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Authors: Michael Cobley

The Ascendant Stars

B
Y
M
ICHAEL
C
OBLEY
 

Humanity’s Fire

Seeds of Earth

The Orphaned Worlds

The Ascendant Stars

COPYRIGHT
 

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-748-12565-4

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Michael Cobley

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

.

Contents
 

Also By Michael Cobley

 

Copyright

 

What has Gone Before

 

Main Characters

 

Main Sentient Species in Humanity’s Fire

 

Civilisations

 

Prologue

1: Greg

2: Catriona

3: Kao Chih

4: The Construct

5: Greg

6: Julia

7: Kuros

8: Kao Chih

9: Legion

10: Theo

11: Chel

12: Robert

13: Julia

14: Kao Chih

15: Chel

16: Theo

17: Greg

18: Robert

19: Kao Chih

20: Julia

21: Catriona

22: Greg

23: Julia

24: Greg

25: Chel

26: Kuros

27: Kao Chih

28: Greg

29: Theo

30: Kuros

31: Legion

32: Robert

33: The Construct

34: Julia

35: Chel

36: Greg

37: Theo

38: Catriona

39: Julia

40: Robert

41: Julia

42: Greg

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

 

About the Author

For my dad, Michael John Cobley,
still in the game, kickin’ and scratchin’!

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE
 
BOOK ONE:
SEEDS OF EARTH
 

In book one, the discovery of the lost Human colonyworld of Darien set off a chain of events, unveiled mysteries, political sparring and assassination. The Earthsphere ambassador,
Robert Horst
, arrives on board the cruiser,
Heracles
, as does
High Monitor Kuros
, a senior official from the Sendruka Hegemony. The Hegemony is a vast, stellar empire allied with the human-dominated Earthsphere; both have their agendas yet it is the Hegemony’s plans which prove the more ruthless.

On Darien, archaeologist
Greg
Cameron’s work at the ancient Uvovo temple site on Giant’s Shoulder is disrupted, first by an assassination attempt and later when his uncle,
Major Theo Karlsson
, appears with Robert Horst, the Earthsphere ambassador. Horst is framed for the murder of the Brolturan ambassador and Karlsson and Horst subsequently take refuge in a newly discovered chamber beneath the Uvovo temple. This wakes an ancient guardian who seizes Robert and transports him away.

On the forest-moon Nivyesta,
Catriona Macreadie
finds herself forming a telepathic link with Segrana, a vast and millennia-old entity which inhabits the interwoven ecosystem of the continent-wide forest. She comes to identify with the forest, strengthening the bond with Segrana, and helping the humanoid Uvovo natives when several Hegemony mercenaries try to infiltrate the depths of the forest.

Chel
, or Cheluvahar, is a scholar of the Uvovo and a good friend to both Greg and Catriona. He undergoes a ritual
whereby Segrana gives him strange new abilities and tells him to prepare the Uvovo for war. From ancient myths he learns that the Giant’s Shoulder temple houses a ‘warpwell’, an ancient Forerunner weapon which defeated a savage enemy many millenia ago. The warpwell would provide access to the lower levels of hyperspace and much faster travel between the stars, an advantage that would make the Hegemony’s already formidable warfleets invincible.

While events unfold on Darien,
Kao Chih
begins his journey to Darien. Kao Chih’s people are the descendants of another of the three original ships launched from Earth 150 years before. Their world, Pyre, was seized by a Sendrukan Hegemony corporate monoclan which ruthlessly mined and stripped it of its resources. A few hundred colonists fled in a handful of ramshackle ships, eventually finding refuge in a star system home to a race called the Roug. When news of the discovery of Darien reached the Roug’s orbital city, Agmedra’a, the Roug hosting these Human descendants also decide to send emissaries. And soon Kao Chih and a Roug called Tumakri are on their way.

During their twisting quest Tumakri tragically dies in an ambush and Kao Chih joins forces with a sentient droid called Drazuma-Ha*. Evading a group of combat drones seemingly trying to kill them, they are instead captured by a Human smuggler-terrorist called Corazon Talavera. With Drazuma-Ha*’s aid they manage to escape in a terrorist shuttle, leaving Corazon marooned on a semi-hospitable planet. But she has a vital and terrifying role yet to play.

Back on Darien the colony is in uproar over the actions of the authoritarian Brolturans, usually at the behest of Kuros, now Hegemony ambassador. After the bizarre disappearance of Robert Horst at Giant’s Shoulder, Theo Karlsson returns to Hammergard and encounters Donny Barbour. Both are then witness to the missile attack on the Assembly halls which kills the colony’s president and nearly all of his cabinet. A deep crisis ensues, with Brolturan troops on the streets and flying security patrols, an unsubtle show of strength.

The last remaining government official asks Major Karlsson and Donny to get a group of Enhancee scientists offworld. (The Enhancees are genetically engineered sci-tech specialists; Catriona Macreadie was part of that programme but failed the stringent tests in her teens.) At the Port Gagarin launch field they hijack an Earthsphere shuttle and manage to get into orbit. But interceptors from the Brolturan battleship
Purifier are
heading their way so the Enhancees are transferred to the Earthsphere ship
Heracles
. Donny Barbour tricks Theo Karlsson into leaving the escape pod to save his life, then leads the Brolturan interceptors on a bravura chase through the skies of the forest moon. After an agile and defiant evasion, a hostile missile sends the shuttle down in flames over one of the big seas.

After vanishing from the warpwell chamber on Giant’s Shoulder, Robert Horst appears in a bizarre complex of tunnels, escorted by a trio of small intelligent mechs. They tell him that he is down in hyperspace, which consists of many levels. After a series of perilous encounters he arrives at another deeper level, at a place called the Garden of the Machines, an AI metropolis watched over by a mysterious being called the Construct. After rejuvenating Robert’s physical age (and turning a holosim of his daughter into an android simulacrum), the Construct persuades Robert to return the favour by venturing into the depths of hyperspace in search of an ancient entity called the Godhead. Hostile forces arising from another region of the depths have been attacking allies of the Construct, who thinks that the Godhead might possess vital information on the attacks.

Meanwhile, Kao Chih and Drazuma-Ha*, still pursued by the mysterious combat droids, seek sanctuary aboard a cloud-harvester. Drazuma-Ha* tricks Kao Chih into remaining on the bridge, seizes the cloud-harvester’s shuttle and leaves for Darien. The pursuing robots reveal to Kao Chih that Drazuma-Ha* is in fact an agent of the Legion of Avatars, a cyborg that was horde the Forerunners’ last and deadliest enemy. If it gains control of the warpwell gate down on Darien, it could open it to release the Legion of Avatars’ surviving from their prison deep in the abyss
of hyperspace. The chase after Drazuma-Ha* is on. When they reach Darien they use the cloud-harvester’s escape pod and Kao Chih’s shuttle to continue the hunt down within Giant’s Shoulder on Darien. Then in the warpwell chamber, Kao Chih and the surviving droid manage to kill the Legion mech Drazuma-Ha*. As Kao Chih falls unconsciousness, the well guardian transports him away to safety.

Seeds of Earth
ends with the Hegemony’s Ambassador Kuros and the Brolturans in control of the colony and the temple site on Giant’s Shoulder. Theo Karlsson and Catriona Macreadie are in hiding up on the forest-moon Nivyesta, guarding a captured Hegemony mercenary who turns out to be human. On Darien, Greg is escorting Kao Chih and others to a temporary camp deep in the mountains. Plans for the insurgency are being hastily formed, and the Enhancees are safely on their way to Earth.

And on a planet far from Darien, a cyborg knight of the Legion of Avatars rests on a cold sea bed, considering the failure of its droid agent. It decides that it will have to take action itself and, after repairing its damaged biomechanisms, the Knight engages its engines and blasts up out of the depths of the sea – heading for the stars.

BOOK TWO:
THE ORPHANED WORLDS
 

The Orphaned Worlds
begins a few weeks after the end of
Seeds of Earth
.

Brolturan forces, directed by the Hegemony ambassador,
Kuros
, are now in de facto control of the Darien colony. Colonial politicians form an interim government that is clearly subservient to the Brolturans, who increasingly come to resemble occupiers.

Greg Cameron
has been organising the resistance, which has set up a more permanent camp in an ancient Uvovo stronghold inside Tusk Mountain, in the mountains to the north.

Robert Horst
, at the behest of the Construct, is on a mission into the depths of hyperspace in search of the Godhead, hoping it will help them negotiate an alliance against the Legion of Avatars and its agents. Accompanied by a simulacrum of his daughter,
Rosa, their AI ship takes them down through the strange, bizarre, dangerous or scarcely comprehensible levels of hyperspace. The Rosa-sim dies tragically in a fight with a lone Legion cyborg, after which Robert meets the Intercessor, an emissary from the Godhead. It sends him onwards to a pocket universe, supposedly the final stage before meeting the Godhead, but it turns out to be a deadly one-way trap.

Kao Chih
has left Darien with Silveira, an Earthsphere agent who wants to find out more about the lost human colony on Pyre and how the Suneye corporate monoclan took it over. They travel first to the Roug system, then on to Pyre, during which Silveira learns how Kao Chih’s forebears were a splinter group that escaped Pyre decades before. On Pyre they find out how the colonists struggle to exist under conditions of resource rationing, and the brutal oppression of offworld criminal gangs sanctioned by the Suneye Monoclan.

Ambassador Kuros
now holds sway over most of the Darien colony, and the interim colonial administration follows his instructions to the letter. However, a senior adviser arrives from the Sendrukan Hegemony homeworld, the Clarified Teshak who is a Sendrukan wholly controlled by an AI. He exerts a harsh authority over Kuros while putting his own implacable plan into action.

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