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Dreamer

A Novel of the Silent Empire

by Steven Harper

Dreamer - Steven Harper - Silent Empire
Part of the Silent Empire series:
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99 USD

It is through first contact with an alien species that humanity learns of the Dream. It is a plane of mental existence where people are able to communicate by their thoughts alone--over distances of thousands of light-years. To ensure that future generations will have this ability, human genetic engineering produces newborns capable of finding and navigating the Dream.

They become known as the Silent.

Rust is just one planet among many in the Empire of Human Unity. It's nothing special, nothing unusual...except for the fact that it is home to an unknown boy who may be the most powerful Silent telepath ever born--a Silent with the ability to possess the bodies of others against their will. This mysterious child may be causing tremors within the Dream itself.

For now, only the Children of Irfan know about him. A monastic-like order of the Silent, the Children protect their members even as they barter their services with the governments and corporations that control known space. But power like that cannot be hidden, and soon every Silent in the universe will know about the boy--and every government will be willing to go to war to control him.

And if the Children of Irfan cannot find him first, the Dream itself may be shattered...

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Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

PLANET RUST

 

            Serenity is the slope down which the spirit flows into the Dream.  Serene must you walk the paths, and serene must you ever remain.

                                                                                    —Irfan Qasad, Pathways to the Dream

 

“We have authorization!” Ara shouted.  “I tight-beamed it ten minutes ago.”

The ship shuddered.  Kendi Weaver slapped the override on the gravity regulators.  “Peggy-Sue!” he barked.  “Load maneuver Yooie-One and execute!”

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“Acknowledged,” replied the computer.  On the viewscreen, the stars yawed into white streaks.  Everyone on the bridge leaned a hard left in their seat harnesses.  Kendi’s stomach bobbed down toward his feet then leaped into his throat.  A big red smear rushed by the screen and Kendi assumed it was the planet Rust.  Then the stars straightened out and Kendi was able to swallow his stomach.

“Nice,” growled Gretchen Beyer from the sensor boards.

“Dammit, stop firing!” Ara yelled from her position on the floor.  “We’re a Unity vessel!”  She scrambled to her feet beside Kendi’s chair and leveled him a look that would freeze beer.

“Sorry,” he said helplessly.  “It was all I could think of.  If that charge had come closer—”

She waved him to silence.  Ara was a short, round woman who could look Kendi in the eye if he was sitting.  Her deep brown skin hadn’t paled much after two weeks of ship lighting, and it was almost as dark as Kendi’s.  She had short black hair which displayed a round, open face with a hint of double chin, a face that looked like it should be smiling over a tray of fresh cinnamon rolls.

“Excellency, please respond,” Ara said to empty air.  “This is the Post-Script.  We are a registered vessel with the Empire of Human Unity.  Why are you firing?”

Silence.

“Are we still transmitting?” she murmured to Ben Rymar at communication.  He nodded.  Ara raised her voice.

“Excellency,” she said, “we have no defenses against your firepower.  I repeat—we are merchants come to trade.  We received landing authorization via Silent courier fifty-five hours ago.”

Kendi, meanwhile, reset the safeties on the gravity, then carefully aimed the ship away from the planet.   He held his fingers over the thrusters, ready to punch them up to full speed if the satellites orbiting Rust readied another volley.

Static crackled over the speakers.  “Glory to the Unity,” said a different voice.  “You did not transmit the codes.”

Ara’s neck muscles moved like a team of wrestlers.  “Yes.  We.  Did.  To whom am I speaking, please?” she added.

“Peggy-Sue, mute me,” Gretchen said softer than the communications system could register.

“Acknowledged.”  A blue light winked at the sensor boards to remind Gretchen that her voice was currently screened from the communication system.

“They’re stalling, Mother Adept,” she told Ara.  “I’ve snuck into their network, and they’re checking out our story.”

“This is Prelate Tenvar of the Empire of Human Unity Trade Commission,” crackled the voice.  “We have received no communication from you.  Transmit the proper codes or be fired upon.”

Ben’s mute light flashed.  “They’re trying to track down the courier, Mother.  I think I can jump ahead and drop a false transmission into their lines, but for now you’ll need to keep them happy with what I’ve already given them.”

Ara marched over to the captain’s board and punched up the codes Ben had spent hours forging.  Her purple trader’s tunic rustled as she moved.  Ara played the role of indignant trader well, and only the tightness around her mouth betrayed nervousness.  Kendi’s own heart was beating hard and he swallowed dryly.  Escape into slipspace this far into to Rust’s gravity well was impossible, and it seemed like he felt the Unity lasers and charges trained on their ship’s all-too-thin ceramic skin.  Kendi goosed the thrusters a little and set the ship drifting casually away from the planet just in case.

Drift away, he told himself, but don’t look like you’re drifting away.

He stole a glance at Benjamin Rymar.  Ben was bent over his boards.  His bright red hair was disheveled and his trader’s tunic was rumpled even though he had just put it on.  Ben always looked rumpled, even after a shower.  Kendi wasn’t sure how he managed it.

“Got it!” Ben whispered.  He tapped a button and raised his voice.  “It’s done, Mother.  I deleted their message before it was received and faked verification of who we’re pretending to be.”

“I just hope Tenvar isn’t a drinking buddy of your mark’s, Ben,” Gretchen said.  “Otherwise they’ll fry us like an ant under a magnifying glass.”

Ben bent his head back over the boards, but Kendi saw his blush.  Kendi’s fingers moved and the words Lay off, Gretch, or you can forget about trading duty shifts marched across Gretchen’s screen.

Teasing, she sent back.  No need to snit.

Ara, meanwhile, settled into her chair and pulled the harness around her.  “Prelate Tenvar,” she said, “I have transmitted our authorization.  Again.  Have you received it?”

Silence.  Kendi held his breath.

“Prelate Tenvar, are you there?” Ara said, allowing a hint of exasperation to creep into her voice.  “Prelate, please.  I’ve transmitted our authorization four times to four Prelates.  How long will—”

“Why are you travel traveling on a vessel built in the Independence Confederation?” Tenvar’s voice demanded.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Steven Piziks was born with a name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the pen name Steven Harper.  He sold his first short story way back in 1990, and his keyboard has been clattering ever since.  So far, he's written fifty-some stories and twenty-some novels, including The Silent Empire series, The Clockwork Empire steampunk series, and The Books of Blood and Iron fantasy series.  He's also written movie novelizations and books based on Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and The Blacklist. He's been a finalist for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for science fiction four times.

Steven also teaches English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband and son.  When not writing, he plays the folk harp, tries to stick to weight-lifting, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him.  Visit his web page at http://www.stevenpiziks.com


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