Prelude to Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts

Lyn Gala

Before Liam had a new commander who openly distrusted him, before Ondry earned his ka status, there were two traders. Yet Ondry wants to earn status, and he is curious about this new human. Liam has just arrived on the planet an...
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Before Liam had a new commander who openly distrusted him, before Ondry earned his ka status, there were two traders. Yet Ondry wants to earn status, and he is curious about this new human. Liam has just arrived on the planet and he’s trying to figure out these aliens who supposedly have good metals to trade. Neither of them suspects that a chance trade and a few pots knocked off a table could lead their lives and their fates to intertwine.

  • Note:This free story is a prequel to the story of Ondry and Liam that details how they met. As such, it's not a romance.
As he walked up the steps to the trading plaza, Liam spotted the huge trader already set up on the side of the plaza opposite the entrance. It was prime territory. Liam’s trade goods, sent from Earth, had been moved to a secondary table.

Liam had no idea if that was normal or not, but he had no intention of arguing with a nine-foot-tall alien. So he moved to his new spot and started arranging the copper pots and boxes so potential customers could see them.

Prarownt was nothing like Liam had expected. He’d been a kid in California when the first Earth ships had made contact with another alien species—the Anla. Early reports had made contact missions sound exciting and dangerous. By the time Liam had joined the war effort, humans had found the Rownt, and the early trickle of bootleg videos showing the oversized aliens and their odd looks and rural lifestyle had caught humanity’s attention. It was like finding out that dinosaur-turtle men were alive and living like the Amish. So when Liam had received his transfer to the linguistic division as a tech assigned to facilitate trading, he’d expected to explore an alien race. He’d wanted adventure and maybe he had a few fantasies about making some grand discovery about these reptilian aliens. Linguistics might not be the most exciting field, but he’d hoped to advance human knowledge or engage in debate.

Instead, the assignment included a lot of walking through wild fields and standing around trading tables waiting for someone to buy his goods. Rownt didn’t exactly engage in small talk, so Liam had no opportunity to make any grand revelations. It was boring—like the front, only without the intermittent periods of utter terror and imminent death.

Luckily, Liam liked boring.

Standing in the trading plaza, Liam could enjoy the songs of native birds and the rustling of leaves. One songbird kept repeating a complex set of whistles and chirps. Trellised pillars held up a wooden canopy that shaded the area. Vines climbed the latticework until the whole structure seemed almost alive. The other Rownt sharing the plaza with Liam had a table full of various pots and ceramics. He stood in front of his trading table with his tail wrapped around his leg and his eyes half closed. His skin had the soft purple hue Liam considered normal. He’d sometimes spot a darker Rownt, and on one occasion had seen an alien so pale it was nearly humanish in color, but the vast majority of Rownt had a fairly consistent color.

Liam leaned against the low wall that marked the edge of the trading plaza and pulled out his computer. He opened one of the midcourse grammar tutorials on sentence construction and started rereading the information. He’d passed his tests already or Command wouldn’t have approved his reassignment, but that didn’t mean Liam could actually speak the Rownt language. When Craig, the other trader, had first brought Liam to the square to introduce him to the first Grandmother who happened to pass by, Liam had stumbled through a few Rownt phrases. All his hard-won knowledge of Rownt language had evaporated under the stare of one of those enormous females. But Liam had never given up, and he wouldn’t back away from the challenge of speaking the Rownt language.

Hours passed. The sun slowly shifted in the sky so that a ray of light bisected Liam’s table. Liam loosened the top two buttons of his uniform as the heat started to build. Liam’s eyes nearly crossed as he, for the fourth time, studied the tritransitive structure of Rownt verbs. Verbs conjugated according to who performed an action, on whom the action was performed, the object involved, and the attitude intended by the doer. But no matter how much Liam cared about the proper conjugation of verbs, his attention span had a limit.

For a time, he tried pacing the trading plaza and watching the few Rownt who wandered this far from the center of town. However, every time Liam passed near the other trader, the Rownt watched. Liam had the feeling he was breaking some social taboo no one had explained. Craig had given him very little information on correct behavior, just issuing vague promises that the Rownt seemed fairly hard to offend.

Rather than risk finding a way to offend his hosts, Liam headed back to his table, picked up his computer, and started one of the technically against-the-regs games Craig had loaded. For a while, he amused himself with a simple matching game that required him to figure out codes on a security system before cops showed up to arrest his game character. Liam wondered what Rownt would think of the game, but he had no way to know.

Liam looked up when a new Rownt stepped into the plaza. He was smaller than most of the aliens, but he was still taller than the average human being. This new trader walked to the other side where the potter had set up.

He walked past the potter’s table, stopping several times to study pieces. Each time he silently returned the piece to its place, not shifting any toward the circle marked on the table that indicated goods to be traded. After the new Rownt examined or at least touched every single pot, he headed for Liam’s table.

The first time a Rownt had walked toward him, Liam had felt a cold and panicky sort of fear. They were huge. If a Rownt decided to lose his temper, he could break Liam into tiny, bloody pieces. However, in the time Liam had been coming to the trading plaza, he had never seen a Rownt show the least bit of emotion.

So the fear had faded into a softer sort of wariness. He kept track of the Rownt near him, but he had stopped expecting an attack. He also didn’t expect a trade. Three other Rownt had come and looked at Liam’s wares before buying pots. Liam had asked Lieutenant Spooner to request text goods, but Liam still had copper boxes on his table.

This new trader picked up the small text page Liam had set out. Formal trading precluded speaking, so Liam had typed a short explanation of the types of metals and the processes used to create the decoration. Every trader who came to the plaza gravitated to the text. They studied it so intently that Liam got the feeling they regretted leaving it behind. One trader had even put the page into the trading circle, but Liam had been so shocked he had failed to react, and the trader had left. The informational text definitely got more interest than the actual bowls.

This new trader headed for the corner of Liam’s table where a particularly large copper box stood, and his trajectory brought him uncomfortably close. Liam tried to stand his ground, but at the last second, he flinched back. His hip hit the table, and he blurted out a sharp, “Fuck” as copper tumbled to the tile floor.

Immediately he froze. Speaking in the trading plazas was forbidden—a cultural taboo. Liam held his breath, expecting one of the Rownt to grab him and rush him out of the space at any second. He would be disgraced. Command would send him back to the front to die. A thousand fears and thoughts clanged around in Liam’s head until he couldn’t think straight. It took him several minutes to realize the two Rownt only watched him with large eyes.

Taking their lack of action as a sort of forgiveness, Liam dropped to his knees and began to gather up the copper. He froze again as the new Rownt crouched down beside him and picked up a fallen box. He turned the piece over in his hand, examining the decorated top before he set it on the table.

Liam could only stare at the enormous hands. Rownt didn’t help each other, or that was what Command said anyway. Rownt were one-hundred-percent mercenary, which is why they had not technologically developed as fast as humans. They had solar panels and a power grid. And clearly they could refine metals since that was Liam’s main job—obtaining ship-grade metals. However, they were still largely agrarian, living in small villages surrounded by farms. Their lack of cooperation precluded them from forming larger cities or industrial centers, and if Liam believed Command, there was no reason for a Rownt to help him pick up his goods.

When the Rownt stood, Liam grabbed the last few copper bowls and scrambled to his feet. His nerves were frayed by this unexpected change in behavior, and he was almost vibrating with a need to do something. Ideally he would like to run all the way back to base and ask Lieutenant Spooner to explain this new behavior. However, Liam was not only a sergeant but a linguistic technician. He’d earned his promotion, and now he had to prove himself worthy or the military would be very happy to take his shiny new rank and kick him back to the front.

Indecision kept him standing beside his table until the Rownt pulled trading tokens out of a bag. He dropped five coins down on the table and watched Liam. Relief washed though Liam. He knew how to handle a trade.

Copyright © Lyn Gala


Customer Reviews

Excellent prequel and bonus stories Review by Alicia
This was a perfect addition to the series. I enjoyed seeing how Liam and Ondry met the first time and became friends. The additional stories from Ondry and Grandmother's perspective were insightful and a wonderful added bonus of background. (Posted on 10/17/2017)
What I've come to expect from Lyn Gala Review by Victoria
I've always enjoyed this authors work. She has a great ability to create memorable and relatable characters. I've been in love with this series since the release of the first novel. Finding this prelude was pure chance but I'm really happy I did. (Posted on 8/13/2017)
A Great Thank You To Fans Review by Lennis
You should really read this after the first book. This is a great thank you to fans of the series and really fun to see some of the same scenes from Ondry's point of view instead of Liam's. It makes me want to go read all three of them again. I can't wait for the next one. (Posted on 7/28/2017)
Adds amazing color to the world Lyn built! Review by T Lee
I was hoping that she would eventually add Ondry's own take on the events, and this is exactly what I wanted! (Well, not exactly, I do want more from Ondry I have to admit) This is a fantastic and intriguing glimpse into an alien culture that for once doesn't look just like a human-culture-just-with-extra-body-parts. Well done! (Posted on 4/2/2017)
Great Worldbuilding Review by samantha
This is a fun read with a lot of great worldbuilding. I love how much fascinating detail and little hints you get about the world Lyn Gala has created for this series. I also love the main character, Liam, and his relationship with Ondry. Loved the whole series. (Posted on 2/12/2017)
Too short Review by Ilona
I've loved Lyn Gala's stories about Liam and Ondry and reading these different points of view on key points of the books was really exciting and enjoyable. However being the greedy reader that I am I wish there had been more such stories to enjoy. I just hope we get to read more stories about this pair in the near future. (Posted on 2/3/2017)
A look at the beginning Review by Marlaina
I was so excited to find out there was another book in this series, especially that we got to see how Liam and Ondry's relationship began. Love that there is a dictionary of sorts of Rownt sayings at the end. (Posted on 1/12/2017)
A fantastic addition to the series Review by Lone
I love the story of Leam and Onry so when I discovered this glimpse into their story I was full of joy.

The shortstorys did not disappoint. It was fun to read from Onry's POV and the story with the grandmothers POV was a delight.

If you like the series you really don't want to miss out on these amazing shorts. They add a lot to the other books and if you have a bad day they will definitely make it better.
(Posted on 8/15/2016)
An interesting expansion on the series Review by nikkie
You should only read this if you've read "Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts", otherwise it wont make sense to you. At least, not properly. I Loved these stories. Really liked seeing the events of the first book through the eyes of the other characters. It added so much detail and understanding. Can't wait til the next book in the series comes out. Liam and Ondry have such an interesting interaction. <3 (Posted on 7/16/2016)
Great look in the past Review by Sophie
This is definitely one of my favorite series and it was really interesting to see how the characters met. Great writing and original story! (Posted on 5/27/2016)
Satisfying Shorts Review by Gina
LOVE this series (highly re-readable). The 'Prelude' shorts were welcome alternate viewpoints of Liam and Ondry's beginnings. If you haven't tried the series, I think I'd recommend reading the first book ('Claimings . . .') before this 'Prelude' so that you'll have a richer understanding of what is happening. (Posted on 5/16/2016)
Read this prelude first! Review by Michael
I read this series as part of a Goodreads challenge. We had to pick a five star read from a friends shelf. I really enjoyed the entire series but thank goodness I read the Prelude first. It made the first book in the series make so much sense. I think I would have been a little lost if I had jumped directly into "Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts". I highly recommend this series. (Posted on 4/11/2016)
Engaging and Interesting Prequel Review by Sophia
I loved going back and getting this prequel after being three books into the series. Liam and Ondry are a great pair. The truly alien Ondry and Ondry's alien world and Liam with his broken past and tender needs. It was fun going back and getting the earlier times that were merely brushed on in book one.
That said, I think this prequel actually works better coming after book one and being more of a parallel read than a prequel. Love the story and how it built to what ended up culminating in a growing inter-racial relationship.
(Posted on 3/21/2016)
Loved it! Review by martina
I love this book. I've already read it three times! I want more. I've read all this series and really enjoyed them. (Posted on 3/16/2016)
A little pearl for the series Review by Elena
I really liked this collection of shorts, especially the ones in Ondry's and the Grandmother's POV.
It was interesting that we get to see the events in the temple that take place at the beginning of book 1.
(Posted on 3/14/2016)
Loved it. Review by Cheryl
It was wonderful to see Liam and Ondry meeting for the first time - each describing it from their own point of view. Also nice to find out the details of what exactly went on in the temple when Ondry was given permission to claim Liam. I hope the author continues with the series. I'd love to read more. (Posted on 3/8/2016)
Very entertaining Review by Dina
This book gives some explanations for missing pieces from Book 1 from this series. Very satisfying read. (Posted on 3/7/2016)
I LOVE this series!! :) Review by Elysia
This book of short stories is VERY GOOD!!

I LOVE the romance and love between Liam and Ondry in the trilogy ever so much, but I also LOVE the language barrier and the translation issues between them, and this explored more of that, so I enjoyed it VERY MUCH!!
(Posted on 3/5/2016)
This just makes the series more awesome Review by M
I really love this series and Prelude gives us a glimpse at the beginning and at some events that were not shown. It is short but I'm a little greedy and always want more of what Lyn Gala writes. So much fun to read. (Posted on 3/5/2016)
Wonderful missing scenes Review by Mardi
I love these characters and this book just cracks open the little pieces I'd hoped to see in the books. Wonderful! (Posted on 2/20/2016)
A must read if you love the series Review by susana
his is a compilation of short stories set in the Claimings universe, all taking place before Ondry and Liam started their relationship, so romance is practically inexistent.
The first one, The beginning, tells us about Liam’s first trade with Ondry, and the impression the kind Rownt caused on him. Liam is very insecure, both of his knowledge of Rownt language and of his position as a trader. When he achieves a successful trade with Ondry, he’s giddy with success and offers to help Ondry carry the items purchased, unaware that their interaction is going to change both their lives forever….
The second story, First Sight, tells the same event but from Ondry’s point of view. It is really hilarious to discover Liam’s atrocious grammar… But his eagerness to learn and approach him awake Ondry’s interest.
Slow Attractions uses Ondry’s point of view to tell us the critical event of the first book, the encounter between Liam and the new Colonel, which clearly shows Liam’s discomfort and fear towards the man, and triggers Ondry’s claiming of Liam as his palteia. At this point, Ondry’s feelings towards Liam are really strong and seeing him suffering makes him want to protect him.
Headstrong Told from the point of view of one of the grandmothers, Hasha, who also happens to be Ondry’s grandmother, it tells us about the ceremony in the temple, when Liam is recognised as palteia, and given to Ondry. It also reveals some interesting details about Ondry’s mother and hints some of the reasons why Ondry seems to look for attachment to Liam
The last part of the book, Common sayings is a brief collection of Rownt sayings, which reveal quite a lot about their interesting culture.
In short, it is a very entertaining and enlightening read which you will certainly enjoy if you like the series.
(Posted on 2/18/2016)
Great addition to the series Review by Relly
I really enjoyed these shorts.
Seeing the story from the first meeting and then the ones from Ondrys side were a great addition to this series
(Posted on 2/18/2016)
Made me cry! Review by SJ
Thank you SSSOOOOO much for Prelude! I adored reading how Liam and Onry met the first time, and then to get the full version of Liam's transfer into Ondry's care, and from the Grandmother's POV was astounding! I admit wholeheartedly to crying when I read Ondry's POV as well!!!! I adore this series, please keep it coming! (Posted on 2/10/2016)

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