July 17, 2019

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 7

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And here it is; the final installment of our second book of the Solar Winds series. Be sure to start back on Chapter 1, or better yet, start back with chapter 1 book 1: Scorpius Cell. Or, you can read em all and other original works of scifi in their entirety by yours truly.

Solar Winds: The Cloaked Promise

by

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 7

“Ah, your beauty can only add to the drab setting here. I told them you were an absolute celestial angel when they questioned me, you know. Why the media doesn’t play that up is beyond…”

“How did you find our base?” Andrea cut in. She resisted every urge to cup her newly injured shoulder in front of him.

Holderson stirred his drink with his finger. “Don’t worry, lass. Your secret is safe with me. I mentioned to the Bureau interrogators how your non-existent armada beat tracks to a tiny Uranian moon .  They probably have an armada reducing those tiny moons to dust now. Pity, Puck was always a Shakespearean favorite of mine.”

Andrea was growing impatient.  “Why would you cover for us?” she demanded, leaning over his desk. “What’s your angle?”

Holderson picked up a gemstone on his desk and toyed thoughtfully with it.

“You’ve got something of mine.  The Radium Core; I want it back.”

He tossed her the diamond. It was nearly as big as her fist.

“That,” he continued, “Is a small sample of what Uranus has to offer,”

“A diamond,” she said sarcastically. “Can’t you fabricate these?

“Not one of that size or perfection, my love. Those only grow deep in the bowels of ice giants, where the pressures are extraordinary. Most are deeply locked away under a thick sea of liquid helium slush, but in the case of a smaller gas giant like Uranus, they lay relatively naked.  The Core was to provide the energy needed for the atmospheric mining operation.”

Andrea felt she now had a card to play. “And your proposition?”

Holderson waxed philosophical again. “Change is about to sweep the Solar System. Terra cannot hold a death grip on its provinces forever. History demands it… the paradigm will shift.”

He gestured at the bay window. An image appeared of the podcraft that brought Andrea to Titan. “A beaut, isn’t she? Antimatter drive, multicomm systems, rated for everything from coronal mass ejection surfing to deep space work. She’s yours, along with three others I’ll have delivered to your asteroid home.”

“You’d arm pirates,” Andrea said, incredulous.

“I’ve certain… let’s say, diverse interests. I’m even willing to include a blank invitation for a personal sojourn on my secret pleasure oasis on Amalthea, the inner-most moon of Jupiter. You certainly look like you could use it.”

Andrea stood back and pondered this for a moment.  She definitely wanted to get rid of the Core: it was a valuable but terrible prize. Several of those ships would also be handy; properly armed, they could be both agile and devastating. It also fit perfectly with her plans for the stolen Daedalus. Still, she felt he was playing her. It’s almost too perfect…

She turned to go. “And if I say no?”

“I can help you in other ways, my blossom.  I can even help you locate someone dear to you…”

Marc… Andrea leered at him. “Where is he? Is he alive?”

A map appeared on the bay window.  Holderson enlarged the view until all the outer planets disappeared from view.  Only the livid Sun and Mercury remained. He wordlessly pointed at the smudge on the cannonball world labeled “Mercury Prime”.

Andrea’s heart sank. No one had ever escaped from the prison pits of Mercury Prime. A sentence there meant life.  She dropped her head and slowly turned to go.

“You’ve got your Core,” She called back.

“One more thing,” Holderson said. She lifted her head as she stood on the descent platform. “Your attacker, of course, was not one of mine.  My sources tell me he was also not Legion. Someone else wants you dead, missy. I suggest you leave our humble moon immediately.”

“It was good doing business with you,” she called out as she lowered out of his view.

At least he didn’t want anything blatantly sexual, she mused. I wish I could say that more about the men in my life.

 

The single seat podcraft swiftly broke orbit as the anti-matter engines cut in. Titan receded behind Andrea in silence as she set up the secure laser encoder.  “So much like Mars,” she said wistfully. Strip away the atmospheric smog a bit, and it could be a dead ringer for her homeworld. Except on Mars, people had long lost their rights after the failed revolt. On Titan, they were just starting to feel the claws of the Terran Empress.  Soon, they would be told where they could go, who they could talk to, when they should feel joy and pain, and when and with whom they could breed, just like Mars. And that was only the beginning.

Andrea hoped that the citizens of Titan wouldn’t miss any of these simple things.

She sent off an encrypted message back to Kumari Base, instructing them to prepare the Core for pickup and await the shipment of additional armaments courtesy of Holderson. She also told them to proceed with her plan. She would rendezvous with them back on Mars. With any luck, she hoped, they would be prepared to deliver the Terran Legion a punishing blow on their home turf.

While they scoured the frozen wastes of the outer solar system in search of the Zodiac Cartel, Scorpius Cell would hit them hard and where it hurt near the Earth.

Andrea paused to once again admire Saturn, now fully illuminated off of her port side bow. Things were beautiful and pristine, here above the clouds and mire of civilization. Her hand hovered over the navigation computer.  She hesitated and punched in the coordinates for Amalthea, Jupiter’s inner most-moon. “Time to take Holderson up on his offer of a little vacation detour,” she whispered out to the vastness of space. Besides, you only live once, and this shepherd may not be around much longer.

 

The Lieutenant awoke to the darkened medical ward.  The only light was the emerald blink of the vigilant nursing computer. She breathed slowly, assessing her situation.  They’ll be here shortly; I’ve got to play the good damsel in distress.

Things had taken an interesting turn. They hardly ever went according to plan in a job like hers.  She had been carefully selected for her ability to cope with evolving situations; now it was show time, and she was ready to act.

At least I’m free of that bastard Bajwa, she smirked.

Fully alert now in the medical ward of the Kumari Base, Lieutenant Lori Stutton waited for the game to begin.      

The End

Read Solar Winds: The Cloaked Promise and other original works of science fiction by Dave Dickinson in their entirety.

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