Round, thatched huts dotted the area between the edge of the beach and the beginning of the jungle tree line. At one end of the beach a group of women and children played in the crystal blue surf. At the other end, where a tumble of jagged black rocks rose from the water like teeth, another group of people, mostly older women and a few older men, skimmed through tidal pools collecting objects in woven baskets that hung from their hips. In the center of the village a collection of long canoe-like boats stood on end in a circle, leaning against each other. Nets and other implements lay in piles around the boats, and nearby two men sat on small benches weaving thick cord into more nets and tying what looked like dried gourds onto the cords here and there as floats.
Galatia dominated the eastern sky, its rings visible as a brown band slanting to the heavens. Beyond the lavender globe of the gas giant, the sky shaded to cobalt blue. Faint, wispy clouds streaked the horizon just above the sea. Sienna had never seen a more beautiful place, even in her dreams.
This is a description of Talek, the moon colony where my characters Sienna McCade and Jordan Dane crash land in Flight of the Valkyrie.
Talek is a place I’d love to visit, though not quite in the same way Sienna and Jordan end up there. The place is like a resort, full of people who have given up lives dependent on technology and vowed to return to simpler ways. They work hard, play whenever they can, and look forward to the day when their colony will become completely independent and self-sufficient.
To get around on Talek, you’ll need to know a few things. For instance, Galatia is the gas giant around which Talek orbits. The mother planet is uninhabited, as are most of its larger moons. The village men do most of the hunting and their main prey is giant sloth. Don’t be fooled, though, they sloth aren’t as dangerous as they seem. The woman often spend their days shelling matsi, a tart, acidic fruit that’s used to make soap and floats for fishing nets. Other groups of villagers harvest moonfish from the shallow tidal pools to serve with sweet purple fruits called balmalon.
When you hear the villagers shout ‘Hai! Hai!’ get ready to work hard. This means an algae bloom has sent thousands of berry-sized pods to shore. The indigo pods turn the sand blue and everyone in the village is consumed with gathering them for days. The algae will provide them with medicine and even glue for the thatched roofs of their huts.
After the algae harvest, the villagers celebrate with a moonlight dinner on the beach. The children dress in feathered costumes that mimic the vetna, a jungle creature whose skin hardens into a shell as it matures. Barrels of wine are lit on fire and children and adults alike make wishes by tossing small white pebbles into the ocean waves.
Don’t pass up a chance to visit Talek and live the simple life for a while. You may just end up falling in love.