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The Black Knight

Supreme Star Marine Commander
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Location
Alternate Universe
#1
Hello!
I am new to writing and wanted the readers honest opinion. Comment after checking my book on Amazon. It is my first book - any and all input is greatly appreciated. I am planning this to be the first book in a trilogy.
Here's the link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079K62S78!
And Here is a free promo!

Lilly



Fertile land; you could live off it and prosper. Or at least give it a good try. Most colonists who chose to settle the dangerous and unforgiving planets in Fringe space were of the adventurous type. Humans mostly, but there were other Terran races also. Long-eared bunnies, quick furry hamsters, and tough gorillas all ventured together with their human patrons. Most were young families, whose futures were otherwise to be determined by the safety of the Core worlds. Dangers like pirates, slavers, and hostile alien empires weren’t enough to hold the slow and unstoppable advance of those Terrans. The allure of starting from the ground up and succeeding by way of your own skill; that was the actual reason most settlers did it. It wasn’t for riches or renown, like many of the aliens thought.



Speaking of aliens, some of humanity’s allies could also be found traveling and sometimes living on those small colonies. Races like the long lived and mighty Kil’ra now sent their youth to prove themselves there. What was the reason many of them chose to settle permanently in Terran space? Most of them couldn’t say, but those with greater wisdom always spoke to others of the bonds between humans and their friends. It wasn’t like anything they’d seen anywhere else, and the Kil’ra had been traveling the whole galaxy for thousands of years and seen a lot. Many of the other sentient species that they’d made First Contact with were no longer amongst the living, and many more had fallen into obscurity; yet those Terrans and their uplifted client races carried within them something new. Their tiny empire prospered, despite all odds. Friendly races and allies few and far between, and enemies all around them; frequent raids and attacks. And yet, they persisted.



The scorching rays of Carrola’s twin suns bathed large fields of green. Big, round, and striped Earth-native fruits called “watermelons” were planted all around her. Lilly fixed the big straw hat, made of the local pink weed, on her head so that both her eyes and her large ears were well protected from the light. The two suns weren’t as forgiving as Earth’s star – but for the tropical fruits and other sun-hungry crops planted here, it was literally heaven.



She carefully piloted her gravbike forward with one hand on the controls, while holding her scanner with other. Had to check for problems like parasites, pests, and also possible damage to the field’s water sprinklers. All could ruin large quantities of their future yield, and she was too good a farmer to allow this to happen. Since early morning Lilly had been scanning the fields and zapping some of the local rat-like creatures with her laser pistol, or fixing dented and broken water pipes. She was tired and thirsty, and wanted nothing more than a shower and perhaps one big, cold glass of watermelon cider. Better still, accompanied by a side dish of cured-pork-and-potato salad. Lilly’s mouth began to water just imagining the feast she and her brother would prepare after a long hard day’s work such as this.

That’s when her hand holding the scanner slipped over the gravbike’s controls.

Suddenly she swooshed upwards, the old machine moaning with anger; Lilly heard an explosion and then felt fire burning her back. The whole world swirled before her eyes in a kaleidoscope of bright, colorful lights, and her mind quickly faded into unconsciousness.

When she woke up it was already dark. Somehow, Lilly’s head wasn’t cracked, and despite some pain in her hip, she felt no broken bones when she picked herself up from the ground. The same couldn’t be said of her old trusty gravbike; its frame was bent, and the engine block was missing. Lilly limped around for a while in disbelief, until she found the engine embedded in one of the large mumpa trees, completely trashed. She smelled burned vegetation and molten metal. She searched around the crash site with the faint hope of locating her hand scanner, stumbling for a couple more minutes until she realized: the smell wasn’t from her wrecked gravbike.

The evening breeze was blowing from the direction of the colony settlement, and Lilly turned her eyes towards it. Even taking into account how far away the village was and her weak rabbit eyesight, the huge, towering flames she saw were a frightening scene to behold.

The young bunny watched this raging inferno in total disbelief. In her disoriented mind, there was no logical reason why such a thing should happen. Lilly forgot the pain in her hip and ran towards the village with all of her strength. Her stride became almost animalistic, leaping and jumping over and on the crops she’d been inspecting earlier. With every passing minute of travel her fear grew, and by the time Lilly reached the butchered, burning remains of her village, she was in a state of complete shock.

Passing by the sign “Murphy’s Landing – population 352”, she suddenly halted. Someone had used red paint to cross out the population number. No; it wasn’t paint. Looking down, she saw a severed human hand that had been used as a grizzly paintbrush. Without even noticing her own actions, Lilly knelt and took the hand, slowly walking towards the smoldering ruins.

The stench of death hit her like a fist in the face, and she desperately tried to cover her sensitive nose. To no avail. Tears started rolling down her face as she neared her family’s farmhouse. There was a crater where the building was once standing, and in front of it, she found a charred human corpse with one hand missing. Lilly carefully left the severed hand near the body and sat on the ground.

Then she spotted something else. She wailed, covering her mouth. Beneath the ruins, one set of brown, spotted rabbit feet were sticking out. Both had green work boots on them.

Her little brother’s boots. The ones she had gifted him on his birthday just a month before.

Bunnies are not that afraid of death. They can accept the natural order of things, since their lives are shorter than those of most races. But this lack of fear only applies to their own lives – not the lives of kin, or friends. They take losing others very hard, and such a personal cataclysm may change a rabbit individual forever, pushing them to extremes.

Her eyes strayed away and back towards the one-handed corpse. He had a folding shovel still clenched in his intact fist, and from the looks of it, he had been shot from behind with a laser rifle. Lilly knew the man: a good friend, and the owner of their local shop – Mr. Alberto.

With shaking hands she searched the body and took the key card for his house. She knew the trader had an old rail carbine stashed in his safe. He was, after all, the man who had taught Lilly and her brother how to shoot when they were little kids. She quickly looked around, wiping her tears and trying to fight the overwhelming terror that engulfed her mind. Move. You know what to do Lilly. Get to a weapon quick. You need to survive long enough, until the response team from the nearby colony arrives.

She continuously reminded herself of the list of actions a colonist must take to ensure survival – weapon, food, equipment, shelter. The young bunny reached the center of her village without meeting any of the attackers, but she saw traces of their handiwork everywhere. The bodies of her fellow colonists littered the ground. Some had tried to defend themselves, but it seems they had all been killed in the same fashion Alberto was – one laser shot from behind.

Lilly looked around for any usable items, but the bodies had been picked clean; even their PDAs were missing. She had almost reached the center of town when her ears caught the sounds of a pair of alien voices.

She quickly froze, and hid behind one of the broken mega-concrete walls. They were speaking in a strange dialect of Fringe-Speak, and she slowly began to translate their conversation:

“<Ha! That was a most pitiful fight, Master Sergeant. The whole village was unable to put up even a meager resistance. I swear by the Empress’ mantle, one of those old farts stood against me with a shovel in hand!>”

“<Yes, it was rather pathetic. It seems that those famed Terrans and their clients weren’t all that scary and tough, as the pirates said they were.>”

“<But Sergeant, this was one of their main colonies and there were no major defenses! No reinforced bunkers, no anti-space cannons, not even proper soldiers. The Taz’aran Empire will take their territory quickly, and they will learn to call us their masters soon!>”

The younger voice carried much enthusiasm and was speaking the name of his empire with elation. Lilly almost choked with anger and fear. They were mocking the memory of her dead friends, her brother.

She saw an overturned pickup truck next to the place those two voices were. One of the three Danube trucks owned by the colony’s delivery company, “Slow Pokes”. It was the perfect cover. Lilly carefully crawled forwards and looked from behind the truck.

The two alien soldiers, those Taz’arans, were sitting idly on one of the village square benches and stuffing their faces with rations. Both looked stocky, but were no taller than humans, with pale greenish skin and dark brown eyes. They had crummy laser rifles resting on their knees, an alien model she had never seen in her life. Nothing like the Imperial-issue laser rifle; these were obvious copies, and bad ones at best. Even though Lilly was a farmer, she knew a little bit about weapons too. You had to; in the Empire, it was obligatory for all citizens to learn how to defend themselves, and to have a basic knowledge of simple weapons and armor. These rifles hadn’t even a basic heatsink installed! And their power packs were not designed with environmental protection. Oh, it was alright for now; but after a week spent in Carrola’s burning heat and humidity, they would experience weapon jams and even “violent” overheating.

Lilly looked at their bulky, uncomfortable space suits and reached for her laser pistol. The range was perfect; she could take her time and aim carefully from behind the cover of this truck.

Her hand grasped only air. Lilly, very much confused, glanced at her hip – the laser pistol wasn’t there! In the shock after her crashing the gravbike, it must have fallen somewhere. She desperately looked over her belt and her person, but there wasn’t anything usable... save for her hand PDA.

Lilly crept back behind the pickup truck and crawled under the fusion core with one ear still pointed at those soldiers. They were still patting each other on the back, congratulating each other on how easy was it to conquer her colony.

She slowly and gently opened the service lid over the core and removed her PDA. Ever so quietly, Lilly placed it between the plasma wires and began inputting an overload program. That would turn the fusion core into an improvised bomb. A crappy one, with low yield and range, but more than enough to turn both of those murdering bastards into dust. Lilly punched in a two-minute time limit and started crawling away from the truck.

Suddenly, she heard the metallic sounds of one Taz’aran walking in his suit towards her position! She stilled, continuing to count in her mind the seconds left until the PDA’s overloading. She heard the soldier call his sergeant to join him in pushing the truck back on its four tires. They had to take a final look and search for anything left that could be of use.

Lilly tried desperately to sneak away as quietly as possible. Not fast enough. The two Taz’arans pushed the pickup over, and it almost crushed her back. She managed to roll away, but the soldiers saw her and raised their weapons. They crowed as they trained their rifles on her:

“<Look what we have here, Sergeant! One of those fake sentients, with the long ears. Hey, should we capture it? We might get a reward for getting another one for the slave ship sergeant!>”

“<Bah! Shoot her mangy ass, we have all the young ones and they bring the best price at the markets. I bet you can’t kill her with one shot, Soldier! Let’s see... a day’s ration, agreed?>”

Both grinned at each other and leveled their guns, aiming at Lilly, while she turned around and jumped with all her strength.

The two Taz’arans were unable to press their triggers, nor was Lilly able to finish her jump. The explosion turned both soldiers into mush and mercilessly slammed her small body into the nearby wall. For the second time that day, she lost consciousness.
 
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