It's really difficult for me to believe, but this serial that Tony and I began working on about fourteen months ago is finally done. Originally, it was to be released in twelve parts over the course of sixteen months, but I think Tony got restless to work on other projects, so he wrote, then had me edit, the last three segments in one go. Your benefit? No more waiting to see how it all ends. No more teasing. No more . . . just, no more. I'll miss working with Captain Jessica King and her crew, but I doubt it's the last any of us has seen of her, or them.
That said, I figured now would be a great time to revisit Chapter One of the first segment. Oh, if you want more, Far From Home 1: Legend is free on Amazon, as always. You'll also find Far From Home: The Complete Series finally gathered in one book which amounts to about 700 pages. If you're looking to grab the paperback rather than the Kindle, Tony was making a couple of corrections to the formatting and it should be available any day now.
If you haven't been following the series, but waiting for it in one whack, grab it now. If you HAVE been following, you are in for an ending that surprised even me. But I'll shut up before I spoil it and just let you start here:
Far From Home 1: Legend
Battered and bruised, the Defiant slowed on its approach to Starbase 6.
Commander Jessica King occupied the captain's chair. She’d hoped that one day she would get to sit in such a chair as Captain of her own vessel. She never once thought that the privilege of doing so would come at such a cost. It filled her with no joy to carry out her role as Acting-Captain in Andrew Singh’s absence, especially so considering he was lying on a mortuary slab two decks under her feet.
"Starbase has made contact, sir," Ensign Boi reported from the comm. station.
King nodded. "Okay Ensign. Patch me through."
She waited a few seconds for the connection to be made. "This is Commander Jessica King, Acting-Captain of the Union Starship Defiant."
"Please state your prefix number," a mechanical-sounding voice said on the other end.
"T.U. zero-one-one-three-eight," she said.
There was a brief delay, and then the voice announced that they were cleared to dock. "Docking bay three. Please do not exceed standard thruster speed."
"Close channel," King said.
She looked ahead at the large circular space station. It was a tall centrifuge at the centre, with spokes extending to a wide outer ring. Along the ring were enough docking bays to accommodate up to twenty vessels. There were several ships already docked, all much larger than the Defiant. That wasn’t to say the Defiant was a small ship.
But she was old.
At one time the Archon Class vessels had been the backbone of the fleet. Now they were relics twenty years past their sell-by date. If the system-wide war between the Union and the Draxx didn’t still rage on, they’d have been decommissioned and retired already.
Still didn’t stop us holding our own in a fight, did it? King thought. She might be old, but she’s got it where it counts.
"Banks, I think I can leave the parking in your capable hands?" King asked as she got up from the captain's chair.
Lieutenant Kyle Banks swiftly worked the controls across the front helm console.
"I’ve got it covered," he said.
"Good. Then I will be below decks," she said.
The bridge crew looked up from their stations, but when she looked around at them they hurried back to their assigned duties.
King walked toward the exit. Insulation and wiring had erupted from the ceiling during the battle and hung like copper intestines in places. She ducked beneath it on her way out, her feet crunching on bits of broken plastic and glass.
On her way to her quarters she passed the scorched carcasses of burned-out conduits, pipes that were still dripping onto the deck plating from leaks that hadn’t yet been attended to.
The ship had taken a beating, it was true. She was proud of the crew, and of the ship itself, for pulling through. They hadn’t run away from the battle like cowards. They faced the danger and hit back with what they had.
Several crew saluted as she strode past them. She quickly saluted back.
It lifted her spirits, despite all that had happened, to see the crew still going about their duty as they were meant to. The men and women she passed looked tired, dirty, some of them injured. But they carried on with grim determination and a sense of duty. King walked with a determined gait, showing the pride she felt for her crew.
When Jess got to her quarters she headed straight for the shower to freshen up quickly before her debriefing. She knew that Admiral Grimshaw would want to hear the full account of what had gone on despite having a copy of her report already on his desk. He would demand to hear it first-hand from someone who was knee deep in it all. The fleet had lost a brilliant Captain, and there were questions that must be answered.
In her quarters, she got out of her dirty uniform. Standing in front of the mirror in her tiny bathroom she looked tired, beaten.
Her temple carried a long cut from when a Draxx missile had hit the side of the Defiant, sending her flying against a bulkhead. Dr. Clayton had yet to treat it properly.
Her eyes were red, ringed with dark, puffy circles. During the journey to Starbase 6 King had done her fair share of grieving for Captain Singh. But she knew there would be more to come at some point. That loss was an open wound. Over time it might heal a bit, but never enough so you didn’t know it was there.
She stepped into the shower and tried to wash the difficulties of the last week away. But they were in there with her. She stood under the stream of the water, bowed her head, her hands up against the tiles. She started to sob. In the shower no-one could see her. No-one could hear her. In the shower she had privacy to give freedom to the grief.
King could still see him lying there on the deck, dying in her arms. She could still hear his final words . . .
The mangled mess of his legs. The blood pooling from his mid-section. His face grey, washed-out. Tears streamed down her face.
Her voice cracked as she spoke. "Please don’t go, please."
Captain Singh shook his head slowly. Smiled. "Jess . . . We each have our time. My own is at an end . . ."
"No . . ." she managed to say.
Singh reached up, stroked the side of her face. "Now it is your turn to do as much as you can with the time you have . . ."
He smiled again, then his eyes seemed focus on something far away. The light in them faded. Singh’s hand fell away from hers and the sound of his last breath issued slowly from between his lips.
"No . . ."
She felt the thud of the ship as it jutted up against the docking bay. She came back to reality, regained her composure and set about washing herself, then got out of the shower.
She walked to the comm. unit on the wall, pressed the button that opened a direct line to the bridge.
"Bridge," she said. "Equalise the pressure seals and reduce all systems to idle status. I’ll meet all senior crew members at airlock four in fifteen minutes, so be sure to have your stations locked down. Please inform Chief Gunn and Dr. Clayton to be there also."
"Aye aye sir," a voice reported back to her. It was Lieutenant Banks.
Jessica closed the channel. Again she stood in front of the mirror.
Now she looked better. Not great, but better. Less tired and dishevelled. More like a woman. It felt good to be washed, wearing a clean uniform.
"Let’s get this over with," she told her reflection.
Tony Healey is a born and bred Brightonian. He is married and has three daughters.
For the latest on Tony's various projects, visit his site www.tonyhealey.com