A Day in the Life of Starshield
An Anthology of the Starshield Universe

Written by the Starshield Writers Group

Foreword

A Day in the Life of Starshield is the first on-line anthology of Starshield fiction. What is Starshield? Quite simply it is a premise that is both a series of novels, an international on-line community and a near limitless playground for the imagination. The Starshield Universe was created by New York Times best selling authors Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. In it's on-line conception it is a writer driven universe were participants are asked to create interstellar (or stellar) empires of a fantasy or science fictional nature, then to interact with those created by other members. "What would you do with a handful of stars?", and from there your adventure begins. The anthology you are about to read are the works of eleven talented veteran Starshield writers from across the world, showcasing the wonders, dangers and unique lives of their created empires taking place in the span of a single Starshield day. These are also works inspired by one simple theme - Life. From its primeval manifestations to its mind warping possibilities. From birth to death, and the struggle to survive in-between.

As the editor of this anthology I would like to thank the following people - Esteban Jauregui Lorda, Stellar StarElven, Jeremy Hussell and Chris Corliss for their creative input and editorial support, as well as all the contributing writers involved in this project.

I hope you enjoy these stories born out of shouldered commitments, eyestrain, and perhaps one or two sleepless nights. Works paid for in body cash... because the stars don't take VISA.

Lowell Boston
June 6, 2001

Table of Contents

Prologue

Morning

Chapter 1 A Child of Omen- Stellar StarElven - The birth of a prince is by nature an occasion of great merit and
accord. The birth of such a child upon a day of Omens can only be that much greater still. What result shall come of this very
special beginning are known only to those odd forces that spin the webs of destiny and fate. Yet even such webs as those can be
broken and altered by the wills and desires of life.

Chapter 2 Song of the Bard - Richard Mckinley - In the Great Cycle of Life in Avalon, nothing is lost forever.
Occasionally, events of great magnitude occur, and the Great Cycle turns once more. Life leads to Death, Death to Rebirth. Then,
Life begins anew. This is such a time.

Chapter 3 A New Prince - Andoria Sunok - The Sages have been companions and guardians to the Andorians for
centuries, however, the tides of the moon and sun are changing, and soon a Sage will become the new ruler of Oryn Prime, a
mysterious world hidden within the Oryn Nebula. This new leadership has been ordained by the Prophets and Illistra, whose
spiritual trinity is worhsipped by the inhabitants of this mystical world.

Chapter 4 The Premonition - Lev Chterenberg - A strange feeling saves Derek Trask from a deadly accident but
he is knocked unconscious. He experiences a strange dream that awakens something in Derek's mind, something that was dormant
since the day he was born.

Chapter 5 Priorities - Anatol Rathbauer - Terchan pirates have spotted their prey and practically nothing can prevent
the imposing bloodbath.

Chapter 6 A Simple Favor - Mark Proctor - Kalia wanted to settle down with her new husband and start a new life,
but first she had to do a favor for someone. All she had to do was find some stolen items, no big challenge for a powerful sorceress,
at least that is what she thought before she learned who the thief was.

Chapter 7 Hopeful Beginnings, or Irkk Plays (Yet) Another Practical Joke On His
Lifelong Friend - Jeremy Hussell - The nomadic descendants of explorers trapped in a barren zone are gathering once again
to sing their ballads. Among those joining the festivities are Nurol, an aging man with an unusual story, and his companion Irkk, an
Olrawan that might tell you a completely abnormal story with no provocation whatsoever.

Noon

Chapter 8 Flowings - Anatol Rathbauer - The investigations of a Vestis Inquisitas leads her into a Q-Zone whose reality
is fundamentally different from our concept of time and space.

Chapter 9 Noontime Dark - Chris Corliss - First Mate Loren Sharpel was finally going to get some questions answered
that he has had for the past few years. That was true until he was introduced to one of his fears.

Night

Chapter 10 New Leadership - Frank Vittoe - The attack on the Dra'Keshi Empire was imminent. Phaere Arachnia
had everything prepared. The Noble Houses had all fallen in line behind her. A fleet of nearly 500 Spiderships was hidden in The
Queen's Zone of SQT Space. Everything was ready. But Phaere had forgotten to account for one small detail...

Chapter 11 Cycling Days - Esteban Jauregui Lorda- Birth, growth and Death are all sacred words for a shuraki,
incredibly weaved into a never-ending circle: Life.

Chapter 12 The Crossing Guard - Lowell Boston - Retiree Arthur Tyson had looked forward to a good life on 2nd
World Resso's Question. That was until the day the old Victoria gravity conveyer hovered into town, bring with it his troubled past.

Afterwords



_______________________________________________________________________




Prologue

TransComm Channel 001 Online....

....Current Program: IGNM News Report; Source: OMNET Central,

Mnemen IV Life-Ring....

[A human-like shadow of a face, neck and shoulders floats to the left of the screen. You can see it belongs to a man of sharp lines. His mouth moves
and, accompanying the audio, is a line of text in the Ur-Dargi language scrolling along the lower part of the view screen.]

"Welcome Sentients of the Greater Galaxy to the Inter-Galactic News Matrix. I'm Vestis Apsius Dakarrus..."

[The angle changes, pulling out and panning to a smooth medium shot, favoring Dakarrus off to the left, while revealing his human co-anchor, screen
right. Her cue comes and she speaks.]

"... And I'm Vestis Nisa Gaetane with your galaxy's news in perspective."

[The camera cuts to Nisa, now favoring her on screen right. Next to her floats holographic captions in shifting multi-lingo fonts.]

"Today, across the galaxy, marks the first, and perhaps only occurrence of what scientist and religious leaders
are calling...The Day of Omens. A once in an aeon phenomenon that has caught the attention of the Nine Synths.
In the the scope of single day we will see the synchronization of several cosmic events: planetary alignments, super
nova's, quantum zone shifts and the birth of several stars occurring nearly simultaneously across numerous solar
systems just in today's first cycle alone. One Omnet scientist said that creation has not seen this much synchronicity
since the fabled Shattering of Suns itself.
Meanwhile, many prominent religious leaders, and prophets are heralding the event as everything from the end
of the Universe to the second coming of Kendis Dai, while others have proclaimed today as a blessed omen for any
children born, or martyred status for the departed. Whichever the case, the galaxy will be changed as we know it."

[Camera widens to a two shot as Dakarrus looks on with interest.]

"And if it's a change for good or bad, Nisa, we'll be here to report it."

[An image shimmers, fading up to full focus between the reporters, solidifying into a three dimensional avatar of the K'tan Imperial Flag.
Dakarrus lifts his chin and squares his shoulders, a sublet shift that pulls the viewers attention back to him.]

"Now, for this cycles breaking news ...hijacking in the Mir Islands. Approximately six hours ago the K'tan Empire
released information detailing news of startling consequence to nearly every Empire in the G, H and B Tri-Sector.
The supply route of the 21st Fleet of the K'tan Empire was hijacked by what appears to be a massive armada of
Razgat pirates. Information concerning how this embarrassing and startling defeat could befall one of the galaxy's
most powerful Major Empires is unknown at this time. However, a spokesman for the K'tan fleet has reported that
there were no survivors in this heinous act of piracy. We'll have more on this late breaking news within the cycle."

[The scene cross dissolves to space. The deep, blue velvet colors of a Quantum storm saturates the image before the camera pans - an arcing,
wide angel swish that distorts the surrounding space with a swirling fish-eyed effect before settling on a small armada of Merchant Class ships.]

"A level four Quantum storm has unexpectedly broken out this cycle along the Sector C's border of the Maelstrom
Wall, causing a wide deviation of Interstellar merchants routes and an overlapping of the sovereign territories of the
Covenant of the Spiral, and the Neelim Celestocracy. Both Minor Empires have welcomed members of the Omnet
Diplomatic Corps to mediate the nations new conjoined spaces as well as the plotting of a new Interstellar trade route.
An air of mutual cooperation has also spread between both Empires as plans have been discussed for the construction
of a joint space station."

[Scene dissolves back the news station set. Dakarrus continues.]

"And today marks the final retirement of Vestis Aegeon Tybalt, who at the remarkable age five hundred and forty-two
is the oldest living Vestis in Omnet history. As one of the first generation of Vestis Inquisitas, Vestis Tybalt has lived and
reported on such historical events as the formation of the Lights of Ja'Lel and the assassination of Vestis Prime Sar'ashra.
We caught up with this remarkable man on his ranch on the planet Alfheim of New Asgard, and asked what the future
may have in store for him ..."

[Scene cross fades to an strong and fit elderly looking man throwing a bale of hay on to hover wagon. Surrounding him are tall majestic mountains
covered with ancient pines. The smudged silhouette of a dragon can be seen flying in the distance over the shoulders of numerous reporters from
countless races and empires. Turning towards the groups with a roguish smile the Vestis speaks.]

"Well, to be honest it's going to take some time getting use to living without deadlines, but essentially, I'm going to
take it one day at a time."

[A reporter with avian features calls a question.]

"One day at a time, sir? No plans for writing a holo on your life, or consulting for the Vestis Interion?"

"Goodness no. It'll be nice just not to write something for a while."

[Another reporter calls an inquiry.]

"No disrespect sir, but now that you're retired, do you feel that there are less days ahead of you than behind?"

[The elder Vestis crosses his arm, and regards the group with a warming grin.]

"If there's one thing I've learned in all my time in the Omnet, it's this... one day is a universe onto it's own, my friend.
Live for today ...and let tomorrow take care of itself."

[The Camera cuts, and the head anchor turns to face the viewer.]

"Words of wisdom to live by. Coming up next ...the quantum weather by the sectors, and the yarlow stock reports.
I'm Vestis Apsius Dakarrus, along with Vestis Nisa Gaetane reporting from Mnemen IV, OMNET Central, for the
Intra-Galactic News Matrix IGNM: a Universe of perspective you can Trust."

...Next Program: Class VII sentient race rights change and the FSS political scene; Source: Star Citadel, FSS....

[Scene fades to black replaced by a field of stars.]






__________________________1____________________________

A Child of Omen
by Stellar StarElven

Sector H
Dra'Keshi Empire
Heartstone

The time had come.

Fyrsha rose from the soft couch in Lysia's home where she had been staying of late, considering the precarious state of things at Heartstone
and in fact throughout the entire empire since the evil crystalline entity had usurped the throne, and continued to rule in the guise of the former
King Zylen'Valik. It had been necessary to reveal this fact to only a precious few so that Gamma would not become aware that his deception had
been uncovered. Lysia had insisted that the mother-to-be come to Dervish where she could be among friends. Fyrsha had graciously accepted the
offer. She was very worried about the state of the Empire and the fate of her husband, Onshir. She had, of course, been informed privately of the
state of matters, yet still she worried over the fate of Onshir, and in fact for all Dra'Keshi.

Lysia entered the room as if sensing for herself that the time had arrived for the birth of a child who would, fates willing, be prince. The Queen
of Dervish was unable to stifle a giggle as she saw Fyrsha struggling much like a flipped turtle to rise to her feet and swiftly moved to offer assistance.
Fyrsha accepted the offer grudgingly, cursing her present state of immobility, but not the cause of it.

"Come along then! Cannot have the future Queen of the Dra'Keshi Empire flopping about like a
shell-backed reptile now can we?"

Lysia quipped as Fyrsha was helped upright and accompanied toward the large, open ledge off through an arch of the room. Waiting for the
mother-with-child to go first, Lysia noted as Fyrsha transformed that even her dragon form bulged hugely from the infant in her womb. When
the way was clear, Lysia too transformed and joined alongside Onshir's mate as she made her labored flight up into the high atmosphere, and
finally out into the space beyond. Despite the distance, Fyrsha had insisted that the child would be born at the Heartstone birthing place and thus
they traveled the 57 light year distance to the neighboring system and finally drew near to the place where dragons are born. The journey taking
only a little over an hour at standard Dra'Keshi flight speed, they spotted the familiar draconic figures of Neeva and Tarsha already present and
waiting when they arrived at the birthing space.

The wait was not long as natural reactions and muscles worked to bring the child out into the freedom of living. Not a comfortable or pleasant
experience to be sure, yet Fyrsha would gladly do it all again to bring another life into the universe.

*****

A sudden feeling of peace and well being touched the mind of every Dra'Keshi regardless of distance or activity, they all knew in an instant that
the foul usurper had been cast down and that a Dra'Keshi once again ruled the Empire. All knew that the cruel crystalline entity, Prime Gamma,
was destroyed.

The four females turned their gaze toward the nearby planet of Heartstone, the nearest solid mass to the area of space where they now rested,
and beyond it to the other stellar bodies within the system. All gasped in awe at the sight before them. Positioned in perfect alignment, Heartstone
and all the other planets of the system formed a straight line with the sun at its tip. Neeva mentally noted the star toward which the unexpected
alignment was directed, while Lysia commented that it seemed a good omen. A rapidly moving shape rising from the surface of Heartstone finally
broke the awestricken gazes of the group of females.Racing to be present at the birth of his son, Onshir arrived just as several strong contractions
presented the long thin snout of a Dra'Keshi infant. Onshir was glad to find the other females present as he knew his mate would be comforted by
their presence, and they would likely also provide himself with some much needed support during this remarkable event. The former prince would
of course maintain as much 'resolve and calm' as one could during all this, however he knew that none present would be much fooled by it.

Although she could not read his thoughts upon spotting the supportive females, Fyrsha knew Onshir was nervous and excited about the event.
The emotions which she gathered from Onshir as he greeted her with masked concern and apprehension in his voice, confirmed her impressions.
She allowed her joy and relief at seeing him alive and well to reach his senses with a hope that it might ease his nerves somewhat.

If anything could best describe what Dra'Keshi were this would be it. The gathering of others to their own kind in a show of support and caring.
Fyrsha felt at ease, despite her current condition and was very glad at having so many good friends around to help her in this time of need and uncertainty.

A wave of relief passed over the assembled dragons as this was a good sign that there would likely be no problems in the birthing. The birthing
was never a quick process, and always an anxious time. The birth of a dragon presented a great deal of danger to both the infant and mother, as a
bad reflex could spell instant death for either of them, or even both together. Being a typical worrisome father, Onshir fretted constantly over the
safety of his mate and child, until Neeva took the newly restored King of the Dra'Keshi Empire aside and explained several methods she had learned
of which might make the birthing mother more comfortable during this difficult time. These being ways that the father could make the experience as
comfortable and calm as possible for his mate, considering the stress of the situation. Thankful to have something productive to do, Onshir snaked his
long neck around and gently licked Fyrsha's brow ridges. As urged by the pair of knowledgeable yet thus far inexperienced females, Onshir whispered
words of encouragement and praise to his mate which did seem to have a soothing effect upon the new mother. Despite her own personal concerns
and worries, Fyrsha presented a solid and determined demeanor as she bore each new wave of pain and discomfort which accompanied the process
of birth. All went well and after only seventeen hours which was a record-breaking fast birthing, Dylen, the first son of Onshir'Valik, flew free upon
glistening newly formed wings.

The planetary alignment seemed also to have been waiting this moment as it had held still and true in it's direction toward the far distant point of light.
As if satisfied, the alignment began to slowly drift apart as the stellar bodies resumed their normal course of travel in orbit of their sun.

Heading for home, the three females from Dervish parted ways with Onshir, Fyrsha, and the young Dylen'Valik. Dylen had been born as Prince
and such added even more so to the pride the parents felt in watching their son, who was now barely fifty feet long in dragon form, darting about
upon his unfamiliar wings in the clumsy fashion that all newborn Dra'Keshi did at first. Dylen's eyes darted ceaselessly and curiously about in amazement
at the sights before him. The place he had been before had been warm and comfortable, still it felt good to stretch his wings and see all these wonders
now before him. Suddenly, becoming very hungry, the tiny newborn Drak darted over to hover before Fyrsha's tired yet loving face and placed his
tiny clawed hands on either side of her head and backwinged furiously to keep pace. All Dra'Keshi children communicate mentally with their mothers
long before the birthing occurs, however Fyrsha urged her son to speak the desire aloud. With some deal of effort, and a goodly amount of sputtering,
Dylen managed to speak it.

"H... Hnng. Huuunnngrrrry"

Beaming a proud smile to her son and catching sight of the equally proud glance from Onshir, Fyrsha reassured Dylen that he would be fed well upon
arriving home. The family of three arrived home just as the first gentle rays of sunlight spread warmth across the city of Heartstone.

The first necessity of parenting was of course in teaching their fledgeling dragon son how to take elven form. Fyrsha went first, transforming as her tail
touched the wide balcony into her now considerably thinner elven form. Having become accustomed to the additional weight of the child she had carried,
Fyrsha found herself a little unbalanced both by the change in her body and the fatigue from the ordeal she had experienced. Heading inside to lie down
and rest, the new mother left the training in the able hands of Dylen's father. Onshir too displayed the method of changing, which he repeated more times
than he bothered to count until the young one managed to make the change into his toddler-sized elven form. Overjoyed by the success and words of praise
from his father, Dylen clapped his elven hands together happily and made move to change again. Setting a hand upon the unclothed boy's shoulder, Onshir
shook his head and reassured the child that there would be plenty more opportunity for that later. Suddenly reminded of the promise of food, Dylen nodded
in understanding and ran barefooted into the cavernous dwelling to find his mother.

It was the dawning of a new day, and a peaceful one at that...