This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The year is 5028. Humans have spread across the galaxy finding homes among other species on different planets. Since Earth, the prior capital of Terran domination had been destroyed, the center of Terran trade and population became the Blackwater system, a host to many planets, such as the simple planet of Monteria, to the steel planet, Xenova.
Our ship hovered currently over the broken planet, Furelle. For fifteen years, it had been destroyed by one of our soldiers, a Soulless God called Vodothan, yet despite this victory over the planetary “guardians” called Celestials, we had still lost a good number of troops, and one of them had killed Vodothan before managing to escape. We had gotten word that another Soulless God, Koratha, had been killed on Draenica, and the Celestials responsible had moved on to Furelle in hopes to find clues as to the whereabouts of others. The goal of my team was to stop them before they could get any farther.
“Three, we’re ready to move in.” I heard my name, what was now my name at least. I can’t remember the last time anyone had addressed me by any other name. The voice came from one of my companions. The voice, bland, pointed. I turned to find another like me, a younger girl, but a Soulless nonetheless. It was something you got used to quickly, people of all ages had a place under the Great God, Helios. Most outside of our ranks would feel that they were too young or too old, but compassion was not a trait that we held in ourselves. We felt loyalty, pain, betrayal, but kindness and compassion were not in that mix. Sometimes I wondered what it felt like to have those emotions, but for us to be loyal, we couldn’t have souls, we couldn’t have those emotions.
“Very well Fira. Cloak the ship and move in over the Galdernia Ridge. We’ll head them off from the Northeast, take them by surprise.” She gave me a nod and returned to her post, beginning to yell orders to the others. I looked out a porthole, the planet below, in pieces. It sometimes made me question our cause. Helios says that we’re trying to exterminate life, to purify the universe, yet all we do is destroy. How are we supposed to purify the universe, keep it pristine, if this is what we do to it. No, no, I can’t think like that. I have to be loyal to the cause, no question, no answers, only the mission. The ship was drawing closer to the shattered remnants of stone. I returned to my quarters to wait, moving into the washroom. I splashed water onto my face, looking into my own green eyes in the mirror. I raised a hand to the dark skin on my cheek, then to my hardened Furin shell. This was me, unique, but possibly not. A perfect soldier, just like all the other Soulless like me. I wondered just how unique I really was, or if I was mentally just a clone of all the others. If I was just like all the others though, then would that mean that they would all have the same thoughts as I do, right? Fira’s voice over the intercom interrupted my thoughts.
“Preparing transport, all hands to flight deck.” I stepped out from the washroom, reaching up on the wall, grabbing my sword, a straight saber, and strapping it to my side. I needed no other weapon. From there, I proceeded out of my dorm, into the hallways. Black steel surrounded me, the only thing aiding my visibility being that of a faint purple light that ran along the walls like a snake stretching all the way around the ship. The ship rumbled, pulling into what was left of Furelle’s faint atmosphere. I strolled towards the flight deck, the simple brutes of our force flowing past me quickly. Unlike us Soulless who still held their conscious mind, most of them didn’t retain that privilege, and lost their bodies as well, transformed into these monstrosities with pale skin, sharp claws, and mechanical movements. They didn’t think, they only did, they didn’t feel pain.
I stepped aboard the elevator that would lower me to the flight deck. As I lowered down, the ships came into view in front of me. The elevator came to a halt, the doors opened, and there was my own ride, right there in front of me. Facing out toward the airlock stood a proud ship, The Solar Wind. It was old Xenovan cruiser I had bought before I had become a part of the cause. I hopped into the open hatch on top and down into the pilot’s seat, reaching up and pulling it closed. I sat there, prepping the ship for launch. I was the lead, and was supposed to escort a convoy to an area nearby the Celestials for the dropoff.
Sirens began to blare, and warning lights flashed, bathing the deck in red. The doors opened, and I started the engines of my ship, testing the flaps and boosters, before pushing a lever forward, my ship drawing forward, before launching out into the open air over Furelle. Behind me the convoy followed. Last we’d heard, the Celestials we were tracking were somewhere in the jungle, just north of Ridgecrest, on foot. I did a quick calculation in my mind, looking over the area we were currently hovering over. I traced a path in my mind. If my calculations were correct, they should have reached the end of that chunk by now. If that were true, then they would likely have called their ship to take them across and… I heard an explosion behind me. They were in the air. No, no no no, this wasn’t supposed to happen. I had to get back to the ship, but wait, no, I couldn’t. Orders had been given for them to leave immediately if the convoy was destroyed, which meant they were already gone, without me. I had to get out of here, follow them back. I turned the ship, making a move to regroup with the ship, but in my attempt to escape, I stopped paying attention. A line of red streaked across the sky, tearing through my port engine. my ship began to spiral out of control, hurdling toward the ground. I clung to the controls, frozen, afraid for my life. The trees were approaching fast, if I stayed in the ship I was going to die, I knew this, so why couldn’t I move? At the last second, I snapped away from my trance of terror, and moved my hand to the side, drawing back a lever, the hatch popping off, and shooting me out. I fell, smacking into a number of branches before I could open my parachute. Another explosion erupted from the forest away from me as my ship crashed, and soon after, I hit the forest floor.
I groaned, lying there for a minute. My body was hurting all over, and I was bleeding a little, but I would pull through. I reached down for my saber, only to find it broken in half. It was just dead weight now, so I unstrapped it, leaving it behind. My backup was all dead, my ship was destroyed, and the transport had left. I was defenseless. I decided it was best if I headed back to my ship to search for anything that I could use. I began to move.
Pushing through the pain, I began to run at a light pace, ignoring the scenery. It didn’t matter to me anyway. I kept pace with myself, running over the soft soil and plants that lay underfoot. I ducked under branches, hopped over rocks, eventually making it to the remains of my ship. She was in pieces. I looked down at the engine they had hit. Whoever was flying had either gotten really lucky, or had amazing aim. They had hit it right in the ion converter, rendering it completely irreparable, unless I had a massive amount of electrical power.
“Ugh, what did they do to you?” I asked the ship, of course without any response. “First they blow up my convoy, then they completely wreck you too.” I began searching through the wreckage, managing to salvage a first aid kit and a distress beacon, but all the weapons had been destroyed on impact. I quickly got to work, bandaging up my wounds before getting the beacon set up.
“This is Three to the Celestial Plains. I require transport. Convoy and ship were destroyed, mission is a failure. I am stranded, someone please send help.” I sent the message and sat back against the hull of my ship, waiting a few minutes with no response before turning it back on again. “This is Three to the Celestial Plains. I require transport. Convoy and ship were destroyed, mission is a failure. I am stranded, someone please send help…” I sat back again, sighing to myself as I waited again, rinsing and repeating every few minutes for what felt like hours on end. It seemed like a fruitless ordeal, but I had to keep trying. The cause had to come back for me. Oh who was I kidding? They wouldn’t risk the lives of soldiers for me, and even if they would, this stupid beacon wasn’t going to reach far enough to send the signal to them. I leaned back against the deep purple steel of my ship, allowing its warmth to flow over me as I closed my eyes. Still, I reached over to the beacon, flipping in on once more.
“This is Three to the Celestial Plains. I require transport. Convoy and ship were destroyed, mission is a failure. I am stranded, someone please send help.” I repeated into it once more. I let my arm fall limply to my side, before curling up against the ship. At least the fire kept me warm. Night was falling, though I was unsure how a broken planet like this one still rotated, it was still definite that the sun had set. I was a commander, now I was just a wreck on a deserted planet. The sky had blackened like ash, and the forest was illuminated by the blazing steel. Somewhere in the forest, I heard something rustle. I snapped up, grabbing a large branch from the ground.
“Who’s there?” I asked into the darkness. No response. The silence was beginning to bother me. I hated it when it was this quiet, nothing good ever happened in the silence. The rustling grew closer, it sounded like more than one person. “Who are you?” I gripped the branch tighter, fear clinging me. I took a step back, something snapping underfoot, and I froze. I turned to run, but a flash of blue struck a tree ahead of me, leaving it burning.
“I wouldn’t run if I were you.” A feminine voice said behind me. I thought it over quickly. These were likely the Celestials, if they caught me, they were definitely going to question me then kill me as soon as they were done with me. I made a break for it, sprinting through the dark mass of trees. I could feel their presence behind me as I tried to escape, as they hunted me. Another blue blast passed by me, barely missing me. Low hanging branches scraped my cheeks and arms, thorns tore at my skin, but I had to get away from them. Another blast, then one more, each one close but never hitting their mark. Shadows moved to the sides of me, trying to surround me. I turned to look behind me for just a moment, but when I turned back again, I felt a sharp pain, and suddenly, everything was dark.
“You can’t seriously be considering keeping her on board? She’s a Soulless, you know, one of the things that have been trying to kill us since the start of our journey?”
“Look at her Jewls, she’s scared. She’s not like the other Soulless we’ve met. You heard her when she was making that distress call. All she wants to do is to go home. Why can’t you just understand that?” “Look kid, Soulless like her don’t feel, they just have a mission and they seek to complete it. They don’t feel fear or regret, they don’t question things. She was probably just calling for backup or something. Now you’re going to stand guard and make sure she doesn’t break out overnight. Maurel and I are going to go get some rest.” My eyes slowly opened, revealing myself to my new surrounding. I was in a small, cramped room. The metal walls were bare, grey, and cold. The only illumination came from that of a translucent orange barrier. I stood up, looking around the empty cell. It was a hexagonal shape, unlike the either round or square rooms I was used to from The Cause. The ship’s engines were idling, giving off a deep drone, though somehow I found it calming. I sat back down in the far corner of the room, pulling my knees up to my chest.
“How could I let this happen to myself?” I asked to no one, “How did I allow myself to get caught and imprisoned like this?” I felt like an idiot for letting this happen. I could be having a drink right now back at Semebrogh, back on the Plains, but I was trapped here. Why did they have to treat us like this, like animals? Why couldn’t they just kill us and have it be over with?
“Is there anything that I can get for you?” A friendly voice, the one that I had heard before. I think he was supposed to guard me. “I know that you must be terrified, and that you probably just want to go home, but Jewls is set on keeping you here.” It definitely was someone far friendlier than that woman who had attacked me in the forest. Finally he revealed himself. “I’m Lux by the way, I’m a Celestial,” oh great, he was one of them. “I’m sorry about all this. I don’t think it’s right.” He was kinda tall, a bit shorter than me though. His black hair was neatly combed with a few strands sticking out on one side. He wore a long sleeved, green zip up jacket with the collar popped up, and a belt around his waist over top that. He didn’t look very strong, or confident for that matter.
“I’m fine, I don’t need anything from a Celestial like you.” I replied to his question from a while ago snidely, keeping in my corner. “Stupid Celestials, you always mess things up.” I said to him.
“It wasn’t my decision to keep you here. I wanted to help you, but Jewls said that it was a stupid idea.” He was right, it was a stupid idea, at least for him. I wondered to myself if I might be able to trick him into helping me. “You don’t seem like you’re that bad, I thought that maybe you might actually see some good in us if we didn’t do this.” Maybe I could give him a shot, he didn’t seem that bad of a person, even for a Celestial.
“Do you think you might be able to get me some water?” He nodded and promptly left. I stood up again, leaning against the back wall, when my head went farther back than I expected. I jolted forward and spun around, realizing it was just a porthole. Maybe I was getting a bit too worked up, then again I was trapped in a cell in a Celestial ship. I moved over to the porthole, looking out it. Stars, stars as far as the eye could see. It appeared that we were now in orbit over the planet. It was so quiet out here, beside the ambient noise of the ship’s engines. I heard a knock on the wall from outside and turned to find that Celestial from earlier, surely enough, with a glass of water.
“Hey, I got the water you asked for. I hope you like it.” He reached through the barrier, perhaps because it didn’t affect him? I didn’t know. I took the water cautiously from him and he withdrew without a word. I looked from him to the glass, examining both of them closely. I sipped the water quietly, feeling it trickle down my throat. After a minute with no negative reactions I took another sip, before looking up to him.
“You don’t talk much.” I commented.
“I usually don’t need to talk much. I don’t really have much of a say in things anyway, at least not around other Celestials.” Huh, so he was more of an outcast. “Heck, I don’t even have any powers.” No powers? That was surprising. Most Celestials had at least some idea of their powers by the time they realized they were a Celestial. At least that’s what my recollection had been of the ones that I had come into closer contact with.
“You aren’t much of a Celestial if you don’t have any powers.” I said to him bluntly.
“I know. I feel like I don’t belong here a lot, like they don’t really want me to be here. I feel like I’m just a burden to them.” Maybe I could use this to my advantage, to help me escape.
“Maybe you should just ditch these guys then. You said they don’t listen to you, so why do you stay? Come on, do what you think is right. You think what they’re doing is wrong don’t you?” He sighed, not answering, I stood up, “Come on. You know what they’re going to do to me. They’ll kill me eventually, to them I’m not a person, I’m just a thing.” He lowered his head, staying there for a minute before moving to the side of the barrier and pressing a few buttons. It disappeared.
“Come on, we’re getting out of here.” I bolted up and joined him. “Come on, I have a ship on the hangar bay. We can take that and get out of here.” I didn’t say anything back, I just followed him as we ran down the halls. Their ship was old, very old. I could tell just from the layout of the corridors and the pipes. This thing was ancient, whatever it was. Metal grates marked the walkways, and tin signs signaled where to go. The whole ship had this orange tinge to it. I was glad to be getting off this heap already. “Come on, we’re almost there, just a little further.” He said, not looking back. He seemed fairly confident in his decision. At least he had that conviction to keep him going. I could tell that we were getting close, as the signs had begun pointing towards the hangar.
We turned a corner, and he punched in a series of numbers on a keypad, the door sliding open to give way to a small hangar, barely fitting his ship. It was black and purple, like a ship from the Cause. On the side, written in Terran was the name Olympus. He pulled himself up into the cockpit, reaching down to help me up, before pulling me into the seat behind him. He closed the hatch, flipping some switches and opening up the hangar doors. The thrusters ignited, firing us off into the darkness of space.
Sammi Chan: THIS WAS AMAZING!!! My favorite part of this story was the slow build of Merlin and Arthur's relationship. Their relationship was rlly nicely fleshed out and so good :) The way that you handled the magic reveal was super enjoyable. I rlly liked the switching POVs. Good!Mordred was cute and I'm rl...
Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up) I really hope Natalie brings out another book eit...
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PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
MavisMcQueen: "To Live Again" is a well crafted, highly engaging, heart vibrating tale surrounding our favorite Elven King. The author will keep you engrossed until the very end and by that time you will feel so strongly for Clara and the other characters that you will never want it to end...like ever. Thrandu...
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