Mad Roy's Light
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by Paula Downing King
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Jennan Bartlett is the first human captain of a guild trading ship on Sagittarius. But when humans begin to migrate to Sagittarius in droves, she is torn by her conflicting loyalties. Jennan sees a good and prosperous life in the guilds, but the humans begin to do things in slightly more efficient ways. She must now make the most difficult choice of her life: choose between her career and her species.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 2004
eBookwise Release Date: October 2004
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [342 KB]
Reading time: 204-286 min.
The Shenda voyager-ship, Tavendor, approached Shann home-planet after a long journey, its weary crew grateful to be home. Madringa Station grew steadily larger in the command-deck screens, showing its crisscross pattern of habitats, fusion plants, and industrial parks. A dozen interstellar clanships lay in their port cradles, their bulk diminished by distance. In the background loomed the ruddy cratered bulk of Shann's single moon, Madringa, about which the station orbited, and, beyond Madringa and its busy commerce, the soft blueness of Shann itself, now in quarter-eclipse. Someday other ships might come to this place, should Shann's outrunner ships find other folk in their long, constant search among the nearby stars.
For centuries, the Shenda had searched, finding only a few primitives, near-animal races who thought but did not understand, who could not yet build, who lived from day to day, hunting their food. Someone must be the eldest, the wise said, but the young among the Shenda wished otherwise and continued the search, constructing new devices to power their ships, finding new means to slip faster and farther through non-space. A few warned against the newer devices, doubting a ship-drive that progressively tampered with the strange fabric of space-time, but still the ships went outward, searching.
And stretched too far. Deep in the bowels of Tavendor, the new drive-component shuddered and bent suddenly into non-space, dragging at its connecting parts. The ship lurched violently as an explosion ripped through the engine room, destroying other essential controls. Tavendor rolled helplessly on its axis, then spun out of control, falling inexorably towards Madringa.
On the control deck, a tall and flickering shape emerged through the deck-plate from the engine room below, stretching upwards with tendril hands. At its head, a single ruby eye flashed a waxing flame, an eerie counterpart of the drive-pivot that had malfunctioned. The thing shuddered in the ecstasy of its creation. I AM THE LIGHT! it cried without voice, without sound, and took the Shenda crew into its substance. Die with me, it crooned, then reached outward for others.
Its hull flickering with a reddish light, Tavendor plunged through Madringa Station, ripping aside ships and girders, breaching the fragile containment of nuclear power-stations, feeding the creature's strength. I AM THE LIGHT! it cried in its thousand dead voices, and hungrily reached to Madringa itself. A ruby light suffused the dusty plains and craters, leaping forward in ruddy shadows to engulf a world, then, unable to absorb more, shattered all in a cataclysm of self-destruction.
On Shann, the Shenda watched helplessly as Madringa slowly dismembered before their eyes, disbelieving until the deadly bombardment began. Over the course of days, the fragments of Madringa smashed into Shann, leveling cities, killing the millions, ending all hopes.
It was the death of youth, and the beginning of insanity. "