Kati of Terra: Book One – Escape from the Drowned Planet
In saving her small son from alien abductors, a 24 year old Earth woman named Katie finds herself abducted instead. She awakens from an alien drug-induced stupor on a spaceship, in a room full of children, both human and alien, along with two other young women. For a while, they adapt to the situation as best they can, keeping the youngsters calm and entertained. But, when a drugged alien man wearing a uniform is added to the captive cargo, it becomes clear that this is an intergalactic slave operation.
In order to facilitate communications, the captives are implanted with “translation nodes” – living entities, that are normally quite docile, merely enhancing certain brain functions, such as language acquisition. However, Katie discovers that she has accidentally received a very special “granda node”, a long-lived node with its own cantankerous personality, including a fondness for criminality and lethal weaponry. Fortunately for Katie, it also values its freedom. With its help, she escapes on a fringe planet, dragging the peace officer along with her.
She finds herself on a strange world, with a slightly deranged personality in her head, quite possibly a killer, partnered with a man from an advanced civilization who abhors killing. It turns out that he is a Federation Peace Officer, captured by the slavers while attempting to bring them to justice. His task is complicated by the fact that he has sworn to make every effort to avoid the taking of sentient life during the performance of his duties. He can and does, however, make quite vigorous use of non-lethal weaponry. Before leaving the ship, Katie had promised to help her co-captives gain their liberty. Thus, she and the alien peace officer make common cause to stop the slavers.
But first they must find their way off this apparently primitive planet and make their way to the Federated Civilization, pursued by a small group of slavers who have been left on the planet to re-capture them. The planet had suffered a global warming catastrophe some centuries back – thus the locals refer to it as the Drowned Planet. Though this has caused the planet to revert to a depopulated pre-industrial state of development, the inhabitants are a wily and resourceful bunch, mostly helpful, but sometimes dangerous.
Kati (to mark her escape from the slavers, she adapts a slight name change) and Mikal seek a Federation beacon, which had been hidden by authorities on this planet centuries ago, to aid in just such contingencies (a longstanding Federation policy for fringe worlds). Thus, they embark on an arduous trek across two continents and an ocean, seeking the temple that contains the beacon. Their journey includes travel by foot, cart, riverboat, tall sailing ship, and pack animal, always pursued by the deadly slavers.
For the most part, all they have to depend on are their wits, guile, charm and acting ability, while the slavers have the advantages of advanced technology and ruthlessness. Fortunately, they make many friends along the way, who help them in their difficult quest. The result is a series of adventures, both frightening and funny, as well as cast of engaging personalities.
To complicate matters for Katie, she finds herself falling in love with this strange, handsome and amusing alien. He seems to be reciprocating, though they both struggle against a romantic entanglement.
Read on to see if Kati and Mikal can escape from the Drowned Planet and ultimately bring the slavers to justice, as Mikal has sworn to do, while freeing the remaining unfortunate captives as Kati has also sworn to do.