Book One of Interstellar Enforcement Agency
Space Opera (Scifi)
Date Published: First of December 2019
In a galactic meltdown that threatens spacetime itself, the universe needs superheroes. On offer: a Spacelander with a slight attitude, an irritating protégée who talks back and vast alien beings who may span the cosmos but who have quite a problem communicating with other species.
The learning curve might be too steep.
Ryler Mallivan’s comfortable life as an upstanding young freighter captain has just imploded. Avaraks are storming the training ship he is on and the bullets being fired are not blanks. Interstellar war has broken out and unless he moves fast they will all be as stone dead as the instructor lying at his feet.
But this is one conflict they can never escape. The cause of the trouble is far closer than they know and will bring Mallivan and his ragbag fledgling crew under ferocious attack from all sides.
They are going to need all their wits about them if they are to stay alive. And they have to, because there is nobody else to save all their worlds from a doomsday weapon which is set to obliterate the entire cosmos.
Just how much can one lone spaceship do?
Sammy was glowering and Mel was looking down at the decking. Neither of them thought I knew how to lead a squad. They were right, but I wasn’t about to tell them so.
Sammy cleared his throat with a sort of huffing sound. “They’ll send someone else, Rye,” he told me, trying to seem helpful and not denigrating, something he could use some practice at.
I gestured with my M596 long barrel, making a huge effort not to sigh. “Just aim at the Avaraks, Sammy. Let’s get the job done.” I didn’t have to say the same to Bull Cunningham. He was in his element, eyes shining, carelessly notching up accurate shots at the enemy. Despite being a Terran Flatlander, he was one of those souls born to be a marine. He hadn’t got there yet, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t take him too long. If I hadn’t had two weeks seniority on him he would have been leading this team now. He would probably have done it better.
For a moment I considered handing the job over to him, but the small Tyzaran girl clutching at my uniform made me focus. She hadn’t been in our remit, but having found her huddled shaking in a doorway, I knew I had to try to save her. There was no way she should have been here. All the visiting Tyzaran dignitaries had been hastily evacuated twelve hours earlier. She had just leapfrogged to my top priority.
The sounds of inter-vessel torpedoes hammering old Commorancy continued. The ancient hull plating was shivering with transformed kinetic energy, making it hard to concentrate.
I kicked Wolseley’s legs out of the way. No man left behind, I thought fiercely. Yeah. Like that had worked out well. Our intrepid leader wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He was missing most of his torso. I couldn’t have taken the remaining bits of him with us, even if I had wanted to.
Major Wolseley hadn’t thought much of my insistent suggestion to fall back and regroup. He was old school. Gung-ho and give your all for the ship; what do you think we train you for, and so on. Rewards in heaven, I supposed. I’m a Spacelander too, but I didn’t believe in all that claptrap. He should be proving or disproving it pretty soon, I calculated. He must be hammering at the pearly gates about now. I hoped he found his misplaced stubborn heroism worth it.
Unfortunately his rigid sticking to the rules had now left those of us remaining in combat with little choice. We could die or we could fight. Half the Avarak intruders had taken advantage of the delay to advance from the port side, trapping us in the corridor between the main engine room and the EM core, and we sure as fitz weren’t going to be retreating anywhere now.
As for Captain Tevis … I didn’t think we would be seeing him anytime soon in this corridor. Not that I knew him. I knew of him. He’d been responsible for the death of one of my uncles. His specialty was keeping his own head down and persuading others not to. The captain would have more pressing work somewhere else on the ship. Somewhere more protected, my subconscious snarked. I tried not to think about it. Like it or not, I was now the de facto head of this decimated squad. I had better things to do than wonder where Commorancy’s just-give-me-my-decoration captain had got to.
Mel’s eyes were sidling towards Sammy. She was wondering whether to mutiny or not.
I cocked the firing mechanism and pointed my gun at her. She rolled her eyes, but at least that brought them back in my direction. She pushed the barrel of her own M487 XRS against her shoulder and squinted down the corridor at the invaders. The sound of her firing was just one more boom amongst the juddering metal which screeched its demise. If we didn’t clear this position soon we were lost. Tears were streaking down her cheeks. I wasn’t sure if they were of rage or fright. It didn’t matter. All she had to do was keep firing. If she didn’t I might shoot her myself.
I turned to cover our rear. Poor old Commorancy was groaning like a collapsing whale. This ship wasn’t going to last much longer.
A computer voice suddenly crackled into life over the ship’s loudspeaker system. “Abandon ship. Abandon ship. This is not a drill. Proceed to your nearest exit port and board the shuttles in an orderly fashion.”
Thanks a lot. Would if we could. I guess the announcement was one step better than ‘we are about to abandon ship leaving the rest of you to die in this old bucket’, which is what our esteemed captain really meant.
Mel wavered. My back was jammed up against hers. I could feel her gun go quiet as she processed the information. A bullet hit Sammy, who collapsed on the floor.
I snarled backwards at her. “Keep firing, damn it! Don’t you even think about taking your finger off that trigger!”
I felt, rather than heard, the gasp of outrage, but my words were effective. She started to return fire again. I squashed the Tyzaran girl between me and Bull. She was half our size. At least we could act as human shields for her. She was cringing at the sounds and the flashes of gunfire, her crest sticking out rigidly from her scalp in panic.
I tugged at Sammy’s shoulder lapels, dragging and pushing him slightly to one side, where a small doorway gave him a little better cover. I couldn’t spare the time to look at him. I just kept returning their fire. The shuttles in the stern cargo hold might as well have been ten kilometers away. We were not going to get there in time. I was pretty sure our part in this newly born war was just about over. I was pretty sure our part in life was just about over.
About the Author
Gillian Andrews is also the author of the award-winning Ammonite Galaxy series, and Kelfor, the Orthomancers. She is English but lives in Spain, and is passionate about Cosmology. She likes to write upbeat space opera with strong protagonists and complex aliens.
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