Read a sample : Ryonna's Wrath
On this page you can read the first Chapter of my fourth (first novella) Sci-Fi book “Ryonna's Wrath”, available for pre-order shortly on Amazon kindle. If you like it, please don't hesitate to share this page via the social media buttons at the bottom of the page.
Artwork by Christian Kallias
Ryonna watched the Iron Fire enter hyperspace and felt a little sadness. She was surprised by the feeling, as well as the bond she had quickly formed with both Sarah and Chase. After all, she was not used to trusting strangers, especially these days, while being on the run. But both their plight and predicament, as well as the generosity they had displayed towards her, warmed her heart. She felt sorry for Sarah. Ryonna’s vision had indicated that her end was near. If it hadn’t been for her, she probably wouldn’t have struck a deal with Chase and the Alliance, and she wouldn’t know where Ronan was.
She had to get to her son as fast as possible, but going inside Hellstar prison half-assed would not achieve anything. She longed to see her son more than anything in the world. More so since her husband had passed. Ronan had become the center of her universe. Worrying and being overprotective was not the Droxian way, but she couldn’t help it. From the day they had discovered his genetic weakness, and during the years spent hiding it from the Droxian Ministry of Health, her bond with her son had grown beyond that of most Droxian parent-child interactions.
She brushed the thoughts away. Now was the time to devise a plan to get to Hellstar, with at least a hint of hope of getting out of there alive. First things first. She needed to acquire a jump-capable ship. She opened the holographic star map in the Alliance’s shuttle and studied her current location. She didn’t have much currency, so buying a ship was not an option. She would probably have to steal one.
Her eyes fell on the few credits Sarah had given her, lying on the co-pilot’s console next to hers. Her mind wandered a little, but soon a bleep from her own console caught her attention.
“Recorded message awaiting,” said the onboard computer with a male, synthesized voice.
She touched the control and soon an image of Chase’s smiling face filled the holo-screen.
“Hello, Ryonna, I took the liberty to record this before you were ready to depart. I wanted to re-iterate our thanks for your generous donation of the quadrinium we need so much. I wish we could have come with you to Hellstar to help you free Ronan. As soon as we repel the Zarlack attack on Earth, we’ll try to get back in touch with you. Hopefully we can still help you achieve your goal. I don’t have to tell you Hellstar is a very dangerous place, so please be careful and make sure you have a plan before going in.”
She smiled at Chase’s advice, which matched her own analysis of the situation.
“I’ve taken the liberty of dropping a couple of hundred pounds of quadrinium into this shuttle’s cargo hold. I know you said you didn’t need it, but we both know this stuff has value, and you may need the cash to buy equipment. You gave us more than enough, and one day I hope we can repay you for your incredibly generous gesture. I’ve also loaded the onboard computer with some of my autopilot flight patterns. If you get into trouble, don’t hesitate to activate them. Hope to see you soon. Farewell and good luck, Ryonna.”
The holo-screen turned off, and the emotions she had been feeling moments before returned with a vengeance. She had been wary of trusting Chase when they first met, but not being able to see his death when she looked at him puzzled her. That had never happened before and threw her off. Instinctively she felt he was hiding something. Sarah, however, had convinced her they meant no harm and were willing to help her. This message from Chase reaffirmed the conclusion she had reached in the hours following their first meeting, namely that he indeed meant well and had a good heart.
“Thank you, Chase,” she said out loud.
As if an answer, her ship trembled from what felt like laser impacts on the aft side of her shuttle. She raised her shields and checked her radar. She could see no signature, so she turned the shuttle for a visual. She was rewarded with another set of laser impacts on her shields. She swore. She caught a glimpse of her attacker’s craft, and while she didn’t recognize the ship it was noticeably bigger than her own.
Probably equipped with a hyperspace engine, then.
Her ship’s shield absorbed more salvos, and she took evasive action, which helped a little. For a split second she wondered if she shouldn’t simply activate the device Chase had given her. After all, the Iron Fire had only left a few minutes ago. But she decided against it. She didn’t like the idea of calling for help at the first sign of trouble. She also knew that Sarah and Chase were on a time-sensitive mission. A few minutes’ delay could be catastrophic for them and the people of Earth. After more laser impact with her shuttle’s shield, the onboard computer complained that the shields had dropped below forty percent.
She needed to think fast. She brought up the schematics of the shuttle and diverted all power to the shields, boosting them to nearly sixty percent; and then she accessed the engine’s schematics and looked for a way to eject quadrinium from its chambers. While the controls of Alliance vessels were new to her she had flown enough ships to understand the basics. It took another five hits and more warnings from the computer before she saw what she was looking for. But it would take time to make the necessary adjustments to eject the quadrinium and ignite it, and with every moment her shields were lowering. That’s when part of Chase’s message struck her.
“Computer, show me autopilot patterns.”
The holo-screen filled with different, pre-programmed patterns. She selected “aggressive evasive” from the list, a pattern called Delta-7. The moment she activated it the ship took over piloting duties, and it didn’t take long to realize that the automatic patterns flew the ship much more efficiently than she did. That gave her the necessary time for the next part of her plan. She diverted more power to her shields from the weapons, which she wasn’t using anyway, as well as ninety percent of life support. The way this fight was going—one sided and with her getting her ass kicked—this bold maneuver would either succeed or she’d die trying. Once she had redirected every ounce of power to the shields, she regained manual control and executed the commands she had been working on.
Her ship released smoke from her engines, simulating damage. She waited a few seconds to see if that would stop her pursuer, but her instincts told her this pilot was not interested in only disabling her. A few more salvos took another ten percent of her shields and confirmed her gut instinct.
“Yep, they want me dead alright.”
She slowed down, and soon the attacking ship was upon her. She locked onto it with the shuttle’s tractor beam and then ejected the quadrinium, redirecting all power to the aft lasers. Dragging the ship into the quadrinium cloud, she fired at it with her aft lasers at full power. The resulting explosion rocked the shuttle, severing the tractor beam and taking out whatever was left of the shuttle’s shields. With inertial dampeners set to the minimum she experienced tremendous g-forces when the ship entered a wild spin. Fortunately, Droxian physiology allowed her to withstand much stronger forces than this before risking loss of consciousness. She recovered from the spin and saw an array of warning lights on her consoles, followed by multiple vocal warnings: “Shields down, structural integrity comprised,” said the monotonic, synthesized voice of the onboard computer.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” said Ryonna as she turned about to look at her target.
Sparks erupted inside her cockpit and the lights flickered. Her shuttle was in bad shape, but that was to be expected.
“Low power! Low power!” wailed the onboard computer.
Annoyed that the AI was stating the obvious, she turned off vocal alerts.
Approaching the ship that had fired on her without warning, she saw it had been heavily damaged and was slowly spinning in space, smoke and sparks escaping from one side. All that was left to do was board the ship and hope she hadn’t damaged its jump engines beyond repair. She located the target ship’s nearest landing bay and landed her shuttle inside. She checked the cargo bay for atmosphere. She could leave her ship without resorting to an EVA suit.
She left the cockpit and set her blaster to maximum stun, while running towards the cargo door. With determination and anger in her eyes she punched the release button with her elbow and raised her blaster towards the now-descending cargo ramp.