Now in Print: Tarsis Arc

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Tarsis Arc

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What is The Cygnus War?

Thrilling squadrons of fans from all over the globe since 2005, The Cygnus War is a story that looks at love, war, and what makes us human in the wake of an interstellar war with the Cygnan Coralate, a shadowy enemy bent on nothing less than the total and complete annihilation of humanity itself.
The Cygnus War

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Posted by E.S. Wynn

From the back cover:
It is the dawn of the twenty-third century. Space has been good to the pioneering men and women of the Terran Commonwealth, but in spreading out among the stars mankind has become a rich target for the enigmatic and predatory Cygnan Coralate. Thrilling squadrons of fans from all over the globe since 2005, The Cygnus War is a story that looks at love, war, and what makes us human in the wake of an interstellar war with the Cygnan Coralate, a shadowy enemy bent on nothing less than the total and complete annihilation of humanity itself.

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This is the omnibus edition containing all seven arcs of the Cygnus War!

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S2: Episode #52: A Better World

Posted by E.S. Wynn

It was three AM when Imalda found Tessa alone in the officer’s mess, face in her hands. Hunched over an untouched drink, her Ultima Thila uniform stripped of tags, brass and rank insignia, Tessa looked broken, the shadow of an officer, a husk discarded in the name of a cause, an ideal. Sure, she had her life, her freedom, a free ticket to any world she wanted to settle on, and a modest-sized check from the military to help her start her new life, but she’d lost everything else she’d ever had, ever loved. She didn’t blame Izzy for breaking things off, for choosing her career over their relationship, couldn’t blame Phoebe, Cordova, Stone or any of the others for becoming suddenly distant, uncertain about how to act around her, what to say, what not to say. She was someone wholly different from the Tessa they had all known, someone trapped in a past as painfully perfect as she remembered it being.

“Tough breaks, Major.”

Tessa glanced up, caught the older woman’s eyes. In her own timeline, she’d met the Chief Marshall of the Ixion Condottieri years before at Izzy’s funeral, but this time around would be Imalda’s first. Tessa’s eyes dropped back to the table. With mottled and burnt skin traced by lines of brushed steel, hair as sharp as chrome bristles, and a thick leather eyepatch emblazoned with a leering jolly roger that bit into her scarred features, the Chief Marshall was a person whose face was hard to forget.

“Former Major.” Tessa managed, unable to keep the bitterness out of her voice. Her hand dropped loosely to her drink, tapped out a quick, absent beat. “Thanks to the gratitude of our enlightened Commonwealth’s completely unbiased public policy.”

“Laws are harsh on constructs, but that’s the price paid for genetic security.” Imalda said, gesturing at the seat. “Mind if I sit down?”

“Yeah, actually.” Tessa looked up, fixed the older woman with a sharp stare. “I do mind.”

“Fine.” Imalda’s hands came together behind her back. “I’ve always been partial to standing, anyway.”

“Can I do something for you,” Tessa shot back suddenly, anger jumping across her features. “or did you just come down here because you forgot what the people you killed during the war looked like?”

“Centauri wasn’t a war.” Imalda said levelly. “It was a police action.”

“History is written by the victors.” Tessa shook her head. “From where I’m sitting, it was a war. A war for survival that the oppressors won and the oppressed keep losing.”

Imalda’s features darkened at the edges. “Call it whatever you want, Eisenherz. It ended decades before you were even born.”

“Yeah.” Tessa scoffed, turned back to her drink. “Tell that to the lawmakers.”

“Look, Eisenherz,” Imalda leaned over suddenly, brought herself eye to eye with the other woman, gnarled hands flat on the table. “I didn’t come down here to debate social policy with you or take your shit. I came down here because I’ve seen your combat record, I’m vaguely impressed, and I’ve got an empty rig in my squadron that needs a warm body to fill it.”

Tessa met the other woman’s stare levelly. “Even if that ‘warm body’ is a GMO freak?”

“Like I said,” Imalda eyed her carefully. “The police action was over fifty years ago.”

“So just like that, huh?” Tessa asked, eyes flicking as she leaned back, folded her arms. “Forgive and forget?”

“You never forget.” Imalda’s stare smouldered as she stood upright again, eyes dark and steely. “Besides, you got anything more spectacular planned?”

“Oh. . . yeah.” Tessa managed, sarcasm crawling through her voice as she looked away again. “I’ll probably catch a transport out to a farm world and sign up to work on a plantation with my own kind.” She made a vague gesture. “Y’know, the simple life. Chains, a drafty shack, campfire songs.”


“No it isn’t.” Tessa shook her head, tone dark, cut with a darker depression. She rubbed at her face, sighed.

“There aren’t many jobs in the civilian fleet for pilots with GMO ancestry.” Imalda managed, the steel edge in her voice softening. “A plantation might be the only other choice you have besides taking me up on my offer.” She shrugged. “But then, maybe you’ll get lucky and some brass or CEO will get a wild hare up his ass and decide the fact that you’re from the future makes you valuable enough to hunt down and turn into a lab rat.”

“I’m not from the future.” Tessa said softly.

“Spare me.” The Grand Marshall made a vague gesture. “I have connections. I know what’s going on.” Tessa looked up again, met the other woman’s eyes blankly. “Look, Eisenherz. All I’m saying is that I’m offering you a way out, a new ship to serve on, and a chance to keep flying.” She shrugged. “The seat’s yours if you want it. The Karkadann breaks from the fleet tomorrow at twelve hundred hours, so you have until then to pack up your gear, stow your demons and report to the primary overhead umbilical.”

“Sounds so easy when you put it that way.” Tessa managed.

“It’s the only part of working for the Ixion Condottieri that is.” Imalda smiled briefly, turned away. Tessa’s eyes milled across her drink as the Grand Marshall crossed the room, made for the door.

“Hey, Grande.”

Imalda turned back, gave Tessa a level stare. The other woman smiled softly, letting the pause linger as she picked up her drink, swirled it.

“What does Mac think of all this?”

A grin played across the Grand Marshall’s face, stuck.

“How do you think I got your files?” She turned toward the door again. “It was his idea.”

And then she was gone, leaving Tessa alone again in the officers’ mess, her own grin spreading slowly across her face. Glancing down at her glass, she reached into the breast pocket of her uniform and wrapped her fist around something that stood in her mind as the emblem of a choice, the first step down the path to a future whose door was still open to her, a path that lay waiting, ready to be walked.

Holding her fist out in front of her, she looked at it for a moment before her fingers uncurled, opened, leaving only the three little pills the doctor had given her rolling in her palm.

I came back here to save lives. Not to end them.

Looking up, her eyes caught on a poster tacked to the wall at the far end of the mess, a simple silicon image of a Seindrive II Ignus burning hard through the brilliantly colored atmosphere of some nameless gas giant, the word “FLY” flickering beneath it. Smiling, Tessa closed her hand again, held it over her glass and dropped the pills into her drink.

A better world.

Standing, she crossed the room, splashed the untouched drink into the recycler, heard the pills clink against glass on their way out.

- - -

S2: Episode #51: Among Soldiers

Posted by E.S. Wynn

Date: 8th April, 2307. 08:01 (ES/GMT)
Location: Officers’ Conference Chamber, TCV: Wu Ang Hok (Frontier Space)

“Major Eisenherz.” Virek began, the silence rising to meet him. Seated at the center of the room with a guard off each shoulder, Tessa regarded the old admiral silently, her features blank, almost tinged with concern, almost touched at the edges with the iron built through years of service. “Rise, please.”

Guards helped her to her feet, cut free her synthplastic cuffs with a gesture from Virek. Izzy glanced at her from the sidelines, met her eyes loosely.

“In the light of the value of the intelligence Major Eisenherz has provided, the testimony given by Lieutenant Copperfield, our own reviews of transcripts and a recent communique confirming Admiral Blavatsky’s input code on the orders to breach the conventions of New Arahal, the members of this court have decided to drop all charges against you as they currently stand.”

An exhale escaped Tessa that she didn’t even know she’d been holding. She smiled reflexively, glanced at Izzy, but only got a careful nod back in response. Biting her lip once, absently, she turned back to the admiral, her smile already fading, falling away.

“You are hereby exonerated of all crimes, and all mention of the charges brought by this court will be stricken from the record.” He let his eyes drop to the silicon sheets in front of him. “Officially, this incident will be filed in public record as a military flight test accident involving the failure of the experimental drive of a top secret prototype on lease from Seindrive. The Stormfury will be ‘returned’ to the fleetyards at Sirius immediately, and no mention of time travel will be made in any of the associated reports. As lieutenant commander of Minerva Squadron, you are hereby recognized for your valor in the situation and have been granted induction into Ultima Thila with the rank of Major. The breach of the conventions of New Arahal will be acknowledged only on a single report which will accompany all transcripts we’ve generated during your stay, and the entire data package will be handed over to Ultima Thila as maximum eyes-only classified status materials scheduled to remain so indefinitely. Any mention of the events which actually transpired here by any of the parties involved, including members of the judging panel, will be grounds for immediate seizure and execution without trial under charges of treason.” Virek paused, fixed Tessa with a meaningful stare. “Do you understand?”

She nodded once, firmly. “Yes sir.”

“Confidentiality agreements will be circulated within the hour, along with a copy of the official story that is being fed to the media. It is your duty to familiarize yourself with this version of events so that any questions which may come up can be answered without casting doubt on the story as it stands.”

A fresh smile caught on Tessa’s features as she nodded again, let the curve of lips break to almost hesitant white.

A better world, Ben had said. Yeah. I can see it now.

“That leaves only one matter still to be addressed.” Virek shifted in his seat, his sudden grimace harsh enough to fade her smile. She glanced at Izzy, but the other woman had already looked away, refusing to meet her eyes.

“Major Eisenherz, as a citizen of the Commonwealth with confirmed GMO ancestry, you are ineligible for military service of any kind.” Virek began. “As such, you are effectively guilty of perjury for knowingly providing false information on your entrance forms, as well as providing false samples to and or bribing the medical examiners during standard health screenings.” Tessa swallowed, features paling as the admiral continued, her face empty of the fleeting smiles that had tugged at it before. “The sentence that this court has ultimately decided as punishment for this crime is immediate discharge from service and a loss of all rank and benefits you would otherwise be eligible for. Your service will be noted, and your termination will be listed as a discharge for medical reasons. You will be required to register with the Department of Licencing for Genetic Constructs within seven days. Do you understand?”

“Yeah.” Tessa managed, breathed, tore her eyes from the floor. “Yes sir.”

“I want you to know that this decision did not come easily, but it was unanimous.” The old admiral said, tone softer, less formal. “The loopholes in the system that people such as yourself exploit are left open precisely because we realize how valuable soldiers with GMO ancestry are to the service, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the laws that the people have enacted, no matter how much we might disagree with them.” He pulled in a deep breath. “As soldiers, we are the thin line that exists between chaos and order. As soldiers, we pledge ourselves to protect the Commonwealth and all that it stands for, whether we agree with the decisions that have been made by the people or not. We support the whole, because the moment our practice breaks from the policies of the people, our nation takes one step closer to becoming a military dictatorship where no one can be truly free.”

Tessa swallowed, held his eyes. “I understand.”

“Major Eisenherz, stand proud.” Virek added, the edges of a smile tugging at his face. “You may not have won the war yet, but make no mistake that this moment marks a decisive battle for the rights of citizens with GMO ancestry. It is such moments which the people remember, and which stand as important steps forward in struggles of rights and social change. Your service to the Commonwealth both as a major before this moment and as a citizen forever after, have set an example that we could all learn from.”

Slowly, Tessa’s smile returned, spread. “Thank you, Admiral.”

“No, thank you, Ms. Eisenherz.” He smiled, folded his hands in front of him. “Given the nature of your sacrifices, your service record, and the risks that you’ve taken to ensure the safety of the Commonwealth, we owe you a debt of gratitude.”

- - -

S2: Episode #50: Life and Death

Posted by E.S. Wynn


Tessa didn’t react, didn’t respond. Laying on the cot, she stared at one hand, picked absently at the blanket. The voice tried again: “Tessa, we need to talk.”

“What is there to talk about?” She managed. Beyond the cage, she heard the man hesitate, shuffle.

“Tessa, don’t do this.”

“Why not, Ben?”

Beyond the composite bars of the brig, Dimitrov sighed, began to pace. Slowly, hesitantly, Tessa’s fingers stopped moving, gave one last twitch outward, then balled into a loose fist.

“Look, Tessa, I know about the baby.” Ben finally said. “I couldn’t believe it when they pulled it off the audio in medical, but after the doctor confirmed it with a paternity test, I. . .” He hesitated.

“You decided you wanted to talk about it.” Tessa sat up slowly, but didn’t meet his eyes, just continued to watch her hand. “Right?” She looked up, smiled softly.

“Yeah.” Ben stepped up to the bars and wrapped his hands around them. “I mean, Jesus, Tess. A baby?” He looked away, shook his head. “Tessa, if my fiancĂ© ever found out about this. . .”

“She’d be livid, I know.” She looked away again. “You told me all about Theo when we were together, how she used to tell you who you could see, who you could talk to or smile at when you were living together, how she’s already picked out names for the children you’ll have some day. Courtney or maybe Debra if it’s a girl, Ryan if it’s a boy.”

“It’s just–”

“I know all about Theo, Ben.” She stood, crossed to the bars. “When things first started getting serious between you and I, you couldn’t stop talking about her, half the time worshiping her, wishing you could see her again, half the time cursing the day you met her.” Her eyes narrowed. “I saw what she did to you, Ben. I know the medications she’s on, the anti-depressants, the anti-psychotics–”

“Stop, just stop it!” He broke away from the bars, crossed the room, burying his face in his hands. “Dammit, Tessa!” He spun back. “I’m not here to talk about Theo!” He shook his head, glanced at the floor. “Sure, she has her problems. Everyone has problems, but if they work at it, they can overcome them.” He looked at her firmly. “Theo and I will overcome them.”

“No you won’t.” Tessa said flatly. “She’s going to break your heart.”

“Not Theo,” he shot back, shaking his head. “Never Theo.”

“Jesus, Ben.” She laughed. “How do you think we got together? You were a wounded bird, I fixed your wing, we had some great sex.”

“That wasn’t me.” He stopped, jabbing his finger at her. “That was someone else. Theo may have left him, but she won’t leave me.” He said firmly. “She won’t.”

“I can tell you his name, Ben.” She pressed herself against the bars. “The guy Theo is already falling for, the guy she’s probably fucking right now, as we speak. You want to hear it?” He hesitated, unable to move, to respond. “Geoffrey Chambers. Look him up. He works as a civil engineer on Carridan IV. Right now he’s supervising the construction of a bypass about fifteen miles from where your wife is currently living.”

“This isn’t. . .” He shook his head, hesitated. “You can’t know that!”

“I’m a good listener, Ben.” She said. “You used to talk about transferring to the station there, pulling one of the old mothballed Slashdrivers out of long term storage and dropping orbital, then accidently putting a couple of rounds of flak–”

“Enough, okay!?” He shot back, gesturing fiercely. “Enough.” He hesitated. “Theo is going to leave me, fine. Geoffrey Chambers is the ass that is going to steal her away from me, fine.” He threw his hands in the air. “We had sex, multiple times, fine!” He pointed at her. “I still don’t want the baby.”

“Tough shit.” She shot back. “I already promised a more stand-up version of you that I’d bring her into the world, and I’m not going to break that promise.”

“You want to talk about failed relationships. . .” He shook his head. “Tessa, he doesn’t even exist in this timeline! There’s just this,” he gestured. “Us, me.”

“I’m not aborting.” She said flatly.

“You don’t have a choice.” He shot back. “I have a doctor outside the door that says, as the co-contributor to the fetus’ genetic template, I have equal rights.”

“Equal rights doesn’t mean full rights.” She shot back. “It means we agree to disagree, and I have the baby anyway.”

“I won’t let this go.” He said firmly. “If you have this baby, it will destroy me. It’ll destroy my relationship with Theo, my relationship with my family. . .”

“She’s a baby, Ben,” Tessa shook her head. “Not a curse.”

“She’s genetically modified.” Dimitrov shot back. “She’s the daughter of a gene-freak that slipped back in time with a body full of crazy technology.” He shook his head. “Jesus Christ, Tessa, at least think about the screwed up future she’s going to have. Everyone from here to Proxima is going to want to get their hands on you or her because of who you are, the techware you’re carrying.”

“At least it’s a future.” She tried, but his point had left her softer, triggered the moistness of tears at the edges of her eyes.

“It’s not, Tessa, not really.” He shook his head, breathed a sigh through his nose. “Look, you’re young. This won’t be your only shot at having a kid.” She looked away as he continued. “This just isn’t the time. I’m just not the right father.”

“Yeah.” She said softly. “You’re right. You’re not.”

“Look, the doctor outside has the pills you need to put an end to this.” He swallowed. “Just, just take the pills, and I swear I’ll leave you alone, okay?”

“And if I refuse?”

“Don’t do this, Tess.” He shook his head. “I don’t want things to get nasty between us.”

She looked up at him then, looked into his eyes and saw the iron there, the fear, the disgust. There was one thing she could do for him, one way to make him happy again, to solve things so they could go their separate ways and never see each other again.

“Fine.” She tried a smile, blinked as new tears broke, dropped in thick trails across her cheeks. “Bring him in.” She gestured. “I’ll do it. I’ll do it, but only because I love you.”

“Good.” Ben managed, then slipped away, crossed out of the room to the door and called in the doctor. The man smiled lightly as he stepped up to the bars, pulled a synthplastic case of pills from his breast pocket, shook several into the palm of his hand.

“Take three of these.” He handed them to her, slipped the case back into his pocket as she let them roll around her own palm. “One now, one in four hours, and the other tomorrow morning with breakfast.”

Tessa glanced at the pills in her hand, met the doctor’s eyes again almost reluctantly. Words came shaky, hoarse. “That easy, huh?”

The doctor looked at her pointedly, features tinged with sympathy.

“These things are never easy.”

“Yeah.” She looked down, breathed through the pause. As she looked up again, the doctor nodded once softly, turned away. The pills disappeared into her fist. Ben swallowed apprehensively.

“Do you mind?” She said finally, fixing him with a stare that was half hurt, half iron. “I’m about to kill our child. I’d like a little privacy.”

Ben swallowed, shifted, nodded.

“Sure.” He managed. “Sorry.”

“Save it.” She made a vague gesture. “You’re not him.” She looked at him pointedly. “I need to stop pretending that you are.”

- - -

Episode #1

The adventure begins here.

Episode #24

First episode of the Rescue Arc.

Episode #47

First episode of the Downfall Arc.

Episode #69

First episode of the Weapon Arc.