The Suns of War – Chapter 9 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 9: A Bomb, more Fanatics, and some Rest

The bomb embedded in the ship was giving off so much energy that it was super-charging the engines. 

“Once we open the energy collectors, we can syphon off the energy. That should slow us down,” Zuri explained again.

Bart’s bushy eyebrows furrowed and he asked, “Where are we going to put all that energy?”

It was Alexandre who replied, “Our new energy cells can hold a hundred and fifty percent of maximum. The rest we’ll be using to drop out of FTL without exploding.”

Bart swallowed hard and just nodded.

It wasn’t long before they had modified the ship and were ready to try. 

“Captain, on your mark,” Zuri said.

Trying not to think about what would happen if they had missed a valve or a bolt, Nessa said, “Bart, prepare for some fancy flying. When we drop out, we’ll be right in the middle of the Ares system and I don’t think they’ll be too happy to see a Martian ship arriving. Okay, Zuri, do it.”

Everyone braced for impact, but other than a worrisome humming noise, not much happened other than the view from the monitors changing.

Once they’d successfully dropped out of FTL, however, things got bumpy. They were still going extremely fast and Ares was one giant asteroid field.

Bart navigated them out of the field and then howled in frustration and anger. 

Nessa knew what it felt like to see your homeworld reduced to rubble and let the man grieve. She asked the rest of the bridge crew, “Damage report?” 

Zuri looked frustrated as she replied, “Working on it captain, but our sensors were damaged, and that’s slowing things down.”

Frowning, Nessa said, “Blue-Sun has to be stopped. We need to find Arthur. From what the Avalonians said, he has the power to stop them.”

“Sir, I’ve been reading through the massive amount of information they gave us on Arthur and I think I found something that will help.” Em looked hopeful.

“Go ahead.”

“It’s said that Arthur can block the connection between the Sun Speakers and their gods. He was also a powerful Sun Speaker himself so he has those powers. It says that the best way to identify Arthur is when he uses his powers.”

Still heartbroken at seeing his homeworld destroyed, Bart asked in a teary voice, “What powers? What can stand up to this level of destruction?”

Em sighed and said, “The text is half metaphors and all flowery language. It’s hard to decipher. Other than blocking the Sun Speakers, there’s something about leading the half-living into battle, and understanding the secrets of war. I really d—” Alarms cut him off and he tapped at his console before saying, “There are four Myrddin ships and they’re hailing us.”

The near mechanical voices boomed over the ships coms, “Myrddin searches for Arthur.”

“Put me on,” Nessa said and once Em did, she said, “Myrddin ships. We are the Galahad and we also search for Arthur.” When they didn’t respond, she asked, “How will you recognize him and what do you plan to do with him?”

It seemed like they weren’t going to answer until the voice said, “We will recognize him by DNA and we shall follow him into the war to end all wars. Why do you search for him?”

Nessa didn’t want to mention Avalon so she settled for a half truth, “We hope he can help against the meaningless destruction of Blue-Sun.”

“They are serpents, which must be destroyed. It is agreed.” The coms cut off and everyone stared at the screen in confusion.

After a moment, Em said, “They’ve sent us a data packet with what looks like medical information.”

Peri, who’d been sitting at a spare station, perked up and said, “Send it to medbay and I’ll look it over.”

Zuri, who seemed to have missed everything, looked up and said, “Looks like sensors, shields, cloak, weapons, FTL engines, and plasma collectors all sustained severe damage.”

“Is that it?” Alexandre said, and Nessa could swear the large lizardman was teasing Zuri.

Blushing, Zuri said, “It’ll take a day and a half to repair.”

Nessa nodded and gestured for her to go ahead. Both her and Alexandre got up and headed to wherever they needed to repair things. “We’ll set up two shifts. Bart and Tanya, you go for a rest, Em and I will take first duty.” When the other two were gone, Nessa told Em to go help the engineers. 

The bridge was so quiet with everyone gone, Nessa could almost believe that she was back as a commander in the Martian military. “Has it really only been a few days?” she asked herself.

She monitored communications, but the usually active channels were quiet. With at least two of the three major powers destroyed, there weren’t many people left.

The shift went on quietly until Bart came to relieve her of duty.

“How are you holding up?” she asked.

“I’m angry and sad, but mostly I feel numb. Those bastards took our homes without breaking a sweat.”

She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and he pulled her into a hug. She said, “I understand.”

“Bah, enough touchy-feely stuff. Get some sleep.”

Her quarters were untouched, but felt wrong, like a relic from another time. She ate a quick meal and then lay down for sleep. She didn’t expect it would be easy, but she closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

She was started out of a dream about chasing ghosts through a maze by Bart over the coms, “Captain, Blue-Sun is broadcasting on all channels that they found Arthur and he’s going to lead them into battle against the rebel suns. We’re reading a massive fleet of Myrddin on their way to the Blue-Sun location.”

Later, on the bridge, Nessa looked around at the assembled crew and said, “It’s probably a trap, but if there’s a chance they found Arthur, we need to make sure he isn’t being used by them.”

“The ship’s ready to go,” Zuri said.

“Let’s go rescue King Arthur Pendragon, Speaker of the Rebel Sun, Ruler of Old Earth and the three kingdoms of War.”

Read Chapter 10 (October 2023)

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 8 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 8: Angry Parents and Antimatter Bombs

When the fake asteroid hailed them, Nessa had assumed they’d talk to a burly farmer or engineer. There were jokes throughout the Mars system about Proserpinans being uncultured or backwards. 

The man on the screen was dressed in an ancient styled suit and looked like something from the old Earth stories. He had a strange sharp accent like Martian wasn’t his first language. “Arzure Pendreicht, where have you been?” It was the tone of a precise and strict teacher, not a parent.

“Excuse me Sir, but I’m Commander Nessa Muldune of the ISS Galahad. We are searching for a man named Arthur.”

The man turned his piercing grey eyes on Nessa and said, “Would that be King Arthur? Who shall return and rule the galaxy ushering in a golden age of galactic peace?”

Hesitating, Nessa then replied, “Yes.”

With a sly smile the man said, “No one by that name is on Proserpina.” He then scowled at Zuri and commanded, “You will return home immediately or we will retrieve you! You have no business traipsing around the cosmos with these people.” His emphasis on the word people made it clear it was meant as an insult.

“But Father,” she started and then added, “Yes, Sir.”

The line was cut and the whole bridge crew turned to Zuri. Nessa was the first to talk and asked, “How old are you?”

“Twenty. Why?” Zuri looked confused.

“I was sixteen when I enlisted and by Martian law you’re an adult at that age. You don’t have to go with him if you don’t want to.”

Zuri sighed and slumped into the engineering station’s chair. “You don’t understand. He’ll chase us and he’ll destroy this ship.”

Alexandre scoffed. “This might be a Martian design, but with the upgrades done by the Avalonians and yourself, there’s no way that ancient bucket of bolts could touch us.”

“That’s an original old Earth destroyer class colony ship. Its hull was designed to absorb radiation and turn it into fuel. It would take crashing a planet into it to make a dent.” Zuri sounded defeated. 

Nessa put a gentle paw on the girl’s arm and said, “He could command the combined army of the three systems. If you don’t want to return, I will protect you.”

The rest of the crew nodded in agreement and the decision was made. 

“Please,” Zuri said, her voice thin and fragile.

Nessa gestured at the screen and said, “Em, get them back on the vid.”

“Yes Sir,” the master sergeant replied.

“What do you want now?” The man’s glare was as sharp as his suit.

“Zuri is a member of our crew and she wants to stay with us. Our mission is to find Arthur. Any information you can give us would be appreciated.” 

The man fixed his eye on Zuri and said, “If you do this, we will kill everyone on that sh—” His words were interrupted by heavy fire.

“Sir, there are three Myrddin ships that have just dropped out of FTL. They’re firing on both us and the Proserpina,” Tanya said with her fingers poised over the weapon controls.

“They’re firing on both of us,” confirmed Alexandre.

Bart barked, “Let’s get out of here.”

“Agreed,” Nessa replied. “Take us anywhere but here.”

Just as the Galahad jumped to FTL, an explosion rocked the ship. 

Still looking younger than her years, Zuri tapped furiously at her consol, “Captain, we’ve taken severe damage to our engines. I’m not sure how we’re still in FTL.”

“How is that possible and can anyone tell where we’re headed?” Nessa asked. Sometimes it was the Captain’s job to know all the answers and sometimes they had to ask the right ones. Finding the balance was always tricky.

After a little, Em answered from the helm, “It looks like we’re headed toward the Ares system and our speed is increasing. We just passed FTL-20.” Faster than light speed was calculated by multiplying the speed of light. Twenty meant they were moving at twenty the speed of light. With the ship’s engines, they normally moved at a maximum of FTL-15.

“Zuri, I thought you said our engines were down?” Bart asked.

“They are, but that was an antimatter bomb, and it hit our shields at the exact moment we created the FTL bubble. The bomb is stuck in our bubble, fueling our speed, and sustaining the bubble.”

“Can the ship survive this?” Nessa asked, surprised that she couldn’t feel any turbulence.

“Absolutely. The ship isn’t doing anything so it’s not a problem. However, if the bubble bursts before it slows, the ship will be torn apart at a molecular level,” Alexandre replied.

“Sir we just hit FTL-2000. Nope FTL-4000.” Em sounded awed and panicked at the same time. A feeling that Nessa could understand.


“What if we shot a regular bomb at the antimatter one?” Tanya sounded excited about blowing things up. 

With wide eyes, both Alexandre and Em said, “No!”

Zuri explained, “That would probably knock the antimatter bomb out of the bubble, but it would also burst it.”

“We’re moving too fast for my instruments. We’re going to pass Ares in less than an hour,” Em smacked her console as if that would help it make more sense.

“How can we syphon off this speed?” Bart asked. When they all looked at him he said, “When I’m flying the fighter and I’m getting too close to my target, I can activate my rudder flaps to slow me down. Can we do the same, but with the bubble?”

“You’re a genius,” Zuri said, causing the canine to puff up his chest.

“So we have something like a wing rudder?” he asked.

“Tartarus, no! That’s a terrible idea. But you said syphon off our speed. What we need to do is syphon the power of the antimatter bomb into our ship’s energy collectors and that will slow us down.”

“Those are designed for plasma not antimatter,” Alexandre pointed out.

“We just need to make some small changes. These engines were designed to run on plasma converted to antimatter, so we just disconnect the micro-collider and feed it directly.”

Alexandre agreed and Nessa asked, “Is this going to kill us?”

Both Zuri and Alexandre replied, “Probably.”

Read Chapter 9

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 7 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 7: Surfing the Rubble of Mars 

They’d almost made it to their ship when they were hit by the shockwave. The Myrddin ship exploded faster and harder than they’d expected. 

“What was in that thing? Explosives?” Bart said, wildly trying to get their shuttle under control before they hit the ship or an asteroid. 

“Sir, if you can hear us, we have to get out of here. The explosion pushed all the asteroids around it toward us.” Em’s voice was clear but panicked over the coms.

Nessa looked out as Bart levelled them out and saw the wave of debris coming toward them. “That’s okay Sergeant, we’ll join you at the edge of the system. Try and keep an eye on the asteroid.” She didn’t want to lose sight of the asteroid that they’d detected that was moving oddly and had the old Earth engine signature.

“I’m working on boosting our shields,” Zuri said.

“Have either of you Martians been on Ares?” When the two of them gave him confused looks, Bart continued, “Most of it is water, clean beautiful water. Our two moons give the planet the most amazing tides. That’s why we have the best surfers in the three systems.”

“Bart. What the Hades does this have to do with our current situation?” Nessa felt totally useless. Bart was driving, Zuri was upgrading, and she was sitting, wishing there was something for her to do.

“I’ve always wanted to try surfing. I guess today is my lucky day.” Bart stood up straight and grunted in the direction of the incoming wave of asteroids.

Zuri poked her head out of the panel she was playing with and said, “That could work. I’ll concentrate the shields on the bottom of the ship. Nessa, shoot anything in our way, and Bart can surf us out of this.”

“I’m not sure about this but I don’t have a better idea. At least I get to shoot something.”

Bart barked a laugh and said, “Hold on to your tails.” He accelerated and the shuttle was thrown up over the curve of the asteroid wave.

They followed the wave and it rode the asteroids; anything too big or close, Nessa shot it.

Soon they were approaching a moon-sized asteroid and Bart grunted, “That beasty has us in its gravity. We’re going to have to go through. You ready to corkscrew?”

Nessa checked the scans and found that the asteroid was mostly water and rock. She trained the laser cannons to fire in an X formation. It would create a tunnel just wide enough for their shuttle. 

She fired and had created half the tunnel when the lasers died. “We’re going to hit the core, reverse!” she shouted.

“No! I can fix them!” Zuri’s confidence was worrying, but Nessa nodded at Bart and he kept course.

As the wall of ice got closer Nessa watched the young engineer work. It was like watching a complicated martial arts routine. She moved like no one and no engineer that Nessa had ever seen. 

“Better fix that fast or I’m going to have to hit the brakes, or the ice,” Bart sounded nervous.

Zuri gave a growl, strange from a human voice, and shoved her hands into the panel she’d been working on. Nessa blinked in confusion a few times as Zuri started to glow. 

The laser control roared back to life and Nessa fired. They were covered in water from the melting of the ice. It froze again the moment it touched the ship.

They made it through the asteroid and surfed a little longer until finally they found themselves at the edge of the system.

They all cheered before Nessa hailed the Galahad, “Everyone alive out there?”

After much too long a pause for Nessa’s liking, they replied, “Yes sir, we made it. We have some damage to the shields, but we’re okay. Coming to pick you up now.”

Once back on the bridge, Nessa sat in the captain’s chair and said, “Did you manage to keep the asteroid in view?”

“Yes sir. Should we follow them or wait for Zuri to finish the repair?” Alexandre’s emotionless voice asked.

“She can handle it on the go. Let’s follow that asteroid.”

“Sir, if that’s really a galactic ion drive, we’ll only be able to catch them if it’s broken or if they want us to catch them,” Tanya said, looking uncomfortable reminding a superior officer of something so obvious.

Nodding, Nessa asked, “How’s the cloak?”

It was Alexandre who replied, “It should hold, but at some point Zuri will need to turn it off to fix the shields.”

“Understood. Let’s go.”

They moved slowly, in comparison, to avoid the many other pockets of planetary debris that covered the entire system and were moving more violently since the explosion.

When they got to the asteroid it was obviously a ship with an illusion or projection that fooled their ship’s sensors. It looked brand new but the design was straight out of the history books about old earth. 

“What ship is that?” Nessa asked.

“Unknown, sir,” Alexandre replied. The rest of the bridge crew shook their heads.

At the same time, Zuri entered and said, “I have to turn the shields and cloak off.” When she looked at the viewscreen she said, “That’s an old earth Yacht. That’s the Proserpina. “How did they get it out of the moon? Oh no, are they looking for me?”

“Why would they be looking for you?” Bart asked, his tail drooping.

“I might have run away,” Zuri looked down and blushed. 

Before anyone could say anything, Em said, “Sir, the asteroid is hailing us.”

Read Chapter 8

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 6 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 6: The Processor Core

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Bart said as they approached the Myrddin ship.

“Do you have a bad feeling or do you not like this?” Nessa teased.

“Both. Also I regret that Avalonean dish we had.”

Nessa laughed. The ship seemed impossibly big compared to their little shuttle. They approached the part of the hull that connected to a hatch, which should bring them to the engineering bay.

They were joking with each other because they were nervous. Zuri was laser-focused on the task at hand. “I’ve released a field of Ionizing Radiation around where we’re landing. It should look like a spike of Galactic Cosmic Radiation and confuse their sensors.” When the other two looked confused, she added, “It’s like a numbing agent for the ship’s sensors. It should buy us an hour before they detect us.”

“It’s still looking like a singular they,” Bart said, looking uncomfortable.

Nessa sighed and said, “We’ll then, my odds are significantly better. Don’t fall asleep here. I’m sure we’re going to need a quick evac.”

They landed and pressurized to the hull. Opening the hatch, Zuri used a cutting torch to get through the hull. When she pulled the chunk of the hull off, it revealed a narrow corridor. 

“Glad the plan was for me to stay here,” Bart said, “I’d never fit through that hole.”

Nessa scoffed and led the way. It was wide and tall enough for her to crawl without needing to look like a snake. She was used to being quiet, but Zuri wasn’t. If the ship had sound based security, they were in trouble.

The corridor was shiny metal and completely smooth. There was no visible exit or entrance to any other part of the ship. There was, however, a whole network of these tunnels all over the ship. They took several turns and twists, but Zuri seemed to know exactly where to go.

Nessa was so turned around that she was sure she’d die in the corridors if anything happened to Zuri.

Finally Zuri motioned Nessa to stop. She pointed at a spot just above their heads. It looked like all the other parts of the corridor and Nessa tried to push, but nothing happened. Zuri joined in and eventually they gave up. Zuri used the cutting torch. 

It had been a little over fifteen minutes, which meant they had thirty to download the data about Arthur, upload the virus, and get out. That didn’t sound like a lot of time to Nessa.

They popped up out of the floor, which looked like everything else; metal on metal. The walls in this room were covered in little lights. Room was a generous word for it; Nessa could almost touch the walls on either side, 

“I think that’s their main system,” whispered Zuri. 

Nessa was going to laugh, but there was something eerie about the place, like a church or tomb. “Let’s hurry up and get this done.”

There was something wrong and Nessa couldn’t put her finger on it. After a few seconds of listening to her own breathing, she realized what it was. There was no sound. No engine, no machines, no fans, nothing. “Why is it so quiet in here?”

“It’s this metal, it stops vibrations. It’s why we didn’t see them until they were almost on top of us. There, I got the data. I just need a few more minutes to upload the virus. It’ll fry their processing core and that should cause a cascading effect that will leave them dead in the water.” Zuri was repeating herself, she’d told everyone this earlier.

“Hurry, please,” Nessa said.

“Right, like I’m frolicking here…”

Nessa started counting and when she got to eighty, Zuri swore.

“I can’t get the virus into their processor core. It’s got a hardware firewall.” When Nessa gave her a blank look, Zuri added, “I need to connect directly.”

“I thought we were in the core?”

Looking like the annoyed teen she was, Zuri said, “In the server room, not the processor core. That’s right there,” she pointed to a metal wall and walked over, “I just need to open this panel and then I’ll have access to the main…” Zuri trailed off as the panel opened and gave them a perfect view of the processing unit.

“That’s a brain,” Nessa said. “Can your virus affect that?”

Zuri’s mouth opened and closed a few times before she said, “No, but I can repurpose it to attack the weapons and engines.” Regaining some composure, she added, “I know, I know, Hurry.”

The processor was in a tank of liquid that vaguely bubbled. It had multiple wires attached to it and an eerie backlight. It didn’t have eyes but Nessa felt like it was watching her.

“Done,” Zuri said, proudly. Her expression darkened as she glared at the brain.

“We have ten minutes to make a fifteen minute trip. Let’s go.”

They were half way there when Zuri said, “Why was it a brain? Aren’t processors more powerful?”

“Yeah. Maybe they haven’t managed to create AI? Honestly not sure.”

“Some things shouldn’t be mixed,” Zuri said in disgust.

Ness scoffed as they crawled, “Let’s not go that far. I have a bionic leg and I know more than one person with visual implants. Technology is a great way to make the world more equitable.”

“That’s not the same thing. That was a brain controlling a spaceship.” Zuri sounded incensed.

“I agree, that was a little too far for my taste. I wonder if all the Myrddin ships are like that.”

“We’re almost out.” The moment Zuri said it, alarms started to blare.

As got into their ship, Bart said, “Throw our ‘Plan B’ parting present down the tunnel and shut the hatch. We’ve got incoming.”

They placed a small drone carrying a plasma torpedo on it into the tunnel and shut the hatch. The drone sped towards the centre of the ship and was only slightly pulled back when the air was sucked out.

The shuttle sped away from the Myrddin ship and managed to get outside its shield before the torpedo went off. The ship exploded faster than they’d expected.

Bart shouted, “Hold on to your tails, this is going to get bumpy.”

Read Chapter 7

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 5 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 5: Hiding from Wizards in the Rubble of Mars

“There’s nothing but rubble,” complained Bart, scratching at his ears.

Sighing deeply, trying to keep her cool, Nessa snipped, “Just like the other eight million times you said it. Just keep scanning and see if we can find any clues.”

They’d spent the past week scanning every piece of debris from what was left of the Martian system. Seeing one of the three major powers that had been fighting for over two hundred years reduced to nothing but a pile of charred debris was putting them all on edge.

“Sirs,” Alexandre’s distinctly reptilian voice sounded alarmed. “There’s a ship that just appeared out of nowhere.” 

Alarmed, Nessa turned toward the main viewscreen and said, “Have they seen us?”

“I have n—” He didn’t get a chance to finish.

“They can’t,” said Zuri, bouncing up and down in what Nessa assumed was pride. When Nessa gave her an expectant look, the young girl said, “I really liked the special cloak that they had on Avalon and I spent some time scanning it while we were there and it turns out it’s just light bending over external shields.”

“Fascinating. You recreated an advanced technology from a few scans and your imagination. I’m impressed, young one,” Alexandre sounded more scared than impressed. 

“Thank you!”

“Let’s not count our kills until we check the pulses,” grunted Barf. “They’re broadcasting something.”

“Em, put it on screen!” Nessa ordered.

On the viewscreen was near complete darkness, only a figure stood facing the viewscreen. Their face was in complete darkness as their outline was backlit. They wore a cloak with glowing silver designs all over it. When they spoke, their voice was mechanical and deep, “Myrddin searches for Arthur.”

“Stay radio silent,” Nessa said. “We are hidden, right?”

As if on queue the voice continued, “We know you hide. Arthur must be found. They must be trained.”

“Does anyone know more about these guys? Other than that Blue-Sun hate them?” Bart asked.

Alexandre replied, “The Tyrite Empire met them several decades ago. We were able to talk to them. They refer to themselves as wizards and are searching for Arthur in order to train them to fight the sun worshipers. We had standing orders to avoid them and never to fire on them. They were fairly docile as long as you didn’t come too close, fire on them, or have any information they wanted.”

“How many Tyrite ships did they destroy?” Nessa asked.

“Every third encounter ended with them stripping all information from our datacores and leaving the ship’s crew braindead.”

Suddenly Nessa wondered if her former captain might have had the right idea. “So do we wait for them to leave, or should we go look somewhere else?”

Tanya, who had been awfully quiet for the whole exchange, said, “I don’t think we should leave, sir. I think I found something. There’s a large asteroid near the edge of the system that is registering very faint signs of power.”

The asteroid was moving slowly enough to look like it was a natural movement, but scans showed a small amount of ionic energy that was unique to old Earth star drives. The old Earth drives were more powerful and used less energy, but the ability to repair them and the material to do so wasn’t found in any of the three systems.

“Do the Myrddin see it?” Nessa asked.

Alexandre replied, “No, but they might suspect. That message may be for them and not for us.”

“Let’s follow that asteroid. Maximum speed, Zuri,” Bart ordered.

“No, absolutely not. We’re in the middle of a giant debris field, even if we’re invisible, we’re going to move so much rock as we move it’ll be pretty obvious,” Zuri said, shaking her head emphatically. 

Looking annoyed, Bart barked, “Do you have a better idea?”

Smiling in a way that made Nessa very uncomfortable, Zuri replied, “Let’s board their ship, take it, and anything in their database.”

After a lot of yelling and angry words from the rest of the crew, Zuri explained, “There’s a small flaw in their shields. If we hadn’t been scanning everything so deeply I wouldn’t have seen it. I can modulate a small ship’s shields to match their frequency and slip in unnoticed. Then a small group could infiltrate and take the ship.”

“How?” asked Tanya, looking bloodthirsty.

“I can take their data and send a virus that will take out their processing core. I just need five, maybe ten minutes.”

Nessa and Zuri were chosen for the team with Bart piloting his little fighter. Tanya had argued that she could protect the little engineer better, but Nessa reminded her that this was a stealth mission and if things got bad, Nessa had claws.   

“I don’t like this,” Bart said as they approached the ship.

“You don’t like anything,” Nessa teased before adding, “But you’re right, we don’t even know the layout of the place.”

Sighing dramatically, in the way only a teen could, Zuri said, “Once we get past their shields I’ll know the layout and we’ll know exactly where we’re going. You worry too much.”

Bart laughed and said, “That’s how I managed to become old. Worry and luck.”

As they passed the shields, Zuri swore and said, “This can’t be right, There’s only two parts of their hull that’s hollow. It’s like they have a cargo hold and an engineering bay, and that’s it.”

“I’m also not reading any sign of life,” added Nessa, “No wait, there’s one life sign.”

“Where do you want me to land, or are we turning back?” Bart asked Zuri, who suddenly looked really nervous.

“I would need their engineering bay, so I think there’s a shaft right here,” she said and pointed at a spot on the hull. 

“Creepy ship with only one life sign… here we go,” Bart deadpanned.

Read Chapter 6

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 4 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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 4: Meet the Crew, Fix the Ship, Find a Quest

“The planet shouldn’t exist,” Alexandre added after saying it was hailing them. “Without a sun, nothing could live. Not to mention it’s supermassive and shouldn’t be able to support life.”

“Somethings there and hailing and I’m Commander Muldune. Officer,” she said gesturing at the Tyrite Canine standing near coms.

“Master Sergeant Em Frechette, Sir,” he said in a deep and extremely clear voice.

“Put them on the main viewscreen.”

The man turned to the coms panel and his fingers danced across it like he’d been using Martian tech his whole life.

A picture of a woman appeared on the screen. She was pale but healthy, with light brown hair and bright blue eyes. “Welcome Commander. We’ve been waiting for you.”

“You have me at a disadvantage,” Nessa said tentatively. She was trying to figure out if this was a trick and what angle these people might have.

“Of course. I am the Morgaine and this planet is Avalon.” When no one reacted, she said, “We are searching for Arthur and need to find him before the Myrddin or the Blue-Star find him.”

“Good luck,” Nessa said, wondering where this was going.

“We need you to find him. Our movements can be foreseen by Blue-Sun and Arthur must be trained in his powers or the universe will soon be controlled by the suns.”

Trying to sound diplomatic, Nessa said, “We’d love to try and find them but unless we can get repairs and maybe some upgrades, we’re no match for either Blue-Sun or Myrddin.”

“We can help with repairs. What do you need?” The woman asked. 

Nessa was going to ask her to hold, when the young girl started to talk, “The drive is damaged, the outer hull needs patching, the power distribution is cracked, and Blue-Sun put a tracker on us. We could also use some enhanced plating for the hull, better weapons, and a full upgrade of our powercore for shields and drive.”

The woman looked amused and replied, “Is that all?”

The girl must have caught on to the teasing because she blushed, her dark skin turning deep red. Her accent was Martian but her clothes weren’t from anywhere Nessa had seen. Her hair was long and black tied in complicated braids. “From your coms you probably use liquid fusion power derived from pure plasma. We could use that and whatever you’re using to make your planet look dark and dead when it’s obviously not.”

“Impressive from one so young. Yes, we can upgrade your ship. It won’t make you stronger than your enemies, but it’ll give you a fighting chance. We’ll also give you all the data we have on Arthur. Hold for landing coordinates.” 

Em turned off the coms.

Nessa turned to the girl and was about to say something when the girl looked down at her own feet and said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have talked without permission.”

This young girl wasn’t an officer in the Martian military and she looked too young to join even if she’d wanted to. Nessa wasn’t going to treat her like a new recruit. “I’d appreciate you checking with me in advance next time, but you did well. Good job kid. What’s your name?”

“Um. Uh. You can call me Zuri. I’m a human from Proserpina.” That explained the odd clothes. Proserpina was a moon of Mars and the people were farmers and engineers who’d dedicated themselves to the goddess of the same name. They rarely left their moon and never allowed visitors beyond the market and landing bays.

“Zuri… did you say that we have a tracking device on the ship?”

She smiled a proud smile that looked a little predatory and answered, “Yes, but I’ve been jamming it since we got to the bridge. They won’t find us.”

“We’re all refugees now and not soldiers,” Nessa said, making sure the sickbay could hear her. “I don’t want to order anyone around, so I’ll leave it up to you. What do we do?”

“I think we should do it. Maybe we can deal a blow to those Blue-Sun bastards,” grunted Em.

Nodding, Tanya added, “If I get to shoot a few of them then I’ll be happy.”

“I am a man of science and this sounds fascinating,” Alexandre added.

“I’m in!” exclaimed Zuri.

Over the coms, Bart’s gravelly voice said, “You might be a dirty Martian but since Mars, Ares, and Tyr have all been destroyed, I’ll follow you.”

“And I’m with you old friend.” The doctor couldn’t keep the smile out of his voice.

They received the coordinates for landing and everyone but Zuri seemed apprehensive. As they approached the planet, everything shifted and went from dark to bright. The planet, which had seemed supermassive, was much smaller and had a tiny sun orbiting it like a moon.

“This is spectacular,” gasped Alexandre.

Avalon was a beautiful planet from what they saw of it. Unfortunately, the Morgaine refused to let them meet in person or see anything but the large field they’d been ordered to land in.

Zuri followed the repair crews like a puppy and the rest of the crew had nothing to do, so they decided to assign roles. Nessa was appointed captain, Bart helmsman and second in command, Alexander science, Tanya tactical, Em coms, and Zuri engineering. Peri, being the doctor, was assigned to medical. The seven of them practised with the ship and read up on Arthur.

He’d been a great leader on old Earth and died in a battle. He’d been resurrected during the great Earth wars where billions escaped the fighting to the stars. Three ships came to this part of the galaxy and formed the three empires.

The Avalonians and the Myrddin believed that Arthur would come back and fight the evil Sun empires. 

When all the repairs and upgrades were complete the ship was renamed the ISS (Independent Starship) Galahad.

The Avalonians were not big on long goodbyes and they were ordered to leave as soon as possible. The data on Arthur said he’d be reincarnated in the Martian system so they headed there to find any signs.

Read Chapter 5

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The Suns of War – Chapter 3 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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: Enemies to Allies

“This was a terrible idea,” the Aresian said. “You being a Martian is one thing, but a Feline as well.” He sounded dire but his tail gave away his excitement at the prospect of a fight.

“Former Commander Nessa Muldune, and yes this is probably the worst idea either of us has ever had but our gods will laugh at the strength of our arrogance.”

They had escaped their bonds and managed to get out of the room. Standing in paper gowns, the two of them looked down on a ten-storey sized room with at least ten thousand soldiers standing in formation. They were facing the other way, receiving orders from someone.

“Lieutenant Bart Shelby,” he said. His fur was a dark blonde and short. His ears were a little floppy but alert. He looked a lot like a man she’d been in the academy with. Canines were similar on both Ares and Mars. That made her more confident that they’d been colonized from Earth.

After a little more staring in awe at the army they backed away and started trying to move stealthily towards the docking bay where the Camlann was docked.

They managed to avoid several patrols, thanks to the ship’s gaudy interior design. Who puts ornate pillars in a ship? she wondered. 

When they got to the docking bay, there were two ships, the Camlann and another one person fighter. “You tried fighting them in that?” she asked in awe.

“I was scouting this sector thinking your people had created some sort of secret weapon when I came across them. I tried to go out in battle but their tractor beams got me.”   

“I think your ship will fit in our hold,” she suggested.

“That’s great, but your ship looks a little big for just the two of us.” He was right. The crew was expected to be twenty and they could operate efficiently at a skeleton crew of six; pilot, engineer, gunner, navigator, medic, and scientist.

“We could probably get it out of here and recruit a new crew,” she said doubtfully. 

Pointing in the general direction of their old cell, Bart said, “Or we could go recruit them now. Shouldn’t your crew be here?” He saw her pained look and said, “Oh… drama huh? Well suck it up kitty-cat, I don’t like them either.”

Getting back to the cells was too easy. The three-guard patrols were predictable and easy to avoid. They managed to get to the first cell and Nessa’s face lit up seeing Perri. “Doctor! Are you comfortable or can we get you out of there?”

He said something, but the force field blocked all sound. There were no obvious controls or any central station for the force fields.

Bart tried hitting the wall but nothing happened. “I guess we need to fight a patrol,” he said enthusiastically.

Waiting for the next patrol they jumped them and managed to take them out with little difficulty.

“They looked surprised. Why is that? Does this all feel too easy to you?” Nessa asked.

Nodding, Bart said, “I think it has to do with why they were testing us. They said something about not seeing me in their future.” He picked the guards’ pockets and found nothing. With a grunt, he picked up a guard and carried him to the doctor’s cell. Nothing happened until he tossed the guard at the forcefield. When he did that, the field collapsed.

“Probably designed to not harm the guards,” she suggested. 

“Commander!” Perri exclaimed and saluted. “What do we do?” 

Bart scoffed and said, “I’m not saluting you.”

Nessa smirked. “Let’s get some more crew.” Her plan had been to get as many people out as she could, but the alarms started to blare and she knew she only had a little time before they were swarmed with guards or soldiers. “Grab the guard, let’s release the closest cells.

They managed to release four more people before they started to hear marching. There was an Aresian lieutenant, who was tall, muscled and looked like she’d been in plenty of fights; a lizard man from the Tyrite Empire who wore their uniform for a science officer; a Canine officer from the same ship as the lizard man; and last was a young girl who looked like she might have been fifteen, wearing strange clothes.

“Follow me and be quick,” Nessa led the way and tried to pick a random path back to her ship. 

They arrived with no fight, to Bart’s disappointment, and found Sun Speaker Aria waiting outside the ship’s hold. “You are hard to predict, but even without my powers I knew you’d come here.” She raised a gun and pointed it at Nessa.

“There’s a lot about Felines and Martians that you don’t know.”

With a smirk, the Sun Speaker replied, “Yes and we’ll find out.” She turned the gun to Bart and shot him. Bart crumpled to the ground.

In the time it took the Sun Speaker to turn the gun back to Nessa, the Feline had closed the distance between them and grabbed at the gun. She punched the other woman in the throat and grabbed the gun, turned it, and shot as the psychic gasped for air.

“He’s breathing, it must be a stun weapon,” the Doctor said and gestured to the Aresian woman and Tyrian to help carry Bart into the ship.

They raced to the bridge, except for the doctor and Bart who stopped in the medbay, and she sat in the pilot’s chair. She was more comfortable in the navigator’s position, but she was the only one who knew the ship. 

“Aresian woman, can you shoot?” Nessa asked.

She was right and the woman replied, “Of course I can. It’s ensign Tanya Brook by the way.”

“You,” Nessa said pointing at the lizard man.

“Alexandre Crowley, senior science officer.” The Tyrian said with a hissing voice. She pointed him to the science consol. 

“Ensign, take out the walls and the forcefield should come down. I’m going to try and activate the star drive the moment the shield is down.”

They all gasped except the young girl and she thought she saw excitement in their eyes.

Tanya was an excellent shot and the forcefield was down just as Nessa finished firing up the engine. They jumped to faster-than-light speed and they all visibly relaxed.

She didn’t want to overtax the engines and cut the throttle when she thought they were far enough away.

Dropping out of FTL, they found themselves in an empty part of space. 

“Captain, there’s a dark planet down there and it’s hailing us,” Alexandre said, sounding shocked.

Read Chapter 4

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The Suns of War – Chapter 2 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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: War of Words

“Wow. That is quite the statement,” Nessa scratched behind her furry ears to show disinterest and continued mockingly, “You can join us in our holy mission to rid the universe of the heretic stars, or you can die in a vain display of obduracy.

Aria the Sun Speaker looked surprised. “Are you mocking me?”

“A little,” Nessa admitted before saying, “I’m guessing you’re young. If you were a martian, I’d say early twenties. You don’t have much experience interrogating prisoners. You are relying on the size of your fleet and whatever your title is supposed to mean to intimidate me. Unfortunately for you, I don’t know what a Sun Speaker is, or a heretic star, and I’m an officer of the Martian space fleet. We don’t scare easily.”

The woman visibly deflated and seemed completely taken aback. “You don’t have Sun Speakers in this galaxy? Why can’t I read you?”

The prisoner answered truthfully, “No, and maybe because we’re different species.” A lot of graduates from the Martian academy think that lying to the enemy is the best choice. That wasn’t Nessa’s philosophy; instead she chose to not lie. It was a strategic choice, not a moral one. An enemy can lie to themselves better than anyone else. Give them just enough information and let their bias do the rest.

“A Sun Speaker is the voice of a sun. Each sun is a god and bestows upon its Sun Speakers the ability to see the future, harness its power, and lead its armies. It’s our holy mission to cleanse the universe of heretic suns.”

“So your people still worship sun gods? And you’re going around collapsing other suns?” This all sounded like rantings of a religious fanatic. Martians had a few that called themselves Earthers and worshipped the ancestors that came from Earth, but that was about it. Martians loved war above all else.

“You sound like you don’t believe in gods? Are your people so naive to think stars give life for no reason? We are their children.”

Boy, this woman is chatty, thought Nessa. Maybe I can get her to give me more information on Arthur. “If your all powerful god knows everything then why don’t you know more about the Myrddin or Arthur?”

“The Myrddin are a scourge. They are unclaimed by any sun and they can not be predicted. We have been at war with them for over a hundred years. They are searching for the reincarnation of their king, Arthur, who was a powerful Sun Speaker for a heretic sun.” 

That was easy. “Who decides what suns are heretics? And does every sun have a god in it?”

Looking delighted to talk, Aria said, “Yes, all suns have gods, but most are sleeping. The more people, the more awake the god becomes. The council of gods is headed by the Black-Sun. He is the oldest and most important god.”

“So they talk to each other?” Nessa asked.

“Enough questions. Will you join us?”

Taking a deep breath, Nessa said, “I am loyal to the United Martian Empire and would never join your sun cult.”

“I should kill you for that, but I can’t see your future or your past. You need to be tested.” She walked away as she spoke, almost as if she was talking to herself.

Nessa shouted, “I hope it’s math or history, I’m rubbish at literature analysis.”

She was expecting this testing to happen quickly, but it seemed they didn’t think she was a threat because they left her alone and she paced. There was nothing in her cell that could help her escape. The walls were plain, metal, smooth, and the forcefield keeping her in might as well have been a wall. She could see the opposite wall and that’s it. No sound penetrated the wall and she found herself missing the porthole in her old cell.

She fell asleep on the floor despite fighting it and woke up to two men standing over her. “I didn’t ask for a wakeup call.” They didn’t respond and gestured with nasty looking blades. She took the hint and followed one of the guards while the other stayed behind her. 

Their posture was relaxed and she knew that unless they had some extra strength or special powers, she could take their weapons and escape. The only problem being in a massive ship in the middle of a massive fleet, with no home to go to.

The tests turned out to not be academic, but medical. She was strapped to an upright bed and they took blood and waved things in her general direction. She was certain Doctor Peri would be able to tell her all about the tests. She missed her crewmate. 

“Are you done poking and prodding me?” asked a scruffy voice in Aresian.

She waited a few moments and replied, “I think it’s either shift change or they didn’t want to move us.”

“Bah. I don’t like being leashed,” the voice replied.

“I guess they captured some of you too. Is your homeworld still intact?” she asked. It was strange talking casually to anyone while being tied up and even stranger having such a casual conversion with her lifelong enemy.

“Ares Prime and the entire solar system has been reduced to rubble. And they had the arrogance to ask me to join them. Bah!” 

“They asked me too. It seems that we only have the choice to join them or die. They say they’re following the order of a god.” She was laying it on thick in case someone was listening.

“Hades to their ultimatum. I’m going to break out and make them understand what real war means. Are you with me, Martian?”

She smiled showing her sharp teeth and said, “First we need to escape and steal a ship, and I know exactly which one.”

Read Chapter 3

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

The Suns of War – Chapter 1 (Serial Story)

Prologue | 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: Vengeance Interrupted

When faced with the complete collapse of civilization, some people freeze, others refuse to believe, and even more break down completely. 

Nessa was in the first category to start with; she just stared, frozen in horror, as her homeworld floated by as countless pieces of rock. 

She was replaying everything she knew about science and weapons and coming up completely blank as to how this could happen, while her jailer kept repeating that it was an Aresian trick.

Nessa had a hard time controlling her tail in her current state. It insisted on puffing up as if there were some imminent threat.

“This is your captain speaking. All hands prepare for combat. Get to your posts, we’ll teach those Aresians what happens when they blow up our homeworld!”

The Camlann’s engines roared to life and the rubble faded into stars. Their stardrive was fast, but it would take them almost a week to reach Ares Prime at maximum thrust. 

“I have to talk to the captain! This is a trick, we’re being tricked,” Alfred was pale as he left her alone. 

No one came to check on her and no one came to feed her for a few days. She wondered if they’d forgotten her. “Maybe they just threw themselves out of an airlock?” she said aloud. Her voice sounded dull and dry. The lack of water was going to get her before anything else happened. 

On the fourth day of travel she was jostled awake by the ship dropping out of lightspeed. Once again she was grateful for the porthole in her cell. It showed a star system she didn’t recognize. It had a white dwarf star and from what she could see, only two planets. She thought there were a lot of asteroids, but upon closer inspection, they weren’t asteroids, they were ships. The ships were so black they seemed to absorb light. Their darkness and the insignia on their hulls were the only things that made them visible. The insignia was a dark blue thirteen pointed star.

There had to be millions of those ships and she had no idea who they were. The Aresian ships were boldly coloured and garish, the Martian ships were silver and sleek, the Tyrite ships were green living things, the ancient Earth ships were grey eyesores, and the other new ship they’d met had been round, red, with three golden crowns as an insignia.

Who are they and how did they manage to amass such a massive fleet without anyone knowing? she wondered to herself.

The lights turned bright purple and the alarms went off. “This is a mauve alert. Battlestations.” The captain’s voice had lost some of its battle lust over the past few days.

The ship’s weapons powered up and they shot at something she couldn’t see. As she looked out the porthole she saw a wave of blueish energy erupt from several ships and fly towards them like an ominous curtain. When the energy hit, the ship lost all power, and she started to float. There was a blast and she heard screams. They’d been boarded.

Her lack of food and water meant she had a hard time not falling asleep. She woke up briefly as men in black robes entered her cell, but didn’t have the energy to argue.

They took the entire ship into their hangar and then took the surviving crew as prisoners. She didn’t understand their language and couldn’t answer any of their questions.

Her cell was plush compared to the brig. Her bed had a pillow and she was given food and water right away. The cells were two metres cubed with one wall that was completely made by an energy forcefield.

Most of them looked like typical Homosapien. They were bipedal, mostly hairless, and their skin varied in colour from pale pink and white to dark brown. There didn’t seem to be any Felisapiens or Canisapiens among them. 

She could see cells just like hers across the hallway with various people in them. She recognized uniforms and people from all three empires. She couldn’t hear them and no matter how much she screamed, no one seemed to hear her.

After a day or two of being a captive, she started to feel better physically. Whatever they put in their food wasn’t very tasty, but it obviously had some healing properties. She was pacing her cell when they lowered the forcefield and a woman walked in. She was pretty with sharp features, pale skin, and short, bright red hair.

“Hello. I’m Sun Speaker Aria of Blue-Star fleet one. Whom am I addressing?” Her Martian was very good, if formal.

“I’m former Commander Nessa Hath of the United Martian Empire ship Camlann,” I tried to control my physical reactions to the woman, but there was something about her that didn’t smell right.

“You say former. Why is that?”

There was no harm in explaining. “I was stripped of my rank when I chose historical curiosity over duty to my captain.”

For a long time the woman said nothing as she looked through Nessa, then she said, “Yes. I see. You’ve made contact with the Myrddin. Do you know what it is and what it was searching for?”

Nessa shook her head, remembering that the ship had transmitted a message that said, Myrddin searches for Arthur. “It was searching for someone or something called Arthur.”

“Hm.” The redhead paused and then asked, “Do you know where to find Arthur?”


“A pity. Your crew mostly said the same thing. Those that didn’t die fighting.” She paused as if for dramatic effect. She must have thought it would shock Nessa to hear that some of her crewmates had died. She obviously didn’t understand Martians and their love of war. 

“Okay. Is this the point where you kill me?”

“You have a choice, former Commander Nessa Muldune. You can join us in our holy mission to rid the universe of the heretic stars, or you can die in a vain display of obduracy.

Read Chapter 2

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The Suns of War – Prologue (Serial Story)

Hello Readers,

This year for the serial story I’m going to be continuing an old story from 2016. I’ve edited and added information.


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

Prologue: Sailing the 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, his whiskers twitching with smugness. 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 brand new Starcruiser class ship, with a crew of twenty-three. Her mission was to explore the outer edges of the galaxy for resources that could help in their war against the Ares Republic.

“Alfred, take a walk.” Doctor Anson’s commanding tone ensured he knew it wasn’t a suggestion.

Waiting until they were alone, Nessa said, “Peri, if you’re here to tell me how much you’ve always hated me, you’re an hour late for the parade.” Her tail wanted to tuck between her legs as she remembered the half dozen crew that had come to berate and insult their former commander.

The doctor’s hairless face 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, humans were hard to read, and added, “I’ve looked over the logs and I’m going to testify for you at your court-martial.”

“Don’t be an idiot. It’ll just get you thrown into whatever hole they put 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 furry 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 and I wanted you to know that.” Peri smiled again and turned to leave.

“Thank you, old friend.” They’d served together since Nessa’s first tour of duty when she was barely out of kittenhood at fifteen.

Alfred strode back in and started saying crude things about the Doctor. Nessa ignored him; 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 ancient 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 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

The message repeated itself as if it were a recording. 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 leave a mark on the ship. The Captain was furious and ordered her to fire on the Aresian ship. Their stardrive was powered by antimatter and the explosion should wipe out all three ships.

That’s when 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 the frigate could hold the key to finding our original home world.”

“New Mars is our 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 the 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, despite its cutting edge stardrive.

She was now on her way to a court martial. If she was lucky, a life sentence 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. She was excited, despite the situation, to see the planets of the New Mars system; the crown jewels 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, almost bored.

Nessa felt sick. There’s no way they’d been off course. Out her porthole, all Nessa could see was darkness and rocks. Where were the planets? Where was the sun? 

A large semi-spherical chunk of rock flew towards the ship. As it got closer, she could see the ruins of a city flying toward them. 

The Captain’s voice came back on, “Oh Gods! What have they done!” He was no longer calm.

Read Chapter 1

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