Starward


(Galactic Dynasty #1)


by E. M. Lohr & Wendy Lohr



DNA, the schematic for life, and so much more. For the long dead aliens, it’s a message media of treachery and treason through the centuries. For the mission to the stars, it’s an absolute requirement. But for Rosa, it’s a curse of being the only one with the right DNA. Going into space isn’t on her life list. But events centuries before her time has set fate into motion from which there is no escape. So she reluctantly embarks on the ultimate space adventure…to unknowingly deliver the dead aliens’ message of betrayal!




$10.99
plus Shipping
Paperback


link to CreateSpace for Starward

$3.99
eBook


link to Amazon Kindle page for Starward

$3.99
eBook


link to B & N Nook page for Starward




book cover for Starward


Chapter 1



“Entering Star System 5-164 in one-minute, thirty seconds,” the ship’s computer announced in the native language of Metrus.

“Tamson, ensure that the others are strapped in and prepare for the jump,” ordered the Metrusian captain, Vox, the complex language of his species rolling in clipped tones off his synthetic tongue. The second-in-command responded in the affirmative, pressing the intercom button to make the announcement.

Vox had no doubt his order would be followed as he had captained this same small crew of fellow Metrusians for the last two years of this particular Space Exploration Deep Space Mission (or more commonly referred to as SEDS Missions). It had been their mission to travel to twelve pre-determined star systems in order to seek out new life forms and determine whether they had the potential to evolve enough to venture into space. If the species showed evolutionary promise, then a beacon with instructions was placed on an outer planet within their star system. If one day these life forms developed the technology to explore their own star system, then the beacon would likely be discovered.

Secondary mission directives included an in-depth exploration and data collection for each star system they visited. All stars and their planetary bodies were to be observed, readings taken, and assessments made as to whether any raw materials or other goods could be harvested or extracted from them. It was always of great interest to Metrus, and to the Galactic Council that they were members of, to find new sources of raw materials for trade.

Each destination so far had been visited without any problems and beacons had been planted in eight of the eleven star systems. Three star systems did not meet the requirements for placing a beacon. Star System 8-229 had a star that was dying and would be engulfing the planets that orbited it within a matter of centuries. Star System 3-471 had one planet that was inhabited by barbaric ice creatures that showed absolutely zero promise of further evolution and would probably be extinct within the next three centuries due to the constant warring amongst them. And Star System 6-926 had no life forms on its gas giants orbiting its twin stars.

The other eight star systems had shown varying degrees of promise in the individual species’ evolution. It was Vox’s personal opinion that out of those eight, three had the greatest potential to eventually make contact. Plus, each of the eleven star systems had various resources for future mining expeditions. So in his mind, this mission had been an overall success.

But their tour of duty was coming to an end and Star System 5-164 was the last destination for them before they could finally return home. He knew his crew was anxious to get this mission over with as they wanted to go back to their home world, start families, and take on new career paths. Besides, two years in deep space could wear on even the most seasoned of deep space explorers.

The three crew members under his command had been selected from the Space Exploration Academy for their individual abilities for this mission. All members of their species had to serve six years in some capacity that gave back to the Metrusian society and the three crew members under his command had volunteered for public service in Space Exploration. Before being assigned to him, though, they each had spent the first year of their service obligation at the Academy, receiving advanced training. Then they had served the next three years on other, much shorter missions, in order to hone their specific talents and determine whether they would be fit for such an extended deep space mission. And now he had them for the remaining two years of their obligation.

Once their six-year service was over, they would have the choice to stay in public service or to leave to take on civilian jobs in their career field of choice. When Vox had first signed on with Space Exploration several decades ago, he’d known it was the career path he wanted. It had been a lonely path, but it was not a path he regretted taking.

All things must come to an end, though, and this was to be the last six-year stint he’d been allowed to re-enlist for. After this mission, he’d be retiring from Space Exploration and would then be required to start a family to keep the Metrusian population numbers stable. So, even though this was the last star system to be explored for this particular mission and everyone, including himself, was antsy to finish the job, Vox was determined not to grow lax or complacent on this last leg of their journey. There would be time enough to relax and celebrate once it was over and they were safely back home.

“Countdown has commenced. Thirty seconds to time-space jump,” the computer announced and Vox pulled out of his thoughts to focus on what was happening on his ship.

“All crew and equipment is secured, Captain,” Tamson reported, his clipped tones youthful sounding.

Vox nodded his head in acknowledgment at the robust, young male and strapped himself into the Captain’s chair. Time-space jumps were an efficient way to travel, bending space in order to go from one point to the next in a matter of seconds, similar to hopping from one stone to the next across a large body of water. He would never admit it, but he hated the jumps. Or more accurately, Vox hated the visions and dreams that always came during the jumps. They were just so damn disconcerting and he never liked what he saw during that short timeframe.

As the countdown ended, Vox forced himself to relax and soon a vision unfolded before his eyes. He saw an explosion and the anger and betrayal he felt stunned him. There was a battle, but the vision faded before he knew the outcome, his heart racing faster than it was supposed to.

“Tamson, are we stable?!” Vox growled, irritated by the dream or vision or whatever the hell it had been.

“Yes, Captain,” Tamson responded in a calm voice.

The rest of the crew knew how irritable Vox usually was coming out of the jumps and he had noticed that after the first couple, they had all learned to not take his irrational mood personally. It frustrated him that he couldn’t get his emotions under control with regards to jump sequences. The Metrusians were renowned amongst their galaxy counterparts for their cool, calm intellect and were rarely ever seen getting emotional about anything. Logic was their safe harbor and each member of the species embraced it with great pride.

Releasing his harness, Vox stood and stated, “I’ll be in the mapping room if you need me.”

The second-in-command nodded in acknowledgment, already running systems checks per protocol to ensure everything was still operational after the jump. Vox entered a lift system that smoothly ushered him from the control room to another level of the ship. Stepping into a short, metal corridor, he turned left and entered the mapping room a few moments later, the even, rhythmic thudding of his thick boots echoing off the metal floor.

The large circular room was mostly dark, the only light source coming from the greenish glow of vid screens that rested along part of the wall across from the entrance. There was also a softer, multi-colored glow emanating from the circular model table which took up most of the floor space in the room. Projecting up from the table was a crude representation of a star system. It had nine circular shapes of varying sizes, devoid of detail, rotating around a central yellow glowing ball. Vox could see the ship’s Science Officer, Joja, circling the table and occasionally touching one of the holographic spheres hovering in mid-air to make adjustments.

“Joja, what’s the status of Star System 5-164? How many planets are there?” Vox asked the curvy female gruffly.

She gave him a saucy smile, obviously ignoring his gruffness, and answered in a husky, sensuous voice, “There are nine major bodies orbiting around a single star. The prospects are highly probable that one of the four closest to the star might sustain life forms.”

“Excellent. Map out, in as much detail as possible, the structure of this star system. I want everything; moons, asteroids, etcetera, as well as what those orbiting bodies are made of,” Vox ordered in a tone that was less gruff. “I’ll check in later to see how you’re coming along,” he stated and left the room, still slightly irritable from the jump vision and not in the mood to engage in flirtations with Joja at the moment.

Leaving the mapping room, he went in search of Leelou, the ship’s Maintenance Officer, to make sure all of the mechanics for the ship were in working order after the jump. The less voluptuous female, more common in Metrusian society than Joja’s sensual curviness, reported that everything was stable, so he returned to the control room. Seeing that Tamson had everything covered, he told the male that he was going for a walk through the ship and to call him if needed.

Since the ship was small, Vox had already visited most of it. But it was his custom to walk through each and every part to make sure no damage had been sustained during the jump sequence. At the relaxation section, he slowly strolled along, taking in the area where he and his crew slept or relaxed or had sex. His race was logical enough to understand the sexual needs involving a small crew of four on a deep space mission and made no judgments on an individual’s current sexual orientation.

Satisfied that everything was in order, Vox began to relax and get over his earlier time-space jump irritation. Leaving the room, he moved slowly through the various parts of the ship as his mind contemplated what this last mission meant for him.

In some ways, he was reluctant to give up space exploration. It was something he had done for so long, and being promoted to Captain for the last twelve years had actually set well with him. It wasn’t that he was power hungry; he just liked the idea of leading a new crew into the unknown, discovering new star systems and species along the way, and seeing his crews’ various reactions to what was discovered.

But, on the other hand, he was just as logical as the rest of his species. And he knew it was time for him to step aside so that someone else could continue the effort. Besides, there had been talks amongst his peers that the Metrusian representative for the Galactic Council was considering stepping down. The current representative of Metrus, Blandor, had served nearly one-hundred years and was ready to retire. An appointment to the Galactic Council was for life, unless the representative wished to retire, and it was considered to be the highest honor for any Metrusian to receive. Before he’d left for this latest two-year mission, there had been many in his circle of acquaintances that had been talking that maybe Vox would make a good candidate for Blandor’s replacement.

Vox’s thoughts were halted for the moment as he arrived back at the control room. More in control of his emotions now, he asked calmly, “How’s everything look, Tamson?”

“Everything’s looking good, Captain. All systems are functional and according to Joja’s calculations, we’ll be arriving at the outermost planet momentarily,” Tamson replied, his voice smoothly clipped and composed.

“Good. When we reach the planet, put us in orbit around it and then we’ll all meet in the mapping room to see what Joja has constructed of the star system so far,” Vox instructed. Leaning over the console to the right of Tamson, he pressed the intercom button and announced, “Leelou, Joja, we’ll all be meeting in the mapping room in ten minutes.”

Releasing the intercom button, Vox took a seat and gazed out of the viewport screen at the unfamiliar space in front of them. Entering a new star system was always fascinating to him as the planets were just a little different in each one. His species, although logical by nature, were also very curious and were always questioning and observing and analyzing everything around them.

Thinking about his race, Vox wondered briefly if he was Galactic Council material. The Galactic Council had an extremely political atmosphere which took a lot of diplomatic maneuvering to avoid falling into various traps and intrigues. If offered up as a candidate, he would want to serve his planet effectively, but wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that would surely come his way. He’d heard that a couple of members of the Council were very cunning and manipulative. But, being as there were only four members at this time, perhaps it wasn’t quite as daunting a task as he was making it out to be.

Of course, he hadn’t actually been approached to put his name up for candidacy. So right now, this was all just idle speculation on his part. But Vox had learned early on that it was always best to be prepared for every possible scenario.

“We are now in orbit around the outermost planet, Captain,” Tamson announced, interrupting Vox’s political musings.

Pushing those thoughts to the back of his mind to contemplate later, he stood and motioned for Tamson to accompany him to the mapping room. Entering the darkened room, Vox found Joja and Leelou waiting for them. Joja winked at both males in her typical flirtatious manner and asked, “Ready to see what I’ve discovered so far?”

Vox nodded and motioned for her to proceed. Taking on a more professional demeanor, the female tapped a series of buttons with her long, elegant fingers and a much-improved model of Star System 5-164 appeared above the model table. Before, it had just been nine plain spheres orbiting a yellow ball. Now the spheres possessed vivid details and had smaller orbs representing what he assumed were moons orbiting the various planets.

“Alright, from my initial observations, this star system possesses four terrestrial planets which orbit closest to the star; four gaseous planets further out; and one much smaller planet made of ice and rock, which we’re orbiting right now,” Joja explained, highlighting each grouping with a press of a button. “According to my calculations, the first two planets are not within the designated habitable zone, being too close to the star. The third planet is probably the most likely place for life forms to exist due to the abundance of water on its surface and the fact that it has an atmosphere. The fourth planet would be the next likely source of life forms as I was able to locate evidence of water. However, I believe the water may be in a solid state and there doesn’t appear to be much of an atmosphere there. As for the gaseous planets, they are outside of the designated habitable zone and unless the life forms are completely made of a gaseous substance, we probably won’t find any there. Same goes for the planet we’re orbiting now; too cold and distant from the star and initial scans of the planet’s surface show that nothing is moving down there.”

“What about raw materials on any of these planets?” Vox questioned.

Joja shrugged and responded matter-of-factly, “All of the planets have raw materials for extraction, some more than others. But we’ll have to conduct the routine tests before I could say for sure.”

Vox contemplated what was shared for a few moments before ordering, “Very well then. Tamson, set a course for the third planet from the star. Make sure that course takes us past as many of the planets as possible along the way.”

Turning to his science officer, he continued, “Joja, ascertain if there are any life forms as we pass each planet. If life forms are discovered, we’ll take whatever time is necessary to perform the usual observations. Also, refine your assessments of these planets for raw materials. Then we’ll make a determination of whether evolution and eventual contact is possible from any life forms found in Star System 5-164.”




Return to the Top