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Authors: S.E. Gilchrist

Legend Beyond The Stars

BOOK: Legend Beyond The Stars
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Legend Beyond The Stars
S.E. Gilchrist
(2013)
Seeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon. 
When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…
Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes. 
In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

Legend Beyond the Stars

www.escapepublishing.com.au

Legend Beyond the Stars

S.E. Gilchrist

Seeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

Acknowledgements

I’d like to give special thanks to my wonderful writing buddies who provided critiques for this story: Sandra Hudson, Marianne Theresa and Heather Boyd. Thank you to everyone one
in RWA Bootcamp 109 for their encouragement when I drafted my first ever love/sex scene (which I actually used in this novel).

Thank you to Kate Cuthbert for saying yes and liking my story. Thank you to Serena Tatti for being such a lovely editor. Big kudos to the Hunter Romance Writers for their friendship and encouragement.

For Kerstie, Kyle and Blake, as always the major part of my soul
.
For Mum and her unfailing belief in me
.

Contents

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Epilogue

About the Author

Excerpt from Rayessa and the Space Pirates

Excerpt from Chaos Borns

Chapter One

Star Time: Darkon Year 6035 – Earth Year 2156

The best way to start a new mission was definitely not lying in an induced hiatus inside a coffin-shaped tube.

Not to mention the agonising awakening to consciousness followed by long hours spent crouched over what passed as a toilet on this alien spaceship. The entire experience made Captain Alana Knight feel as if she had just trekked through the Gobi Desert hauling an armoured tank. She repressed a groan when her stomach muscles gripped hard before releasing.

A shaky breath slipped past her lips as she continued to pace around the cabin. She did an abrupt about-face then retraced her steps, while she rubbed her stiff thigh muscles, her feet heavy like chunks of rock inside her anti-gravity boots. Finally, she stopped to stare at the viewing screen where the darkness of outer space stretched into infinity.

Something was wrong
.

She concentrated on tuning out the constant, low whine of the turbines that powered the intergalactic space voyager as it cruised through the black. The background murmurs of the other women as they milled about in restless groups faded.

Yep, something definitely stank
.

Ever since she had awakened, disquiet had gnawed at the edge of her mind. Awakened from a hiatus the traders had insisted was necessary to alleviate the rigours of travelling through the Vortex. She frowned. Had it been a ruse? Enclosed in her confining tube, she had been helpless. Anything could have happened to her during those weeks of sleep. She shuddered and flexed her damp hands.

Best not go there.

Not yet, anyway.

She raised a trembling hand and tugged at the shaggy ends of her short, red hair, before pressing her fingers against her temple where pressure built like an over-heated fuel tank just waiting for the moment to explode. Until now, she had refrained from speaking about her doubts but with every hour that passed they travelled further away from home.

Away from safety.

“I sure am not keen on this here meetin’,” muttered the woman at her side.

Alana spared her a quick glance, taking in the hint of fear in her brown eyes, the underlying pallor that gave the woman’s dark skin a sallow tinge.“I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Jess,” she admitted in a low tone.

Jessamine snorted. “I knew it!”

“Hush, please, Jess. I don’t want to start a panic.” Alana sighed. “But, I fear you’re right. There are too many unanswered questions. Not to mention the traders’ strange behaviour in separating us from the men. It’s made us too vulnerable.” And an action that had left her the senior officer in charge of a motley band of unknown women.

“Worse, some of us are not here of our own volition.” Jessamine produced a compu tablet from an enormous satchel slung over her shoulder and waggled it under Alana’s nose. “I’ve done a census as you suggested, Captain, and the facts sure don’t add up.”

Alana twisted her lips into a parody of a smile. “Let me take a wild guess. We’ve got no scientists, doctors, physicists, militia. No geologists, no farmers, no builders …”

“Could be those roles are filled by the men, but you don’t think so, do you? Some of the women do have similar qualifications but I’m missin’ a lot of names off the list you gave me. So, what does it mean?” Worry lines bracketed either side of the other woman’s mouth.

“It means the United Earth Corporation has been duped. My gut tells me there’s no earth-like planet in the next star system for us to colonise.”

“Oh, moma,” whispered Jessamine. The tablet clattered onto the floor.

Alana gripped the other’s arm. “Don’t fall apart on me, Jess. I need you to be strong here. I suspect we’re going to find out very soon what the traders are up to. Our new friend, Norman, may have some answers for us.”

She glanced up at the hiss announcing the opening of the entrance door and tried not to gawk at the alien they had christened Norman, as he bustled across the room. At least the word
Norman
sounded a little like the jumble of syllables he had repeatedly indicated he was called. Of humanoid build, at a distance he could have passed for a male of her species but closer the differences were apparent. Reed thin, of an equal height to her, the space suit he wore resembled an old potato sack on his spindly body. She marvelled at how hairless he was, with not even lashes or eyebrows to give his flat face definition. And the way his three eyes glowed neon orange when he was excited was just downright weird.

Still, his incessant lecturing about life on board a star voyager had proved surprisingly reassuring while she had wrestled with space sickness and the wrenching pain of reawakening organs. He was the closest thing to an ally they had at the moment and she couldn’t help thinking they would need all the friends they could find if they were going to survive.

She licked her cracked lips and thought about all those
do’s
and
don’ts
, which she had paid little attention to, over the past earth day while she had huddled, sweating, in the narrow chamber. Now his lectures could well have a lot more significance to her and the other women.

At least they could communicate with him. With a shaky hand she touched the pencil-thin translator she wore, like the others, around her throat.

The translators were only just one of the gifts given to the people of Earth from the first visitors who had appeared over one hundred years ago. History had it they had stayed a mere ten or so years before departing, never to return.

In the long years since, Earth had struggled with an out-of-control greenhouse effect and violent weather patterns. Stock markets crashed as nation after nation collapsed in an ocean of debt. Coupled with an exploding population, the consequences had been devastating.

Life, suddenly, became a battle for survival.

When the Scaleen Traders appeared, they had been greeted as the answer to a desperate planet’s prayers for deliverance. The traders sold The United Earth Corporation on the idea of a ‘new-earth’ and offered transportation for the chosen few, at a price. The UEC wasted no time and assembled specialist teams who would form the first wave of colonists.

The call went out for members of the United Defence Force to bear-lead the expedition and it had taken Alana as little as fifteen minutes to decide and four weeks to organise the sale of her apartment. Perhaps here was the opportunity to redeem herself even though no official stain existed on her unblemished record. But the deaths of her spotter and three members of an insurgent team under her command four years earlier, still haunted her. After that mission, she had requested and been granted, a shift in duties. All those countless months spent trialling
space shuttles from Earth to Mars and back, had proved a good bargaining point with her application.

Now, instead of attending the mega social event of her step-sister’s birthday in the family home in Sydney, she was stuck on some alien spaceship on a journey that she now suspected, was to nowhere. Surrounded not by familiar soldiers, but by women with little knowledge of battle; women who would be looking to her for answers.

Alana clasped her hands behind her back and examined the other occupants. From what she could see, the only thing these women had in common was their age range. She doubted any were older than thirty-five at the most.
Odd
.

She swung round and stared at the viewing screen, wishing herself a million miles away. Nothing but infinite blackness in all directions interspersed with far off swirls of colourful dust and space debris and the glow of distant stars. No matter how hard she strained her eyes, there was no sign of the familiar planets of the Milky Way.

Her gut twisted like a knife scraping the sides of a raw wound.

This was going to be one hell of a mission
.

Norman pattered to a stop in front of them, reclaiming Alana’s attention. He glanced from one to the other and back again until she felt dizzy watching him. He clapped his bony hands together, his eyes bright orange.

“It is good that you are no longer damaged.” A smile stretched across his flat face revealing small pointed teeth.

“Uh huh.” Jessamine tossed back her long black micro braids and eyed him as if he was a bomb about to explode at any second.

“We’re all feeling much better, Norman.” Alana attempted a friendly smile of greeting. “Most of us no longer have any side effects. Jess and I want to know why we’ve been asked to assemble here.”

BOOK: Legend Beyond The Stars
10.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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