Rath Scampion, outer rim scout, explores the barren landscapes of Fenrir just before a Regency Scientific Council plants the seed of a genetically created "alien". Captured trying to steal precious gems from the planet, Rath finds himself entangled in a massive deception. Geneticists created the Fenrites in cloning labs, infusing knowledge of basic agriculture through brain wave technology. As the alien colony takes hold on the once barren planet, researchers discover the Fenrites advancing at an alarming pace, passing quickly through complex stages of industrial and technological growth. As the experiment spirals out of control, Rath must flee Regency controlled space, ending up in the midst of marauders and outcasts. He is caught with no safe haven as the Fenrite disaster spurs on political and military chaos throughout the Regency colonized worlds.
Rumbling, shaking, unsettling turmoil; Rath Scampion hated atmospheric entry. Despite the presence of heat casters, the bright orange flares bursting across the viewshields convinced him that he was about to ignite into a spectacular light show. The bone-jarring convulsions made shuttle turbulence seem like a light cough. His jaw quivered, his teeth chattered from the intense vibrations; all the while he held steady to the flight stick as if it was his only lifeline. His fingers turned white from the ferocity of his grip. With the scout vessel in computer pilot, he had no true command. The shake of his arm caused no pitch of the wing or jolt to the thrusters, but holding the instrument gave him some sense of security, some belief that he maintained control.
"Damn, I hate this," he shouted into the loneliness of his single-manned cockpit.
He bounced with the lurching of the craft as the thrusters, both fore and aft, compensated automatically for the pitch and roll of the unsteady descent. His stomach muscles tightened and his mouth went dry. Not a new experience, not even close. He had suffered through this hundreds of times before, entered atmospheres which tried to toss him back into space as if God Himself was belching in the face of his ship. Still, he prayed to survive, and for the most part, he always doubted his chances. Wide-eyed, he scanned the display monitors before him. Everything read on the line.
He wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn't. The recesses of his brain exploded with fear. His mind echoed with one thought - What are you nuts? His instincts demanded that he remain alert. Perhaps there was some chance he could pull off a miracle of his own if disaster struck.
The moment of pure disorientation sprung on him without warning. He lost his breath, suffered the inability to swallow. He never wore a flight suit, too constraining, so he had nothing to neutralize the physiological strain of propulsion shift, that sudden careen when the ship alters from a space faring vessel into more of a standard aircraft.
As much as he hated reentry, he didn't welcome the effects of gravity with any greater appreciation. In space, there was never really a fear of falling. Certainly other threats existed - exposure to the vacuum or radiation, loss of heat or oxygen - but if the craft lost all forward propulsion, it would just drift in space. Within an atmosphere, there was gravity, and if he lost power now, he would drop from the sky like a meteorite.
That thought always chewed at his nerve-endings. He wondered how long he would remain conscious if his ship ever spiraled out of control and plummeted eighty or ninety thousand meters to a hard surface.