“Admiral on the bridge,” announced Julien, the Rêveur’s SADE. “At ease,” Alex said as the crew braced to attention. This will take some getting used to, Alex mentally groused as he strode onto the starship’s bridge, attired in his new, four-star uniform, to join his officers and Renée de Guirnon, his House Co-Leader and lover.
Three hours ago, the Rêveur had exited a faster-than-light (FTL) jump from Bellamonde to outside of Arno’s heliosphere. Their ship was headed in system toward the planet Libre, carrying the crew’s prize, in the starboard bay, a captured silver ship. The cost of capturing the enemy fighter had been high … one pilot, Jase Willard, and two of the Rêveur’s four fighters.
Alex regarded his newly promoted officers, Senior Captain Bonnard, Captain Manet, Commander Tachenko, and Squadron Leader Reynard; all standing particularly straight and proud, while sneaking appraising glances at one another. Their new uniforms, adorned with gold rating stars, the House Alexander insignia, and the Rêveur’s patch, had gone over quite well. They have a right to be proud, Alex thought. They’ve accomplished something the Confederation hadn’t dared attempt in seven decades … the capture of a marauding silver ship.
Julien was already gathering information on the Arno system and Libre, the only habitable planet, and its satellites. Housed on the Rêveur’s bridge in a metal-alloy case that enclosed his circuitry and crystal memory, the self-aware digital entity was the technologically unifying force of a Méridien starship. FTL jumps were completed by his calculations; FTL communications were sent through his crystals. Every primary system on any Confederation starship could be remotely monitored and controlled by its SADE.
Originally, Alex had sought to return the Rêveur’s survivors to their home world, but the Confederation was in disarray. Hundreds of ships were seen fleeing Méridien to escape the encroaching swarm of silver ships. Renée’s brother, the present House de Guirnon Leader, attempted to usurp their vessel, but the Méridiens refused to heed his demand. Their response was to abandon their House and declare themselves to be Independents. Their allegiance, from the moment of their revival from seventy years in stasis, had been to their rescuer, Alex, a New Terran explorer-tug Captain.
It was Alex’s suggestion that Renée, a daughter of House de Guirnon, create her own House. Renée had embraced the idea, which is how Alex found himself Co-Leader of House Alexander, the Military Affairs Arm of the Confederation Council. Not that their House was official yet, and with the Confederation in chaos, Council approval of the House’s petition might never come.
Alex had hoped that their newly adopted disguise as Méridien militarists instead of New Terran civilians would lend them authority toward enlisting the services of the Independents and their keepers, House Bergfalk, to help them in the fight against the silver ships. The Independents, Méridien society’s outcasts, were quarantined on Libre to prevent them from infecting other Méridiens with their so-called rebellious thoughts and ways. On the bridge, Alex nodded at Julien’s holo-vid display of Libre and its satellites. “According to Confederation records,” Alex said, “House Bergfalk maintains a single, small orbital station for transfer of the Independents to the planet’s surface. Supposedly, it constitutes Libre’s entire orbital assets.”
Instead of a single station, Alex, Renée, and the officers were looking at three orbitals. A small one, probably the planet’s original station, was a small speck floating above Libre compared to the two gigantic platforms, each supporting a massive, partially constructed, discus-shaped ship, more than two kilometers across. The immense constructions dwarfed even the long-haul freighters docked opposite the huge ships. “It appears Confederation records aren’t up to date,” Alex said. “Julien, would you care to hazard a guess about those two enormous saucers?”
“Yes, Admiral, I would. While their design is not in my archives, it’s my supposition that these ships are FTL-capable cities, designed for long-term habitation.”
“So, no fighting ships,” said Senior Captain Andrea Bonnard, voicing the group’s disappointment.
“No fighting ships,” Alex agreed. He had hoped that House Bergfalk, who had pushed the Confederation Council for an aggressive response to the attacks of the silver ships, might have been working with the Independents to build fighting ships. Alex’s people, the New Terrans, hadn’t possessed warships prior to his discovery of the Méridiens. And now it appeared the Confederation still hadn’t built any.
S.H. Jucha has had an extensive career as a senior manager in the technical education and software development industries, with degrees in Biology and Broadcast Communications. He has been driven by an innate interest in computers since his initial adoption of an IBM PC in 1981. Jucha’s new novel, The Silver Ships,—the product of extensive planning, researching and development—is now part of a planned five-book series with a potential spin-off in the works.
The Silver Ships is available on . The next installment in the series, Libre, releases on August 1, 2015.
Learn more about Jucha (ū•hă) at blog