THE MOST RECENT INHABITANTS
Jihan Aurora stood on her mountaintop lookout where she could see the entire desert all the way to the mountain ranges they called the outlands. She could see a mighty dust storm sweeping across the desert floor and she hoped none of the desert dweller’s caravans were caught in it though she knew the dwellers and the outlanders were a hardy bunch so she knew the storm be nothing special to them.
Then she turned her eyes to the night sky. It was an exceptionally clear night and in the distant darkness she could clearly see the bright stars Mintaka, and Alnitak. along with their sun the star Alniham they formed the BELT OF ORION as seen from Earth. Her grandfather spoke fondly of Earth, with its green valleys, purple mountains, and blue oceans and matching blue skies. That was hard to imagine.
The other two stars supposedly had no inhabitable planets. As she gazed around her desert world she wondered if her planet was in fact uninhabitable too. Life there was difficult on a good day. But Alniham Orion 4 was the only world she had ever known. Its oceans were pale purple and the sky was a reddish pink in the day and hazy indigo at night.
Then there was the Khad. They enslaved the colony upon their arrival. Like the planet Jihan knew no other way of life. The struggle that came with it had driven her to often want to escape. But even the calm night could not soothe her troubled mind. She was being forced to marry the prince of the House of Basrilian. Many colonists blamed them for the deaths of the original crew including her father Captain Aurora and that had been a thorn of contention for the Khad Regime.
Jihan sighed realizing just how much she missed her Governess Old Bethany. She predicted things would change one day. A spaceman would come and rescue the colony. this very same spaceman would become her Jihan’s husband. Old Bethany had never been wrong. Still the whole thing sounded like a fairy tale and how could it ever come true?
Just then Jihan was startled by a bright flash of light in the sky. Having watched the Khad Armada ships come and go for years she knew the difference between a shooting star and a spacecraft entering the atmosphere. But this one was somehow different from any she’d ever seen.
The star seemed to be decelerating until it was on a smooth trajectory as it disappeared beyond the east horizon. If it was indeed a spaceship establishing orbit it would have to reappear over the other horizon at or near the same height.
Jihan rushed across the mountaintop to a ledge where she could see the western horizon. Trying hard to catch her breathe she eagerly waited for her star to reappear. After several moments, nothing happened. ‘It must have been a meteor.’
Disappointed she began to walk back down the path wondering how she could have let herself get so excited. Then it occurred to her it was decelerating meaning it would take longer to travel around the planet. With renewed energy, she sprinted back up the path. Before she could catch her breath again she saw her star coming into view over the western plain.
“OH MY GOD THEY’RE HERE.” She shouted. “Old Bethany you are never wrong. I should have never doubted you.” Her mind raced as she tried to put what was surely the impossible into perspective. “The prophecy… it’s true.” It took a moment then for the first time in years Jihan believed again. Bethany stood before her always in her working garments with her unkempt hair a blanket of clothes under her arm. ‘One day a ship from Earth will come. The ship will be led by a spaceman. He will free us from the Khad Empire. And you will marry the spaceman and become the first Queen of Alniham. When that day comes don’t forget to pray.’
Jihan fell to her knees and began to pray.
FOOT NOTE: NEW STAR HORIZON came about from a short story I wrote about a picture for an online contest. Turns out the contest was actually for children, probably why it got my attention. The host site really liked my story idea thought it was not appropriate for their age group. But it sparked me to try an write a novel based on the idea. As they say; the rest is history…
SO FAR AS WE HAVE YET ASCENDED
Jihan stood at her spot on the mountain top. From there she could see the troops overrunning the green energy dome that covered her fellow colonist. She hated herself that she was not there with them waiting to die.
She was about to turn away when something caught her eye. There were two flaming balls of light up in the sky. Coming down out of the sky came two flaming streaks. The air cracked as a sonic boom ricocheted off the mountain walls. The first one came down to the west of Heaven’s Peak. It detonated with blinding white light. The second flash exceeded the glow of the first and Jihan had to hide her face from the blinding light. When she could see again a pair of matching white mushroom clouds rose to the height of where she was standing. Nothing could be seen below the towers of smoke and fire.
Jihan turned and ran down the path of the mountain where she was so tired she fell to her knees and began to cry uncontrollably. The Khad’s were dead, but so were the colonists and Matt. It was the price of freedom. But the price was much more than she could ever have imagined it would be.
Jihan was beside herself with grief. She had never dreamed that her people would decide to sacrifice themselves in the face of defeat. To see them all obliterated in front of her eyes was more than she could handle. Beyond the loss was the complete unknown. Her life had come crashing down upon her. Yet to make matters worse she was still alive. Only then did she understand what her mother must have felt the moment before she plunged herself into the raging river. All this time Jihan could not comprehend how she could kill herself and leave her only child behind. It was clear just how much pain she must have been in.
Up ahead there stood the very same river she had lost her mother to. She had very little time to decide but even less hope to live for. There was no point in continuing in the agony. She would join her mother and father.
Just then Old Bethany appeared shaking her finger at her. “How could you kill your own child?”
“What?” Suddenly Jihan stopped walking and placed her hand on her belly. “What are you telling me?”
Old Bethany spoke again. “Kill yourself kill your child.”
“My child?” The realization was stronger than the pain she felt over her loss. It was a realization filled with hope. It was Asim’s child she was carrying. For that reason, she wanted to live. To find him and tell him they were to have a child. Jihan hurried down the path towards Asim’s camp.
Behind her Old Bethany transformed into Rumana.
THE PARTS OF THE FIRE THAT BURN
Matt realized all eyes were on him.
“Time for plan B.” He said self-assuredly.
“There’s a plan B?” Maggie asked.
“There is now. Everyone, inside the compound.”
Most would have a hard time understanding the principles behind the stasis field. Stasis came about as a weapon during the war with Taurus. Matt knew the effects well. No energy could be generated in the field. No electromagnetic radiation, no electricity, no magnetism, and no light. The result of it was to make all conventional weapons useless.
The idea was to project the field over the compound just above the force field at a radius of ten meters. That would neutralize the enemy’s weapons before they could hit the force field. This would prolong the remaining energy shield by hours.
Deforest was convinced the move was for morale only. He knew that it was only prolonging the inevitable. “We’re not going to make it are we?” He asked Matt directly.
“How old did you say your son was?”
“He’ll be ten years old on his next birthday.”
“Really, when’s that?”
“Well make plans to be there.” Matt went back to work.
As soon as the techno crew had the generator hooked up they were ready to activate the Stasis field. For the next eight hours, they watched the exploding lights in the sky just beyond the dome. His idea was working but for how long?
Matt had seen enough. He knew what he had to do. Without asking anyone for an opinion Matt requested terms for surrender. Everything went silent as they all listened. Still no one wanted to argue. The Link came back on Matt turned up the speaker for everyone to hear. The dialect was easily recognizable to Maggie and the others. She also knew what it meant. Almost by reflex she let out a cry. Matt also knew what it meant. Translated said PREPARE TO DIE.
Over the speakers came a tirade about the Khad and the mighty Throojan Armada and how this day would go down in glory spewed from the Comlink. At that point Matt shut it off. The hysteria he had tried to avoid had started.
“We trusted you,” A woman yelled.
“Get him, it’s his fault.” A group of them quickly formed and tried to get to Matt but Sadia stood in the way gun drawn. “We all knew what our chances were.” Sadia yelled.
People were scattered about in desperation.
“Die with some dignity.” Maggie rose and shouted at the top of her lungs. “I’d rather die free then live as a slave.”
“I’d rather live as a slave than die.” A man shouted. “Now we can’t even do that.”
“Who said anything about dying?” Matt finally shouted back. He walked over to Storm and pushed her weapon down. “There’s no enemy in here.”
“So, this is it.” She said her eyes welling up with tears.
Matt looked at her puzzled, then he looked at his Timepiece. “Not just yet.” Matt smiled. “But any minute now.”
Now Sadia was puzzled. She looked at Deforest.
“He’s got something up his sleeve.” Deforest supposed.
“He can’t possibly have something up his sleeve.” Sadia protested and grabbed Matt’s arm. “Matt what’s going on?”
“Major what’s plan B?” Maggie wanted to know. The word spread quickly that something was up. Soon everyone had quieted down and gathered around at the center of the hanger holding hands. “Major, tell us what’s going to happen.” She pleaded.
“Oh my God there is a plan B!” Storm said a huge grin on her face.”
Matt looked at his timepiece again. “Everybody, please cover your eyes and do not look up at the dome for any reason. Thank you.”
A moment later the dome suddenly turned to a blinding bright orange for several seconds. It turned a whitish purple but soon the dome went orange again. Suddenly the ground dropped away and then flexed back up. Everything went airborne in all directions, making it impossible to still be upright. Then the entire dome began sinking downward like a slow elevator. When the sinking stopped everyone was wondering what had just happened.
NEW STAR HORIZON WILL RETURN
IN BOOK TWO
NEXT TO LAST EPISODE
ANOTHER COURSE OF ACTION
“This is Quinn, we are under attack. Our cloak is somehow not effective against their sensors. The two war ships are closing in on us.”
“Quinn do you read me?” Matt yelled into the receiver. There was a long eerie silence.
“The Khad’s are intercepting our communications.” Deforest cautioned Matt. “They can hear whatever we say.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore.” Matt said stepping forward. “Listen to me Quinn; you can no longer help us. Get out of there. Return to the wormhole and return to Earth for help. Is that understood?” There was no reply only silence. “This is a direct order.” Still nothing, “MOTHER.”
“You must follow Directive Alpha-Sigma-Epsilon and inform Earth Force of our situation. Is that clear, Alpha-Sigma-Epsilon.”
Quinn jumped in, “But what about you? What about the colonists?”
“Get my ship out of there now, while you still can. Set a course for the wormhole maximum speed.” There was silence again. “This is a direct order. MOTHER, take command of the Horizon and follow my orders, do you understand?”
“God be with you all; Quinn out.”
Quinn looked around the damaged control room at the crew. He had almost gotten them killed, so now he was forced to turn the reigns over to a machine.
“What are we going to do sir?” Doris asked.
Just then belvedere came flying into the room sideways due to the artificial gravity being offline. “We have got to make a run for it.” He screamed as he made his way over to the tactical station.
Quinn launched himself over to him. “What’s going on?”
“Communications are still down with that part of the ship.” Keiko said informing the crew.
“Our force field overloaded and shut down. O’D says he can’t do anything until the power rods cool down.” They looked at the console and all indicated were at zero. “THEY KNEW JUST WHERE TO HIT US.”
“MOTHER can we out gun them?”
NEGATIVE – BUT WE CAN OUT RUN THEM
That was all Quinn needed to hear. “MOTHER gets us out of here.”
The ship lounged forward, and the thrusters kick on and sent everyone back in their seats. The G-Force was as unexpected as the speed of the ship.
COURSE PLOTTED FULL POWER ENGAGED
“Strap in everybody.” Quinn yelled as he made it back to his seat. “There’s no turning back now.”
The viewer flashed the image of the Khad ships that were getting smaller every second. Finally, they turned away from their pursuit.
“They can’t catch us.” Doris yelled.
“Thank God,” A relieved Quinn said loud enough for all to here. “And thank you MOTHER.”
“I’ll be damned, this ship can haul ass.” Keiko said as she put her helmet back on.
“What’s gonna happen to our people?” Doris said unsettled.
NOT TO WORRY – WE HAVE A PLAN
“MOTHER, what exactly is ALPHA-SIGMA-EPSILON?” Quinn wanted to know.
NEW BLOG YOUR NOVEL
THE BLACK LOBSTER
HERE’S A PREVIEW OF THE INCOMING BLOG:
STILL FOLLOW THE BLOG: NEW STAR HORIZON (BACK STORY)
THE GRAPHIC NOVEL — ADVENTURES OF MAJOR MATT STEWART