A STAR REBORN
Seven Stars Saga
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
The shuttle slewed around a spinning piece of detritus floating in the junkyard. Nyx placed a hand on the console in front of her to brace herself and swore under her breath. “Putain. Raphael, could you be more careful?”
The Lead Navigation Specialist of the Thanatos glanced at Nyx as he dodged the free-floating engine of a cruiser-class spaceship. “It’s either be more careful or look more like a piece of space trash.”
Nyx ran a hand over her cheek. The faded tattoo grazed her white skin in jagged webs across her wrist and up her arm, ghosting over her face. The AI code in her blood was changing her appearance. The tattoo wasn’t the dark black of her AI siblings. Yet. In time, she would be branded just like the rest of the Seven Stars. After all, she was one of them now, ever since Erebus woke up the AI code dormant in her blood.
Nyx gripped the safety straps over her shoulders as she sat heavy in the grey co-pilot’s chair. “Space trash. We are space trash,” she whispered. She leaned her head back with her eyes closed, bobbed sable hair pulled behind her ears. She rubbed her ring finger where her engagement ring to Kai used to rest, then quickly pulled on her spacesuit gloves. If only he had given her his resources, this would be a wholly different mission. The tension in her shoulders made her head ache.
Raphael dropped them around another large piece of space dreck that yawed wildly, and Nyx put her hand to her tattoo again. They were going to float before they even… floated. She cracked a wry smile and leaned into her tattooed cheek. The unfocused grey hologram that marked her as one of the Seven—an AI born human. Not like her siblings, who needed to download themselves into Ship Interface Androids—Sias—to interact with the world, to be truly alive. Nyx had inherited her code from her mother, who was the Star of Nyx before her. “Just get us through this defunct shipyard and to the Battle Station Andraste safely, Raphael.”
Raphael nodded and steered around another floating obstacle, making Nyx’s heart drop. Getting to where the Andraste hid quietly amidst the detritus really was going to kill Nyx and her small rescue operation. She exhaled hard. Putain de Kai. All she wanted was for the Medusa to crack a hole big enough in the Andraste’s shield for the Thanatos’ shuttle to get through. But, no. Putain de Kai didn’t want to risk his ship or crew on a mission that didn’t have much intel, including whether or not the Battle Station had working weapons. Nyx was pretty sure it didn’t, but it was only a supposition. She had no real proof. Just rumors and hearsay.
The comm crackled on and a narrow-wave flickered on Nyx’s console screen.
“You didn’t need to sneak off the ship.” First Officer Grace Sarama shook her loose curls and yawned, her image on the view-screen wavering as they sailed closer to the signal blocker the Andraste emitted. “We all understand that this is something you need to do.”
Nyx frowned. She knew, but… “So. Quel est le problème?”
“The problem is that you took your ExO, Head Security Officer, Head Navigator, and Head Engineer with you,” the Black woman chastised Nyx in a thick Queen’s speech accent. “You don’t even trust Malcam. And you know how much I hate being in charge, too.”
“I’m sorry, Sarama.” Nyx sighed. “I couldn’t have you stop me because you dislike power. And I needed a good crew to do this.” She frowned. Despite the fact that Malcam killed her father and Red was forever loyal to him, they were still valued crew members, and more than competent pirates.
“I miss Erebus as much as you. She was good. Douce. At least she still talks to you occasionally.” Sarama’s deep eyes softened.
The day Nyx left Erebus and Queen Phoebe, her sisters, on La Terre, the North American Union and the African Continental Governance enacted a quiet coup. The NAU and ACG took the Queen of the Protectorate, also known as the Star of Phoebe, and Nyx’s other AI sister, the Star of Erebus as prisoners. With Phoebe’s help, she had escaped so she couldn’t be identified as Nyx Marcus, daughter of the late Xaoc and Nue Marcus, pirate princess, and the ultimate of the Seven Stars, then held by the NAU and ACG in the name of the new Protectorate. But it had made her uneasy. She didn’t like leaving her sisters behind.
Sarama stared at her over the narrow-wave. “I still don’t understand why la reine though. She nearly had us all killed. I understand Erebus’ avatar, but not son Altesse.”
The coup took Erebus’ Sia avatar as well as Queen Phoebe, and while Erebus’ main consciousness was safe on the Thanatos, Erebus had taken losing her Sia extraordinarily badly.
“I can’t leave either of them behind, Sarama,” Nyx said haltingly. “Phoebe’s a Star, too. She’s family.” The Star of Phoebe, the god of intellect and prophecy, the god of war, she was important as the queen. She was also dangerous. And she was family. Nyx couldn’t abandon her, despite her nefarious personality.
Sarama’s narrow-wave jumped with static.
“I’m going to lose you.” Nyx grimaced. In the months that she had been looking for Phoebe and Erebus without her crew’s knowledge, she hadn’t expected them to completely jump on board with this plan to rescue them. Especially not the queen, since she had taken the Thanatos and held the crew prisoner when she had wanted Erebus for her plans to stop the North American Union and the African Continental Governance from taking over the Protectorate.
“Be safe, mon capitaine,” Sarama drawled in her Queen’s Speech accent.