Copyright © MJ Kobernus 2016
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
Any resemblance to real persons, living, dead or immortal is purely coincidental.
MJ Kobernus asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this book.
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Any copyrighted material is reproduced under the fair use doctrine.
The cover art is the work of Ashraf E. Shalaby.
Published by Nordland Publishing 2015
The short story, Salvage, first appeared in print in NovoPulp, vol III, published by Hermit Studio, in 2015.
This version of the story is substantially the same, however, it would be a very good idea to check out the original source. Not only did NovoPulp contain a wealth of great stories from many talented authors, you can also find another of my own there. The infamous Freak Show.
You can find NovoPulp here: http://novopulp.com
In honour of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to helping mankind achieve its destiny. One day, the stars.
A note from the Author
Salvage is the first instalment of a series of short stories. These are ‘teasers’, if you will, for the grand novel, The Predecessors, that will one day emerge from my fevered imagination. But don’t worry, these are not spoilers since they take place before the action of the novel begins.
The next instalment is Hunted, and is likely to be published in 2017.
Near Orbit, Palsenz
The shuttle approached the larger ship’s docking port slowly, performing an intricate ballet of trajectories and vectors, matching speed, angle and rotation until it mirrored the other vessel precisely.
“Argoss III, this is the shuttle Heimdal. Requesting permission to dock.” First Officer, Stephanie Chu looked to the pilot and shrugged. “Still no response, Pål.”
Captain Pål Knutsen acknowledged this with a nod. But he had his orders. Dock with the Argoss, and enable ingress for the salvage team. He triggered a burst from the central reaction control system, giving the shuttle a push sufficient to allow it to move slowly towards its vastly bigger host. With a clang that reverberated throughout the smaller vessel, the shuttle mated with the Argoss, its inexorable progress countered by the torsional and compression systems that absorbed most of the collision’s impact. With a glance at the control panel, he saw that the Orbital Docking System indicated the seal was tight. All green. He flipped the comm channel open.
“OK, boys. You’re clear to disembark.”
Stephanie pulled her headset off. It floated away gently. Raising an eyebrow she said, “Boys?”
Her partner shrugged. “Just a figure of speech. You be careful, Steph. Make sure that seal is tight. I don’t care what the panel shows.” He gestured to the ODS which continued to give its electronic assurance that the docking ports were cleanly mated.
“I always am, Pål. Don’t worry about me.”
She quickly moved to the small hatch in the bulkhead behind them. Making good use of the handholds, she swung around and pivoted through the narrow opening, flying through with the speed of long familiarity. This put her in the central fuselage where the tech-engs from the Bitter Sea were waiting, already suited. The six men and three women were checking each other’s EV suits, before tapping their partners’ shoulders to indicate final approval. At zero gee, they could move easily in the heavy, articulated bodies, but they were bulky and cumbersome under normal grav conditions.
Stephanie punched the code for the airlock and a door slid open revealing a small chamber, just big enough to hold four of the suited figures at a time. The first group entered, some of them carrying silver cases containing the instruments and tools needed to assess the condition of the third colony ship; the ship that steadfastly refused to acknowledge their presence. She activated the close routine and the hatch slid shut silently. Watching through the tiny sight glass, she could see the expedition leader manually operate the docking port. The shuttle vibrated for a moment as the port dilated open, and the tech-engs passed into the airlock on the other side.
One of them turned before entering the Argoss, giving her a thumbs up gesture, then sealed the hatch behind him. The panel displayed a flashing green light. They were in. She repeated the process for the three remaining crew and watched as they too disappeared into what some people were already referring to as the ghost ship. She shook her head ruefully. Stupid to let rumour affect her like that. So the ship had suffered some kind of environmental disaster and most likely killed everyone aboard. That was no reason to start getting superstitious. And yet, she could not help shake the feeling that something was wrong.
Inside the Argoss III, Officer First Class Jensen examined the external pressure and air sensor unit mounted on the sleeve of his suit. With a nod to the others, he started to unclamp his helmet. Quickly, they helped each other, hanging their suits in racks that lined the wall of the small chamber. In just a few minutes, nine heavy EVO suits slumped against the airlock wall.
Jensen sniffed cautiously. He was the first of his family in almost three hundred years to breathe air not filtered through the Bitter Sea’s scrubbers. It was disappointingly familiar. The same aroma of rubber and steel. But there was a hint of something else too. Something not familiar.
The airlock opened into a narrow corridor, its once white walls now grey, several of its lighting panels dimmed or broken. Noting the condition, Jensen felt his fears for the people aboard the Argoss III mounting. No one had been doing any maintenance for a very long time, it seemed.
“Alright folkens, let’s get to work.” He gestured to the Drive Techs who carried a crate between them. “Finn and Cho. You two get moving. Find out what state the main drive is in. The rest of us are heading for the control centre.”
The two drive techs nodded in assent, lifting their heavy crate easily in the zero gee, and headed down the corridor. Even though their names denoted a familial heritage that could not have been more different, they looked surprisingly similar. Both men were tall, with high cheekbones and dark hair. Finn’s blue eyes spoke of his Norsk roots, while Cho’s brown were rooted firmly in Shanxi province. They moved at a steady pace, their boots providing solid traction on the floor. Theirs was the longest journey, as they had to go through the gen-pop section in the third sphere in order to get to the engines, but there was a control station in section two that could provide some answers first. They turned left at the junction in the corridor without hesitation. They did not need to think about where they were going. They were as familiar with the layout of the Argoss as they were with the Bitter Sea. The colony ships were all built identically, down to the last nut and bolt, even if each did its own unique ‘flavour.’
The great vessels had left Earth in the wake of the Final Fall. They had maintained close communications during the first generation, but after forty years, the Argoss had gone quiet. It also maintained a longer and harder acceleration program than the other three ships, so after many decades it had pulled too far ahead to be tracked easily. And though it was clear that it had not exploded, as had the luckless Truman seventy years into their journey, it was equally certain that something had gone catastrophically wrong.
After eight generations, only half the expected colonists had arrived safely at their new home, a G star system with a Kepler classified Super-Earth Planetoid. But this would be enough as each ship was fully capable of establishing a colony on its own. However, the success potential of any fledgling outpost increased with greater numbers. When Endurance and Bitter Sea entered the Palsenz star system, there was much celebration when the Argoss III was discovered to be waiting for them in a geo-stationary orbit.
Each of the giant ships had been sponsored by a consortium of privately held companies with cooperation from national groups on Earth. The Bitter Sea was a joint Sino-Norsk enterprise, with lesser representation from several other countries. As a result, most of the colonists on the Bitter Sea had Eurasian features, with a prevalence for high cheekbones and almond shaped eyes, even those with blonde hair. In contrast, the Endurance was largely of North American manufacture, with a large percentage of Southern American and a small minority of central Europeans. The colonists aboard Endurance were much darker in complexion, with a prevalence of brown eyes and darker hair. The vision of a melting pot for humanity had become reality only after its almost utter extinction.
Officer Jensen began to lead the group of engineers, technicians and computer operators on the long march to the control centre, located in the third and most forward section. The Heimdal had docked in the middle section, which contained the engineering, hydroponics and various other support industries. This was the heart of the great ark and it should have been a hive of industry.
The modular design always reminded Jensen of pictures he had seen as a kid; a bulbous bug, with a large abdomen, smaller thorax and tiny head. Each section was bigger than the previous, and all were connected by multiple limbs and tubes.
Only the third section had gravity. The General Population pod was based upon a design from the twentieth century; a Bernal sphere. The entire core of the sphere was hollow and housed the majority of the ship’s crew and personnel. There were no passengers. If your ancestors were not specialists or would not work, they did not go. A constant three quarter gee was maintained by spinning it along a central axis ensuring that the population could maintain sufficient muscle and bone mass throughout the long journey to their new home.
The salvage team led by Jensen continued through various corridors, some of them entirely dark, requiring them to use their light beams on scatter setting, creating odd, looming shadows out of nothing. It was in one dark passage that they found the first Argoss crewman; or what was left of him. The synthetic material of his uniform was perfectly intact, in contrast to the skeletal remains within. It looked to Jensen as if the man had died leaning against the bulkhead, then simply fallen over.
The Med Tech drew a handheld scanner and went to work. She looked up, face grave. She said just one word, but it chilled them all.
At that moment Jensen’s ear comm chirped, announcing an incoming signal. He keyed it to relay, so the others could hear the drive tech through their own comms.
“Chief, there’s something not right here. We’re at the engine control centre. There’s no sign of any activity, but the nav system shows that a containment coil was aligned recently.”
Jensen understood enough about the singularity drive to know what a containment coil was, but he did not understand why this was important.
“So, the procedure is not automated. It has to be done manually.”
Jensen let the significance of the words filter through. Someone must have been performing the alignment. “Well, that’s good news. There must still be some crew alive, right?”
“Well, that’s the thing chief. I can access the main control comp system from here. There’s a secondary interface in engineering as a backup. I requested a head count.”
Each person aboard a colony ship had a tiny sub dermal implant, which allowed the CCS to track their location as well as the individuals’ bio readings. It would also provide a running census on how many people were aboard.
“I may regret asking this. How many are there?”
“Zero chief. There are no crewmen currently registered.”
“But you said that the alignment was done manually.”
“Hmm. Okay, thanks Finn.”
The implants were inserted into the gluteus maximus of all new-borns. This was protocol. Everyone had one. If there were people aboard that did not have the bio tracker, then that could only mean one thing. He turned to his team. “There may be a break in the social structure. It could be they had a mutiny. Keep on your toes.”
The group nodded in response. They continued along the corridor, coming upon more of the hapless crew that had died suddenly, killed by a flash radiation burst, most likely from the ship’s own reactor.
When they reached the junction to the Control Centre Pod, the most forward part of the ship, Jensen felt a sense of relief. He opened the connecting portal. It was an airlock, since the control pod was effectively a separate system to the rest of the ship. Although cramped, the Bitter Sea personnel squeezed into the small chamber. They cycled through and as the adjoining portal opened, they got their first glimpse of the ship’s control centre, the bridge.
A dozen of the Argoss crew were arrayed around the room, some still at their workstations, others haphazardly fallen, or sitting slumped against a bulkhead. The blast of radiation that had killed them had been over in a second. They probably did not even feel a thing.
But the gen-pop sphere would have better shielding. Sure, it was closer to the reaction core, but its hull was meters thick. Still, if there had been any survivors, the engineers would have reported it by now.
Jensen went to the nearest computer terminal and punched a few keys at random. Nothing.
“Alright. Let’s get to work. We need these systems up and running.”
His team spread out, carefully moving the bags of bones that had once been people. They stacked them in a corner of the control room, then began to pull apart the panelling to get at the computer’s inner systems, looking for the fault that had put the control centre offline.
Engineer first class Markus Han was first to get his terminal running. He turned to his partner. “Li, look at this.” He pointed to a digital readout that displayed a set of numbers. Li narrowed his eyes.
“That looks like the containment field was taken offline.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“But . . . that would kill everyone. Why would they do that?”
“No idea. But it looks like someone wanted to pull the plug on the whole crew.”
“Sir! Over here please.”
Jensen hurried over to the techs, who were still staring in shock at the data on the screen.
“It was sabotage, Sir. The drive failure. Someone did it deliberately.”
Jensen swore, shaking his head. “What in hell would possess someone to do that?”
Markus Han peered closer at the data, and he visibly paled. “Sir . . . it was here. They did it from here.” He pointed to a section of the screen displaying an array of numbers. “They overrode the safety protocols. That’s the captain’s own authorisation code.”
“What?” Jensen stared in puzzlement at the data on the screen. Drive tech was not his field, and he could not make out anything from the lines of scrolling data. “The command crew caused a deliberate drive containment field failure? Why the hell would they do that? It would kill everyone on the whole ship!”
Markus nodded. “Yeah. Everyone. And everything.”
Jensen activated his comm unit. “Finn, report in please.”
There was no answer.
“Lieutenant Cho, please respond.”
The technicians in the control room looked to their leader, whose hand had automatically gone to the holstered weapon on his right hip. Something was very wrong.
Lieutenant Cho levered the panel away from the wall, exposing an intricate array of wires and tubes. He reached in and pulled a breaker from its panel, examining it carefully before reinserting it. Then he keyed the reset and pulled his arm out. Immediately there was a hum, and lights on instrument panels around the room illuminated.
“Nice,” said Finn. “Just a tripped breaker. Good call.”
“Not my first rodeo,” Cho replied.
“Your first what?”
“I dunno. I saw it in one of the movie archives. Seemed appropriate.”
They both laughed. Movies were a major source of entertainment for the crew of the Bitter Sea and Endurance, and since no new films had been made in the hundreds of years since leaving Earth, they were stuck with watching films from a time and a place that hardly made any sense.
With the computer systems running, they began preliminary checks. It was not long before they discovered the recent maintenance performed on the drive, which they related to Jensen, along with the fact that there were no registered crew remaining.
“Somebody must have done the alignment though,” said Cho thoughtfully. “Or maybe they died after completing it? Can we run a filter and find out when the last crew died?”
Finn typed rapidly, feeding instructions into the computer. The answer was quick in coming.
“Says here that the last crew registered was 2192. That was when the ship went silent.”
“So everyone was killed two hundred and eighty years ago?”
“Okay. Then who realigned the coil?”
The door hissed as it opened. Cho and Finn whirled around. It was not one of the other salvage team members. What came through the door may have been distantly related to humanity, but it was not human. They had barely enough time to scream.
With no answer from the drive technicians, Jensen was clearly worried. “Get the systems online. We need to find out what the hell we are dealing with.”
Markus looked up from the computer terminal he was working on. “No response from Cho or Finn?”
“Want me to check on their vitals?”
“You can get their bio data?”
“I think so. Shouldn’t be any problem to use the system to check on our chips. Just need to change the scanning frequency.”
He typed several commands into his terminal, then input the frequency range of their own bio sensor implants. Each ship used a different frequency, and it was easily updated with the new data. He keyed a final command. The number on the screen showing current crew headcount made him visibly pale.
Jensen looked over his shoulder. He swore. There were five signals, all in the CC. “Okay, that’s it. We’re leaving. Get your gear. Something is clearly wrong and we are not equipped to deal with it. We’re going back to the shuttle.”
He tapped his comm device. “Shuttle Heimdal, this is First Officer Jensen. Do you copy?”
“This is Chu. We hear you. Everything okay?”
“No. We’re coming back. Something killed two of my team, and we are not prepared for this contingency. Recommend immediate evac.”
“Roger that, we’re ready to go. Just get back here safe.”
Jensen pulled his gun from his holster. Only one other of his team carried a sidearm, and she quickly pulled her weapon. Jensen looked at her. “Heat it up, Leoni.”
Leoni Hansen thumbed the safety off, and the power quickly starting to build with an audible hum. Within seconds it was ready to fire a charge powerful enough to kill a man.
“I’ll take point, you take the rear. Everyone else in the middle and move quick. Whatever killed Finn and Cho may well be coming for us.”
Markus had been typing into the data console and finished the input with a final decisive tap. He shook his head in wonder. Jensen moved over to stare at the screen.
“What is that?”
“I reconfigured the internal sensors to pick up any bio readings, regardless if they were chipped.”
“I didn’t know it could do that.”
“Yeah. Well, we had to figure out how to reduce the rat population a few years back, so we worked out a method to use the sensors to track heat signatures.”
Jensen nodded. There was a number on the screen. He could hardly believe it. “So, there are currently over a dozen bio organisms on the ship.”
Markus swallowed. “No. Those are the ones in the passages between us and the central pod.” He tapped a few keys, and entered a new command. The screen showed a different value now. “This is for the entire ship.”
Nine hundred and eighty five bio signatures.
“Are they human?” Jensen asked, as he thumbed the safety off his pistol.
“No. Their core temperature is too hot. If they were human, they’d be dead.”
“Then what the hell are they?”
“I don’t know,” Markus replied. “But we’re gonna find out.”
The screen clearly indicated that several of the bio signatures were converging on the command centre.
Captain Pål Knutsen flipped a series of switches, engaging the drive initiation sequence. His First officer, Stephanie Chu floated horizontally behind him. He punched a series of commands on the terminal to his side. Internal cameras and sensors were now recording everything.
“I have to go in, Pål,” she said.
“I’ll be careful.”
“Fuck careful. Be lethal.”
She nodded, then pulled herself towards him. She wrapped arms around him in a brief hug before jackknifing and pushing off his chair towards the hatch. She went through, barely touching the sides, and at the last second she grabbed a handle and pulled herself into a vertical standing position, relative to the floor. She opened a locker, and removed a heavy multigun. Designed to be used in any situation, the multigun could be configured for a variety of lethal and non lethal payloads. She flicked off the safety, and set the weapon to rapid fire, heavy charge. It whined as the power started to climb.
Turning to the airlock, she punched in the code. The door opened and she stepped through.
First Officer Jensen tensed as the airlock doors opened. He moved cautiously into the corridor, expecting . . . he did not know what. The six members of his team followed close behind him.
“Okay, let’s go.”
He moved briskly, each foot carefully placed. It was still a zero g environment, which meant that an attack could come, literally, from any direction. He eyed the ceiling and was reassured by the fact that there appeared to be no ducts, or other access points. At least here.
They had been making quick progress for almost ten minutes when they entered a dark section, and even though they all used their light beams, there were too many dancing shadows. They did not even see the attack. A muffled yell, which quickly became a gurgling and the salvage team clumped together, eyes wide with fear, their light beams randomly illuminating their own faces, trying to see who was missing. Li, the Chinese kid. Markus let out a groan. They had been friends since they were children.
“Goddamn and to hell,” he screamed.
“Keep moving,” Jensen commanded, and the group moved forward again, this time noticeably closer to each other. Not that that would matter. Li had been in the middle of the pack.
They passed a junction, where tubes led out to service points on the central pod. That was when they lost Leoni. She had time enough to scream, and fire her weapon. A blue flash indicated that she had been pulled into the service duct, but if she hit whatever had attacked her it made no difference. She did not come back out and their light beams revealed no sign of her.
“We’re moving too slowly,” said Jensen. “Run.”
Stephanie stood waiting for whatever was coming. She slowed her heart, willing herself into a calm mental state. She had never been in combat before. None of them had. And yet they had trained. Simulations of all kinds, in case the planet they arrived at had hostile fauna, or intelligent and unfriendly natives. No one had believed in the latter possibility, but here she was, standing outside the airlock on the Argoss, waiting to engage an unknown enemy with unknown capabilities.
She could feel her heart rate increasing, and a bead of sweat appeared on her forehead. She took a deep breath, then dropped into combat stance, going to one knee, steadying the heavy weapon, using her arm like a support, braced against her thigh. She aimed down the corridor, her finger lightly touching the firing stud.
Markus Han appeared first, running with the clumsy, almost comical look that people had in zero gee. He was followed by a man she did not recognise, then came Jensen. He was stopping to fire at whatever was behind them.
The three made their way towards her, and then she saw it. Her breath came in a gasp, but her hands moved of their own accord, tracking the thing, aiming, firing. Her first blast missed, but the second took it in the torso, and it stopped in its tracks, a tumbled mass of red ruin, with stick like arms and legs.
More followed the first creature and she tracked them quickly, firing in rapid succession, laying down an enfilade that came dangerously close to hitting her ship mates.
The creatures were oddly angular. Neither bipedal nor quadruped. Their limbs seemed to work in any direction, allowing them to move with erratic, quick turns. They had short bodies, with small heads. What really chilled Stephanie as she fired blast after blast, was their eyes. They were very human, and very intelligent. They were also, unmistakably, filled with hate.
Markus Han reached the airlock and started to open the chamber. The others piled in and she followed, after laying down an intense barrage to discourage any of the creatures from getting too close.
They cycled through into the Heimdal’s airlock, panting in fear, waiting for the door to open into the shuttle. No one even looked at their EV suits. They could not possibly afford the time it would take to put them on. Besides, they did not need them inside the shuttle. They stumbled as one from the airlock as the door opened into the cargo bay.
Stephanie put the multigun back into its cabinet, slamming shut the door. It automatically locked. She went forward into the cockpit.
“Welcome back,” said Pål. “Things got hot, I see.”
She almost laughed with the relief of tension as she thrust herself into her co-pilot’s seat.
“What the hell were those things?” Pål continued.
“They were us, I think. If we lived in an unshielded environment for centuries.”
“Human? You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Oh man, I wish I was.”
Pål eyed the control panel. A red light blinked. “Everyone is back then. No one left behind?”
“Everyone that is coming back is here,” said a voice behind them. Stephanie swivelled around to see First Officer Jensen float slowly through the hatch.
“Then who the hell just cycled through the airlock?” said Knutsen.
Screams from the two men in the cargo hold ended abruptly. Pål cursed and punched the main drive at the same time as the attitude jets. The Heimdal surged forward, ripping itself away from the great bulk of the Argoss. The sound of rending metal could be plainly heard as the craft tore itself from the side of its host.
Jensen’s eyes went wide, and he was pulled back through the hatch. He fired his blaster, again and again. There was another scream, this one inhuman.Stephanie launched herself out of her chair. She went through the hatch, slower than usual, but faster than she wanted.
Inside the cargo hold, she bumped up against Markus. His throat had been torn open. Blood was being suctioned out of the air by the automatic maintenance systems. The other man was also dead, and Stephanie felt a momentary shame that she did not even know his name. Jensen was holding his hand over a cut on his upper left arm. The thing, whatever it was, had slashed at him with razor like claws.
She got a good look at it this time. It was floating, with its impossibly long and sticklike limbs moving in odd directions. If this thing had once been human, it had been a very long time ago. It was hairless and smooth, and dark skinned, but it wore clothing made from the same material as used by the crew on all the ships. But this only covered its groin, like a loincloth. There were no tools, or weapons. Its head was small, its mouth wide with a bank of needle like teeth.
“Is it dead?” she asked hesitantly.
“Yeah. I put enough of a charge into it to kill a dozen men. It’s dead, alright.”
“We need to get it back to the Bitter Sea. They need to know what happened.”
Jensen nodded. One look at their ‘cargo’ and no explanations would be necessary.
“Did you radio them?” he asked. “Let them know what the hell happened?”
Stephanie shook her head. “No. The ship’s on the other side of the planet, and the Endurance is still exploring the gas giant. We don’t have line of sight for another thirty minutes or so.”
The thrust of the engines kicking in pushed the creature up against a bulkhead. Stephanie secured it with strapping, then started forward to the cockpit. “Get yourself strapped in, Jensen. We’re not gonna hang around.”
He nodded, then secured himself in much the same way that Stephanie had tied down the creature.
She propelled herself through the hatch and pivoted, swinging down into her seat. She strapped in as Pål banked the Heimdal sharply to avoid a support strut on the Argoss. They had to warn the other arks. She started to relay what she knew of the situation into the databanks, updating the ship’s log.
Jensen put the shuttle in a close orbit, using the planet’s gravitational pull to propel it to greater speeds than would be possible with engines alone. Stephanie’s hands started to shake. She gripped the console firmly to stay them.
“Shit, what the hell is that?” she said, pointing to a flashing red light. Collision. Warning. Missile. Had the damned mutants fired on them?
“They must have launched some of the Argoss’ mines. Goddamn.”
The mines had been designed to explode in close proximity to a moving target. Intended for clearing asteroids, it would be just as deadly for them, if they hit it.
The explosion that blossomed on the port bow blasted the ship, and it knocked out the fusion drive. The shuttle streaked towards the surface of Palsenz, vapour from a blown seal turning to a trail of ice as they plummeted towards the surface of the planet.
Stephanie Chu had been well trained. She activated the protocols to seal the hull breach, but nothing she could do would restart the engines.
“Brace for Impact,” Pål screamed. They were rocked by the planet’s atmosphere, causing the shuttle to buck and twist as it fell. The temperature inside the cabin rose noticeably, but they would not burn up. The vessel was too well built for that. Jensen struggled to fly the ship, but without power it had the aerodynamics of a brick.
It went down, ploughing into the rocks and sand of the Badlands, the harshest landscape on the planet. The salvage operation was over.
Thank you for reading this story. If you enjoyed it, I urge you to leave a review. In this modern age, reviews are the lifeblood of the writer. Also, you might like to check out the next instalment of the series, Hunted.
About the author
MJ Kobernus lives in a small town in Norway with his wife and youngest daughter. He is the self-proclaimed inventor of Flash Philosophy as well as the founder of Nordland Publishing. An ardent motorcycle enthusiast, he has been likened to a bear on a tricycle, a comparison he has taken to heart. He has a keen interest in the metaphysical. Ask him about it. Go on, I dare you.
MJ Kobernus is the author of the Guardian series, which you can find on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and pretty much any of the many outlets where you use a mouse to navigate.
The Guardian – Blood in the Sand
The Guardian – Blood in the Snow
The Guardian – Blood in the Fire
You can visit MJ at:
After the fall, the diaspora began. Great arcs carrying the best of Humanity streaked towards new homes in the heavens. Distant stars with the potential for hosting life were the final destination of the many giant biospheres. Centuries later, two great arcs arrived at the Palsenz system, only to discover a third Arc, long believed to have been destroyed, waiting for them, derelict. A ghost ship. The crew of the shuttle Heimdall are tasked to deliver a group of engineers and technicians to the Argoss. Stephanie Chu, co-pilot on the shuttle ensures the salvage team gain access. Everything is by the book, no mistakes are made. But not everything is as it seems. There is no crew, the Argoss is indeed a ghost ship. Or is it?