to solve a planet-sized, eons-old puzzle—or the entire crew will die. Cassie’s good at puzzles, but this one has a piece missing. A big piece.
Now Cassie has one last chance to save the ship and the man she loves. But time’s running out…
Science fiction, space
"...a fun romp." —Publishers Weekly
"...reawakened the child in me who loved to watch Star Trek characters solve the problems of mysterious races on faraway worlds. It's a nicely done puzzle-story, with a clever solution..." —Nancy Fulda
"A clever story whose protagonist is as reliant on her innate curiosity and fondness for puzzles as her intelligence. It provides added depth that one can miss in short fiction." —Tangent Online
"…reads very, very well in the traditional derring-do of sf adventures … shows the scope of the author's range and another favorite of mine in Chimerascope (A+)" —Fantasy Book Critic
"A darkly amusing look at what can go wrong when humans use alien technology they don't fully understand." —infinityplus
"Fast-paced...with a clever puzzle." —Tangent Online
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Chapter Four 'Where's Ivypaw?' I wonder. "You okay, Jaypaw?" My mentor, Foxflower, asks. "Yeah." I say, glancing back at her. I search the cats, then remember. Ivypaw's a medicine cat! I can never wrap my mind around that. I mean, she's just not very medicine cat-like. I look towards the Moon Rocks, the huge stones at the front of the clearing. Sure enough, Ivypaw's there. She's fidgeting and looking uncomfortable, but doesn't leave. I bound over to the medicine cats, dipping my head to them. "Hi. Can I, uh, speak with you, Ivypaw?" I stutter. "Sure." She meows, standing and padding after me. FrostClan and AirClan arrive, one after the other. Ivypaw and I weave through the crowd. A white shecat with silvery markings pads by. She stops when she sees Ivypaw. "Hey!" She mews. "Hi, Swanpaw." She mumbles. Swanpaw... Ivypaw's sister! Duh! We move on before Swanpaw can continue. Two AirClan apprentices are racing to some FlameClan apprentices. They slam into Ivypaw, who staggers and falls. "Oops!" One shecat giggles and races off. The tom pauses. "S-sorry." He stammers. "'S okay." Ivypaw grumbles, getting up and shaking out her pelt. The tom—pale gray with white paws—pads after the shecat and their friends, glancing back at Ivypaw. "You know him?" I ask. "Um, yeah. That's Onepaw." "Oh." Two warriors pad by, chatting and laughing. We move around a group of elders sharing stories. I pick up on a few words. "-then flames erupted from the Twoleg nest, and we bolted into the woods! The ghosts of the rogues haunt the place even now." An old tom missing an ear finishes. I glance back, intrigued. Then Foxflower's words rush back to me, and I press on. We reach the edge of the clearing, and pad into the forest beyond. When we're far enough away from the noisy Gathering, I stop. "What was the sign?" Ivypaw presses. "You didn't forget?" I'm stunned. "It's all I thought about! So, what was it? I can hardly sit still!" "THAT'S why you were so fidgety..." "No. I can't stand it when they talk about herbs. No offense." "It's kinda boring." I admit. "The sign, Jaypaw!" She snaps, lashing her dappled tail. "Oh, sorry. She saw six birds in the herb garden. Then six more joined them, and they all flew away." "What!?" Disappointment and anger flash across her face. "So you wanted to tell me about Foxflower's BIRD-WATCHING!?" "That's not all!" I snap. "A voice said, 'the six send twelve of their youngest to find the savior.'" "No. That can't be right." She shakes her head, her green eyes flashing. "Huh? Why not?" I don't understand. Of course it's right! "I... saw six fish in the stream. Six more came, and they all swam away." "And?" I press. I'm hanging on yto her every word—nothing goes unheard. "And then I heard those exact same words." I'm speechless. Ivypaw tilts back her head to watch the sky. "What's happening, Jaypaw? What do they want from us?" I wish I could answer her.