Arkhaven logo

A Lifeless Star panel 1


Commissioned officers in the Terran Navy have pay grades ranging from O-1 to O-13, with O-13 being the highest; those with paygrades between O-1 through O-5 are considered junior officers and O-6 and O-9 as senior officers. Officers in the O-10 to O-13 range are called flag officers. Promotion through O-9 is based on performance in an officer's current paygrade, which is recorded in FITREPS. Promotions to Rear Admiral (O-10) rank and higher are restricted to eligible candidates and are subject to confirmation by the Terran Senate as well as the First House.

—“The Commissioned Officers Rank and Structure”, Department of the Navy Pamphlet 700-C

GELHART HUNG alone in a black universe, a pale yellow sun that shone with a lusterless light yet was unbearable to the naked eye. The hundred thousand stars that gleamed around it were incredibly remote, forming little more than a backdrop to the eternal velvet night through which Gelhart sped, accompanied by six much smaller collections of matter. These were its planets, or rather, “grotesque parodies of planets,” as Galton, the ship's navigator, described them.

Standing beside York at the Draco's star window, the navigator observed, “For some reason this subsector is poorly populated, almost empty, you might say. The few stars it possesses are widely scattered, and most of them are on the smaller side.”

“Empty?” York peered at the sweep of stars, thinking it resembled a field of diamonds.

Galton smiled wryly. “The human eye can't distinguish one subsector from another. What you're seeing are the stars from other subsectors, even other sectors.”

Why do you call them parodies?”

“The planets? Oh, because they're not much more than large asteroids. That being said, I've seen civilizations take root on even less probable places. The dwarf planets of the Struve sun, for example. Did you know that their light is purple? And the atmosphere is so thin, terraforming is absolutely imposible. Why would anyone choose to live on one of those worlds? And yet, they do. They say that Man is the most adaptable creature in the universe. I would think he has to be, judging from some of the places he's chosen to live on.”

“That, or the most foolish,” York commented. “I take it you are aware of our reason for being here?”

Galton nodded. “Distress call, missing Navy ship. Must be something interesting on it to pull us off patrol duty on Xigaze.”

“You could say that,” York agreed. After the gas incident, Hull had informed his officers about her true occupation, not that many of them hadn't figured it out already. But none of them knew yet why she was on board, and only a few knew anything about a warship that had gone missing. Even those, like the navigator, whose involvement was required for the search, had not been told the identity of the missing Shiva-class cruiser, much less the reasons believed to be behind her disappearance.

“Why are we starting the search at this particular star,” she asked him.

“Look at it,” he pointed to the star window. “It's a yellow sun, of a similar effective temperature to Sol, and not too much different in size. Given the various options in the vicinity of the last known location, it's the star I would choose if I were the navigator of a ship that found itself in difficulties. It is the first star to which one's attention is naturally drawn.”

“That makes sense.”

“Of course, if the navigator is dumb enough to get himself in trouble in the first place, who knows if he has enough sense to make the logical choice. I'm not saying our missing ship is definitely in this system, only that it's our best bet.”

“I shall consider myself duly warned and refrain from getting too excited until the ship is located. Do you think it might have landed on one of the planets?”

Galton shook his head. “Only if its navigator was so incompetent, and unlucky, that he somehow managed to crash into it. The two inner planets, Goa and Debro, are too close to the sun. Everyone on the ship would die before they even came close to them. The third and fourth planets would at least be theoretically possible. They're wastelands, nothing but vast, burning deserts, but it would be theoretically possible to put down a lander on them.”

“What about the outer two? You mentioned six. They're farther out, so they're not too hot.”

“Too far out. Also, they're methane. Methane giants, much like Jupiter and Saturn, if you ever learned your original planets. They're frozen solid to their cores. There are very good reasons that these parts are uninhabitable, Miss York, even when the sun is more Sol-like than most. This is a lifeless star system.”

York returned her attention to Gelhart. It looked more like a yellow sticker stuck against the window than a sun. It did not gleam brightly, nor did it pulsate like so many stars. Lifeless was a good word to describe it, she thought.

A Lifeless Star panel 3
A Mind Programmed series cover
A Lifeless Star episode cover
39K views1.8K likes

A Mind Programmed

Created by
author avatar
Vox Day
The Greater Terran Ascendancy finds itself facing a historic crisis when the Shiva-class cruiser ATSV Rigel goes missing during a routine patrol through the Kantillon sector. Fortunately, the Ascendancy Intelligence Directorate's top operative, Daniela York, is on the scene.
The Empty Chamber episode cover
The Empty ChamberEpisode #56
Shiva, The Destroyer episode cover
Shiva, The DestroyerEpisode #55
Their Expired Mistress episode cover
Their Expired MistressEpisode #54
The Abyss Without a Surge episode cover
The Abyss Without a SurgeEpisode #53
Marines First episode cover
Marines FirstEpisode #52
Boarding Party episode cover
Boarding PartyEpisode #51
An Almost Preternatural Calm episode cover
An Almost Preternatural CalmEpisode #50
Expendable Tools episode cover
Expendable ToolsEpisode #49
A Statistically Anticipated Probability episode cover
A Statistically Anticipated ProbabilityEpisode #48
Just Crystal episode cover
Just CrystalEpisode #47
Three Ways to Hide episode cover
Three Ways to HideEpisode #46
Against the Tide episode cover
Against the TideEpisode #45
A Planet-Sized Trap episode cover
A Planet-Sized TrapEpisode #44
Suspicion, Bordering on Paranoia episode cover
Suspicion, Bordering on ParanoiaEpisode #43
A Game of Wits episode cover
A Game of WitsEpisode #42
Galactic Stakes episode cover
Galactic StakesEpisode #41
The Devil's Advocate episode cover
The Devil's AdvocateEpisode #40
Escalated Contest episode cover
Escalated ContestEpisode #39
Utmost Confidence episode cover
Utmost ConfidenceEpisode #38
A Matter of Survival episode cover
A Matter of SurvivalEpisode #37
The Working Theory episode cover
The Working TheoryEpisode #36
Penetrating Orbit episode cover
Penetrating OrbitEpisode #35
A Lifeless Star episode cover
A Lifeless StarEpisode #34
The Great Stream of History episode cover
The Great Stream of HistoryEpisode #33
A Drastic Action episode cover
A Drastic ActionEpisode #32
Mirror Images episode cover
Mirror ImagesEpisode #31
A Very Resourceful Girl episode cover
A Very Resourceful GirlEpisode #30
Knowledge of the Unknown episode cover
Knowledge of the UnknownEpisode #29
The Obvious Conclusion episode cover
The Obvious ConclusionEpisode #28
A Sort of Madness episode cover
A Sort of MadnessEpisode #27
No Biological Elements episode cover
No Biological ElementsEpisode #26
Algorithms of Central Importance episode cover
Algorithms of Central ImportanceEpisode #25
Medical Emergency episode cover
Medical EmergencyEpisode #24
The Instinct to Pry episode cover
The Instinct to PryEpisode #23
House Dai Zhan episode cover
House Dai ZhanEpisode #22
A World in Miniature episode cover
A World in MiniatureEpisode #21
She Can Hold Her Own episode cover
She Can Hold Her OwnEpisode #20
The Next Step in Evolution episode cover
The Next Step in EvolutionEpisode #19
Every Facility and All Aid episode cover
Every Facility and All AidEpisode #18
The Technology of Space episode cover
The Technology of SpaceEpisode #17
Top Priority Alert episode cover
Top Priority AlertEpisode #16
Homo Posthomo episode cover
Homo PosthomoEpisode #15
The Spy-Master episode cover
The Spy-MasterEpisode #14
That Damned Violet Sun episode cover
That Damned Violet SunEpisode #13
Deformed By An Evil Star episode cover
Deformed By An Evil StarEpisode #12
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero Two episode cover
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero TwoEpisode #11
The Causative Factor episode cover
The Causative FactorEpisode #10
A Mirror of the Mind episode cover
A Mirror of the MindEpisode #9
The Primary Pieces episode cover
The Primary PiecesEpisode #8
A Message to Director Karsh episode cover
A Message to Director KarshEpisode #7
Highest Priority episode cover
Highest PriorityEpisode #6
First Contact episode cover
First ContactEpisode #5
Sacred Meditations episode cover
Sacred MeditationsEpisode #4
Somewhat of a Predicament episode cover
Somewhat of a PredicamentEpisode #3
Restricted Knowledge episode cover
Restricted KnowledgeEpisode #2
Last Minute Passage episode cover
Last Minute PassageEpisode #1
List icon
Comment icon
Prev icon
Next icon
Fullscreen icon