Year 7,147 of the Galactic Government.

Akion Tiles, 23 years old, feels trapped in the monotony of bustling Uzhar Station. His life has become a burdensome routine, working as a loader of alinum and assisting in a modest mechanic workshop. Despite his tireless efforts, he knows deep down that there is no hope or future for him. Limited by refugee status, he is doomed to live off scraps and the little compassion that full-fledged galactic citizens offer him.

Or so he thought before an unexpected opportunity crossed his path: a job offer to become a pilot of an experimental ship created by the prestigious Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Mendran University.

Despite the fears that haunt and gnaw at him, Akion decides to embark on this odyssey without suspecting that he will experience something that will not only change his life forever but also push him beyond his own limits in a way he never imagined.


Excerpt from A Star on the Horizon © Copyright 2024 B. Bordoy Barceló

A sharp, rhythmic sound echoed through the silent room, piercing Akion’s drowsy mind. He swatted at the source of the terrible noise with an incomprehensible complaint. With an all-too-familiar mechanical movement, he turned it off and looked at, not without some difficulty, the timer on the wall.

“Shit!” An electric shock ran through his entire body, jolting him out of bed. He grabbed the gray trousers with reflective bands lying on the table and hurried to pull them on. “What about the first alarm? Why didn’t the first alarm go off?”

The question vanished into thin air as he walked over to the pile of clothes on what had once been a chair and sniffed at the T-shirt on top of it. He wrinkled his nose and shook his head before tossing it to the floor and grabbing another, repeating the hygiene strategy. After a moment of judgment, he grimaced indifferently and resumed searching for his clothes. He found one sock next to the alarm clock he had just switched off; the other, he rescued from between the sheets. He sat back down on the bed and pulled them on before lacing up his safety boots, ignoring the nagging voice in his head that told him to lie back and forget everything else.

With a push and two noisy footsteps he reached the tiny kitchen where he grabbed one of the buns packed on top of the small fridge and popped it into his mouth as he headed out the door. It had not yet closed when it slid aside again, allowing him to grab the work jacket; a worn orange color, with several reflective stripes on both sleeves, chest and back, and the symbol of Uzhar Station embroidered on the upper left side.

With any luck, I can still make it in time. He encouraged himself as he wolfed down the meager breakfast and hastened towards the terminal, located in the central area of his deck, from where he could take an elevator to Hangar Three.

He soon realized that Uzhar was already awake. The shops facing the plaza had already opened their doors and were now illuminating their signs to let all the station’s inhabitants know that they were ready to serve them.

Akion pressed on with determination, ignoring these stimuli and weaving through the Mendes, one of the hundreds of races members of the Galactic Government and descendants of a feline species. They had thick fur and a small tail, a remnant of their less evolved ancestors. Their large ears, crowned by a dark feather, added to the sharp features of these creatures. In addition, males adorned their bushy sideburns with reverence, a symbol of virility and social status. The females, on the other hand, were largely devoted to dyeing and matching the different color patterns they had throughout their fur, which was a unique sign of identity.

“Wait a minute! Hold on! Wait for me!” the young man shouted, trying to make himself heard above the general commotion in the building and attempting to capture the attention of the group that had just halted one of those lifts. Akion ran as fast as he could, but just as he was about to catch up, the warning signal echoed around and the doors closed in front of him. On the other side, slitted pupils rested on him before a superior grimace appeared on the face of that Mendes, “Yeah, laugh all you want, you damn bastard!”

───※ · ※ · ※───

Through the glass window of the Supply and Provisioning offices, Akion observed Hangar Three springing to life with a new shift. He saw the first ships of the day take off, ready to continue their journey, while others descended to platforms designated by the control tower located on the roof of the hangar, overseeing the hustle and bustle of the place. He recognized some familiar faces among his colleagues―operators and mechanics―moving between the vehicles in a perfectly orchestrated choreography.

“You’re late, human,” announced a deep voice from his right. The young man turned and looked down to see a Mendes, dressed in the same uniform and looking at him in discomfort. Although the creature was no taller than his navel, he was as hard as a rock. In the seven years of their acquaintance and partnership, Akion had never once defeated him in arm wrestling. Akion refrained from laughing as he observed that Poddoc’s new clothes appeared to be ready to burst due to his bushy orange fur.

“I know, Poddoc. Apologies, I’ll quickly register, grab the gear and be ready.”

“That won’t be necessary,” he indicated, holding up the digital tablet and two ID cards in his left hand, “I’ve already signed in for you.”

“Thanks! I owe you one!”

“I’ve lost count of how many favors you owe me, human. There will come a day when I’ll be tired and not only will I no longer help you, but I’ll cash in all the favors I’ve done for you so far. And on that day, neither the Galactic Government nor your Defense Corps will be able to protect you,” he threatened, looking at him with extreme seriousness before his whiskers contracted and a weak laugh broke the tension of the moment, making the young man relax as well, “Come on, no time to waste. The customers are waiting.”

“I don’t know if I can, Poddoc. I’m very sleepy,” he announced mischievously, taking the tablet offered to him and checking the note that appeared in the order section, “so much so that I don’t know if this is a one or a seven.”

“I’m going to make you sleepy… If you stopped staying up late on days when you have a morning shift, this wouldn’t happen to you,” he capitulated, approaching the exit of the offices and taking his hearing protection and communication system from the shelf. After putting them on and checking that Akion had done the same, he opened the door to the hangar. The deafening roar of engines, machinery and voices from the loudspeakers assaulted their senses. Poddoc activated the noise cancellation and let only those voices continue to alert him to what was going on around him. “You hearing me?”

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