Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 10


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 10: Trapped, Escaped, and Pirates (again) 

“And now, so must you!” Annie mimicked. “That’s overdramatic and a little clichéd.” She’d met the Technomancer a few times before. He’d always come off as a nerdy goof. That wasn’t the air he was projecting today though. 

“Don’t mock me child.” The man looked frustrated.

“So… what’s your plan? Are you going to rip us apart atom by atom?” Seren seemed annoyed and more curious than frightened.

“No. Absolutely not. I will turn off this section of the repository and you can die when the sun implodes. It’ll be a little over a day.” With those words he stepped back and the door closed. Annie ran for the door but couldn’t get out. The lights and computer terminal went dark.

The only light was from their headlamps and portable computers. 

“So what are you two planning?” Jan asked. When Seren and Annie didn’t say anything Jan scoffed and said, “I’ve known both of you since we were kids. There’s no way you sat through that without thinking of a plan.”

“Well…” Seren said. “Maybe if we can connect with another part of the repository with our computers we can reroute power.”

“I was going to use the battery in my computer to try and power the door,” Annie replied.

“Great, both of you get to work and I’ll take a nap,” Jan said, stretching out on the floor.

It was a few hours before Jan heard a pair of curses. Neither method had worked. 

Seren said, “There’s some sort of interference, every time I think I’ve connected, something cuts me off.”

Annie said, “I can power the door but it’s locked somehow and I can’t power it and disable the lock.”

“What if we asked for help?” Jan’s question seemed to surprise the other two. They swung their heads around to stare at them.

“Um… Who are we going to ask?” Annie questioned. 

“Isn’t there anyway to ask the repository or Hoku?”

It looked like Annie was going to argue but then she just smiled and said, “Yes. That’s brilliant. You’re brilliant. All we have to do is connect to the repository not the systems.”

“Wouldn’t the Technomancer have thought of that?” asked Annie skeptically.

“That arrogant gas planet wouldn’t think of talking to the repository like it was a person. He still refers to her as an it like the Mother-of-All-Stars was only some sort of computer instead of the spirit of an entire civilization.” Jan started calmly but as they spoke, they became angrier at the thoughtlessness of the Technomancers and their ancestors. 

“Okay let’s give it a try,” Seren tapped away at her computer. After what felt like too long a time the same black screen with green text appeared on Seren’s computer.

“Hello again. Why have you disabled terminal 13?”

“We didn’t. The technomancer did.”

“Designation not recognized.” 

Seren looked around and wondered how to explain that they were not the same. “There were four of us in this room. Now there are three. The other isn’t our friend, he wants to destroy the mother-of-stars.”

“That is illogical. Can you stop him?”

The three friends looked at each other and shrugged. “I don’t know, but we have to try.”

It must have been the right answer, the doors opened and the floor showed arrows. Jan smilled and said, “Lets follow. Seren, can you keep the link on your computer?”

“I think so. Why?” 

As they ran following the arrows, Jan said, “If the Technomancers learned everything from the repository than we, and your Dad, are going to need to study quickly to beat him.”

Laughing, Annie said, “And you say we’re the ones that always have a plan.”

The arrows didn’t lead them back to the transportation room they’d been in. Instead it brought them to a larger but almost identical room. Again, nothing was in the room but a raised circular platform and that’s where the arrows ended.

Shrugging, the three of them stood on the platform and waited. The first time they teleported there was no sound or feeling but this time there was a bright flash of light and a slight feeling of nausea. 

When Seren’s eyes adjusted she was in her father’s lab. Her father was looking at her like she’d just appeared out of thin air, which she had. “Matter teleportation is supposed to be impossible. How, where…” he trailed off as he pulled her in for a hug. 

“It’s a lot to explain. We need to stop the Technomancer from destroying the planet and the station.” She shoved the computer at him and started to explain. When she was done she looked around and said, “Where are the others?”

“You’re the only one that teleported here.”

Just as she was reaching for her communicator, Jan’s voice came over the intercom, “Seren and Annie, are you there?”

“I’m here but I don’t know where Annie went. I’ve filled my Dad in on what’s happening.” She saw that her Dad was already talking with the repository.

“Great. I’m with the Captain. Apparently teleporting into his office was enough to convince him. Whatever the Technomancer did, his ship is already gone. The captain has no idea what he did.”

Mr. Plentyn interrupted with, “I’m trying to get a more direct link between us, the station’s sun, and the repository. I think the station’s sun is like a toddler and if I can get the repository to help it, it can run a diagnostic.”

The alarms went off and another voice came over the intercom, “Pirates have been spotted. All pilots to fighters, everyone else to your stations.”

Read Next Chapter (November)


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 9


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 9: Research, Reveals, and Reactions.

The screen sat there blinking, “Hello.” 

The three of them looked at each other and eventually it was Seren who said, “Hello.” They all watched the screen waiting for something to happen.

Nothing did and Jan asked, “How does it know our language?” The others shrugged and they added, “It even has the same configuration as our keyboards.” They point to the old-fashioned looking keyboard in front of the screen.

Feeling silly, Seren said, “Maybe it’s not voice activated?” She typed in, “Hello”.

They once again looked at the screen, this time their text appeared under the first hello and the screen replied with, “It has been 3,920,002 planetary rotations since your last session. Welcome back.”

“Assuming the same amount of days in a year that’s just shy of ten thousand seven hundred and forty years.” Annie thought that number sounded familiar as she said it, but couldn’t place it.

“Would you like to continue with your last session?” The screen’s green text blinked.

Seren looked at the other two and typed, “Yes.”

What appeared next was an interactive, multimedia document that showed the creation of a micro-star. It was absolutely fascinating. Seren had always assumed that the stars were created by compressing the planet or moon until it was so dense it self-combusted. She was completely wrong. The process involved taking a small piece of a micro-stars plasma and introducing it into the planet. Over the next year the piece grew and expanded, eating the planet from the inside and finally bursting through the crust to become a viable micro-star for space travel.

“Ten thousand years. The Great Techo-Mage! This is where they got all their information.”

“That means that this is the birth place of our civilisation,” Jan sat back and rubbed their face absently.

“Do you know anything about the Children of the Stars?” Seren typed.

“Each micro-star is a unique part of the parent and therefore equivalent to a child.” 

“That’s not helpful,” quipped Annie.

Seren tried something different, “What are you?”

“I am the Mother of Stars. Born from the collective of my people.” The screen changed again to a long text with images and information about the original inhabitants of this planet. They’d been very similar to Seren and the other Children but instead of taking to space they discovered a way to save their minds into a giant supercomputer. They developed alloys that could self-heal and an army of sentient robots to protect it. They hollowed out their own planet and installed a micro-star.

When they uploaded themselves, they discovered that the micro-star was sentient. All suns were sentient. Over time and interfacing they learned from each other and in the end the consciousness of the people merged with that of the star becoming something else completely.

This new entity made it it’s goal to teach others how to speak with and become stars.

“But what happened? Why did it stop?” Jan asked.

“According to this it got stuck in the void between galaxies. Something to do with a gravity well,” Seren did some more typing. 

“So Hokulua was just coming home to tell mum what was going on?” Annie sounded sad.

The screen flicked and moved quickly as Seren typed question after question. Finally she said, “Oh Mother… We did this.”

“What?” the other two said at once.

“The Great Techno-Mage did this. They trapped the Mother so she couldn’t tell anyone else and then took all the information and a plasma sample. All the technology our civilization is built on is from here and we hid it.” Seren felt sick at the idea.

“But why did the micro-stars not come back before Hokulua?” Annie asked.

From behind them someone cleared their throat. The man was tall and thin, his dark cloak and robe sparkled like the stars. His eyes were cold and distant, his sneer and disgust weren’t. “Because the Mother wants to teach everyone to be like her. We can’t let the other tribes and the pirates have the same technology as us.”

“Why not?” Annie stood defiantly in front of their ship’s Techno-Mage.

“We were almost wiped out. There were less than a thousand of us on half a dozen crumbling stations. We were the first to escape our dying planet but we were not meant for space. We were dying and if the others had the same technology, we’d be no better than we were. Our first mission as Techno-Mages was to protect the Children.”

“That was ten thousand years ago. We’re spread out over the entire universe. There are billions of us with powerful stations and… surely we can let the Mother go.” Seren felt disgusted. Her love of archeology was born from a civilization that used it to enslave. Their whole way of life was based on stealing and exploiting.

“We’ve spent ten thousand years trying to make sure the micro-stars stay quiet, subdued, and controllable. We hadn’t anticipated that the new AI would allow the stars to communicate. Once the Mother analyzes the data from the station it will know what we’ve done and it will be furious. It must be contained or destroyed. And now… so must you.”

Read Next Chapter


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 8


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 8: Split the party, translate the ruins, and take a nap.

It was dark. Annie couldn’t see anything. It was the kind of darkness that sent people into a panic, but not Annie. She’d spent most of her teenage years in a small ship in space or crawling through maintenance vents. She took a deep breath and reached for her flashlight. She didn’t want to reach too quickly in case there was something in there with her or the area was unstable. 

Her flashlight was attached to a headband and she put it on her head and flicked the switch. She’d expected ancient ruins with pictographs on the walls. Something like an temple or pyramid. This wasn’t anything like that. She was in a small room with grey walls and a door with no handle. There was a large black rectangle next to the door that she assumed was a control panel. She moved towards it and noticed that the floors were made of metal.   

“I’ve been watching too many vids and reading too many fics,” she chastised herself. Although there was an improbable amount of crumbling trapped temples in the universe, they still were the minority.

The panel next to the door didn’t activate when she touched it and the rest of the room seemed pretty barren except for the spot she appeared in. That was exactly the same as the spot where she’d disappeared. The same markings that must have been a teleportation device or really smooth trap door.

She decided the best thing to do was wait. Annie knew that Seren would rush in and join her quickly unless Jan stopped her. Jan was both cautious and reasonable. It would make exploration longer but safer and Annie was okay with that.

It was just a matter of time. The room was secure; there was nothing for her to do but pry open the door so she decided to take a nap.

***

The hardest part about deciphering the symbols where Annie had disappeared was how long it took. Seren wasn’t a fan of waiting around and after they’d cleared the jungle growth from the square it was all about patience and decoding. It was a puzzle that should have excited her but she was worried about her friend.

They’d tried to reach her through coms but either she couldn’t answer or something was blocking the signal.

The symbols were trinary code. Similar to computer code but with a little more nuance. The markings quickly and efficiently described that the square was a teleportation device.

“Let’s go!” she said once they had the translation.

“This thing predates our civilization. How do we know it still works? Maybe it just transported her into space or underwater or into magma?” Jan was much too reasonable.

“Do you want to stay here?” Seren asked. She knew it was a mean question. No one wanted to be left behind.

They stood in the right place and everything went black. They waited and when there was no change in temperature or pressure they turned on their head lights.

The room was non-descript and there was a body in the corner. Seren threw herself at Annie saying, “Annie. Oh Annie.”

Groggily Annie responded with, “Nice to see you too. Took you long enough.”

“You’re a real jerk, you know that?” Jan said laughing. “You know it’s a two way teleporter?”

“I guessed but didn’t want to risk it being one of those sequential things where it sends me further away.”

The three of them did a much more thorough look around and found that the place had little to offer. 

“I don’t get it,” Seren exclaimed. “All we needed to do was walk into the right place and we were transported but the plants and vines weren’t.”

Annie nodded and added, “Also why aren’t there any animals in here? I can’t believe that a bird or small creature didn’t scurry across it.”

There was nothing in the room and nothing to indicate anything special. Finally, they decided to force open the door. It slipped gently into the wall, very similar to the design used by their own ships. It wasn’t hard to move, and on the other side of the door was a long corridor.

“No signage at all. How did these people find their way?” Jan asked.

“They might have been less dependant on sight and more dependant on smells or sounds?” Annie suggested. 

“Or whatever powers this place is shut down or dead and all the signage was projected or on screens.” Seren pointed at more black rectangles that looked like control panels. But the idea of smells and sounds made her wonder. “Have you noticed something about the air?”

“It’s clean. Not musty or shut in, but completely fresh. No outdoor smells either.” Jan looked surprised. “That means there’s something purifying the air.”

“So if something is keeping up life support but not signage or doors that means?” Annie asked and the other two shrugged.

They walked down a few more corridors without trying any of the doors. They were hoping to come across a control room or better, a library.

“This place is starting to feel familiar.” Seren couldn’t place why.

Annie, however, said, “It’s the same layout as the engineering floors of the Hokulua station.”

Taking the lead, Jan said, “That means there’s a control room just over this way.”

They ran towards the control room and opened the door. Inside, they expected a lot of computer equipment, but instead there was one screen attached to a small grey cube.

The screen turned on as they came inside and flashed several distorted images before simply showing green letters on black that said, “Hello.”

Read Next Chapter


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 7


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 7: Landing, Walking, and Disappearing.

“Holy Mother-Of-Stars, the micro-star is sentient?” Annie’s surprise was uttered in a silent voice as they rushed through space. The station hadn’t sent anyone to escort them back yet and Annie was hurrying to make sure that didn’t happen.

“Yes, and we think the techno-mages having been hiding it the whole time.” Seren sighed at the implication that she’d come to believe. Their civilization, who’s guiding principle was to learn about and respect life, prospered on slavery.

They told each other everything that had happened and even after Annie explained that the star shaped ships had saved someone, they all held their breath as they passed the line of ships orbiting the planet.

When they’d passed the star shaped ships, Jan said, “Wow. There are a lot of them.” They were right; the ships seemed to have completely surrounded the planet with a hole where the station was transmitting something to the surface.

As the passed the line of ships, they saw the planet. Lush and green, it seemed to have more vegetation than anything else. The oceans were only forty percent of the planet.

Scans showed that under the plant life were ancient metropolises. “This planet must have housed hundreds of billions of people.” Seren sounded excited.

“Whoa! Can a planet even sustain that many people?” Jan asked.

Annie was the one who answered, “Not for long. I’m guessing they either left or died out.”

There were cities all over the planet according to the scans, but eight metropolises dominated the landscape. The eight formed a star pattern similar to the ships.

Scans also showed that each city had a giant building that hadn’t decayed and was shielded from sensors.

In the centre of the geographical star was an enormous version of these buildings. It was larger than most cities on the planets they’d visited. It was also where the station was transmitting information.

“Where should we land?” Annie asked, fully expecting the answer.

“We should go to the largest one. If the station is sending a signal, there must be someone to receive it,” Seren said, while taking deeper scans of the planet.

Jan had been looking at their screen and finally asked, “How did they get this much material? Those buildings are impossibly big. I can’t find any quarries or sign they recycled parts of the cities.”

“We’ll have to ask them when we get there.” Seren was practically vibrating in her seat. Annie expected her to dash towards the door and jump out.

The building was massive and had no obvious doors or landing places. The transmissions from the station was being sent to a small area of the building. Since it was the only reference they had, they landed nearby.

There was a small opening in the jungle that let them land, but the walk to their destination was going to be over harsh terrain. They had machetes to cut through vines in the survival packs but kept them sheathed. It was standard procedure to avoid slicing a sentient tree by accident. There were no paths, which was unusual. It meant there were no large animals.

The planet was definitely not dead, however, and they could hear bird songs and other small creatures.

“The larger animals would have no way to get up here!” Annie exclaimed. “We might look like we’re in a jungle, but we’re on a giant building’s roof. Big animals wouldn’t come up here since there are no large water sources.”

Jan looked impressed. “I thought you weren’t paying attention in school, spacebird.”

“I love flying, but I spent a lot of time with Seren and her curiosity is contagious.” They all laughed.

The laughter startled a small flock of birds and the sound of their wings was enough to bring the three back on task. They walked for over an hour before they reached the middle of the building, according to their devices.

There was no indication in the foliage or the ground to show this was the spot. Seren took out a scanner that would let them see what was under all the plant life.

She synced it to her computer and scanned. Watching the screen of her computer, she could see there was something under the plants, but it must have been blocking everything out. Just as she was getting frustrated, she saw an outline of a square.

Annie watched from over her shoulder and said, “I’ll go check it out.” She walked over to the square and started feeling for it. It was definitely an indent. She crawled slowly forward and when she was fully inside the square, she disappeared.

Seren yelped and ran forwards to help Annie. Jan’s strong arms stopped her and said, “Wait. If she’s been disintegrated or hurt, running into the same trap isn’t going to help. We need to study it some more.”

Her heart hurt at not rushing to help her friend but Jan was right and they had to be careful out here. She got closer and started to run scans on the area, hoping beyond hope she hadn’t lost Annie.

Read Next


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 6


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 6: Escape from Hokulua Station

Annie tensed as Alpha 4 plummeted towards the station. A ship that size would destroy a large chunk of the ring. Without coms, there was no way to evacuate the area. When one of the ships shaped like stars swooped in and caught Alpha 4 in a beam of light, she let go a large sigh. Not only did the ships save the station and Alpha 4, they also proved they weren’t hostile.

“Echo 2 and 3, go get Alpha 4 from our… guests? Sir, can we stand down?”

Annie and Echo 3 got Alpha 4 with their tethers and they heard the captains voice, “This is the captain. Give me a full report, Echo leader.”

“Yes sir. Nice to hear your voice.” Echo leader told the captain about the ships shaped like stars and the mysterious planet in Voidspace with its own star. How one of the ships saved one of their own and hadn’t attacked. They just sat waiting. When he was finished, he paused and said, “Wait a second. We have movement. The ships are leaving and taking orbit around the planet.”

“Come home, fighters. Looks like we have a mystery to discover on that planet.”

The fighters were exhausted. Keeping that level of focus for so long was draining, especially without the adrenalin of combat.

Annie was exhausted, stinky, and wanted nothing more than to go for a swim. Her brother met her at her docking spot. “Thank the stars, you’re okay.” He hugged her and added, “Scratch that; I think you’ve gone bad!” and comicly plugged his nose.

They walked towards the exit and passed Echo leader, they nodded at him and kept going. The captain passed by nodded and stopped to talk with Echo leader. Their voices carried.

“What do you mean, no?” Echo leader was a calm person and to hear him yell was weird.

He stormed towards them and Annie couldn’t help herself. “What happened?”

Giving her a confused look and sighing, he said, “The spineless sludge is refusing to send anyone to the planet.”

“Why?”

“Orders from the head of the techno-mages. How could they even get orders without our coms working?” He made a rude noise towards the Captain and continued on his way.

Annie activated her ear piece and asked Hoku where Seren Plentyn was. When it told her a docking bay, Annie told her brother, “I got to go. Love you.”

Her brother nodded and let her go. The docking bay wasn’t too far away and when Annie got there she saw that Seren, Jan, and Seren’s dad were talking about something.

Not wanting to bother them, she went to the control station and started procedures to launch a small shuttle. She made sure it wasn’t the same one that was patched into coms. While they were running, she took a backpack with survival equipment and food rations. On whim she grabbed three more.

Sneaking towards the ships, she put the backpacks away and started keying in her access codes and authorisation. She knew Tower was going to question her and she hoped she could get the docking doors open fast enough to get out.

As the ship was powering up, she heard footsteps. “Annie, what are you doing?” Seren smiled; somehow that girl knew exactly what Annie was thinking.

“I’m going to see what’s on that planet. Want to come?”

Jan’s eyes went wide and said, “I’m not sure-”

Seren cut them off saying, “Absolutely!” She walked over to one of the co-pilots seats and started to help. “Let me guess, the Captain refuses to go investigate?”

“Yeah. How’d you know?” Annie was amazed. Seren was great at logic and deduction but this seemed like a leap.

“Long story. Let’s get out of the station and I’ll tell you on the way.”

Annie turned away from flight prep and said, “You coming?”

With a dramatic sigh, Jan went and sat in the second co-pilot seat. The shuttle flew easier with three, but could be flown with one if necessary. Annie was glad there were three of them.

“Shuttlecraft Roddenberry. You are not cleared for launch. No one is to leave the station.”

Annie was going to say something but Seren replied instead, “This is shuttle Roddenberry. If you think I’m not going down there, you need to check the oxygen levels over there, Tower.”

“Seren. I should have known. Orders are from the head of the tecno-mages. No one goes down there. Tower has locked the doors, please power down.”

Turning off the coms, Seren said, “I think I have an idea. Get ready to punch it.” She opened a text com to Hoku, hoping the AI assistant was part of or in contact with the micro-sun. “Please,” she typed, “We want to help you. Let us get down there and find a way.”

There was no change and just as they were all about to give up, the bay doors opened. A quick move by Annie and they were rushing through space with a lot to talk about.

Read Next


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 5


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 5: Throwing Shade or Illuminating History

The blood drained from Mr. Plentyn’s face. “How… How…” he trailed off.

“It’s the only thing that fits all the facts,” Seren felt ill.

Looking from one to the other, Jan asked, “But how could a sun be alive? How would you even go about making a living sun?”

Hokulua Station was built along the principles of stations just like it that the Children of the Stars had used for near ten thousand years. The stories said that originally the stations were stuck in one small sector of space, taking generations to go from one system to the other. Inter-Galaxy travel was impossible.

Constant war with pirates and other clans had nearly wiped them out. They were, as a people, on the brink of extinction.

A great Techno-Mage changed all that by developing a sustained cold fusion technique that when applied to a solid, barren, planet would create a micro-star. They guarded the secret of creating stars greedily and only rarely sell micro-stars to other clans, rivals, or species.

The micro-stars allowed faster travel, bigger stations, faster computers, and more powerful weapons. The creation changed the Children from a dying clan into one of the most prolific explorers, scientists, and groups in the known universe.

“I don’t know, but I also don’t know how to go about making a stable non-sentient star either.”

“Dad. Do you think this is a special case or do you think all the stars are…” Seren trailed off unable to say the words.

Jan’s eye went wide at the implication that their entire society had been exploiting living creatures as a power source and asked, “What’s different about this station that would allow the star to communicate?”

They all paused and thought about what they knew about the systems. It was Mr. Plentyn who said, “The power couplings!”

Seren caught on and continued with, “They changed how the power from the star is used. Most stations had secondary generators that would convert the power from the star to a stable current. The new power couplings just use the raw energy and store some in case of fluctuations.”

“But not all the systems use this method.” Mr Plentyn tapped furiously at his computer.

Jan shook their head and jumped to the obvious conclusion, “Just the ones we’ve lost control of?”

“Warning: entering Voidspace. Brace yourselves.” The station alert was the mechanical voice of Hoku but sounded smoother than it should.

Jan cursed and closed their eyes. When the ship had settled down, the captain contacted Mr. Pletyn over the coms, “Whatever you did, good job. We have almost all systems back. Can you get Coms up? We need to get in contact with our ships.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

The moment they’d come out of Voidspace, Seren had started to look at what the affected systems were doing. “Dad,” she said “coms aren’t down. They’re in use. I’ve never seen such a large data exchange. All the nodes are in use.”

“Well, that I can fix. Come with me, kids.”

As they walked towards the docking bays, Jan asked, “Where was the signal going?”

Seren smiled, “It seems to be pointed at something close by. From the intensity and spread, I’m guessing a planet or other station.”

“Why are you smiling?”

“If it can talk to someone, then that means we can talk to it.”

“What are you planning?” Jan couldn’t help but smirk, Seren’s excitement was contagious.

“I want to know where that signal is going.”

Mr. Plentyn put them to work. They connected the internal coms to the transmitter on one of the larger transport ships in the docking bay. After they were done, he contacted the captain, “Captain. You don’t have data or coms based mapping, but you have voice.”

They listened to the chatter.

“Echo 2 and 3, go get Alpha four from our… guests? Sir, can we stand down?”

“This is the captain. Give me a full report Echo leader.”

“Yes sir. Nice to hear your voice.” Echo leader told the captain about the ships shaped like stars and the mysterious planet in Voidspace with its own star. How one of the ships saved one of their own and haven’t attacked. They just sat waiting. When he was finished he paused and said, “Wait a second. We have movement. The ships are leaving and taking orbit around the planet.”

“Come home fighters. Looks like we have a mystery to discover on that planet.”

The three of them walked away from the shuttle and sat in a corner of the docking bay. None of the fighters were docked in this bay. It was for transport ships only.

“We need to tell the captain.” Jan said, sounding like the military officer they were determined to be.

“We can’t do that,” Seren sounded sad and worried while still having an edge of excitement in her voice. “The captain would have to tell the Techno-Mage and we’re not sure if he knows.” The Techno-Mages gave up their names and identities when they joined the order. There was one on every station and in every ship. They kept the peace and kept things working, while creating wonders.

They argued between each other for a long while until finally Mr. Plentyn shrugged and said, “Plus this is all conjecture. There’s no way to prove what we’re saying. I need to do some investigating. Give me a day.” His eyes were sad and his head creased with worry. After they both agreed not to tell the captain he got up and left.

As Seren and Jan were walking out of the bay Seren saw a shadow move in a funny way. She turned and followed it to a small civilian transport. It was a short distance jumper that held four people.

They watched as the ship powered up and as the doors closed Seren pulled Jan on board.

Sitting in the pilot’s seat looking like she needed a nap and a bath was Annie.

“Annie what are you doing?” Seren smiled at the other girl.

“I’m going to see what’s on that planet. Want to come?”

Read Next


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 4.5

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Since I missed the update for April, here’s a bonus chapter.


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 4.5: All About Stars and Shapes

Seren

“I wanted to be a soldier not a repair-person,” Jan said, giving Mr. Plentyn a tool.

“Consider yourself part of the volunteer engineering corps,” her replied dryly.

Jan laughed and said, “I should be out there with the pilots.”

They stood in one of eight shield generating rooms. In theory, if one failed the others covered the difference. They should have been able to have minimal shields with only two functioning generators. None of them were working.

“Aern. We’ve lost control of the engines.” The commander’s voice was calm but barely controlled.

“If you just yell out everything that breaks, it distracts me from actually fixing anything.” There was no response from the commander.

After a few minutes of poking things with tools, he swore and said, “I can’t tell what’s going on.”

“What do you mean? You could re-build these systems from scratch.” Seren knew her father was an one of the best engineers in the fleet. He’d turned down multiple job offers in the station design corps for engineers. He said it was because he loved the challenge but she was fairly certain it was because he missed her mother and this reminded him of the time they used to do it together.

“Everything is working at peak performance, some of the systems are working better than they should. But those that are down aren’t broken. It’s like they just don’t understand what to do.”

Groaning, Jan said, “So it’s a code problem.”

“In that the hardware is fine, yes. I just don’t know how to get the station to do what I tell it.”

“Too bad you can’t bribe it. My little sister wouldn’t come out of her room in the morning if it wasn’t for her favourite cereal.”

“I suppose I could offer it some computer chips,” Mr. Plentyn said with a chuckle.

The three of them laughed and then he turned back to the computer with a sigh. He started tapping at the controls in a vain attempt to coax the station to function the way it was supposed to.

Seren couldn’t understand what was wrong. The AI seemed fine on the surface but what about the message they found? The message that was being transmitted through subspace modulations of the shields repeated, “fear, pain, death,” over and over.

“Dad. Can an AI feel pain?”

Looking weary and a little confused he said, “Not that I know of. You could have it programed to simulate pain but that would be cruel.”

“Is there any system that’s alive?”

“Not that I know of, except the bacteria that makes the memory banks.”

“Are there any old systems that were recycled?”

He stopped looked at her and his eyes went wide. “The micro-star. I haven’t been able to figure out how it was made or why it’s so efficient. Oh Black-of-Void.”

Jan looked between the two and asked, “Sorry for those of us that don’t speak techy?”

Feeling sick to her stomach, Seren said, “If an intelligent creature were used as a powersource they could create all of these issues. The Sun’s alive.”

Annie

It was another few hours before anything else happened. They stayed in position protecting the station from the mysterious star-shaped ships that weren’t moving. All Annie wanted was to go find out more about that planet. It looked lush and green from her viewport. The other side of the station from the planet was a small white dwarf star. It was as close to the planet as a typical moon.

Despite it draining her fuel, Annie activated her scanners. The planet was a typical class M with slightly higher gravity. The sun revolved around the planet. On the surface, there were signs of a long gone civilization.

The universe was an impossibly large place but the Children of the Stars had been travelling since they left their little planet. They’d catalogued hundreds of millions of planets and the preponderance of life was staggering. It seemed that despite being fragile and impossible to believe, life was incredibly common. Intelligent life sprung up everywhere.

Civilizations unfortunately had a habit of burning out before they’d taken to the stars. The Children were some of the handful of space-based lifeforms. It made that the Children had a fantastic amount of archaeologists, anthropologists, and diplomats. Beyond that, it meant that each citizen had a gluttonous curiosity about other civilizations.

The readings showed a civilization that had either died out or left a long time ago. The plant life from the planet had reclaimed every possible surface. It was under a massive mound of ancient trees that Annie’s scanners picked up a massive structure. It was the size of the station, made of an alloy that had resisted the elements and survived for millions of years.

When the computer showed her an image of the building she gasped. It was an eight point star, just like the ships outside. Why weren’t they moving to the planet, it must be their home world, or at least a world where their people had once been?

“Echo Leader. This is Echo 2. I’ve been scanning the planet. I know I shouldn’t waste the fuel. There’s a structure down there showing a minimal amount of power that’s shaped just like these ships.”

“Echo 2, conserve fuel and standby. Let the techs and archaeologists take care of the planet.”

To herself and off the coms she muttered, “Seren would have a field day down there.”

Settling down for a long wait, she concentrated on her thoughts and the data in front of her. She didn’t see Alpha 4 lose control until she heard his screams. “I’ve lost all power. My batteries are not responding. I’m going down.”

All the ships were equipped with grappling hooks and matter tracktor beams but she was too far to react. She watched helplessly as the ship fell towards the station. Just as it looked like he was going to destroy a large part of the rings, a Star-Ship (they obviously weren’t pirates) swooped passed the defendars and caught Alpha 4 in a beam of light.

Read Next Chapter


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 4

Hello Dear Readers…

I completely forgot to write a serial story chapter in April. I’m extremely sorry and the usual punishment will apply. I will write an extra chapter for this year. As of now, my plan is to write 3 chapters for May.

Enjoy the belated Chapter 4


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 4: Ships Shaped like Stars

“Is there supposed to be a planet there?” Annie asked. She’d gotten to her second job just as the alarm went off. She’d run back and jumped into a fresh fighter and joined Echo squad as they were being deployed.

“Welcome, Echo 2,” Echo Leader said. Jason was a man in his late eighties and had been on clean and protect crews for most of his life.

“Glad to be here, Echo Leader. We dealing with the same pirates?” She couldn’t keep the smile from her voice. He’d been the one who recommended her for flight training.

As they deployed, tower replied for him. Annie’s brother said, “Echo team, you’re taking the stern and protecting the ship if they get through Alpha and Beta teams. We have no idea who these people are, but they’re not answering hails and are here in larger numbers than we’ve ever seen. Stay frosty.”

They arrived at their designated patrol area and tower said, “All teams ready, pirates are almost here.”

At first it looked like the stars themselves were moving towards them. There were thousands of ships, each shaped like tiny eight-point stars. They glowed brightly. “What in the black is that?” asked Echo Leader.

“Echo Leader and tower, this is Echo 2. Just so we all know, those are not the same pirate ships as last attack.”

“Copy, Echo 2.”

Nothing else was said on the coms as they watched the approach. The ships stopped just outside weapons range and sat there. Annie was going to say something, but Jason beat her to it. “Any idea what in the name of the great Mother they’re doing, Tower?” After a pause with no answer he said, “Tower, do you copy?” A few more seconds and he said, “Hokulua Station, do you read? Anyone?”

“Did we lose contact with tower? Is that even possible?” The voice didn’t sound familiar.

“Team Leaders, please sound off,” Echo Leader said. There was a series of sound offs as Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta Team Leaders sounded off and then each member of their teams did the same.

There were eight members per team and it took a long time to get through them. The ships didn’t move. Annie scanned the station and interrupted Delta team. “Sorry to cut in. My scans indicate that the station has lost shields, weapons, coms, and engines.”

The Team Leads swore. “Alpha 4 here. If the station has lost engines, why are we still moving at top speed?” The radio devolved into chaos as everyone checked their scans. They were still compensating for the station moving at top speeds.

“What do we do, Echo Leader?” Alpha Leader asked; the question from Alpha leader firmly appointed Echo Leader as the overall leader until the station came back.

“We do our jobs. Shut down any nonessential systems and get ready for a long standoff.” Their ships could hold position for almost twenty-four hours before needing to refuel. The gravity from the station’s micro-star made it so they were being pulled with the station instead of trying to keep up.

“Oh Mother-of-Stars… DO SOMETHING!” yelled a voice over the com after nearly two hours of waiting.

“Stay off the com or I’ll shoot you down myself.” Echo Leader sounded grumpy. “Have these things moved at all?”

Annie had been scanning them and killing her fuel while doing it, but wanted as much information as possible. She replied, “They have stayed at the exact same relative position since we started this. I also can’t find any signs of bio-life so either they’re AI or like nothing we’ve come across before.” Artificial intelligent life wasn’t common, but the Children-of-the-Stars had come across a few different species. “They’ve basically created a wall behind the station. I think they might be using it to coast the way we are.”

“So we don’t know what they are, but we’re fairly certain that they’re just hitching a ride?” Echo Leader sounded almost relieved.

Just as Annie was going to respond yes, the ships moved in towards the station. She said, “They’re moving closer. The only reason for that is…” she cursed. “Prepare for Voidspace.”

The space between galaxies was called Voidspace. It was filled with remnants of dead galaxies, crushed into fine dust. The result was an extremely bumpy ride and all sorts of radiation that could play havoc with any and all systems.

All the fighters did the same as the mysterious ships and got closer to the station. Voidspace was absolutely beautiful; with most stars too far away, the only light came from their ships and the station’s micro-star. The light danced and reflected off the galaxy dust in fantastic splashes of colours that put to shame any planet’s aurora-borealis.

The colours were so mesmerising that all ships were equipped with light dampening shields for travel. Even through the shields Annie found it hard not to lose herself to the beauty. It could have been seconds or hours that she stared out at the colours before the station appeared in a small clear area of space.

They were still in Voidspace, but the dust was being held back by something and the station had stopped moving. Thankfully their fighters were built to automatically compensate or they would have all crashed into the station. The dust was pushed back in a perfect sphere and it looked like they were in a giant soap bubble.

There was only one other thing inside the bubble.

“Is there supposed to be a planet there?”

Read Chapter 4.5


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 3


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 3: Mysterious Sludge and Searching Code

“Blood!” Jan exclaimed.

“Blood isn’t dark brown and drippy at the same time,” Seren sighed. Her suit for her job of walking the outside of Hokulua station to find leaks, had been filed with some strange liquid. Everyone had panicked and the supervisor called security and given them the day off.

“What do you think it is then, smarty?”

“I have no idea.” Seren smiled mischievously.

“You didn’t?”

“I snuck a sample while everyone was panicking.”

Jan laughed and shook their head before asking, “You’re going to investigate aren’t you?” Then added, “I suddenly have a free day so I’m coming with.”

As they headed to the pods, Seren sent her father a message. Work cancelled. Need a hand?

They were half way to his lab before he replied, Sure.

They were almost at his lab when the lighting darkened and the screens in the corridor showed a red alert.

“Attention Hokulua station. We have been attacked by and repelled pirates. The station is in lockdown until further notice. Please stay in your homes or work areas while we assess the situation.”

“Hey Dad. Whoa… what’s going on?” Seren was shocked at the massive pile of spare electronics and junk in the center of her father’s lab.

“Hey kids. This was the original pod and stasis for Hoku. I’m trying to compare the code to what we have now to see what happened. There’s no way we can hand over the everyday functions of this station to a faulty AI.”

“Okay… can we use some equipment for a special project?”

“You stole a sample from the mystery suit?” Her father didn’t miss much. “Go ahead and don’t look surprised. I have spies everywhere.”

Seren giggled. He meant it literally. He had created a series of linked micro-robots that would crawl the air ducts, sewage, and water to make sure everything was clean and, in theory, find any leaks or issues. Unfortunately the station seemed to randomly fry them. He probably knew about the suit because he was dating the structural engineer who was in charge of the space walks.

Getting a chemical breakdown of the substance would take about an hour and then it would take time for the computer to give a list of possible results. When she’d gotten it started, she asked, “Anything we can do?”

“I could use a second pair of eyes with this code,” he replied. When he saw Jan’s eyes widen with horror he added, “And someone to try and put this stuff back together.” He gestured to the pile of computer parts that housed the original AI. “I took it apart to see if anything had been tampered with. It hadn’t.” He sounded dejected.

Sitting down with a tablet, Seren put the two codes next to each other. After a few minutes of staring at code and trying to tell the difference between natural evolutions, faulty, junk, and malicious code; her eyes started to swim. “Dad. Why didn’t you just write an AI to find any faulty code?”

“I did. It came back corrupted and asking me if I knew the difference between a fish and frigate.”

Eyes glazing over, she let her mind wander. This was too much code to look at; it was like trying to find a planet in a dark solar system from a quadrant away. She needed to narrow it down.

“What were you working on, this morning, when it gave you that weird phrase?” she asked her Dad.

“I was trying to tweak the power consumption on the docking bays. They’re taking as much energy as the ships engines and I don’t get why.” He didn’t say anything more, just went back to his work.

The docking bay doors were a very simple system with only two components, an air shield and a door opening. She pulled up both sets of code and isolated them.

“Analysis complete,” Hoku station said and made everyone jump.

“Thank you Hoku. Can you tell me what it is?”

“The compound has cocoa, sugar, milk, and flour. Best answer is that it’s a form of space based Cetacean.”

“Hoku… you just gave us the recipe of chocolate pudding and then said it was a space whale.”

“That is correct. It’s all about the cetaceans.” The statement was completely ridiculous. All three of them couldn’t help but laugh.

When they’d stopped giggling, Mr. Plentyn said, “I’ll tell Martin to let me know what his investigation shows. Could be pudding, could be whale, could be bearing grease for all this thing knows.” He tapped the computer console.

It was more code staring and sighs of frustration. Jan had almost finished re-assembling when Seren saw something.

“It’s the shields that are taking the energy. They’re modulating at a subspace frequency.”

“Does it repeat?” He took her tablet and worked on it quickly. The shields were transmitting their position but the exact message was odd.

“It keeps repeating, ‘fear, pain, death,’ over and over again.”

“What could that mean?” said Jan.

No one had the chance to answer because the intercom blared. “Violet alert. We have incoming hostiles. Everyone prepare for combat.”

Mr. Plentyn gave them each a repair kit and said, “You’ve been recruited to help with damage.”

“Aern, why in the Mother-of-Stars are all our defences down? I need weapons and shields, NOW!”

Read Chapter 4


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

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 2


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10


Chapter 2: Asteroids and Pirates

Stars filled her view screen and Annie sighed. Space was beautiful. Reluctantly she manoeuvred the little fighter back towards the debris field and her next target.

Hokulua Station had shields that would deflect most debris but with a micro-star at its core, it generated enough gravity to pull stray asteroids and rubble with it. Small fighter ships were used to defend the station against big impacts. There were also occasional pirates or planet-hopping wildlife.

“Hokulua tower, I’m on vector to my next target.”

“Roger that Echo 2. Make it snappy, you have your other job to get to.”

The next target was an asteroid the size of a living quarter. Her scans showed that the asteroid was mostly water which would require a wide beam plasma blast. But it wasn’t moving right.

“Tower. Target is moving slower than expected. Can I get a proper scan from Astrometrics?” Annie wished that her older brother James was at the coms. He’d have listened.

“Echo 2, a second scan isn’t necessary. Blow that thing and come home.” Just as she expected, the old man just wanted to get the job done.

“Negative tower. Scans are indicating water but-”

Tower cut her off with, “No Buts, child. Just do your damn job.”

“I’m sorry tower. Without a second scan I’m going to do a scoop-and-shoot.” That old man would rather risk the station than be a few minutes late. Annie was convinced there was something off with the asteroid.

“Stop showboating and destroy that asteroid or I swear to the Eater-Of-Stars you’ll never fly again.”

A scoop-and-shoot maneuver was exactly what it sounded like. She’d fly by the asteroid and then extend the little ships shields. It would scoop the asteroid and she could move it away from the station. Once it was at a safe distance she’d shoot it.

It was a tricky thing to accomplish. Annie swung back around and started to follow the asteroid, matching its speed and direction. She needed to be right on top of the thing to catch it in her shield. The darned thing was moving really slow and she almost bumped it.

It was made harder by the swearing and insults from the tower.

“Tower, this is hard enough without you berating me. I request radio silence.”

“Echo 3, here. I second Echo 2. Shut up tower.”

“Echo 4 agrees with the other Echos.” The rest of the Echos agreed.

She’d forgotten that she wasn’t alone out here. There were a half dozen other ships. She appreciated their backup.

The asteroid took much less force than it should have to move. She overdid the throttle and went twice as far as she should have.

“Tower. I have completed scoop and I’m moving to a safe distance to shoot.”

The normal safe distance is fifty times the size of the object but in this case she doubled it. She shot a short direct plasma blast at the edge of the asteroid. If it was water filled, like the scanners said, it would chip off a corner and nothing else. If it was what she suspected, it was going to explode.

A piece chipped off and Annie sighed. “Tower. I have-” she was cut off by the shockwave from the exploding asteroid. It tossed her ship towards the station with such power that her vision blurred and she thought she was going to lose consciousness.

Everything was ringing and it took a while before she could hear the station Tower. When she could hear clearly she heard her brother James, “Echo 2, do you copy?” He sounded worried.

“Echo 2 here. Tower I copy.”

“Echo 2 get control of your ship. We have bogies incoming.” The ship was spinning like a grounder in zero-g for the first time. She gently took control and directed it away from a crash course with the station.

“Tower. Did you say bogies?”

“Yes. Echo 2. Form up with the rest of Echo wing and get out there.”

The attacks from pirates were rare and Annie had the seconds it took her to meet up with her squad to wonder at the coincidence of the timing. If she’d been at the regular safe distance for a scoop-and-shoot, there would be a hole in the station. That’s not to mention if she’d listened to tower.

Echos were the only squad out there. They didn’t have a regular patrol or military presence. They were so far out from colonised space that no one expected an attack. If they’d showed up just ten minutes later there would have been no one around.

“Echo squad. This is Echo leader. We don’t have to win this one, we just have to make sure no one dies. We hold them back until Alpha squad can come clean up.”

The battle was a blur of ships, asteroids, blasters, and commands. After it was done, Annie barely remembered any of it. They’d been lucky that the Pirates had only sent a scouting party. A few clean shots to their ships and they turned tail and ran.

If they’d come in a destroyer sized ship, the station wouldn’t have been able to defend itself.

As she peeled off her flight suit, James came up to her his brow furrowed in anger. “What the black-hole were you thinking?” His reddish-purple eyes, exact copies of hers, glowed with frustration.

“Something was off and I asked for a second scan. I followed procedure until that mouthy space-monkey tried to cut corners. I was right, too. If I’d followed orders we’d have lost a ring or worse.”

He pulled her into a hug and said, “You scared me, sis.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll check the logs and talk to the bosses. But until a full review, you’re grounded. Except for space walks.”

She’d forgotten about her second job. She hoped repelling space pirates was a good enough excuse.

Read Chapter 3


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