Starflare – Ghosts (Panther Series Story One)

An abandoned starship populated by phantoms.

The Panther’s captain doesn’t believe in ghosts… but that doesn’t stop them coming aboard!

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(c) 2016 Simon Goodson.
Story Disclaimer


Starflare Universe – Ghosts

“I’ve found something… something… I think… yes.  Here.  It’s here.”

Sasha’s fingers flew across the keyboard entering coordinates, then she slumped back in the chair, sighing heavily.  She blinked her eyes repeatedly, her focus slowly returning to her surroundings.  She lifted a hand which still felt like stone, trying to rub away the headache that had settled in behind her eyes.

“And it’s definitely a ship?” asked Joe.

“You know I can’t answer that, Captain.  It’s the right size and it’s moving slowly, so it isn’t in hyperspace.  I sensed a lot of metal.  It’s probably a ship.”

“Like the last two you found?” Doug asked, pitching into the conversation.  “Two lost bloody asteroids, both packed with metal we don’t have the resources to mine and both too big to bring aboard.”

Sasha leant forward, eyes flashing dangerously.

“You think you could do better?  You think you could just reach out into the darkness and pluck the location of a ship out of thin air?  Go on then!  Let’s see how good your success rate is.”

“Hell, it ain’t that hard,” Doug snapped back.  “There’s plenty of outfits that get by fine without your… skills.  Maybe we should do things the same way they do?  Maybe…”

“Doug, butt out,” growled Joe.  “You know as well as I do they spend months trawling just to find half as many hits as Sasha found us in two days, and they still have to check them out just the same as we do.”

“Seriously Captain, she oversold herself.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s just memorised the location of some rocks.  We should dump her off when we’re back in port again.”

“That’s enough!  You worry about the fighters and pilots, that’s what you’re here for.  Now get off her case.”

Doug stood up and wandered away, grumbling under his breath.  Joe decided to let it go.  He’d learnt the hard way that a critical skill for a captain was knowing when to stamp down and when to let things go.  Too much time spent cooped up on a ship made everyone’s nerves fray, and ultimately his crew obeyed because they chose to, not because they had to.  That had been a hard lesson to learn when he left the navy.

“Do you think it’s a ship then?” he asked Sasha.

“I can’t say for sure.  It’s a much stronger feeling than the other two.”

“Is there any danger?”

“I don’t know!  I’m not a bloody fortune teller.  I can find where things are, I can’t tell you what they are.”

“Sorry, just thinking out loud.  Ignore Doug.  We’ll still make some cash from those two asteroids you found by selling the location to a mining company.”

He doesn’t think so,” she said, nodding her head towards where Doug had ended up standing.

“He’s just frustrated because he’s had nothing to do yet.  Just ignore him.  If he carries on like that I’ll sort him out.”

“I can take care of myself, Captain!”

“I’m sure you can, but that kind of sorting out leads to more trouble.  Doug can be an arse but he’s an important part of this crew.  If he’s causing you problems then you let me know, alright?”

Sasha gave a curt nod.

“Good,” Joe said.  “Janine, you’re up.  You’ve got the coordinates.”

“Aye, Captain,” Janine replied.  “It’s not far and the hyperspace drive is already charged.  We’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Good.”

Janine stood, heading for the flight deck.  Joe followed.  He wanted to see the contact as soon as they arrived.  Despite his words to Sasha, he was starting to wonder if taking her on was such a good idea.

It had all seemed to make sense at the time.  Running cargo made them regular money but his crew needed variety.  Doug and his eight fighter pilots needed to do more than just routine patrols and the troopers needed to do more than just guard the ship while cargo was loaded and unloaded.  Salvage jobs were more lucrative and gave both the pilots and the troopers something interesting to do.

The only problem was finding ships to salvage.  That’s where Sasha came in.  Joe had heard of people with her talent before, a form of psychic power which let them find objects in the vastness of space between systems.  He’d got talking to her in a bar when already more than merry, and by the end of the evening he’d offered her a job which she’d accepted.  In the cold light of day he’d started to have doubts but it was too late — Sasha was already aboard the ship.  They’d gone ahead with the plan.  So far it had been a big bust. Still, Sasha seemed more certain this time.  He told himself this one would be a ship.  It had to be.

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3 thoughts on “Starflare – Ghosts (Panther Series Story One)

  1. As a devout agnostic I have low tolerance for the spirit world
    and almost skipped an interesting well crafted spacer. I really
    enjoyed ‘Ghost’ and will write a review on the series when you
    put it on Sale. Your request for directions that I would
    want in your story? I can’t bring myself to contaminate your line
    as I like the way you write. I liked the way you did not belabor
    the intruder and left it blown up without further discovery.
    Thank you for your work.

    1. Thanks Olly! Probably obvious but this one grew from me thinking about the Mary Celeste and what it would be like in space. I enjoyed leaving the entity as “something” rather than nailing down what it might be.

      That one is already part of the “Tales from the Starflare Universe & Beyond” short stories collection. I’m finding it’s really hard to sell or even give away that many of the short story collections which is why I’m switching to publishing them here now, though I might bundle all the stories together into a free ebook every six months or so.

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