Jonah’s destiny was in the stars. But he didn’t expect it to be on an alien spaceship with man -eating plants.
If everything had gone according to plan, Jonah would have lived and died aboard Horizon Delta. And he had been looking forward to a long and happy, carefree life.
But when Horizon Delta wrecks in the emptiness of space, he and his younger brother are among the few survivors crowded into a tiny transport. Waiting to die.
When a huge ship arrives and quickly invites Jonah’s transport on board, the Horizon Delta refugees believe they’re saved. But the dark ship’s aliens have other ideas.
Held in a livestock cargo bay and seeing his fellow refugees disappearing one by one, Jonah knows that escape is his only option. With true horror awaiting him and his kid brother, he embarks on a perilous rescue, aided by an unlikely hero of the past. And Jonah’s plan is their only hope for survival.
The fate of humanity hangs in the balance as Jonah risks everything to save his brother, his people, and the human race.
About the Author
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Chapter 1 I always knew I’d never set foot on a real planet. My destiny was in the stars. The Horizon Delta left Earth over two hundred years ago, bound for Chara d. It was a generational ship, hastily built as one of four arcs to carry humans across the galaxy, away from an Earth that only had a few years left before Mercury crashed into it. My parents were born on the Delta. My grandparents were born on the Delta. And if things had gone according to plan, my children and my children’s children and another two hundred years’ worth of my descendants would be born on the Delta before it finally reached its intended destination. That far-off future child would walk on a planet’s surface . . . assuming the star called Chara had a habitable planet when the Delta arrived. Those long-dead Earth scientists had more hope than knowledge, but then, hope was really all there was in those dire days. Things apparently went pretty well for the first hundred years of the Delta’s trip. By the time I was born, fifteen years ago, things weren’t going nearly as well. Of the three great spinning cylinders that gave us our artificial gravity, only one was still spinning. The rest had gone still, and our people had moved everything critical into the aftmost cylinder. We still thought we’d make it. When I was twelve, the propulsion system failed. The Delta was dead in space, drifting on its trajectory, slowing every hour. When I was fourteen, life support failed in the dead cylinders. And on my fifteenth birthday, a meteor struck the ship. My four-year-old brother’s sprained wrist saved both of our lives that day. He came running into the medical bay just as I was cleaning up. Doc Walsh had started my medical apprenticeship, and I couldn’t wait to start using all the things I was learning. So when Shane came in crying, cradling a swollen wrist with his other arm, I knew just what to do. “Doc, it’s Shane,” I called. “He’s hurt.” I helped my brother hop up onto the exam table and wiped his eyes and nose. His face was red from crying. “So what happened, buddy?” I asked. “Did you fall?” He shook his head. “I was just playing. Too much gravity.” Each ring of the great spinning cylinder we lived in had different levels of gravitational pull provided by centrifugal force. The ones in the center had the least, and those around the outside, including the med bay, had the most. It was easy to misjudge your footing, especially when moving from one level to another. “Okay, you’ll be all right. Did you call for Mom and Dad?” He nodded. “They’re coming.” I started to pull the machine out from the wall to take an X-ray of Shane’s arm. “Let’s just get a picture and make sure nothing’s broken.” The floor vibrated once under my feet, quick and sharp. Three seconds later, the entire ship rocked with a jolt that knocked me to the floor. Shane gripped on to the exam table, wide-eyed. “What was that?” Warning sirens wailed through the ship, and the robotic voice we’d come to fear blared through the comm system. “Emergency. Emergency. Hull Breach Alert. Proceed to the nearest . . .” The voice stopped. The sirens stopped. Distant sounds of metal on metal screeched through the med bay. “Jonah? Is it a drill?” I shushed my little brother, holding my breath to listen. The floor shuddered under my feet again. Not a drill. “Off the table,” I said, slinging an arm around Shane’s waist and swinging him to the floor. “Stick close to me, whatever happens. Do you hear me?” Shane gripped on to my leg with his good arm, and I grabbed his face between my hands, forcing him to look into my eyes. “Hear me? No matter what, you stay right next to me.” He nodded, lips starting to tremble. Doc Walsh appeared from another room, followed by Marie, his nurse. “Come with me right now,” he said, voice deceptively calm. Anyone who didn’t know him wouldn’t realize he was on the verge of panic. But I had been working with him for a year. My heart pounded and my mouth went dry. This was bad. Very bad. I shouted as we ran out of med bay and into the corridor. “What’s happened? What’s going on?” He grabbed Shane by the bad arm and pulled us down the hall. Shane squealed and jerked away. Doc didn’t even glance down, eyes darting into each connecting hall that dead-ended into ours. I gripped onto Shane’s good arm and followed my mentor, heart pounding.This is bad. Worse than bad. The overhead lights winked out, replaced by a glowing green chase of emergency lights along the floor. “Hull breach,” he panted as we ran. “Emergency doors are closing, but if it’s a big enough hole, they won’t hold. Not for long.” We stumbled in the dim light, feeling the ship creak and buck beneath us. The carpet under our feet was worn to almost nothing after generations in space. I knew every bare spot, every dent and ding in the walls. The deep, low rumbling of humanity’s ark had been background noise to my entire life. But today the sounds were alien to my ears. The normal, smooth motion of our cylinder hitched, and the distant screeches of metal on metal sounded like screams. Shane was crying again. “Where’s Mom? Where’s Dad?” I had no answer. “Just stick with me, buddy. It will be okay. They’ll find us.” The hallway ended at the entrance to one of our shuttles. In the far-off future when Horizon Delta finally arrived at its destination, those shuttles were meant to take our descendants down to the surface of a new planet. The four of us piled into the shuttle. About a dozen other people were already inside, shouting and climbing over each other to make room. Another huge bang rocked the ship. I was born on the Horizon Delta. I knew the emergency drills. In case of a hull breach, get to a shuttle. All along the ship were emergency doors designed to slam closed and restore the pressure in the undamaged parts of a breached cylinder, but the shuttles were the safest places with the strongest doors, designed to survive entry into a planet’s atmosphere. Those huge bangs had to be the interior emergency doors giving way, one by one. In a matter of minutes, the entire ship would lose pressure and atmosphere. Anyone not in a shuttle would die in the freezing, airless dark. Dark shapes stumbled toward us, holding onto the walls as the ship vibrated. “Here! Here!” I yelled. “Get in here, fast!” Shane was at my hip and I pushed him behind me. “Get back, buddy. Stay inside with Marie. We have to get people in and get the door shut before . . .” I didn’t say before what. People pushed in past me, and I squinted down the hall. Mom worked in engineering and Dad would have been working on dinner prep in the kitchens. Neither location was anywhere near us. But still I hoped. “Come on, Mom. Hurry, Dad.” Another bang. Louder. Two more people pounded down the hall, yelling as they came. “It’s all going out. The whole ship. No pressure . . .” I could just see the emergency door at the far end of the corridor sealing this section of the cylinder off from the rest of the ship. As I watched in horror, a tiny crack appeared around the edge. “Run!” I screamed at the people. But the crack widened. Our air pressure rushed toward it, dragging the people backwards, away from where I was standing. My feet flew out from under me as the leaking pressure pulled me toward that door, but strong hands grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the shuttle’s open doorway. “Get clear,” Doc yelled, and I braced myself against the inner wall of the shuttle. The people in the corridor were scrambling against the pressure. I couldn’t tell who they were, but they weren’t my parents. “There are still people out there! We can’t close it—” I began, but the crack in the emergency door widened. “Back!” The shuttle door slammed down, sealing us inside. Through the thick metal, I heard the last emergency door give way. I rushed to the back of the shuttle, peering into the darkness behind the ship. A stream of debris floated away from the Delta. Everything that had been inside was being forced out into the vacuum of space. Everything. Everyone. Shane crawled up next to me, and I turned him away from the window. “Don’t look, buddy. Just don’t look.” We sank to the floor of the shuttle as the dreams of Horizon Delta floated away in the icy emptiness behind us.