The Prototype is a sci-fi short story I wrote back in September, 2013. At the time I wasn't sure of where the story would go but now I've expanded it into its own science fiction series. The Prototype is short story prequel to my upcoming Mission series, the first book Flight To Mars, due out this summer. Click the book cover image to download a copy. Pick up a free copy of The Prototype now!
And I also have another sample chapter for you below. This will be the last sample chapter of Flight To Mars that I will post on the website. if you want more free sample chapters of the upcoming book, join the mailing list!
Arriving at Remus started off uneventfully. Remus Space Station was a great, oblong-shaped station with ring structures that spiraled around the main unit. The main structure held the military, medical and scientific personnel living quarters, ships and work sites while the ring structures housed all other civilian personnel, organizations and units; hotels, shops, markets, offices, private employers, etc. It was vast from my view, with what looked like round plates on either end. There was one hospital, stationed in the main unit. Think a humongous version of Seattle's Space Needle. With several round saucers ringing its length. Its docking bays, with more being built, were nearly full. Not only did US ships dock there but all ships that were part of the Western Hemisphere Space Alliance. Ships from western and northern Europe, North America, parts of South America, South Africa, Japan, Australia, South Korea and a few other Asian countries. There existed another space station on the other side of the planet where the other alliance ships docked. On rare occasions there was interchange but recent aggressions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East put a damper on the growing peace relations between the earthly alliances.
I decided to follow a few of the delegates who wanted a chance to get a good look at the place. There was a shopping center which was still in the middle of expansion, a few restaurants and cafes and small businesses that catered to the permanent residents there, both military and civilian. The military base on the station was located in the heart of the station with the civilian population living in the outer layers of the station around them. We went for lunch at a afro-sushi bar and a few cocktails and walked the promenade gazing at the earth on the horizon. For me, in fact for all of us, it was a marvelous sight. It was actually right there near the promenade and where we went for drinks while watching the ships come and go and the encompassing blue horizon of Earth leading off into the deep black of space, when it happened.
A courier mech made its way through the promenade before turning off and climbing into a tram car to. A great explosion rang out through the promenade. The floor shook and trembled as blooms of fire flared out. Two people were caught up in the flames. Alarms shot off and instantly the water sprinklers came on and the airlocks throughout the station began operation to ensure no air leakage. There was smoke and confusion.
"What's happening?" Shouted one of the engineers from Aero.
"How could this happen?" Said one of our own, a systems analyst from Vartan. A good question. There hadn't been a war or a serious skirmish on Earth for at least ten years. The Pax Americana was holding. What enemy did we have that decided to rear its ugly head again?
The fire department and a bomb specialist quickly arrived to put out the fires, assess the issue and calm everyone down. An emergency medical tram flew in to take the two, civilian residents that had suffered serious burns, to the hospital unit. After Robin nervously herding us all back to our ship and telling us to stay there until they could find out what was going on, our excursions were cut short. So I didn't get to see as much as I'd wanted to see of Remus. Later we found out that just after the Starbird had arrived to the docking bay that a small pod had exploded mysteriously, one that was preparing to leave the space station. Luckily no real damage to the station was incurred and no one in the station was killed. Whether or not anyone was in the pod was unknown and no information was forthcoming. The lights on the promenade blinked and some of them had gone out. I watched the work being done to repair the promenade from the Starbird. Wondering. It was on the day we had arrived that it happened. A small, supposedly unmanned pod. The most recent explosion I'd heard through the grapevine later was that this was a carrier mech that had been destroyed. Many agreed that it may have been a malfunction and that a recall of most C-4 carrier mechs would be in process soon. I asked Robin what she thought of the whole matter.
"I don't know. I don't know. I doubt that mech was malfunctioning." I'd happened to catch her alone at the time, walking down a corridor. As soon as she made this comment I saw several delegates striding toward us.
"Ah, we have a meeting soon. Don't worry about it, Robert!" She said animatedly. Her demeanor changed swiftly, leaving me confused. It was a far cry from her more somber tone just a few seconds earlier. What a strange woman! She was like a room full of cloud and mist. I couldn't understand her. I tried to find her and speak to her alone again but for the rest of the trip she seemed to have acquired the ability to not be around unless she was swimming among gaggles of people. So I gave up that curious path. Besides, she was young and inexperienced in the position and it seemed to me that she was in over her head.
A door to a gravity boot-shop and the staircase near the north corridor was burned down but beyond such damage to these, the pod, the mechanical courier and the promenade nothing else was affected. When I thought about it, I wasn't so sure. After my conversation with Taylor Richmond and the disturbingly dark conversation between Teely and whoever he was talking to, I suspected that all of these events were related. Taylor had mentioned that he was meeting someone that might help him get the files away, hidden and safe. Who was on that pod? Was that the person who was helping him? Was there even anyone on it? I wondered what he would do now. No one would release any more information about the pod. News reports on Remus made mention of it only twice and after that, I heard no more about it. I felt danger was lurking everywhere. Suddenly it wasn't about losing a job or a career but losing one's life. I was growing afraid of my own thoughts.
I didn't see Taylor as he didn't come on the excursion with us. I checked to see if he was still on board the Starbird. I saw him briefly, glimpsed him making his way from the dining room on the ship. His face was sunken, pinched and his pallor, gray but he was still alive. I ran to catch up with him. It would be a few hours before the Starbird disembarked.
"Hey Taylor! I heard-" I said, quickly looking around.
"Stay out of it, Astor! Or you'll find yourself on the wrong end of a refuse chute!" He flared and stalked away. I decided to heed the warning. There was nothing I could do and he was adamant about not wanting any help. I stayed away.