By Starlight

All Rights Reserved ©

Summary

After being rudely introduced to the wider universe, a bright and adventurous young woman must search the stars for answers. She must fix the mistakes of her family, discover power she could never have imagined, and grasp a universe far stranger than she realized. But with the stars as her guide and the companions she meets, the galaxy will be opened wide.

Genre:
Scifi / Adventure
Author:
Nicholas Cramer
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Prologue

The man walked hurriedly down the metal corridor and past the rows of large doors. He struggled to keep the awkwardly shaped object lodged between his arms, hoping and praying it would not fall out and hit the metallic flooring. The ringing sound would be magnified in this acoustic nightmare of a hallway, and alert every single officer in the wing. He could not afford to let that happen.

A youthful man nearly entering his thirties, stress and long work hours had drained the life out of him, maturing him at a much faster rate than his peers. He was tall, though not outrageously so, and his skin was a pale whisper of its original tone. Years aboard a space-bound vessel will do that to a man.

He faltered momentarily, hiking up the jumpsuit underneath his lab coat. The object was slipping again and had begun to dig into his stomach. As he stopped for a moment, he noticed all the lines of doors. Some were open, leading into empty chambers still in need of filling. Most were closed, filled with anywhere from a single scientist to an entire squadron of soldiers. It was mandatory to keep them closed so that in the case of a breach only a small portion of the ship would become depressurized. They led into all sorts of vast chambers, from hangars to mess halls to laboratories. Each one led to a different place, a different path.

He thought about stopping. He didn't have to go through with this crazy plan. He could just stop, and walk through one of the countless doors and forget he ever dreamed of turning against his nation. It would be so easy too... no one would ever suspect him of doing anything strange or unusual. He could put the core back into its chamber, no one else the wiser. He would just fall back into the crowd, invisible once more. No one would ever suspect him of removing it in the first place.

That would be nice...

He quickly snapped out of his stupor. No! This needs to be done! No human should be allowed to possess this much power. If only he was capable of realizing that, then only he could do something about it.

The man, with his weathered lab coat and trembling limbs, stiffened as two officers appeared from across the corridor. Their blue and silver uniforms flashed against the harsh luminescent lighting of the hallway. They would be upon him in mere seconds. As they approached, the man fumbled around furiously, repositioning the object he held so that it would not be overly conspicuous to the officers.

"Dr. Stellam!"

The man stood up straight and tall, and his arm sprung up into a salute. The officer who spoke, a clean-shaven man who smelled faintly of cologne, stopped in front of the man and smiled. It was not a pleasant smile, as those who join the imperial military rarely do so because they enjoy the company of others. His smile was too forced, too obvious. His attempt to be friendly only served to intimidate the nervous doctor; it did not help that the doctor was already on edge.

"Officer S-S-Solomon!" the man stuttered. This was bad. Despite being older, he was outranked by this uncomfortably friendly officer. They could keep him here in the hallway, talking about nothing, for as long as he saw fit. Long enough for the object to loosen its grip on his conscious, and fall to the ground as if to say "Look! Here is the traitor!"

"How goes the experiments? Make any new groundbreaking discoveries since I last saw you?"

Officer Solomon made a quick wave with his hand, recognizing the salute, and the doctor brought his hand back down in a flash. The other officer, whom Officer Solomon had been walking with, sighed impatiently. He hated when his comrade would try and make small talk with the scientists or the technicians. They clearly didn't want to talk with him, and he never understood their blathering about engines or technology. Just leave them alone, and maybe they could actually finish their patrol with time to spare!

"Oh, I uh..." Dr. Stellam rubbed his unshaven chin. "Nothing... nothing new, sir. Science takes time, you know! Heh..."

"Oh, but surely you've found something! A new planet, perhaps? Did'ya find a new planet, doctor?"

"Oh, I don't... that's not my field of work. I'm a researcher. I test... uh, new sources of energy."

"Wowza! I thought we'd already found all the energies. Ain't that right, Jakob?" The other officer nodded exasperatedly.

"Well, uh, that's what I do, uh, work on," the doctor said. "Now I should really be going, sir..."

"Oh of course, of course! Go do your energy thing, good doctor!" The cheery officer salutes and begins to walk off. Officer Jakob sighs in relief and quickly marches off as well.

"Oh, yes, I almost forgot!" Officer Solomon turns back around.

"Yes?" The object had almost fallen then.

"Will you be seeing Ms. Corian today?"

"I, uh, perhaps. Yes, I might."

"Tell her I said hello, won't you? Thanks, friend."

And with that, he continued on his patrol. The doctor breathed a sigh of relief and quickly hurried to the end of the hallway.

He eventually reached the one-person spaceship hangar, the destination of his frantic escape, and stepped inside.

A long room, most of the space was filled with spacecraft. A row of these small vehicles faced him, about twelve in all. Each one was roughly five meters long, with a rounded cockpit in the front like the kaleidoscopic eyes of a bug. The ships themselves resembled bugs quite closely, in fact. A cicada, hibernating in its nest. Each one sported two large fins that could extend to the side of the craft when in flight, though they were currently retracted. Each chassis was the color of midnight black, the same black as the outer hull of the battleship they sat in. Each one had streaks of blood-red signifying pipes and wiring throughout the vessel and a small ramp underneath the bulbous cockpit.

In practice, they were used for attacks and patrolling for political enemies. But for him, they would be his escape.

The doctor hurried to one and ducked underneath, climbing up into the cockpit. After much struggling, he managed to remove the object from within his coat. Ironic, isn't it, how someone can struggle so hard to keep close to something, only for it to be difficult to remove altogether?

He set the object on the grated flooring of the ship. Its geometric surface shimmered with a glowing light. It looked as though it could burn someone, but he had felt perfectly fine when he had carried it.

All this trouble, he thought to himself with sadness. All this secrecy and betrayal, for a thing no larger than my own head.

But he knew what this thing was capable of. He better than anyone else, for he helped design it. He knew that the power it possessed, the raw energy contained within, was enough to power an entire continent for centuries.

Or destroy one in seconds.

The doctor sat down into the pilot's seat, and after securing himself into the craft, pushed a button on the side of the chair. It slid forward into the control panel, as the interior lights flickered on. With a heavy sigh, he placed his hand onto the ignition lever.

No turning back. The moment they realize a craft is missing, they will know.

In a single motion, the lever is pulled down. A deep rumble reverberated throughout the chamber, like a lion awoken from its slumber. The entrance ramp retracted and sealed the gate. Small guiding lights illuminated the track, which would lead to the main door. No turning back.

With a jolt, the vessel lurched forward. The rail that held it in place now dragged it along, out of the line of vessels who watched their comrade abandon them. Once clear, the two fins fold out from the body of the ship, rotating into position.

The cicada awoke.

The low rumble is replaced by a fervent buzzing, as the engine spins into action.

A small message appeared on the display. The doctor read it briefly, then flicked it away.

"Warning. This ship has not been cleared for takeoff. Please cease operations immediately."

The doctor ignored the request and flicked another switch. Above him, the ceiling split in half.

In two equally massive parts, the great panel slid away into the ship, leaving an empty hole where once impenetrable steel stood.

Above, the starry night of space beckons.

As the buzzing of the engine grew in intensity, another warning appeared.

"Warning. Unauthorized gate opening. Do not exit ship without proper approval. Remain in the hangar until doors have fully opened, and do not leave until they have closed again."

He ignored the request again. He flicked another switch.

With a click and a heavy clack, the ship detached from the rail. He jerks forward as the ship balanced itself over the hangar floor.

As the engine grew ever louder, the back propulsors glow red. Like lines of teethed rings, nestled underneath the thick upper hull and above the latching mechanism, they fizzled with the electrical spark of ionized gas.

All it takes is a single spark...

"Warning. Do not exit. Deserters will be considered enemies of the state and heretics. You will be hunted down. Desist. Desist. Desist. De-"

He swiped away the warning once more. When they realize what he has stolen, he will be considered a heretic regardless if he leaves or not.

Clutching the steering wheel, he breathes in deeply.

In...

Out...

VRMMMMMMMMMM!

Accelerating so fast it plastered the doctor into his seat, the ship flies up, past its sleeping brethren, past the steaming pistons keeping the doors open, past the dark black metal of the gateway, into the universe.

Of all the doors he could have chosen to go through, this is certainly the most exciting.

Like a gleaming bullet, it shot out of the giant space vessel, accelerating faster and faster. The inertial dampeners gradually take effect, protecting him from the increasingly lethal speeds.

There is no window to see behind, but as the adrenaline rushes through his veins he imagines the massive obelisk of darkness retreating far into the background, growing smaller and smaller with each passing second.

He waited for what felt like an eternity. His ship was small, much too small to be detected by them, especially at such speeds. And they would not bother with a rogue ship of this caliber, at least not until they realized what precious cargo lay aboard.

And by then, he would be long gone.

Pulling up the navigational charts, he set a course for a nearby wormhole. It was a small wormhole, but very unstable. It was seen by most as more as a curiosity of science than a practical use of transportation. Many theorized it was a remnant of some ancient alien technology as opposed to a natural phenomenon, but few cared enough to experiment thoroughly. A colony ship had gone through once many eons ago, but that was it.

When the battleship first jumped to this sector of the galaxy and he detected its signature energy, he recognized it as his perfect getaway. The generals, the militaristic-minded leaders, they would assume he had escaped to one of the nearby star systems, slinking away into the shadows. But no one would consider his escape into what was seen as a statistical improbability.

As the cicada-like wings angled the vessel's trajectory towards the wormhole, the doctor smiled grimly to himself.

Maybe he would die as he passed through the wormhole, stretched into infinity. Or maybe he would survive, only to find an empty void on the other side. Or maybe, he might find survivors of that one colony ship and live among them.

But whatever happened, he had won. The galaxy would be safe from the terrible power of this machine he had built. The stars would shine on, just a little bit longer.

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Further Recommendations

Angela Pickrem: Good story but I’ve been waiting for so long for more updates

Jennifer: I wish there was a book 2 now! Like with alpha Williams going against em or something! Great book! So sad it's done!

Jose Ignacio: I have read this book like five times, and just love it, I have been looking for books similar to this one but can’t find any it is very good writing will recommend to any one looking for some kind of zombie book but it has its unique authors magic.

Beauty101: Awesome story and the characters are interesting and the storyline is very good . Well written and can’t wait for a update!

Lodewyk: Plot is flowing. Interesting use of tech. Good dialogue and very descriptive.

isabelle: 🫶 i love it! Your writing style ist above and beyond 🤩

Delwyn Jope: Love your work. Keep them books coming.

Perseverance: The plot is on point. The characters blend well. However it loses its plot when Nikki agrees to marry even she was forced ,still agreeing to marry Jack was a miss.

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Deign Pen: I am truly hoping there will be another book to this one. I look forward to reading more. If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

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