The Argent Star (Chapter 1, Part 1)

Here’s an early look at The Argent Star!

September, 2453

Ren’s head fell onto the book as a warm breeze drifted through the open window, fluttering her hair over her eyes.  Her thoughts were slow and scattered as she tried to make sense of where she was.  Still groggy from her studies, her eyes felt fragile, like they were glass that might shatter at any moment.  The orange haze of the rising sun was a blinding reminder that she’d stayed overnight in the university again.  She blinked a few times until her vision cleared.

Ren straightened, her muscles aching while her bones cracked and popped.  A pale hand shoved her bangs back, only to let them fall again in front of her eyes.  She checked the time when her eyes adjusted to the light and saw that it was just past five in the morning.

“Perfect,” Ren muttered, shifting her shoulder back and feeling a satisfying crack as it set in place.

“Coffee?” someone asked.  A steaming cup was set beside her, right next to a small puddle of drool and dozens of books.  She rubbed at her face, feeling the indents her sleeve had etched into her skin.

“Thanks,” Ren answered, already reaching for the coffee.  Naomi came around and began to flip lazily through some pages, another cup in her hand.  She took a sip.

“You need to stop these all-nighters,” Naomi warned.  “Your father will kill me.  Do you never learn?”

“If he didn’t kill you for letting me into the program, he won’t kill you for me staying,” Ren replied.

Naomi arched her eyebrows and didn’t say anything, choosing to take another gulp of coffee.  She was Ren’s advisor while Ren studied at the University, and it had been a hard-earned placement for both of them.

“He commands the Scow’s,” Naomi said.  “If he wanted me dead he could have it done.”

“He commands the Scow’s,” Ren repeated, “if he wanted you dead he would do it himself.”

Naomi mulled that over as she leaned her hip against the hardwood.  “True.  Are you going to go home before class?”

Ren sighed.  “I should shower.”

“But?” Naomi prodded, knowing her disciple better than herself.

“But I was onto something last night,” Ren went on.  She searched the ancient books in front of her, trying to remember what she had been doing last.  “I just…”

Naomi rolled her eyes.  “Can’t remember.  Why don’t you go home?  Skip class for the day.  You’ve done enough research and assignments to graduate twice.”

Ren stalled.  “I could just—”

“Go,” ordered Naomi.  “And don’t come back until tomorrow, at least.”

“What about my coffee?” Ren tried to bargain.

But Naomi had an answer for that too.  “I’ll have the honour of finishing it off.”  She picked up the steaming cup and took a sip, laying claim to the liquid.  Ren was defeated, and she could already feel her bracelet buzzing with a call to distract her from Naomi’s insistent mothering.

She tapped the little blue square and it lit up green.  “Hello?” she asked.

“Hey, it’s me,” Elian said.  “You better get your ass down here or you’re going to miss it.”  He always had a way with words.

“Miss what?” Ren asked.

“Only me discovering a new planet,” he shouted.  “Hurry up!”

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