“We are all being tested every minute of every day.”~ BEKKA in Jason Halstead’s VOIDHAWK
Voidhawk (Voidhawk, book 1)
As usual I was dreading going to the amusement park with my nephews. The little daredevils know that I am scared of heights and still they insist on dragging me on every adrenalin rush inducing (and in my case mentally incapacitating) ride they can find. The higher, the better. Nothing seems to work. Bribes, threats, pleas … they all fall on deaf ears, the young scamps are not susceptible to any of my ploys. They enjoy the sound of my terrified screams too much to be swayed.
As we got to the ticket barrier, my eldest nephew nudged me from behind and pointed at the selected scene of my adult humiliation for that day. A sign by the ride said “STEP INTO THE VOID… VOYAGERS BEWARE!”
“Do we have to …?” I asked with some trepidation.
“Oh yes, we HAVE TO!” The boys crowed in that way only pre-pubescent boys can. With a sigh I stepped onto the wooden plank that served as a gateway to the ship-like structure that loomed more than two stories high and seemed longer than it was high. A dark skinned lady dressed in golden armour smiled and beckoned us to board.
“Welcome to the Voidhawk.” She said simply, her voice husky and coloured with an exotic accent that I could not place. “We are glad to have you sailing with us today.”
Looking around I could see that the structure was made of wood, but not any kind of wood that I was familiar with. Every visible part of the ship gleamed in the sunlight. So lost in the view was I that I barely noticed the slight shudder as the ship took to air. Oh well, at least this one seems to be just a simulated flight in a spaceship, I thought to myself. I can deal with that.
“This isn’t a simulation.” A voice behind me said. “And please do not call the Voidhawk a spaceship. Captain Silvercloud gets very touchy about such things. She is a Voidship, which is very different.”
I turned to look at the lady who had addressed me. She was very beautiful, her perfect figure encased in a form-fitting black dress that highlighted every curve. Her lips were painted bright red and she had her nails painted to match the bright pink flowers that were embroidered along the hem of her dress. She seemed very familiar, like someone I’d known in a past life or from a movie. As I gaped at her for couple of seconds, I caught sight of my nephews running across to gaze at the view from what appeared to be a flight deck. Then the first part of what she’d said sunk into my fuzzled brain.
“Not a simulation?” I asked.
“Please. You did ask to interview the crew of the Voidhawk did you not?” She asked with a twinkle in her eye. “Well for whatever reason, the captain decided we should do the interview, so here we are. We’ve come to have a chat with you.”
“Really?” I was almost lost for words as I tried to process what she was saying.
“We couldn’t very well land the Voidhawk in your backyard, now could we? A fairground seemed the easiest way to blend in. I’m Bekka, by the way. One of the original crew, the helmstress to be precise. Where would you like to begin?”
I automatically fumbled for my pen and notebook only to realise I had left them at home. “Not to worry,” she said sensing my distress. “I will provide you with a recording amulet that will transcribe your interview when you return to your reality.”
“My reality?” I queried.
“Yes, your world, the dimension in which you live. Your time and space, where you exist your reality.”
“Oh.” I was clearly not at my most eloquent today.
“Now,” she sank down into a casual cross-legged pose on the deck and I slithered down to join her, albeit in a less graceful fashion. “I know you must be buzzing with questions. Fire away. Anything you want to know.”
I asked the first question that popped into my head
“What would you say is the most important thing in your life and why?”
“My friends.” She answered seriously. “They’ve been there for me and I’m going to be there for them. That means I have to work hard to learn my magic. Being a helmstress makes me valuable, but I want more than that. I want to show them they can count on me, and that if it comes down to it, I can be there to save them just like they’ve all done for me at one time or another.”
“What’s it been like, sailing the galaxies in the Voidhawk with Captain Dexter Silvercloud?”
“Galaxies? That sounds like a word Xander might use. We call it the void,” she explained when she saw the puzzled look on my face. “It’s been eye opening, to say the least. Dexter is, um, my friend? He’s a man unlike any I’d ever dared to meet. He was everything I hoped I’d find, I just wish I’d realized it sooner.
No, that’s not fair. I’ve never been attracted to Dexter. Even if I was, Jenna deserves him. He is everything I’ve ever imagined wanting, but in spite of that I can only love him as a friend, there’s nothing more there. I need someone who needs me as much as I need them. That and he’s too big. Nothing like Rosh, of course, but I’ve seen horses and cattle that can’t compare to Rosh. Even so, I’m drawn to more slender men and women.”
“Did you always want to be a space sailor? I mean sail the void?” I hastily corrected myself.
“I wanted to live free. It didn’t matter how, I just wanted to be free. I never forgot how my elven peers could do anything they wanted, which usually meant tormenting me. I hid within myself and was rounded up and sent off to live in a colony while very young. When tragedy fell a couple of us managed to escape and I dared to dream I might escape to the Federation to find that freedom among humans. What I found was a human smuggler with a taste for young girls.”
“That must have been tough,” I commiserated.
She met my eyes with a sombre look. I could see the weight of knowledge and experience that hung in her eyes. This was someone who had seen things and done things I would never be able to fully comprehend.
“How did you get away from him?”
“I learned when I wasn’t sating whatever need he had. The stress helped me find my magic amongst the other mundane tasks of sailing a ship I learned. When my time came I escaped. By then I had learned enough it was easy to get a job on a voidship. What I did wasn’t important, my secret goals had not changed. I wanted to find a place where I could be myself without living in fear.”
Her words resonated as she spoke and I felt an echo in my soul. Wasn’t that what every sentient being secretly craved? To be the master of your destiny. To control your own fate?
“So was the Voidhawk the first ship you ever sailed professionally on?”
“Oh no. That was the Shevilonos. It’s elvish. Roughly, it translates to Dark Runner. I was one of two survivors from an attack on the colony the elves had sent us to. The Shevilonos was a smuggler, even among elves. That was why he was willing to take on two impure half-elves. My companion became the cook’s monkey and I became the captain’s, um, aid.
I kept him company when he wished it and ran errands for him. I learned everything I could and waited for a chance to start over on my own. I was even able to learn how to sit the helm of the ship and learn the basics of being a helmstress.”
We sat in silence for a while, just watching the endless black of the void sail by. I saw a few asteroids and a few gleaming specks that looked like stars. The boys were chatting animatedly with a golden-haired young girl and a young man who sat near them and just smiled from time to time. I guessed that they were having the time of their lives so I didn’t bother them. I turned back to Bekka to find her studying me critically. I ran a self-conscious hand through my mop of black hair.
She just smiled enigmatically but didn’t answer my question. Staring at her blood red lips I lost my train of thought. Focus, woman, focus. I scrambled to remember what else I wanted to ask her.
“What’s your favourite colour?” I blurted out, stumped for the moment.
Pink or purple
“Cats or dogs? Which would you prefer as a pet and why?”
“I have a hard enough time taking care of myself— I’ve been known to forget items of clothing! I don’t have the time or interest in a pet.”
“I raised my weresal from a cub before Rosh killed him.” A musical voice joined our discussion. The lady in gold that had welcomed us onboard was close enough to hear my last question and Bekka’s reply.
“What’s a weresal?”
“It’s not a cat, but close enough. The why is simple, he was ferocious but also fiercely loyal and intelligent. Dogs are needy creatures.” She said jauntily as she went below deck.
I had to smile at that. She was definitely not a canine fan.
“Who was that?” I asked Bekka when we were alone again.
“That was Tasha. She’s Rosh’s granddaughter, many hundred times removed. Neither she nor Rosh have elven blood, in whole or in part. Not like me.”
“I see. So tell me, if you could pick one place in the entire universe to stay forever, where would it be and why?”
“Someplace dark and beautiful. I find the darkness soothing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the sunshine. A splash of colour amidst darker colours really pops out and thrills me.”
“Well, wherever you’d be I guess cuisine would play an important role right?What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?”
“It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I drank Constance’s blood I tasted and felt things unlike any I’d ever had. Ever since I have a craving for rare meats. Logan assures me that her curse was destroyed and I don’t need to worry, but sometimes I wonder.”
Outside the viewing panels I could see we were getting back to my reality. I could see the fairground in the distance. I felt a brief moment of sadness that the trip was coming to an end. My brief soiree with sailing the void. I had time for just one more question so I asked it.
“What would you say was your life-defining moment?”
The Faer are a race of powerful beings that Logan, Bailynn, and I journeyed to see. I hoped to learn from them and find acceptance. I wanted to know more about my magic, and to learn how to use it. On that journey I met Haley, an amazing women that reminded me of Tasha and of Willa, the woman that tamed Rosh and bore his son, Koda, before Volera came along. Haley was a huntress and a slave herself. I helped her realize she could be so much more and, I confess, I became enamoured with her. She is a valuable friend, but she has nothing more to give me than that. I was still alone.
The Faer disappointed me. They claimed that I was powerful and could do many things, but they wouldn’t teach me. Instead they sent me to someone who could, The White Lady.
She was amazing. I would have spent the rest of eternity with her. She promised to teach me magic and to accept me as I was and for who I was. That simply, I loved her. I was ready to be her partner and commit atrocities undreamt of. None of that mattered anymore, so long as I could be with her.
In my final moments I began to realize what was happening to me. I’d been ensorcelled, yes, but she really did want me for who I was. I was willing to give up the sun and sailing in the void for that feeling of belonging.
I was too weak and near my final breath when my friends arrived. Her poison raged through my body and I wanted more of it, but when Logan, Bailynn, and Haley crossed an impossible distance to find and save me, I knew that I’d been blind. I had people who accepted me. They cherished and loved me, even if I didn’t know how to use my magic. I fought back against Constance— The White Lady— and accepted that it might be too late for me.
They killed her while I lay there drifting away. I was too far gone, but Logan had learned a few things on our journey as well. The three of them worked together and brought me back. They even destroyed most of the Constance’s poison in my veins.
That was my turning point. That was when I knew that I’d been so worried about finding something to make me special to myself that I’d missed out on how special the people around me were. And that they felt the same way about me.
As she finished speaking she handed me a turquoise pendant that had a gleaming gold disk on it. “When you get home, put this on a piece of paper and it will transcribe our discussion in a readable format.”
“Thank you Bekka. It was an honour meeting you and a pleasure being a guest on the Voidhawk. Come on scamps,” I called to the boys. “I need a coke. And to feel firm land under my feet again.”
“Are the dirt huggers off my ship yet?” I heard a male voice ask as we descended the entry plank.
“Hush Dexter, it’s not polite to say such things when our guests can hear you.”
“Huh,” Bekka scoffed. “Like that has ever stopped him.”
I turned to wave at the ship but there was nothing there. The Voidhawk had returned to the endless void where it belonged.
You should get to know Jason Halstead…Really!
Jason Halstead is a science fiction and fantasy author who spends his daytime hours as an Systems Architect. In his spare time Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, writing, and powerlifting.
He enjoys reading and responding to fan mail as well, so if you liked any of his books, don’t be shy! Find him on the web at http://www.booksbyjason.com, email him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @booksbyjason.
Other books by Jason Halstead
Child of Fate (Blades of Leander, book 1)
Victim of Fate (Blades of Leander, book 2)
Silver Dragon (Blades of Leander, book 3)
Blades of Leander (all 3 books in one)
Voidhawk (Voidhawk, book 1)
Voidhawk – The Elder Race (Voidhawk, book 2)
Voidhawk – Redemption (Voidhawk, book 3)
Voidhawk – The White Lady (Voidhawk, book 4)
Voidhawk – Lost Soul (Voidhawk, book 5)
Voidhawk – The Edge of Forever (Voidhawk, book 6)
Wanted (Wanted, book 1)
Ice Princess (Wanted, book 2)
Bounty (Wanted, book 3)
The Wanted Trilogy (all 3 books in one)
Dark Earth (Dark Earth, book 1)
Devil’s Icebox (Dark Earth, book 2)
Soul Mates (Dark Earth, book 3)
Voices (a Dark Earth Book)
Bound (a Dark Earth Book)
and many more……
Hope you liked it. Stay tuned for more,