“Dust“ is my 29th book, and the third book in my Panic! Horror In Space series! It was published on March 24, 2020, and aside from the obligatory posts and ads to tell people the book was available, not much has been said about the contents of the book – or the story itself! At least until now.
The story begins at a remote starbase on the fringes of known space – an outpost near the border of the sprawling Terran Empire called Starbase 43. It’s an otherwise ordinary day until suddenly, out of the black, an object appears on the navigation screens of the traffic controllers on duty – which turns out to be a ship on a direct collision course with the starbase! Frantic countermeasures are put in place by the highly trained crew – and a group of small tugs is sent out to intercept the unresponsive ship, with their prime concern being to deflect the ship off course!
Once the emergency is averted, the heroic tuggers decide, on their own initiative, to seize the opportunity to capture the derelict vessel, and one brave soul remains aboard to steer it back to Starbase 43… where station security receives it at berth 11 and sets about unraveling the mystery.
The ship – which set out on a mission of exploration 63 years previously, had vanished mysteriously just three months in to their voyage. There was no sign of the crew or any clue what happened to them. Plates of food are laid out on tables in the mess, a shower was left running, clothes laid out on beds – it’s like all 57 crewmen just disappeared – or took a walk out an airlock! The ship’s only shuttle was still in the hangar bay, unused and in perfect condition. On the bridge, the throttles had been left wide open – indicating the ship had run until it ran out of fuel…
What had happened to the 57 crew of the I.S.S. Amundsen – and why was it that several members of the starbase security team had been telling tales of supernatural encounters while aboard her? Was the ship haunted? Was it cursed?
With no clear answers in sight, a frustrated Commodore Peters co-opts the assistance of one of her least-favorite people in the universe – Captain Stuart Flane of the starship Mercury! Flane is called in unwillingly, kicking and screaming, to investigate the mystery of the ghost-ship Amundsen. Embittered and resentful towards Commodore Peters for the way his well-documented reports about paranormal activity encountered in his travels through deep space have been received, he is skeptical from the outset. His best friend and executive officer, Commander Vic Chapman, does his best to keep his Captain’s morale up while while helping to unravel the chilling mystery, assisted by the Mercury’s chief medtech, Dr. Fred Killian. Together they explore the network of corridors of the decrepit old ship, delve through the records and personal effects of the strangely absent crew, and every step forward in progress leads them deeper into nearly a century’s worth of dust.
Together they work to find the answer – but with every step leading them deeper and deeper into a chilling, terrifying darkness, will it be an answer his skeptical superiors approve of?
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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.