Excerpt for Pyra and the Tektites: The Unicorn Stone by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Pyra and the Tektites

by Tyree Campbell

Vol. II: The Unicorn Stone

Published by Alban Lake Publishing at Smashwords

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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without expressed written consent of the author and/or artists.

Pyra and the Tektites is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Story copyright owned by Tyree Campbell

Cover illustration “Pyra and Chlorine” 2018 by 7ARS

Cover design by Laura Givens

First Printing, January 2018

Alban Lake Publishing

P.O. Box 141

Colo, Iowa, 50056-0141 USA


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For Teri Santitoro, artist/writer/friend

. . . she draws Pyra.


In the first novella, Aquarium in Space, we saw Pyra Newcombe, age 13, running away from home in the asteroid belt. Her grades at Ceres School were not very good, and her father (the president of Ceres Station) and mother wanted to send her down to Mars for schooling. Instead, Pyra stowed away on a cargo shuttle and fell asleep. After she awoke, she learned that the shuttle had been hijacked by pirates. Later she was sold to do scullery work for Ichthia, a malevolent woman who operates an aquarium in space. Pyra fell in with a man named Flanagan, who protected her the best that he could.

Now, on Europa, Pyra has fallen down a tunnel and splashed into an ocean under the surface of the moon. She is in danger of being eaten by urrglu, and she has been befriended by the morrikaru, which are blind, telepathic creatures resembling seals. She is also running out of air, and has only minutes left. To save her, Flanagan is being lowered into the tunnel by a winch operated by maintenance workers . . .

In case you missed it . . .

Pyra and the Tektites

Aquarium in Space

Pyra, age thirteen, is running away from home in the Asteroid Belt because she’s not doing well in school. Her parents want to send her to Mars for school, and she doesn’t want to go. She sneaks aboard a cargo shuttle, and falls asleep in the hold. When she awakens, she finds herself in free-fall; the shuttle has been seized by the Tektites, a group of rebel pirates . . .

. . . and the adventures begin!


The Unicorn Stone

by Tyree Campbell

Part 12: The Hunters

Once inside the shaft Flanagan switched on the helmet torch, but there was little to see except the glistening rock and ice as he slipped ever downward, drawn by the limited gravity of Europa and held back by the nylon rope that connected him to the winch far above. How far had he already descended? A hundred meters, perhaps more. He bent his head to peer down into the depths of the moon, but there was nothing to see beyond the white boots of his outsuit, so he returned his attention to the shaft once more.

The surface was ribbed and lumpy, although the texture appeared smooth, as if worn by water. In the dark, even with the helmet torch, it was impossible to determine colors, but Flanagan had the impression most of the rock ranged from brown to henna, with an occasional lighter porphyry of ice. As he descended, the colors changed, half light and half dark, as if here at these depths the moon was equal parts rock and ice. It was worth reporting to the maintenance crew...if he ever got out of here again.

Twice Flanagan tried to raise Pyra on the comm, and twice he received nothing, not even static. He did not believe she was dead. He felt that something would have told him—a heaviness of the heart, a cold chill on his back, something—but his thoughts of her were filled with hope. She was alive, still alive, he was certain of that. But he was not certain how long she would remain alive.

He checked his own air gage. Four and a half hours. That meant Pyra had less than it less than two, because Johnson was going to reel him in when he had but an hour left. If, added Flanagan, he was still tethered to the winch.

He had no plans, for he had no way of knowing what to expect. Oceans abounded under the surface of Europa, but not completely. He might strike rock, or ice...or the shaft might even take him to the center of the moon. As long as it took him to Pyra, it mattered not where he wound up.

The shaft seemed to bend, gradually. Flanagan looked around and realized that the shaft was actually expanding, growing wider, so that two or three people might descend here side by side. He tensed in anticipation, and gazed past his boots again. What was down there? Rock, or water? And if he grazed a sharp edge of rock or ice, what might it do to his outsuit?

The shaft widened further, the sides falling away, until Flanagan seemed to be suspended in midair, swaying like a clock pendulum. He shone the helmet torch downward, but the light dissipated into the darkness without reaching the bottom...or whatever awaited him.

Flanagan felt as if he were inside a great domed stadium, dangling from the roof. Presently he became aware of a vibration—the video recorder affixed to his helmet was taking in the surrounding darkness for further analysis. He tried the comm again, and this time he thought he heard static.

“Pyra!” he shouted into the microphone, and once more he gazed into the darkness beyond his boots. The helmet torch seemed to reflect off something just within the limits of its light. Sparkles, thought Flanagan.


Was someone splashing down there?

“Pyra!” Flanagan yelled again, as he struggled to hold the light from the helmet torch on the movement. How far now to the surface of the ocean? Fifty meters? Less?

A dark shape broke through the sparkles, and Flanagan caught a glimpse of teeth, grayish in the artificial light. Something was feeding down there.

And the winch was lowering him right into the middle of dinner.


Pyra blinked. Someone was jostling her. Minna? “What do you want now?” she asked sullenly. It seemed to her that the air inside the helmet had already gone stale, though the gauge said she had twenty minutes left.

You must come with us, Pyra of the Over.

“I told you: it's just Pyra. That's who I am.”

But she stirred from the side of the cavern, and allowed herself to float toward the clutch of morrikaru, their seal-like heads all aimed at her. When she reached them, they surrounded her, and almost lifted her out of the water as they swam in unison from the cavern and out into the open ocean.

“Where are we going?” asked Pyra.

The urrglu are feeding, Pyra of the Over. But there are things we must know.

Inside her helmet something crackled. She heard her name through the static. “Flanagan!” she cried.

“Pyra, where are you?”

“I don't know!”

“Then stay where you are,” Flanagan ordered. “There's something eating down here, like sharks. They are right below me.”

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