The jarring arrival of an Osprey class cruiser shattered the calm of an otherwise empty stretch of deep space. Her clean white hull bore the name “Liberty” in scarlet letters along the bow on both sides, and beside it the seal of the United Provinces of North America Air and Space Force, a gold and blue leaf-wreathed star, asserted its authority. The ship was the very picture of military order and decorum, every facet sleek and shining, every line crisply defined and every curve even and smooth. She looked like she belonged in the midst of a mighty fleet, not drifting alone in an unimportant patch of the infinite void.
That night, Sean was about to climb into his bed in the little room that he had grown up in at his grandpa’s house. He had his shirt off, and he was sitting on the edge of the desk where he had first drawn pictures of spaceships for Aldaeus to put on the fridge. A thousand thoughts assailed his mind as he perched amid the memories of his childhood and the worries of the future. Carson entered the room quietly, knocking on the open door as he came. He sat on the edge of the bed, not making eye contact, just waiting. Eventually, just like Carson knew he would, Sean spoke. “He was like a father to me,” he said, “I don’t remember life without him. Whenever I would come into his office, he would show me what he was doing and explain it in a way that I could understand. He was my first teacher, and it’s because of him that I discovered my love for flying. It’s not fair that just as I was about to realize my dream, he’s gone.” Read More…
The door had hardly closed behind Eve, Nathan, and Scamp before they felt the Triumph rising back up into the air. Daniel was waiting in the corridor to meet them, his stance tense, radiating nervous energy. “Gun run went south,” he announced, his words clipped and concise. “Two Ravens tailed Hank, Provincials.”
Nathan’s face grew grim, and his mind slipped immediately into crisis mode. “Damages?”
“Hank’s dead, took the Provincials with him.”
“Hank took out two Ravens?” Eve asked incredulously. “In his flying scrapheap?”
“He had a little help,” Daniel conceded. “The point is we lost the shipment and our gun runner.”
Chris sprang out of his seat as soon as Mr. Stevens had gone and made a beeline for the door. “I’m headed out for a drink,” he announced to no one in particular, “Anyone care to join me?” Jorge and Bubba shook their heads and Shannon mumbled something about having to fix a thruster control node. Lee had a brief conversation with his sister in Chinese before walking over to join Chris. Ling gave her brother a disapproving look but remained silent. With a final glance around the room, Chris and Lee left, the door swinging closed behind them with a pneumatic whoosh.
The Triumph slipped through space at impossible speeds as smoothly and quietly as a swan gliding on the surface of a country lake, the field of dark energy around her creating a space outside of space just big enough for the Triumph with its own, much less restrictive set of rules. From inside, Daniel could only see to the edge of the dark matter field as it whisked him through the stars. Everything beyond the viewport was darkness, and as the adrenaline from his great escape faded slowly out of his bloodstream he could almost believe that the universe was gone, that the blast from the VOYD RUNNER had wiped every star and every planet from existence, had converted every last molecule of matter into light and heat and sound, and he alone had escaped.