The Genie and the Engineer 3: Ravages of War

BOOK: The Genie and the Engineer 3: Ravages of War
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Published through Amazon.com, Inc.

 

This is a work of fiction. The personalities, characters and
people herein are purely products of the author’s overactive imagination which
was ensnared in the grip of nightmares in the wee hours of the night. Any
resemblance of the characters herein to real people, either living or dead,
should be a cause of serious concern for their welfare and a critical
indication of their need for immediate professional therapy. (Just those that
are still breathing, of course.)

 

Engineer – Wizard

RAVAGES OF WAR

 

October 2016 printing

 

Text copyright © 2016 Glenn Michaels

 

Cover Design by Katie Griffin

 

All rights reserved

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or
distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not
participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights.

Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Works by Glenn Michaels

 

The Engineer Wizard

Orders of Magnitude

Ravages of War

 

Dedication:

To the reader:

Yep, this means you.

Not the fellow behind you, peeking over your shoulder while
you’re trying to read, the reprobate who’s chomping/masticating on that vile
cholesterol-clogged meatball-parmesan sandwich. Definitely not him!

But you. The enchanting, thoughtful, caring, well-mannered,
scholarly, health-conscious bibliophile that you are.

Kudos.

Many thanks to you and your discerning perceptiveness for having
read the two previous books in this series. Due to your support, I’ve now had
the privilege of writing and publishing three books! That’s two more than I
ever thought possible!

Couldn’t have done it without you.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I’m ever so
grateful. And I hope you’ve had as much fun during our travels as I have had.

 

Glenn Michaels

 

Author’s notes:

 

Please note that this book,
Engineer Wizard: Ravages of
War
, is the sequel to
The Engineer Wizard
and
Orders of Magnitude
.
At this point, it really is necessary to have read the first two books before
reading this one. Nothing will make much sense in this book unless you do.

This book picks up where the last one left off and thus the
first two books lay out much of the background needed to appreciate the nuances
of events, plot, and characters of this one.

In addition, there was a thoughtful and enterprising individual
who sent me really nice emails and assisted by way of offering several useful
suggestions. In return, I’ve named (with his permission, of course!) a
character after him. In this particular case, the character is one of the good
guys. Hopefully, my correspondent will approve of his name-sake’s role and conduct
in the book.

As before, with the first two books, there are quite a few
sci-fi quotes, technical, scientific, and geographic references and historical
figures. And more than a few references lifted straight out of Edgar Rice
Burroughs’
Barsoom
series. Therefore, readers are encouraged to continue
validating such information by way of their favorite web-search engine.

One other noteworthy caution: like the first two books, this
one is a blend of both urban fantasy and science-fiction. As such, it is
betwixt and between, neither purely one nor the other. Please keep this in mind
when delving into the pages herein.

Contents
SECTION  I
FIELD TRIP TO BARSOOM
ONE

 

Spacecraft
Sirius Effort

79.7 Million miles from Earth

Friday 6:09 a.m. EST

November

 

T
he
Sirius
Effort
heaved violently to port, a loud thundering roar ripping through the
hull from stem to stern, the ship convulsing as if in agony. The whiplash of
the vessel’s wild gyration hurled Paul shoulder-first against the titanium-plated
bulkhead of the tiny lavatory, where he brutally rebounded, smashing his forehead
into the edge of the medicine cabinet door. Unconscious, he fell heavily to the
deck, the lurching of the ship rolling him up against the foot of the shower
stall.

To add insult to injury, the lights flickered twice and then
died completely, plunging the ship into total darkness.

The unexpected and violent motion of the ship hurled Capie
out of a dinette chair on Deck 3, sending her flying across the small room and crashing
solidly into the kitchenette counter at an awkward angle. Her left forearm
snapped cleanly, both the radius and ulna bones. Screaming in agony, she
suddenly found herself not only in the dark but in free fall as the ship’s ‘gravity’
unexpectedly and completely disappeared. With the ship both spinning and yawing,
she realized that she was now being tossed head first in yet another direction.
A quick flick of her right hand created a spell that brought her to a screeching
halt. Another spell from her and the lights in the compartment came back up.

“Help!” squealed a very high pitched female voice. “Me,
help!”

With a quick glance, Capie noted that Ariel-Leira, the
mirror woman that they had picked up in Transylvania, was briskly spinning in
midair, centered more or less over the small dining table.

With the restoration of light in the compartment, Capie
could now clearly see the awkward bend in her left arm, the unnatural way it
curved outward.  Horrified, she cast yet another spell, quelling the waves of
pain. With great care, she gathered the limp and damaged limb with her right
hand, pulling it close to her side and securing it in place with an additional
spell, this one very carefully crafted to encapsulate the arm and protect it
from further damage.

“Paul!” she yelled near the top of her lungs, the sound
echoing in the small space as she slowly revolved around her center of mass. “Paul!
What happened?”

“Me help, please!” cried a panicky Ariel-Leira again.

“Mom?!” squawked Daneel 1. “Are you alright?” A metal
framework—roughly sixteen inches cubed and sporting a motherboard with various
add-on cards and a LCD monitor with small speakers duct taped to one side—shot
up through the deck hatch from below. The Scottie swung in Capie’s direction,
where she could see the concerned look of the A.I. on the monitor screen.

“Just a broken arm and sixteen dozen bruises!” she snapped in
reply with an aggravated tone. “Take care of her!” she added, pointing at the
mirror.

“Right, Mom!” Daneel 1’s screen image snapped his fingers
and the mirror frame, with Ariel-Leira’s astonished face, swung smartly around
and banged up against a bulkhead and, with two quick flash-arcs, was instantly
spot welded into place.

“I heard a thump from above!” Capie clamored, glancing over
her shoulder and up through the deck hatch toward Deck 2. “And Paul doesn’t
answer!”

“I’ll check on him!” Daneel 1 assured her, soaring up
through the hatch in the overhead and casting a spell for lights in the
compartment on Deck 2.

He arrived just as Daneel 2, identical in appearance to his
‘brother,’ was dropping down from Deck 1, the cockpit. Daneel 2 was pilot on
the current watch, where he had been using the chutzpah talisman to maintain
the fusion process spell in the ship’s two engines, as well as keeping the
vessel on course.

Both Scotties spotted the unconscious form of Paul
simultaneously, slowly tumbling in midair in the ship’s tiny head.

“Dad!” they both shouted in surprise and alarm.

“He’s got a scalp wound!” observed Daneel 1, worried that
Paul, his father and creator, might be critically or even fatally wounded.

“He’s bleeding badly too!” added Daneel 2, as he advanced
closer to the drifting form. “I’ve got him! You take care of that head wound!
See if you can stop the bleeding!”

“What’s going on up there?!” Capie’s shout rang up from the
deck below.

“Dad’s hurt!’ Daneel 1 bellowed back at her. “We’re bringing
him your direction so please stand clear!”

“Paul!? Can you hear me?” Capie yelled all the louder, her
voice shrilling in near panic.

“He’s unconscious, Mom!” Daneel 2 shouted, as he used a
magical spell to maneuver Paul’s limp form down head first through the deck
hatch.

“Quick! Bring him down to the bedroom, on the bed and let’s
get him secured in place! Daneel 1! I need the first aid kit and, Daneel 2, get
me some damp washcloths!” Capie nervously rubbed her right hand on her left
sleeve. “And I’m going to need a doctor here too! Dr. Stephen Strange from
Marvel Comics would be a good choice. Dr. Strange! Front and center, please!”


“He’s coming out of it now, Mom,” murmured a familiar male
voice.

“Yes, I see,” agreed a wonderfully seductive female voice.

Paul smiled, enticed by the woman’s rich sexy modulation. He
opened his eyes to find that it was his wife above him. And Daneel 1. Well,
technically they were not above him, since he suddenly realized that they were
all in zero-g.

Hmm, zero-g meant the ship’s engines were not operating.

It was very hard to think, his head hurt so much. The
pounding in his skull was sort of a combination of having it squeezed in a vice
while his forehead was being brutally worked over with a jack-hammer. A rather large
and powerful jack-hammer at that.

“What happened?” he muttered weakly, slowly reaching up with
one hand in an effort to examine his head by touch.

“None of that, now!” his wife reproached him sternly,
pushing his hand away. “Don’t mess with my doctoring! Just lie still and be a
good patient.”

Paul blinked, noticing for the first time that his wife was
not moving her left arm, which she seemed to be holding tightly up against her
side.

“Your arm,” he muttered again. “What’s wrong?”

She pursed her lips and looked very annoyed. “Just a small
fracture. I already have three spells working on it, knitting the bones
together. Should be right as rain in a couple of days or so. I think.”

“What’s wrong with the ship? How come we’re in zero-g?” Paul
asked, only temporarily appeased with her answer about her physical condition. Under
other circumstances, he would have been far more focused on her injuries but he
knew that, with her magical powers, she wasn’t in any pain. A fractured bone
was not really any more of a concern to them now than say a hangnail once had
been, before they had acquired their powers.

Capie sighed and glanced over at Daneel 1. “Remember, he’s
resting. Don’t overtax him.”

“Gotcha, Mom,” the Scottie replied. “Dad, I’m glad to see
that you are awake now. We sort of need your help. We’ve, uh, got a problem
with the engines.”

Paul’s eyebrows furled. “What sort of problem?”

Daneel 1’s image in his LCD screen looked down and shrugged.
“It would seem that the port engine might have, uh, come from together. Sort of
exploded, you might say. A rather robust explosion too. And, in the process, it
took out most of the starboard engine as well. That’s why we don’t have weight
right now. No engines for thrust. And we were tumbling too but Daneel 2 and I were
able to fix that problem.”

“I thought you said you tested the engines before we left
Earth!” Capie snapped in a low voice in Paul’s direction.

“I did test them!” Paul protested feebly before turning back
to Daneel 1. “How long have I been out?”

Daneel 1 sighed and cast a quick glance over at Capie. “A
little over two hours. Mom didn’t want to disturb you while she was working on
your head wound—”

“I’ve been using a few spells on you,” Capie interrupted.
“You are in much better condition now than earlier.” She glanced back over at
Daneel 1. “Get to the point, please.”

“Right,” Daneel 1 said, with a wince. “With the engines
out—”

“Wait a moment, Daneel,” Paul implored him, raising a hand
gently into the air. “We were, what? 35 hours out from Mars?”

“33 hours, 42 minutes and 18 seconds, when the explosion
occurred, Dad,” Daneel 1 replied, knowing what was coming next.

“And with the engines gone…oh churlish toad-spotted
carbunkle!”

Capie flinched backward with surprised shock on her face.
“That was a Shakespearean insult, wasn’t it?”

“I Googled it a while back after you told me your father
used them,” Paul confirmed her guess with a restrained smirk, then turned his
head back in Daneel’s direction. “You haven’t been able to decelerate the
ship’s speed at all, have you?”

“No,” Daneel 1 reluctantly admitted. “Daneel 2 and I’ve been
working on it.”

“Is it really that serious a problem?” Capie asked, frowning
at the two of them. “There must be other ways to slow the ship.”

Paul eyebrows furrowed in concentration, still battling the
pounding headache. Taking a deep breath, he tried to explain the situation. “As
you know, we accelerated away from Earth at 1 gee for almost 40 hours. That
built up an enormous speed, over 3.1 million miles per hour. At midpoint, we
flipped and started decelerating, also at 1 gee. In order to intercept Mars at
the right place and the right speed, we needed to continue that deceleration. But
without engines, we’ll miss the rendezvous with Mars and continue flying past
the asteroids and the outer planets and out into interstellar space. Of course,
we would be dead from lack of oxygen long before we get that far. Does that
sound serious enough?”

Capie winced as she gently massaged her upper left arm.
“Yes, that’s pretty serious, all right.”

Paul grimaced and stared at Daneel 1 through narrowed eyes.
“Why didn’t you call up a super-intelligence to help you figure this out?”

Daneel 1 rolled his eyes and frowned, not answering the
question.

Sighing dejectedly, Capie started rubbing her forehead instead
of her arm.

“Try it for yourself, Paul,” she urged him.

He blinked for a few seconds, surprised by her response. Was
this some sort of trick? But it wasn’t hard. After all, calling up a
super-intelligence was the very
first
magical trick that he had ever successfully
performed.

“Okay, I will,” he grunted. “Okay, Merlin, front and center,
please. We need you!”

There was no response. Not even the small ball of
holographic smoke that sometimes appeared first.

Paul blinked several more times in complete confusion.
“Merlin?”

Nothing.

“Uncle Sam?” Pause. “Captain Montgomery Scott?” Pause.
“Star-Lord Peter Quill?”

Nothing.

“What’s going on, Paul?” his wife asked anxiously, gently
rubbing her arm again, her face one of deep concern. “When I tried to call up a
doctor for you, I got el zippo too.”

“Same thing for Daneel 2 and myself,” Daneel 1 informed
Paul.

“Then apparently, we have to fix the ship on our own,
without super-intelligence help,” Paul remonstrated, gritting his teeth. “Joy.
Fun.”

“But I don’t understand,” Capie said, thoroughly perplexed,
shaking her head from side to side. She reached out again with her right hand,
this time creating a holographic image of a flower in mid-air. “Our powers
still work! So why can’t we call on our expert advisors?”

Paul rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. “We’ll have
to figure it out later, CB. But right now, time is not on our side.”

Daneel 1 sighed and then smiled bitterly. “Getting back to
the problem with the ship, we tried tapping the solar sunlight, to use its
energy to decelerate us—”

Paul shook his head, grimacing and weakly waved his hand
again. “That won’t work. There are two reasons that won’t work. Solar power was
one of the ideas I looked into before building the
Sirius Effort
. A
spacecraft driven by solar energy would be so much more efficient and cleaner
than fusion power. But the energy density of sunlight is just not there. We
would need to capture oodles of square kilometers of it. Too big a challenge for
the four of us. Don’t get me wrong. It would
help
! But it’s not a viable
solution to our current situation.”

“That’s what we discovered as well,” the Scottie admitted with
a brief frown. “Same thing with the solar magnetic field.”

“The Daneels are such party poopers,” Capie mumbled with a
smirk. “I suggested the
Solar Clipper
books by Nathan Lowell.”

Paul’s frown instantly transformed into a grin. “With
Ishmael Wang?
Quarter Share
and so on? Brilliant books. Are you
suggesting solar sails?”

“Are you going to shoot that idea down too?” Capie asked,
abruptly apprehensive, eyeing her husband with a doubtful look. “The Daneels
did.”

Paul winced and gritted his teeth. “I, uh, did look at solar
wind technology before building the
Sirius Effort
. The density of the
solar wind is thin, only 7.1 protons per cubic centimeter. We would need a huge
solar sail, larger than the island of Manhattan. Sorry, but also not practical
in our situation.”

“Another party pooper heard from,” Capie observed
sarcastically. “You said there were two reasons those ideas won’t work. Dare I
ask what the second one is?”

He smiled but she could see that he really wasn’t happy to
answer the question. “It’s pretty simple, really. The chutzpah isn’t powerful
enough for the job.”

She blinked a few times. “Excuse me? Not
powerful
enough? But how is that possible?”

Paul shrugged and rubbed his chin with one hand. “It’s all
relative. How do I explain this in less than two thousand words?” He sighed and
took a deep breath. “Let’s look at it this way. Daneel 1, at our current speed,
what is the ship’s kinetic energy?”

BOOK: The Genie and the Engineer 3: Ravages of War
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