Chapter 1 - Joanna's Dawn - Knights of Marth

Copyright to Jonathan O'Donnell - Protected under UK and International Copyright Laws, any reproduction, copying or publishing without the Authors express consent is strictly prohibited.

The Rise of Marth

The Rise of Marth
Joanna’s Dawn


Denny stepped from his transport, his polished shoe landed in an oily black puddle. He cussed loudly; throwing an angry look towards his driver. Shaking his foot, he walked towards the entrance. The driver eager to make amends rushed to open the door, which cracked and groaned, its rusted hinges long due replacement. He walked into the dimly lit abandoned storage area, light streaming across the concrete from the high broken windows that lined the upper, now collapsed, first floor. He moved across the warehouse to the only place that was illuminated, a small room at the back.
As he entered the room, he heard a scream, his eyes scanned the room; blood pooled in puddles on the tiled floor, the air stunk with a fresh aroma of iron that hung in the air. He looked at the source of the pungent but to him a pleasant smell.
“Has he told you where it is yet?”
“Not yet,” replied the giant wielding the long blade streaked with blood.
Slowly he walked over to the body hung by rope to the wall, the open wounds exposing the intestines, which pulsed with steam in the cold air.
“You know lad, your brother and general pain in my arse, has cost me a great deal. So if you tell me what I need to know, Kirk here will end you quick and I will leave your brother out of this. You choose. Personally I can’t wait to get him just where you are now.”
The body twitched, the eyes opened, fixing on Denny, the mouth parted as if to speak, then the pain kicked in and the eyes closed. Denny leaned forward hoping to catch any final words. His eyes saw the intestines pulsing with the effort; he looked up just in time to catch the mixture of blood and phlegm that spat from the mouth of his victim.
Taking a step back, pulling a perfectly folded handkerchief from his pocket. He slowed and careful mopped his face. He turned to Kirk, extending his small manicured hand “Give me your knife”. Kirk dutifully obeyed, a sickening grin spread across his face. His fingers wrapped comfortably around the rubber grip, like an old friend, he reacquainted himself with the instrument of murder. The blade shone in the light of the single bulb, he admired the blade and then stepped forward.
Slowly, intently and with delicate precision, he inserted the knife in the open wound and like a surgeon, hooked the large intestines onto the blade. His toothy smile wide and unpleasant he looked into the red weary eyes enjoying the pain he inflicted. He felt an instant pleasurable rush, and as the feeling peaked, he moved his hand in a swift upward move, slicing the upper intestine in two. The young man’s body arched against the wall, the intestines slipped forth, spilling blood and digested food over the floor, the stench filled the room. He briefly paused admiring his cut before tossing the blade back to the giant, he said,
 “She’ll be here soon, you know what to do. Keep him going for a little while longer”
Kirk just nodded as he ran the blade over his arm, wiping it clean.


Joanna pulled her top over her head, flipping her long dark hair. She picked up her shoes and small bag and silently slipped out the door. She turned just the once to look at the young man she had left asleep in the bed. The door clicked behind her and she moved down the empty carpeted hallway to the lift.
The only sign of life were a few pre-booked guest newspapers, an old Martian quirk inherited from mother Earth, they refused to give up their morning printed papers even on the most modern of man’s worlds with contact lens readers Martians still loved paper.
She called the lift and waited. A few moments passed and she put the time to good use by adjusting her top. She heard the hiss as the lift arrived.
She checked over her shoulder before entering and asking for the taxi station.  
Inside Joanna slipped her black strapped four-inch heels on and checked her hair in the reflective steel walls, her self-assessment occasionally interfered with by adverts for Hover Cars and Lipsticks scrolling across the crystal smooth surface.  Dissatisfied with the interruptions, she took a tiny mirror from her bag, checking herself with a quizzical look. She took out a lipstick, laughed and then put it back again, what was the point? The lift took just under a minute to climb the sixty-two floors to the taxi station. She stepped into the fresh cold air, high above the low cloud layer; she pressed her thumb into the payment pad. The computer scanned her prints and hailed her a taxi. With typical Martian efficiently the Taxi promptly arrived to whisk her home.
As she flew over the city back towards her apartment, she pondered why she picked up young men in bars. She knew deep down in her heart, family life was not for her, not yet anyway so any entanglement with men for her was purely mercenary. Men were too needy, too controlling; she needed freedom to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. The man she would settle for would have to understand her.
To understand me, you have to know everything about me. There is no one I trust that much. Not anymore.’
The taxi dipped its nose, cutting left, and then swung round to the right through the towers of the apartment buildings that made up the outskirts of New London. The taxi flew silently and unopposed as this early in the morning few taxis were flying.
The taxi glided in to a smooth landing on the roof of her apartment building, the door opened and the thin winds caught her long dark hair blowing it over her face. She hooked her hair behind her ear and closed the door.

Joanna was a young woman in her prime, just thirty-three years old, fit, toned and she exuded power. She was elegant even though she topped six foot four inches, not gangly at all. Like most Martian humans born to this world, the lower gravity was less demanding on human genetics designed for a planet with a larger core. Women averaged over a foot more in height than their earth born counterparts and that was only after a few generations. Her black hair reached her shoulders and her even longer legs caused many a man to lose their co-ordination. In her heels, she stood nearly six feet eight.

She strolled over to the apartment roof door, choosing not to take the lift. Taking the stairs, she quickly covered the one flight to her apartment, the penthouse at Mons Apartment Tower. She cleared her elaborate door security and relieved to be inside she kicked off her painful shoes and let her feet sink into the deep soft carpet. The fibres caressed between her toes. She pulled her earrings off and her watch and placed everything including her bag on to the entrance table. More at ease she flopped on her large sofa, she chucked a few cushions to one end and eased herself back, resting her head against the soft welcoming cushions. For a moment, she allowed herself to pause, breathing lightly easing herself back into her comfortable home. Thoughts and memories of the previous evening slowing replayed in her mind, she raised both her arms above her head stretching, while her toes clenched and unclenched. She wiggled them feeling the blood return and her toes come back to life. Heels, she hated them and felt more as home in trainers, shoes or army boots. However, if she wanted company she would have to make some sacrifices.  Arching her back, stretching her muscles she let out a gentle contented sigh.
She lay and looked out of the window and watched as Sol rose on her home world, higher and higher it climbed, warming Mars and her slowly. The manufactured atmosphere helped to keep the heat in on Mars now, but it was still a very cold world at night and only lukewarm during the day.
Finally warmed and with circulation restored she rolled off the sofa, leaning forward pressing a button on her table; automatically the shower began. Slowly she stood, stretching again and walked over to her bathroom. She eased her top off over her head and unzipped her skirt. With a wiggle, it dropped to the floor and she stepped over the discarded item. Her flimsy underwear followed, left as they fell and as she reached the bathroom door, she was naked, her long elegant body looking perfect to any trained or even untrained male eye.
After a long hot shower and steam dry, she wrapped herself in her robe; it was soft, fluffy and white.  Making her way to the kitchen, she made a pot of coffee, some dry unbuttered toast, poured a large glass of orange juice and rewarded herself with once small piece of dark chocolate. Placing them on a tray, she went out on the balcony into sun. She pulled her wicker chair over to the table, poured her coffee, took a piece of toast and then relaxing lifted her feet onto the chair to enjoy the morning view and the light cool thin breeze.  Sipping her chestnut and herb coffee, letting the aroma waft up her nostrils and relax her. Joanna was at ease.
After a time, she noticed her communicator light was persistently flashing, an indication that she had urgent messages. She did not like being pestered or hurried her life was an ordered one, planned and considered and urgent messages were not part of her plan. She thought about taking the messages for a moment and then decided her toast would come first. Toast finished, chocolate consumed and coffee warming her she finally took the messages.
Touching her finger to the button and listened to her messages. She noted three messages from her Mum, each one designed to leave her with a little more guilt than the one before. Her Mum always fretted about her and wanted Joanna to be more like her twin sister. Her sister was of course her complete opposite, three children, a home, married to the boring and in her view lazy director of the Oxygen plant. Her sister was prim and proper and was always made up ready for show every hour of the day. Her sister often held long and excruciatingly boring dinner parties, which on occasions she sometimes had to suffer in the name and tradition of family unity or just for her mum. Her delightful sister always nagging at her that she needed a man to marry, told her to give up her silly spy work. It was alien world to her, a nightmare-inducing world, even the thought of her sister in her high heels and tight fitting evening gown made her cringe. As the thoughts of her sister filled her mind, the final message was playing. The sound waves finally penetrated her eardrums and into her consciousness, interrupting the agony of family dynamics and the voice as it penetrated made her body tense and responsive, she leaned forward, eyes widening with every word from the familiar if distant voice. She reached forward and pressed the replay button.
The voice penetrated her mind clearly on the second attempt, ‘Joanna, Joanna, I hope you are there?’ the voice whispered ‘It’s James, I need you. I am in trouble, big trouble. Darn it Jo, where in hell are you? Joanna?’
His voice from her years of training was under extreme stress; her trained ears could sense the change in tone, a skill that had served her well in many a mission or painful interrogation. Then as she listened intently to his voice, an explosion caused the sound waves from the communicator to crackle deep in her ears. The message ended abruptly.
Joanne paused, she had not realised she had been leaning forward her ear almost pressed to the speaker; she sat back her hands shaking uncontrollably and her breathing shallow and fast. She could feel her heart pounding and her mind racing but she forced herself to think, to take stock to analyse and make the decision that would best fit the situation. This was the academy training kicking in! ‘Calm down’ her mind demanded of herself. Before she did anything else she needed to assess the message. Joanna downloaded the message onto her wrist communicator, she scrambled it and coded it and then called her office her actions deliberate and detailed as any secret agents would be. Peter, her faithful and trusted assistant, answered.
‘Peter! I am sending you a message. Trace its origin and call me back. Do it urgently Peter, top priority and delete any records of your search OK’?
She hung up as Peter’s confirmation was still travelling across the frequency stream to her communicator. She forced herself to get up, her legs shaking like her hands were before. They felt unnatural, the feeling for her was unnatural. Joanna was controlled as a person, fear and emotions usually so tightly locked away. But now they were having a field day with her body now.
She willed her legs to work and made it to her bedroom and got dressed, throwing on a pair of jeans and a top. She grabbed her trainers and her black jacket. As she tied her laces, her wrist communicator buzzed.
‘Hi boss,’ said Peter ‘I have the details for you. I am sending them over coded and on a secure line now, let me know if you need anything else?’
Joanna waited for her wrist to vibrate. It seemed an age as her mind was already leaping ahead. Finally, it came through; the location of the call for help had been on Earth, New York, Lower Manhattan Area, Manhattan Island. Without pausing to think, she packed a bag and headed to the spaceport.

On the way to the spaceport, she allowed herself to remember long forgotten moments, she did not need to delve too deep to locate the memories of James, he had never been far from her thoughts every day, every week since he had left to return to Earth. He had been her man for a short while, back in the old academy days. Those times back then seemed so relaxed, innocent and not politically or otherwise driven. A time when old mother Earth and Mars had yet to fall out, it seemed so long ago another lifetime.
Now relations between the two most populous planets had reached rock bottom, accusations and counter accusations, minor navy skirmishes in planetary orbits between the fleets. The war of words seemed to intensify every day.
          She and James had been career minded back in those better days, which proved the deciding factor in the end. They were not ready for emotional commitment. They were both young, in love yes, but also so in love with what they were training to become.
They had parted on good terms promising to find each other again one day and for both of them they had meant it.  
She had since relived those days countless times on many a lonely night. How she would like to have made different decisions. How she would have asked him to stay, stay forever.
Her mind always wandered back to their first night together, he had been the only one she had stayed with until the next morning, the only one she had cuddled and the only arms she had not wanted to leave. That moment had surprised her just as much as it had him. He was in the Earth Secret Service on detachment to the Academy; she was in the Mars Intelligence Academy, both on their way up with promising careers in front of them. How long had it been? Ten years? After all that time he had found her, needed her and this time, no career, no mission or anything else was going to get in her way. James needed her and that was the only fact that she needed.

The spaceport loomed large in the window; she zipped up and checked her laser was stowed in the scanner proof container. ‘I am coming James’ she said, ‘I am coming’!

Do you want to read Chapter 2?


  1. I would love to read and review this book for my site when your are finished please consider my site.

    my contact email is

    1. Hi Paula see Origin it is out first on Amazon