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Jason and the Astronauts is the first story in the Lady Aesculapius series. Written by Michael Robertson, it was released for free online on 29 September 2019.

Synopsis

Plot

On planet Death in the Ghenthar system, the prisoner Lady Aesculapius makes her way to Castle Death - which towers above a sea of former prisoner's skulls. In the throne room she is greeted by the Queen of Death, who relays her many crimes; breaking into the royal armoury, stealing from the private vaults, slaying the Queen's pet dragon, and ripping pages from the Secret Books of Tyrron.

In the middle of her execution Aesculapius takes a call from her companion Jason Jackson and, after hearing what he had to say, decided to fast-track her escape plan. The Queen's guards attempt to shoot Lady Aesc dead but the guns malfunction killing them instead, as she managed to replace all of the ammunition with explosives after breaking into the royal armoury. Lady Aesc also reveals that she didn't slay the dragon - merely relocated it, and the loose dragon provided her with the perfect means of escape.

Meanwhile, aboard the Centro discovery ship new boy Jason - who was only picked up at the last Earth stop - is introduced to Nagi Hikawa and Mia Santos by his friend Cassie over lunch. Eventually the four returned to work on the flight deck, and under the command of Captain Jessica Zhane began to pilot the ship - however, Jason was left disappointed to realise that there was no warp drive like on Star Trek and that the ship travelled much slower. After hours of travelling with nothing to report, Jason began to grow bored - until Mia detected something in the far distance. A Greek temple, on a collision course with Mars. Zhane planned to send herself, Jason, Mia, Naji and Cassie, to investigate the temple - leaving Chuck and Kevin in charge of the ship.

Entering the temple, the investigation team discover that not only did it have Earth-like gravity but also breathable air. With the crew entirely stumped by the oddity, Jason carried out a secret call to his friend Lady Aesc - despite being warned against it by Zhane. Upon arriving, Lady Aesc declared that the temple was "parallel universe bullshit!". Lady Aesc went on to explain that the temple was sent here by someone, and that she would be able to trace the source in her ship. The ship produced a portal and the group were transported to a white and gold city in another dimension.

Not long had they been in this new dimension when the sky split open, Lady Aesc warned that it was a dimension rift and that reality was shattering. Before they could leave however, a robot teleported the group to an underground cavern where rows and rows of similar Greek temples stood. Finally answers came in the form of a man, who explained that this dimension was being attacked by another dimension - and that the temples were in fact preservation units being used to safely evacuate residents to a safer dimension. When the man also explained that the onboard computer would rectify the temple's destination to avoid it colliding with Mars, Zhane and her crew returned through the portal to their dimension. However, Jason opted to stay with Lady Aesc in order to find out who (or what) was threatening this dimension.

Together Lady Aesc and Jason located a dimension bomb, just as the dimension that they were in began to be torn apart completely. Lady Aesc realised that she would be unable to save this collapsing dimension, but was able to slow down the affects enough to allow the last of the temples to flee into another universe. Taking one last look of the dying dimension, Lady Aesc and Jason escaped through one of her portals.

Back in the Prime Dimension, Lady Aesc was comforted by Jason - who stated that she had at least saved some lives. Suddenly, they noticed a secret parcel had been left for Lady Aesc. When she opened the parcel she immediately dropped to the ground, bleeding. Aware that she was dying, but as a Firmament would be able to survive, Lady Aesc told Jason not to worry - and died.

Jason waited for a long time with her lifeless body, unbeknown to him that Lady Aesc had survived - elsewhere in the universe.

Cast

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