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Defenders of Destiny, book one, the Discovery of Astrolaris
 


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Defenders of Destiny, book one, the Discovery of Astrolaris
Defenders of Destiny

  Book One

  The Discovery of Astrolaris

  By

  Brenton Barwick

  I dedicate this story to Joseph, who inspired me with:

  “I love you daddy. Tell me a story about me and the robot.”

  “Remember, a person’s inability to verify the existence of something in no way disproves the reality of its existence.”

  Joseph and Sharianna’s dad, Thomas.

  All rights reserved, including reproduction in any form, in whole or in part.

  Contents

  Chapter 1 The Viper

  Chapter 2 “IT’S from SPACE!”

  Chapter 3 “Human…oid?”

  Chapter 4 The Creature

  Chapter 5 The Neanderthal Twins

  Chapter 6 “A TEST TRY, NOT A TEST FLY ”

  Chapter 7 “Look Out!”

  Chapter 8 Fake Moon Landings?

  Chapter 9 The Meteorite

  Chapter 10 The Black Obelisk

  Chapter 11 “What Will NASA Think?”

  Chapter 12 TRAPPED

  Chapter 13 The Labyrinth

  Chapter 14 “It’s A Mine!”

  Chapter 15 “LET’S TAKE IT HOME”

  Chapter 16 The Ambush

  Chapter 17 The Mariana Trench

  Chapter 18 Island Paradise

  Chapter 19 The Volcano

  Chapter 20 Salvage Operation

  Chapter 21 The Leviathan

  Chapter 22 The wreck

  Chapter 23 Orca!

  Chapter 24 “RUN!”

  Chapter 25 ELDORADO!

  Chapter 26 “That’s no Meteorite”

  Postword

  Book Two Preview

  Acknowledgments

  I give a very special thanks to my wife, Kjerstin, for her essential support, and remarkable ideas. She encouraged me to write the story and inspired me to flavor the adventure with a little mystery.

 

  Thanks to my mom, Donna, my dad, Ken, and my sisters Kenda Barlow, and Keva Wardell for their thoughtful critique and invaluable suggestions.

  I am grateful to my brother, Stott, for the robot and the obelisk on the cover art.

  I thank my brother, Valdon, for his help in book layout and arrangement, and who always helps me with technical computer solutions.

  I extend my sincere appreciation to the following, for giving me incredibly useful feedback and encouragement:

  Kelly and Nathan Nuttall and their children: Rebekah, Kampton, and Kayla.

  Denice Cannell, Mike Cannell, Kayson Barwick, Logan Malmstrom, Steve Rasmason, Melinda Diamond, Mitchell Gillette, Parker Costa, Aspen Curtis, Nancy Nielsen, Vanessa Nuttall, Gary Dazley, Carter Bryant, Danielle Finlay, Rodger and Connie Brown, Alex Dewsnup, Richard Malmstrom.

  This is an original work of fiction by Brenton Barwick and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

  Chapter One

  The Viper

  “Look! There!” Joseph leaped from the rusty old flatbed pickup truck as it rolled to a stop at the bottom of a gully, and ran to the spot where he saw the sun glinting from the ground.

  “Did you find a geode?” Joseph’s dad asked, as he climbed out of the truck.

  “No.” As Joseph turned, he held up a large piece of shiny black obsidian shaped like an arrowhead. “Even better.” A huge smile crossed his face. “It was sitting on that flat rock. Sharianna’s going to be sorry she didn’t come now.” Joseph and his sister were born less than a year apart. Joseph was about the oldest student in the seventh grade, while Sharianna was probably the youngest.

  “Wow, a spearhead,” his dad, Thomas, marveled. “Let’s look around and see if there are any more.”

  While searching the area, they found along the rim and scattered down the slope of the gully several geode fragments, but none that were whole. Joseph suddenly heard a sound that made him freeze.

  “Don’t move!” Dad whispered fervently from several yards away. “Now, very slowly, move away; don’t make any sudden movements.” Directly in front of Joseph, in the shade of a sagebrush bush, was a large rattlesnake, coiled and ready to bite. Its rattle was at least four inches in length. Joseph was easily within striking distance of the five-foot diamond back. Joseph’s heart seemed to stop momentarily; when it resumed its function, it did so with a furious pounding. His mouth felt suddenly dry as he held his breath, while beads of sweat rapidly formed on his brow. He was startled and scared, but he knew he had to act carefully. Slowly, he moved his left foot backwards and cautiously shifted his weight to that foot.

  The snake’s head was moving from side to side slightly, with its tongue flicking in and out, testing the air for the scent of an enemy. A large bead of sweat rolled off Joseph’s forehead and into his eye. The salt from the sweat stung as he blinked, but he resisted the involuntary urge to wipe it away. One more step backward and Joseph would be safely out of the viper’s striking range.

  “Slowly…” whispered Dad.

  The serpent hissed as its head rose above the coils of its body, even higher than the quivering rattle.

  Joseph carefully, and very slowly, moved his right foot behind his left.

  “Okay,” breathed Joseph’s dad with obvious relief. “I think you’re safe…”

  Suddenly, the coiled viper hissed loudly and lunged toward Joseph in a blur of movement.

  Joseph’s reflexes caused him to instantly jump back, catching his heel against a rock, and crashing to the sand. As he fell backwards, his arms swung wide in an instinctive attempt to break his fall. His eyes were riveted on the serpent’s head with its fangs distended as the toe of his worn out tennis shoe came up to meet it. Joseph’s mind perceived his surroundings as if he were in slow motion; he could see his sock through the hole in the top of his tennis shoe as the fangs sank into the end of his shoe. At the same time, Joseph felt a painful prick in his hand as he hit the ground.

  There must be two of them, he thought frantically, as he jerked his arm back and scrambled backwards like a crab.

  The snake recoiled and continued to shake its rattle.

  Joseph felt his dad’s hand on his shoulder as he scrambled to his feet.

  “Did it bite you?” Thomas asked anxiously.

  Joseph held up his hand and saw, with a strange kind of painful relief, several cactus spines stuck in his flesh.

  They retreated several yards away. Joseph sat down on a boulder and pulled off his shoe and his sock. They examined his toes, looking for any puncture marks.

  Thomas looked at Joseph’s shoe, and held it up for him to see. “That was close.”

  Joseph looked at the rubber on the toe of the shoe and saw two small marks, then looked back toward the serpent.

  “Why did it try to bite me?” Joseph asked when he began to breathe again.

  “I don’t know – rattlesnakes will usually only bite things that are too big for them to eat if they feel threatened, maybe this one is just mean,” answered Dad, as he picked up a softball size rock and hefted it in his hand.

  Joseph grabbed Dad’s wrist, “I think we should let it go. I heard on Animal Planet that they really don’t want to waste their venom, or risk getting injured by attacking large animals.”

  “I guess you’re right, they do help balance the ecosystem in the desert by eating rodents and keeping them from overrunnin
g the environment,” agreed Dad.

  Joseph pulled the cactus spines from his hand, as they watched the graceful reptile from a safe distance until it slithered over the hill and disappeared.

  The sun began to set, and finding no more spearheads or whole geodes, they decided to make camp right there, with plans to dig for geodes in the morning.

  After dinner, they spread their sleeping bags on top of their camping pads in the back of the pickup.

  “We’ll be safe from rattlers and scorpions up here,” Dad commented confidently, as he lay down on his comfortable bed and fluffed his pillow.

  Joseph plopped down on his sleeping bag with a big, “Ahhhh, I’m sooooo tired.” He caught sight of the first star. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, wish upon this star tonight.” After a long pause gazing into the night sky Joseph said quietly with a sigh: “I wish…” A big yawn made the rest of his wish incomprehensible.

  As the other stars began to appear in the clear desert night, Dad asked quietly, almost to himself: “Have you ever seen so many stars?”

  “Nope, I can even see the milky way,” was Joseph’s nearly inaudible reply, full of awe.

  He pointed to what looked like a red star, “Is that Mars?”

  “I’ll bet it is,” replied Dad. “See how it doesn’t twinkle?”

  “Yep.”

  “That means it’s a planet,” continued Dad. “Stars twinkle, planets don’t.”

  “My star chart!” Joseph rummaged in his backpack and pulled out an earth and astronomy fact book that Uncle Jared had given him on his last birthday. He reached into his pack again for a flashlight. Opening the book up to the northern hemisphere star chart, he held it up to the sky and rotated it until he had the big dipper lined up and all the other stars fell into place.

  “It must be Mars,” observed Dad, “there is no red star shown on the chart in that spot.”

  A bright speck of light appeared and slowly made its way across the sky. Another speck of light approached the first and seemed to connect. “That is the space shuttle meeting up with the space station,” announced Joseph.

  “How did you know that?” marveled Dad.

  “Mr. Lato described it to us.”

  “Ah, your science teacher?”

  “Yep, he’s pretty cool.”

  The desert night sounds were as beautiful as the sky. “Lis-ten,” entreated Dad, as he put his hands behind his head and relaxed contentedly onto his pillow.

  Joseph could pick out the individual sounds of a cricket as an owl hooted from a nearby snag and a coyote howled from a faraway hilltop.

  Joseph and his dad lay quietly for a long time, enjoying the solitude and beauty of the desert. A shooting star flashed across the sky.

  “Joseph, what did you wish for?”

  “I wished that…” his voice trailed off as he drifted into sleep.

 
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