Space Wars, book 4
by April Zyon
Publishing by Evernight Publishing
Cover by Jay Aheer with Simply Defined Art
Release Date 3/3/2016
About the Book
She had no idea how much her life was about to change…
Recruited by NASA to be part of a special team tasked with finding a new world in space, Doctor Samantha Kennedy reluctantly embarks on a six-year voyage. But when a meteor shower forces the crew to take shelter, something goes horribly wrong. Thrown through time and space, she wakes up surrounded by chaos. Her spacecraft is destroyed. Everything she loves is gone. A tall, alien stranger is her only comfort in this bizarre new world.
Fleet Admiral Petr van Jahnsen has seen many things in his career. The strange spacecraft was new even for him, though. But it’s the woman inside that truly fascinates him. Against all odds, everything about the mysterious stranger calls out to him in a way nothing ever has. Now all he has to do is convince her that she’s his mate.
The clearing of a throat pulled Petr’s attention away from the reply he was working on in return for the latest vid his sister, Adira, had sent. Ensuring his personal data pad was locked, Petr lifted his chin to pin a look on the young officer hovering at the end of the table.
He had figured the dining hall at that hour in the midst of a shift was the best place for privacy. It had worked until now. The young sub-lieutenant looked nervous. “Lieutenant?”
“Apologies, Fleet Admiral van Jahnsen,” he said. A tremor ran through him even though he snapped a salute.
“On board a cruiser or in informal settings it is Admiral, Lieutenant.”
“Of course, sir. Apologies, sir.” The young man was getting more nervous by the minute.
Petr did not like the effect his rank had on the young, impressionable officers. Petr wasn’t one to use his position often, only when someone overstepped the boundaries of their society in ways that truly pissed him off.
To that end, he waited patiently while the young man gathered up his courage. “First Admiral Chevon requests your presence on the bridge, sir. We received a transmission of unknown origin. It was weak and distorted. Moments later an unidentified craft crossed our outer border.”
Frowning at that, Petr pushed to his feet. He waved the young lieutenant out ahead of him, tucking his data pad carefully away in a pocket. “Do we have any other information on the craft or potential occupants?”
“Not at this time, sir. The admiral has ordered us to investigate but we are not yet in range for a full scan of the craft. It passed the sensors lining the border, which gave us what little we now have.”
He rode the lift with the young man, his mind spinning in concern and curiosity. Striding onto the command deck of the cruiser, he nodded to the commanding officer. “Time to intercept?” he asked.
Chevon, apparently having instructed the lieutenant to pass along all pertinent details, didn’t appear surprised by Petr’s pointed question. “Within the hour, sir. We should have it on radar shortly prior. From what we could discern from the data coming in from the sensors on the border it has a small radar profile. Likely why it slipped through.”
The man moved to a console and nodded to the woman working at it. “Bring it up.”
The screen above her head, eye level for Petr, lit up with data and some grainy images.
Chevon put a finger to the small object tumbling lazily through space. “The sensors read it as debris. There was a blip of something that potentially could be a life sign, but it was too quick and faint for the sensors to accurately interpret, would be my guess. Per standard protocol, a notification was sent to the closest available vessel, us.”
Petr nodded slowly, narrowing his eyes on the images. “Play it again,” he requested absently. The images were reset, and he again watched the little oddly shaped item tumble on a wobbly axis while it passed through the sensor ring. Twice more he asked it to be replayed before having the crew member send it to his work data pad.
He wanted to see if he could clean up the images a little more. He could have asked the crew to do so, but he had the time. Beyond that, Chevon had many crew members on board who were fresh out of officers’ school. This flight was a training mission of sorts. “Alert me when we are within radar range. I will be in my quarters.”
“As you wish, Admiral.” Chevon saluted briskly before moving on to pass instructions to the crew.
Pausing briefly to watch the interaction, he felt a hint of a smile tug at his lips. Chevon might be gruff, but he was an exceptional and patient instructor. One of the best still on active duty. It was why so many that came through officers’ school fought to gain a position on his cruiser for the mandatory two years of in-field training. Those that came from Chevon’s cruiser were better officers for it. The man put his crew through every conceivable scenario.
And Chevon had many experiences with which to draw from to make sure they were ready for whatever their next posting might be.
The crew listened when Chevon spoke, not merely out of respect for his rank but also for the knowledge they knew he had to share with them. Petr stood for another moment, watching the interaction between the crew and their leader since it was part of the reason he was onboard the cruiser. He was there to evaluate how the new officers were integrating into their roles before he’d return to his own vessel, which he’d left in the skillful hands of his second.
Satisfied that everything was well in hand, Petr left Chevon to the situation that presented itself, and what he could teach his young crew. His mind turned instantly to the sensor video once he cleared the bridge.
In his quarters, Petr settled in at the workstation and slotted the data pad into the port of the station. Once it queued up, he pulled the file off and got to work on getting some clarity. He could have waited for them to arrive, and intercept, but Petr was not feeling all that patient.
Odd for him. He had patience out every orifice even on the worst days. Unless it involved his sister or something that piqued his interest. Like this mysterious and unusual craft. While the programs began their work to remove some of the noise of space that often distorted the sensor feeds, Petr collected a snack and beverage. His original plan was to go to the dining hall and eat there, but he’d been drawn into the video his sister had compiled and lost himself in it. Seeing his niece and nephew, who had grown so much since his last visit, was well worth skipping a meal.
He could not believe how big they both were getting. Once he returned to his own vessel, he would have to see about arranging another trip to visit with them all. Even that rogue Fintan, who had actually dared to entice Adira into falling in love with him. While it was now mostly the principle of being the older brother that kept him harassing the other man, Petr did actually respect him. And Fintan treated Adira like the jewel she was. Good thing, too, or Petr would have personally shoved him out an airlock when they had first met in person.
Easing back into the chair before the workstation, Petr watched the program work at scrubbing out all the unnecessary background noise that translated into white spots or garbage on an image. He set it to working on the one image where the craft was at the closest point to the camera sensor array. It was still quite small, but if he could get rid of the excess items clogging up the picture he could blow it up more. Of course, it was all only a theory. He didn’t know if it would work.
He stared at the monitor while eating his snack. The soft beep from the workstation pulled him out of the trance-like state he had fallen into. Shaking his head, Petr set aside his cup. The program was now analyzing the image, filling in what it could, and slowly it was clearing up. The final image was crisp in comparison to where it had been.
Petr clicked on it to enlarge it. What he found had confusion sliding through him. A few more clicks, and he got it as large as it would go while remaining clear enough to see it. The writing on the outside hull was unusual. There was also an image in primary colors marking the exterior. Neither were familiar to him, nor was the shape of the craft. And it was definitely a spacecraft of some nature. Approximately twice as large as one of the Imarian crawlers, it had a unusual shape to it. Narrowing his eyes, he leaned in, knowing it wouldn’t help him to see it more clearly and yet unable to stop himself.
His communication device chimed softly. Leaning back in his chair, he pressed the side to activate it with his touch. “Yes?”
“Admiral, the craft is now in radar range,” Chevon told him.
“On my way.” After locking down the workstation, Petr quickly returned to the bridge.
Stepping onto it, he nodded to the officers who saluted, making his way to Chevon’s side. “What do we know?”
“Not much more than we did, sir. We will be in range soon to bring it on board. Now that we have a bearing, we’ve increased our speed slightly to scoop it up.”
“I’m reading two life signs, sir.”
Petr turned his attention to the young female officer. “Anything more?”
“Their life-support system appears to be failing. Based on the computer models, they have perhaps a day’s worth available. The last hours would be thin, though.”
“That makes boarding easier,” Chevon muttered. “I’ll have the boarding party readied. Once it’s in the cargo hold, they can sweep through.”
Petr made the decision immediately. “I will go with them.” Chevon’s sharp look said he wanted to argue but was hesitating. “I’ll remain behind the first men in, but I’m intrigued by this craft.” He was also highly trained in close-quarters combat, more so than even the highest ranking of the security personnel that Chevon would be sending in. Petr knew what it was like to have to fight for his life every moment of every day.
The commanding officer gave a slow nod. “As you wish, sir.”
One of the other officers called out the time to intercept. Giving Chevon a nod, Petr headed through the cruiser for the large cargo hold that would be the unusual craft’s home for the time being.
It seemed to take much too long for them to pull the ship into the hold. The first four from security began their sweep. From his vantage point at the area they had managed to open on the craft, Petr watched the men pause to look around now and again before moving on.
The interior of the ship was oddly cluttered. Very inefficient, to his thinking. The stench of death permeated the air. Never a good sign. Two more from security went in to do the follow-up sweep behind the other team, which is when Petr stepped into the craft. He had to keep his head bent slightly while moving. At the joints between sections, he practically had to fold himself in half to get through.
A very inefficient design, indeed. Shaking his head, he froze at the sound of blaster fire. What shook him to his core was the feminine scream. It cut straight to the protective core of his being and had him racing through the craft in the direction it continued to come from.
Two of the first security team were down, dead. One of the ones Petr had followed in was holding a blaster pointed at the head of a hysterical female. Pushing the weapon down, Petr ordered him to move into a position to watch the one direction and had the other man look at the direction they had come from.
He then crouched down before the woman. She still cried, the tears pouring freely over her cheeks, but her screams had calmed to whimpers of an emotional agony that had her arms locked around her chest while she rocked back and forth. “We are not here to harm you,” he said in his most gentle voice.
She flinched, and the whimpering grew louder. The rocking movement had ceased, but now she shivered as if freezing.
Going with instinct, Petr undid his uniform jacket and shrugged it off. In slow, smooth movements he wrapped it around her shoulders, keeping a watchful eye on her should she feel the need to strike out at the unknown. Then he held out a hand to her, palm up, and waited.