This is my post during the blog tour for Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings. Under Fortunate Stars is a timey wimey space opera for lovers of Star Trek and Firefly.
This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours and the tour runs from 10 till 23 May. You can see the tour schedule here.
Under Fortunate Stars
By Ren Hutchings
Age category: Adult
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Release Date: 10 May 2022
Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.
Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.
The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.
But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake…
Engineering Deck, ZeyCorp Gallion
Despite all the empty seats around the Engineering pit, Uma stood next to the captain as the rest of the crew filed in. With everyone assembled in one place, there was no denying just how tiny the Gallion’s turnover crew was.
The captain, two directors, eight engineers, Shaan, and Zel. Thirteen people and one android, that was everyone on board.
No. Fifteen people, Uma corrected herself. The Ambassador and the Voiced interpreter remained oblivious in their guest apartment. Uma couldn’t imagine how anyone was going to tell the diplomatic contingent about this.
She looked around at the crew. Wazar, the equipment team lead, was clutching a steaming hot beverage to her chest like some kind of elixir, her shock of blue-grey hair in disarray. The Cordero siblings, both of them engine techs, looked dazed and bleary-eyed after hours of repeated engine core resets. Even Zel was out of sorts, hovering anxiously at the edge of the pit. His usually-perfect coif was flat on one side, as if he’d slept on it.
By the time Director Barnabyn appeared—dressed in his formal blazer, just like the captain—the crew was abuzz with speculative conversation. Outside of a drill, Captain Fransk had never invoked an emergency Full Staff Assembly.
“Crew of the Gallion,” Fransk began. He drew in a long, laboured breath. “It’s been many hours since the event that knocked out our engines, and we haven’t yet restored our connection to the network. We don’t know if our signals relaying our position have reached anyone. We have no idea where we are.” He paused. “We have a long list of serious problems. But none of those are the reason I called this assembly.”
Fransk’s gaze lingered on Uma for a moment, and she gave him a small, encouraging nod.
“The Gallion has picked up another ship’s distress call,” Fransk continued. “Dean alerted me and the directors. But… as our current crew is so small, I want to share what we know
with all of you before we make any decisions.”
A confused whisper rustled through the room.
“The transmission we received is of human origin, albeit using an antiquated comms protocol. It is the only external signal of any kind that we’ve received since our ship entered the energy field.” Fransk turned to the android. “Dean? Show us the ship scan.”
Dean tapped two smooth fingers together to call up a projection. As it unfolded above the android’s hand, the image slowly resolved and enhanced, and the outline of a ship appeared.
An unsettlingly familiar ship. The back of Uma’s neck prickled again.
“I’ve isolated the source of the signal and located the ship, eighty klicks away,” the android said. “You will note that this image quality is unusually poor. That is due in part to the interference from the energy field, but the ship also has two scan-jamming devices mounted on its cargo bay. The devices are of an extremely old make and quite inefficient, so this hasn’t prevented us from mapping their hull.”
The image zoomed in and rotated. “It appears to be a small civilian ship,” Dean continued. “The hull profile suggests a short-haul freighter, 00Y class—a common war-era vessel. The best-known ship of this type is undoubtedly the one that carried the Fortunate Five to Etraxas at the end of the war. The Jonah.”
Uma thought of the small, silvery model of the Jonah that sat on the shelf in her apartment, and a chill squirmed down her spine.
“Of course, the Jonah was a very ordinary ship for its time. There were thousands made exactly like it.” The android paused. “Most of them would be long out of service by now, but a few may still be spaceworthy if they were well-maintained. This could also be a modern replica of the Jonah.”
“Replay the transmission, Dean,” Fransk said.
The android’s head bobbed, and the crackling recording began to play.
“Calling all channels, we have an emergency! This is the civilian cargo hauler Jonah. Is anybody out there? We’ve had a complete systems failure… ran into some type of… unusual energy field… no power. If anyone’s receiving this, we need immediate assistance. This is an emergency. I repeat, this is Eldric Leesongronski of the Jonah, requesting assistance.”
About the Author:
Ren Hutchings is a speculative fiction writer, writing mentor, and history grad. She spent most of the past decade working in game dev while also plotting twisty space novels. She loves pop science, unexplained mysteries, 90s music, collecting outdated electronics, and pondering about alternate universes. Ren always drafts out of order, and almost everything she writes ends up involving a dash of time travel.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Under Fortunate Stars. One winner wins a paperback copy of Under Fortunate Stars. Open International.