New Release! Caleuche

Caleuche by Jonathan Ward,
Cover by Kieran Walsh

Jericho has fallen.

The world lies in ruins: overrun by an endless tide of self-replicating killing machines known as the Bugs. Only a fraction of its population managed to flee the planet aboard whatever ship would carry them, heading for jump points that would take them to new solar systems and, hopefully, to safety.

The last ship to escape from orbit is the passenger vessel Caleuche: populated by a band of traumatised refugees, piloted by the mind of a murder victim. They face a desperate struggle for survival in the pitiless void of space, as fear and mistrust threaten to doom them all.

Yet they may not be alone, out there in the darkness.

Opening Paragraphs:

‘Programmable Construction Drones (PCD), or Bugs as they are more commonly known, are poised to forever change life as we know it. Equipped with cutting-edge nanotechnology, they can carry out almost any task, and are even able to build the tools they need to accomplish their objective.’
‘It is, however, my recommendation that the JCCO retains full control of all PCD-related technology. Although the potential of the Bugs is almost limitless, the extreme care required in their programming coupled with the dangers unfettered nanotech poses means that the oversight of a central authority is required. If Bug technology were to fall into the wrong hands, the possible consequences could be horrific beyond all measure.’

– Excerpts from report submitted to
the Jericho Colonial Control Office, August 23rd, 2145


For an unknowable length of time, Sophia drifted, enveloped by slow, placid dreams of gentle ocean waves and the heat of the sun beating down on a tropical shore. She was filled by a sense of peace so overwhelming that she could feel little else, and didn’t care to: no fears or concerns could break through the tranquillity and intrude into her thoughts. Indeed, she could imagine nothing other than an eternity of relaxation.


Chapter 11

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Chapter Eleven

I held the rose agate pendant so tightly in my grip that the contours pressed hard into my flesh. They were taking her away from me. She was screaming my name. Telling me not to save her. 

And somewhere, Lien was crying. Lien, the feral child on board Starfang. Her large eyes swam with glistening tears. 

I started awake, my heart pounding so hard it was painful. The ship was thrumming with a rhythm that immediately informed me that it was pushing its engine drive. It was moving hard, in one direction. Was it being pursued?

The dream hollowed me out. I cleaned up with a sense of grimness heavy in my limbs. The food was late again. I sipped the water, feeling the clawing demands of the hunger. Hurried footsteps halted in front of my door and a tray slid in, rattling loudly. There was only two slices of bread this time. As I paused to retrieve the tray, the footsteps pounded away with an urgency I found intriguing. S’sahrak was late too. S’sahrak was never late.

I pushed myself into nangun drills, ignoring the biting pangs in my stomach and in my veins. I kept the visions of April, my Pack-crew and Lien before me, goading myself on. Somewhere, they lived and that mattered.

Would they accept me, an addict to craz?

The ship suddenly shook significantly to knock me off my feet. I rolled onto my haunches, using my hands as traction. I was too experienced, too ship-wise, to know that was a strike on the ship’s flank, possibly starboard. When I carefully got up, another strike rattled the ship, a warning blow this time. Two ships seemed to be firing their cannons at it.

The door slammed open and S’sahrak stepped in. Immaculate and precise the shishini was, I sensed it was disturbed and harried.

“Please come with me,” S’sahrak said. Its rosettes were vivid brown now. I noticed the pistol hanging by its left side. It was an assault-type weapon used by many clans.

Two black-armored guards backed S’sahrak, carrying heavier weapons. They meant business, right down to their visored faces. I also smelled wolf off them. So, I was indeed on a clan ship. I inclined my head and walked out obediently. I couldn’t stare down the wolf guards – they must be trained to ignore the instinctual reactions when it came to more dominant clan members. I reined in my urge to escape – wait, Francesca, wait. Not now, not now.

Continue reading “Chapter 11”