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Shepherd’s Void — An Interactive Adventure — Part 4

November 6, 2021
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Part 4 — Shepherd’s Void

Military space was always dicey.

It was more complicated than Sovereign Protectorate, because civilians weren’t supposed to be there, and more stuffed up than Lightspire because of their overinflated opinions of their own worth.

Plus, they all hated criminals, so if Valentina got caught here, it would be a real bad day. She had run afoul of the military once or twice when she was younger. That happened to pretty much everyone in the business, although it was definitely easier now that the Garrison had split off from the Monarchy. It meant they didn’t have the time or the resources to focus on the little people.

As one of the little people, Valentina was perfectly happy about that.

Shepherd’s Void was a constellation of shipyards unlike anywhere else in the Empire. Immense, half-finished ships hung in space, surrounded by the darting lights of thousands of workers, all busy building up the might of the Garrison. Valentina wasn’t here as often as she was in Lightspire or Sovereign Protectorate, simply because there was less work for her specific set of skills.

If the military wanted contraband, they could get it for themselves.

Her delivery here was up to one of the sky boxes, where the major contractors did their planning. It was out of the flow of traffic, which Valentina appreciated, but she appreciated the codes that had come with this part of her delivery even more. Klara had handed them over and mentioned that they were part of the asking price for the delivery. No one could get into Garrison space without the right codes.

This time, Valentina’s crates were full of parts. She was a halfway decent engineer, and strongly suspected the parts were for some sort of high-end weapon. It wasn’t her business though, and she didn’t care enough to try and find out. To get to the skybox, it took three more codes, all conveniently provided with the one that got her past the pickets at the edge of Shepherd’s Void in the first place. Here too, were echoes of the same beautiful architecture and design that Valentina had seen in Lightspire and Sovereign Protectorate. The skybox was built to be permanent, and it hung weightless like a single great pillar of brutal, hard-edged elegance.

“Got a delivery for a Captain Posch,” she told the secretary, who had the dead eyes of someone who simply did not care about their job. Valentina loved that kind of person. They hated everything in the galaxy equally, and didn’t care if someone made a little extra around the edges of the law. Then again, there were also a few who hated everything enough to make everything harder than it should be. It was always a gamble. “I was told he was gonna want it personal.”

The secretary eyed her, but pressed a button on her desk. “Captain. The delivery you were waiting on.”

There was no reply, but the door behind the secretary, edged in gold-inlaid geometry, slid open a moment later.

“I will take it myself,” Captain Posch said. He turned out to be an older gentleman. Clean-shaven and upright, but Valentina figured if he was hiring a smuggler, there was a good chance he wasn’t as upright as he looked. “You. Come with me.”

Valentina rolled her eyes and followed the captain back down to her ship, and the sled of his goods.

“I can drop it wherever you want,” she said. It was hard to be polite when the captain clearly had no desire to do the same, but she had pretty much expected that. “Figure you don’t want me hanging around.”

“I’m certain I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Captain Posch said without looking back at her. “In here. I assume you are capable of unloading the cargo yourself.”

“It’s on a pallet,” Valentina told him. She was glad it was, and that she did that for every shipment. She lowered the stack of crates to the ground, and slid the tongs of her sled out of the pallet neatly. Another button folded the tongs neatly inside the sled, “Right. Need anything else from me?”

“No. That is all,” Captain Posch said. He looked over the manifest she handed him and nodded once. “Return to your ship and leave. You will be monitored until you leave Shepherd’s Void. Do not attempt to find other… work while you are here.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Valentina said, for once, not lying. She turned on her heels and headed straight back to the Asterias, trying not to give the captain the side-eye when he walked beside her. It was a relief to make it back to her ship. She gave the captain a short wave and took off as quickly as she could.

Something was wrong. She trusted that gut feeling. The one that told her that a job had gone sour. She saw it in the way the captain watched the Asterias leave, and in the way a so-called escort fell in behind her ship.

When the first shot skimmed past the Asterias’s viewport, Valentina cursed in every language she knew. When more followed, she knew that her bad feeling had been right. She was stupid to think the Garrison would just let a known smuggler fly free.

With a squadron of Garrison attack ships bearing down on the Asterias, and mere seconds to plot a course Valentina hammered at the console.

Would she choose the safe, but patrolled shipping lanes of Lodestar Haven or skirt the deserted edge of the Galactic miasma found in Celestious Nox to make her escape?


You decide Valentina’s course of action. Cast your vote in Discord now in the ECHOES-OF-EMPIRE-ANNOUNCEMENTS channel!

Voting will be live through the weekend (November 6th and 7th).

Part 1 — Kepler’s Remnant

Part 2 — Sovereign Protectorate

Part 3 — Lightspire

Echoes of Empire is a 4X strategy game by Ion Games. Players will begin their journey in Kepler’s Remnant, a zone within protected House Space. Follow along with Valentina as she traverses a galaxy rife with intrigue and danger.

Learn more at the Echoes of Empire Website, and sign up for the Celestial Token Presale that begins on November 10th!