The Thunder Egg by Greta van der Rol
No ordinary rock…
History Professor Drew Torson’s purchase of a thunder egg at a market leads to an astonishing discovery when what should have been just a rock… hatches. He isn’t the only one who wants the unusual creature that emerges. When thieves attempt to capture his new friend, Neyru, Drew is left stunned and bleeding in an alley. Freighter captain Afra Abrussen is shocked when a strange, but beautiful creature named Neyru seeks her help. She’s no heroine. She has cargo to haul and debts to pay. The last thing she needs to do right now is get drawn into Drew and Neyru’s plight.
Drew insists that all they need to do is find out what Neyru is, where she comes from, and get her home without being caught by pursuers who will stop at nothing to get hold of the little creature. Afra thinks Drew forgot one important clause: They need to do all that without falling in love. Can a freighter captain and an academic stay one step ahead of the thieves determined to capture Neyru, and if they do, what will happen when they discover they broke the all too important clause about not falling in love?
This story first appeared in Pets in Space 6 in 2021. It is a novella-length space opera.