The Scarlet Thread
by Wesley Williamson

(exclusive to BookLoons)

Chapter 1: The Palace Chapter 2: The Outfleet Chapter 3: The Trader
Chapter 4: Shift Space Chapter 5: The Imperial Fleet


Early in the third millennium, almost by accident, man learnt to travel readily not only within but beyond his own system.  Colonies were set up on Mars and soon after that an outsystem planet very similar to Earth was found.  Unfortunately, a long period of wars, terrorism and plague left Earth depopulated and impoverished.  Recovery was slow, and only possible due to the rise of a new religion.  Worship of the Goddess began as a mystical cult among the survivors in North America, but spread very rapidly, accompanied by a political philosophy which led at last to a united Earth.

Shortly after the wars erupted, a combined effort of South East Asia and Australia had established a colony on the new planet, which the first settlers called Tios.  Other ships followed, but the breakdown of civilization on Earth left the colonists isolated for centuries.  The colonies on Tios flourished but the Tiosan seas hid a dreadful menace, which erupted without warning and almost wiped them out.  Eventually, communication was reestablished. However the Tiosans, in isolation and under sporadic raids from the sea, had developed their own semi-feudal culture and religion. Their leaders feared the influence of Earth and the Goddess.  Although a short but bitter war ended in stalemate after an invasion of Mars failed, the Tiosans were able to set up a blockade of Earth and Mars to prevent any further contact.

When this story begins, the Tiosan Empire has expanded to other systems, and appears to be at the height of its power.  However, major problems were becoming apparent, and action had become urgent after the discovery of traces of a powerful, alien civilization.  Life on Earth, under the rule of the Goddess, was prosperous, secure, and for a few, dull and boring.  Some of these became officers in the Outfleet, a small number of ships controlled by the minds of the crew, and used to infiltrate agents into the Empire.