Across the Stars – Snippet

DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK 1: FROM THE STARS and BOOK 2: BEYOND THE STARS

 

I’M SERIOUS, DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK 1: FROM THE STARS and BOOK 2: BEYOND THE STARS

 

1 – James

Loose wires dangle over the corridor’s curved walls. Soft inflows of steam come from holes in the wires, reeking of burning oil and rusting metal. The air is hot and damp, making sweat bead on my skin.

I pace through the black metallic pathway, glancing at my wristpad for the umpteenth time to check how much further. Similar to a smartwatch, the wristpad shows a blinking blue dot—me—moving toward a red dot, where my pregnant wife is being held against her will.

The thought of her and my unborn child, all alone in this goddamn base, makes me shiver. It’s been two months since they took Miriam from me, but Chuck’s sources informed him she was safe. For now.

It was also his “little birds” who granted us the codes to access the moon base unnoticed.

There’s only so much little birds can do, though.

Leading the way, I’m barely aware of the black bodysuit that covers my skin, the material soft and malleable. It does great at absorbing sweat, too.

The bodysuits were Zed’s idea—and creation. I’ll never admit it to his face, but he’s a freaking genius.

“James,” Zed calls from behind, but I ignore him and keep moving forward. “You’re bleeding. James!”

I stop and turn around, not really grasping the meaning of his words. “What?”

Oh yes. The security officer we had to handle five minutes ago. I hadn’t meant to shove him so hard against the ceiling with my telekinesis, but we had to neutralize any threats as quickly as possible. If we hadn’t, all hell would’ve broken loose, and that couldn’t happen. Not until my wife and child were safe.

The bastard did manage to fling me against the corridor’s metallic wall, and something sharp within the wires had cut my forehead.

I touch the wound gently, feeling skin part. Warm liquid slips from the cut, staining my fingers red.

“It’s a papercut,” I say.

Zed approaches and pulls out a handkerchief from a pouch strapped to his upper arm. His hair is pulled up into a ponytail, his red lipstick slightly smudged on the sides from all the humidity around us, his mascara the same. Even during a recovery mission, Zed’s looking like a supermodel, the bodysuit showcasing his pear-shaped form.

He rubs the handkerchief over my forehead and it comes back peppered in red.

“It’s something to be looked at.” He throws the handkerchief away, then raises his phaser gun. “You sure the location is accurate?”

I check the wristpad. “Left turn, then right, and we should be there.”

“Let’s proceed, then.” Zed clicks his phaser gun, and the high-pitched hum of energy loading into the weapon buzzes in my ears.

We run through the corridor, our weight making the metal platform shake.

“Zed’phir-lack, once you’ve found her, trace your location device back to dock five,” Chuck’s voice comes through our comms, blueberry sized devices glued to our temples. “You have exactly fifteen minutes.”

“Copy that,” Zed says in his mind.

Too many steps reverberate from the platform into my bones, a small earthquake generated ahead. I halt, and so does Zed. “I guess that’s our welcoming party.”

I was expecting them a lot sooner. We managed to enter the base unnoticed, but it was a matter of time until someone found the fallen security officer and pinpointed our location.

Straight ahead, five whisars come to view. They aim their phaser guns at our foreheads, the weapons’ blue tactical lights cutting through air.

I roll my eyes and turn back to Zed. “They’re going to scream, aren’t they?”

He gives me a shrug. “Very likely.”

Arthero sent his soldiers after me as soon as he kidnapped Miriam, but Chuck had already taken me and Zed to a secured location by then. So, I remained in the dark for two whole months as soldiers wearing human vessels scavenged Earth for me. According to Chuck’s little birds, though, their orders were to take me alive, so I’m guessing the security officers ahead have the same instructions. Why? Because their leader is a sadist fuck who probably wants to torture me.

Heck, I want to watch him suffer too, especially after what he pulled off. But we can’t always get what we want.

So here we are. I’m certain the white-skinned humanoid dragons ahead won’t shoot, they just want to take me in alive. That’s why they’re inhaling and their snouts are opening right now, ready to scream. If they do, I’ll fall to my knees and lose consciousness in about fifteen seconds.

Whisar vocalization can be such a bitch to human ears.

I push my power onto them at once, press their wriggling bodies against the corridor’s walls so hard that the metal squares dig into their skin. I’m forcing at least five Gs onto them. They can’t move, can’t breathe. Their telekinesis tries to push against mine. It just tickles. I keep up the pressure, and soon enough they pass out.

I keep pushing, even after Zed and I turn left into the corridor and lose them from view, I keep the pressure on them, my mind’s scanner showing me their bodies stamped against the wall. Their heartbeats begin slowing down.

“James,” Zed says, a certain fear in the way he looks at me through his contoured eyes. “Let them go.”

I stop and blink at him. I hate it when Zed looks at me this way, as if I’m Frankenstein or something. It’s the same look he gave me when I fought the first security officer. It worked a few moments ago, but I’ve had enough. “They took Miriam.”

“They’re following orders,” he counters. “There’s no need for death today.” He narrows his eyes, cocking his head to the side. Then he shrugs. “Hopefully.”

Whisar soldiers broke into our home, took my wife and unborn child with them. The angry part of me would’ve kept pressing those bodies into the walls until they became a puddle of flesh and bones, regardless if they were the ones who took her or not. The part that’s still me, though, is horrified at that thought. It says that doing so would make me a monster. And I don’t want to become one.

Not yet.

With a deep sigh, I release the unconscious soldiers, their falling bodies stamped against my mind as they hit the floor. Then we keep moving.

“If we meet another group, they won’t scream first,” Zed says as we run.

“Probably not,” I grumble. “Do I have permission to kill them then?”

He lets out a sigh. “Granted.”

My wristpad beeps and we stop before a round metal door. Zed types a few keys into a green pad attached to the wall and it blinks red.

He taps his comm. “Chuck, series 5565 didn’t work.”

“They must have blocked access. Try 237940.”

The pad blinks green, and the door makes a whooshing noise as it opens.

The dark room is flooded by eerie blue lights lining the walls. Right in the middle of the room, Miriam lays on a white stretcher. She wears a white material wrapped around her chest and white underpants, her plump belly on full display, naked to the cold room. I shudder at the thought of her here, all alone for two fucking months, but coming sooner would’ve been a suicide mission. We had to be prepared.

Zed speeds to the stretcher and checks something in the pad beside her. He then pulls out a Medi-tez from the pouch around his waist and removes a few cables that ventured under her skin, closing the minuscule cuts with the tool. “She and the baby are fine. Miriam is sedated, but she’ll wake soon.”

Of course she is. If Arthero had allowed her to be conscious, she’d have turned this entire base into space dust.

Zed shoves the Medi-tez back into his pouch and taps his wristpad. “We need to hurry to dock five.”

I nod and rush to my wife, taking her into my arms. Miriam looks so peaceful, her breathing soft. I brush a kiss on her forehead and look down at her round belly. Relief washes over me. They’re safe, both of them.

I turn to Zed. “Lead the way.”

We rush through the same dark corridors from before, making sure to avoid the main ones, where whisars stroll about without a clue as to what’s happening. The main corridors look nicer than this, modern paths of pearly white walls and state-of-the-art technology. But if we want to remain unseen, we need to walk the unchecked route, the one only engineers and authorized personnel use.

We hurry through the metal corridors until we reach the vast dock. It’s a gigantic white space with a rectangular opening to the darkness beyond.

The docks are peppered with small starcrafts shaped like discs—silver stars—, big A-classes with shiny white panels, or medium sized B-classes, all looking flawless with their glossy hulls and round edges.

There’s no rushing of soldiers, no alarm has wailed, which means whoever is running the base believes that the group of security officers took care of us.

Zed straps his gun behind his back and takes a blanket thrown in a hidden corner, carefully wrapping it around Miriam to hide her belly. She looks like she’s in a sleeping bag. On instinct, I hold her closer.

“Ready?” he asks.

I nod.

He walks forward, giving me a silent wave to follow. As we cross the docks toward number five, we walk past whisars and humans—well, whisars within human vessels. Researchers. None pays much attention to us, because as far as they know, we might as well be one of them.

“Greetings,” a researcher holding a big metal pad says in our minds as we pass by.

He’s dressed in lederhosen and wears a Bavarian hat.

“Greetings,” I think back.

“Is this vessel well?” He nods to my wife. “Do you need help?”

“I’m their security officer.” Zed jumps in, his tone establishing a boundary. “Your offer is kind, but they’re fine.” He bows his head slightly at the researcher. “We appreciate your concern.”

The whisar seems content with that, bows to us and then leaves.

I spot Chuck’s ship a few steps away. The white panels denounce it as an A-class ridiculously similar to the Enterprise, but inside, the ship is a mix of B and A-classes, a mess of different arrangements and technologies.

A mutt.

Chuck managed to hack into the base’s system and log in as an expected flight. But it’ll only work for the time it takes the system to backup itself, which is around thirty minutes. The moment the clock ticks, alarms are going to wail at the unauthorized ship standing there. And then we’ll be blown to pieces.

As if on cue, an alarm pierces through the dock, red lights swarming the place. Guess the thirty minutes are up.

We rush toward the ship and get in through the cargo bay, which promptly closes behind us. The elevator boosts us upward and then we’re dashing through the bridge, toward the four seats ahead.

I sit Miriam on the chair beside mine, and strap her seatbelt tight. Zed takes the chair beside the pilot’s, which is occupied by Chuck. I drop on my seat and close the seatbelt. Through the Mutt’s 180-degree window, I watch whisars run in fear across the dock outside.

“Stop calling my ship a mutt,” Chuck warns from his seat, typing frantically on the pearly black surface of the console before him.

“Stop listening to my thoughts!” I counter.

The ship starts moving, trembling slightly as it sails in reverse.

“How is she?” Chuck asks without looking back, pain and anxiety all over his tone.

I glance to my left at Miriam, who sleeps peacefully. I lay a gentle hand over her belly. “She’s fine. They both are.”

He exhales in relief. “Good. Zed’phir-lack, quantum speed in five hundred jeheks.”

“Copy.”

As we move away, I find him, rushing through the entrance of the dock. He stops when he spots our ship and his angry stare catches mine, his pointy teeth snarling and fists balled.

“I’ll kill you all!” Arthero growls in our minds as we fly backwards out of the docks. He waves at an approaching A-class, which resembles a sleek white bullet that oozes the latest in whisar warfare technology, the kind of ship that could destroy ours in an eye-blink.

A star killer.

“We can’t outrun them, not in a star killer,” Zed mutters from Chuck’s side.

“We won’t have to,” Chuck says.

“She’s mine!” Arthero shouts in my mind, his cold dark eyes shooting daggers.

“In your fucking dreams,” I counter.

Arthero grins in amusement, licks his lips with a blue tongue. “You’ll die today, James Bauman, this I promise you. All rebels will be wiped out of existence once I’m done! I’m the one who will free the whisar race from emotions once and for all!”

Ironic since he seems to be feeling a shitload of hate right now.

The star killer lowers to pick him up.

“Take this, you dirty usurper,” Chuck replies as he slams his hand on the console.

An impulse births from a device inside the dock. All electronics in the base blink out, lights fade, the alarm silences. Arthero starts floating, waving his arms and tail in the air.

A circuit bomb. Zed’s creation. It stops everything except for life support. Chuck waves at Arthero as the dark side of the moon approaches from our rear. Arthero’s snout opens, screams coming out, though we can’t hear them, and it’s kind of hilarious watching him scream his guts out, his head becoming purple with anger.

“Four hundred ninety-seven jeheks,” Zed says. “Ninety-eight, ninety-nine.” And then we boost toward deep space, leaving Arthero, Earth, and our former lives behind.