STAR CX is being published in an 8 part serialized format, Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls is the first novella in the series. Each week I will be posting chapters from the series for viewing on my blog. For those that enjoy this series, I invite you to purchase the ebook or paperback editions of this story as a way of supporting this independent author; also reviews, likes, replies, retweets, and feedback are extremely helpful and encouraged.
“In space, there is no light but which you make for yourself.”
STAR CX follows two heavenly bodies that through an unbelievable mistake end up going on a journey across space and lifetimes. A mashup of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, mixed with spicy romance and sweet slice-of-life moments. This saga begins with a cosmic collision and ends in the world of Aura. Picking up 600 years after The King’s Challenge with a multitude of diverse characters, STAR CX is a story unlike any other in this world or the Universe of Chaos.
Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls
Chapter 4 – The Fall
The sounds of shouting and screaming jolted Saturnine awake. His eyes opened and then quickly closed at the blinding light. He tried to think and understand where he was, his thoughts stuck within a dream. It had been a pleasant dream, one of him dancing a particularly scandalous dance with a partner of unknown origin. A band had been playing his favorite and the only tune he knew.
A roar of anger brought Saturnine out of his stupor. This time his eyes worked correctly, and as they opened, he felt his jaw dropping in animated fashion. On all sides of him were stars, this number so many that he could see not a speck of darkness. No wonder his eyes refused to open fully, for he had never seen such appliance before. The feeling of intense heat warmed him and made his past thoughts of being cold feel like silly childish worries. His dream had come true, and he smiled, oblivious to reality. His inner feelings of joy clashed with the shouts and angry faces the stars closest to him were making.
“Watch where you’re going!” shouted a star he rushed past, dangerously close to colliding with one.
“Get out of here before you hurt someone, you punk!” A chorus of suns yelled.
Saturnine’s gut sank, for the first time in his life he was in the presence of other stars, and they all seemed to instantly hated him. He could not yet understand why. His mind raced to connect the dots. There must be some reason for the surrounding anger. Had he said something rude in his delirious sleep. He quickly dismissed this idea as he felt their anger must be deeper seeded. His intrusive thoughts cut short as two stars rushed at him.
“The way you’re flying through here with reckless abandon like you have no orbit, we’re forced to throw you out of this nebula, before you cause any more damage.” One of the star’s explained, before diving towards Saturnine.
The invading star’s partner circled behind Saturnine and cut in sharply; the two stars moved together rushing at Saturnine from opposite angles, turning his orbit and changing his course. A third star circled the formation causing Saturnine to spin faster than normal. Though he was a star whose regular life involved many such revolutions and turns, these additional forces were much more severe and violent than he was used to experiencing. He was growing dizzy and nauseous at each pass the three stars around him made.
“Whoa, whoaOOOAAaaaa…why…are you…attacking me?” He managed to say despite the formidable forces acting upon his body.
Any reply that could have come from the other stars were cut short as one dived directly at him in a last effort to curve his trajectory and instead of the many near misses, the star smashed into Saturnine. Saturnine was popped out of any discernible orbit and careened wildly in a new direction. He could not slow down and spun end over end, losing all sense of course. Saturnine did all he could to fight back nor could he correct himself as every time he attempted to steady himself another star collided with him, sending him into another and even more extreme cycle.
“Stop! He’s had enough, let him go.” A star Saturnine could neither see nor locate its position around him rang out.
Saturnine extreme tumbling slowed down as the attackers backed off. He was sure if he spoke wrong or made any move to run, they would attack again. And so he floated.
“Don’t you see Ava, we cannot allow such disturbance in our nebula. His interferent gravity has already caused such mayhem. We have to cast him out.” One of the elder stars spoke from across the void.
“There are better ways than bludgeoning him out of here.” Saturnine’s savior suggested. The voice came from a star who appeared much in the same way that every star does, and yet the voice was softer and melodious in a way he did not yet understand. He could not help but stare at his savior, and though he had little else to compare it with, he understood that out of the trillions of billions of stars in the galaxy this one stood out among them as a beauty all of its own accords.
Saturnine felt the collective gaze of the stars turn towards him. If he were going to get out of this mess without any more damage, he needed to speak up and defend his actions. “Hello, everyone. I’m a star…well. I mean you already knew that, but what I’m trying to say is…is…is,” his words were failing him. This was the first conversation he was having with other stars, and it was going terribly. “I’m a star, and well I was just doing as all stars do and abiding by my orbit. I cannot change or affect where I go in this galaxy so why are you attacking me for circumstances and forces none of us can control.”
“What’s your name?” One of the stars called out.
“My official designation is S-4-T-Quad09-GalaxyZedZedAlphaVictor-Smith, but you can call me Saturnine. I..” He never got to finish his statement as the one who asked his name cut him off.
“So you say. But we have no way to verify the truth of any of this. You come in here as if a comet with no control over your actions and you disrespect our sacred proceedings.”
“I feel asleep!” Saturnine burst out to the crowd of stars.
“Dad, he didn’t know just let him pass.” The one who had saved him urged to the accuser.
If Saturnine had been raised properly, he would have known to bow his head in shame and read the shining body language to discern that this was his chance to cruise away relatively unharmed. But he had not been raised with other stars and knew little of such social queues, so instead of retreating gracefully he stepped forward and spoke. “What is your name?” he shouted way too loudly at the two stars in front of him.
They responded with distasteful grimaces before conceding to his question. “My name is Ava; this is my father Avalon, leader of this entire cluster of stars.”
“Why are you different from the other stars?” he asked unable to see the discomfort in the faces around him.
“What are you talking about?” Ava asked trying bravely to smooth out the situation again.
“You see I’ve never met any other stars before and you are…you’re beautiful.”
“How dare you enter our realm and insult my daughter!” The leader charged, flares bursting from his body in rage.
Before Saturnine could explain his words, he was sent spinning by a rush from behind. The enormous shift in gravity causing him to somersault. He could do nothing else but pitifully yell for help.
“Stop it will you!” Ava shouted, but this time her words were dismissed as another set of stars began circling Saturnine causing his tumble to accelerate.
“Do not feel sorry for the buffoon. He interrupted our most sacred decade of the millennium, he lied about his orbit, and he attempted to verbally assault you. We can not let these injustices stand.” Avalon cast down his final judgment.
“He didn’t assault me…he called me…” Ava was too embarrassed to repeat the words in front of her father.
“I urge you to turn away, we will have cast him out soon enough, and we can return to ensuring none on the edge fall.” Ava’s father reassured.
“Please, help me!” Saturnine begged Ava as he was flipped over and pushed further away from the group. “I’m sorry if I offended you. Please, just let me go my way, and I’ll never bother you again.”
“He doesn’t know what he did,” Ava urged the group to reconsider. “Truly, this star has no idea the manner in which he came into this nebula. How can we punish him for something he clearly does not understand. This action is not justice or keeping the peace; this is cruel punishment. Are we not here to pay respects to The Great Black Nothing? The one who passes judgment on us all, It would be a mockery of this occasion if we do not cease this violence and wait as we all do for our galactic judgment, be it supernova or swallowed by which no light every returns.”
Silence filled the distance between the many gathered stars as they considered her words. Ava took their pause as an agreement to her words, and she floated forward beyond the reach of her father, towards the newcomer star. “Everyone here is gathered to watch as this is the point in our collective orbit when we are closest to The Great Black Nothing, a pit from which no light ever returns. Each time we pass, one by one our fellow stars are dragged down into nothingness. Crossing that void is the inevitable end for us all, our entire nebula is doomed to be swallowed by The Great Black Nothing. We know this, and accept our fate with dignity. I tell you all of this because when we observed a star zig-zagging through space, it seemed surely a sign of the end times as no sun can change their own orbit. One’s orbit can only be affected by other celestial bodies surrounding it. This fact is a simple law of nature, but you were ignoring it as if it were merely a falsely held ideal. Do you now understand?”
“I zig-zagged?” Saturnine asked with complete sincerity. He had never realized such a thing was possible nor had he ever known that he could do such a thing. It seemed ridiculous and impossible. They must be joking at his expense; he was sure that he had never once left his ordained spot in the universe.
“We would not make sure a thing up.” She assured his bewildered expression.
“If I must admit to any wrong doing, I can only claim ignorance for I honestly meant no harm. I surely did not intend to make light of your fate or the laws of nature. I was just having a year or two and fell asleep, and when I woke you were attacking me.” As the words spilled out of Saturnine, he could feel anger rising in his heart and used no filter as his true feelings flooded outward. “I am but one star, you are many thousands, what possible damage could I do. Or do you just enjoy picking on the weak. I didn’t come here to insult you, nor did I come here in any abnormal fashion.
“Silence!” The leader of the stars, Avalon, roared across the widening gulf between Saturnine and the cluster of stars.
“No, I will not be silent!” Saturnine fought back. “I always dreamed of the day I would meet another star. I promised myself I would hold a deep and profound conversation with whomever I met. Now I see how naive I was to believe the star I dreamed of a meeting would ever want to hold a conversation with me.”
Ava stared back at Saturnine. He could not discern if she believed him or not, he knew not whether his words had been too harsh or if he would punishment was due to speaking so bluntly. All he could do was meet her gaze and hope that through her compassion he would be allowed to pass.
“You say you merely fell asleep and drifted here by no accord other than by your own natural orbit ordained by The Great Spinner, who rotates us all. Then we must accept this as truth.” She smiled at him.
Relief washed over Saturnine as he returned a smile of thanks to Ava. The feeling of being accepted did not last long as he felt something grab him from behind. Saturnine shouted, thinking that it was another attack by the surrounding stars. “Hey Stop! I thought you said you believed me.”
He saw Ava’s eyes grow large with surprise and fear. Whatever had grabbed hold of him and was slowly dragging him away from the group was something much worse. Saturnine slowly turned his head to view the mystery behind him. His eyes struck by the strangest of sights. Before him was nothing. There were no far off dots of light, no constellations, no dust clouds, it was only black empty darkness. Even his own light did not extend its regular distance. In a panic, he turned back to Ava. ”What is that? Why can’t I drift away from it?”
Ava flew forward but stopped short. Her father yelled, “Do not get any closer or you to will be taken!”
Saturnine looked up at her for an answer. “I…I cannot save you.”
“From what? Save me from what? I don’t understand.” Saturnine yelled back, fear rising in his voice as he tried harder to break free of the vast force behind him.
Avalon somberly drifted to his daughter’s side, “As Ava explained before, Our nebula comes close to The Great Black Nothing, One decade out of every hundred thousand years. The Great Black Nothing has chosen you, and no light has ever escaped once it has been selected. I’m so sorry, but we cannot save you. Galactus Endous.”
Saturnine attempted to call for help, but his mouth failed him. This moment would be his end, and he had missed the mark on all accounts for what he had hoped to achieve in his lifetime. He hadn’t even had the chance to achieve a small goal like talking to another star; all his life amounted to was an indistinguishable smear across the night sky. His eyes returned to Ava, and he suddenly found the missing words. “I know I’ve caused trouble for you, and for everyone here. But could I ask a favor of you?”
Ava could only nod in approval.
“Would you hold a profound conversation with me?” He asked with complete sincerity.
Maybe it was due to the extreme nature of Saturnine’s imminent demise or possibly because Ava had momentarily gone insane, Saturnine would never learn the exact reason, Ava burst out laughing. “You absolute dunce.”
Amidst her raucous laughter, she jumped forward away from her father and towards him, adding her gravity to his in an attempt to pull him away from The Great Black Nothing. “Yes…I will have a profound conversation with you. You foolish star.”
Saturnine had trouble understanding her actions and hesitated to respond. “What are you…”
“Come on now; this is your once in a lifetime chance. Don’t waste it by asking something boring, remember profound is your goal.” she coaxed.
“Alright,” Saturnine responded, accepting the challenge with gusto. “What would happen if a star ever turned around and went the other way?”
Ava was breathing heavily from the effort of trying to push and pull with Saturnine away from the black hole. The cluster of star were buzzing in panic, half of them were ready to jump to their aid, while the other half forbade it. All the noise and mayhem felt very far away from Saturnine as he pulled with all his might and waited for Ava to answer. “I think that if a star ever turned around and went the other way it….it would get dark.”
Now it was Saturnine’s turn to laugh. Here they were being sucked into a pit both of them knew there was no way of getting out of, and they were able to tell jokes. “Do you think it would hurt anything?”
Turning serious, she responded. “I think it wouldn’t be immediately obvious but maybe long after there would be an enormous ripple effect that would cause all sorts of disaster and mayhem.”
“Hmm. Maybe you’re right. I’ve always though no one would ever notice nor would it change a single thing. I mean look at how small we are compared to the span of this galaxy, and think of the hundred of millions of galaxies throughout the universe. There’s no way one little star turning around would change anything. It’s too big.”
“Can I ask you a question?” She asked, both of their strength fading as the distance between any hope disappeared. “What made you choose to ask that question? You said you’ve never met another star. You probably have a billion questions you have thought to ask and twice as many that you would never ask. So why did you pick this to be your defining moment.”
“Because I think we’re trying to go the wrong way, and it seems to be doing nothing.”
“What?” Before Saturnine could further explain, Ava figured it out herself. “I see. So you think that us trying to pull away from The Great Black Nothing is the same as a star turning around in orbit. And because we are failing so spectacularly at effecting any change in our outcome, that means … No. I think you are viewing this incorrectly.”
It was Saturnine’s turn to look puzzled, but he was unable to locate the answer before Ava continued. “All life strives to break free of anything that might entrap it. It is in all of nature to fight back when put into a corner, but I think that nature has a hard time seeing the other side of the equation. It’s possible that there are things like The Great Black Nothing because we are meant to zigzag and fly free. We were never supposed to be put in order or rotate around a slightly bigger heavenly body of mass. We were intended to exist with wild abandon, complete chaos, with adventure.”
Saturnine was still struggling to keep up with Ava’s profound statements when she turned around, grabbed him and flew towards the center of star eater, The Great Black Nothing. “Do you trust me?”
“I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“I know everyone says no light escapes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything on the other side.” she suggested.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are absolutely bonkers?” Saturnine called.
“I think there is another side to the darkness, a place no light has ever wanted to leave. Maybe it’s perfect on the other end, no great division between all things. It’s our best hope at the moment.” She confirmed her resolution.
“I trust you,” Saturnine answered while pulling Ava as close to him as possible.
Ava closed her eyes as if she enjoying embraced. “Will you Saturnine, fall with me and promise me that no matter what happens you will find me on the other side.”
“I, Saturnine, do promise to fall with you and keep you safe. Do you Ava, promise to fall with me and though our journey may be long and tiresome, you will never abandon me, for I never again wish to orbit alone.”
“I do.” Her words were the last they spoke as the enormous mass pulled them faster and faster into oblivion. For nothing ever returns from The Great Black Nothing, and just as the legends said their light flickered out and was no more.
…The Saga of Starcrossed Souls continues in the next verse
2017 © Stew Stunes