Captain Terrill Leaaka Denault entered the Unity Fleet Academy on Port Coasten at the tender age of sixteen, her grades and athletic abilities during her primary education earning her a direct admission, her rough-and-tumble attitude earning her entry probation. Her parents, always watching, always protective, were stunned then dismayed that she chose the Fleet, expecting her to stay at home and marry her primary school sweetheart. Terrill, however, secretly wanted out and at the first opportunity, jumped off-planet. Not particularly attractive, and with no real talent in anything worthwhile, Terrill was afraid of becoming trapped in a life where she was dependent on someone she didn’t quite completely trust and longed for a sense of self-sufficiency she could not find at home.
At first the Fleet Academy was hard on her, so much so that she was ready to drop, but re-thinking the training as the Fleet’s fight against her, she adapted and eventually graduated with an ensign’s commission and training at the helm. But life on patrol proved boring, despite the occasional chase and capture of a pirate ship or terrorist freighter, and after two years Terrill, still itching for a fight, applied for an opening at the Tactical Assault Training Program Command. After a vigorous screening process, she was accepted. Once again she found herself in over her head, and nearly dropped out, but on her captain’s advice, she persevered, determined then to never be branded a quitter. Once the initial phase was complete, she found her stride, and though she did not graduate with high honors, she did manage a specialization in intelligence in addition to her tac-trooper primary, earning herself a lieutenant’s slot on Tac-team Three, with a home port at Colnate Station, as far from her old life as she could manage. Once again her parents, irritated now that she hadn’t returned, had tried to talk ‘sense’ into her, get her to return home, but she made it clear she was home and asked them to leave.
At twenty-five she’d achieved the rank of highmajor and served as her team’s executive officer. And when their team took heavy casualties during a particularly bloody assault against an entrenched terrorist organization, Terrill found herself in charge of the tac-team. Once again, the duties overwhelmed her at first, but she quickly caught her stride. Within a year, under her assault and intelligence analysis skills, her team came to rival that of her counterpart, Captain Axel Fargo, in terrorist outposts destroyed and pirates killed. They developed a friendly rivalry, and Terrill came to develop an attraction for Captain Fargo. Her attempts at getting to know him better were politely rebuffed by his closed manner, so she settled for a solid working relationship.
Born and raised in the swampy metropolis of Kis’targ, Shelhou Doun-Ret Westyr began life working as a borer, much the same as all the planet’s byveri infants, their elders having learned not to interfere with their kind’s natural development. When he became self-aware and crawled from the tunnels beneath the teeming, technologically-advanced city, he instinctively sought out and found his parents, where he became the family’s most-treasured and only son, for their other four failed to reach awareness and emerge from the swamps. Westyr found that as his understanding grew, so did his hunger for knowledge. Excelling in his ritualistic learning, he taught himself how to seek out new information, new things to learn, and as the seasons progressed became a keen observer and even keener analyst for his birther’s business.
Plague struck when he was four seasons old, though, essentially shutting down Kis’targ and ruining his birther’s string of shoppes. Westyr returned to the swamps, his skills as an analyst providing him with a supervisory job over an expansion project. Noticed by the lead byveri of the Unity Sphere Assistance Service, Westyr was encouraged to take an aptitude exam for Unity Fleet service, which was in need of intelligence analysts. Westyr passed with high marks, and was offered a chance to make a true life for himself, serving those who helped save not only his birthers, but his home city and planet as well. After rigorous training, which he enjoyed immensely despite the hardships of being away from home, Westyr found his calling in the Fleet’s Tactical Analysis Command. Two seasons of tough training behind him, and news from home that things were beginning to improve, Westyr joined Intelligence Team Four as a lieutenant.
Working with an experienced captain, Westyr learned the delicate ways of field intelligence gathering, and that he had enough common sense to survive on the tough streets of some of the Sphere’s less-fortunate worlds, if the need ever should arise. With Tac-team Captain Fargo willing to trust his assessments of murky situations, Westyr slowly accumulated an impressive array of successes and eventually earned his way into the leadership of Intelligence Team Four. Then, he lead the intelligence assessment of a terrorist outpost discovered by long-range scanners on the planet known as NR-7710 in the Unity Sphere’s Registry…
His family’s aristocratic name in peaceful decline as the power of the Unity Sphere opened new horizons for his world’s people, Prince Pruce Lenar, third in line for the Kingship of Lenar, dedicated his life at an early age to science and learning. A bright student with lofty ambitions, he took well to his early mentors and tutors, and quickly rose to the top of his small class when he finally attended the private institutions of his home moon. Initially focusing on mathematics and darkspace theory, he found himself suddenly more interested in genetics and biological manipulations as he entered his teens, and soon directed his energies into the creation, manipulation and improvement of life.
Of average weight and height, with black hair and a deep, penetrating gaze, Pruce entered into his arduous courses on Scarti at the age of fifteen, determined to fully explore and conquer the promising new field of biomote control, which offered unlimited potential across the Unity Sphere, if the theories behind it were indeed true. Working with some of the brightest minds in the science, Pruce and his fellow students made promising strides, only to hit one wall after another as their experimentss progressed deeper and deeper into uncharted territories. By then end of his second year, Pruce, experiencing the frustration of failure and burn-out for the first time, took a physical and mental break, cutting back on his sciences to explore classes in socialization and business. He learned valuable lessons in business management and as part of his studies opened specialized laboratory services on his family’s home moon, which he shared with his two brothers, his parents havings relocated to the planet Lenar to keep their monarchy from completely dying. His thoughts now diverted by his business dealings, he suddenly found himself discovering breakthroughs in his biomote studies, and on his own, ever so slowly managed to make progress where others continued to fail.
Pruce met Maurel Bright of Bright Industries during his business studies, and thoroughly smitten, became determined to earn her trust as an intimate friend. He slowly won her favor, in the process discovering a side of his soul he had never really explored before. As they became more intimate, they discussed the possibilities of creating a biological services branch for Bright Industries, but never pursued their ideas beyond the dreaming phase. As their relationship deepened, though, Pruce realized Maurel considered her future at her father’s side more important than what she and Pruce shared, and though hurt, Pruce surrendered to the inevitable gracefully, as a prince should, when the time came for them to part. And despite promises to keep in touch, Pruce found himself too buried with work upon graduation to keep his promise.
The work that kept him buried came from Saris Colonizations, a company formed by Ranart Erkray, who had a powerful vision for a peaceful agraian colony on a newly registered world. Pruce, finding himself captivated by the man’s vision, realized biomote control was the answer to Ranart’s desire for the least technology possible, and threw himself into the search for the nascent field’s final answers. With a fully-realizable goal to work toward, Pruce and his laboratories cracked the biomote code. With the potential of his discoveries only beginning to penetrate his thoughts, Pruce proceeded with full field testing in his labs, then prepared to travel with Ranart Erkray and his colony to Cherklar for final tests and implementations. Only after he was on his way did he realize what he and his team had done, and the full implications hit home.
If everything goes well on Cherklar, he found himself thinking, within ten years I will rule the bio-engineering sector of the Sphere and be out from under my brothers’ shadows once and forever…
Bran-yacol took the name Brayn when he was twelve seasons, the Age of Name for cavaxians, for he had grown used to the name given to him by his shipmates aboard the Cold Scar, the freighter for which he was first junior then executive pilot. He’d lived a fairly typical life for a cavaxian on the Unity Sphere’s Inner Rim, and returned to his home world to take a mate and settle down upon his fifteenth season. But a run of bad luck followed his departure from the Cold Scar, as one ship after another met with disaster or financial ruin, and he soon found himself heavily into brar, a cavaxian narcotic, to relieve the stresses of his downward-spiraling life. When plague struck, he lost his mate and nestlings, found himself completely adrift and in a brar-induced haze, signed on as pilot for a disreputable salvage company.
Life with the salvage company proved hard, but Brayn took advantage of the isolation to break his brar addiction and sharpen his skills as a pilot- a skill required by the salvage team to escape the Unity Fleet patrol ships that often harassed them. Developing a distinct distaste for the Unity Fleet and all it stood for, Brayn decided to learn as much about his enemy as he could, and it was during his intermittent readings of materials hacked from protected Fleet files he learned the location of the Black Diamond’s demolished command bunker. Convinced he and his team would find something of significant worth there, Brayn took the scow on an unapproved jaunt, then, making certain the patrolling Fleet warship would not notice them, he and his team scoured the ruins. Discovering some valuable reactor components only slightly damaged in the assault, the salvage team dug deeper into what they thought was a reactor coolant chute and unearthed a deanimated body.
Convincing his team members that this deanimated man would reward them heavily for being reanimated, Brayn bribed a technician and gained access to a research facility that was exploring the limits of the new deanimation technology. Brayn and his men reanimated their find and quickly returned to their scow, where a thankful Hetz, weak and disoriented from his extended deanimation, willingly led them to one of his buried stashes of credit accounts and valuable merchandise, from precious stones and metals to high-end technology for personal and professional use. Under Hetz’s guidance, Brayn and his team spent a week upgrading the scow’s systems and replacing her thrusters with more powerful units. Seeing in Hetz everything he was not, Brayn found himself drawn to the man, and within a short time was conspiring with Hetz to eliminate the rest of the team, so that Hetz’s presence might remain a secret from the Fleet. Both knew if the Fleet discovered what had happened, it would not stop until Hetz and Brayn were both dead. They waited until the modifications to the scow were complete before carrying out their grim task.
Brayn quickly came to earn Hetz’s trust, and together they began the difficult task of rebuilding Hetz’s organization, the Black Diamond. And his faith in Hetz absolute, Brayn never once looked back…
TERRORCRUISE – a science-fiction action-adventure novel by Charles Brass
Published March, 2011 by ClearView Press, Inc.
Available in soft cover ($12.99) and Kindle ($3.99)
Contact Charles Brass by email at: email@example.com