Every once in a while I get an idea for a novel but I’m not sure how well it’ll transition from brain to page. So I take the story out for a test drive. I call it a Proof-of-Concept and wrote about it here.
I’ve had this idea stuck in my head for the past few weeks -and I think I like it. I love the idea of a warship’s crew needing to find something else to do when there’s no war left.
Of course they’ll turn to piracy until the real threat shows itself again. It would borrow a lot from Arthurian myth but with a little Pirates of the Caribbean feel.
Let me know what you think.
Sailing Rubble of Galaxies
“Nice of them to design these cells with portholes,” admired former security commander, Nessa Muldune. It seemed like a strange waste of outer hull but she appreciated being able to see the stars.
“Shut up traitor,” sneered her jailer. Lieutenant Alfred’s disdain was a relief after the months of him awkwardly hitting on her. “We’ll be at New Mars soon and you’ll get what’s coming to you.”
The United Martian Empire (UME) Camlann was a Starcruiser class ship, with a crew of twenty-three. Her mission was to explore the other edges of the galaxy for any and all resources that could help in their war against the Ares Republic.
“Alfred, take a walk.” Doctor Anson made sure the man knew it wasn’t a suggestion.
Waiting until he’d left, Nessa said, “Peri, if you’re here to tell me how much you’ve always hated me I don’t want to hear it.”
The perfectly androgynous face of the ship’s Doctor broke into a smile. “You’re an idiot Muldune, but I don’t hate you. I agree with what you did, but they expect us medical types to be Peacers.” It was one of the worst insults for a Martian to be called a Peacer. Peace would only happen when the Empire’s enemies were all dead. Any other opinion was heresy.
The Doctor shook their head in either annoyance or amusement, Nessa couldn’t tell, and added, “I just wanted to tell you I’ve looked over the logs and I’m going to testify for you at your court-martial.”
“But that could get you thrown in here with me.”
“Doubt it. There are perks to one of my fathers being an Admiral. I’m not the only one who thinks the Captain went too far this time.”
Lifting her hand, Nessa said, “No. Shut up. Until we’re safely in dock on New Mars, I don’t want to hear about it and I don’t think you should talk about it either.” Pointing at her ears and then the walls, Nessa added, “What you’re saying could be taken as the M word and you know how the Captain doesn’t like that word.” The last person to hint at mutiny had been spaced without a trial. Her multiple commendations, stellar military record, and Red Star of Honour were the only reason Nessa wasn’t sleeping with meteors.
”Fine, but you’re not alone in this and I wanted you to know that.” Peri smiled again and turned to leave.
“Thank you. Old friend.” They’d served together for nearly twenty years, since Nessa’s first tour of duty when she was a green fifteen-year-old ensign.
Alfred walked back in and started saying crude things about the Doctor. Nessa ignored him; she was doing the same thing she’d done countless times since she’d been put in here. She went over the incident to see what she could have done differently.
They were pushing the limits of known space when they’d gotten a distress call. It was old earth Morse code. When they arrived at the coordinates they found three ships; an Ares Bird-of-Prey, an ancient frigate and a third ship they’d never seen before.
The ancient frigate was what was giving off the distress code. It must have been five hundred or more years old. Nessa’s first mistake was to suggest that the frigate might have star-maps that could lead them back to earth. The Captain had laughed at her and mocked her for her silly superstitions. He was one of the many Martians who were convinced all sentient life had evolved on New Mars.
They’d hailed the Aresian ship and received no answer, but when they hailed the unknown ship it answered with what sounded like a riddle.
Myrddin searches for Arthur
It was all they’d say. It seemed like it was a recording on repeat. When the mysterious ship opened its gunports, the Captain had ordered her to open fire. She hesitated and she still didn’t know why. It was like she froze. The Captain had thrown her to the side and fired on the ship himself.
It had done nothing, their weapons didn’t even dent the ship. The Captain was furious and ordered her to fire on the Aresian ship. Their stardrive was powered by antimatter and the explosion would be more powerful than their weapons.
It was at that point that she’d ruined her career by saying, “Sir, we can’t. If those aliens are powerful enough to take a full blast from our ion cannons, we need to get access to their tech, not blow it up.” And she’d made it worse by adding, “Not to mention that frigate could hold the key to finding our original home world.”
“New Mars is my home world you Peacer trash. Take the traitor to the brig.” To the security guards credit, they both looked uncomfortable jailing their commanding officer. The captain had blown up Aresian ship and the frigate with one hit. The alien ship had given off one unintelligible message before it exploded. The Camlann barely made it out on time, thanks to its top of the line Stardrive.
Now she was on her way to a court martial and, if she was lucky, a life time sentence of hard labour on some mining asteroid. If she was unlucky, she’d be put in the Colosseum for sport.
Nessa felt the telltale wobble of the Camlann’s Stardrive powering down and looked forward to once again seeing the planets of the New Mars system; it was the crown jewel of the empire.
The ship shook violently and all she could see out the porthole was an asteroid field. Something was wrong.
“Brace for impact. We seem to have gone off course.” The Captain’s voice sounded calm.
Nessa felt sick. There’s no way they’d been off course. Out her porthole, all Nessa could see was darkness and meteors; she should have been able to see New Mars, it’s yellow dwarf and the other five inhabited planets.
Something had happened. The Captain’s voice came back on, “Oh Gods! What have they done!”