Acorna's Triumph

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-02-11
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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<p>Beloved by millions of readers, Anne McCaffrey is one of science fiction's favorite authors. Writing with award-winning author Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, she has created the bestselling Acorna series, focusing on the adventures of the brave unicorn girl. <p>Now, with <i>Acorna's Triumph</i>, they turn to the dramatic conclusion of the series, as Acorna faces her most difficult challenge ever. She has defeated slavers, a deadly international conspiracy, and the vicious alien Khleevi, only to endure the loss of her beloved Aari, distant in both time and space.</p> <p>Now, finally, Aari has returned, and together they can finish rebuilding their home world. But Aari is oddly changed, to the point where he barely remembers Acorna -- much less their love -- and his actions grow more and more sinister ... As Acorna tries to stop a vicious criminal from destroying innocents, a new complication arises. Sensing the Linyaari weakness, the deadly Khleevi return, determined to take back the planet&#151;for good. In this dark time, it will take all of the unicorn girl's courage and determination to rescue Aari and stop the alien menace once and for all.</p>


Acorna's Triumph

Chapter One

Acorna moaned. She struggled desperately to regain control of herself. As always, she was powerless. She could only watch as the room changed and the time portraits swirled around her like dervishes.

The white lights symbolizing Linyaari blurred, blinked out, returned. Vhiliinyar's panoramas changed from lush to blighted, then became fertile again in a dizzying kaleidoscope of shape, color, time, and place. The images shifted to the deafening boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom of a drumbeat.

It doesn't really move that fast, she thought in an oddly detached way. And where are those drums coming from?

Then she knew that the drumlike booming was the frenzied pounding of her own heart. Her blood seemed to be trying to leap out of her skin with each beat of her pulse. She struggled upright and reached for the door but something felt odd. She looked back to see herself still lying on the floor of the ancient time laboratory. How strange, she thought. Her hands twitched as she tried once more to rise. She had to get to the door.

Aari would be coming through it soon. Coming with her. And the danger. She could not remember what the danger was, but she knew it was something horrible and unexpected, even though she realized that she had been through this same sequence countless times during many other sleep cycles. She knew what the danger was. She just didn't remember it.

Didn't want to remember it.

But she had to. If only she could open the door quickly enough, get herself through it, get him inside, and close it fast enough and hard enough, the terrible thing wouldn't happen.

The room stopped spinning, and time stood still. She rose.

Where is the door? she thought. Then she thought, What door? She could see grass and rivers, craters and furrows, mountains and trees, but no door. But there has to be a door ...

And then she walked through the wall, coming into the room. She wore a shipsuit and helmet and she was covered in something green and slimy. Right behind her came Aari.

That was it. That was when she had to shut the door. But there was no door, she thought. She struggled to reach out again, but then realized she was still lying on the floor.

Klik-klak, klik-klack. The sound entered the room with her ship-suited self and Aari. It was like the beating of her heart, but a different tone. Its volume increased, and the regular beat quickened and loosened into an overwhelming cacophony of klikity-klak-klak-klikity-klak-klakings.

She reached for Aari. He didn't seem to see her. He turned and raised his arms.

Behind him, Khleevi swarmed into the room, their mandibles and pincers klaking, their antennae rubbing, their immense jaws devouring the floors and walls. Once more, the insect race was bent on destroying Vhiliinyar and the Linyaari who had returned to populate it.

Acorna felt rather than saw something looming over her. Just as she was sure her death was certain, she was grabbed and shaken.

"Khornya, Khornya, wake up! What's the matter?"

Acorna opened her eyes and looked up into the concerned face of her young friend Maati. They were both inside the time lab within the great ruined office building that was among the remains of the lost ancient city of Kubiilikaan. This city was the original home of the shape-shifting people who were the forebearers of Acorna and Maati's race, the Linyaari, along with the unicorn-like Ancestors. Long buried and forgotten, the city was the only part of the Linyaari home planet that had escaped the depredations of the Khleevi invasion safe within its sophisticated shields beneath the surface of Vhiliinyar.

The walls of the time lab were not spinning now, but as usual the static maps of the planet were dotted with small points of white light that indicated the places where Linyaari personnel were located. Many teams were back on the planet's surface, mapping, surveying, and otherwise planning each phase of the planet's renewal by regional applications of the terraforming process.

"Khornya, are you all right? You look funny," Maati said.

"I had a bad dream. That's all," Acorna assured her. Dream fragments filled her head. She looked around for the phantom door that had haunted her dream, but of course it wasn't there. The room was vast and spartan and very clinical-looking. Only Acorna's bedroll and the pool of water in the center from which a beam of energy rose to pierce the ceiling and each story above it saved the chamber from the sterile ambience of a typical research facility.

"What kind of dream?" Maati asked.

"I can't even remember what it was about now. Something about the Khleevi."

"No wonder you were crying out and trying to run in your sleep," Maati said. She laid her horn gently against Acorna's head to soothe her friend and heal her of the residual effects of the dream.

"Thanks," Acorna said. "But I'm fine now, really."

"You shouldn't be spending all your time down here alone," Maati scolded. "You can't pull Aari out of that machine, you know."

"I know," Acorna admitted. "It's not that I expect that, it's just that now that I know that Aari is with one of the Ancestral Friends, and they're using the device to cross time and even send messages back, I want to figure out how they're doing it. And I might find Aari in the process," she finished hopefully. "You never know."

Maati sighed. "I miss him, too, Khornya. I barely got to know my older brother before he disappeared on us. But staying down here all the time is just plain unhealthy. That's probably why you're having all these bad dreams. Really, you should come up to the surface just for a little while," Maati coaxed ...

Acorna's Triumph. Copyright © by Anne McCaffrey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Acorna's Triumph by Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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