When the Brightstar family leaves fog-shrouded and predictable Mira III for Cyraria they have no idea their comfortable lifestyle is about to end forever. Sharra denies it, trusting their fate to her indomitable bondling, Laren. Teenage daughter, Creena, welcomes it as a desirable change from Mira III’s restrictions. Her older brother, Dirck, resists it, unhappy to leave his friends and ordered existence, while young Deven accepts it, anticipating new and exciting adventures.
Only Laren understands the risks that lie ahead, but even he is shaken when long before the starcruiser arrives shocking events transpire that threaten to change everyone’s life forever. He soon discovers that his ruthless and power-hungry nemesis, Augustus Troy, plans to exploit their situation to promote his own selfish ambitions. Formidable and lethal challenges await as increasingly suspicious circumstances scatter them across the galaxy, each wondering if they’ll survive long enough to be reunited ever again.
Targeted Age Group:: 14 – Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always loved writing and science fiction in any form whether books, movies or television. I have to admit that probably the original premise for this story originated with the original “Star Wars,” specifically when C3PO and R2D2 got jettisoned in the escape pod. As the mother of six children I could somehow see a kid managing to get him or herself in a similar situation. Squabbling siblings was a natural trigger, being as I was surrounded by them on a regular basis. Then, of course you have what the other kids think of the situation plus what the parents are going through. Factor in all the hazards related to space travel such as relativity messing with time, the space environment itself, environmentally hostile planets, including the one they were moving to, and of course a ruthless villain who exploits the entire situation and pretty soon you have an entire series.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love a book that keeps me in suspense, the more the better. I actually had to stop reading books by Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Michael Crichton when I was working fulltime at NASA because I had a tendency to get sucked into a story and not come up for air until I was finished which could have harsh consequences when I had to be in the office bright and early the next day. My favorite science fiction author is Catherine Asaro. I love her characters and since she’s also a PhD physicist she incorporates awesome science into the stories as well. I read a lot of nonfiction as well with Dean Radin, Robert Lanza and Marie D. Jones amongst my favorites in their respective subjects. I’ve always been a bibliophile and have books galore on all sorts of subjects. While I have a Kindle I still prefer an actual book where I can dog-ear pages and highlight my favorite parts, especially if I’m researching something for an article, blog or lecture.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I came up with Creena first, a 14 year old girl who can’t stand her older brother, Dirck, 17. She’s the one who winds up in the escape pod when she tries to find some peace and quiet away from their cramped and noisy starcruiser cabin. She’s a free spirit and hated the regimented restrictions of their home planet, which she’s glad they’re leaving behind. Her brother is not as happy about the move since the environment suited him just fine. That right there was enough to introduce the needed conflict between them. I felt as if they needed a little brother who tried to be the peacemaker between them and thus Deven, 6, joined them.
Of course in a situation like this the parents would be heavily involved so her father, Laren, had to be the type who would take charge and go find her himself when no help is offered by the authorities. Her mother is naïve and trusting and has always counted on her bondling to take care of them, though on their original planet, Mira III, everything was in perfect order and problems were rare, anyway, so making decisions wasn’t anything she’d ever had to do.
Characters outside the family came along in the course of the story from August Troy, captain of the starship with numerous ulterior motives to the various characters Creena encounters along the way. In most cases they would just appear on cue without conscious or deliberate action on my part. It was as if they were there all along, just waiting for their chance to jump into the story. This happens throughout the series with some becoming extremely important though I try and retain some contact with all of them for readers who may favor one who isn’t actually a key element in the story.
Dirck’s face was flushed and streaked with sweat by the time the lift’s door spiraled open on a cavernous hold, deep within the starship’s bowels. His heart hadn’t stopped pounding since leaving Troy’s quarters, a combination of fear and excitement that somehow his father had made some headway toward rescuing Creena.
It was humid and cool, a welcome change reminiscent of his naterra but ridden with strange chemical odors. His attention turned to the surrounding spacecraft, some suspend¬ed, some secured on deck. A drop of condensation struck his sleeve, breaking his concentration. He looked up, noticing a mist above the highest gantry where the environmental system couldn’t cycle fast enough to keep moisture from accumulating.
The spacecraft inventory represented numerous classes including ground ‘cruisers, probably the property of onboard passengers. His thoughts wandered to his own vehicle, sorry again to have left it behind. Most pre-adults didn’t have one, even some adults, for that matter but good behavior and family affluence had made it reality. ‘Merapa had insisted that he work for it, however, making his attachment solid enough to make separation hurt.
Thoughts of his ‘cruiser rambled some more, sentiments latching with unbelief that Troy would actually loan out his personal ship to anyone, much less his father. Not that he was complaining. ‘Merapa had placed Troy on the wrong side of The Law as intended. He’d never been wrong. Ever. And even Troy had apparently realized arguing was futile.
He looked around again, wondering where Troy’s ship would be. A TL-87 would be fairly easy to spot by its characteristic wedge shape, unique to mid-range starcraft. Directly in front of them an aging short range space cruiser was enclosed by an elevated work area called a nest. Hoses snaked in every direction, some carrying power, some pulling a vacuum, test results relayed to check¬out equipment that in turn registered on¬ a digital check¬list. The workers seemed careless and mechanical, giving the illusion they were ‘troids until one pinched his finger in a vacuum port and cussed, followed by a dance of pain.
Dirck watched as his father handed Troy’s requisition disk to the guard. “I want the latest mechaniscan on this ship, corporal,” he said.
The tech nodded and slipped it in the reader, scowling as its contents came up on the screen. “The Cosmos II. The Captain’s personal ship, sir?”
“Yes, that’s correct, corporal. The captain’s personal ship.”
“Yes, sir,” he replied, saluting as he left even though the command hadn’t come from someone in uniform. He returned a few moments later with a databoard that ‘Merapa read over as they followed the tech to a cage on the far side where the man palmed the lock and waved them inside.
It was bigger than expected. Red stripes on the stabilizer signified Troy’s rank, battle tallies glaring from the main hatch. ‘Merapa walked it down, expression intent but unreadable while Dirck followed trying to tame the turmoil rising in his mind.
He’d thought about it a lot since Troy’s office, oscillating back and forth with pros and cons. He still wasn’t convinced but his father would make the final call, anyway. His proposal had been selfishly motivated, knowing that he’d face unpleasant situations either way. But at least if ‘Merapa agreed he’d be off-line for any decision making. No way he wanted to jeopardize his spotless record now. Meanwhile the chronometer was cycling and if he didn’t ask soon his choices would go to null.
“I want to go, too, ‘Merapa,” he blurted out. “Please! Uncle Jen said he’d take care of ‘Merama and Deven. You know he will. What could I do that he can’t?” His father looked at him as if surprised he was there.
“C’mon,” Dirck pleaded. “It was my fault she got lost. I have to do something besides hang around here!” His father kept staring at him, long and hard. “Please! You shouldn’t go on a mission like this by yourself, anyway, and there’s no one else who can go. C’mon. Please. Let me go.”
His father’s expression was still too blank to read. Dirck mustered his most pleading look and whispered please one more time. When he finished the only sound was an occasional drip and the muffled echo of workers in other bays.
“Maybe,” ‘Merapa finally said. “It depends on two things. Your mother and your ability to take orders.”
“Don’t worry, ‘Merapa! Anything you say! Really!” He pointed at the silver Circle of Compliance on his sleeve. “See? I’m even certified by the Academy.”
His father tried unsuccessfully to muffle a snort and for a moment he looked as if he was going to change his mind. The pause stretched then finally snapped when instead of responding he simply left instructions with the tech to ready the ship then headed back to the lift, Dirck in rapid pursuit.
Their arrival back at their quarters was met by three boxes of genour stacked beside the door with a black duffle bag. Jen had broken the news to Dirck’s mother who had put together some provisions. His father dug through the bag checking its contents then took it to the back to add a few more items. Dirck struggled to suppress his grin when he noticed a flash of bright blue which told him his clothes were inside, too.
His mother was watching him, a hint of sadness in her otherwise proud expression. “How did you know?” he asked.
She smiled, her first since Creena’s disappearance. “What do you mean? He planned on taking you all along.”
“Oh,” he whispered, then shifted his eyes to the floor, feeling like a total snurk.
‘Merapa returned from repacking their bag, dropped it at his feet with a thud then took his bondmate in his arms. Dirck looked away, doubly embarrassed. His shameless groveling was bad enough but the main cause was before him. Most bondlings barely spoke to one another yet his parents actually liked each other. A lot. Made obvious by that spark between them that could block out anyone and every¬thing when they were involved with each other. As much as his father was gone there was never any doubt where he was in his heart and his mother knew it.
But to Dirck it was atypical and humiliating as much as the fact they’d actually made Pledges and Promises when most couples simply validated the bond with their personal imprint and got on with their lives as independently as possible.
Eventually his father picked up one of the genour boxes, Jen the other two, and Dirck the black bag, surprised by its weight as he slung it over his shoulder.
“Send a message packet when you get there,” his mother said.
‘Merapa nodded, somewhat absently, hugged Deven, and palmed the door.
“We’ll find her, ‘Merama,” Dirck said.
“I know you will, son,” she said. “Neither you nor your father has ever failed me before. You’ll find Creena, bring her home, and then everything will be fine.” Her embrace was firm, her gaze saturated with trust rooted in a culture where problems and emergencies didn’t exist. The confidence they inspired was no less for it, however, and Dirck straightened with manly pride in anticipation for what lay ahead.
His father’s gaze, however, was less encouraging. Instead of pride his usually-confident eyes had the same look he’d seen when he’d discovered that the pod had jettisoned. Dirck’s chest deflated, eager anticipation waning. For what he couldn’t quite recognize in his father was growing rapidly in himself. It was an emotion foreign to Mira III but one that was about to become as familiar as any Law or Zone or Procedure—silent, bone-chilling fear of the unknown.
Marcha Fox’s passion for science fiction began as a child. Her determination to do so knew no bounds, such that she even went back to college in her 30s to obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in physics, after which she spent over 20 years working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Science and engineering experience notwithstanding, it’s the unexplained mysteries of the cosmos, such as the concept of a universal consciousness, which provide the setting for Beyond the Hidden Sky, first volume of a four-part series. Centered on the Brightstar family who has been torn apart by a storm of political and scientific intrigue, they will stop at nothing until they are reunited.
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