As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


by Chase Hildenbrand

Proxima - Chase Hildenbrand - Othaul Dynasty
Editions:Kindle: $ 0.99Paperback: $ 13.99
ISBN: 979-8654424693
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 371
ISBN: 979-8477772049
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 371

In the 2100s mankind is about to embark on a mission to save the human species. Earth is dying and time is running out. Liam Donovan and Ann Caldwell work at the construction site where one of eight ships is being built that will carry thousands to the nearest potentially habitable planet, Proxima b.

But not everyone wants them to leave. A terrorist attack on the construction site of one of the ships leaves dozens dead. Why attack those wanting to save them? And who are they?

Before those questions can be answered another threat looms on the horizon. An alien fleet has been spotted at the edge of the solar system heading their way. But are they coming to help a broken world...or to destroy it?

Publisher: Independently Published
Tropes: Alien Invasion, Aliens Among Us, Cross-Species Friendships, Dying World, Galactic Civilization, Interstellar Travel, Lost Civilization, Space Battles
Word Count: 100000
Setting: Space
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Tropes: Alien Invasion, Aliens Among Us, Cross-Species Friendships, Dying World, Galactic Civilization, Interstellar Travel, Lost Civilization, Space Battles
Word Count: 100000
Setting: Space
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

The violent explosion threw Liam’s body across the room, slamming him into a wall where he crashed to the floor and landed hard on his side. Dust and smoke filled the room and through the haze a torrid orange flicker of fire began to spread into his office.  


The temperature in the room rose at an alarming rate and grew hotter with every second he wasted lying there cradling his injured left arm. He had to try and stay below the smoke and crawl to safety. Fire blocked his path to his office door. He would have to use the window.  Heavy smoke filled his lungs as he fought just to breathe let alone exert enough energy to make his way to the window.  

If he could find the strength in him to cross the distance, then his only problem would be the two story drop to the ground. One inch at a time, he thought. 

A fit of coughing derailed what little progress he made, and he collapsed flat on the carpet. The heat became intolerable as the flames crept their way closer to his dragging feet. He needed fresh air before he suffocated or burned to death.  

His thoughts drifted to Ann. Could she have been here when it blew? He wasn’t sure. The building he had the unfortunate luck of being in was one of many on the warehouse campus. She typically worked in a lab a few hundred yards away but frequented his offices enough to cause him concern. First, he knew he had to save himself before he could worry about his girlfriend, and he couldn’t do that while coughing on the floor.  

He pulled himself along the floor. His strong physique was a byproduct of being a multi-war veteran. After his service ended, he kept himself in shape, always ready for the next impending conflict. Could this explosion be part of that next conflict? 

The campus where he worked represented one of eight in his organization that spanned around the world. During the previous summer, an unknown terrorist group attacked the campus in India destroying three buildings and killing dozens. The damage set their project back years. Things had been quiet since, but his instinct screamed at him this explosion was more than an accident. Terrorists killing the very people who want to save them didn’t make sense to him, but nothing much did anymore in this world. He set that thought away to ponder another time.  

He mustered all his energy to keep crawling, calculating he had less than a minute to get some air before he would pass out and likely die of smoke inhalation. His muscles ached furiously as he finally reached the windowsill and struggled to pull himself up to a standing position. Part of the ceiling collapsed behind him where moments ago he lay on the floor. 

The thick glass failed to shatter in the explosion. He tried to open it but couldn’t find the locks. Then he remembered the windows in this building didn’t open above the first floor—of course they didn’t with the suicide rate as high as it was, clearly the lack of oxygen was affecting his ability to think straight. With agony, he managed to pull his shirt over his head. He wrapped it around his right fist, already feeling like he may pass out any second, and punched the window. Glass shards sliced into his forearm as he swept away the fragments on the edges of the frame. Black smoke raced through the open window escaping to the sky above.  

With the heat searing his back, he wiped the sweat from his brow and looked down, knowing he would have to jump. Being on the second floor he figured if he fell, he faced a possibility of a broken leg or ankle. Hoping to find something soft to land on, he scanned the area below. A few bushes lined the edge of the building, but nothing else.  

He felt himself fading. His strength had expired by the time he reached the window, and he didn’t have enough oxygen to keep going. The last thing he saw before his eyes closed was the world spinning as he tumbled out the window. 



Pain coursed through Liam’s body as consciousness returned. More than once in his military career he felt the sting of a bullet, but this was an all-encompassing pain like he had never felt before.  

The next thing he noticed was the return of his hearing and with it muffled voices amid the backdrop of a siren. His eyes remained stubbornly shut while he struggled for every breath. Something was strapped on his face—an oxygen mask. He faded.  

When he woke again, he was lying in a bed with no shouting voices or sirens to be heard. The pain had mercifully subsided thanks to, he assumed, a steady flow of morphine. The reassuring presence of a mask was helping him breathe after inhaling an amount of smoke that probably should’ve killed him. Nano tech was no doubt repairing the damage done to his lungs. He heard the steady stream of beeps from the heart rate monitor, except there were too many of them.  

Something wasn’t right.  

His eyes fluttered open to reveal a white hospital room. Not as alone as he thought, he found himself surrounded by a dozen, maybe more, other patients; all lying in gurneys and each with their own heart rate monitors contributing to the symphony of beeps.  

Doctors and nurses hustled to attend to patients in dire need. Many were heavily bandaged with blood soaking through. Others moaned painfully as medical professionals tended to their burns. Some were being wheeled away to their own rooms or to awaiting surgical teams.  

Dizziness overcame him and he could sense consciousness slipping away again at any moment. If only he could get a nurse’s attention first to ask about Ann. He tried to lift an arm, but it wouldn’t budge more than an inch off the bed. Blackness returned and swallowed him into a dreamless sleep. 

The next time he awoke the room was dark. It was night outside the window. The explosion happened around noon and at this time of year the darkness meant it must be at least seven hours later.  

This time he was alone in a single occupancy room. For the first time he took notice of his right arm. He vaguely recalled a memory of glass slicing up his arm as he swept it away from the office window. Tight bandages were wrapped nicely around his wounds. The oxygen mask remained strapped over his mouth and nose. He concentrated on his breathing and was relieved to discover it coming easier. Busy nanobots were working their technological magic.  

He looked left and right for a button to summon a nurse and found the device mounted to a stand on his left. The motion to bring his hand to the button brought an agonizing pain up his arm, but he managed to accomplish the deed. Moments later a nurse entered the room.  

“Welcome back Mr. Donovan. How are you feeling? My name is Samantha. Here, let me lift this mask off. Your lungs should be stable enough now to breathe without it for at least a few minutes.” She reached down and removed the oxygen mask.  

He took a breath to test out his lung capacity, then another, taking in the strong ammonia smell of the hospital.  Feeling confident he tried to speak, but his hoarse voice hurt to talk. 

“Thirsty,” he said almost inaudibly, his voice cracking when he spoke. The nurse nodded as she put his mask back on and said she’d get him a cup. A minute later she lifted his mask and tipped water into his mouth. He nearly coughed it back up but got it down eventually. 

“Better?” she asked. 

He nodded. “Yes. It hurts to talk. What happened?” 

“Well, the investigation is ongoing as far as I know. There was an explosion that leveled the west wing of your building. I’m guessing you were in the east wing. ‘Course there’s nothing left of that part of the building now. It’s all burnt up to ash. That’s what I heard, anyway. As for you, you inhaled a lot of smoke and you cut up your arm pretty badly. Quite honestly, you were lucky you didn’t break any bones when you fell out the window. You’ll be sore for a while, but that’s about the extent of it. The nanos inside you are healing the damage to your lungs.” 

“Do you know if—” he began, but his question turned into a round of coughing. The nurse started to put the oxygen mask back on, but he put his hand up signaling her to wait. “Ann Caldwell. Is she here?” 

“Yes, she’s here.” 

 His heart sank. But if she was here, then she was at least alive. He only hoped she wasn’t hurt too badly.  

“She’s in the waiting room. Been here for hours, too, waiting for you to wake up.” 

Relief surged through him. She was safe. “Can I see her?”  

He felt another coughing fit coming and put his mask back on. The nurse told him she would bring her in. He watched her leave and turned his gaze out the window.  

The twinkling beauty of the endless sea of stars shining in the cloudless night captivated him. If terrorists caused the explosion, then their goal was to stop him and his colleagues from reaching those stars. The STS commission occasionally found themselves in conflict with groups of people around the world not happy with what they were doing, but blowing up buildings? Murdering people? Those destructive actions were new. 

Occasional protests grew routine over time, but beyond a disorderly conduct arrest they remained mostly peaceful. People opposed to the project had always been in the vast minority. Most of the remaining population believed in what they were doing and prayed for their success. It was, after all, the most important mission in human history.  

His room door opened and fluorescent light from the hallway drew his attention away from the window. His nurse entered followed by Ann, whose red swollen eyes gave away that she’d been crying. Despite that, she beamed when she saw him and rushed to his side. The nurse said she would give them a moment and left the room, closing the door behind her. 

“Thank God you’re okay! I’ve been out of my mind. Half of the victims went to another hospital and I ended up there at first. I waited an hour before they told me you weren’t even there. When I got here the doctors wouldn’t tell me much except that you were recovering.”  

He removed his mask once more and said, “I’m fine. I guess. I’ve only spoken to the nurse, but she filled me in. It seems I’m lucky. You’re not hurt?” 

“No, I’m alright. The sound of the explosion scared the shit out of me, but other than that…” Ann looked away, steeling herself for what she had to say next. “Liam, a lot of people are dead. Early guesses from authorities put the number north of a hundred.” 

He expected to hear that. His office resided in the second largest building on the campus, the first being the main warehouse where the construction of the STS Five took place. It had been a four-story office building separated into two wings: east and west. Many of his friends and colleagues worked in the west wing. 

“You were all I could think about as I tried to escape.” Another round of coughing came out of nowhere. He tried to speak through it, but Ann put the mask back over his mouth. 

“Rest Liam. That’s enough talking. You need to heal. I’m alright. You’re alright. Tomorrow will present us with plenty of problems, but for now just take it easy. I’m going to make sure that the nurse has told your doctor you’re awake.” Ann kissed him atop his head and left him alone.  

He wanted to tell her that he loved her. He knew he didn’t say it enough. Being emotional was not one of his strengths. He never had anyone to tell him they loved him growing up and, until Ann came along, never said it to anyone else.  

Military life drove him throughout most of his adulthood until five years ago when he took his current role with the STS commission. Many girlfriends came and went over the years, but as a result of his life dedicated to service, Ann was his first long-term relationship. That’s not something a lot of men could say at thirty-seven-years old. They’d been together two years now after meeting at the STS Five campus. 

Overseeing the construction of the STS Five ship was his primary job. When they met, he was finishing a month’s worth of meetings with leading scientists from around the country to discuss their lab spaces on the ship. Toward the end of that long month he had an early morning meeting with Ann, a leading young botanist, and her assistant, Dustin King. Liam immediately pegged Dustin as a self-righteous asshole and throughout the day’s meeting ignored him every chance he could. Meanwhile he found himself stealing glances in Ann’s direction, taken in by her beauty and her brains.  

He, Ann, and Dustin, along with several engineers, discussed her lab needs and how they could give her everything she would need on the ship. He conducted similar meetings with other scientists from every field that the STS commission deemed important enough to have a place on the ship. Not much into science himself, his philosophy in these meetings focused on them telling him what they needed, and him making sure the engineers could make it happen.  

Once their meeting ended, he took Ann to the side and asked her out for dinner that evening. The rest was history. But Liam would be the first to admit they had their share of issues like any couple, mostly due to his battle with alcohol. He’d seen too much in the wars. Fought and killed too many for the scraps left over from the failures of previous generations who stood idly by as the planet decayed around them. Ann brightened the parts of his life that his past cast in shadows. 

The door to his room opened once more as Ann returned with a doctor in tow. “You’re awake, I see,” the doctor said. His smooth complexion made him appear young. Liam preferred people in all professions with more experience, but considering he seemed mostly fine he decided to give the young man a chance.  

“I’m Dr. Banks. Sorry I wasn’t here earlier; it’s been quite a day as you can imagine.” 

Liam lifted his oxygen mask. “Not a problem, doc. I understand.”  

Banks pulled up a chair next to the bed and studied the chart. “When you were first admitted we injected you with nanobots to expedite the healing process in your lungs. They took quite a beating inhaling as much smoke as you did. It’s a good thing you selected nano injection on your driver’s license. If we had to wait for your permission, you likely would’ve died.” 

Liam nodded along. Who wouldn’t opt for nano injection? It wasn’t the first time he had those tiny robots inside him doing whatever technological magic they did. Likely, it would not be the last. 

“I appreciate that. Listen, Dr. Banks, my job is especially important. I need to get back to work and the sooner the better. When can that happen?” 

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll be out long. The nanos will be done reconstructing your lungs in about twelve hours. Then you’ll need another day of recovery and I’d like to keep you here during that time to monitor your improvement. I’d say you can return to work in two to three days. The other survivors who weren’t as lucky as you will be out longer.” 

“I understand. Is my phone around here somewhere? I have a call to make.” 

Dr. Banks found Liam’s phone, along with his wallet and a few other small possessions, in a bin on the other side of the room. Liam thanked him again and the doctor excused himself saying he had six other patients to check on before his shift ended. Ann took the recently vacated chair next to the bed and placed her right hand on his. 

“I have to call Foster. I need answers,” Liam said.  

“I can leave. I probably shouldn’t be here for that,” Ann said. 

“No, it’s fine. You can stay if you want.” But Ann shook her head and left the room to give him the privacy he needed. 

He coughed again and took several breaths with the mask on before making the call. He found the number in his phone—not under Foster’s actual name—and dialed. Three rings later Foster’s voice came on the line. “Donovan! You are alive. We’ve been hearing mixed rumors up here in Columbus.” 

“Alive as can be, Mr. President. I appreciate your concern.” Though at times he questioned how much President Carl Foster cared at all. Foster did little to hide his resentment toward the STS commission. As president he faced restrictions that did not allow him to partake in the program. He governed a crippled country on a dying planet with the job of watching over the program building the lifeboats that he couldn’t even use to save himself. Liam understood the resentment.  

“You’re healthy, then?” Foster asked. 

“I’m getting better every second. Mr. President, what can you tell me? My instinct says this was more than an accident. It seems too familiar after what happened in India.” 

“You’re correct. Early reports are telling us the same group behind the attack in India may be responsible. Intelligence is minimal, however. We’ve been trying to track down anything we can on them for a year with no luck. The media has made the connection, but we are not confirming anything. Not yet.” 

“What can I do?” 

“Get back to a hundred percent. Then we need to discuss beefing up your security. We must figure out how they got in, what they used, and who they talked to. You may have a mole in your little operation down there. I’m going to have several FBI agents interview your personnel. You’re more than welcome to sit in, but security needs to be your top priority. You’re a military man so I’m sure you can come up with some ideas. Then we need to implement whatever you come up with at the STS Seven in Dallas. Brewer won’t like that, but that bastard can get over it.” 

“I will start drafting new security protocols as soon as I’m able, sir.” 

“Excellent. I’m sure you guys can get back on your feet in no time. We do have one bit of good news. The ship’s manufacturing warehouse wasn’t damaged. It is curious why it was spared; don’t you think? If sabotage were their goal—though God help me I can’t think of why anyone would want to sabotage this—why not go for the prize?” 

“Mr. President, I’ve been asking myself that, too. We need more information. Was I the target? If so, they blew the wrong part of the building. What in that wing would have been their primary objective?” 

“All good questions and we’ll find the answers. Donovan, listen, I must get going. You rest up. Let that pretty girlfriend of yours take care of you for a couple of days. Save the Species needs you back on your feet, you got me?” 

“I do, sir. Thank you. Goodbye.”   


About the Author

I live outside of Charlotte, NC and work full time in the broadcasting industry. I love writing and enjoy it as a fun hobby.