It's been a while since our last blog post, but we promise this one is here to bring about good news!
The second installment to Gre7g Luterman's "The Kanti Cycle", is due to be released from THP in the next few weeks!
The Kanti Cycle follows titular character Kanti, a member of an alien race known as the geroo, and his quest to rise above his infamous reputation among his people and become something greater. This entry into the series continues this journey, as Kanti must gain his people's trust, when a deadly fate is thrust not just upon himself, but upon the life of every geroo.
With sharp sci-fi writing and illustrations from returning artist Rick Griffin, this tale is sure to provide emotional thrills and impossible stakes. And space. There's lots of space.
To get everyone back into the reading spirit, Mr. Luterman has graciously allowed us to provide you with a little sneak peak into the beginning pages of the upcoming sequel.
Enjoy a look into the next rotation of the Kanti Cycle: Small World.
“Welcome back, Commissioner Sarsuk,” Captain Ateri said, carefully keeping his ears up and open in a forced smile. “The crew is delighted that you’re feeling well enough to return to duty.”
The commissioner ignored the tiny geroo at his feet, keeping him waiting while the enormous, yellow-green lizard paged through the ship’s status report on his strand. He glanced down at the furry creature for a moment before refocusing his attention on the communicator.
“It looks like you didn’t destroy my ship while I was gone,” he gurgled. “I’m surprised.”
The captain feigned a chuckle and tried to look amused. He hated playing this role, standing in the commissioner’s too-warm visiting chamber with Sarsuk looming some twenty meters over his head. Ateri had to cope with the strangely modulated gravity that kept the commissioner comfortable, but at least Sarsuk had set the atmosphere at a reasonable compromise between that of their two home worlds. He had set the sulfur levels low enough that the stinking mixture only burned Ateri’s nose and his one remaining eye. So long as the meeting didn’t run long, a shot to flush the sulfur from his system and few minutes of pure oxygen would undo the damage. But for now, he had no choice. He would breathe the horrible air and pretend the stink of scorched oil and engine exhaust didn’t bother him.
“I don’t know why you would be surprised, Commissioner. I have the finest crew, and they’ve always performed—”
“Yes, yes. That will do,” the krakun interrupted him. “Everything looks in order. I’ll be staying until twelve-hundred hours tomorrow.”
The jet-black geroo’s ears perked in surprise. The commissioner hated all of the geroo vessels in his fleet, and he seldom stayed long on the White Flower II unless a crisis arose. The tip of the captain’s thick tail twitched nervously. “A long visit, I see. What would you like to inspect first?”
“Nothing,” the huge beast grunted as he flopped down hard on the floor. Ateri steadied himself and folded his paws behind his back once the tremors subsided.
“On my shuttle you will find a cage. Fill it.” Commissioner Sarsuk clipped his strand back onto his necklace. “I know that you love to agonize over choices, trying to make the perfect decision. So in the infinite compassion that I have for you—” He rolled his eyes. “—I am giving you some extra time.”
“Fill … a cage … ” the captain said quietly. “With?”
Sarsuk crossed his arms and leaned on his elbows so he could comfortably lower his face down to Ateri’s level. “You’re smart. At least you always act that way. What do you think? What’s the one thing on board this ship that has any utility at all?”
Ateri swallowed with a dry throat and blinked his eye. He tried not to stare at the commissioner’s meter-long teeth, but there was nothing else to focus on in the cavernous visiting chamber—just faux stone walls and framed canvases that appeared blank to those who, like the geroo, could not see infrared and ultraviolet.
“Fifty slaves should do, Ateri,” Sarsuk said. “I had a ringel cleaning crew previously, but I can’t see any reason to buy more of them. Fifty geroo would be a nice perk considering how much I’ve had to endure for the company recently,” he added, his voice filling with self-pity.
“You want fifty of my crew?” Ateri couldn’t keep all the disbelief from his voice. “Sir. You have so many ships. Certainly this burden can be spread around. Do all fifty have to come from my crew?”
The krakun’s solid-green eyes hardened. “Yes, from your crew. I was injured on your ship because you couldn’t control that vermin, Kanti, and the geroo filth you call a crew. Now they will pay. Fifty of them. Put their birth tokens back into circulation. They won’t be returning.”
The commissioner exhaled deeply, and Ateri struggled to keep upright despite the krakun’s vile, rotten-meat exhale. “And not you, Ateri. Don’t even think about trying to join the cleaning crew. Putting up with you every few weeks is tiresome enough. I refuse to let you live in my apartment.”
“Sir,” Ateri said, trying to sound humble, “please don’t take this out on my crew. If you’re angry at me—”
“Of course I’m angry at you!” the commissioner snapped. “Do you have any idea how much it hurts to lose a claw in the recycler?”
Less than having your eye gouged out by a vengeful lizard, Ateri thought, but wisely kept to himself. Even though he tried to will it down, the longer fur on Ateri’s scruff stood on end.
“And if you would use that tiny brain of yours to think for just one moment,” Sarsuk added, “you’d realize that this is how I enjoy punishing you. You deserve to suffer, and hurting your crew is my favorite means to that end.”
Ateri stood motionless for a moment, unsure what to do. He longed to fight this order, but he could tell that doing so was clearly pointless. Commissioner Sarsuk had made up his mind. Arguing would only make him angry and more vengeful.
“Dismissed,” the commissioner grunted. He removed his strand and dragged a massive talon across the screen.
Ateri started to leave, but then hesitated as his paw reached the handwheel on the airlock. “Sir, if I could,” he said, turning back. “May I ask what happened to your old cleaning crew, the ringel? Is there a reason you let them go?”
“Hrm, what?” the commissioner said. “Oh, them!” He grinned widely, showing off many serrated teeth. “Funny story! As you know, I spent a month in the hospital while they cloned me a new claw, and then the company granted me a month’s leave as repayment for being so horribly injured on the job.” The self-pitying tone returned. “So I went straight from the hospital to a beautiful resort on the Isle of Fire. Have you ever seen photos of the island, Ateri?”
The captain carefully shook his head. Moving his head too much in the chamber’s artificial gravity caused anyone of geroo height terrible vertigo.
“I spent practically the entire month in the spa, and I didn’t think about work once. It was so wonderful.”
Sarsuk sighed wistfully. “Anyhow, when I got back to my apartment, I found that the ringel had run out of food,” he said, as if admitting that he had forgotten to water the plants. “Apparently, they had sent me all sorts of messages, but I hadn’t checked my strand once until I got back home.”
So please! In just a few weeks, don't hesitate to pick up Small World from THP to continue Kanti's legacy!
And also don't forget to pick up Down the Plymouth Road! Another new release from THP by Stanley Jenkins, following in a few months!