Cleon Moon

By: Lindsay Buroker

(Fallen Empire, Book 5)


Thank you to my editor, Shelley Holloway, and also to my beta readers, Cindy Wilkinson, Sarah Engelke, Rue Silver, and Walter Scrivens, who have been amazing about getting their feedback to me so quickly with this series. Also, thank you to my cover designer, Tom Edwards, who has been able to create those wonderful spaceships on a fast schedule. Lastly, thank you for reading these books and sharing the word about them. I hope you continue to enjoy them.

Chapter 1

Cleon Moon, a gray blob with swirling brown smudges, looked like a rejected marble fished out of a sludgy sewer. Captain Alisa Marchenko had been there before, and it was every bit as ugly as she remembered.

“It’s magnificent,” Yumi said, flouncing into NavCom and clasping her hands in front of her chest with the enthusiasm of a toddler presented with an Asteroid Icy.

“The moon or the planet?” Alisa asked, waving to the massive gas giant visible behind Cleon Moon. The planet Cleon orbited had interesting green and blue striations with a massive emerald eye in the center. Its magnificence was debatable, but Alisa could see someone calling the planet beautiful. The moon, on the other hand…

“Cleon Moon, of course!” Yumi unfolded the seat at the sensor station and sat down behind Alisa. “The native fungal forests are amazing. There are tens of thousands of different species of fungi, many with edible and medicinal properties. Many are still a mystery, waiting to be studied.”

“I imagine studying them is hard when you have to wear a breathing mask to go outside of the domes because the atmosphere is toxic.”

“It’s not toxic; it just hasn’t been terraformed to desirable human conditions. But that’s the appeal. These fungal forests were growing here long before humans settled the system. They’re fabulous, Captain. If we have time, we could stop and harvest some meykonghi arelexius.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Meykonghi arelexius is the base component in Bliss, a recreational drug that relaxes muscles, reduces inhibitions, and increases the intensity of one’s orgasms.”

“That can’t be legal,” Alisa said, certain the empire hadn’t approved of anyone having a good time.

“I’m not sure if the Alliance has made a ruling on it yet,” Yumi said. “But it can be sold for a great deal on the black market.”

“Were you truly a science teacher, Yumi?”

Alisa adjusted the controls, taking them toward the southern hemisphere of the moon where the majority of the domes had been installed. The structures ranged from family-sized compounds of less than a square mile to city-sized domes covering hundreds of square miles and millions of residents. Some were owned by private citizens, others by corporations, and still others by the mafia. She hoped the White Dragon people did not have a presence on the moon, since, as far as she knew, they were still after Beck.

“I was an excellent science teacher,” Yumi said, “and I miss teaching. Will your daughter need instruction when you find her? I can teach her mathematics and science if I continue traveling with you.” She smiled, as if that was an appealing notion.

Given all the craziness and near-death experiences the Star Nomad had been through lately, that was hard to imagine.

“So long as you keep the orgasmic mushroom lessons to a minimum. She’s only eight.” Alisa hoped to find Jelena before she had a birthday and she had to add a year, but she was struggling to maintain that optimism in the face of all the detours and delays. She prayed to Solis-de that her daughter was down on Cleon Moon—and that she could finally find her.

“Of course, Captain. I love teaching people of all ages. I love research too. I can’t wait to get my hands on some fungal stalks.”

“We need to find you a man, Yumi.”

She blinked. “Pardon?”

“Or a woman could be arranged. Whatever you prefer.” Alisa thought about mentioning that Mica might be interested, but she had enough jobs on this ship already without turning herself into a matchmaker. Besides, Leonidas was walking up the corridor with something in his hand, and he wouldn’t be interested in such discussions.

“I have some quotes for you, Captain,” he said, holding up his netdisc. He thumbed a button, and the holodisplay appeared in the air.

“Alisa,” she corrected him—now that he was officially in her employ, he had started calling her captain again. She appreciated his professionalism, but it had taken her weeks to get him to call her by first name instead of last. This felt so stiff and formal, especially considering they were now dating. In a manner of speaking.

Leonidas ignored the correction and set the netdisc on the console beside her.

▶ Also By Lindsay Buroker

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books