Stowaway to the Stars




by Graham Keeler




The second edition of Stowaway to the Stars is now out in ebook form, published separately at KDP and Smashwords. The original book was published by Netherworld Books in both paperback and ebook, and the paperback is currently still available. Watch this page for further details.

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Larry is an undercover agent for the Interstellar Exploration Programme, when he stumbles on a covert operation by Zilon, a ruthless member of the Galactic Union. He finds himself framed by the Ziloni and a fugitive from the Union.

Karen is seeking the man responsible for the death of her sister. But one simple case of mistaken identity and a reckless decision suddenly sees her life in turmoil.  She discovers that she is a stowaway on Larry’s spacecraft and her future is now irrevocably linked to his.

Larry’s future looks bleak.  His only chance of finding evidence that will clear his name entails a near-suicidal invasion of a Ziloni military base.  Karen has no choice but to accompany Larry on his mission, where she is thrown into the strange environment of the Union. Together they face the ultimate test as they battle with the collective might of the Ziloni and the Galactic Union.


HOW The story starts

To whet your appetite, this is how the book starts:

The wail of a siren warned Larry that he’d been detected.

Oh shit – he’d stayed too long.  Either the Ziloni had spotted him from below, in spite of his care, or there were hidden intrusion detectors he hadn’t seen.  He was in deep trouble.  The Ziloni had carefully concealed their illicit operation deep underground on this remote, frozen planet, and damn fool that he was, he’d stumbled across it.

Of all the planets in the Galactic Union, Zilon had the most hard-line regime.  Not the best group to tangle with if they were planning something illegal on this scale.

Like an overturned anthill, the cavern far below became a flurry of activity.  Four vehicles began driving purposefully toward the start of the slope leading up to his hiding place in the mouth of the tunnel.

Time to beat a rapid retreat.  He jumped up from the shadowy recesses of the rock crevice and fled back up the tunnel.  The low gravity enabled him to bound up the slope in long leaps, despite the encumbrance of his bulky spacesuit.  As he climbed, the light from the cavern faded.

He’d been an idiot to ignore Annek’s worries, and climb down this fissure alone to try and find the source of the anomalous gas discharge, even though he’d never dreamt that it was manmade.

What would happen if the Ziloni caught him?  Would they find Annek as well, before she gave up waiting for him and went for help?  Worse still, what if she ignored his instructions and left the ship to come after him?  She was still a trainee agent and might not understand the need to follow the Interstellar Exploration Programme protocols.  In desperation he tried calling her on his comm. earpiece, but it brought no reply.  It wasn’t surprising, the rock would be shielding the signal.

He paused for a moment to glance back.  The men pursuing him had reached the tunnel entrance.  Their vehicles slowed on the rough, sloping rock, but they were still gaining on him.

His helmet lamp cut a bright, circular hole in the inky blackness, as near panic drove his exhausted muscles.  Light beams flashed around him from below, seeking him out.  The way grew steeper and the sound of the vehicles stopped.  But now he could see the Ziloni troops were chasing him on foot, and they would be fresher than him.

The narrow beam from his lamp bobbed furiously about with his exertions, making it difficult to see the uneven terrain.  Twice he slipped, and barely managed to grab a rock to avoid falling backward.  He had to slow down, in spite of the danger.  He could only hope his pursuers were having the same problem.

The first glimmer of light filtered down from the planet surface above.  Up here in the top section of the fissure, the slope was much steeper, and it was no longer possible to run.  Sweat poured down the inside of his suit as he gasped for breath, progressing in a succession of leaps.  Occasional glances told him the men behind were closer each time.  Now and again, the beams of their lights caught him.  When that happened, he leapt sideways to try and lose them, praying his reaching hands would find something to hold onto.

At last he could see the mouth of the fissure above him.  Blood pounded in his ears as his heart hammered.  His breath came in great, wheezing gasps.  A burst from a laser rifle hit the tunnel wall just above him, making him jump.  A cascade of ice fragments showered him and a large puff of steam burst from the hard-frozen ice that formed the rock on this iceball of a planet.

A sudden chill ran through him in spite of his efforts.  They weren’t just trying to capture him, they wanted to kill him!



© Graham Keeler 2012