Accord of Mars (Accord Series Book 2)

BOOK: Accord of Mars (Accord Series Book 2)
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Accord of Mars
Accord Series, Book Two
Kevin McLaughlin
Role of the Hero Publishing

C
opyright
© 2016 by Kevin O. McLaughlin All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events, or locales in purely coincidental.

About the Book

M
ars won
her freedom from the hegemony of the United Nations of Earth, but can the planet survive the victory?

The ruthless president of the UN will stop at nothing to bring all of humanity under his control. He’s ordered a fleet be built - supposedly to protect Earth against future attacks.

But Nicholas Stein and his son Thomas know better. That fleet is a knife held at the throat of a free Mars. Sooner or later, Earth will be coming to reclaim their colony. A sudden series of attacks convince father and son that their enemies are stepping up the timetable for their attack.

But the truth is even worse.

Earth has a powerful new ship, bigger and more deadly than any weapon humanity has ever constructed. And it’s heading to Mars.

F
or Rowyn
, Dana, and Ewan - may the Mars you someday visit be more peaceful than the one in this story.

Exclusive for fans of the Accord series!

Find out how the story started… When Captain Nicholas Stein set out to stop one enemy ship, and set in motion events which shaped the course of human history for decades to come.

http://kevinomclaughlin.com/accordoffire/

Chapter 1
Thomas Stein

I
dove
for the dubious cover provided by a heavy steel support beam. It was sturdy, but thinner than I was happy with. Any port in a storm, as they say. Bullets ripped through the air, the reports deafening in the enclosed space. They whistled as they went through the air over my head, or impacted with into the steel beam loud pinging sounds.

“Stop shooting and let’s talk!” I shouted.

The only answer was another burst of gunfire. I kept my head down.

“We’re on a space station, damn it!” I yelled over the booming of his gun. “You hit the wrong thing and we’re all dead!”

I had a hunch the shooter didn’t care, which made him even more dangerous. We’d been hearing rumors about possible saboteurs on Mars Station for days now. I wasn’t sure how seriously the rumors had been taken. It wasn’t like I was investigating them myself. Most of my time was spent supervising the refit of the Constellation.

But I thought a quick personal inspection of my spaceship might be worth the time. Did I really think anyone was out to sabotage it? Nah. The means were there. Constellation was badly damaged in the fight against the pirates. We limped our way back to Mars, but the reconstruction required was significant. Mars Station had one “dry dock” berth, big enough to take in a ship so that repairs could be done in atmosphere. They only used it for really massive repair work. The Connie was a big ship, so big she barely fit the hangar. But we’d have been a lot longer fixing her if she was floating in space the whole time. She’d been rebuilt almost completely, and the work was finally almost done.

A ship in space is hard to get at, though. A ship parked inside a station is pretty easy. The dry dock was right in the hub of the station, too - which is good for working on ships there, because there’s no spin inducing artificial gravity. But it also meant an explosion there could potentially wreck the entire station.

I wasn’t really expecting trouble. But I packed a sidearm these days, just as a precaution. As an officer in the Mars Space Service I was authorized to carry a weapon. And given the events of the past half-year it seemed smart to be armed. Just in case. If I’d known I was going to be facing off against a gunman with an automatic rifle I would have brought something bigger, but the pistol would have to do. I pulled it out now and popped up, squeezing off only a single round before the return fire forced me back under cover.

I remembered thinking that saboteurs on the station were about as likely as space fleas. Boy, had I been wrong. I’d barely started my check when I spotted two men working on something near the engines. I waved, they waved back. I figured everything was OK. I pushed off from the floor, which sent me away from the low gravity part of the hanger “up” into the microgravity part in the middle, where the ship floated.

That’s when one of the men turned back toward me. Only this time he wasn’t waving. He had a machine gun in his hands instead. I got lucky - he didn’t know how to shoot in zero gravity, and the recoil from his shots shoved him back, hard. His bullets all went wide. I flipped over before I reached the ship and hit it feet first. Then I pushed off hard, diving toward the nearest support strut for cover.

Where I was still stuck. Every time I tried to peek out from my hiding spot, the shooter fired another burst at me to keep my head down. I had no idea where the other guy was, or precisely what they were up to. But I was pretty sure I didn’t have long to wait before I was going to find out. The words “bomb” and “spaceship engine” kept floating through my brain. Just how big an explosion would they get if they somehow managed to detonate the fission drive in the Connie?

“Computer, call for security backup,” I said into my smartwatch. It gave me a swirling icon that said it was thinking about it. I half wanted to bash the thing against the bulkhead.

There was another brief lull in the shooting, and I stole a moment to look around. I could still only see the one man. He’d braced himself against the hull, using it to keep him in position while he fired. It gave him a stable position, but it kept him immobile too. Could I use that?

He saw me and fired again. I’d waited too long. I’d never be able to duck away in time. But instead of gunshots I heard a click, and he cursed loudly. Out of ammunition! He reached down to pull out a new magazine and inserted it into his weapon, but he let go of the ship to get the reload. The movement sent him tumbling.

I had only a few seconds. That tumble would take him further from the ship, and then he’d fall gently to the floor. I jumped, pushing up as hard as I could to overcome the effect of the station’s spin. I flew upward, my path not quite intersecting his. I opened fire as we passed by. Three shots, all three hit. His body went spinning away from me.

The recoil from my shots had sent me off course a little, but I was still able to catch the edge of the engines with my free hand. A hatch was open on the rear of the ship. That had to be where the other man had gone. I pulled myself toward the opening. The lights were on inside. I pushed myself through the hatch in one rushed motion, pistol at the ready.

The other man was inside. He was working on one of the consoles inside the engine room, but the noise I made coming through made him look up and gape. I hit the ground and pushed off again, rocketing toward him in the microgravity. I aimed my pistol and started to squeeze the trigger.

“Wait! Don’t shoot!” he shouted. Then he let go of the console, raising both hands in the air. “Don’t shoot!”

I caught a rail with my free hand, braking my forward motion. I kept my gun trained on him, just in case. But when he let go of the console the motion pushed him up and away. Now he was drifting in the middle of the room, helpless. He had a pistol holstered on his hip, though.

“Take the gun out and toss it toward me. Slowly,” I said. He did as I directed and eased the pistol from his holster. He clearly knew how to handle a gun. He lifted it away and tossed it toward me with practiced ease. But just as clearly neither of these men knew the first thing about maneuvering in space. Who were they?

I let the gun drift past me. I was more worried about what he’d been doing to my ship. He’d been installing something, but it looked like he’d only gotten partway through the process. I was no expert, but it sure looked like a bomb to me. I tapped my wrist computer.

“Call Dad,” I said.

“Dialing now,” the tinny voice responded from my wrist.

“He’s going to be really interested in this. And here I was, calling Mars Station boring the other day.”

My hands were shaking a little. Coming down off an adrenaline rush always did that to me. I had things well in hand now, though, and in a few minutes I’d have station security here to back me up and dismantle the damned bomb. I looked down at my smartwatch to see if Dad was picking up.

The man chose that moment of distraction to jump me.

Chapter 2
Thomas Stein

H
e kicked
off hard and launched himself across the room at me, arms first. As he came at me he drew a knife from somewhere. I tried to aim my pistol at him, but I was worried about hitting the device he was setting up. If it was a bomb, and I hit it by accident..! I hesitated a moment too long. His forearm smashed into the pistol, sending it spinning out of my hands.

Then the rest of his weight barreled into me. The inertia threw me backward into the bulkhead behind me. He grabbed a stanchion with his free hand to hold himself in place and slashed at me with the knife. I blocked his arm with mine and snaked my hand around his wrist.

“Not letting you stop me!” he said. “Not now!”

He pushed in, but I had my arm in the way, and his wrist locked up. Strong as he was, without gravity he didn’t have the leverage to push the knife into my throat. At the same time, I couldn’t get free. We were at something of an impasse.

I yanked my legs up and wrapped them around his waist, locking my ankles in the small of his back. Now I had the bulkhead behind me for leverage, and an additional leverage point of his body to use against him. I pushed out, using my abdominal muscles to force the knife away.

And to get my wrist in front of my face. “Computer!” I shouted into the smartwatch. “Activate Stein override 911.”

The watch had been a gift from my Dad after we’d gotten home from the Battle for Earth and his trial that followed. Most smartwatches were good for basic computing, simple AI functions, and video chats. His and mine had a lot more oomph to them. A better processor, state of the art computing - and a set of special programs that I could access if I was in trouble. This one would send a call to station security to override all other duties and come running.

I’d been warned not to use it for anything but the most dire of circumstances. I figured a knife at my throat and a bomb on the station probably counted. Now all I needed to do was stay alive until help got here.

I jabbed him in the face with the heel of my free hand. Then I swung down at the arm he was using to hang on to the stanchion, twisting hard with my legs at the same time. He lost his grip, and we were free-floating, spinning around in circles.

He didn’t give up, though. He had both hands free again, and brought the second hand around to push against the pommel of the knife. With the extra hand driving it forward, he was able to inch the tip slowly closer. He twisted it around as it came, trying to slip over or around the arm I had in the way. I hung on - but barely. He was strong!

“Time to die,” he whispered. His breath stank of garlic.

“Not today,” I said.

Keeping one hand locked tightly on his wrist, I snaked the other underneath the outside of his arm, then up to his wrist. It was just about the perfect lock for this situation. I had him, and I could see in his eyes that he knew it. I jerked down hard with my legs, and pushed his arm back up by his ear with my hands. I kept pushing, driving his arm into a painful lock.

He yelled, and dropped the knife. Then he smashed his forehead down on my face. My nose took the brunt of the impact, and my eyes filled with tears. I lost my grip on his arm, and he used the moment to try to box my ears. I brought my arms in as a guard just in time. Then I slashed out with one elbow, taking him in the chin. I struck with the other elbow a moment later. He was dazed. I didn’t let up, hammering in another blow, and then another.

I wasn’t sure how many times I hit him before his body went limp. Once I was sure he was well and truly out, I relaxed my legs. They were cramped from holding so much tension for so long. I shoved his unconscious body away from me and recovered my gun along with his knife. No point taking any chances. I’d seen how dangerous the man could be.

I heard the tromp of magnetic boots storming across the deck.

“Stein! You in there?” one of them called out.

“Yeah, with a prisoner,” I shouted back. I eyed the device, all blinking red lights and ominous looking. “Better get a bomb squad in here too.”

I stepped clear as the first security personnel came and took my would-be bomber into custody. Then I pulled myself back out of the ship to let them do their job. Besides, station security was excellent, but I didn’t want to be anywhere near that bomb when they started messing with it.

“That is the very last time I complain about something being boring,” I said. “Boring is good. Boring is safe.”

BOOK: Accord of Mars (Accord Series Book 2)
8.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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