Seedlings by Cora BuhlertOnce Ethan Summerton was the heir to a lordship, and a whole planet besides. But all that was taken from him, when his father decided to side with the Galactic Rebellion against the Fifth Human Empire and was murdered for his troubles along with the entire Summerton family, leaving Ethan the only survivor.

Now, cooped up with more than two thousand other Rebels in the eternal night of the planet Pyrs, Ethan Summerton is reduced to tending the rebel base’s greenhouse. Not that he minds – Ethan has never been a snob and besides, he’s always liked gardening. Besides, it gives him the chance to impress his new best friend Holly with the crops he’s growing.

A hardened mercenary, Holly di Marco doesn’t have much use for gardens and greenhouses and strange leafy things. But they matter to Ethan and since Holly is supposed to take care of him, she tries to feign interest as well.

But then one day, an incident involving a lost little girl, chickens and batavia lettuce shows her what Ethan Summerton is truly made of.

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More information:

  • Seedlings is a short story of 6700 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • This story is part of the Shattered Empire saga, a series of more or less loosely connected novellas about the great rebellion against the Fifth Human Empire told from the POVs of the people who fought it.
  • The story that eventually became Seedlings originally started life as the opening scene of a longer novella (coming soon), which chronicles the adventures Holly and Ethan have on the mission they’re about to receive. However, the quieter tone didn’t match the more action-packed novella proper. On the other hand, the opening scene also included a lot of characterisation that would be a pity to lose. So I eventually decided to publish it as a separate short story.
  • We get to see some more of the rebel base on Pyrs and the day to day life there and also meet some more of the rebels.
  • To date, all Shattered Empire stories prominently featured food and drink. I’m not quite sure why this is – it’s certainly not a conscious theme. However, it might be a response to traditional science fiction either not mentioning food and drink altogether or assuming that we’ll all eat protein cubes and food pills (and Soylent Green) in the future.
  • The cover image is digital art by the amazing Angela Harburn.
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