Kescu has been raised under ice. Under the surface of Wanlio 6, the locals live and thrive with the Ice Runner moving emergency and experimental supplies from one city and base to the other. Her talent is heat, but she channels it through metal plates, and she skates along the frozen surface of her world.
Lorvik is a new botanist who is assisting a researcher at another base to develop fast-growing fruiting plants for starving populations. When the Ice Runner first arrives in his base, he knows she is more than she seems, but a kiss and genetic testing proves that his path has led him to the right woman. His woman.
Negotiations do not go too smoothly, but Kes knows she is meant for another world. Life in the ice is beginning to hurt. She agrees to his suit, and he only has one more hurdle to pass. Her mother.
Kescu checked her pack, tested the insulation and verified her food and water supply. Her body heat would keep the botanical samples from freezing, and the insulation would keep the majority of her supplies edible during the trip.
“Courier Washley, are you ready?” Dr. Senzer smiled at her as he emerged with the pack designed to her specifications.
“As ready as I will ever be. Frankly, I am more nervous about speaking at my sister’s primary school on Fiveday.” She hoisted the pack onto her back, and it settled above her supplies as neatly as if it had been designed for just that thing.
“You will do fine. Now, Teckaro Base?”
“Will be there in three hours. Two and a half if I have a following wind.” She shook his hand and said, “They will call you when I arrive. Don’t fret. You have your fretting face on.”
“Those are exceedingly rare samples, Kescu. Be careful.” He turned her around and gave her a swat to the backside before he backed off and left her to face the outer doors.
Three insulated airlocks kept the research station from the bitter cold. Her body started to shake in the second lock as her talent activated to keep her alive.
When the third set of doors cycled open, the frost built up on the outer door began to melt. As the inner door closed behind her, the outer door groaned open, dripping icy water.
Kescu started to sprint as her feet melted the ice beneath her. A strange motion of gliding kicked in, and her forward momentum sliding across the frozen surface took on a dizzying speed.
She cleared the valley in minutes, putting her on the open ice plane and allowing her to pause in order to check for wind. “Yes!”
She quickly unfurled her kite, pressed the tabs on her heels that extended her skis, and funnelled more heat through her feet. The wind caught her kite, and she was on her way, expending far less energy than a straight run would have.
Kescu played with the wind, flipping and twisting as the kite dragged her across the surface of Wanlio 6.
She grinned as the cold tried to lash at her, but her talent for generating large amounts of personal heat was her own private shield. Her feet melted the ice beneath her just enough to allow her an almost frictionless slide across the glaciers and fields. Using the wind to pull her along meant she had to put more heat in her feet, but it was a more-than-even trade off.
She enjoyed the feeling of freedom that the kite gave her. When a chasm loomed, she jumped and pulled her legs in, twisting them to the side until she cleared the three-foot span.
Kescu landed with a thud and scanned the horizon for one of the few location beacons on the surface. Carefully moving her right hand to her left wrist, she pressed the pinger on her cuff.
Three pings, a pause and two pings. She was an hour out from Teckaro Base and making excellent time. She could have a nice dinner and be on her way home for breakfast.