Author's Notes: I've been working on this story off and on for two years, a short time considering the seven years I've put into a different story that has yet to get off the ground. I owe my inspiration to a variety of TV shows and at least one movie. The idea of a haunted ship rescuing people came from a few old ghost ship songs, and my interest in space pirates began to merge. Everything else came along for the ride... I hope you'll enjoy reading this story as much as I have writing it, and take heart. I do plan to write others...

In the dead of space, somewhere far from home
In a rusty freighter bound for ports unknown,
The crew whispers a tale they swear is
true.

Of a ghostly ship made of moonless night
That coasts the stars in a frightening sight
While the sensors read no ship within eye's view.

Ho there! Keep the lights turned low.
Don't catch the gaze of
Mirella's Star!
She journeys space on a quest unknown,
And shows herself when help's too far...

Mirella's Star

Prologue

Fifteen years ago...

Dr. Darius Cyril manned the toggles in the control booth as a sleek black ship sat in front of him on the other side of the large view port: Project Obscurity, Darius's pride and joy. The port lights caused her beautiful hull to glitter like a blanket of stars.

The ship was made of a combination of human and alien technology discovered in the ruins of an isolated planet in the Zhariff System forty-two years ago in the aftermath of a galactic war.

Darius hadn't even been born yet, and his parents didn't talk much about the 2240's War or what is was about, although Darius suspected it was over territorial rights.

When humans first ventured into space over two hundred years ago everything went smoothly. There were solid political systems in place and humans were relatively peaceful, believing that there might be alien race out there that would oppose them; but there wasn't, and over the last century humankind had begun to turn on itself, fracturing into different governments, warring over territorial boundaries. Criminal activities were on the rise and the judicial systems didn't have the strength to keep up. The paradise of Darius's parents and grandparents had steadily fallen into darkness, but in that black there was a glimmer of light.

An elusive yet growing resistance movement called the Mor Ta'ri had approached Darius a few months ago with a proposition to fight some of the corruption which had seeped into even his employment. Project Obscurity was meant to be a reconnaissance ship for passive surveillance on other system governments, but careful poking around in his government files Darius had done on his own proved his suspicions that his employers intended it for more offensive measures: assassinating key government officials, blockading important ports and shipping channels, and other malevolent missions that endangered innocents. Darius was almost caught, and he had little doubt in this age of cover-ups and missing bodies what would happen to him if he had been. But a young woman introducing herself to him as Ophelia Sandhurst of the Mor Ta'ri covered his tracks and offered Darius the chance to join her organization, provided he finished Project Obscurity and arrange for the Mor Ta'ri to acquire her from the corrupt government.

Darius almost disagreed and was even prepared to destroy the ship, but that would've simply delayed the inevitable: the alien technology would be turned into a ship with or without him, and when it was, there was no stopping his government from taking over all the factions and becoming all powerful, like the Roman Empire of old.

All the pieces were in place. The young woman, Ophelia, was by his side under the guise of a lowly technician.

Another woman, closer to Darius's age approached him from his other side, touching a few knobs.

Darius raised a brown eyebrow above gold-framed spectacles. She didn't look like anyone he knew, yet her uniform suggested she was a doctor, like him.

"Nervous?" the stranger asked him conversationally.

Darius shrugged. "A little."

"Me too." She turned her gaze to her screen. "All these pirate attacks lately. I'm worried she might get stolen."

Darius cleared his throat. "Yes, that would be a shame." He looked over her shoulder.

She was downloading the ship's schematics.

"Uh... Excuse me." Darius tapped her on the shoulder. "I don't believe you're authorized-"

An alarm blared, and Darius jumped. "Someone's trying to access the ship..."

The woman whipped out a blaster and held it on him. "You win a gold star, Dr. Cyril."

Ophelia reached for her weapon.

"Uh, uh, uh..." the woman tsked. "Keep your hands where I can see them."

Darius clenched his teeth. And she was so pretty too! "Who are you?"

She smiled. "They call me Mirella."

Darius blinked with surprise. "The Black Hand Pirates..."

"The same." She tugged on his arm. "Now. You're going to give my men access to your ship."

"No way in Daedalus!" Darius snapped.

She held up her blaster pointedly. "Now, that's not very scientific of you, Doctor... Here's the dea. My men will gain access to your ship. The question is do you willingly give it to me, or do I take it? Bear in mind the latter will be very messy."

Ophelia spoke up. "Give it to her, Darius."

"Ophelia-" Darius started.

"Take the lady's advice," the pirate captain warned.

Darius eyed them and let Mirella have her way. He reached over and pressed a few buttons.

Mirella looked over his shoulder and was surprised when he had actually done as she'd asked.

The alarm quieted and doors unlocked.

Darius could hear the footsteps of her crew thunder down the corridor to the terminal.

Darius looked sadly out the view port as the lights came on in his ship: his baby... his hopes and dreams... He would never see her again.

The pirate captain waited until she thought the coast was clear. "You're such a dear..." She kissed him sweetly on the cheek and skipped away down towards the entrance to the terminal, passing all the technicians under him. In front of all of them she called, "I hope we meet again, Doctor!" She waved at him and blew him a kiss before ducking into the terminal, laughing playfully all the way like she'd won a game of tag.

Darius balled his fists at his sides. "Oh, you will... That's a promise."

* * *

Now...

Donielle Pierson gazed dreamily out the porthole of the cargo ship Lucitania as stars flew by like specks of diamond dust in the black satin sky.

A few crewmen played on a harmonica, a violin, and a cello. Someone tapped on a triangle.

Mirella was a pirate of the starry sea,
Stealing government vessel's new technology,
Including, they say,
Mirella's Star itself!

Until a Navy armada destroyed her fleet,
Leaving only Mirella and her
Star to keep
To haunt the jet black space, where she now dwells.

Her boyfriend Scipio Hawler came up to her, hugging her affectionately. "Come on, Donnie. Sing along."

"I have more important things to worry about than singing some ghost story. You know Mirella's Star is a myth. No one could survive an ambush by the Navy."

"But she didn't survive. That's the thing. She's a ghost."

"Oh, ghost schmost..." she sighed. "Don't tell me you actually believe in that sailor mumbo-jumbo."

Something hit the ship, and the power went out.

"Now what?" Donielle complained.

Murmers of panic sounded through the freighter.

Something shimmered just on the other side of the port hole.

Donielle blinked. It was a ship, a black ship.

"It's her!" someone shouted. "It's Mirella's Star!"

Donielle gasped. Then, gas entered the ship through the ventilation shafts, and she lost consciousness.

End of Prologue...