THE NEBULOUS SAGA
PART FIVE: GUARDIAN OF THE STARDUST
Single-mindedly driven by his grief, Dolion confronts Kalopsia on the Holuvian moon. The inevitable showdown leaves one of them wounded and the other with an impossible choice. With the fate of the entire Nova Alliance hanging in the balance, Dolion is forced to tip the scales, knowing that no matter what he chooses, not everyone will make it out alive.
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Seconds stretch into eternity as Dolion realizes that what he wants most has been in front of him all along. With the Alliance breathing down his neck, and a frenzied space-kraken wreaking destruction on everything it sees, every moment becomes more precious. Can he save himself – and save the one thing he has left to live for?
Part Five soundtrack courtesy of Will Fox.
Closing theme by Hampus Naeselius, courtesy Epidemic Sound.
Sound design by H.M. Radcliff.
Cover art by Kirk DouPonce.
INT - THE PIRATE SHIP NEBULA - DAY DOLION and COOKIE stand on the bridge of the NEBULA. In front of them, a glowing glass display shows the ship's navigation data and flight controls. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) I check my star-compass and adjust the Nebula’s course, following the needle toward a small, oddly shaped moon. The double suns to our stern stretch my shadows across the deck as I lean around the mainsail to see. At first, stardust seems to glow around the rock, but as we approach, the floating, glimmering objects shape into swarms of space life. Luminescent tentacled jellyfish sway hypnotically. Twisting eels weave through clumps of coral that feed off nothing but the thin gases of space. A small dragon-like creature with leafy fins bobs beside a familiar sail-jet that belongs to the woman I’ve tracked here, Kalopsia. Satisfaction wells within. This is the stardust guardian’s sanctuary. CAPTAIN DOLION Weigh anchor! Several claw-like devices resembling grapping hooks are cannoned into the surface of the moon. The ship slows to a halt and strains against the wires. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) As I secure the tiller, I sense someone’s gaze and find the old ship’s cook watching me quietly by the mast. I step to him. CAPTAIN DOLION This is it, Cookie. This will finally be the end. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) He’s been with me through ten years of torment as I’ve sought vengeance. It feels right that he should be here to watch the end. COOKIE For your sake, Pete, I hope it is the end. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) Sadness glistens in Cookie’s eyes. He doesn’t need words to tell me that he doesn’t like this, but I need Kalopsia’s wish-granting stardust. I turn from Cookie, lest doubt steal my resolve. I deserve this. CAPTAIN DOLION (WHISPERING) I wish for death upon the Nova Alliance. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) Soon, I can finally leave this pain behind. INT - NEBULA LIFEJET - DAY PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) (CONT'D) Clambering aboard the lifejet, I secure my oxygen mask and push off. Kalopsia’s sail-jet is empty, but stony clumps cover the moon, providing a myriad of places she could be hiding. EXT - SURFACE OF HOLUVIAN MOON - DAY The Holuvian moon is a irregular, mountainous body, too small to have any industrial value to its mother planet. The surface is studded with crater-like divots and a dusting of sand-like material is everywhere. There is only a very weak gravity. On close inspection, one might notice a gentle curving form to the surface of the moon, like an ancient symbolic mound. DOLION is not this observant. He wears a light spacesuit. His red scarf is tied securely at his neck, and floats gently around him. It gives him a strangely childlike appearance. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) (CONT'D) I secure my jet to one of these barnacle-crusted formations and, assisted by the weak gravity, leap onto the moon. Pinkish sand plumes beneath my feet. I check my compass and glance in the direction of the pointing needle. Movement. I draw my pistol. KALOPSIA You dare to threaten me in my sanctuary? PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) Kalopsia emerges from behind a boulder. Her hair floats around her cheeks, tinged auburn in the Holuvian suns’ light. KALOPSIA I told you, I don't bargain with pirates. CAPTAIN DOLION I'm not here to bargain. Where is the stardust? PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) She glares silently. CAPTAIN DOLION (ANGRILY) Where is the stardust? PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) I cock my pistol. Her eyes spark with defiance, and she draws a knife. KALOPSIA You've killed enough, Captain Dolion. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) She dares to stand between me and my vengeance? The fool. I curl my finger around the trigger, but Kalopsia attacks. Her blade nicks my sleeve as I dodge. My shot goes wild. She follows with a second swipe, and a leather cord slips from beneath her shirt - a key attached. I grab her wrist, wrestling the knife away and forcing her to drop it. She bares her teeth, but I tear the necklace free, then shove her back. Out the corner of my eye, a flare rises from the Nebula. A fleet of ships emerge from the void beyond, bearing the spiral symbol of the Nova Alliance. My heart clenches. They’ll go for the Nebula first, but a stray shot may obliterate this moon before I can find where Kalopsia has hidden her stardust. This key must unlock a chest... I return my attention to Kalopsia. CAPTAIN DOLION Tell me where the stardust is, and we'll leave. Or else the Alliance will destroy this moon and everything on it. KALOPSIA Tell you at what cost? PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) Kalopsia stamps her foot three times. The ground lurches, pitching me against the nearest rocky formation. A rumble vibrates beneath me, and a fissure cracks across the sandy surface. Almost half of the moon falls away. CAPTAIN DOLION What?? PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) The pink surface of the space-rock blossoms to a burnt orange. Long strands peel away from the main shape—no, not strands. Glowing amber eyes turn on me as a giant kraken spreads its tentacles. The creature roars as an explosion rocks its asteroid home. I dive for shelter beneath a stone arch as the kraken slides overhead. Green ooze blossoms from a mark on its side—a hit from an Alliance cannon. The kraken bellows again, and one tentacle reaches past the Nebula to the closest Alliance vessel. It’s fighting for us! But it won’t be enough. Cannon fire streaks the void with red trails. The Nebula fires on the Alliance. The Alliance fires on the Nebula and the kraken. Within the shallow cave, I stare helplessly as cannon fire hits my ship’s main mast and sends it crashing to the deck. I must find the stardust and finish what I came here to do. Even with a kraken, we cannot defeat the whole fleet. Not without a wish. Pushing to my hands and knees, I notice a crumpled bed mat beneath me. Is this cave Kalopsia’s room? I scan the shelter and spot an odd-shaped shadow, crusted with barnacles. A chest. I grab it, but a shadow hurtles into me. Kalopsia’s knife slices across my face in a burning line. I fall back, palm to my cheek, warm blood sticky between my fingers. KALOPSIA You cannot take it! PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) Kalopsia clutches the chest, backing away. Beyond her, the Nebula lurches. The kraken and our cannons have taken out half a dozen Alliance vessels, but a ship rams against the Nebula’s starboard. Alliance soldiers pour onto my deck. Too many. PETER DOLION (NARRATOR) (CONT'D) I can’t just hide here while my crew is captured or killed. I snatch up my pistol—I must have dropped it when the kraken appeared - and aim. The pistol kicks against my blood-slick palm, and Kalopsia takes the bullet in her shoulder, crumpling. Seizing the chest, I unlock it. Golden motes glimmer within, and I don’t need proof that this is no ordinary stardust. But my wish trembles, unspoken, on my lips. I can wish my ship and crew to safety - a port for repairs and a medic for the injured...or fulfill my thirst for the Alliance’s destruction. The ache of revenge traps my heart, but I kneel, frozen, as the Nebula keels to one side. After all these years...what do I truly want?