Screams echoed underneath the sand-scoured habitat dome of Dremiks. Their rising pitch and intensity promised a coming storm that the protective structure could not abate.
The chalky, blue-gray soil of the planet carried on the wind. Not yet the nightly gale, the dust-laden drafts created visible eddies around the massive dome. The light from the setting star, Santalas, diffracted by the dust, glowed in shifting shades of crimson and vermillion.
Dr. Ben Fortunas glanced upward. He didn’t dare pause to admire the setting star. His rapid, long-legged stride belied the age indicated by his white hair and lined face. Another violent, undulating wail caused him to break into a jog.
He skidded to a stop on the gravel path. Three hulking aliens stood shoulder to shoulder in front of his quarters. They turned in a single synchronized motion to face him. Hairless, with tattooed faces featuring bulging eyes and flat triangular ears, the three Kigvan warriors peered down at him. Their fine-mesh armor shimmered in the shifting light.
Ben craned his head back to look up at the seven-foot-five-inch leader of the alien cadre. Before he could ask her to move aside, another angry shriek blasted from inside his home.
“The Inheritor is in distress!”
“Yes, she is,” snapped the planet’s chief scientist. “If you’ll kindly move, I can alleviate her discomfort.”
“To make this noise… is she in mortal peril?”
“What? No!” Fortunas huffed a breath from between chapped lips. “I’m going to be in mortal peril if I don’t get in there to help!”
The aliens continued to stare down at him.
The scientist’s sleep-deprivation over-rode his patience. “Move. What troubles the Inheritor cannot be solved by you.”
“First you must explain why she cries out.”
Before Dr. Fortunas could respond to the alien, they all winced or shied away from the rising cacophony of cries.
“Colic. She’s two months old and has colic.” He pushed past the alien guards and through the door to his quarters.