Kensho (Claimings) by Lyn Gala

Dedication





I can’t even count the number of people I have to thank for their help with this story, starting with all the readers who followed me into this universe. When I wrote the first book, I never expected anyone else to fall in love with Ondry and Liam like I had. So thank you for helping to give this universe a soul. Sarah, Beth, Emma, SJ, Jeanette, and Carolyn have all encouraged me to write whatever I wanted, even when I wanted to write stories that don’t fit into the traditional publishing models. Raelin and Madison asked about the Rownt reaction to orphans or orphanages, and so many people asked about potential egglings for our couple. Those requests really guided this collection. And then I can’t even count the supporters who fed the muse by commenting on the different stories on Patreon. These would have remained vague ideas floating around in my gray matter except I wanted muse-food, and every time I came back to Claimings, I got enough comments to sustain my muse through the most trying times.

And I have to mention all those who helped catch my various and sundry errors. I have done everything from forgetting names of my own characters to dropping words, and they have jumped in with their mouses (mice?) at the ready to stop me from embarrassing myself. Thank you to my patron saint of grammar, Mandy, as well as Marnie, Erica, Anka, and Ally who caught umpteen mistakes. It’s good to have friends who don’t let you run around with toilet paper hanging off your shoe.





Angry Little Aliens





The eldest Grandmother who had once been known as Ragil watched the strangers’ ship approach. Her fellow Grandmothers waited in silence. This was not one of the giant ships of the Cy that sometimes drifted through space, empty and sending out repetitive signals that made Imshee flee. This ship had straighter angles than the rounded lines of the Cy, and it lacked the transparent structures. It also lacked the long spider legs of an Imshee ship, but it did have one long spire that reached in front like the grasping claw of a sea creature. It was not as large as one of the in-system ships the ship-Rownt built, but it was larger than the boxy landing ships the Imshee regularly brought to Prarownt.

It was utterly alien.

“Should we quiet our transmissions?” a younger Grandmother asked.

She-who-had-been-Ragil watched the report from the satellite. Nothing indicated aggression, but that did not mean that these aliens were harmless. Likely they came to steal the meat off the table. They would find that Rownt were not likely to leave valuables in sight for strangers. Deidell would have hidden any ships, or any evidence of ships, leaving Janatjanay to fulfill its role.

“We stand on the hill for others to see us,” another Grandmother admonished the younger one. Hopefully she felt the shame of the rebuke, but She-who-had-been-Ragil did not turn to study the others. This would be the first time since the Imshee had arrived that strangers had appeared. Ship-Rownt always ran the risk of sharing a path with a stranger, only Imshee came to Prarownt. And they remained near Deidell.

Fewer Imshee visited now that the Cy ships often flew empty. When those powerful ships were alone, they reacted unpredictably.

The strangers’ ship was so slow that it would take days to approach properly, so She-who-had-been-Ragil turned her back to the display, making it clear that Rownt of any reasonable age would not live in fear of strangers appearing on the horizon. Their temple was named Janatjanay, after all. Strangers would be inevitable in such a place.

“We should check satellites and planetary defenses,” she said. She waited to see if any of the Grandmothers would contradict her and put forward a plan other than waiting for these strangers, but none did. The burden of being eldest was not in taking action—it was in knowing that others would follow and would suffer if her judgment was flawed. More than one eldest had walked away from a temple and sought a place to sit and die rather than carry the burden.

Some stories said the last Grandmother of Prabrateakil had done that. She had led the Rownt to space, to an uneasy trade with the Imshee when she had not valued or understood the true nature of the trade. The burden of that had grown to be too much, and when the town around her died, replaced by Deidell and its modern shipyard, she had walked away rather than sit on the temple floor and see if the Grandmothers of Deidell would seek her counsel.

It was a cautionary tale. Just because a Grandmother was ready to walk a border did not mean they had the right to walk it. Rownt followed where Grandmothers walked.

Ironically, every Rownt would have chosen to follow that Prabrateakil Grandmother into space. Her motives touched the Rownt soul. But in the end she chose not to follow the path she herself had set. She-who-had-been-Ragil was acutely aware of the danger that approached with the strangers’ ship—and the danger was not limited to individual Rownt lives or profits.