The Dark of Light
Starhawke Rising Book One
Save a planet. Sacrifice your future.
For Aurora Hawke, protecting the secret of her half-human heritage has been a lifelong challenge. Taking command of her own starship and the best crew in the quadrant has been her dream. Failing at both is her nightmare.
But the survival of a planet may depend on it.
With millions of lives at risk, she’ll do whatever it takes, even if revealing her unique abilities means spending the rest of her life on the run.
“Captain Hawke, I presume.” The Gaian Chancellor extended his hand.
Aurora clasped it. “Thank you for meeting with us Chancellor.”
The Chancellor shook his head. “I’m the one who’s grateful for your assistance.”
Introductions continued all around, then the Chancellor led them to a security station just inside the building where a Corps guard scanned each member of their party.
“This way.” The Chancellor gestured to the corridor to their left. “I’ll introduce you to the Corps Director first. She controls all operations here and at the station for the other community that was affected. She can put you in touch with Corps members who can assist you in your investigation.”
“So your own people won’t be working with us?” Cardiff asked.
He glanced back at her. “No. While we’re well known for our agricultural skills, most of that knowledge is from practical, hands-on experience, not scientific study.” His expression looked strained. “What we’re seeing now is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. We’re at a wall. That’s why we contacted the Council, and why they sent you. This is beyond our ability to analyze or investigate.”
“Do you think it’s a natural occurrence, a mutation or infection that’s native to the planet?” Aurora asked.
The Chancellor stopped and faced her. “Captain, I’m not certain what’s happening here could be labeled a natural occurrence anywhere.”
Aurora’s eyebrows lifted and Cardiff stiffened, but neither said anything more as the Chancellor continued down the hallway. They passed through another security checkpoint that opened onto the temporary command center.
“The Director is meeting us in tent twelve. We’ve gathered a few families who are willing to talk to you about their experiences.” The Chancellor nodded to several Corps members as their group crossed to a doorway on the far side that took them out of the building. A collection of tents had been set up in long rows in the clearing.
“How well are the residents coping with the losses?” Aurora asked as they walked down the packed dirt path that led between two rows of tents.
The Chancellor sighed. “As well as can be expected. The hardest part is not knowing what’s causing the destruction. We have no way to prepare for it or prevent it from spreading.”
The refugees stared at them as they passed, but no one smiled or acknowledged them in any way. Every face had a nearly identical look of bleak sadness. It was like walking through a warzone, although it wasn’t only the people who were struggling for survival—it was their planet, too.