For years, the alien Klikiss robots have pretended to be humanity's friends, but their seeming "help" allowed them to plant an insidious Trojan Horse throughout the Earth Defense Forces. Now, in the aftermath of a devastating war, swarms of ancient robots built by the Klikiss continue their depredations on helpless worlds with stolen and heavily armed Earth battleships.
Among the humans, the Hansa's brutal chairman struggles to crush any resistance even as King Peter breaks away to form his own new confederation among the colonies who have declared their independence.
And meanwhile, the original, voracious Klikiss race, long thought to be extinct, has returned, intent on conquering their former worlds and willing to annihilate anyone in the way.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
December 09, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Metal Swarm by Kevin J. Anderson
1 ORLI COVITZ
An unending swarm of giant beetlelike Klikiss poured through the transportal on Llaro for days, marching from some unknown, distant planet. During the initial panic, Mayor Ruis and the Roamer spokesman Roberto Clarin had issued a futile appeal for calm among the people. There was nothing more they could do. With the Klikiss controlling the transportal, the colonists had no way to leave Llaro. They were trapped.
The horror and shock gradually dulled to hopelessness and confusion. At least the creatures hadn't killed anyone. Yet.
Alone on a barren hill, Orli Covitz stood looking toward the termitemound ruins and the colony settlement. Thousands of intelligent bugs moved over the landscape, investigating everything with relentless, alien curiosity. No one understood what the Klikiss wanted--with the exception, perhaps, of the strangely haunted Margaret Colicos, the long-lost xeno-archaeologist who had spent years among them.
Presently, the fifteen-year-old girl saw Margaret trudging up the hill toward her accompanied by DD, the Friendly compy who had taken a liking to Orli almost as soon as he arrived with Margaret through the transportal. The older woman wore the field jumpsuit of a xeno-archaeologist, its fabric and fastenings designed to last for years under tough conditions in the field, though by now it was tattered and stained.
DD walked cheerfully up to Orli. He studied her expression. "You appear to be sad, Orli Covitz."
"My planet's being invaded, DD. Just look at them. Thousands and thousands. We can't live here with them, and we can't get off the planet."
"Margaret Colicos has lived among the Klikiss for a considerable time. She is still alive and healthy."
Breathing heavily in the dry air, Margaret stopped beside the two. "Physically healthy, maybe. But you may want to reserve judgment as to my psychological health."
The distant, shattered gaze of the older woman discomfited Orli. She didn't want to imagine what Margaret must have endured among the giant insects.
"I am still getting used to talking with other people again, so my social skills may be somewhat lacking. I spent so long trying to think like the Klikiss. It was very draining." She placed her hand on the compy's shoulder. "I really thought I might go mad . . . until DD arrived."
The compy didn't seem aware of any sort of threat around them. "But we're back now, Margaret Colicos. And safe among friends."
"Safe?" Orli didn't know if she would ever feel entirely safe again. Not long after she and her father had left dreary Dremen to become colonists on Corribus, black robots had wiped out the settlement, leaving only Orli and Mr. Steinman alive. To make a new start, she had come to Llaro. And now the Klikiss had invaded.
DD's optimism was unrelenting. "Margaret understands the Klikiss. She will explain them to the colonists and show you how to live together. Won't you, Margaret?"
Even the older woman had a skeptical expression on her face. "DD, I barely understand how I survived. Though my years of training as a xenoarchaeologist should count for something."
Orli reached out and took her calloused hand. "Then you have to tell Mayor Ruis and Roberto Clarin what you know."
DD dutifully took her other hand. "Knowledge is helpful, isn't it, Margaret?"
"Yes, DD. Knowledge is a tool. I'll explain what I learned and hope it turns out to be useful."
As they descended the hill toward the town, they walked directly past several spiny Klikiss warriors and a troop of mottled yellow-and-black builders that had begun to dig long trenches, disregarding any boundaries the colonists had marked. Anxious, Orli held the woman's hand tightly. Margaret was unruffled, though; she paid no more attention to the individual Klikiss than the creatures seemed to pay her.
"Why are there so many types of Klikiss? They've all got different colors and markings." Orli had even seen some with almost human heads and faces like hard masks, though most just looked like bugs.
"Klikiss don't have sexes, they have sub-breeds. The large spiny ones are warriors to fight in the many hive wars. Others are gatherers, builders, scouts, scientists."
"You can't be serious. Those bugs have scientists?"
"And mathematicians and engineers." Margaret raised her eyebrows with a certain measure of admiration. "They discovered the transportal technology, after all. They invented the Klikiss Torch and left detailed records and intricate equations on the walls of their ruins. Those creatures solve problems through brute force--and they do it well."
Orli watched the swarming Klikiss, whose clustered, towerlike structures looked like a giant hive complex. "Do they have a queen?"