Book 2: Spinebreakers
A woman appeared on the vid panel in front of a small audience. She spoke in a comforting voice.
“Hello. Welcome. You’ve been awakened from a long cryogenic sleep on your ship the AndroVault. We are working to provide everything you need. Hopefully you’re feeling better from the after-effects of the awakening. This presentation will bring you up to date.
Sadly, the galaxy you knew is gone. For humanity, this is a dark and dangerous time. Alien species have driven mankind nearly to extinction. These horrible creatures treat people as slaves, food or worse. We struggle for mere survival while avoiding detection by amoral aliens that hunger for our flesh.
How did it come to this? Permissive cultures and lax views of human-alien interaction weakened our defenses. People sought peace with aliens but were rewarded with death and destruction. Even those societies that saw temporary truces were riddled with dissent. While they bickered, the enemy slipped in unnoticed. Soon they were corrupted. It’s true that some worlds defended themselves, but without a moral compass they decayed. Over time their lack of vigilance brought their fall under the onslaught of alien degeneration.
Today, wherever humans exist, they toil for alien overlords. Those that wish freedom are branded as rebels and outlaws.
That’s why we, a band of stragglers, give praise for finding you and your ship. The AndroVault was buried in a graveyard deep in space. In the inky darkness we found you and have begun repairing this great ship.
For a long time we roamed the galaxy, fighting tyranny and oppression wherever we had a chance. Finding your ship was as the prophecies declared. Soon you will meet Councilor Ulay, the star messiah. He foretold of your coming. You are a gift to mankind. It was his vision that led us to you.
Like you, we take pride in being human. We seek a new homeworld, one where we can raise our families free of non-human masters. Unified under his purpose, we will rise. One people, one society, one goal. Human sovereignty!”
The lights rose and the audience was given drink and warm food. It smelled pleasant and tempting, much better than the bland rations they had eaten the first day of their awakening.
“Rousing speech,” Dr. Fector said from behind the one-way panel, as he watched the presentation. “I’m surprised it didn’t end in applause.”
“I feel motivated now, Hack,” the mercenary Boc said as he cleaned his fingernails with a long knife.
“Who came up with that?” Hack said.
“There’s a team on the Scorpion that produce it. They’ve got all the angles covered,” Boc said nonchalantly.
“Is that what the noves are doing on board?”
“What else would you want Readers for? They don’t make good gunners! Somebody told me they’re psychologists and sociologists. Tiny cameras watch the defectives. The Readers see their reactions. They play deep tones when they want to scare them, then lighter tones when they want them happy. There are even smells pumped in to subconsciously influence them.”
“Wow,” Hack said.
“Yeah, wow. I don’t care. As long these defectives make good followers. Better their blood than mine.” Boc giggled in anticipation.
— End of sample chapters for The Eye of Orion, Book 2: Spinebreakers.