Star Traders (Corporate Marines Book 3)

BOOK: Star Traders (Corporate Marines Book 3)
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CORPORATE MARINES: BOOK THREE

Star Traders

Written and Published by Tom Germann

Copyright 2016

Book 3 is a Novella of approximately 37,000 words. This will fill in some of the information from the first two books.

This is for you ‘oh impatient one’ who does not understand that the story arc does have to leave you with some questions. No those questions are not all answered here either

For all the rest that have proof read, asked questions, given me feedback including my readers. I appreciate everything you have done.

Thank you!

Edited by: Robin Schroffeld

Cover by:
http://10dollarcovers.com/

The Corporate Marine Series:

Video Game Recruiting

Welcome To The Marines

Star Traders

First Deployment

Ebook Edition License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. A great deal of effort went into the creation of this ebook. So if you would like to share this with a friend please have them visit one of the stores carrying this ebook. This work is not to be reproduced, copied or distributed for commercial or non- commercial purposes.

If you enjoyed this book please visit
http://www.tgermann-sf-guy.com/
to discover other works by this author.

Thank you for the support.

This ebook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Table of Contents
FIFTY-ONE HOURS AGO, EARTH TIME

T
he announcer’s voice comes on over the sensie. “We are interrupting all normal broadcasts to bring you this special news announcement.”

The image fades to black and then the Unified Earth Media logo comes up before fading away and the image of a short, brown-haired man in a suit that is used for business people in space, appears. He has a stripped-down sensor helmet on his head and he is moving down a hall on what looks like a generic space facility. He stops and moves to the side so he is out of the way of whatever foot traffic there is and begins talking.

“Good day! This is Sam Slick reporting to you from the outer ring space station. As you all will remember, I am posted out here to provide updates to the rest of the Sol System when one of our mighty star ships comes back from making the long, dark voyage out into the unknown, bringing back ores from mining stations, new knowledge from our research stations, and most importantly, information on the different species that are out there and whether or not they wish to trade with us. Or, if there is a threat that may one day come here to threaten Sol again.

“As you can see, I was in the news section on the station when I just now was called in to report on this news. The bulk trader
Hull Two Dash Four Delta,
known affectionately as
‘Mama,’
is heading in from its estimated three-and-a-half-month journey and will be docking within two days at the station. Initial reports are that the
Mama
was attacked by pirates toward the end of her circuit of Earth’s possessions. There are several casualties and minor damage to the ship, which is not at risk at this time.”

Movement of people down the hall can be heard and shadows are thrown while Sam talks. From the noise there seems to be more traffic happening now and the area is getting much busier.

“The station is a hubbub of activity as information is collected. At this time, the names of the injured and dead have not been released. While casualties have happened, even numbers are not being released yet while the Corporation contacts family and loved ones.

“As more information comes available, I will be informing you immediately! This is Sam Slick from the outer ring space station signing off!”

Fade to the Unified Earth Media logo and then black, followed by a return to the regularly scheduled sensie.

TWENTY-FIVE HOURS AGO, EARTH TIME

“G
ood day and welcome to the Glentol Corporation-funded show,
Hard Truth
. I am your host, Bradley Shmidt.”

The announcer is an older man with distinguished greying hair, wearing a modern three-piece suit that is tight enough to show off that he works out. He is sitting in a lounge chair next to a small table, on which there rest bulbs of water. The sensors are focussed on him so that the rest of the stage is out of the picture.

“We are not having our previously scheduled guests on tonight; they will be on in a later episode. Instead, we will be talking about the return of the bulk trader
Mama Pig
and the recent pirate attack on her. The
Mama Pig
was just about at the end of her normal run through our different space assets and was about to stop at colony planet Ipswith when she was attacked. Now, most of our ships do not mounted weapon systems and it is supposed to be difficult to actually board a ship in transit, but these murderous pirates were willing to try. A ship like the
Mama Pig
is worth enough money to buy a medium-sized country here on Earth.”

Bradley turns and the sensor follows his face. “I could talk about all the information for hours. Instead, we are going to hear a rather detailed description from one of the crewmembers. Eleven-year-old Derek Sveringening, who played a crucial role in fighting off the pirates and keeping that star ship in Earth’s hands. The Corporation has been kind enough to release to us a sensor sim speech that was recorded just after the ship left the Sol System. All children on board the ship are expected to maintain their school marks and also learn some shipboard duties that are assigned. Additionally, every child starting at the age of nine must give regular speeches and sim training. It is never known when a new race may be encountered, and self-confidence and the ability to project presence are incredibly important for all crew members at that time.”

The sensor is completely focused on Bradley in a detailed headshot showing every perfectly managed hair. “Now for your viewing pleasure, this interview is available for 3-D, sim, and even for those who have it full-sim with complete interaction enabled. This interview is in three stages: personal description from, ship description, and finally, the pirates boarding and the repulsion itself. There are no graphic scenes as this is set for Parental Guidance. The first two parts are from a recording previously recorded almost a year ago.”

Bradley fades away and a young boy with short hair appears, sitting on a tall seat. He looks remarkably calm and collected to be under full-sensor scan at such an early age. He has short brown hair and wide, bright brown eyes, and a nice smile with a gap between his front two teeth. He wears standard shipboard uniform for anyone in space. A bubble appears to the side, and information flows into it with a marker pointing down to the suit. Bradley’s voice continues as a calm and measured narration while information pops up: “Brown indicates ship hand, which is the lowest class on a ship. All children and untrained dependents are automatically in brown clothing.” The bubble fades away and another forms on the other side of young Derek. “All children, when conducting their public speaking exercises on ships, are expected to answer certain questions. There are different formats for these speeches as different circumstances can come up where the ability to speak off-the-cuff can be as important as having a memorized speech. This is a recent recording that young Derek recorded for a public channel back here on Earth. It is for a children’s show, explaining what it is like to get ready to go to space and giving a bit of family background, followed by a description of shipboard life.”

The smiling image of Derek is suddenly sitting in front of a spaceship bulkhead in what looks like a cargo bay. There is a click and the image starts moving at normal speed. “Good day, everyone, my name is Derek Sveringening. My father was Patroe and my mother’s name is Theresa, but everyone calls her Terry the Scary. I am ten years old and I have been asked to present my story to the rest of the children so they know what happened and what can be done by people who work hard and try by the strength of their muscles and will to live.

“I was born on Earth over ten years ago on June seventh. My mother came back to Earth in the last three months of her pregnancy to make sure that I was adjusted to Earth conditions for when I was actually born. After I was born, we spent three months in a corporate rest facility so my mother could recover and enjoying her time with me. After that, when they were sure that I was fine, we went home to Sweden. I met my extended family, and my mother had a good vacation visiting them. But within a few more weeks, she was feeling the call of deep space again and realized that she was stuck on Earth. The rules for going to space for certain jobs are very strict, so for the first two years my mother was stuck on Earth with me until I was big enough to be taken care of by the rest of my family. My mother is second hand in the engineering department of a Glentol Corporation bulk trader that makes regular runs from Sol System to several different habitats, mines and our colony. To make second hand on one of the biggest ships available to the Sol System, you have to be the best. So when she initially felt the call of deep space, she registered for every course available to upgrade her engineering skills and also to improve on secondary skills such as first-aid and greenhouse operations. Aquaponics is a good system in space; it provides both fish, fruit and vegetables, but there are problems with the lower gravity and the fish. You need to have a regular new input of fish because after a few generations, there are reproduction problems and they die off much faster. Solving this or even just lengthening the life expectancy of fish on a ship would help us, and there are new practices and even some genetically modified fish that looked like they had potential. There is no one school or university that teaches all of this, so my mom flew all around the world taking courses and attending seminars. She was able to evaluate several different courses and even provide feedback from real-world first-person experience with some of their concepts. Some things look good in theory, but in the real world, when you see how the ship is laid out, these things just do not work as well as they should.

“Then she also was able to spend a lot of time with me. The bonding time was good for her, and she still talks about taking afternoon walks with me and how she would just hold me while I was sleeping. She loved being with me every minute, but missed the star travel and the rest of the family too much. She was very happy when she could go back to the ship and see her husband and all the rest of the extended family that shipmates become.

“I remember learning to walk on Earth and being with my Earth-side family. Then, when I was five, I was tested by the Corporation and my results came back positive, so I could go space-side. I went up to the
Mama Pig
for the first time in November. There was some snow on the ground that day when we headed up by shuttle. I remember going to the near-Earth space station and then heading for a connecting flight to head out to the outer ring space station. Really big ships like the
Mama Pig
do not come deep into the system, as we have a lot of space junk and she is slow. Most cargos are dumped off at the limit and waiting tugs bring them in toward Earth’s orbit. Also, when they are heading out, those tugs just take the large loads out with them. I was in one of the bigger tugs with some personnel bays with three other people heading out to the ship. Two of them were crew and they helped look after me on the flight.

“For me, I didn’t want to work, so we all played a lot of games. Part of the playing was regular practice getting into a space survival suit. Anyone going into space has to be trained on how to get into a space survival suit. There is always the chance that there will be an accident, and the crew members need to be able to load into a suit as fast as possible. Not only is there the chance of hard vacuum exposure, but radiation is also a threat, and ship suits are your only immediate short-term protection.

“Survival in space is hard enough and dangerous enough that most crew members are trained in one job and have cross-training in two other specialties. If something bad happens after people are suited up, they can head over to wherever things went wrong and start on damage control. Or they can focus on helping out in other areas that require assistance.

“Every child who goes in space has to be able to suit up as fast as the adults because when things go wrong, everyone suits themselves up first. Then you help your buddy. The reason little ones cannot go to space on working ships is that they can’t suit themselves up, and most adults have an instinctive urge to help them to the point that most would sacrifice themselves. In space it is better for those who cannot suit up to die instead of others.

“It sounds horrible for most people to hear this, but it is true. A very small sealed community that requires every member to be able to do its job can’t afford to have any one necessary member sacrifice themselves to save a child. The child maybe lives, the crewmember maybe dies, and then the entire crew may well die.

“The correct answer is that the crewmember likely lives, as they are more important to the ship. The kid would come second. It sounds horrible, but it’s better that one die and the entire community survive than the one be maybe saved but the community then dies…..

“All of these are decisions that no one would ever want to have to make, so the decision was made early on to decrease the chance of this happening—by keeping children Earth-side until they are big enough to suit up, and they can do it in a real test environment on their own. If they do it right, then they become crew members.

“Yes, it is possible for accidents to happen, or for anyone, even an experienced crew member, to panic and lose control during an incident. With everyone qualified and regularly tested, though, this becomes an automatic drill and there is less thought about it.

“The Corporation knows that mistakes can still happen and does everything it can to minimize the risk. My parents told me that during tests, regularly as they are suiting up, they will hear one of the children on the ship scream for help during drills. They know how hard it is to ignore that scream, but they also know that the best thing they can do is suit up fast and then help. To remind everyone, full sims are run occasionally so that worst-case scenarios can be run with no risk.

“I did one of those and hated it. My friends were dead and I hadn’t gone to help them. Then the AI ran the sim again for me. I went to help and my friends still all died, but I died too. Then the AI showed me the effect on the ship with one less pair of hands to help. They lost the ship.

“I was told that people on Earth think that we see blood and gore like it’s a video game. It isn’t anything like that initially. When I first started, all the other ship crew figures looked like block people. Then they started turning into stick people. Then they were like those characters from fun kids’ games where they don’t look like a real person. Then they look like real people. I just finished my second shipboard drill where they look like the real crew now. I was told that later, when my mind can handle it, the AI will include realistic wounds during the sim so that we really get ready for what could happen. It’s not to gross us out or to break us, but conducting these drills helps us see what we may really have to deal with one day.

“I understand that we’re trying to keep the ship and the community alive. But I don’t have to like some of the decisions that I have to make. What we all can do to help is make sure that everyone practices and that safety equipment is constantly checked.

“Anyway, when we finally docked with the outer ring station, I was signed into one of the transient cubbies until a ship was heading out to the
Mama
. I had twenty-four hours and had to go through several more drills and briefings in that time.”

The image fades for a second and then comes back from a different angle. Derek has shifted his position slightly and pauses before continuing talking.

“You leave Earth and have finished all the initial training. Then you run through drills on the flight out to the station and on the station, there’s more drills. Why? Rarely, personnel will panic or break at this late stage. It is better to return someone to Earth than to take them out on a deep-space run that they may snap on.

“You have to realize that anyone who is going out there is not only needed to help the community, they must also not be a hindrance to the community. The entire community could die if someone snaps and does something that damages the ship or something important.

“Accidents are bad. Deliberate sabotage by someone who has snapped and can’t stand it anymore is worse.

“Briefings will always include the importance of safety, maintaining safety equipment, secondary duties on board the ship, drills that will increase survivability during transit, first-contact protocols with new species, pirate briefings, and information on any recent attacks and anticipated problems.

“It sounds like a lot of information, and it is, but you can always go back and review through the sims later to make sure you understand.

“The most interesting information is always the pirate attacks. When I was on Earth, I saw lots of drama and horror shows about the space pirates and their evil plans. Really, they mostly seemed like they were funny boogeymen. There are no pirate attacks on Earth. The invasion happened so long ago that it almost isn’t real to me. I have seen the footage, the museum and the monuments like everyone else has, but it just never seemed real to me.

“Then I came out here to space and everything changed. I believe that the aliens are out here, and whoever they were, they are still out there in the dark, waiting for something.

“So when the pirate briefs start, everyone pays a lot of attention. It has been almost two years since the last reported pirate attack happened on any facility out in space. Twenty-plus years since anything happened in the Sol System.

BOOK: Star Traders (Corporate Marines Book 3)
8.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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