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16+ Violence

Murder By Starlight (Part 2)

by cidrianwritersguild

Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.

Ed made his way down the corridor from the morgue to the Commodore's office. He continued to wonder who might've been behind these murders. He had spent many a night (and morning) in the bar and hadn't ever heard a threatening word against another colonist. He couldn't think of a single person who would have a grievance against another. But it must be there. It had to. He approached the Commodore's office and rapped his knuckles against the metal of the door.

"Come in." came the sonorous voice of the Commodore. Ed opened the door and approached the Commodore. He sat in front of a large, sleek, metallic desk. It was covered in papers and he shuffled these around importantly as Ed drew closer.

"Good evening, sir"

"Good evening..." the Commodore's voice trailed off.

"Engineer Edward Buck, sir, first class."

"Ah." The Commodore snapped his fingers. "Good Evening Engineer Buck. Tell me, what brings you here? I assume the unfortunate incidents involving Engineer Lugton and Biologist Stevens?"

"Yes sir." Edward nervously scratched his head.

"Well, want do you want to say?"

"Sir...uh...I believe that these incidents were not mere accidents. It seems too...coincidental."

"Speak up Buck!"

"It's too coincidental to be accidents sir. Furthermore, any debris that could've hit Stevens wasn't even present near his body. Also, both of these men had cylindrical-shaped dents in their skulls. No ceiling panels are shaped like that. He had to have been killed by someone, sir."

"This is a very serious accusation Buck. Do you have any evidence that indicates this is true?"

"No sir, not yet. But I aim to fix that tonight."

"And just how?"

"I'm going to take Alex and my old F-6 and stakeout the canteen tonight, using myself as bait."

"And on who's authority?"

"Hopefully yours sir. I also have this message from Mortician Davis. He believes that there's something amiss too."

"Very well. Just don't get trigger-happy, alright?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

Ed left the Commodore's office and headed towards his dorm. He didn't strictly know where Alex was. It had a tendency to wander off into the halls and only come back whenever it felt like it. It didn't matter. Ed knew Alex would come back and in the meantime, he ran a field check of his F-6 laser pistol. It was an older model, from his days almost fifteen years prior as a combat engineer in the Terran space armada. He had been offered a newer gun many times, and had refused on every occasion, each time using the same excuse. He always said that the newer models were mass-produced and too unreliable. But he actually kept the F-6 because it reminded him of the closest he had ever gotten to his dream of planet-hopping. He took it out of the case under his bunk and looked at it, scanning for any sign of wear or dysfunction. As always, he could find none. Upkeep of the pistol was the closest thing he had for a religion. He was staring forlornly at the pistol when just the thing he was looking for walked through the door. It boomed at him in a commanding voice:

"Firearms are a dangerous item and have no place in the colony. Please surrender your weapon." It made a grab for the F-6. The blocky, silver letters on its side spelled out "SECBOT."

"Alex, we've been over this. I'm allowed to have it. If you're not satisfied, read this." he thrust the note the Commodore had given him underneath Alex's vision panel. It stared at the paper for a few minutes. It raised its face up to Ed.

"It is indeed the handwriting of Commodore Theodore F. Nimitz. You may keep your firearm." Alex turned away from Ed and fit itself into the charging alcove in the wall. A flashing light started in the middle of its chest.

"Oh no you don't. We're on patrol duty tonight. Come on." he beckoned to it. The robot reluctantly removed itself from the wall and followed after him. The walked along the darkened and deserted corridors, only once meeting a cleaning bot. 

"Cute little guys aren't they?" Ed asked Alex.

"They fulfill a vital function for the colony as well as you. Their physical appearance has no bearing on their prime directive."

"Loving as always Alex. Things like this are why I keep you around." teased Ed. They stopped and Alex turned towards Ed.

"Colony law dictates that all personnel should not let their SECBOTs be lost. You are required to continue you association." responded Alex.

"Fair point"

As they neared the canteen, Ed motioned Alex to be quiet and tucked his shirt over the pistol at his hip. They walked through the doorway and found no one. Ed turned to Alex,

"Well, looks like it's a real stakeout." He pointed Alex in the direction of a table a went to the bar to get himself a glass of water. Alex noted on this peculiar behavior;

"The beverage you are about to imbibe contains less than 1ppm of alcohol. Are you feeling well?" Ed propped his feet up on the table and took a sip from his glass.

"I am so glad I reprogrammed you to be an enabler, Alex. But no, I'm fine. I just can't get drunk on the job."

The pair whiled away the time. Ed would try to strike up a conversation with Alex, who would respond in its robot tendencies. Thusly, the hours passed quite agonizingly. After what seemed like an eternity, Ed heard a noise from from the west side of the colony. He quietly drew the F-6 from his holster and motioned Alex to walk down a corridor separate to his. Ed walked down the corridor slowly, keeping his back to the wall, occasionally looking behind himself. He searched for ten minutes before he decided to give up the chase and regroup with Alex. As he walked in the direction he saw Alex go, he heard a metallic thud. Fearing the worst, he took off in Alex's direction. As he neared, he started calling its name.

"Alex!" he called. "Alex!" No response came. He neared the location of the sound and a pair of awful sights greeted him. Alex was lying on the ground with a massive dent in one of its arms. It wasn't moving. The second was the corpse of a man with another head wound. Ed pressed his fingers up against his neck. His head dropped when he didn't feel a pulse. He rushed to Alex's side and dropped to his knees. He ran a systems check of it and gently felt the dent in its arm. The robot had entered a state similar to unconsciousness in humans. He called a security team to the site of the dead man and walked back to his dorm holding Alex in a gentle fireman's carry. He carefully, almost lovingly, placed it in the charging alcove and got out his tools. He set to work repairing the dent in its arm. After almost an hour he collapsed into his bunk after almost two sleepless nights. As he neared sleep, he noticed a few specks of rust on Alex's chest plate and arm. I'll have to sort that out tomorrow, he thought.

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140 Reviews

Points: 10225
Reviews: 140

Sat Jan 02, 2021 6:51 pm
Plume wrote a review...

Hey! Plume here, with a review!

I'm really enjoying this piece so far. It's a very compelling sci-fi mystery, and I'm thoroughly intrigued about what will happen. It's been a while since this has been published, but I hope you get to read this someday? Anyways.

In General

One thing you do really well is characters. They're all so believable, and you write great dialogue for them. I especially love the dynamic that is introduced between Ed and Alex. I love characters that are sort of awkward and inhuman but in the best way, like robots and aliens, and you've delivered right to that.

I also really loved your pacing. It was really great, and this was a perfect length. It wasn't too short, and wasn't too long. It also pairs perfectly with the first one, and leaves off on a perfect note. It's hard to break up writing, especially one like this, with a continuous storyline, but you've done a really great job.


You seem to have some punctuation/capitalization inconsistencies with your dialogue. For example, the first piece of dialogue is written like:

"Come in." came the sonorous voice of the Commodore.

To fix it, you should change the period to a comma. However, some other sentences with dialogue are missing a punctuation mark completely, and others have unnecessary capitalization. It isn't just with dialogue, too. I'd suggest proofreading your piece, or getting someone else to do it for you, just to fix all of those minor errors.

It was covered in papers and he shuffled these around importantly as Ed drew closer.

Personally, i would replace these with them. I think when you use these, it gives the papers a sort of importance they wouldn't otherwise have in the sentence, and it also reads a bit strangely.

"Speak up Buck!"

Generally, when you address someone in dialogue, you separate it from the sentence with a comma. In this case, it would become "Speak up, Buck!" This also applies every time you use sir. You do it sometimes, but it's missing in some parts. Again, I'd suggest going back and rereading it.

You are required to continue you association," responded Alex.

I think this was probably a typo, but it should read "You are required to continue your association."

"The beverage you are about to imbibe contains less than 1ppm of alcohol. Are you feeling well?" Ed propped his feet up on the table and took a sip from his glass.

There's nothing wrong with this; I just wanted to tell you that I laughed really hard at this part. I think it's a perfect indication of their relationship/interaction as well as Ed's character. Well done.

Overall: lovely job. I really enjoyed reading this, and I might go and read other parts of it soon! Keep writing!

Thank you so much! I really thought that the whole story was kind of...completely terrible, because I actually don't like mysteries, but apparently, it's not! That's so nice!

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154 Reviews

Points: 10017
Reviews: 154

Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:14 pm
Zoom wrote a review...

Hi cidrianwritersguild ^_^

Zoom here for a review (I read chapter 1)

I checked out your profile and sadly you haven't been active for a few months. Hopefully you come back and see this review. Even so, imma try push it out of the greenroom anyway.

"Ah." The Commodore snapped his fingers. "Good Evening Engineer Buck. Tell me, what brings you here? I assume the unfortunate incidents involving Engineer Lugton and Biologist Stevens?"

I...don't really get why the Commodore immediately assumes that Ed is there because of the incidents. Presumably, everyone other that Ed believes that they are pure accidents and that nobody has a gripe against anyone else etc etc. If anything, the only suspicious part of this whole thing is that it was Ed who found both victims. So if the Commodore felt even a hint of suspicion that these were murders and not accidents, surely those suspicions would be directed at Ed? So I think this dialogue is missing something to clarify Commodore's assumption. Something small like "you and your theories, Ed" (not that, but something on that level to clue is into why the Commodore in anticipating this convo).

"This is a very serious accusation Buck. Do you have any evidence that indicates this is true?"

Besides the excellent summary Ed just gave? ^_^


Well, overall I am enjoying this story so far and will continue on. You have a nice style, in particular your dialog is engaging and balanced well with action / tags. I like that you're dishing up a lot of details to remind us that this is a unique sci-fi setting.

I do think you could add even more detail, though. For example when it comes to Alex, the cleaning bots and the general setting I don't always entirely know what to envision. For example Ed even goes as far as to comment "Cute little guys" to Alex in reference to the cleaning bot, and I wish I had some sort of imagery to go along with Ed's conclusion.

Something else that I'm sort of bothered by (I guess it depends on what happens next) is that the story has repeated itself three times, now. Ed has encountered someone, they've gone off camera, Ed hears something / his suspicions are roused, he discovers a body. It's becoming a bit stale. Not to mention that he is now the sole witness of not one, not two, but three (attempted) murders! Like?? I know you've characterised these people as overly trusting of each other, but damn? How many people need to drop around Ed for someone to point the finger his way. Like I alluded to, it depends where you're going with this. Maybe there's a reason things keep repeating in the same sequence. If not, I stand by my comment that by this point its stale. If there is a reason, well, depends what it is. I'll stick a pin in that and suspend my apprehension.

One last thing, not a major problem, but I think the pacing is a bit wonky at times. For example in the previous part when Ed discovered the first body and jumped right into "stay with me" and rushing him to the infirmary, all of that swept by in a moments notice, and in comparision to how slowly you started that scene, it was jarring. There have been a few other moments like that where things sped up / slowed down abruptly.

On a separate note, I love the title "Murder By Starlight". It looks and sounds great.

Until next time,


To address the first two things, I'm pretty certain I wrote it like that because I don't really have the patience for writing mystery books and I only had a rough idea of the premise when I started it. And then there is a reason for the similarities between all the murders, but I don't remember when it's explained. Thanks for the review by they way!

Is anyone else desperately waiting to see themselves in the quote gen?
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