Forty of Earth's most dangerous women compete to become warriors in the interstellar empire known as PULSE. They must endure a Trial on a death-planet filled with monsters and betrayal.
Only three will survive. And the war hasn't even begun.
It's a future like you've never seen before: one populated by amazing (and often unfriendly) aliens and a Humanity that is 100% female. A paradise in some ways, a prison in others, this handful of extraordinary women must fight to stay alive in a brutal universe, enduring an onslaught of deadly challenges, just to join the fight against a star-spanning threat they can scarcely imagine.
THE TRIAL is the first in an action-packed adventure series for all ages, crammed with creatures, combat, courage … and some of the most fascinating new characters you've encountered in years.
Join PULSE! See the universe! You might even survive...
A blackened area of ground near the base of the mountain began to bend and flex, followed by a small fracture tracing its way across the turf. Ten more seconds passed before an almighty fissure splintered across the ground. A repetitive hammering sound begun to emanate from beneath the surface, each followed by a crunch as the terrain continued to break. A few crunches later the fracture widened as the charcoal-like layer of earth cracked down the middle under the continued bombardment from the subterranean depths. The thudding sound halted abruptly as the area fell silent once more. An explosive quake that sounded like a wrecking ball smashing through a concrete wall followed the eerie vacuum. Simultaneously, a large, worm-like creature burst forth from the cracked patterns on the ground, sending rock fragments thundering off in each direction as it ploughed its front half through the hard surface and up towards ground level. The worm rocketed through the opening, standing briefly vertical, before crashing down onto its front.
The creature was as dauntingly large as it was stomach-turning in appearance. It had to be at least ten meters in thick and glutinous diameter, while reaching at least another twenty meters in length. Its skin was a dark purple color, laced with thousands of thin, wiry black veins. It leaked a dense pus-like black liquid from several lacerations around its body, oozing what must have been blood from its dozens of pores. Its heavy rear tail flailed about wildly as the creature slowed to a crawl. At the other end its crescent-shaped mouth was incapable of hiding the large triangular teeth that were too obtrusive to fit within its jaw.
The worm arched its body backwards and forwards slowly as it attempted to slide away from the opening from which it had just burst forth, though it was clearly in too much pain to muster up the strength for any kind of journey. Two elongated stretches later, the creature’s head tilted up, pointing high into the sky. It stopped moving altogether for just a moment before tumbling back down and rolling over onto its back. The thing, whatever it was, was definitely dead.
The only part of the alien worm still moving was its mid-section. The stomach. First, a protrusion around the center, a small prod akin to an unborn child’s first kick at its mother’s womb. Then came another, this time further around, at the side of the beast, as if something inside were feeling its way around, searching for something. A third and final prod came, this time almost at ground level where the heavy body slumped on the surface. At least another half-minute passed when a swift slicing noise swept out from the side of the worm. A knife cut through the purplish external membrane, expelling a horrible mixture of black sludge, green bile, and a foul-stenched collective of digestive liquids.
Next came a hand, the five-fingered fist of a Human punching through the newly formed slit in the alien’s skin. The arm pushed slowly through the half-meter-thick skin, the knuckles almost completely dyed black by the worm’s internals. Intestinal tubes followed, some simply falling out of the body, others wrapped in a tangled web around the struggling appendage. A second limb pushed its way out from the tightly wrapped jungle of internal organs. The fingers clamped around the outer skin of the wound and started to haul out the torso of the person inside.
Finally came a face, forcing its way from the mass, and into the dim light of Raxis’s surface. The twinkling night stars illuminated a pair of bright blue eyes, and a head of once-blonde hair was almost unrecognizable in its new blackish hue. What was formerly a body of lush, rosy and pinkish skin was now a pale stained palette of unimaginative color. In one final sapping and straining exertion, Stella surged out from the creature’s interior, her torso pulling away from the putrid alien carcass that had imprisoned her. She gasped and panted frantically as she spiraled over and collapsed in a perspiring dank mess face down on the rocky ground.
Taking ten times as much effort as it should have, she turned her head to one side, scraping her cheek across the harsh terrain to let her eyes dart around and inspect her location.
In an exclamation as much relief as distress, she cried out a long, pulsating, lung-busting scream.
She was alive.