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Black Hull: The First Season: Black Hull

Black Hull: The First Season: Black Hull

Автором Joseph Turkot

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Black Hull: The First Season: Black Hull

Автором Joseph Turkot

Длина:
189 pages
2 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jul 29, 2013
ISBN:
9781501423673
Формат:
Книге

Описание

This book includes episodes 1-6 of Black Hull.

Black Hull is a lost-in-space thriller, with strong elements of suspense and mystery. There are also tones of subtle eroticism, minus graphic imagery. It is intended for adult audiences.

This thriller’s edge of your seat narrative keeps the reader questioning: What’s going to happen to Mick next? It’s given up front that Mick Compton is a man with a past: he’s facing thirty years in prison for violence—and he’s lost his once highly coveted position with NASA’s FRINGE outfit. Now, facing a long stretch in prison, with two sons and an ex-wife he wants back, he’s faced with a horrible dilemma—do the time and miss out on his children’s youth, or run one black hull smuggling operation in a distant system, get a meaty reward, and pay off a connection with a standing offer to wipe his crime history from the UCA database.

All is going well until the ride home: Mick finds himself waking up prematurely, long before arriving in Earth orbit. He’s floating in dead space. Not only has he woken from cryo early, but he’s not aboard his black hull vessel any longer: he’s in an escape pod with only enough power for several more hours of life-support. It is Mick waking up that begins the first episode in the Black Hull serial novel. The fast-paced writing, the mystery of what happened to his crew, and Mick’s panic-stricken quest to stay alive in a strange future and get back home to his family creates an incessant need for readers to devour each new episode in this serialization. The action of the plot is interwoven with riveting flashbacks that depict Mick’s mistakes leading up to the loss of his marriage and the murder of his wife’s lover. Mick’s is a story of a man grappling with regret, clinging to a far-fetched hope that somehow, things can be made right again, despite man’s known laws of physics.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jul 29, 2013
ISBN:
9781501423673
Формат:
Книге

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Black Hull - Joseph Turkot

BLACK HULL

a lost in spacetime thriller

THE FIRST SEASON (EPISODES 1-6)

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph A. Turkot

All rights reserved. Any text in this book may not reprinted without express written consent from the author. Any similarities between real people and the fictional characters presented are purely coincidental.

TO THE READER:

Black Hull is a serial novel. The book consists of two six-episode seasons. In your hands is season one in its entirety. The full book will be released by the end of August 2013. Sign up for the newsletter on josephturkot.com to get notified when the release occurs.

Black Hull: The First Season

1

BLACK HULL FUGITIVE DOSSIER

NAME: Mickey Compton

AGE: 51 yrs. old

SEX: Male

H/W: 5’11"   185 pounds

COMP: Pale, Brown Eyes

M/S: Divorced

CHILDREN: 2 males

BIRTHPLACE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Countries of America

EDU: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, class of May 3094.

GOV SERVICE: 24 yrs, NASA F.R.I.N.G.E.

                                                          Terminated.

                                                          Reason for termination: First Degree Murder.

ASSETS: $-324,606

SENTENCE: 30 year term in UCA Penitentiary.

ALERT:

SUSPECT HAS FLED THE SYSTEM, AND IS CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS. PLEASE REPORT ANY PERTINENT INFORMATION TO LOCAL UCA OFFICIALS.

2

The lid of the cryosleep chamber whooshed. Everything was black.

Mick rubbed goo from his eyes and released the straps around his torso one by one. He sat up. It shouldn’t be dark. Naked, he stood; his fingers worked along a cold metal wall, groping for a switch. What the hell is going on? His hand ran into a smooth encasement, lifted it, found a circular knob within.

He pressed in.

Nothing—no light lit the chamber. It’s too cold . . . Has the ship lost power?

His skin pricked with goosebumps. A barely audible whir beat in the walls—life support is on. He stumbled toward a door, felt for its manual entry hook, pried it out. He stepped into a black corridor. No more light than the cryosleep chamber.

Clothes, or find someone? Mick traced his way back into the sleep chamber, found his wall-trunk, and dressed himself.

He traced a steel notch running the wall out into the corridor. Each footstep clanked loudly against metal floor grates. The ship isn’t running main power, I can’t hear her. His pulse quickened, his brain dumping adrenaline.

          He rushed along the wall, anxious to reach the next door. Finally, his thumb found another manual latch and wrenched it up.

Light!

It came from a row of fluorescent dots, their amber glow faintly guiding him across the room. He waited for his eyes to register shapes from the black.

His blind fingers recognized the feel of curved plastisteel: a computer terminal. The control station. This is a pod. He knew it instantly, before his eyes had acquainted with the dim amber. He plodded forward, squared to the terminal. What happened? He searched for a familiar switch. Circuitry awoke, broke the silence: the main computer has auxiliary power. A screen lit, blinding him. He closed his eyes, blinked endlessly, then stared back at it, waiting for something to come into focus.

COMMAND>

The letters blinked, piercing green. He swiped his finger across the screen. The line of text elongated:

 COMMAND>INPUT

He traced two fingers down from INPUT.

COMMAND>INPUT>STATUS…

The computer was thinking. How much power is left? The screen went black, flickered, then turned off, dead like the rest of the ship. God damn it!

STATUS:

NAV. FAILURE: EXCEPTION ERROR x02899182v223a

THST A. FAILURE: N.R.

 THST B. FAILURE: N.R.

CNTR. PWR: HARDWARE EXCEPTION

AUX. PWR: 17%

EPU: LVL 6

LF-SPPRT: SET TO [I]

Seventeen percent. Life support on intermittent. Running when it has to. God damn cold.

The number next to AUX. PWR dropped to 16. Do I keep her running, try to find out what the hell happened, or sit tight? Mick watched the screen, looked around the room: his eyes had adjusted to the dim light, and his intuition had been correct: he was in a tiny pod used for emergency escape, but from where had he jettisoned? And why? What was our missiona smuggling run? A number fixed in his mind: 100,000 UCD. They had been returning, too, the mission a success. What happened? He couldn’t remember, he’d been sleeping—they all had. It was a year-long mission; Christopher would have been ten years older, relative to Earth’s time.

Ten years mission time traded for thirty in prison.

That was his sentence, if he couldn’t pay up: thirty years in the UCA Pen. But he had found a way out, a sympathetic friend in a high position of the UCA judicial branch. They’d made a deal, details all covered: A ten year smuggling run, a politician’s hot payload of rare ore, and deletion from the database. Just do this one last job, and it will go away. Fuck it. That had been his mindset.

He traced his index finger down in the line of an I, then quickly drew an O. The computer came on with full power.  

3

Computer, last known navigation…

M-Class System, Gliese 581.

How the fuck did we get out there?

No response.

Computer—how did we get close to Gliese? We were on a course from Zubenalgubi for Earth.

Carrier ship Crake S.O.S. recorded at sixteen hundred hours, November fourteenth, three thousand twenty.

An S.O.S.?

Correct.

Registration of carrier ship Crake?

Unconfirmed or corrupt data.

Come on, you piece of shit.

Alone. Drifting in the void. Barely enough power to last another a day.

Corrupt data.

What is the power req for a full-range scan?

A full-range scan will consume eight percent power. A short-range scan will consume six percent power.

How long will intermittent life-support systems last at current power usage?

Eighteen hours.

Continue to drift in the cold? Wait for something to spring from the black, and save me? Or give it one last scan for something, anything, out there in range . . .

Any data on cause of pod ejection?

Main engine valve explosion on mother vessel Crake.

Valve explosion? Mick thought of his children’s faces, his ex-wife, his friends at the docking station. The images were muddled. Ten for thirty. He wondered how many had met this cold fate: dying in space.

To freeze; to ease into hypothermia. There had to have been hundreds who’d gone before him. The thought comforted him. 

Can you double check engine power? It had been a joke. The computer misunderstood.

Central power, failure. All thrusters, failure. Recommended course of action: use intermittent life-support systems in wait of rescue.

Is there any record of an S.O.S. after the explosion on Crake?

No records retrievable.

Mick thought about the polished F.R.I.N.G.E. ships he used to pilot: new, fitted with any and every technology. Black hull ships—smuggling vessels—like the Crake, were old. Crake was two hundred years old. Its computers were retrofitted, but nothing else new had been used. Newer ships were protected under UCA law—black hull freighters flew under-the-radar by way of their outdated computer systems and black hull cloaking technology.

No light, no signal, issued from a black hull ship.

Might as well…

Your command does not register, please repeat.

Go ahead. Full range scan. Mick lay slumped against the cold steel of the terminal casing.

Initiating full-range scan. Please allow three minutes.

Drifting through the void. A valve explosion. Gliese 581?

Doesn’t make sense. There are stories of aliens from there. Earth-like they say. A goldilocks world. Maybe that’s what happened. Intercepted. Or maybe things just go wrong. Remember God? That thought is strange: someone who looks out for you no matter what.

I’m a criminal floating in space. Dead space. Intermittent life-support. No records, no engines, no power.

Mick closed his eyes. His skin pricked up as the cabin cooled. The ship whirred, no longer dead silent. A short life-span remaining. A minute passed. Another. The rinds of life dripped as from a sieve.

Full range scan return: no trace of heat anomalies, no trace of cross transmissions, empty matter analysis.

Computer…

Awaiting command.

Power remaining? He didn’t have the energy to look at the screen.

Six percent auxiliary power remaining.

How long can I last with ILS?

Twelve hours.

Does this ship have a suit? Say yes.

No.

Who the hell put me in this damned pod?

He couldn’t remember anything but finishing the job in the Zubenalgubi system. The pick-up had gone smooth. No valve explosion. No getting in a pod. No evacuation emergency. Just going into cryo to wake up back home, pay for the wipe. Trade ten years of mission time for thirty in prison. A second chance to see his children grow up. And Karen. A good injustice.

Engage ILS.

Authorization required.

Mick rose from his corner and walked to the computer. His fingers wrote a familiar pattern on its screen. The lights dimmed, turned off. Two amber dots remained softly alive, winking. The auxiliary power hissed, turned off. He walked to a porthole. A small latch turned, his fingers raised its velviplastic screen.

          A new black appeared: a softer, gentler black, speckled with distant suns. He leaned against the pod wall, looking into space.

How many others are still alive? No ships pass the route we took—no UCA ships. What are the odds that another black hull ship passes and detects this pod? Three billion to one?

No. Those were good odds.

The temperature dropped. Goosebumps enlarged on his forearm.

Jack London wrote about freezing to death. It hadn’t sounded so bad. Hadn’t it been pleasant to warmly die upon the Yukon? Why not here? ILS ensures a gradual exit—there will be no want for oxygen. Comforting . . .

He left the porthole, the sight of the gentler black, returning to the metal dark of the pod interior. It smelled like detergent.

A clean black hull pod. A clean grave.

He closed his eyes.

I love you boys. I love you Karen. I love you guys. I’ll miss you, too. A lot. Please don’t forget I loved you, even though I fucked it up. I’ll always love you.

A tiny noise broke the silence: ILS clicked on, its humming enough to subdue the siren in Mick’s head.

4

System charged.

Did I dream that?

Mick rubbed his arm. Still cold. The cabin was dark, barely lighted by a thin row of soft-glowing Christmas lights.

Why do I have to wake up? There’ll only be an hour or two left of ILS.

He rose from the floor and approached the terminal screen.

COMMAND>

The green letters burned his eyes. He blinked. His fingers stroked right along the glass.

COMMAND>INPUT>

A down swipe.

COMMAND>INPUT>STATUS…

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