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Authors: Stephen Hunt

Red Sun Bleeding

BOOK: Red Sun Bleeding
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CHAPTER ONE Two legs bad. Six legs good.

CHAPTER TWO The mother-lode.

CHAPTER THREE All that you must leave behind.

CHAPTER FOUR The settlers’ vessel.

CHAPTER FIVE Walk the Heezy’s guts.

CHAPTER SIX Of epilogues.

Red Sun Bleeding
Sliding Void [3]
Stephen Hunt
Green Nebula Publishing (2013)

RED SUN BLEEDING (Book three in the 'Sliding Void' series)


It should have all been so easy for Captain Lana Fiveworlds, owner of Fiveworlds Shipping and master of the free trader starship 'Gravity Rose'. A simple supply run to a mining operation in deep space on a world called Abracadabra. Alright, so the mining operation was illegal and the world unclaimed... that's why the job paid so damn well. But now she's stuck on a hothouse jungle planet, sweltering under the light of a dying red sun with not only oddly missing miners, but vanished crewmen too.

The exiled barbarian prince Calder Durk had disappeared, presumed dragged over the mining camp's laser fence by one of the not-so-pleasant local predators. The skipper may or may not be in love with him, but you can never leave one of your own behind. Lana's android has a bad feeling about the place, and she also has to contend with an arrogant mission leader who is part of humanity's near immortal super-rich ruling class.

Things are looking bad, and that was before the space pirates her rivals have paid to put her out of business jumped in-system looking to hijack her ship.

Sadly for the crew of the Gravity Rose, matters can get even worse when they discover why nobody's ever survived Abracadabra long enough to put it on the charts. For this is one world with a terrible secret. And it just might be the last one for everyone trapped down on the planet.

- part 3 of a continuing, linked series.
Part 1 - Sliding Void.
Part 2 - Transference Station.
Part 3 - Red Sun Bleeding.
Age 15+ - mild violence and language.
Douglas Adams
Neal Asher
Iain M. Banks
Jack Campbell
David Drake
Orson Scott Card
James S.A. Corey
Evan Currie
Peter F. Hamilton
Ric Locke
Dan Simmons
Charles Stross
David Weber
Science fiction (space opera)
Adventure (scifi)



Book 3 in the Sliding Void series.


First published in 2013 by Green Nebula Press


Copyright © 2013 by Stephen Hunt


Typeset and designed by Green Nebula Press


The right of Stephen Hunt to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


This book is sold subject to the conditions that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on a subsequent purchaser.


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For further information on Stephen Hunt’s novels, see his web site at



Also by Stephen Hunt


The Jackelian series

(HarperCollins Voyager in the UK/Macmillan Tor in the USA)


The Court of the Air

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

Rise of the Iron Moon

Secrets of the Fire Sea

Jack Cloudie

From the Deep of the Dark


The Sliding Void series


Sliding Void

Transference Station

Red Sun Bleeding


The Agatha Witchley Mysteries: as Stephen A. Hunt


In the Company of Ghosts

The Plato Club

Secrets of the Moon (coming soon)


Other works


Six Against the Stars

For the Crown and the Dragon

The Fortress in the Frost



For links to these books, visit




‘Hunt's imagination is probably visible from space. He scatters concepts that other writers would mine for a trilogy like chocolate-bar wrappers.’



‘All manner of bizarre and fantastical extravagance.’



‘Compulsive reading for all ages.’



‘Studded with invention.’



‘To say this book is action packed is almost an understatement… a wonderful escapist yarn!’



‘Hunt has packed the story full of intriguing gimmicks… affecting and original.’



‘A rip-roaring Indiana Jones-style adventure.’



‘A curious part-future blend.’



‘An inventive, ambitious work, full of wonders and marvels.’



‘Hunt knows what his audience like and gives it to them with a sardonic wit and carefully developed tension.’



‘A ripping yarn … the story pounds along… constant inventiveness keeps the reader hooked… the finale is a cracking succession of cliffhangers and surprise comebacks. Great fun.’



‘Put on your seatbelts for a frenetic cat and mouse encounter... an exciting tale.’





Chapter 1 – Two legs bad. Six legs good.

Chapter 2 – The mother-lode.

Chapter 3 – All that you must leave behind.

Chapter 4 – The settlers’ vessel.

Chapter 5 – Walk the Heezy’s guts.

Chapter 6 – Of epilogues.


There once was a man up on high
Who stepped off a cliff,
And all the way down he complained
That gravity sure is a bitch!

Ancient spacer’s shanty (anon).


Two legs bad. Six legs good.


Calder Durk pulled the rifle’s stock close to his shoulder. Part of him – the barbarian part, probably – devoutly wished he carried the familiar broadsword he had trained on since a babe to face the beast about to leap out of the thick undergrowth. The more sensible part was grateful he carried a modern weapon with a six-hundred pellet drum, each shiny small metallic dart capable of being accelerated to bone-shattering velocities by the gun’s magnetic field. He listened to the crashing sound through the vines, growing closer every second. Snow-bears he knew how to fight. Mega-wolves he had hunted across glaciers, slain, stuffed and hung over the fireplace in his creaky old castle. But whatever was coming towards him now was going to be well out of his field of experience.  That was the trouble with being reluctantly exiled from an icy cold medieval home, taken to the stars, signed up with a strange starship crew, then mysteriously and unceremoniously dumped into an alien jungle. None of this was exactly
. Except… the startled-looking woman who came hurtling out of the glistening wet scrub wore a green suit that Calder recognized. The same uniform as the other miners from this world’s sole human outpost. Was she the driver who had gone missing? The one the camp had spent weeks vainly searching the jungle for?

‘It’s alright,’ said Calder, raising his rifle barrel to show he meant no harm. ‘I’m from a ship chartered to bring supplies to the mining camp. Are you Janet Lento? My crew’s been helping the mining boss search the jungle for you.’

The woman stopped, but didn’t say anything.
What’s the matter with her?
Calder might as well have been a statue she had unexpectedly stumbled across in the jungle. He saw the name tag stitched across her breast pocket,
. This was the missing driver, then. He realised that the look of shock on her face was a more or less permanent fixture – nothing to do with running into him out here in the middle of nowhere. Wide green eyes, glassy and wild. Taller than Calder, her frame thin from surviving a week in the wild on nothing but berries and bugs, long dark hair matted with dirt and leaves. She didn’t seem to be sweating, even with the furnace heat from the mad red sun streaming through the forest canopy.

‘I’m Calder Durk. My ship’s the
Gravity Rose
. I was on your camp’s landing field, unloading supplies. I lost consciousness, and when I woke up, I find myself out here. Damned if I know what happened or how I travelled beyond the base’s defence perimeter. Did something similar happen to you? My radio’s gone, but I’ve still got my rifle.’

Janet unclipped a communicator from her belt and tentatively offered it to Calder, her mouth open as though she was trying to speak but couldn’t. He took it from her and tried the device, but only static came back to him. ‘It’s broken? I was warned communications on Abracadabra would be spotty. Something to do with the solar activity here?’

He was about to pass the useless device back to her when he heard a crunching sound behind him. Calder wheeled around. A long whippet-thin creature emerged from between two of the trees, maybe a foot high, a bony nose like an elephant’s trunk reaching out to pull leaves off the bushes and shoving them into twin mouths either side of the trunk. It made contented snorts as it munched its way through the jungle, wobbling almost comically while grazing. He lowered his rifle. It was heading towards a large series of globular plants at the far side of the clearing, each sphere striped yellow and red like giant sweets and resting on a bed of vines and a single spiny cushion. As it followed the trail of leaves towards the spheres, they started to quiver, a sudden lance of heated steam bursting out of the bed of spines. The leaf eater squealed in an offended manner, leaping out of the way and bolting back the way it had came. Calder made a mental note to give any strange-looking plants a wide berth here. Of course, being an
jungle, there weren’t many plants that were familiar to Calder.

‘You’ve stayed alive out here for week? Do you give survival lessons?’

The woman just stared at Calder as though he was speaking a foreign language. He tried to offer the radio back to her but she showed no interest in receiving it. She really did appear quite insane, as though she was looking through Calder rather than
him. ‘Stay here,’ ordered Calder, gesturing pointedly at the ground as if he was speaking with a particularly dim foreigner. He approached the nearest tree, slung the rifle over his shoulder and climbed the trunk with both hands. Calder shinned up until he reached its lowest branches, large waxy shield-sized leaves an angry red… the same shade as this system’s dying sun. He used them as a ladder, easy climbing compared to the frozen forests of home, where slipping on a single icy branch would plunge you fatally to the ground. His eyes flicked down to ensure the mute woman hadn’t wandered away; but quite the opposite… she had shinned up the tree too, stopping by the lower boughs.
. Staying out of the way must have been how she had survived in the jungle for so long. He reached the canopy’s top, poking his head through. Calder felt the hope drain from his heart. Just an endless crimson forest steaming from the last rain. Abracadabra’s ugly bloated sun pulsed high in the firmament, making the clouds appear to glow intermittently, filaments of red spreading out like running blood. No sign of the mining camp. No sign of the mountain even, where humanity’s only outpost on this faded world had been cut and blasted out of the thick jungle.
How far have I been dragged from the base?
If some predator was responsible for dragging him away from the camp, then the exiled nobleman should have been food for its larder long ago. He spotted two dragon-sized lizards wheeling over the distant forest… the same breed of beast which had circled his shuttle on the way down to the world, hungrily eyeing the new arrivals through the cockpit’s transparent ceramic. The only way things could get worse was if the dying sun finally went supernova early and killed Calder in the explosion. He ducked his head before the flying lizards noticed him, then carefully climbed back down, stopping on a branch close to Janet.

BOOK: Red Sun Bleeding
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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