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 (November 2021)

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

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Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 4

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

“Brave coming back to your ship after so long.” The Specter’s monotone was either bored or appreciative.

“I can honestly say it wasn’t by choice. I was kidnapped by this crew and forced to work with them.” Sometimes telling the truth is a great way to throw people off. In this case I was stalling trying to get to the magnetic spanner, a fancy little wrench that was designed to return to the owner if it fell off into space.

“According to my psych profile for you, that’s not really surprising. I was never expecting to find you. You probably set up shop as a mechanic in a backwater world. Maybe even convinced yourself you liked it.”

I sighed loudly and dramatically. “You’ve got me. I actually enjoy not being yelled at by commanders and I especially enjoy not being ordered to kill civilians.”

“There is only the God and the Cause!” he replied.

I spit at his feet and replied, “No God of mine.” I found the spanner and tossed it at the Specter. As expected, he activated his phase and the wrench went right through him. With my hand hidden behind my back, I pulled it back just in time. The Phasing tech drained a lot of power; combined with the fact that he couldn’t hit me if it was on, he turned it off.

My timing had been perfect and I heard a small gurgle as his body tried to understand how a foot long piece of metal was inside it. He fell to the ground right after the spanner burst out of his chest like an alien in a bad movie. 

I cleaned the room and spaced the body, keeping the extra stun grenades. His sidearm was keyed to his genetics and would explode if I tried it.

The next thing I did was check on Onyx. The ship’s diagnostics were years ahead of anything else and it told me he had a major concussion. With a few flips of switches I was able to fix the damage. He’d have a hell of a headache, but no other side effects. I watched him sleep a little, the contours of his cheekbones and perfect skin. He was beautiful. Of course the moment I thought it, he released the most ridiculous snore, something between an old gas engine and a wild animal.

Placing Diamond and Sphene on the other bunks, I had time to move the Mountain, whose girth, if not his height, lived up to his name, and his crew back onto their ship before everyone woke up. The stun grenades have a massive range and if you don’t have shielding, you’re going to be knocked out. 

The old man, who I still didn’t know his name, came over the coms sounding groggy, “You all alive down there?”

“Hey, it’s Garnet. Onyx took a pretty hard blow to the head, but everyone else was just knocked out.”

“Well well, good job new guy.” The man sounded impressed but didn’t offer his name. “Is the ship working?”

“Yes. All good to go.”

“Great, then follow me and let the princesses dream.” He undocked and started out of the sector. I ran to the pilot’s chair and followed Diamond’s ship. From the outside, I could see it’s name on the hull, Revenge.

“Uh… Revenge. Where are we going?” We couldn’t just fly the Rainbow through any commercial gate and without a psychic, there was no way I could get her to jump safely. 

“Just follow me. Diamond’s got a trick up their sleeve.”

I watched as the Revenge piloted right into a large asteroid and disappeared. “A hollow emitter masking a gate? How much money does Diamond have?” I said to myself.

“Very little, but I do have a map to all the hidden gates in the system,” Diamond said from behind me.

“But… How?” I asked as we came out of the moon of Tryo. I activated the cloak on the ship and continued to follow the Revenge.

“Honestly, I don’t know. The gates are hundreds of years old. A secret lost to all but a few Diamonds.”

The ship shook and Diamond sat in the engineer chair. I checked the sensors as she worked the automatic repair drones. “Looks like the Specter had a partner. There’s a 2-12 Aurora following us.” I swore.

“What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” Diamond sounded worried.

“Spector attack ship. Three pilots almost as fast as a Rainbow and twice as well armed.” I checked that our cloak was on; it was and it did nothing as we got hit by a second barrage.

“Revenge, are we close?” Diamond asked.

“Two seconds.”

I mentally counted to two and spun the ship around. I watched as the dark blur that was the Aurora was attacked by four asteroid mounted guns.

Not wanting to take any chances, I joined in with the Rainbow’s weapons. The other ship exploded in a dramatic display.

“Hidden weapons? Are those ancient too?” I asked.

Laughing, Diamond replied, “No, I added those. You never know who’s going to follow.” She paused and asked, “Anything we can salvage from that, you think?”

“Not unless you want to blow up or wait around for more.” I fired at all the pieces bigger than my head. “When it comes to Black-Sun there’s no such thing as overkill.”

“You’d know as well as I could, Engineer First Class.” She winked at me and said, “You locked down the ship, but didn’t secure the database. Nothing there really but the crew manifest.”

“How long have you known?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I suspected when you first got on board, but wasn’t sure until I saw how comfortable you were in that chair.”

“What now?” I asked. The penalty for harbouring a Black-Sun deserter was death, of you, your family, and anyone dumb enough to call you friend.

“Us deserters need to stick together.” She smirked and added, “Now let’s get to the base and plan a Heist.”

Read Chapter 5

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Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 3

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

Chapter 3

“A fight?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“Why not blast them?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The door opened and we were off. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And you can?” Diamond asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Chapter 4

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Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 2

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

Chapter 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re so clever, you tell me.”

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

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

“That was an easy guess. Try again.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Chapter 3

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

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 1

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

Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can we trust you?” asked the woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Chapter 2

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