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Bringer of Light, Chapter 21: Transit to Ceres

June 19, 2021
MThomas

Just before leaving Luna, Weng stumbled upon evidence of a conspiracy. But just who is behind it and for what purpose, he doesn’t know. Yet.

“Sam, I’m not entirely sure what you are talking about.”

Weng tapped a finger against his chair. In the other hand, he held a microchip.

“If my suspicions are correct,” he said, “this holds an encoded message from somebody on the Ceres Mining Council to a certain Captain on Luna Base.”

After a moment, Gen took the chip. He examined it.

“What makes you say so?” he asked, expressionless. “More importantly, what does this have to do with us?”

Weng gestured at the shuttle’s command console. “Just read it. I’m sure with your expertise you’ll have no problems breaking the code.”

Gen nodded. He gently inserted the chip into the side of his pad, then soundlessly tapped at the screen. His eyes scanned the text. “Sergey,” he said finally.

“Sergey,” Weng agreed. “What does the message read?”

“As you suspected, it is a request for support.”

“What kind of support?”

Gen scanned the message. “Odd. There are few details.”

“Few?”

“None,” Gen admitted.

He passed the pad to Weng, who swiped down a page.

“Few?” he repeated, cocking his head. “This seems pretty obvious to me. ‘The Council will reward you for your service once the new administration is in securely place.’”

“As I said, there are few details. We do not know when, who, or how this will occur.”

Weng tapped the pad. “That hardly matters. This is damning evidence of an attempted coup.”

“Perhaps. Yet there is no way to prove who sent it”

“I can make a couple of guesses.”

He felt silent. He would hate for one of his guesses to prove accurate. But a nagging thought remained. How much did Riss know, if anything?

“Sam,” Gen said. “We must not delay. This message is at least three days old. Luna must be warned.”

“It’s not Luna I’m that worried about,” Weng replied with a smile. “It’s Ceres.”

“Oh?”

“Look at the relay information. There, just below the coded text. You’ll find that it was bounced off Ceres, and before that Zedra.”

“How would you know that?”

“Logic,” Weng said. He scratched the harness keeping him secure in the shuttle seat. At times like this, he would have preferred the ability to pace. No room in such a small ship. Also, no gravity.

He grimaced briefly, then smiled again.

“Weng, there is no need to—”

“Mind-reading still has its limits, I see,” Weng said without a trace of irritation. “And yet it is still irritating.”

“Sam…”

Weng ticked off his fingers. “First, who has the means to start a coup against a well-fortified base such as Luna? The UA, which occasionally includes China and occasionally does not, and the Slavic Confederacy are too invested in their Earthside territorial conflict to waste resources on an assault.”

“You seem sure of that.”

“As long as the UN controls the Mars Colonies, the Lunar Base is needed to keep the Colonies supplied,” Weng reasoned. “Depriving the Colonies of food and materials would endanger settlers from all Earthside city-states, not just an opponents. Too risky.”

“Well,” Gen said. “The Greater Indian Empire, then.”

“No. They have never shown any interest in conquest. They might, of course, try to render Luna inoperable as a supply relay center, so as to force a return to the use of the ISS for such purposes. But if so, why would they refuse to allow settlers to resupply at ISS? That makes no sense.”

“Hmm. So, that leaves only one option.”

“Yes,” Weng agreed, with a heavy voice.

“The Ceres Mining Council.”

“Maybe. To what degree the Council is implicated remains to be seen. The message could have originated with a Hunter. Or a Miner. Or even from someone on Mars.”

Gen fell silent.

“Which do you think it was, Gen?” Weng asked. His companion’s sudden quiet manner disturbed him. He vainly struggled to keep his thoughts buried, his emotions flat. Gen turned as if to speak, and suddenly Weng realized from this angle that Gen resembled Martin Velasquez very, very closely.

His father? Or…?

Gen frowned as a message scrolled down the console screen. He gestured. “Sam.”

Weng leaned over. He read the text, then sat back.

“It appears that at least one of your suppositions has already been proven incorrect,” Gen said. “The UA is on the way to Luna. In force.”

“Well,” Weng said. “What’s that famous phrase?”

“‘The die has been cast’, I believe.”

Three days to Mars, Weng thought. He hoped there was still a colony left standing when they arrived.

“Gen,” he said. “How far to Ceres?”

“At our current rate, we will barely arrive at Mars in time.”

“Mars can manage for another day or two. If we swing past Ceres, we may be able to stop a war.”

Gen paused, then stabbed at the console for a few moments. “There. I have input a new path for Ceres. But it will be futile in the end, Sam.”

“Why? Isn’t it worth it if we can prevent lives from being lost?”

“No,” Gen said, sadly shaking his head. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This wasn’t our agreement.”

“Our?” said Weng. He suddenly caught his breath. Gen.

“Yes,” Gen said. “We caused this. But we only wanted a place for our own. Luna was not meant to be affected. One of the hunters must bear a grudge.”

“So,” said Weng softly. “I was correct about you, from the beginning.”

“Yes,” Gen nodded. “I am, indeed, a clone. Martin Velasquez is, indeed, my father.”

“Then you are also Martin.”

“In a sense. But enhanced with additional DNA from other sources.”

“And who is ‘we’? With whom did you make an agreement?”

“That,” Gen said, returning his attention to the console, “is something you will find out soon enough.”

Weng sat back, thoroughly demoralized. Ah, Riss, he thought wistfully. I should have pinged you when I had the chance.

“Don’t worry, Sam,” Gen said, hands dancing over the console. “Riss will no doubt be here soon.”

Weng opened his mouth, then closed it. There was little point in asking how Gen knew that. He obviously was being used by all the players in this game. He, himself, lacked the knowledge to be a full-fledged player.

All he wanted now was to be with Riss. As he had planned. On Mars.

“Ironic, in a way,” Gen commented. “My name in Japanese means ‘original’ although I am but a copy. And yet thanks to my father’s careful engineering — and expense — I likely feel much greater sympathy than he ever will.”

He turned to Weng with a serious expression on his face. “Sam. Here’s what I want you to do.”


Next: Bringer of Light, Chapter 22: The Artemis – Riss and her crew conduct an experiment, with explosive results…

Read Adams’ Stepsons for FREE until March 7

March 1, 2020
MThomas

ebookweek 3 - e-reader on beach.jpg

Stuck at home all week (or month?) dealing with world-wide panic from a cold virus?

Stock up on discounted and/or free ebooks at Smashwords!

Why not start with Adams’ Stepsons – for FREE??

Destiny in the Future is also HALF OFF until March 7th (all proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society)

Factories…In…Space…

October 13, 2019
MThomas

 

 “Once you’ve exploited the solar system, there’s nowhere left to go.”

Frankly, the idea that we puny humans could ever even begin to damage the solar system is laughable.

What would be more worrisome is who – or what – would be doing the work. Why hire people if you could make robots to do the work for you?

https://futurism.com/billionaires-dead-serious-space-factories?fbclid=IwAR1lizqBfz9yQ4zwcdPlHqr4DnWKvf_Me6exwewJ3sPrb2UTksz65YQM_eI

12 Times SFF Characters Trained Their Own Duplicates

July 3, 2019
MThomas

clones

My award-winning SF novella Adam’s Stepsons featured clones, which as some reviewers noted came a little after the peak of clones (although I wonder if we have yet to hit the “peak,” given scientific progress).

So as I was scouring the net for summer reads, I came across a lot of books about clones and ethical dilemmas (or lack thereof).

The main article I’ve linked here is from Tor.com, which often posts great stuff about SF Continue Reading

The limits of genre

November 18, 2018
MThomas

IMG_1264

Hi, everyone. I know it’s been a while since I blogged here. But I have been writing.

And editing. And then writing again. And, yes, in multiple genres. That’s my philosophy. That’s what you get if you read my writing.

I think I’ve probably written about this before, but I find myself increasingly disliking current writing styles. Short paragraphs. Bad grammar. No internal monologue. Things blowing up. Continue Reading

New Apple Award for Adam’s Stepsons

February 16, 2018
MThomas

2017NewAppleMedallionYes, yet another award for my science fiction novella, Adam’s Stepsons! This time, in the category of “E-book Science Fiction.”

The official rollout of the 2017 New Apple Awards hasn’t yet started (they announce winners in each category slowly over several weeks), but I felt I should announce it here anyway.

Competing against full-length science fiction novels, that’s not too bad!

I guess I really do need to write more. And more. And MORE.

Adam’s Stepsons awarded Pinnacle Best SF

December 29, 2017
MThomas

A late Christmas surprise!

img_9584Adam’s Stepsons won Best Science Fiction in the Fall 2017 NABE (National Association of Book Entrepreneurs) Pinnacle Book Achievement Award contest.

It’s gratifying to see my novella appreciated, but it would be even better to hear from individual readers.

If you have read Adam’s Stepsons, please don’t hesitate to write what you think about it – even if it’s just a single sentence – on Amazon, Goodreads, your own blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook page, anywhere!

 

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