War reaches every corner – even the far reaches of Jupiter.
The orbital colony station, Jov 1-H, fighting for independence and freedom from Earth, is home to thousands of people. Sixteen-year-old Des O’Neal is thrust into a world he desired not to be in – spies, plots and trickery abound when a saboteur attempts to destroy the station.
Enraged by the attack on his home, Des charges in head first. He fights an unknown enemy who knows more about him, than he knows. No one can be trusted – even Des’s own brother.
How far will Des go to save his brother and his own life? If you like Space Opera and Spy Thrillers, then you will love this action-packed adventure.
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Please enjoy Chapter One for your reading pleasure. Remember to head over to Amazon to purchase your copy today.
Des O’Neal walked through the darkened corridors of the Undercroft of the Jovian 1-H Space Station. The poorly lit metal corridors smelled like wet, dirty socks.
Even with the pungent odor, it reminded Des he was lucky to live where he did. He didn’t live in some habitat on some planet or moon. He didn’t breathe recycled air, nor was he being forced to stare at nothing but steel bulkheads and vidscreens showing images of greenery he would never experience. Des lived in the middle of a spinning space station, which had been compared to a giant spinning park. It was better than the moon of Europa.
Europa, being terraformed over a hundred years before, thawed with the thickening atmosphere. The settlements built into the ice sunk to the bottom of the sea. There was more liquid water on the tiny moon than on the planet Earth. Tall towers stretched up from the ocean floor to the surface on Europa. Only the rich, and influential managed to live anywhere near the surface. They were the only ones who had any chance of having any type of fresh air. Everything else on Europa was recycled.
Des’s family weren’t rich, nor influential. His brother and himself lived with their father, who had been a mechanic on Europa, while his mother was an engineer on an interplanetary cargo vessel. They lived under the surface of the moon-wide ocean. He hadn’t seen real sunlight until after his tenth birthday.
On this station, Des was happier, as happy as can be expected considering the events which facilitated his move. Some of the air was still recycled, and the daylight manufactured, but he had green grass to run in and fields to explore.
Of course, he spent most of his free time crawling underground in the Undercroft. It reminded him of Europa in some ways.
Des moved out of the tight space he squeezed himself into and put his recorder away in his pocket. He looked around to see if he had been seen by anyone.
“Des,” Elsie Dagg called out from a nearby corridor. “Where in the system have you gotten to now?”
Elsie walked out from the corridor. She was a girl from Des’s class in school and one of his better friends. Elsie was a year older than Des’s sixteen. Despite the age difference, Des was tall and skinny for his age. Most people didn’t know he was the younger of the pair. He swore he was taller than Elsie was, but the amount was less than a finger width and seemed to disappear depending on the shoes she wore.
He looked over to Elsie as she approached. She was still in her school uniform, a knee length skirt, standard white button-up shirt, a blue tie, and the blue colored school jacket. Her jacket fitted the curves of her teenage body. She had taken the time to adjust the jacket’s fit properly.
Des was dressed much the same. Instead of wearing a skirt, he wore a pair of blue pants. His jacket didn’t fit and was looser than he would’ve liked. Not that he thought a guy could get a jacket to fit him.
Elsie carried a flashlight, shining the light into his eyes. “There you are, you fool.”
“Stop that,” Des replied.
Elsie lowered her flashlight, “Sorry.”
“No worries,” Des said, his eyes adjusting back to the darkness. “I told you I was going this way.” He pointed a finger where she had walked from, “And that way was going to be harder to get through.”
“Harder?” Elsie said. “It wasn’t hard.”
“You ripped your jacket,” Des said, putting his finger in the hole, “Again.”
“Oh, no,” Elsie said. “My mom is going to space me.”
“No, she isn’t. She’ll scold you and maybe take away something, but she won’t force you out an airlock.”
“It’s a figure of speech.” Elsie rolled her eyes. “Idiot.”
“Where’s Fillip?” Des said, “I thought you were gonna bring him this time.”
“He’s cowering by the entrance. He said we shouldn’t be in here because it’s for ‘authorized personnel only.’”
“You shouldn’t call people that.”
“Cause it’s rude and inaccurate,” Elsie said. “Planets and moons aren’t flat, and unlike a certain person who insists on breaking the rules. We were born here.”
“How much longer are we going to explore this blasted place” Elsie asked, “I’m getting hungry, we should get to the Diner. I could use a burger.”
“Doesn’t your family not eat meat?”
“They don’t, but I do.”
Des jumped. A red light flashed on in the middle of the corridor. The whine of a siren echoed down the dusty metallic hallway. To Des, the siren sounded weird, like something in the speaker was broken. For a moment, Des was unsure what the alarm was for.
“Ah… They’ve caught us. We need to get out of here.” Panic raising into her voice.
“Calm down,” Des said, “It’s an evacuation alarm.”
A voice echoed down the corridor from the alarm came.
“Level four alert,” the Emergency Voice said from the speakers, “All civilians please evacuate to the nearest shelter. All Emergency Personnel, please report to your duty stations.”
The voice then repeated itself endlessly.
“Calm down?” Elsie cried, “We are under attack. I don’t want to die.”
“We aren’t going to die,” Des said, attempting to reason.
“Where’s the closest exit?” Elsie panicked. “We need to get to a shelter, or we’ll get into even more trouble than just being in the Undercroft.”
Des grabbed her hand, bolting down the nearest corridor. “This way,” Des shouted.
He was sure it was the best way out. He had been through this area before. In the Undercroft, every sector was the same.
He bumped into a wall. A pile of dust and debris fell from the ceiling. Des ran down the corridor, dragging Elsie with him. He took little time to dodge the obstacles in his way, jumping over pieces of disconnected and abandoned pipes. His school shoes barely gripped on the steel floor.
“Slow down,” Elsie shouted. “I can’t keep up.”
The station shook violently. Des lost his footing, tumbling to the ground in a heap. Elsie, still holding onto his hand, tripped on Des’s flailing feet, landing on his chest.
Wind escaped from his lungs. He tried to suck air back in, finding it difficult.
“Are you okay?” Elsie asked.
“Yes,” Des choked, “but you’re heavier than you look.”
Elsie punched his shoulder. “Meany,” Elsie growled, getting off Des.
Des and Elsie followed the corridor to the nearby exit. The amount of debris in the passages increased the further they walked, forcing them to take a slower pace. Des felt confident this corridor was emptier the last time he had walked through it.
“Is this the same exit we came in at?” Elsie asked. “I’m completely turned around.”
“It is,” Des confirmed, “We should come out near the central market in the Teal Sector.”
Des slammed into the door. It was stiffer than he remembered. He shouldered the door a second time. It flew open. Des and Elsie bolted out into the station. The bright light of the station blinded them for a brief moment.
Des slid to a stop, exiting the door to the Undercroft. He wasn’t in the residential Teal Sector. He was in the middle of a farming sector. Fields stretched out around him. The golden wheat glowed in the artificial sunlight.
He looked to his left and his right. The inside of the station stretched up in a distinct curve. Des thought of the station as a giant, stretched-out donut with the center filled in. People lived inside the ‘donut,’ on its edge under the crust.
“Look who’s the flatlander that got us lost,” Elsie said.
“We’re not lost,” Des said. “We’re in the middle of the Ruby Sector.”
“We’re supposed to be in the Teal Sector, over there,” Elsie said, pointing up.
Along the inside curve of the station, Des could see the houses and businesses of the Teal Sector. Des thought he could make out his brother’s school in the very center of it. It was the tallest building in the sector.
The station shook violently. Des scrambled to keep his footing. He grabbed hold of Elsie.
“We need to get to the Teal Sector,” Elsie said. “If this station breaks apart, I don’t want to be with a bunch of strangers. I want to be with my family.”
“No time,” Des said. “We need to get to a shelter.”
Des and Elsie ran down the dirt road, passing trees and flowers. The birds in the trees sang without a care for the problems of humankind. Up ahead of them was a small group of buildings. Des assumed it must be the barns and storage buildings used by the farms.
“There will be a shelter in one of those buildings,” Des yelled.
Des ran ahead, and Elsie followed trying hard to keep up.
“Wait up,” Elsie called out from behind.
Des reached the buildings and turned a corner. High up on a wall, with its chipped paint was a sign with an arrow said: Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2A.
“Elsie,” Des called, “this way.”
Elsie caught up with him, heaving for breath, and leaned against the wall.
“This is ridiculous,” Elsie said exasperated.
“You should run more in Gym Class,” Des said. “Train more.”
“You be quiet.” Elsie said, then after a moment. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
Des and Elsie ran down the dirt road along the different buildings. In a small corner was a big sign reading: Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2A. Full. Please go to Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2B.
“First you get us lost,” Elsie said, “then when the station is about to get blown up, the shelter is full.”
The voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building.
“Level four alert,” the Emergency Voice said, “All civilians please evacuate to the nearest shelter. All Emergency Personnel, please report to your duty stations.”
Des looked around amongst the cluster of buildings. In between the different maintenance and support buildings for the farms, was a couple of small shops selling coffee and small lunch items.
He glanced around. The workers had abandoned the cluster in a hurry leaving tools and farm equipment scattered everywhere. One cow was eating some grass on the side of the road.
Over in a corner was a U-Ride station. Des grinned at the hover-scooter rental locker, making a dash for it. Des could rent a hover-scooter with the swipe of his ID-card.
“Can you afford a scooter?” Des yelled over his shoulder.
“No,” Elsie said, “My mom cut my allowance. Can you rent one for me?”
Des swiped the Auto-pad on the U-Ride. A small red light turned green, and a single hover-scooter of the correct size was released.
He swiped again. An ‘Insufficient Funds’ notification popped on the screen.
“Stupid Uncle Jacob,” Des muttered.
“What?” Elsie said.
“I don’t have enough for a second scooter. My uncle didn’t transfer my money like he said he was going to. We have to double up on the scooter.”
The station shook aggressively once more.
The Emergency Voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building once again. “Level four alert.”
Des tuned it out. Hopping on the scooter, he motioned for Elsie to jump on behind him.
“Get on the best you can,” Des said. “We have to go.”
Elsie stuck her tongue out at him, climbing on. She wrapped her arms around Des’s chest.
“If I fall off and die, I will haunt you,” Elsie said.
Des struggled with the controls. He was used to the single person scooters. What he needed was a double. However, the way his luck ran, there were none at this rental. After a few moments, Des soared down the road with Elsie screaming behind him.
“You’re going too fast. You’re going too fast,” Elsie yelled.
A cluster of buildings stood in the distance. The size and amount of the buildings were similar to the ones they left behind. Everything was cut and paste. The needs of the workers were the same as one another. As such, each group of buildings was nearly identical.
Des flew into the farming cluster. He screeched to a stop near the heavy doors to the shelter, leaving the scooter laying on its side.
“We’re here,” Des said. “And we didn’t die.”
“Just barely,” Elsie replied.
Sprinting up to the door, the faded black lettering of the shelter announcing its vacancy.
The voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building.
“Level one alert,” the Emergency Voice said, “Danger has passed. All civilians, please report to the nearest supervisor for debriefing.” There was a pause in the voice, “Des O’Neal and Elsie Dagg report to Captain Kusheeno.”
This ends the free preview chapter.
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