Read The Mars Shock Online

Authors: Felix R. Savage

Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Alien Invasion, #Colonization, #Exploration, #First Contact, #Galactic Empire, #Military, #Space Fleet, #Post-Apocalyptic, #Space Opera, #Space Exploration, #Science fiction space opera thriller

The Mars Shock (29 page)

BOOK: The Mars Shock
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Jun laughed. “Something like that. But seriously, the only way to defeat an ASI is with a cyberattack. The UN must know that. They just can’t come up with any way to crack the PLAN’s information security. Only another ASI can. And there’s only me.”

“So,” Kiyoshi drawled, “you’re going to steal a Chinese space station; eject whoever’s on board; fly it to Mars; and use it as a Trojan horse to deliver a cyberattack that’ll totally demolish the PLAN from the inside out, while somehow squaring it with the UN, and hopefully not getting murdered by the China Territorial Defense Force.”

“Like I said, it’ll be easy.”

“Goddamn it, I wish I was going.”

“But you have to stay here.”

“I know I have to stay here.”

“Just don’t kill the boss.”

“No promises.”

“Come on. He’s got the best beard in the asteroid belt. You can’t kill the beard.”

Kiyoshi didn’t want to make light of the boss-man’s sins. “He believes the human race is doomed!”

“He might not,” Jun said delicately, “be wrong.”

“If you screw up—”

“If I screw up, the
Salvation
might, um, be necessary.”

Kiyoshi took a moment, hugging the rabbit hutch. Jun thought the danger to the solar system was so great that a sociopathic inventor and his Bussard ramjet might be humanity’s last best hope. He asked reluctantly, “What probability are you assigning to—ah—the utter destruction of Earth?”

“Oh, only two percent.”

Two percent. That was further from zero than Kiyoshi would’ve liked to hear. “Eh, well, what can I say? Don’t screw up.”

“Kiyoshi, I’ve also modelled various ways the situation here might play out after I leave. A ridiculously high fraction of the models end up with the boss killing
you.
Please, please be careful. Don’t piss him off. Don’t pick fights about his stupid Bussard ramjet, or the moons of Planet X, or whatever he fixates on next week.”

“Didn’t I tell you once before,” Kiyoshi roared, “never try to predict my behavior?”

Jun shrank away. “Maybe I shouldn’t have shared that.”

“No, you shouldn’t have fucking done it. You
cannot
predict me. You get it wrong every time. You’re just wasting processing power.”

“Sorry. I just want to make sure you’re going to be careful.”

Kiyoshi stomped to the airlock. “I will be living in a broken-down old Startractor with five hundred and sixty-eight of our people, totally reliant on a hydroponic garden, a jugaaded water reclamation system, and the boss’s goodwill … and by the way, he
still
owes me money. And now 6 Hebe is gone, there’s nowhere to run to if the situation goes to shit.” He pulled his helmet off its velcro patch, fitted it over his head, and inflated it, shutting out the smell of growing things. “You bet your ass I’m going to be careful.”

“Sorry.”

“Just remember, if you don’t come back? We die.”

“I’ve actually modelled that scenario, too. There’s only a seven percent chance …”

“Keep it to yourself. Your predictive modelling is crap, anyway.”

But he couldn’t leave it at that.

As he flew towards the Startractor, towing the rabbit hutch, he pinged Jun again. “Don't worry about me, OK? Just watch your back out there." Jun might be an ASI, but Kiyoshi was the elder brother. It was his job to sound reassuring.

Many of the Galapajin were still buzzing around outside the Startractor. That little airlock in the quarterdeck was a bottleneck. 

They all stopped and turned to watch when the
Monster’s
drive spun up. 1.5 kilometers away, the powerful, fifth-hand fusion drive, originally made for a Hyperpony courier, blazed brighter than the sun. The plasma plume seared a violet after-image on their eyeballs. The old ship arrowed away, accelerating at a pace that would take it to the L5 Earth-Moon LaGrange point in … oh, about a month and a half.

When the
Monster
got closer to Earth, Jun would enable the Ghost, the stealth system he and Kiyoshi had stolen from the PLAN. It would prevent Earth’s ships and IR telescopes from detecting his approach. At that point they would no longer be able to communicate. For now they could still talk by radio. But as the
Monster’s
drive plume shrank to a speck, and then to nothing, Kiyoshi felt a keen sense of abandonment.

Guessing the others felt the same way, he said cheerfully, “Well, let’s get moved in.”

“Yonezawa-
sencho.”
A senior nun, Sister Terauchi, addressed him as captain. “Does this ship have a name?”

Kiyoshi scowled at the ugly length of the Startractor. Its conical drive shield sprouted heat radiator vanes. The small engineering module nestled atop the radiators. Forward of that, the Galapajin were busily tethering their Bigelows to the ship’s spine, in between the circular plates where cargo would have been anchored. The propellor arm that rotated around the ship’s nose had already slowed down. Kiyoshi planned to take it to a dead stop. Spin gravity? The Galapajin didn’t need any stinking spin gravity. Waste of power. One of those modules was for passengers, the other for crew, but it was a good bet they’d be using both of them for food production.

“Yeah,” he said. “It was a recycling barge, as I understand. Fomerly known as the
Kharbage Collector.”

 

The story continues in
The Callisto Gambit,

coming in April 2016!

 

Thank you for taking a chance on an indie-published novel and making it this far! Because I’m an indie author, I depend on readers to help get the word out. If you enjoyed this book, please post a review, mention it on Facebook or your blog, and let your friends and family know!

 

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Crapkiller.
Readers call this novella “great military SF...” “hard sci-fi tempered with humor ...” “a very appropriate beginning for what is quickly becoming my favorite sci-fi series!”

 

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Contact Info

Contact me anytime at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!

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BOOK: The Mars Shock
9.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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