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The Star Courier: an Alien Space Adventure

The Star Courier: an Alien Space Adventure

Fantasy ・ Science Fiction

Megan Mackie

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Being Captain means taking risks to protect the crew. The Intergalactic League has been at war with the Confederation of Planets for years, destroying most interstellar communication hubs. When the courier ship M'riadon runs into bandits on a routine job, the symbiotic captain suffers a mortal wound before she can jump the ship. The human steward, in a desperate attempt to save them, chooses to take the captain's place and symbiotically link with the ship, understanding that no human has ever survived the process. By some miracle, she manages to jump the ship to safety and, to everyone's shock, survives to become the first human captain ever. The cost of the link is the loss of her memories as well as any knowledge of who she was. She is only M’riadon now. Surviving this first mission should be no problem with a crew she doesn't trust and everyone expecting her to fail... This story contains mild violence and mild language. Connect with Megan Mackie at http://meganmackieauthor.com Check out more books by 4 Horsemen Publications at http://4horsemenpublications.com

Space OperaSci-Fi

Just Jump

“Mayday, mayday, this is the courier ship M’riadon. We are under attack; we are under attack. Any Interstellar League ship please respond. We are under attack!”

Sparks flew up from the console where communication officer Ki’im stood as the ship took another hit. She screamed, grabbing her scaled face as the sharp metal fragments from the interior circuitry burned through her flesh.

“Ki’im!” Sister Benda shouted, rushing to the communications officer’s side.

“Leave her!” the captain shouted from her pool. “Continue sending out the distress call, Sister Benda!”

The scientist reluctantly did as she was told, standing to grab the communications console to hold onto as the ship rocked.

“Here!” Ki’im shouted, taking the speaker piece from her ear to hand to the furry female before she passed out.

With shaking hands, Sister Benda received it and stuck the unfamiliar apparatus in her ear. “Mayday, mayday, this is…” she recited.

“Captain, we need to jump! We can’t sustain this damage!” the Apoidea hive mother down in the engineering room shouted over the speaker.

“No! She can’t jump! She’s losing too much blood,” the captain’s steward Miranda shouted back from within the pool. The glowing blue liquid substance was darkening with the Nautiloid’s blackening blood as two of her tentacles floated unattached from her body. More blood wafted from a crack in her beautiful shell. “If we jump, it’ll kill her!”

“If we don’t jump, we’re dead anyway!” the engineer shouted back, the stress cracking the usually soft-spoken voice. “My daughters are onboard!”

“I’ve got weapons back online!” Faucon cried as his console came back to life. Kicking aside loose wires from the underbelly, he regained his feet and slammed his palm down on the fire button.

Torpedoes launched from the front ports of the courier ship, the only defenses they had left. Outside, the torpedoes hit the firing cobbled-together battleship that had assumed they were completely dead in space. It had taken no measures to defend itself from an attack it assumed wouldn’t come. The torpedoes hit hard, forcing the ship to list, which meant the next wave of its own torpedoes went wide.

“Yes!” Faucon roared; then the power went out on the bridge. He slapped at his console. “No! No, no, no!”

“What happened?” Sister Brenda squealed her terror, making her otherwise brilliant mind go inept.

“Captain M’riadon is dying. The ship is automatically re-routing all power to the pool in order to preserve the ship’s life support until help arrives,” Miranda shouted, splashing through the pool to grab another length of cloth to tie off the second tentacle.

“That’s it; we’re dead,” Faucon said flatly. Miranda glanced at him as he stood there, looking lost in the face of certain doom.

“We’re not lost.” The Human pointed at the emergency light. “Get one of the power packs, hot wire it if you have to!”

“Miranda—” Faucon said, pulling the ceremonial knife from his belt that he always carried with him.

She ignored him as she programmed the pool to pump more stimulant chemicals into the water. “We can’t give up! We can’t—” Then she was thrown into the pool as another blast hit them. For a brief moment, she went under the water, staring up at more sparks and wires hanging from a new hole above, showing the deathly blackness of space. Emergency force fields patched the hole immediately.

The water Miranda floated in was only hip deep, and she wished she could stay under and let whatever was going to happen, happen.

This was too much; she was too small. For the lone Human on the entire ship, the M’riadon had been home for three years; the crew the only family she cared about now.

They were all going to die.

She saw Faucon above her then, reaching in to pull her up.

Spitting the nutrient-thick water from her mouth, he passed a hand over her face to clear it so she could breathe, his own feathers dampened from being splashed.

No words passed between them. His face said it all. He knew they were going to die.

She touched his face. A cut had appeared above the eye of his Human-like face, the feathers that would be his hair if he had been Human matted with blood. Then his eyes rolled up into his head and he dropped to the ground beside the pool.

“Faucon!” she shouted and hoisted herself up using the edge of the pool.

“<Miranda, please…>” the captain cried out in Nautiloid, reverting back to her native language as pain ripped through her.

The steward turned toward her captain. The Nautiloid stretched her dominant tentacle toward her, beseeching. It tore through Miranda to leave her crewmate, but she went to her captain, her mentor, her friend. Seizing her tentacle in both her hands, she felt it pulse through her skin, the captain’s way of squeezing hands.

“<I am sorry, my child,>” Captain M’riadon whispered, continuing to speak in her own tongue.

“No! I’m sorry, I…” but the captain’s tentacle went limp in her hands. The light in the pool shifted from blue to an angry orange as the captain died. The symbiotic ship would put itself in stasis as soon as the all-important connection broke; its final attempt to preserve the Interstellar Drive. There would be no way to jump the ship now, and the next hit from the enemy would kill them all.

“No,” Miranda declared. She sloshed through the water and seized her steward’s cap.

“Miranda, what are you doing?” Sister Benda cried, full of despair, but still alive and conscious from her console.

“Hand me Faucon’s knife,” Miranda shouted as she sloshed back to the captain’s body.

“But—”

“Just do it!”

The scientist obeyed, pulling it from the defenseless officer’s limp hand. “I’m sorry,” she whispered to the warrior, but he was in no shape to respond.

“You can blame me later. Hurry up!” Miranda growled, holding her hand out for the knife. As soon as she had it, she turned to the captain’s corpse. Only then did she hesitate, laying a hand over one of the captain’s large half-closed eyes. “I’m sorry.”

She plunged the knife into the soft part of the former captain’s brain. Billows of blue blood turned black over her hands as the O2 in the air changed it. She didn’t have to cut far; the tech she needed, the captain’s connection to the ship, was close to the surface.

“Miranda! What are you doing?” Sister Benda screamed; the gentle female was no longer able to take what was happening, her teddy bear-like features twisted in terror. Miranda glanced out the front window of their ship. A smaller vessel was coming over from the large warship.

“They’ll know by now our captain has been killed. They’re sending over warriors to finish the job. Getting all our correspondence would be a nice bonus too.” Miranda kept working through the blood and fear. Using Faucon’s knife, she stripped the wires in her steward’s cap, detaching the port she would have used to piggyback onto the captain’s jumps. She needed to connect directly to the source.

“Miranda, don’t. What you’re doing … no Human has survived bonding with a ship! It will kill you!

Miranda didn’t hesitate. She wrapped the wires around the command node inside the captain’s soft skull and strapped the cap on. “I just need to survive for one more jump. Bixie!” she shouted to the hive mother in engineering, “Do we have power to the Interstellar drive!?”

“Miranda?” the hive mother answered back over the com.

“Answer me!”

“Yes, the drive is preserved, but … Miranda, this is showing that the captain is dead! It’s going into stasis.”

“Don’t let it! Just be prepared to jump.” Miranda slapped the button again. The smaller landing vessel grew larger in their window.

“Miranda, we’ll surrender. They’ll take us hostage and ransom us back to the Interstellar League. We’ll be fine,” Sister Benda lied. They would take no prisoners, especially not couriers.

Miranda ignored her. Sucking in huge breaths, she prepared her lungs to go under the water.

“Miranda, don’t! Don’t!”

“Miranda! What is happening?” Faucon asked.

The sound of his voice forced Miranda to look. He had come back to consciousness, using the side of the pool to pull himself up, one hand outstretched toward her. She reached out her own, mirroring his but was unable to reach him.

“I’m sorry,” she said, meaning it.

Then she went under.

Her existence was a pain as she initiated the connection. She could feel every individual synapse in her brain fire and burn as information that was never meant to go through her Human meat loaded in all at once. Then it expanded out, connecting her to the universe outside the ship. She was the ship, a living organism in a vast chasm of vibrant space. She could connect to it; she could reach out and communicate with it. She could feel it killing her, overwhelming her body in pain.

She would die.

But she could jump.