Excerpt for Shugarra Corps: Launch Towards Destiny: Anki Legacies 2.1: A Science Fantasy Serial for Young Adults by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 by S Shane Thomas

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of S Shane Thomas except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Cover art by Brhi Stokes and Chad Gomez.

Shugarra Corps is a monthly serial. This is the first five episodes, which originally appeared from September 2017 through January 2018. After this intro, each episode is a stand-alone adventure and part of the larger story. Make sure you are on the mail list to get future chapters:

Visit to learn more about the Anki Legacies, read free Anki Legacies flash fiction, watch Shane’s Book Club TV, read Shane’s reviews of other authors’ books, get his Writer Battle stories for free, and more. LARC-SciFi is a hub of Science Fantasy!

Chapter 1

Dawn’s tender first rays shone deep yellow and pink between silver clouds rolling lazily across clear blue sky. Canopy rustled below. Monkeys cackled and howled to one another. Their ruckus rumbled from deep within the forest to its very edge and then spilling onto the pristine turf of the Shugarra Corps practice grounds.

Han roused from meditation, silver shugarra wound up in a tight pack in front of him. He had hoped to get some martial arts training in before his little cousins came to say goodbye. That didn’t happen. Loping on all fours, Han crossed the remaining empty space to meet the pack of monkeys. He reached out for the first and wrapped it in a hug. The dozen that followed clung to Han and one another so that he teetered, careened, and slowly collapsed.

Two larger forms cleared the tree line. “Han!” Akshay called. “Don’t leave yet!”

Han brushed the small monkeys aside and rose to his feet, frowning and attempting to smooth out wrinkles from his Colonial Security Force uniform. “You guys are early, don’t worry.”

“Would you have gone without saying goodbye?” Shabari pointed a finger in acquisition.

“Never!” Han grabbed his cousins and squeezed them both. “It wasn’t so long ago that I was your size.”

“Yeah, we know. Saving the solar system from the New Anki Empire and discovering the Delphipollix.”

Akshay pushed away from his older cousin. He was the same height as any other twelve year old boy, but his strength was already that of two grown men. Han nearly fell again, but his tail coiled beneath him, allowing him to regain footing.

“Now you’re off on another adventure. We want to come too!”

“This is hardly an adventure. I’ll be completing the leadership program at a console in my bunk while you two still get the colony and the forest. Plus Pop while take you on excavations. Maybe you’ll dig up something dangerous. It’s been known to happen.” Han grinned wide.

Akshay and Shabari both smirked just a bit. They tried to conceal their curiosity, but the twinkle in their eyes told Han the truth.

After another tumbling hug, the pack of monkeys returned home and the two monkey people returned to their own lives in the LARC1 colony. Copies of Distant Origins paperbacks were tucked under their arms and they headed for school.

Han walked upright, a practice he nearly always saved for when in uniform. Only fellow cadet graduates were about at sunrise. He and twenty-four academy graduates would embark on an exploratory mission through the star systems that would one day lead to the launch of the LARC1.1 colony. The Shugarra Corps vessel, Conquest, was provisioned and equipped to survey stars and planets for potential resources to replenish a colonial spacecraft, and make diplomatic contact with any intelligent life, prior to commuting a half million colonists.

“You earned it,” Sita’s voice said from behind him. “You’ve always wanted to be part of the Shugarra Corps, now you’re taking off on a five year mission.”

Han started. Thinking of his mission and what lay out there beyond Nibiru, beyond LARC and beyond the New Anki Empire had immersed him. “Sita?”

“My work is long done by launch date, but I didn’t want to miss saying goodbye.”

“Even after…?” Han trailed off. A lump rose in his throat and he swallowed it down.

“Yeah Han. We’ll always be friends. No matter what. Alright?” Sita’s hair was pulled into a careless ponytail. Grease stained coveralls were tied around her waist, revealing her customary black tank top. “You can tell me all about what’s out there, when you’re back.”

“Sure, Sita.” Han mustered his best attempt at a genuine grin. Would things ever be the same between them? Five years.

Sita’s blue eyes went wide. She gasped and dashed for the Conquest’s hatch. “I left my tool bag!”

Han was grateful for the distraction. He hoped things between them would be alright in five years. She had been his friend for so long. One mistake shouldn’t cost all that.

A humanoid with praying mantis features and scythe-like upper arms floated down on translucent wings in a lazy corkscrew. Cray landed in a crouch next to Han.

“She is truly a prodigy,” sang Cray. Its mantis-like head cocked toward the hatch. “That experimental matter displacer will be forever remembered when we land on the other side. Its creator not even through with University.”

“You’re talking about her like she isn’t her. It’s just Sita, Cray.”

“Sorry Han, that was a tone meant for my ancestral memory.”

“You need to lay off those old documentaries, Cray.”

“Sorry. Have you seen Wisp yet?” The mantis rubbed its limbs so gently, its voice was a whispered lullaby.

Han only shook his head. That day. Both his friends changed that day. Only Cray stuck around. After that day, Sita hid within the Conquest, retrofitting the old warship for the experiment. Wisp was simply gone. She blew away with the autumn breeze. Before then the cloud girl had been at Han’s side for eight years. Would Wisp be around to swap stories in five years too?”

Han and Cray hefted duffels and walked through the same hatch Sita had stormed through. Crackling electricity seemed to brush past on a breeze. The polished metal walls of the Conquest seemed to glow a haze of stormy grey.

Han felt a curious familiar presence behind him. He turned, hoping against reason that Wisp had come.

Bright blaze singed his hair and he squinted hard. Han and Cray were thrown by the force of a fiery blast onto the deck. Han whipped his head about and saw Wisp coalesce into a red-grey figure and dart to one side of the hatch. It was her, and she saved me, but from what?

“Going someplace, Han?”

That arrogant tone sent a shiver up Han’s spine. He balled fists.

“Simush?” Han gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“This vessel and its technology are property of the Anki Empire now!” Simush folded red wings tight against her long slender frame. Her red skin glowed in the light from fire lashing at Han as she spoke.

A yellow blur cut through the smoke and haze. Then a purple blur caught Han in the side as it streaked by. Han doubled over and sucked in air. Simush bolted past.

Sita’s screams echoed through Conquest’s corridors. Han rose to his feet and stumbled toward the engineering room where Sita faced three Anki. Han and Cray where in motion before even fully regaining their feet, but halfway across the hanger an utterly indescribable sensation left them both speechless.

Han floated for an instant. Then the frigid cold of deep space and the pull of its vacuum ripped at him. Cray crashed into the hatch’s emergency closure release. Han saw the hanger doors start to close, but knew he was being pulled faster. He clawed desperately at the smooth walls and then stretched his limbs, hoping to grab anything before the cold void of space swallowed him whole.

He slapped into a muddy patch of air and gasped as he watched the hatch seal closed, inches from his face. Outside the hatch, Han stared at open space and the unfamiliar pattern of the stars. Then, Sita screamed.

Chapter 2

Han pulled in breath, but the atmosphere was too thin. Conquest’s door seals hissed as they completed fastening. Han drew another breath, and another. Out the window on the shuttle door, through inky black, pin pricks of starlight winked at Han as if sharing in his dreaded realization.

“We just jumped?” Cray sang, rubbing two arms together to produce its melodic voice. Its head shook from side to side as if dismissing the notion.

An orange-pink cloud enveloping Han drifted like fog to the space between Han and Cray, rapidly forming into the shape of a young slender woman, adorned in the silver wrappings of a shugarra. Han wondered why she chose the shugarra over her customary sun dress.

The shugarra was the subject of humanity’s first and best attempt to reverse engineer Anki magic. At least a dozen technological leaps had advanced the colony in Han’s lifetime based upon the study of the shapeshifting armor.

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