Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 3

“A fight?” I asked.

“Yeah, scavenger rules say that the first person to a wreck has the rights to it,” Onyx said, shrugging, grabbing a bag and filling it with medical supplies.

“Yeah, but we ain’t scavengers we’re thieves!” exclaimed the teenager from earlier. She had a long loose coat and I could see several guns and a lot of knives.

“What does that mean?” I asked, trying to sound timid and hide my excitement. It had been a while since I’d been in a fight.

Diamond answered as everyone started strapping themselves into seats. “It means we dock with the Rainbow and beat the shit out of the Mountain and his crew.”

The older man came over the coms, “We’re about to dock. Hold on. This is going to be bumpy.”

“Why not blast them?” I asked.

“First off, my ship doesn’t have weapons. Second, if they did we’d be risking hitting the Rainbow and that’s a terrible idea. Third, I want to teach those chumps a lesson and no one learns when they’re dead.”

Onyx leaned over to me from his chair and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll stick with me and I’ll protect you while you’re making the repairs.” I glanced at his bare shoulders and the contour of his arms. He was in good shape, good enough to make my heart do double time anyway, but a seasoned fighter he wasn’t. The tell was in how he leaned away from the gun on his own hip. Like he’d rather be anywhere but touching it.

Trying not to sound condescending or fake, I said, “I’m glad to have you watching my back.”

“Um. I think he’s been watching a lot more than that,” said the teenager.

“Sphene, shut up.” Onyx blushed as he chastised her.

“Oh come on, brother. That man is very good looking and obviously has a thing for you. Now you both know you like each other and that should make things easier.” It was my turn to blush.

“Goodness, you’re young,” Diamond said and whistled. “Nothing is going to make these two’s affection easier.”

“We’ve docked. May the sun shine on you,” the voice over the coms said.

We all unlatched our restraints and Diamond got a large familiar case from the corner. “Here’s your favourite tools. Should be everything you need in there.”

As we got ready to open the airlock, Diamond put on her holo-emitter and pulled out a long stun baton. Sphene was holding a large bat of some sort. I have no idea where she was hiding it.

The door opened and we were off. 

The Rainbow wasn’t large; it had a bridge at the front with three seats, a triple bunk room, a washroom, a tiny nook that served as the kitchen, and an engine room in the back.

The ship was designed to be piloted by three people; an engineer, a gunner, and a psychic. The jump drive attached to the ship could go anywhere in the solar system in seconds, but without a psychic, there was no way to do the math required. Most regular ships used the jump gates that took the math out of the equation, so to speak.

The two airlock hatches were between the kitchen nook and the engine room. The other crew had docked on the starboard and we’d docked on the port. The double docking ports allowed for the ships to connect and do longer jumps. At least that was the theory. I’d never been involved in the inter-system jumps and never met anyone who’d come back. It also allowed for adding storage or personnel carrier pods.

The Mountain must have been more cautious than Diamond because we were already onboard and ready to protect the small ship before they opened their airlock. Diamond was on the side of the kitchen and living quarters, Onyx tried to look intimidating on the other side, blocking me from view as I fixed the engine, and Sphene stood in our airlock.

I expected a gunfight, instead I got a tense standoff. The first person I saw coming out of the airlock looked less like a mountain and more like a hill, or bump. He came to midway up my chest. His deep voice however left no ambiguity as to who he was, “Diamond you old jackass, did you really risk decompression and the cold of space to beat us to this thing?”

They’d had no idea that the ship had air or that it didn’t have any hole to the outside. That was either reckless or brave. Not much difference there.

“Yeah and my bet paid off, as usual. You gonna fight us? Sphene would love another shot at your daughter.”

I tried not to laugh as I ran diagnostics. I had disabled the ship and added a code that no one but me could know. With enough time and the right computer it could be unlocked, but I didn’t need either.

“You can’t possibly think you can fix this thing or pilot it?” The Mountain said. I punctuated his words by turning on the ship’s main power. “Well, you can’t possibly pilot it.”

“And you can?” Diamond asked.

“I can’t, but I hired someone who can.” The words made me go cold. The only people who could pilot this ship were Black-Sun agents or Black-Sun deserters like me.

I turned on the protective shield for the engine room a split second before the stun grenade went off. Diamond, Sphene, and the Mountain fell to the ground. Onyx yelped and walked into the forcefield. “Why would they knockout their own people?”

“They didn’t. They invited Black-Sun to the party. Probably a Specter.” 

Onyx pulled out his gun and tried to look brave. Specters were Black-Suns assassins and cleanup crew. They were the boogeyman that other boogeymen feared.

“Clever turning on the shield to stop the stun grenade, but you won’t live long enough to gloat,” the Specter said as he walked through the shield. They had a form of phasing that let them go through anything. 

To Onyx’s credit he threw a punch that connected and I heard a crack before he fell to the ground unconscious.

Read Next Chapter (April 2021)

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 2

This time I woke up on a bed. It was a raised hospital bed, but still a bed. I smelled the spaghetti before I opened my eyes.

“I’m not tied up. You must trust me.” I just lay there trying my best to stop everything from spinning. “Can you ask the pilot to stop doing loop-de-loops?”

A laughing voice replied, “That’s not the ship. You’re having a bad reaction to the sedative. Did you know you have an incredible immune system?”

I risked opening my eyes as I replied, “Doc, I just met you and you’re already checking out my immune system?” I was rewarded by a great smile.

“Will he be able to work?” Diamond’s voice was tight and she sounded worried.

“He’ll be fine. He needs some food and drink, but by the time we get there he’ll be fine.” The doctor sounded protective.

“So, Garnet, are you up for the challenge of repairing a ship that doesn’t exist?” Diamond asked.

The smart answer when the galaxy’s greatest thief asks you something depends on who you are. If you’re into adventure, you answer yes, if you’re not, you don’t. I, well, I chose to not be smart. “Why do you need the ship?”

“You’re so clever, you tell me.”

Shoving a bowl of spaghetti and a fork in front of me, the doctor made an eating motion. Maybe he thought I needed time to think or that I needed food before I fell unconscious. I answered before my first bite. “You need to steal something.”

The spaghetti was amazing. It might have been the extra garlic, the side effects of the sedative, or that I was a crappy cook, but it was like pure love and joy in my mouth.

“That was an easy guess. Try again.”

“Doc, if you cook like this all the time, I might have to marry you,” I said, ignoring Diamond.

“My name’s Onyx, at least it is here. First time I’ve been proposed to over my spaghetti.” He was blushing.

Sighing, Diamond said, “Wait until he tries your cheesecake. Now, if we’re done flirting?”

“Fine. I assume you need the ship, which I’d guess is high military or Black-Sun to infiltrate a government facility and steal something. Since it’s a small ship, I assume military tech, probably the schematics and not the actual thing.”

Diamond nodded. “They’ve apparently created a  device that can use the atoms from waste matter and reuse it to create nearly anything.”

I had never heard of any such tech, even in my time with Black-Star. If what she said was true, this tech could help millions in the outer planets with medicine, food, construction material… The possibilities were staggering.

“What do you plan on doing with it once you have it?” I hadn’t meant to say it in a challenging tone, but there it was. 

Diamond walked up to me and she smiled. It was a predatory smile, a smile that screamed mischief. It was probably meant to scare me or intimidate me, but it actually put me at ease.

“I aim to make sure every server, every computer, every watch with a stars-damned chip in it has a copy of the plans. I want this information spammed across every world in the system and I want everyone to have one of these things by the end of the year. If every household can make its own food, building material, medicine, and weapons; the government and cursed Black-Star will not only be brought down a peg, but they might have to start respecting the people.”

I’m not sure if she expected me to demand payment or act impressed, but she seemed pleased with herself. I simply nodded and replied, “I’m in.”

Onyx whooped with approval and brought me a glass of milk. “Milk?” I asked.

He shrugged and said, “You need the proteins and sugars. Also, it goes great with spaghetti.”

Once I had eaten, showered, and gotten dressed in fresh clothes, I heard Diamond’s voice over the ships PA; “Garnet to the bridge.”

The bridge wasn’t much more than a four person cockpit with standing room, if you crouched and didn’t mind being jostled. I took the engineer’s seat which gave basic readouts from the engine room.

Out the viewports, I saw what looked like a massive debris field. I recognized the emblems and makes of a dozen ships, Black-Star, government, Independents, and Zombie Raiders. The last weren’t zombies, or really raiders, but rich hippy environmental activists that liked to think they were important. 

“Where are we? This looks like quite the battle.”

“We’re around Yreld, at what was the site of the largest inner ring battle that no one knows about. You probably heard that Yreld had been devastated by a mutant locust plague, but the truth is much worse. The Independents had a base there and the Government decided to make an example of it. The planet and its three moons are now lifeless. No one who’s gone down to salvage has come back. Looks like the Independents and the Zombie Raiders didn’t go down without a fight.”

I knew all this. I was there. It was where I decided to defect from the Black-Star and fake my death. The ship flew into a hard to navigate section and through the view ports I saw my old 16-19 Rainbow, the ship that shouldn’t exist.

I was so fixated on the ship that I didn’t see the salvage ship with the big red crossbones painted on it’s hull. 

“Well shit. Looks like the Mountain made it here before us. Alright folks, get ready for a fight.”

Read Next Chapter


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 1


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 1

The blindfold was soft and smelled vaguely of strawberries. I could tell I was on a ship from the vibrations I could feel through my hands and feet, which were tied to a heavy metal chair. The smell of strawberries from the blindfold wasn’t strong enough to cover the smell of cooking. 

“You’re obviously not Galactic Police or Army,” I said wishing I was back on Viol. I had come to think of the backwater planet as home.

“Why would you think that?” The question was asked by a woman; she had a deep voice and sounded amused. 

“From the vibrations of the engine this is a Raft class ship with augmented long range engines.”

“Impressive.” The voice didn’t sound impressed but gloating.

“Also the police and military don’t use that much garlic in their tomato sauce.”

The woman laughed and so did three others. So there were four of them. From the laughter, the woman was joined by a young girl, an older man, and a younger man.

“If you aren’t military or police and you’re certainly not Black-Star, who are you and what do you want?” If they’d been Black-Star, I’d be already dead.

I’d figured out the knots on my hands but didn’t want to release them without knowing more of the layout and where everyone was. 

“If you had access to a 16-19 Rainbow that was broken, could you fix it?” The Rainbow was treated as a myth but I’d not only seen them, I’d piloted and fixed them.

“They don’t exist, but if they did, I could,” I lied. Never admit you know a myth really exists, it only leads to more questions.

“Cocky. Fine. There is a problem with this ship. What is it?” She asked the question with conviction, but I knew it was a trick.

“There’s nothing wrong with this ship. It’s purring great.” I paused before adding, “However, in order to add augmented engines on a Raft ship, you’d have to rebuild the engine hold. I’m going to guess that whoever did it was more concerned with speed. If you tried to activate your aft or fore thrusters for an emergency turn while in a jump, the entire ship would shut down.”

Another voice, the old man, “Well shit, that’s what happened?”

This was the point where I had to make a choice. It seemed like they wanted me because of my mechanical knowledge and experience. Did they know who and what I was before? Did they know the things I’d done? If they did, I’d have to kill them all and hope I could cover the traces up well enough.

“Can we trust you?” asked the woman.

I tried not to laugh, but I failed and it came out as a choked giggle. “I’m tied to a chair, I think you drugged me, and the only thing that smells stronger than the garlic in that sauce is the smell of ozone from your laser rifles. I’m the one who should have trust issues.”

“You can’t fault that logic. Although I’m a little offended at the shots about my sauce.” There was the younger man, he had a wonderfully light voice, like he didn’t have a care in the world. I wondered if it was an act or if he was genuinely that innocent.

“Fine,” the woman said and took off the blindfold. It took me a little longer than I expected for my eyes to adjust, maybe that was the sedative they gave me. When they did, in front of me were two older men, a young man, and a teenage girl.

All but one of the men were dressed as delivery people. The one who wasn’t wore silver tight pants with a shiny black shirt and a domino mask. I recognised him from the films and novels. It was the galaxy’s most notorious thief, Diamond Stars.

“So Diamond Stars is a woman,” I said, seeing the faint glow of the holo-emitter around the man. 

She turned off the holo and shook her head, “You saw the glow or you counted voices.”

“Both. What does Diamond Stars want with me?”

“Well you see… that’s kinda my fault.” The old man looked sheepish but I recognized him as one of the landowners on Viol. “I heard your reputation and sent a friend over with a puzzle for you.”

“The jump limiter. I thought that was odd. Wouldn’t tell me what ship it was for. It’s definitely not this one.” I took a few moments to pretend I hadn’t already guessed and then added, “Oh you’ve found what you think is a 16-19 Rainbow and want me to fix it.”

“Damn, he is good.” My eyes turned to the man who I’d deemed the young man; he was in his early thirties like me and was standing at the galley kitchen with an apron and a chef’s hat. The hat had the words, Kiss the Chef written on them in permanent marker.

Other things were said at that time that I didn’t hear, when my eyes fixed on his face everything else became noise. He had a little black stubble on a strong jaw but what made him truly handsome were his eye crinkles and smile lines. He was a man who’d laughed and smiled a lot, his deep hazel eyes and perfect bronze skin didn’t hurt.

The man suddenly dropped his knife and ran around the little kitchen island. He grabbed a bag from beside me and I was vaguely aware of a loud thumping. Was it my heart or my ears? I wasn’t sure.

He mouthed something about a sedative and I did something I had never done before, I said the first thing that came to my head, they came out slurred,  “You’re pretty… Pretty good looking… I like your smile… well, not that one… it’s much too upside down for me.” My perception tilted wildly as if the ship were being thrown around but no one else moved and then the world became all bendy and I lost consciousness.

Read Chapter 2


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Serial Story 2021 – Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist

Hello My Imaginary friends and readers,

I asked you what you wanted for this years serial story. You were very clear in what you wanted.

What should be the genre of the 2021 Serial Story?

Romance 42.31%

What should be the setting of 2021’s Serial Story?

Future Science Fiction (Star Trek, Firefly, etc.) 33.33%

What should the main character be?

Regular Human 37.50%

What should be the conflict?

Character vs. Self 44%

With that I give you this year’s serial story blurb:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist

Garnet never expected he’d be kidnapped, especially not by the System’s most notorious thief Diamond Stars. He was supposed to be in hiding from his previous life and employers, living quietly as a glorified spaceship mechanic. Diamond wants him to join a heist; it’s a bad idea but there’s something enticing about the offer and it’s not just the handsome Doctor. 

Can Diamond’s crew pull off the greatest heist in the galaxy or will they be sidetracked by what they discover along the way?

This should be an interesting and fun year.

Thank you,

Éric

The Christmas Setup – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas Setup.

Story

Borrowing partly from indie slice of life and partly from Christmas romances, this is an easy to watch mix of the two. There’s a mystery and a little angst, but overall wasn’t too bad. There are two parts that I didn’t like. I hate the trope of forcing a character to go on stage and then they rock it. If someone doesn’t want to do it, they shouldn’t be pressured. The second time it happened the character didn’t even do what they were supposed to.

I did however love the mirroring in the story of the train station and the main characters. That was cute and awesome.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Fran Drescher plays the perfect meddling mother. She’s never hurtful and she’s somehow always respectful. A nice change of pace for this character archetype. The rest of the cast is both pretty and easy to watch. The characters are believable and overall pretty authentic. I really liked the dynamic of the brothers and how they had to work at understanding each other.

I also like that the main couple being gay didn’t add to the drama but still influenced the character’s stories and conversations.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie had an interesting effect. I laughed and loved the clever dialogue… but I don’t remember any of it. It was fast and clever and never took itself seriously.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot, the clothes were fantastic, and locations were stunning. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the “Northern Lights” scene that looked pretty fake.

The music was good if not memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was fun to watch. It kept my 18 month old completely enthralled. I’m thinking it was the banter, but it could have been my popcorn. The entire family liked it and I hope there will be more like it in the future.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adorable Christmas love story that is made all the better by wonderful dialogue and authentic representation. I liked this one and look forward to buying a copy for annual watching.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5