This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question. After reading your first 1,000 words, would a person continue reading it?
Read other Weekend Writing Warriors first pages HERE
Starquest is the first book in the Destiny Trilogy. Each book is a 'standalone' but features some of the same characters, all with a connection to the starship Destiny. I have been featuring the first two books in We WrWar over the past few months. All three books are published by the Wild Rose Press.
The scream of the red alert cut rudely into Jess’s dreams, waking her instantly. She sprang from her bunk and ordered the computer to shut off the alarm, then pulled on her bodysuit and raced the short distance from her cabin to the flight deck. She flung herself at the control panels. The flickering lights above the main computer console and the figures on the visual output screen demanded immediate attention.
Her fingers elicited no response when she ran them rapidly over the tactile command pads. She looked up and addressed the main computer panel. “Jaii, these readings are crazy. We’re way off course and nothing’s working on manual, either. I thought I’d fixed the fault. What’s going on?” The image before her wavered, the familiar features distorted.
Emergency, the J.A.II series computer intoned, with what sounded like a hint of panic. Serious malfunction of auto navigation array, inertia dampers and control systems, including shrouding device failure. Life support systems severely compromised. All systems currently operating on emergency power. Auto-repair systems unable to reverse degradation. Main drive calculated to reach critical mass in fourteen minutes and nine seconds.
“What? Why didn’t you wake me earlier?”
Such action would have been pointless. You could have done nothing further. I anticipated that the auto-repair systems would keep the situation under control. When the position became unsustainable, I transmitted an emergency beacon before waking you.
“What are the chances of the signal being received?”
There is insufficient data to form an accurate prediction.
“A guess would do.”
The image darkened as if about to fail completely, although a moment later it sputtered grudgingly back to life.
“Well, I can’t see help reaching us before the ship blows,” Jess muttered, her voice grim. She had only one course of action available. She was heading in the direction of the emergency airlock and her escape pod when the computer’s voice made her stop and turn back to the flight deck again.
It appears...the signal...has been answered. My sensors indicate a large starship on our trajectory. Available data shows that since it would have been outside the range of our sensors when the beacon was transmitted, it must have attained previously unrecorded speeds to reach us so quickly. We are currently being scanned.
Despite the distortion, combined with the gravity of the situation, Jess had a fleeting sense of something akin to amusement. The computer gave the impression of looking and sounding almost envious as it recited the data relating to the other ship’s size and speed. The strange ship was obviously larger and more powerful than anything previously encountered—and phenomenally fast.
"It would help if our scanners were operational,” Jess said in frustration. Frantically she activated another control, and the titanium shield covering the observation panel slid back. “Well, at least something works.” She gasped at the sight of the starship speeding toward her craft. She took in the long, sleek lines of the main hull with its lethal-looking weapons array. The nacelles on each side gave the appearance of the backward sweeping wings of a gigantic bird of prey. Its graceful double tailfins glowed, radiating a pulsing, golden light.
Jess tore her gaze from the panel. Her situation was too critical to muse over the aesthetics of the unknown vessel. She had to leave her ship, and quickly.
Attention, the computer commanded. Imperative you eject in the escape vehicle immediately. Repeat, eject immediately. Life support systems are not sustainable. Drive mass will reach critical in eleven minutes and thirty-seven seconds. All functions deteriorating. I am no longer able...to...stabilise... The electronic voice slowed and then faded completely, the image dissipating as if it had never existed. Jess swallowed, hard. For a long time the ship’s computer had been her only companion. It was almost like losing an old friend. She had no time for such sentiments, though. The emergency lighting flickered ominously. The instrument panels were shorting out and gave off a pungent smell of burning.
As she sped toward the airlock, she fancied she heard a voice in her mind.
Listen closely. This is the starship Destiny...
Starquest - Book 1 in the Destiny Trilogy