Strange World – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Strange World.

Story

The story mirrors the old pulp comics and stories, but with a modern twist. This felt like it would fit well with Treasure Planet and Atlantis.

The story definitely follows Disney’s new story structure of not having a villain and dealing with family/generational trauma.

I find that a lot of the screen time is wasted on the AMAZING visuals and not enough on the characters themselves.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I liked the characters, but the focus moved around a lot and the emotions were rushed for the actions. Splat was a perfect Disney sidekick, the mom was amazing, and Alan Tudyk should not be playing pilots any more.

The three male leads were stubborn and their changes of heart were nice but not heart-wrenching.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter and fights between the characters was great and the parent’s interactions were great.

Loved the pulpy intro narration.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was an absolute joy to watch visually. The world was both amazing and fascinating. The camera angles and style were just perfect.

The music was very well done with a wonderful heroic score.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was exciting, thought provoking, and lots of fun. The whole family loved it. My wife, who has a background in biology, noticed a few really cool visuals early on and we then spent a lot of the movie pointing out inspiration for the world.

I look forward to seeing this one again.

Score: 1

Overall

A family drama with a spectacular world pulled straight from older pulp science fiction. This movie is stunning, clever, and a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 12 (Finale)


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 12

I was taken as a child from my parents, raised by a military cult, trained to be one of the galaxy’s greatest killers. The greatest fear any Black-Sun soldier has is of the Sun Speakers and their terrifying powers.

Because of all that, there was a large part of me that was convinced we would fail. That the physical and magical might of Black-Sun would come and stop us like a parent with an unruly toddler. 

We arrived at home base and I felt them before the sensors started beeping. “We have company,” I said and jumped on the sensors in the ship. Diamond and Flint had run off to the satellite arrays to upload the information on the matter replicator, the anti-Sun Speaker device, and Black-Sun stealing babies.

“Ah and I haven’t dusted the living room yet,” quipped Onyx.

Trying not to get distracted by the mental image of him dusting in very little clothing, I concentrated on the terminal in front of me. The sensors were telling me that there were two Black-Sun destroyers in orbit. 

Heading to the pilot’s chair, Sphene said, “Only two. I guess we’re not that important. If we launch now, we can maybe lead them away from home base.”

I was going to agree when a wave of nausea made me regret being born. “Wait!” I managed to say without gagging.

Putting the sensor view onto the ship’s main screen showed something weird. A small black mass coalesced into a ship. The Mountain’s voice came over the coms, “You’re having a party and didn’t invite us? That’s just rude.”

The Black-Sun should have fired on him the moment he arrived, but they hesitated, looking at the patchwork and frankly ugly ship. That gave the Mountain and his crew enough time to fire two bombs at the destroyers. 

The bombs hit the Black-Sun ships and instead of exploding they stuck to the hull for a moment before imploding. “Where did you get Plasma-Gravity Bombs?” I asked in disbelief as the mass of the ships was crushed into a dense ball of metal.

Sheepishly, the Mountain said, “I’m a scavenger. Blackbird and his crew are dead; they didn’t need all their stuff in that secret base.” He paused before adding, “I brought a whole bunch of stuff for Ronnie. Just ’cause her old man was a dick doesn’t mean she should suffer.” I doubted that Ronnie was suffering, from what Diamond said they were both extremely happy together.

“Thank you,” I said earnestly.

“It’s only a matter of time before more Black-Sun show up.” He stopped for a second and I saw that Diamond had managed to send the message out. The Mountain started to swear.

The message went out and wherever it went, it was spread as far as possible. Soon the entire system had the tools to fend for themselves and defend themselves against Black-Sun.

We all braced for a fight, but they’d relied on the Sun Speakers and their psychic powers for so long they didn’t know how to fight regular people. When the military turned against them, they retreated to the edges of the system where they had their bases. 

The acolytes of the sun were dealt with in bloody and terrifying ways. Regular doctors started taking care of childbirth and infant mortality dropped to nearly nothing. That meant a lot more mouths to feed, but the matter replicators made sure that wasn’t a problem.

We stayed with Diamond, whose real name was Ruby, for the first month. She came to see me while I was doing upgrades on the Revenge. 

“Everything okay, Dia—Ruby?” I asked.

She put the Diamond Stars holo-emitter next to me and said, “I’d be honoured if you would take on the mantle of Diamond.”

Every night since we’d sent out the broadcast, I’d had nightmares. I tried to convince myself they were just dreams, but I knew they were psychic visions.

“I can’t,” I said.

“Bullshit. I see in your face that there’s something you need to do and no matter what it is, you can do it as Diamond.”

“I think I’m meant to leave the system,” I said.

That took her a few seconds to process. “Well, this system has had Diamond Stars for several centuries. Time we shared with the universe.”

I put my hand on the device and thought of all the people who’d used it and the hope they’d brought to the system. “Thank you.” I turned and hugged her. “Thank you for everything.”

“This ship is called Revenge because the first Diamond wanted revenge on Black-Sun for everything they’d done. The name is a promise and it’s your turn to fulfill it.” With that, she walked off the ship.

I didn’t know why a Sun from so far away had chosen me to be its speaker, or why I’d gotten so lucky as to be kidnapped by this crew, but I was thankful.

It took me a few more months to upgrade the ship to both survive deep space and defend itself. When I was done, I dressed the part of Diamond Stars and went to say goodbye to Ruby.

“Diamond,” she greeted me. “It’s been an honour getting to know you. Are you going to tell the doctor?”

I shook my head and said, “He deserves a better, and longer, life than I can offer.”

“Good luck,” she said and I left.

On the bridge, I closed the hatches and ran through the preflight checks. I felt a pang of guilt and loneliness as I took off. They’d be better off without me and my crusade.

With stealth activated, I took the closest jump gate to the system’s edge. It would take a little time for me to reach the Black-Sun fleet that was massing. My plan was to follow them, piggybacking on their wormhole, and help whoever they were attacking.

I was half way when I started smelling something delicious. I walked towards the kitchen and said, “Whoever you are, you’re obviously not Galactic Police or Army. They don’t use that much garlic in their tomato sauce.”

Onyx turned to me as I walked into the kitchen, “Oh shut up. You love my spaghetti sauce.”

“I do,” I said before adding softly, “You shouldn’t be here.”

Sphene looked up from her datapad and said, “You’re an idiot, Diamond.”

“What my little sister means is that you’re not getting rid of us that easily.” Onyx walked over to me and gently smacked my shoulder. “Stop being all dramatic and come sit down for dinner. We’re family now.” He bent over and kissed my cheek. “Please don’t try to leave me again. I don’t think my heart could take it.”

I took his beautiful face in my hands and pulled him into a deep, passionate kiss. “I love you, too.” Somewhere between the smell and the kiss, I’d started crying. 

We were going to help fight the most powerful people I knew of, but we would do it together and together there was hope.

I am Diamond Stars, I’m a Sun Speaker of Sol, and I’m going to make sure Black-Sun knows the name of my ship.


While you wait for 2022’s serial story, check out the previous ones:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Single All the Way – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Single All the Way.

Story

The story is a copy paste from so many other Christmas movies. Instead of an ex or childhood friend, it’s a current best friend, but it’s pretty much the same. Even though the story is basic, the final touches are wonderfully queer.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The slightly neurotic big city agent, the small town ski instructor, the overbearing mother trying too hard, the sensitive nice guy, and the overdramatic aunt. All the stereotypes are there and they added a few extra with the meddling teens and the wise dad.

A lot of Christmas movies feel like they forget about the love part of romance and the love in the family around them. This one didn’t and love was very much central and believable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Oscillating from corny to sweet, the dialogue was perfect for the type of movie. I’m also really impressed at how well the different couples communicated. It would be easy, and typical, to have non-communication caused hijinks. I’m glad they didn’t go that way.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were pretty but generic. The filming was effective and I really liked how they framed the lovey-dovey moments.

The music was pretty good. Lots of Christmas and a few original songs.

Score: 1

Fun

I took particular joy at the teenagers forcing a “There was only one bed” scenario. Obviously the teens are learning their set-up methods from fanfics. I also really liked seeing all the Canadian actors.

My five year old liked it; she really got into the set up. She kept asking why he was going on date with the other guy. My two year old got a little bored.

I appreciated that they avoided angst and awkwardness. I also liked that it was an unabashedly queer and happy story, which is a combination that we need more of.

Score: 1

Overall

This is the happy, queer, and Christmassy movie you’ve been looking for. It’s fun, cute, and honestly really refreshing.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 11


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 11

“Where did they go?” yelled a voice. It was the Black-Sun encrypted frequency and either this was the greatest actor in the galaxy or our trick had worked.

“If we move, they’ll shoot us down,” said Diamond, looking perplexed.

I shrugged and said, “We’d better hope they give up or search somewhere else for us because this emitter can’t handle our disguise for more than another ten minutes.”

Sphene made a little squeaking sound and said, “I get that this was the plan and we didn’t expect it to work.” Her brother gave her a surprised look and she continued, “Oh, come on, Diamond had her ‘we’re going to die’ face on. And there was the whole proposal from Garnet.” She turned back to me and Diamond and finished, “We need a next part of the plan.”

Diamond shook her head and said, “Youth today. Always in a hurry. I’ll be glad to retire. Anyway. The moon behind us is hiding a jump gate. We just have to figure out how to use it without alerting the giant, super advanced fleet of psychics.”

“Sounds easy to me,” Flint hooted from the front.

Diamond nodded and asked me, “Can we switch from our disguise to the cloak without them noticing?”

“If anyone is looking at us or any scans pass by us, they’ll notice. You wouldn’t have another distraction up your sleeve?” It was a long shot, but I had to ask. She shook her head and we all paused for a second. 

I’ll never forget that second. It’s when my whole life changed. One moment, I was a deserter turned mechanic, turned thief; the next, I was flooded with images, sounds, smells, thoughts, and emotions. It was all extremely overwhelming and I needed to sit down.

“What just happened?” Onyx asked. He must have asked a few times because he looked worried.

I wasn’t sure how to answer him so I just said, “I feel like I just watched a hundred movies at once.”

Flint turned around and looked at me wide eyed. “Did you see anything about what’s going on right now?”

An image of us going through the gate and the moon exploding popped into my memory and I explained it to the group. When I was done I added, “I think there’s a self destruct in the gates. If we send an altered code just as we go through, it’ll blow up behind us.”

“What are we talking about here?” Diamond asked and then added, “Are we destroying the whole fleet?”

I shrugged. “It wasn’t that specific.”

“Well, dang. Little grease monkey here’s a baby Sun Speaker,” Flint sounded both reverent and highly amused.

We moved slowly towards the moon like a toddler trying to be sneaky, switched from disguise to cloak, and went through the gate at a speed that was completely reckless. I punched in the code myself and we watched as the entire fleet shot at us.

Once on the other side of the gate, it exploded moments before some of the missiles would have come through. We all whooped with joy and hugged. When I got to Onyx, I took his beautiful face into my hands and leaned forward to kiss him. He smelled of cooking, disinfectant, and sweat. I hesitated and he said, “Yes, please.” 

Our kiss started off soft and gentle and progressed to hungry. I lost all thought of the horrors of Black-Sun or the worries of being a Sun Speaker.

Diamond’s gleeful laughter pulled us out of the kiss and when we gave her a confused look, she said, “I bet Flint you’d kiss before we made it to home base.” Flint pulled out some credit chips and passed them over. We all laughed a little and Diamond asked, “If I get you to Viol, would you have the parts to build a ship-sized version of the anti-Sun Speaker tech?”

“Wait a second,” Sphene said. “If you had that thing on, how did he get that vision?”

“Each Sun has a separate frequency,” started Flint. “Ours is blocked by the tech and whatever Sun is talking to Garnet is not. You must be in contact with some sort of Rebel Sun.”

“Right. Why else would it want us to send this information out?” I added. Another image from the flash jumped to mind and I added, “There are other Suns and most of them are not on our side.” I then remembered Diamond’s question and replied, “Yes I can, but we’ll have to hurry. They might not be able to track us, but they certainly can figure out where you’ve been from flight and docking records.”

We hurried to Viol, where I had thought I’d spend the rest of my life, and everything felt smaller. Like when I’d visited the training academy after my first tour. 

I built the device and installed it on the ship. I also upgraded the holo-emitter and brought my favourite tools on board.

“So, you’ve decided to join us full time?” asked Onyx, obviously trying to look casual and failing.

“Yes. This may have started as a kidnapping, but you make really good spaghetti.” 

 “Even though I add too much garlic?”

“I never said that, I just said it was more than the military or galactic police put in theirs.”

We smiled at each other and he took my hand as I brought my stuff on board. We might be getting ready to destabilize the system by exposing the horrors of Black-Sun and we were about to become the number one most wanted by an army of psychics, but I was happy. That might sound selfish, but love is a wonderful motivator for hope.

“Alright. Let’s get to home base and finish this,” Diamond said. “Who’s ready to pick a fight with the biggest, baddest jerks in the galaxy?”

Read Chapter 12


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 10


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 10

“What the hell did you two steal?” asked Flint. We were all looking out the window at the fleet of ships.

“Are they hailing us or just sitting there threateningly?” Diamond asked.

“The second,” answered Sphene. She looked scared and it made her look her age, young.

Diamond reached down to her belt and pressed a button on the holo-emitter. “Built into this is a jammer that causes Sun Speakers to not be able to see what’s going to happen. That’s how we got out and how we got away. I turned it off just before they showed up. Figured we were free.”

“We need to look at the data that I got,” I said and sat at the last place on the bridge. It was a basic computer console.

I loaded up the files and there was nothing in the folder about the replicators other than the basic specs. This tech would change the way the system worked. The great thing was that it was simple and easy to reproduce. “I’m not convinced this is worth an armada,” I said, glancing nervously out the front viewport. If any of those ships so much as sneezed, our atoms would be dispersed across the galaxy.

“What about this one?” Diamond pointed at the files marked, “Operation Black-Sun.”

I opened the file. I wasn’t sure how a two hundred year old file could help.

What was in that file seemed to be a simple memo from one of the Sun Speakers to the heads of the military. It detailed the discovery of a ship filled with people from a planet called Earth that came from outside our system. It was filled with advanced tech. I recognized names for everything from propulsion to weapons we currently use. The research facility had been in charge of reverse engineering all the tech.

Past the tech, there was a description of what the Sun Speaker called a False god. The people were escaping a society that had rejected materialism for the teaching of a Sun god. This god sounded a lot like ours but the Sun Speaker in the files described it as a rebel who would be massing a fleet to come with an army to collapse our sun and kill everyone.

The file continued with a series of recommendations. The first was rapid recruitment into Black-Sun, converting more than half the military, of that time, to Black-Sun control. The second was to set up research stations across the system to study and re-create the tech. The third was to introduce Project Black-Sun.

The project was meant to swell the numbers of recruits by recruiting them from birth. Black-Sun demanded the Galactic Government give them half of all children born to be genetically altered and trained as Black-Sun operatives.

“That’s sick!” growled Diamond and I couldn’t disagree with her.

In the past two hundred years, the people had been told that there was a physical condition called Toxic Radiation Syndrome caused by an alien asteroid that had brought with it a radiation that altered our DNA to make it much more likely to give birth to a stillborn child. 

Because of TRS, all birthing parents had to be sedated and the only other people allowed in the room were the doctors and the priests of the Sun God.

This memo said that TRS was made up to create an army to fight a god.

Attached were the current statistics for the standing army of Black-Sun. It numbered almost as much as the entire system. It also wrote that with the deciphering of the replicator, the last pieces were ready for Black-Sun to preemptively attack the rebel god in a system called Sol, nearly three million light years away.

“We have to warn people,” said Onyx.

“Who? How?” I asked.

“Everyone and we need to get home,” Diamond said.

I scoffed, “You’d need an array of massively powerful transmitters and a hacker better than any I’ve ever heard of. And I have no idea how to warn the Sol system.”

Diamond smirked, “We have that and we can transmit this across the system, but we have to get home first. Do you have any bright ideas?” She looked at me and tapped her holo-emitter absentmindedly.

Smiling widely, I replied, “I do. But first, do you have anything explosive on board? Oh, and I’ll need your holo-emitter.”

They did and I had a plan. The holo-emitter and the Sun Speaker blocking tech was based off of what they’d found on the alien ship but altered in a very clever way. Whoever was the original Diamond Stars was brilliant.

I hooked the emitter into our shields and programmed it to show the illusion that we were one of the Black-Sun ships. I then did the calculations to jump us across the fleet to the other side.

The last part of my plan was trickier, but thankfully Diamond had stretched the truth when she had told us the ship had no weapons. It had a collection of older plasma bombs. They were bright and they made lots of messy radiation.

I programmed the bombs to explode and then took the controls of the ship as Flint and Diamond jettisoned them. 

Alone on the bridge with Onyx and Sphene, I asked, “Did you know?” 

“Know what?” Onyx sounded genuinely confused.

“Did you know about Project Black-Sun? You are a doctor.” I couldn’t keep the disgust out of my voice at the word doctor.

His brown eyes grew wide and he shook his head violently. “I had no idea. You have to be an initiate of the Sun Temple to become an obstetrician. I was all about emergency medicine.” Something about his panic made me believe him. Or maybe it was the relieved look on his sister’s face.

I took his hand and kissed it. “If we get out of this, I want to spend a long time in bed.”

“Okay…” Again he sounded confused.

“With you!” I exclaimed, smiling.

“Ew!” Sphene teased.

The bombs went off between us and the fleet at the same time as I activated our jump. When we dropped out of the jump, I activated our new disguise and hoped.

Read Chapter 11


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 9


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

“Do you think the whole station just lost life support or just this room?” I asked.

“Depends on how lucky we are.” For a woman chained to a wall in a high military research station who was trying to outsmart a Sun Speaker who could tell the future, she sure sounded confident.

“Assuming this room is airtight, I guess we have about two hours worth of air. Seems like we failed this mission.” I tried not to sound too defeated, but it was hard. I’m not sure if I was more disappointed to be dying or that I hadn’t had a chance to kiss Onyx yet. No, it was definitely the second part.

“You’ll get a chance to kiss the handsome doctor. Don’t worry,” Diamond said with a chuckle. Just when I was about to ask if she was psychic, she replied, “I’m not psychic, but I recognize attraction when I see it.”

“Too bad. It’d be nice to have a psychic on our side. It might counter the Sun Speaker.”

I sat down and Diamond said, “I realize we’re in the dark and all, but would you mind picking the locks on these chains?”

“Tired of hanging out with me?” I asked as I found my lockpicks. Maybe ‘lockpicks’ is a generous term for a small cutting torch and various tools.

I’d cut through the shackles around her ankles and one hand when I heard a deep rumbling. I hurried with the last wrist and Diamond pushed me towards the door.

“Did you know this room is on the outside of the station?” she asked.

“Sounds like a dumb place for a jailcell,” I replied, needing to shout over the sound of metal grinding.

“Where’s a prisoner going to go, into the black? They’d rather protect the experiments from stray asteroids and radiation spikes.”

I started to see sparks and then all noise stopped. I stepped forward and Diamond stopped me. The wall blew outwards and what was left of our air followed right behind it. We were sucked into the cold dark of space and for a moment I felt like every part of my body was being pulled and pushed in all directions. It wasn’t a fun feeling. 

I thought my lungs were going to explode and suddenly strong hands were pulling us into the Revenge. 

When the airlock recompressed, I was shivering so hard I thought I was going to chip a tooth. Onyx ran in with blankets and wrapped us both in them. “When you two can walk, I need you to get fully checked out.”

Diamond stood up, something I found extremely impressive since I wasn’t sure what part of me did that. She said, “I need to be on the bridge. We need to get out of here.”

She managed three steps before collapsing into Flint, who’d finished taking off his space suit.

I looked around and counted when I finished, I counted again. I was definitely suffering from oxygen deprivation. I said, “Piloting Sphene the ship is?” That didn’t sound right and I tried again, “Ship is Sphene-ing the pilot?” Nope that wasn’t it either.

Onyx smiled, it was much too distracting a smile, and said, “Yes, and I think you need some oxygen.”

Time passed and between the oxygen, blanket, and his smile, I started to feel better. 

“They’ve got to be following us,” I said, suddenly panicking. I got up and headed towards the bridge. Sphene was sitting in the co-pilot chair and at some point Flint must have taken over the pilot’s chair.

“How many?” I asked.

“No one’s following us,” Flint said with a small drawl. “I’ve used four jump gates and switched our transponder twice. It would take a psychic to follow us.”

From behind me, Diamond said, “Even then they can’t track us. Flint, get us to home base and then we’ll talk. Garnet, I need you and me to head to medical and get checked out.” 

I wanted to protest, but she was right. I needed to make sure this ringing in my head was just stress and the cold of space and not something worse.

Onyx gave me a quick check and then put me under a scanner while he checked on Diamond. 

“You could improve that holo-emitter by using a stronger power source and using a small engine capacitor to stabilize the image. It would make it harder for someone to know.”

With a slight chuckle, Diamond said, “That sounds good. I’ll write that down for my replacement.”

Both Onyx and I said, “Replacement?” at the same time.

“Yes. This is my last job. I have enough money and my heart’s not in this anymore. I’m going to settle down with Ronnie and retire.” She looked us both over and said, “I’m retiring, not dying. Diamond has always been a mantle and it’s past time to pass it on.”

I didn’t know what to say. The idea of retiring was completely alien to me. I spent my life expecting to die in combat, fighting the great war that was coming, and when I ran away, I assumed I’d be hunted and killed.

“Good for you,” I said awkwardly.

“Let’s just get to home base and send these plans out. You did get them, right?” Diamond asked.

“Yes. Why didn’t you ask earlier?”

“You’re not the only one with issues right now,” she said.

Onyx clapped his hands and said, “You’re both going to be fine. You need some food and rest, but you’re healthy otherwise.”

“Talking about food, do you have any of that spaghetti left?” I asked.

Alarms went off and Flint’s voice came over the speaker. “We’ve got company. There are three dreadnaughts and a lot of destroyers between us and home base. All Black-Sun.”

Dreadnaughts were the largest ships in the Black-Sun fleet, averaging six kilometres long, with a crew manifest of over thirty thousand. I’d never heard of three of them ever being deployed, other than in training missions.

Read Chapter 10


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 8


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

After a few hours of being in the conference room, I started to wish I’d taken up the Sun Speaker on his offer of food.

The door finally opened and Diamond was shoved through. She looked rough, like she’d been in a fight. Whatever had hit her had left a dark bruise over most of the left side of her face.

When the door closed, I asked, “What happened?”

She took a deep breath and sat on a chair. “They must have figured out our plan. We have to warn the others.” There was a breathiness to her speech, like she’d been punched in the throat. There was definitely something wrong.

“What plan?” I asked, using my best confused voice.

“The jig is up Samuel. They know what we’re going to do. It’s like they have someone on the inside.” She gave me a sidelong look before resting her head on the conference room table.

The thing about this plan was that I had no idea what came next. I suspected that neither did Diamond, but I couldn’t tell. The woman seemed to be part genius and part ridiculously lucky.

“Oh. The plan!” I said, trying to buy some time. Either Diamond was trying to send me a coded message or this wasn’t her. “Well… Nice job testing me. There is no one else.”

“Right. Of course. Now how about we get out of here?” Diamond said, standing and going to the door. She pulled a pass out of her sleeve and flashed it at the door. It had a little picture of the guard that had brought her to the room. “I nicked it off the guard when he shoved me.” There was a proud mischievousness to the look on her face. It looked right on her face, but not right based on my experience. It was a face she’d fake around others, not one she’d use with the crew. She was definitely trying to tell me something, or this wasn’t Diamond.

“Remember that we need to turn off their outside sensors and long range communications,” I said. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it sounded like it should be and even if this wasn’t Diamond it could be useful.

“I saw a server node when they brought me in. This way.”

I followed until we got to a door that indicated it was a server node. We went in with the help of the purloined pass and found a tiny room. The computers took all the wall space from ceiling to floor on all three sides that didn’t have the door. With both of us standing we would bump into each other as we worked. “You do the long range coms and I’ll do the sensors,” I said.

We worked in silence as we hacked our way into the system. While I worked diligently with my right hand, my left took out a hidden drive and plugged it in. I had just deactivated the sensors when Diamond said, “This is harder than I thought. I need more time.”

“We don’t have much, I’m almost done with the sensors,” I lied.

I looked at the bottom screen and transferred any files related to Project Replicator. The transfer finished and I saw another folder called Operation Black-Sun. Even though it was dated from almost two hundred years ago, I still took it. I placed the small drive back into the tiny hidden pocket in my hip. Onyx had made it and when I pressed the right way, it sealed so that the only way to know there was anything in it was an x-ray.

“I’m done,” Diamond said. “We should get out of here.”

“What about the plan?” I asked.

“Shove the plan into the vacuum of space, they have a Sun Speaker. We need to get out of here. No pay is worth this.” That’s when I knew it wasn’t the real Diamond.  

I needed to make sure whoever this was believed that I didn’t get what I wanted. “We need that prototype weapon. Our buyers aren’t going to take failure well.” I felt like I was getting pretty good at lying.

“Right. I looked at the floor plans while taking down the coms and I think the labs are this way.” Once again I followed her and when we got to an unmarked door she said, “The labs are in there. I just have to get this door open.” The pass didn’t work when she tried it, so she forced the door open. It was completely dark inside. She grunted and said, “I can’t keep this open for long. Get in there and unlock it from the inside.”

Walking into a dark room that I knew was a trap wasn’t fun, but I did it and when I did, the door closed behind me. Over the door coms I heard, “Thank you for telling us everything we needed.” It started out as Diamond’s voice but faded into that of the Sun Speaker.

“Wow, he does a great impersonation of me,” said a voice in the dark.

The lights turned on dramatically and I could see Diamond chained to the wall by her hands and feet. I was starting to miss the conference room. This one was all metal walls and uncomfortable rust coloured stains.

“I didn’t realize you were into this sort of thing,” I quipped, hoping her answer would tell me if this was another fake out.

“Yes, yes I am. But I usually prefer leather or silk. Metal is so unyielding.”

The lights went out again and then so did the hum, which I’d started to tune out, of the air support system.

Read Chapter 9


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 7


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

“Rainbow, please identify yourself.”

“This is Samuel 1701 and Ganis 1031. We are deserters who’ve had second thoughts.”

“Deserters? Normally we need to go find you, not the other way around.” The station’s com officer sounded pretty suspicious. That just showed he had some sense. Unfortunately for us.

“We managed to capture Diamond Stars and his crew. We’re willing to trade for a pardon,” I told the lie we’d agreed on, but I expected them to just shoot us out of the sky and save everyone trouble. I had my hand on the jump button in case. It might end us inside the sun, but I liked my chances better than with a missile.

The com was quiet for much too long and I thought maybe they were on to us. How did Diamond look so calm? That woman was amazing.

“Alright, dock at dock 3. Open the airlock with arms up and no weapons,” the voice said. Definitely military and not Black-Sun, or he’d have demanded we tie our hands behind our backs and lie on the floor.

As we waited for the airlock to open, I asked, “Do you really think this will work?”

“I’m hopeful, but I have four other plans just in case.”

The door opened to show two soldiers in full uniform with their side arms drawn. “Keep your hands where we can see them and walk slowly into the hall.”

We did what we were told and they cuffed us, almost gently, against the wall. Where had these guys learned to deal with prisoners? 

“Now where are the others?”

“What others?” asked Diamond.

“Diamond Stars and his crew?” the soldier asked with a smirk having expected it and didn’t bark back at the sass. Something was off and it was making me nervous.

“If we brought them right away you’d have killed us all and called it a good day. We stashed their bodies in cryo-pods.”

The soldier doesn’t seem surprised, but instead seems pleased. “Alright, we’ll take you to talk with General Maxime. He will decide what to do with you.” That was a good sign. There were no generals in Black-Sun. Only soldiers, commanders, and speakers. I always thought it was strange that the highest echelon of authority was called speakers, but since I never met any, I never got the chance to ask why.

“You’ll be in this room,” one of the soldiers said and pushed me into a small meeting room. The table in the middle was round and would seat four or five people. The walls were covered in whiteboards that had been meticulously cleaned or never used.

I was alone. It was a smart tactic. Get our stories separately and make sure we’re telling the truth.

I was feeling the walls to see if there were any back passages when a man walked in with a brown paper bag. He wore a lab coat over a grey shirt and black pants with bright red sneakers.

“Sorry. I didn’t realize this room was taken,” he said, not really looking at me. When he finally did and saw I was handcuffed he relaxed and added, “Oh you’re one of the prisoners. Mind if I have my lunch here?” He was handsome in a nondescript way.

It was a strange request, but I shrugged and replied, “Sure, unless you have something stinky.”

He laughed and said, “Naw. Just this tunafish, truffle, and banana sandwich with blue cheese.” He paused for a second and laughed at his own joke before adding, “Not big on jokes huh. Well, you were Black-Sun. Don’t worry, I just have some cheese, crackers, and an apple.” The food was fresh looking and impressive this far out in a secret base. How did they get fresh produce and dairy? Either they’d perfected the device we were here to steal or he was more important than he let on.

He ate mostly in silence. He was neat to an impressive level. He offered me a piece of cheese midway that I politely declined.

“So what are you in for?” he asked in a jovial tone.

“Bit of desertion,” I replied with a smirk I hoped looked more charming than dangerous.  

“Ouch. Black-Sun normally just kills you guys. Why do you think the military is going to protect you?”

“I have someone they want. I’m Samuel 1701, mostly go by Garnet.” I didn’t ask his identity. I’d already figured it out, I hoped.

“Where are my manners. I’m Echo.” His eyes searched mine for recognition. I must have faked ignorance well enough because he said, “Physicist and researcher.”

“Nice to finally meet you, Sun Speaker Echo, sir,” I said dropping the pretense.

He smiled and his eyes glowed black for a moment. “So you saw right through me. You’d make a good Sun Speaker.”

“Why the ruse?”

“You respond better to casual conversation and I needed to eat,” he chuckled. Standing up, he headed for the door. As he passed through, he turned and said, “Sun Speakers are able to see the past, present, and future. You can’t lie to us and you can’t trick us. The gods are on our side. We are the righteous and I’m glad you’ve found your way back to us.”

He left and I deflated. What he’d said was normally told in whispers after too many drinks. How could we possibly out-maneuver a god-powered psychic?

I paced and tried to calm my breathing. My heart ached if I thought about the plan and what might happen to poor Onyx.

It wasn’t until I thought of him that I was able to distract myself enough to process my conversation with the Sun Speaker. If he was all knowing, he’d have shot us out of the sky the moment he saw us. That meant he didn’t know everything, and that meant, maybe, we had a chance.

Read Chapter 8


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


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 6


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

When I heard the orbital guns, I assumed that Black-Sun had found us. What I saw in the sky wasn’t Black-Sun, it was barely a ship. It looked like an old military bomber from a century ago.

“We have to get out of here, now!” I yelled. Diamond was already up and monitoring the guns. The rest were getting up groggily.

Diamond yelled over the guns, “Why? They’ll take that thing out soon.”

I ran to her and screamed over the noise, “It’s a class 5 bomber. It’s probably filled with PGBs.” Plasma-Gravity Bombs were an early form of explosive that combined massive blasts of plasma with gravity bombs. It would superheat and crush a target. They were discontinued and banned after it was discovered they could be used to collapse a moon. 

Diamond swore, shut off the guns, and rushed to the others. Diamond threw a bucket of water, at least I hoped it was water, on Flint. Onyx and Sphene saw the panic in our eyes and hurried to the ships.

We hadn’t had time to dock or transfer anything from the Revenge to the 16-19 Rainbow. So while the others ran to the Revenge, I ran to the Rainbow. We needed that ship for whatever ridiculous plan Diamond had.

The Revenge took off and I was a second behind it. That’s when the bomber hit the planet. At first it felt like I’d had my brain boiled and then the shockwave tossed my ship into space. 

I managed to recover in time to see three ships surrounding the Revenge. They weren’t Black-Sun; they all had the same logo as the Mountain’s ship. The scavenger must have been angrier than he’d let on when we took the Rainbow away from him.

I activated the stealth functions of the Rainbow and prepped automatic weapons. The hyper-plasma guns on it wouldn’t blow up a planet but they’d melt through any ship or shields known in the system.

“This is the Rainbow…” I hesitated, “Revenge. Yes, the Rainbow Revenge. Cease your firing, or I’ll destroy your ships.”

I switched to the gunner’s chair and aimed at the main ship. I would get one good shot and then I’d have to jump back into the pilot’s chair to get the ship out of the way of retaliatory fire. They were not designed to be operated by one person.

“Rainbow Revenge, we’re not here to attack, we’re here to offer aid.” The voice of the Mountain said over the coms.

“If you are, move away from the Revenge, shut down your guns, and lower your shields.”

“We can’t do that,” the Mountain said smugly. “What if the people who threw the bomber are still around?”

A quick scan of the Mountain’s ships showed that none of them could tow a bomber. I moved to my engineering seat and scanned the area for another ship. I almost didn’t see it it was so well hidden. Not with stealth tech like the Rainbows, but by being painted pitch black and running on low power.

The ship was military, but retrofitted with bigger weapons. I opened an encrypted link to the Revenge and asked, “Do you know anyone who flies under the symbol of Blackbird?”

I was surprised when Onyx replied, “That would be Captain Blackbird. Man’s had it out for Diamond since his daughter ran away with her. He’s a slaver and a jackass.”

It’s all I needed to hear. I returned to the gunner’s chair and aimed at the ship’s cargo hold. The bomber didn’t make as large an explosion as I’d expected; seeing as I expected to die, that was a good thing. If it didn’t explode with a full contingent of bombs, they might be on the Blackbird ship. It was a hunch but Black-Sun training told me to always trust intuition.

I fired at the Blackbird ship and it exploded for a few seconds before it imploded on itself, leaving nothing but a dense ball of metal the size of my fist. 

As I moved my ship to stay hidden, the Mountain radioed, “We’re backing down and moving away.”

A few gate jumps later, inside the atmosphere of a gas giant with the Rainbow Revenge docked to the Revenge, I was standing with the rest of the crew looking at the plans for one of the best defended bases I’d ever seen.

“This is a research station?” I asked incredulously.

“High military and Black-Sun. According to the government it doesn’t exist.” Diamond smirked as she looked at the plans.

“How are we going to get into there?” I asked.

“More importantly, how are we going to get back out?” asked Sphene. Her fear made her look younger than she already did.

“Ah, the lot of you have no faith,” Diamond walked around the table and then dropped a pair of handcuffs on top of the map.

“We’re going to turn ourselves in.”

“Why would we salvage a ship to go in all stealthy if we were just going to turn ourselves in?” Flint sounded amused more than annoyed.

“Garnet and I are going to be turning you three in, in exchange for a pardon.”

The group erupted into arguments. When they’d yelled themselves out, Onyx asked, “But why would they care about us?” 

“We won’t be turning in an old pilot, a doctor, and a military school drop out. We’ll be turning in the notorious Diamond Stars and his proteges.

Taking the holo-emitter off her belt, she gave it to Flint, who gave a toothy grin and said, “This is a terrible, dangerous, and ridiculous plan. I love it!”

Read Chapter 7


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

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 5

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

“You’re a fool, you’re all fools, and I’m a fool for listening to any of you!” Flint yelled.

It would have been more effective if the old man didn’t have a massive smile on his face or if he wasn’t piss drunk. I’d learnt his name once we were at the base.

Calling it a base was generous. It was a moon with an atmosphere, but no native life other than bugs and plants. The actual base was more of a campsite with four anti-orbital guns.

There was clean running water, tents, a stockpile of food, guns, money, medical supplies, and anything else we could need. 

As we landed the ships and we all met in the middle of the site, the old man walked over to me, stuck his hand out and said, “Sorry I doubted you, boy. Name’s Flint.”

The rest of the evening, if you can call it that, was cooking, eating, and laughing. It felt like being part of a family, or at least what I imagined being part of a family would be like. I didn’t remember much before I was inducted into Black-Sun at the age of four.

I was sitting on an uncomfortable chair near a large fire, drinking a beer, watching as Flint and Sphene tried to sing an old ballad I didn’t recognize. 

“You know, he has a lovely singing voice when he’s not drunk,” Onyx said. He was drinking orange juice.

“He must be really drunk. What about her? Is she old enough to drink?” I asked.

“She’s really that bad and sixteen, which is old enough to drink by law, but she’s not drinking.”

“Neither are you,” I pointed out. The firelight danced over his features, each flicker changing the way his face looked, but never marring it’s perfect features. 

“I used to. A lot. It’s the reason I’m here and not at some hospital.” When I didn’t say anything he added, “That was a little heavy. Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring you down.”

“No. No. It’s okay. I’d like to know more about you.”

“There’s not much to tell. Spent most of my life trying to be a doctor and then I made the mistake of thinking I was a god. Now I’m doing my best to be a good person.” We both laughed at this. “I mean Diamond and the gang have never robbed anyone who couldn’t afford to lose it.”

“And your sister?”

“She was the wild one. Parents sent her to military school at twelve. She was sent back three years later with a dishonorable discharge, combat skills, and a lot of rage. Our parents told her to follow their rules or get out. She got out.”

I looked over at the young girl who was singing off-key with the drunken old man and asked, “Did she come to live with you?”

“No. I wasn’t in any state. She ran off and joined a bunch of thieves. Diamond has been training her in meditation, combat, and thieving; while Flint has been training her in weapons. She found a home when I had been thrown out of my job, house, and life. Just when I had given up, she came into the bar where I was and threatened to beat the shit out of me. Ten years younger and she was the older sibling.” He gave a little laugh.

“Sounds like she really cares.”

“She does. They all do. We’re not just a group of thieves, we’re a family.” He looked at me somberly over his orange juice.

“Is this where you tell me that I’d better not do anything to mess this up?” I said, half joking, but also half expecting a macho-speech.

His eyes looked sad and the crinkles around them became more apparent. “No,” he said and shook his head. He leaned forward towards me, moving towards my mouth for a kiss. I could smell the orange and suddenly felt my whole body tingle in anticipation.

I pulled away before the kiss landed and said, “I’m not who you think I am.”

Looking disappointed but not angry, he asked, “You’re not a brilliant mechanic hiding from his past on a backwater world?”

“Well, yes… But—” 

“So you’re not a handsome military deserter who has been trying really hard not to make me feel stupid for offering to protect them?” he interrupted.

“Does everyone know? Is it that obvious?” I asked, worried.

“Yeah, anyone with eyes can tell you’re handsome.”

I had spent my entire life training for the Great Battle Against Evil. I had been told that I was going to save all of humanity and our gods. I had been awarded medals for valour. And in all my years I’d never been complimented so directly. I blushed and said, “Thank you. I meant the other part.”

“I know what you meant and no, it’s not that obvious. I’m a doctor and I did thorough scans of your body when we took you aboard. You have military upgrades. Also I was semi-conscious for parts of your fight with the Specter.”

“Ah. So did you want to know more?”

“You know my darkest shame. Why not tell me yours?”

And that’s what I did. We talked about my upbringing in Black-Sun and what was expected of me. The training, my service, and all my shameful career. At some point I’d found myself lying on the ground with my head on his knee. He played with my short hair, sending shivers up and down my body. It was soothing, I was surrounded by the smell of campfire, and even though I was vulnerable, I wasn’t worried.

At some point I must have fallen asleep. I awoke to the roar of the anti-orbital guns firing at something.

Read Chapter 6


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