Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter

Junkyard Cats

Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter (Junkyard Cats #1)
English | 2020 | Fantasy | ePUB | 2.8 MB

From the author of the best-selling Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series comes a tough new heroine who is far more than she seems. Junkyard Cats is the first in a new novella series.

After the Final War, after the appearance of the Bug aliens and their enforced peace, Shining Smith is still alive, still doing business from the old scrapyard bequeathed to her by her father. But Shining is now something more than human. And the scrapyard is no longer just a scrapyard, but a place full of secrets that she has guarded for years.

This life she has built, while empty, is predictable and safe. Until the only friend left from her previous life shows up, dead, in the back of a scrapped Tesla warplane. Clutched in her cold fingers is a note to Shining—warning her of a coming attack.

With dread, Shining realizes: Someone knows who she is. Someone knows what she is guarding. Will she be able to protect the scrapyard? Will she even survive? Or will Shining have to destroy everything she loves to keep her secrets out of the wrong hands?

With a soft clatter, I put down the wrench and walked around my latest delivery, hands loose at my sides. I wasn’t sure why I was so discomfited by the hunk of scrap. It triggered that sixth sense that had kept me alive for so long, but I couldn’t tell why. Maybe I was finally being paranoid for no reason.

I rubbed my sweaty scalp, my hand sliding up under my floppy hat, studying the old AGR Tesla fuselage. The hatch was sealed with the yellow tape of military and civilian decertification, tape that marked the AntiGrav Retrofit vehicle as airtight. It also marked it legal for scrap, not that it was. Legal, that is.

Everything looked normal. But still.

I picked at the cracked orange nail polish on my fingernails, staring at the hood. Walked down one side. Uncertain. My sixth sense buzzed stronger. Maybe it was the ugly paint, a piss-poor chitosan polymer job in an unexpected hot fuchsia-pink that someone with lousy taste had sprayed over the former military gray. The vivid color made the space-worthy composite body look like a military camp follower in full hooker regalia. But. It was just paint. Nothing to make me so jittery.

I walked around the fuselage and stopped at the hatch. Stepped closer. And backed away fast. That was what was bothering me. There were ants skittering over the Tesla, crawling around the hatch and up over the roof as if they had found a nice meal where the vehicle had been parked, and then seen their lunch box carried away from their nest. They were mad, racing around the sun-heated metal as if the temp wasn’t a problem at all. Ants. But not just any ants. Cataglyphis bicolor fabricius ants.

Over the last few years there had been any number of scrap deliveries that gave me the willies, and this 2035 AGR Tesla and its ants was at the top of the list. Fighting the natural desire to run, I took several more very slow steps back.

The ants didn’t belong here, not on this Tesla, not in the stony West Virginia desert. They didn’t actually belong anywhere. The bicolors had been imported from the Sahara Desert during the first year of the war, when things had gotten bad. There had been all kinds of ecological and environmental catastrophes and stupid importations and genetic modifications that the survivors were still living with. Bicolors were among the worst environmental mistakes ever created and they were nearly indestructible. The males—only the males—had been modified on the genetic level by bio-nanobots, and sent out from some top-secret lab by the millions to clean up the mounds of dead humans and eat the germs that came from the corpses. Unable to reproduce without a female, they were programmed to die at the end of their normal lifespans.

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