Dark Planet Warriors: The Serial (Books 1-3)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 Anna Carven

All rights reserved.

Dark Planet Warriors: Books 1-3

This book was originally released as a three-part serial. It contains the first three Dark Planet Warriors books: Invasion, Taken and Escape, in one volume.

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CHAPTER ONE

Abbey

I’m sitting in one of the window booths of the Meteorites Café, staring out through the thick glass. There’s movement below me, as processed Armium metal is loaded onto a freighter bound for Earth. I sip on my expensive, imported coffee, inhaling its comforting aroma. So freaking good. I have missed this stuff so much. Here on Fortuna Tau, luxuries like coffee are a rarity.

Its delicious smell reminds me of Earth.
 

I glance across at my friend Jia, who’s also savoring her coffee. “This is heaven,” she sighs, taking a slow sip. “I can’t believe they got some in at this time of year. The Earth shipments are usually too full to take luxury items on board.”

“Bree’s got connections,” I shrug, winking at the cafe’s manager, who’s standing behind the counter. She’s too far away to hear me, but she smiles back all the same. “And, did you hear they brought in chocolate?”

“No way. You mean the real stuff?” Jia’s eyes go wide. “Where? Who? I need to get it, now.”

“Relax. I know a guy who works in Stores. I’d reserved some way back. Asked him to put some aside for you, too.”

“You’re the best, Abbey. How come you always know about the contraband before anyone else?”

“Connections.” I reply with a deadpan expression, before tasting my coffee, enjoying its smooth, slightly bitter taste. “By the way, you missed a spot.”

“Huh?” A look of confusion spreads across Jia’s delicate features.

“Right cheek, grease monkey,” I reply. She rubs at her face with the sleeve of her coveralls, wiping away a black smear.

“Occupational hazards.” Jia rolls her eyes and I laugh.

We’re a sight for sore eyes, the two of us sitting in this super clean café dressed in our work uniforms. Jia’s got her grey mechanic’s jumpsuit on and I’m wearing my green scientist’s scrubs.

“You’ve got plant bits in your hair,” Jia observes, and I run my fingers through my short locks. Sure enough, a few bits of twig and some scraps of leaf come free. I groan.

“Man, I can’t wait to get back to Earth. I’m sick of this damn gardening work.”

“Yeah, but without you guys, we don’t eat and we don’t breathe. You bio-sci guys literally grow the station’s entire food supply. I’d hardly call it just ‘gardening.’” Jia pops a cube of recombinant strawberry between her delicate pink lips. “How much longer do you have on this junk heap anyway?”

“Two years,” I sigh. “When I applied to the Federation, I didn’t think I’d end up on an asteroid mining station, of all places.”

“Same here,” Jia shrugs. “But you take what you can get, huh?”

“True. It’s impossible to get a job on Earth these days without off-planet experience. So I just need to do my time, then boom, I’m out of here.” As I shovel a spoonful of pudding into my mouth, a red light flashes from the loading dock below, and the huge airlock doors start to open. “Incoming,” I mumble, between mouthfuls of artificially flavored vanilla mush.

We both look down, staring at the giant space below. The floor of the loading dock shines under the impossibly bright lights. A squad of peacekeepers runs across the floor, taking position beside one of the landing bays. They’re fully armored, their bolt-cannons drawn.

“What the hell is going on?” I put down my coffee, my attention captured by the unfolding scene. The doors of the airlock are fully open now, and a sleek, black spacecraft glides into the dock.

The thing is huge, easily the size of one of our freighters, but where the freighters are built for stability, this thing seems designed for speed, and destroying things. It’s all sleek, aggressive lines, and it has some mean-ass looking artillery bristling from all sides. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s definitely not Human.

“You recognize that thing?” I turn to Jia, who is gaping. Her mouth is actually wide open in shock. I’ve never seen her wear that expression before. Normally, she’s as tough as nails and totally unflappable.

For a moment, she says nothing.

“Jia,” I say slowly, a bad feeling rising in my chest. “Who the hell are those guys?”

“What are they thinking, letting them in?” she murmurs, staring at the sinister looking craft.

“Who, Jia?” I don’t like the way she’s gone all quiet.

“That’s a Kordolian battle cruiser,” she says. “Alpha class. They’re packing so much firepower in that thing that they could blow Fortuna into oblivion if they wanted.”

“Kordolian?” I shudder. “As in those scary silver skinned guys? What the hell are command thinking, letting them in?” I shake my head, echoing Jia’s thoughts. “They’re a long way from home, aren’t they?”

“Hey look closely,” Jia points to the craft. “It’s taken damage. Two of the thrusters are out and there’s a tear in the hull.”

“You’re right.” I shake my head, trying to put it all together. “But who would be stupid enough to attack a Kordolian ship?”

“Beats me.” Jia shrugs. “Space pirates get a bit trigger happy sometimes. Maybe they didn’t know who they were messing with.”

“Or maybe they’re insane.” I watch as the peacekeepers get into a defensive formation around the ship’s hatch. Then the doors start to open, revealing the muted glow of the interior.

The air around the craft shimmers with blasts of heat, and for a moment, nothing happens.

Jia and I are glued to our seats, as if we’re watching a suspenseful movie. We share an astonished glance as the Kordolians appear. They walk down the ramp with their weapons raised.

“Those are Kordolians?” I whisper, trying not to sound too awed. Everyone’s heard of Kordolians. Because of their warlike tendencies, they’ve somehow ended up owning half the galaxy. But for some reason, they’ve never bothered with Earth. Most Humans have read about, but never seen a Kordolian.

Why haven’t they colonized us?

There are lots of random theories out there. Earth’s too far. Too insignificant. We’re not a threat to them. They can’t afford any more expensive incursions. We’re an important trading partner. Blah, blah, blah. They have analysts on the Network debating this stuff all the time. I’ve never paid much attention to it. Interplanetary politics isn’t my area of interest.

Are they a threat to us? Hell, yeah, they are if they want to be. They have the most advanced military in all of the Nine Galaxies. And judging from the look of these soldiers, they don’t mess around.

There are around a dozen of them, and they sure as hell look intimidating.
 
They’re clad from head-to-toe in some kind of form-fitting black battle armor. Their features are hidden under menacing looking helms, with even their eyes covered by a black visor. And they’re packing some serious looking artillery. There are weapons strapped to their bodies that I’ve never seen before. I squint. Are those freaking swords sheathed at their backs?

“Um, is this about the time we initiate an emergency distress call to Earth?” I watch them with a mixture of horror and fascination. My coffee’s starting to go cold, but I don’t care. I’ve lost my appetite. “Is this where our backup arrives three months later and finds Fortuna Tau empty? Are we about to become another episode of ‘Great Space Mysteries of the Twenty-Fourth Century?”

Before them, the peacekeepers somehow look small and less threatening. If it came to an all-out shitfight, they’d be no match for the Kordolians.

But it seems the boss peacekeeper has some sense in her, because she holds up a hand, signaling to her soldiers to lower their weapons.

“Good call, lady.” Jia sighs with relief. “Lucky they sent Sergeant Varga and not some irrational musclehead jacked up on growth hormones.” She rolls her eyes. “Peacekeepers. You know how they are. But Varga’s different. She’s got a cool head on her shoulders.”

“You know her?”

“Yeah, she runs security for us in the grease pits sometimes. She’s a good sort. And now it looks like the Kordolians aren’t going to kill them after all.”

As the two groups lower their weapons, the Kordolians do something that seems to make their headgear melt away, revealing their faces.

“Nano-armor?” I mutter, in grim fascination. It’s scary, how advanced these guys’ technology is.

Without the helmets, we can see their features clearly.

Jia and I exchange a look of wonder. Of course, we’ve read about Kordolians. We’ve all studied Universal Planetology in school. But seeing them up close is a shock.

“Wow,” Jia whispers. I throw her a sidelong glance. Is that a blush spreading across her porcelain cheeks?
 

I sort of get where she’s coming from. I hate to admit it, but the Kordolians are oddly attractive.

I’m glad for the thick, one-way glass windows of the café, because I’m staring like crazy. The Kordolians have light grey skin that appears almost sliver under the harsh lights. They’re too far away for me to see their eyes, but I can make out strong, aristocratic features and hell, are those pointy ears? Impressive physiques seem to be a characteristic of their species. They’re all tall, and athletically built. Under that freaky black armor it looks as if there’s a whole lot of muscle. But that’s probably to be expected, because, after all, this is some sort of team of super soldiers. I bet not all Kordolians look like these guys. There are probably imperfect looking ones somewhere back on their home planet. At least, I hope there are.

A race of perfect super-beings is just too overwhelming to think about.

But of all the aliens I’ve come across in the galaxy, these guys are the most humanoid looking I’ve ever seen. They have the same number of legs and arms and eyes and everything. No slimy bits, or scales, or tentacles. At least as far as I can tell. It’s hard to know with all that armor. But they kinda remind me of big, grey-skinned evil elves. I say evil, because they sure as hell don’t look warm and cuddly.

One guy stands out amongst the group of Kordolian soldiers. He’s obviously their commander, because he’s the one doing all the talking. I squint, trying to get a better look at him. And to my surprise, I find I can’t tear my eyes away.

This guy commands attention. It’s in the way he stands; arrogantly, threateningly, looming over Sergeant Varga. As if he’s expecting her to kneel or bow down in front of him.
 

He looks like he’s used to being the biggest, baddest thing in the room. But even though he’s intimidating, Sergeant Varga doesn’t back down, staring up at him, her body tense and rigid.

I haven’t met the lady, but I decide I like her.

Urgh. But this Kordolian boss is exactly the kind of guy I can’t stand, alien or Human. I don’t do arrogant jerks.

Jia draws my attention, a luminous expression on her face.

“Jia,” I breathe, shaking my head. “Don’t say it.”

She looks back with wide eyes, her peachy lips slightly apart. “I gotta say it, Abbey.”

“Don’t go there, Jia,” I warn, in an low voice.

Jia raises an eyebrow, ignoring my warning. “Gotta admit, they’re kinda hot.”

Facepalm. She went there. “They’re killers.”

“Sexy killers.”

“Shut up, idiot.” I make a face and down the rest of my coffee, which has gone cold. I don’t know why Jia’s joking around irritates me so much. I slam the cup down, shovel in a few more mouthfuls of vanilla protein sludge and stand up, refusing to look at the Kordolians again. “I’m going back to work,” I announce. “Break’s over, anyway. And even if we’re being invaded by evil elves wearing nano-suits, the bio-plant won’t run itself. Meet you here same time tomorrow, if we’re still alive?”

Jia blinks in confusion. “Elves? What?”

“You should read the classics. You know, Tolkien and so on.” I wave my hand in the air, as I slide out of the booth, turning my back on the scene unfolding below. As I exit, I tap the register with my hand, leaving my bio-print. It’ll go to that nonexistent place in the digital ether and take payment from my already depleted account. “Come tomorrow,” I call over my shoulder, at a perplexed Jia. “I’ll bring chocolate.”

Then, lunch break, with all its weirdness, is over, and I’m rushing back to the bio-plant, trying to forget about the Kordolians.

Stupid mean-looking, pointy-eared, scary alien-elves. I just hope they don’t try to kill us.

Tarak

I stare down at the Human soldiers, trying to ignore the growing ache pounding inside my skull. The bright, artificial lights of the dock don’t help, but at least they aren’t ultraviolet. This is only the second time I’ve been to this planetary system, but I’m already dreading facing the star Humans call the Sun.

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