TITLE: Ghosts of Innocence
GENRE: Science fiction
Starhopper Chantry Bay sped through the security cordon of warships and battle stations surrounding Magentis. The ship failed to slow and dock at the orbiting reception base, and hurtled on planetwards.
At first, only a few puzzled gazes followed the sunlit jewel of the base as it flashed past the viewports of the ship's main passenger lounge. A coterie of scribes and administrators looked up from their scrolls and notepads, styli wavering in their hands, as they found themselves suddenly cut off from the endless stream of data from the exnet.
Then sick comprehension caught hold, hitting hard as the overhead lights flickered and failed. Through the forward viewpoint of the lounge the daylight side of Magentis swelled, flooding the cabin with an aquamarine glow.
For a few seconds an eerie silence reigned, the background hum of machinery suddenly deafening by its absence.
Reclining on a bench, with her back to the wall of the lounge, Shayla Carver watched through half-lidded eyes, unmoving. Her posture of repose maintained the illusion of relaxation only by iron self-control. A tray sat on a low table in front of her. A cup of tea and a bowl of rice and fish lay almost untouched. Faded hangings softened the hard green of the walls.
At a rough count, Shayla could see at least sixty passengers scattered in small groups amongst the long benches and circles of stools and armchairs cluttering the coarse, grey carpet. People of all ages and races.