THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR LIGHT FROM UNCOMMON STARS!!! I am still in a bit of shock right now. <3 Ryka
In the meantime, here's Chapter 2. In keeping with the spirit of Ch. 1, penned upon the @JoCoCruise I channeled terrible writing, in one night, with the next day limited to a few frantic edits--so please pardon (and enjoy) the mess!
“I am Nancy the Dreadnaught…I was a very good Dreadnaught.”
Nancy the Dreadnaught was drifting lifelessly, as if dead, which she technically was, being a dreadnaught.
But just because she was lifeless, that didn’t mean she didn’t have feelings.
“I decimated planets. I sang happy songs…” Nancy the Deadnaught said lifelessly.
“I…you are sad…know,” Captain Eyrus said, pausing meaningfully at each ellipsis. SOVishish people had difficulty expressing emotion, as states of mind did not themselves to transitive verbs lend, but the Captain very much Nancy’s help needed.
“But Nancy, please…life support maintain,” they managed to say desperately. “Your crew only three hours of reserve power has.”
“Life support? My crew? W-why are they still here? Haven’t they been reassigned? I’m sure they would have rather left with the guests to ride Emma the Battle Cruiser, anyway.”
“Now Nancy, m-maybe we should not Emma the Battle Cruiser bring up,” Captain Eyrus said reasoningly.
Nancy stamped her feet. “Why did you bring up Emma the Battle Cruiser?!? FINE THEN! You want to talk about Emma the Battle Cruiser, let’s talk about Emma the Sparkly Goody-Two Shoes Battle Cruiser.”
“N-nancy, I did not—”
“Wasn’t she cute? Wasn’t she kind? Didn’t she tell me how much she used to look up to me when she was being constructed? And that she hoped I would enjoy my retirement? As if she didn’t know about the SLUP…
“Oh, Emma the Innocent Battle Cruiser…telling all our guests that she was their new home, that she was still new at entertaining, and because she was new and oh-so-young she might make a few mistakes, but she was going try her best, so everyone please cheer for her in battle and onstage--oh how cute she was, wasn’t she?”
“Y-yes…cute she was,” Captain Eyrus said admittedly.
“A-and did you hear…my passengers cheering?” Nancy said softly. “My passengers…cheering…that they were g-getting an...upgrade...for free.”
Nancy’s holographic surrogate faded into nothingness.
Suddenly, Captain Eyrus noticed that their comm badge was beeping because it was about to communicate something.
“Captain Eyrus, this is Chief Engineer Hrb-e Rss-uo. I am pleased to report that life support is operating at 100% again! Whatever you did, it worked!”
Hrb-e Rss-uo pronounced his name as “Herb Russo.” He was a member of the Cnsnnt-ooai, a.k.a. the Consonanti, a proud, but pragmatic species from an obscenely rustic sector of the galaxy that lived by the motto, “I could tell you my name, but you would not be able to pronounce it.”
This, they accomplished in the most efficient way possible, by removing all the vowels from their names and separating them at the end with a hyphen.
Their names became a source of great pride to all the Cnsnnt-ooai, but the rest of the galaxy found them somewhat troublesome—and after amassing star centuries of missed business opportunities, as well as a needless bloody holy war with the Grimdark of Overit (a.k.a. “The Great War of Who the Holy Hell Are You And Why Should I Care?”), the Cnsnnt-ooai decided to pronounce their names as if they had their vowels in reasonable places, which mollified their galactic neighbors while preserving the Consonanti’s own need for condescending superiority.
“And sir, how is Nancy doing?” Chief Engineer Hrb-e Rss-uo continued curiously, “Some of the crew reports hearing sobbing in the maintenance tubes.”
“I I knew wish...” Captain Eyrus said woefully.
“Uh, Captain? What did you say?”
Captain Eyrus was about to accuse their Chief Engineer of unintentional irony when the lights in throughout the ship flashed, then turned blood red.
“Hu-hu-huuu!!!!” came the maniacal voice of Nancy the Dreadnaught laughing maniacally. “Hu-hu-huuu!!!!”
There was another flash, and Nancy the Dreadnaught’s Holographic Surrogate appeared on all the viewscreens. Except it wasn’t the Nancy the Dreadnaught’s Holographic Surrogate that any of them knew.
Nancy had eschewed her Colorful Shiny Magical Girl Sailor Idol outfit and was now enrobed in a different outfit. Dark and black, it was a stealthy space ninja outfit, of the type often worn by stealthy ninjas in space.
“Nancy, you okay are?” Captain Eyrus ventured.
“Okay? I am more than okay! Hu-hu-huuu!!!! Hello crew! We could be about to embark on a mission that I am not sure of, but might somehow save the empire, maybe! Prepare for possible glory and perhaps adventure! Prepare for a mission that might well be like none of us can know! Hu-hu-huuu!!!!”
The lights flashed again and returned to normal.
“Uh…what was that?” Chief Engineer Bb-o Rss-uo asked quizzically.
Captain Eyrus was about to answer, when Nancy the Dreadnaught appeared before him and shut off their commlink.
“Nancy, the captain of the ship I still am. I—"
“Captain Eyrus—look!” In her hand was the SLUP.
“Yes?” Captain Eyrus at the SLUP in her hand looked.
“The SLUP! I just realized that maybe Emma the Battle Cruiser really didn’t know about the SLUP! Which means maybe I wasn’t merely being decommissioned and sent to the homeworld. Which means our remaining mission maybe is Secrecy Level Ultra Plus. Which means,” Nancy the Dreadnaught shuddered with horror. “Maybe I won’t be put in a museum somewhere to be turned into a children’s exhibit where galactic preschoolers put boogers in my seat cushions. Don’t you see? It all makes sense!”
“Well, I suppose,” Captain Eyrus agreed skeptically. “We should to Star Port Alpha immediately proceed.”
“I’ll miss being a Pacifier/Executioner, but a Covert Death Ninja can be pretty cute, too. I’ll need a new theme song. And maybe some backup dancers? Yes! Backup dancers! I’ll miss the sparkles, though. Hey—do you think we can do dark sparkles?”
It took them three star days and star nights to reach Star Port Alpha, the central Star Port, which orbited Valium, the home world of the Kara-Val Empire.
Star Port Alpha was the biggest port that Nancy the Dreadnaught had ever seen. Dreadnaughts were the largest and sturdiest class of warship (the new Battle Cruiser class had a slight edge in speed. And a newer sound and light system. And a revolving stage. And a shopping mall with high-end retailers), but the lumbering freighters of Star Port Alpha made Nancy felt small. Giant superfreighters lumbered by her—bringing not death and music, but space quinoa and star couscous. There were tankers full of galactic hummus, and brown dwarf rice—and so many more healthful, sensible foodstuffs and housewares, all products of the mighty Kara-Val Empire.
Captain Eyrus guided Nancy to an open docking bay, and once docked, Nancy interfaced with the Star Port Alpha information system. To her delight, a communication was already waiting.
“Hu-hu-huuu!!!! See, I told you, Captain Eyrus! It’s marked “priority!” We’re about to be assigned an important secret mission, I just know it!”
“Attention, Nancy the Dreadnaught, retired. New orders are available for your SLUP. Would you like to proceed?”
“Yes,” Nancy the Dreadnaught signaled back.
“Please make sure that your SLUP is connected to an external power source. Download will take approximately 8 star hours to complete. In the meantime, please enjoy your stay at Star Port Alpha. There is a special hot stone and seaweed wrap special at the spa, and tonight our chefs are serving truffle lasagna in meat and vegan versions at the Omnivore Buffet.”
Captain Eyrus and the rest of the crew ventured into Star Port Alpha. Nancy the Dreadnaught, however, watched the SLUP diligently. How could she relax? Eight stars hours to download? What in star nations could that be? This was Star Port Alpha—data rates here were the fastest in the galaxy—which meant either an incredibly intricate simulation of some sort, a phishing scam from a prince of the planet Niregia
The next morning, Nancy the Dreadnaught had her answer.
It was an encryption protocol.
And with that encryption, the SLUP informed Nancy the Dreadnaught and Captain Eyrus that they were given clearance to visit Valium—to be granted an audience with the Imperial Emprex Dasani of the Space Empire of Kara-Val herself.
After presenting their encryption code, Captain Eyrus and Nancy the Dreadaught stepped onto the transporter platform. Which would transport them to the planet below.
They were transporting to the main village of Karaville, then be taken to the Emprex’s Imperial residence in the legendary Glade of Freshness.
This was a high honor, for anyone, and Nancy the Dreadnaught was wearing the Covert Death Ninja outfit that she had so carefully crafted the night before. She was especially proud of the sparkly shuriken. She hoped the Emprex would like the sparkly shuriken.
But Captain Eyrus? Yes, they were in their dress uniform, but the rest of them looked like a hungover mess…
“The crew to celebrate wanted. I them could not deny,” Captain Eyrus said, looking like a hungover mess.
Nancy thought about the crew…they stayed with her when they could have transferred to Emma the Battle Cruiser.
“Well…they have worked hard. And so have you. Thank you. But could at least straighten your back?”
Captain Eyrus nodded, then a strange look came upon their face.
“I think I seaweed in my butt still have,” Captain Eyrus said moistly.
“What? A seaweed wrap is not supposed to work that way!”
“It not from a seaweed wrap is. It—”
“No, I don’t want to know about it!”
“But—" Captain Eyrus said plaintively.
“I don’t want to know about it!” Nancy the Dreadnaught said, just as the transporter began to hum.
Unlike Star Port Alpha, planet Valium itself was a green world full of greenery. And, although Star Port Alpha was a bustling marketplace of advanced technology and organic produce, entrance to the planet itself was strictly limited--usually to high level diplomats, retired C-level executives, folksingers, genetic engineers, cheesemakers (the founders Kara and Val had loved cheese), and abandoned space pets.
And, of course, anyone who was summoned by the Emprex Dasani.
“Look! A spacedogperson!!” Nancy said, trying her best not to point. “And a spacerabbitperson family!”
Kara and Val had started the Kara-Val Empire as Kara and Val’s Galactic Animal Shelter.
Kara and Val used their talents as folksingers to persuade sentient races to leave Valium, and cede the planet to their menagerie of space pets, and soon Valium became a haven for space pets from all over space.
However, over the star years, Kara and Val missed having casual conversations, chance meetings, and board game nights. Luckily, by this time, their Empire had become mighty, and so they recruited genetic engineers to gene-splice their beloved space pets, to transform them into spacepetpeople.
After years of experimentation, trial, and error, the engineers finally succeeded, and soon Valium’s main population was spacedogpeople, spacecatpeople, spacefishpeople, spacerabbitpeople and so on.
Even as Val, then Kara, passed to the afterworld, and new Emprexes were elected, most spacepetpeople elected to stay on Valium, and where they created their own culture, performing heartfelt folks songs, making cheese, crafting clothing from all-natural fibers, raising organic produce, and making the best hummus in the galaxy…
Nancy the Dreadnaught and Captain Eyrus were shaken out of their wonder to see a woman with a clipboard and glasses, and her hair in a bun.
“I am Miss Bunn. You may call me Miss Bunn,” said Miss Bunn, who had her hair in a bun. “I shall now escort you to the Glade of Freshness.”
“Thank you, Miss Bunn.”
Miss Bunn nodded, as a spacehorsepeople-drawn carriage appeared as if summoned.
“Let us go, we should not keep her Imperial Majesty, Emprex Dasani waiting.
"Besides, you have chosen a good day to visit the Glade of Freshness. Today’s scent is “Moonlit Walk and Wandering Stream.”
Moonlit Walk and Wandering Stream!!!!
As they entered the Glade of Freshness, Nancy the Covert Death Ninja Dreadnaught was absolutely bubbly. This was the perfect fragrance to match her new mission as an elegant and enchanting bringer of silent death. 
Suddenly she was interrupted by a child screaming!
“SCARY LADY!” the toddler screamed. She could not have been more than two or three, and suddenly there was more screaming.
Nancy the Covert Death Ninja Dreadnaught looked around. Suddenly Nancy the Covert Death Ninja Dreadnaught forgot about the Glade of Freshness, her secret space ninja mission and even that she was about to meet her Imperial Majesty, Emprex Dasani of the Space Empire of Kara-Val.
For she was surrounded by toddlers, all pointing at her crying and screaming.
“WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU WEARING!?” came a horrified voice.
Nancy the Covert Death Ninja Dreadnaught looked to the speaker—it was her Imperial Majesty, Emprex Dasani of the Space Empire of Kara-Val!!!!
“I-I am so sorry,” Nancy said. She bowed, reverting to her usual Colorful Shiny Magical Girl Sailor Idol outfit. “I did not expect…children.”
“Why would you not expect children when you are going to be a nursery ship!?”
“A-what? I am sorry, your Imperial Emprexness. I thought you said—"
“A nursery ship. I have decided to make you a nursery ship. A nursery schoolship, to be exact. Your entire crew will need to complete a 12-hour space webinar course on space child care, and you, my dear, will need to be completely redesigned for friendly playrooms and child-safe fixtures.”
Nancy stood there, so much in shock, that she did not notice as the little girl picked her nose and put a booger on her skirt.
Cover: Courtesy of https://chicon.org/
 Other favorite fragrances in the Glade of Freshness include Tranquil Lavender and Aloe, Bamboo and Waterlily Bliss, and Bubble Berry Splash.