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    Pirates of the Sun snippet.

    Posted by Charles Gray on August 13, 2011

    My next novel will be a young adult science fiction novel with pirates. And exploding stars.

    And cookies.

    Here’s the segment and you have been warned.  Pirates will be coming to kindle and smashwords by the end of august.

    New Terra, 2250

    “Mom!”  Stephanie called as she bounded down the stairs. “Has Michael called?”

    “Hmmm….”  Her mother paused and thought.  “Well, let me see, he hadn’t called the last time you asked, which was… about two minutes ago. So no, no he hasn’t called.”  She paused and looked at her daughter with affectionate frustration. “You know, you could just leave a recorder down here and save yourself the trip.”

    The fifteen year old frowned as she folded her arms across her chest. “You could just let me have a perscom, and we wouldn’t have this problem.”

    “And your father and I would never see you again.  Besides, we agreed. You get a perscom when you’re 16. Not a day before.”

    Stephanie huffed, but didn’t push it any further.  Mom wouldn’t back down.

    “I wonder what’s keeping him?”  She finally asked.

    “Perhaps the fact that the Martyr’s day celebration isn’t for an hour yet?”  Her mother asked, loading the clothes into the washer. Carole flicked one unruly lock of dark hair out of her eyes as she finished loading the unit, then turned back to look at her daughter, a faint frown marring her attractive features. “I’m not certain I like the idea of turning Martyr’s day into an excuse for a date.”

    “Mom!”  Stephanie said in annoyance, “Evy-“

    “Everyone does it. Trust me dear, I’ve heard that before from you—but “everyone” doesn’t make it right.”  Her mother smiled at her daughter. “Like you found out.”

    Stephanie blushed at the remembered event, and the month long restriction that had followed it.

    “Well…that…”  She stopped, thought and continued, “It’s not like we’re disrespecting the ceremony, but it only lasts an hour.”

    “When I was your age, we spent that time after it thinking about the Martyrs.”  Carole said and sighed. “But things change.  We gave you our permission—so long as you’re back by 10:00 and stay in the village.”

    “Okay,” she said, and didn’t push the issue any further.  Her mother looked like she was about to say something when there was the sound of the door chimes.

    “Omigod!”  Stephanie said, “it’s Michael!  I’m not ready, wait, mom tell him I’ll be down in a sec…”  Her voice Doppler shifted as she ran back to her room, as Carole watched her and shook her head.

    “I swear,” her mother murmured as she walked out to the front of the house, “if she spent half as much time getting ready as she does worrying about the time…”

    ***

    When Stephanie came out, after running a brush through her unruly brown curls, Michael was sitting on the couch with a plate of mom’s cookies. Stephanie stopped, looking betrayed at the fact that the plate was empty.

    “Michael!”  She said in annoyance.

    Michael didn’t flinch. “You expect anyone to pass up your mom’s cookies?”

    “I expect my boyfriend to leave me some.”

    “I was,”  Michael said and shrugged.  Even through her annoyance, Stephanie paused to admire him.  Taller than her with short blonde hair, Michael was popular at school, and more importantly didn’t let it go to his head.

    At least when he wasn’t stealing her cookies, Stephanie thought.

    “And?”

    “Well, they smelled really good.”

    “Great,” Stephanie muttered.  “My boyfriend will run through fire for me…but not save me some cookies.”

    “I’ve never actually had to run through fire for you,” Michael pointed out. “But I would.”

    “As long as there were no cookies at stake,” Carole commented from the kitchen.

    “Mom!” Stephanie’s outraged shriek startled some birds in the garden.

    “Don’t worry, dear, here’s a bag to keep you two going,”  Carole said. “Have fun, and remember that your father and I are serious about getting back by ten.”

    “Yes, Mrs. Jacobs,” Michael replied.  “I wont’ let your daughter join the circus.”

    Michael!”  Stephanie turned on her boyfriend. “You….you promised!”

    “And I haven’t told anyone who didn’t already know,” Michael pointed out. “After all, you did ask your dad for the transport ticket to get to the circus.”

    “I was six. I didn’t really know how else to get there.”

    “It was actually very cute,”  her mother said, adding to Stephanie’s mortification.  “I especially liked your take on the lion tamer’s costume.”

    Stephanie looked at her mother and boyfriend.

    Sometimes you fight and sometimes…you run, she thought and started pushing Michael towards the front door. “Bye mom! We’ll be back.”

    “At least they didn’t take pictures,“ Michael pointed out.

    “That I know of,”  Stephanie growled.  “Let’s go, you cookie stealing betrayer.”

    ***

    The Village of New Fullerton was small, with fewer than 4,000 people living in it. The advent of high speed tube trains and grav cars made the need for big cities a thing of the past.

    Even on old Earth the technology would have killed the big city, Stephanie thought wondering what it must have been like to live cheek to cheek in the crowded warrens.  She shook her head as she and Michael headed towards the grassy commons, the bowl shaped depression where you could sit on the cool grass.  First Sun was going down, the pin point blaze of the white dwarf companion starting to dominate the sky.

    “Sit down in the front?”  Michael asked.

    “No, let’s stay up further,” Stephanie said, “less crowded.”  And maybe a place where we can get some snuggling in…

    “Okay,” Michael told her and then they found a place and sat companionably, sharing the bag of cookies.

    As First Sun hit the horizon, the air started to chill, and Stephanie found herself nestling into her boyfriends arms.

    “I-“

    “It’s starting.” Michael said, and Stephanie shut up.

    Mayor Williams walked to the center of the bowl, where everyone could see him.  “Greetings everyone.  Welcome to this most solemn day.”  He looked down to where the parents with the younger children, the ones who were coming for the first time to the real Martyr’s day, not the version being held for the children too young to see it sat with their parents.  “As always, I will warn our newest members that what is to follow is not happy, or pleasant, but it is something we must remember, both for ourselves and the martyrs.”

    He paused, but there was no replay, save for the soft wind rising and hissing through the branches of the feather  trees and pines brought from Terra. Turning to a small machine he touched a stud, and the holographic imager activated, showing a blue and green world, flowing in the air.

    Stephanie tensed.  She’d been here for nearly ten years, since she’d been allowed to come for the first time, but even so, what was to come…

    “It was the year 1965, as time was reckoned by most of the old nations,” the mayor’s voice filled the bowl, “and earth received a visitor from the stars.”  The holoimager showed the view of the UN chamber with one of the Sarafa “standing” in it, actually floating mid air, the gravity neutralizers and forcefield keeping the lifeform’s dense and deadly atmosphere from mixing with earth’s air.  Tentacles gestured animatedly at another image behind it, of the sun.

    “And it brought dreadful tidings,”  the narration continued. “That our sun was unstable and would within a decade start to eject its mass, destroying any hope of life in the system. Our benefactors were too far away to actually bring us to safety, and by the time the scout ship that had found earth could have made the trip back, the sun already would have scoured earth free of life. So they did the next best thing—the crew taught us how to build our own starships.”

    Now the holoimager changed. Instead of the UN there was a montage of views, cities, waterfronts, and deserts and everywhere ships were being built.  Great furnaces demolished the cities of man as they consumed the rubble for resources to build the ships and men and women worked on them, welding and riveting.

    “Even with the warning of our benefactors, there was little time—not enough in fact.  Men and women worked themselves into unconsciousness, and then rose up again to work some more. Some worked themselves to death.  And the ships continued to be built.  The sun started to throw off deadly radiation, stripping the earth’s ozone layer, and killing plants and animals.  Starvation started to walk the earth, and still the ships were built.”

    More images. A field of dead cattle, dying plants, a blasted wasteland that had once been a lake. The sun, nearly half again the size it should have been.  And throughout them, the ships, being built under the ever larger sun.”

    “And the day came.”  Now the mayor paused. Everyone came to their feet.

    “There was no more time.”

    “There was no more time,”  everyone said, Stephanie and Michael among them.

    “The sun burned, and we fled into the dark.”

    “The sun burned, and we fled into the dark.”

    “But not all of us.”

    “But not all of us.”

    At that, the mayor gestured to the image, and suddenly light blazed from it.  The seas were boiling, animals and humans running every way, bursting into fire as that terrible light touched them.  Cities burning, then starting to slump as the concrete and steel started to melt.  More people running, now little more than balls of fire moving before they fell twitching, as the cameras themselves died.

    Suddenly there was darkness.  A few of the children in the front had started to cry. Slowly the imager glowed with another vision, of ships landing on new worlds.

    “The voyage was long, but the Galactics offered us empty worlds, worlds where we could rebuild.  With thanks, we took their offer,” the mayor paused. “But we must never forget the billions left behind.  Three hundred million rode the ships to safety but billions perished that we might live.”  He paused, and then started to end the ceremony.

    “Remember the Martyrs of Earth.”

    “Remember the Martyrs of Earth.”

    “Through their sacrifice, we were saved.”

    “Through their sacrifice, we were saved.”

    “Remember the Martyrs.”

    “We remember the Martyrs.” With that, the lights went down and people started to leave the bowl, including a few parents with hysterical children.

    “I wonder how many of them will have nightmares.”  Michael asked.

    “More than a few,” Stephanie said. “I did. The shots of the earth when….brr.”  She said.

    “Well it wouldn’t do to white wash it,”  Michael pointed out.  “I wonder what it took to stay on earth and watch the ships leave, knowing you were going to die.”

    “I hope we never find out,”  Stephanie said.  “Let’s go to Pizarro’s…” She shook her head, “I’d like to do something cheerful for the next few hours.”

    “Fine with me.” Michael said and held out his arm.  Leaning into him, Stephanie started to walk to the center of the village.

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