Rise of the Altered Moon: Altered Moon Series: Book One (The Altered Moon Series 1)

BOOK: Rise of the Altered Moon: Altered Moon Series: Book One (The Altered Moon Series 1)
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The bookshelf of

AZ Kelvin

The Altered Moon Series

Rise of the Altered Moon

Curse of the Altered Moon

Apogee of the Altered Moon

 

Projects in the works:

The Druids of Arden

Green Rising

Southern Winds

 

Here we ghost

For more information on the Altered Moon Series and other projects that AZ is working on be sure to visit:

www.azkelvin.com

 

Rise of the Altered Moon

Altered Moon Series: Book One

Written by

AZ Kelvin

Published by Lee Companies, LLC. * Copyright 2012

Original cover design: CJ Lee * Story Wrangler: Sunny Lee

Edited by Nikki Busch/nikkibuschediting.com

Second Edition ISBN: 978-0-9863395-3-0

Lee Companies, LLC. Kalamazoo, Michigan

 

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, vessels, events, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. All rights reserved.

 

This book is dedicated to the two most precious women in the universe:

 

Evelyn Lee, whose love of adventure and reading inspired me to dream at an early age. Thanks, Mom!

 

And

 

Beth Lee, my loving wife who encouraged me to reach for the stars. Thanks, Sunny!

 

Chapter One

The superliner
MSL
Istraulis
cruised past the Glimmerocks as part of its Gems of the Galaxy Tour. The Glimmerocks asteroid field was a large gathering of massive chunks of icy rocks, comprised mainly of magnesium silicate with a variety of frozen gases. The bright magnesium and the frozen surfaces reflected and bounced the light from a bright quasar that was a little over ten parsecs away. The result was a stunning kaleidoscope of colorful sparkles, flashes, and rainbows that glimmered and shifted as the intense light moved through the asteroid field. The Glimmerocks was one of the most popular, and one of the most remote, tourist destinations in the galaxy. The distance from any established spaceport and the extravagance of the Merilee tour package made the Gems of the Galaxy Tour a cruise for only the very wealthy.

The
MSL Istraulis
was the largest luxury superliner in the pleasure and recreation division of the Merilee Travel & Transport company. If extravagance was what was needed, then the
Istraulis
was the ship that was called for. She had dozens of decks alone for entertainment, as well as luxurious shops and spas to cater to every need, no matter what the cost. Concerts, comedies, and theatre performances from the latest groups were booked for every cruise. Gaming stations and simulator booths provided hours of fun and adventure for cruise goers of all ages. Conference halls and meeting chambers gave personal and professional groups places to hold ceremonies and gatherings. Gambling rooms hosted tournaments that offered the chance to risk all or nothing on the turn of fate. Bars and nightclubs were always open and kept the party going around the clock. All of it was wrapped up in one shiny, smiling, eager-to-please, space-going, happy-to-say-yes package.

Cater to the rich and the rich will come to eat. So it was on the
Istraulis
; but where the rich come to feed, others will come to feed upon the rich. Merilee Travel & Transport had their own security force that provided escort and emergency response for all MT&T services. Merilee’s security was unsurpassed when it came to private companies. In fact, there were some military groups in the galaxy that wouldn’t risk a confrontation with an MT&T armada. The transport division of the company moved goods for clients, including the banking and medical guilds, which required strong security measures. Long- and short-range sensors, as well as defensive systems ensured that even superliners such as the
Istraulis
were well protected against armed attacks or from being boarded.

All Merilee superliners like the
Istraulis
had a blind spot though, one that MT&T was apparently unaware of. A secondary cargo loading port was located at the aft docking area just above the dorsal hull plating, providing an opportunity for the ship to approach undetected if it could maneuver without its thrusters or main engines. There weren’t a whole lot of ships out there that had those kinds of capabilities. It was theoretically possible that a ship with a dark matter ionizing thruster system and sensor distorting burst transmitter might just be able to sidle right up to the hull and hang there, with no one the wiser.

In fact, that’s what Captain Boss Keltzer had done aboard the
Altered Moon
several times before this one. The
Altered Moon
was a prototype vessel built by Nelson Moon, the former chief of design for Bascher Shipwrights. The
Altered Moon’
s Dark Matter Ionizing Thruster System (DMITS) continuously collected dark matter particles as it moved through space. When the DMITS was activated, a static charge was released to flow across the DMITS collector screens. The ionized dark matter particles emitted a discharge of subatomic energy. The discharge was channeled through the system’s thruster ports, which were located throughout the ship and provided the propulsion.

The DMITS required only enough energy to activate the thruster port, which was undetectable even to a high-level scanning sensor. Combined with a distortion burst to black out the other ship’s sensors, the DMITS allowed the
Altered Moon
to simply power down and slip away when the need arose. The DMITS was designed and built in secret by Nelson Moon, and the current captain and crew of the
Altered Moon
wanted to keep it that way.

The
Moon’s
main propulsion system was a standard ISE central drive port surrounded by twelve secondary drive ports. The Inner System Engine created and manufactured by FBZ Power Systems, was a pulse-jet propulsion system based on a hydrogen fuel source. Hydrogen fuel plates stored and released hydrogen using a microscopic bacterium matrix infused with nickel-tin nano particles.

The nano particles and the bacterium matrix would undergo an oxygen fusion process in the propulsion system, annihilating each other during the reaction, while they released hydrogen to be used as fuel and produced only water and heat as by-products. There were other types of stellar drive engines in existence, but the efficiency and benefits of the FBZ Inner System Engine made it the best choice for ships of every size.

The
Altered Moon
was also equipped with a String Field Drive of its own, which was uncommon for a ship of its size. Cuhrsha Spatial Technologies discovered the process of matching quantum signatures while they researched matter-to-energy teleportation. While the teleportation program failed due to high cost and resource requirements, the String Field Drive itself was an instant success and quite the cash cow for Cuhrsha.

The String Field Drive, or jump engine as it’s commonly known, operated by identifying quantum string pathways that exist in between the physical dimensions of the universe and then plotted a course among them to the desired destination. Cloning and adopting the energy signature of the quantum wave particle pulls the
Altered Moon
out of normal space to travel along the chosen quantum pathway and then emerge back into normal space at the intended destination. The effect of the quantum slip was like a wave of invisible viscous liquid that moved over the hull of the ship from bow to stern until the ship vanished completely. No bright light, no power surge, no bulky contraption, the ship was just gone.

Nelson Moon designed four Special Tactic Options, or STOs, for the
Altered Moon
based on the engine designs and dark matter technology.

The Moonshine STO was designed for defense or counterattack. It worked by emitting a high-intensity light blast combined with sensor- and communication-jamming pulses from four emitter pods that were located on the ventral hull and on the ends of the three wing tips; this enabled the
Moon
to pull a quick position change and sneak attack before the visual and electronic sensors of the target ship could recover.

The Dark Moon STO, designed for stealth or surveillance operations, provided a complete electronic and communications blackout with standard engine shutdown. The dark matter thruster system was then used to maneuver the ship, rendering the
Moon
invisible to short- or long-range sensors.

The Full Moon STO was designed for escape purposes; it used an immediate Moonshine STO plus full forward burn.
The Altered Moon’s
ISE was a system of engines that could be burned one at a time in small groups or all at once. One oversized main engine was at the center of a group of twelve smaller engines. The main engine was burned only when all of the Full Moon STO’s engines were burned at the same time.

The Moonbeam STO was designed to channel the gathered dark matter particles from the DMITS and direct them out of the beam emitters mounted on the front of the ship. The focused dark matter that came in contact with a physical- or energy-based obstruction began to erode the obstruction at the molecular level. The molecules of the target would separate as the dark matter opened a hole that a missile or particle cannon could fire through.

The unique combination of propulsion systems, special options, shielded thermal ports, and low-signature hull plating made the
Altered Moon
the perfect ship for, shall we say…clandestine trading. How the
Moon
ended up in Boss Keltzer’s hands is a story that has not yet been told.

Boss Keltzer had captained the
Moon
for eight years now and had managed to put together a pretty decent crew of like-minded traders. Boss and his crew ran a cover business under the name West Becreth Trading Company, a company that traded artifacts from ancient civilizations and alien cultures from the border systems. The reality was they were a close-knit crew of thieves that ran high-credit heists they jokingly called games.

Today’s game was going to be played on the
Istraulis
. Boss was able to get intel that the superliner carried an extra load of medical supplies for the Imperial medical center on Saishin V. Knowing it would have to be unloaded early, MT&T’s logistics division parked the shipment right next to none other than the door of the aft secondary cargo port. After all, no one would dare go up against the biggest private security force in the galaxy.

So, the game was this: park the
Moon
in a dark area of the Glimmerocks asteroid field, one of the
Istraulis’
tourist stops; power down and use the DMITS to maneuver; and wait for the
Istraulis
to cruise by. Boss and the flight crew would bring the
Moon
up undetected to the cargo port. The game squad would then soft seal the airlock, bypass the security system alarm, manually open the cargo port hatch, slip in, secure the goods, and slip out. The flight crew used the DMITS to drift off and let the
Istraulis
continue on its Merilee way. They’d wait awhile then power up and trade off their ill-gotten goods. The clandestine heist would be a piece a cake for the experienced privateer crew.

The idea changed into a plan, the plan turned to action, and the action led to now. The
Altered Moon
settled into a shadow on the dark side of an asteroid and waited for the
Istraulis
to tour the Glimmerocks.

“Position achieved, Captain. Powering down ISE systems and engaging the DMITS,” said Star Pilot Gina Riley.

“Very well, thank you, G…a smooth ride, as always,” answered Boss. “JP, get a fix on our position and lock it into the nav comp.”

“Aye, Captain. Locking it in now,” said Jordan Patrick, the navigator and jump pilot for the
Altered Moon
.

“Mister Treesh,” Boss called out.

“Yes, sir?” answered First Mate Dylan “Trigger” Treesh.

“Let the game begin,” Boss said with a nod.

Trigger agreed with a glint in his eye. “Attention all hands, it is now twelve-zero-nine hours. Game time is fourteen hundred. Flight crew, remain at action stations. Mister Gribbons, ready the game squad and make your report to the bridge.”

“Aye, sir,” came the reply from the intercom.

Hurry-up-and-wait situations like these could be tough to take. The anxious thrill of doing something illegal, coupled with the need to remain calm and quiet, was like downing a sleeping pill with a pot of coffee. Getting the jitters in this line of work could, literally, get you terminated. The seconds ticked by as the crew of
the
Altered Moon
made the final preparations to start the game.

“Game time, now plus…twenty-two minutes, Captain,” Trigger announced. “All systems remain good to go.”

“Thank you, Trigger. You can count on Merilee Travel & Transport to ‘Merilee Go’ as their slogan says, just not to be on time about it.”

The hard thing about staying powered down was not having access to the sensors, so they just had to sit and wait until the
Istraulis
came into visual range. The wait wasn’t a long one, however, as the bulk of the MT&T superliner finally came into view.

“All right, people, the game is on…take your positions and get ready to go on my mark,” Boss said with mild excitement. “Okay, G, as soon as she shows us her most sizable ass, you sneak us right in behind her.”

“Roger that.” Gina re-settled herself into the pilot’s seat and was ready to move on his command.

Just as the crew prepared to start the game, another ship appeared just outside of the Glimmerocks. The newcomer was a huge ship, easily two-thirds the size of the superliner. The unknown vessel quickly closed in on the
Istraulis
.

“Stand down, stand down!” cried Boss. “Everybody, stand down! What the hell kinda ship is that? Engineer Wilks, to the bridge!”

The invading ship immediately opened fire on the liner’s engines and the main bridge. The unprovoked attack left the superliner crippled and drifting without main power, communications, or defensive capabilities. The attacking ship disabled the
Istraulis
before it pulled up beside her. Large grappling arms extended and crunched into the hull, which held the superliner in place. Docking platforms from the attacker cut into the crippled ship at different levels.

Tamara Wilkinson came through the main hatch onto the bridge of the
Altered Moon
. “You called, Boss? What’s goin’ on?”

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