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Authors: Joyz W. Riter

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Literature & Fiction

Dana Cartwright Mission 1: Stiletto

BOOK: Dana Cartwright Mission 1: Stiletto
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The Dana Cartwright Series:

Mission One

STILETTO

by

Joyz W. Riter

This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictionally. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 Joyz W. Riter

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13:

978-1484815120
 

ISBN-10:

1484815122
 

For my dear friend and mentor,
 

Rik Vollaerts

R.I.P.

"For the world is hollow…
 

And I have touched the sky."

CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Blank

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

coming soon

About the Author

CHAPTER ONE

Dana Cartwright drifted to the railing on the upper level of the Capitol City Observatory, captivated for the trillionth time by Earth’s natural satellite. The harvest moon rose due east of the lookout; a cinnamon ball cresting the horizon, massive to the naked eye. Her lips held a gentle smile. She couldn’t help it. It happened every time. Nothing beat watching a full moon rise above the Eastern horizon.

“I should have been an astronomer,” she mouthed, still captivated by the orange glow, “or a starship captain.” Her heart yearned for the freedom to venture out among the stars.
 

Or, as a Star Service admiral had once put it:
To have a front row seat at the greatest show in the galaxy, and all expenses paid at that.

They had a mission to traverse the galaxy.

Dana longed for that freedom, every time she looked up at the clear, night sky, at all those twinkling stars. She longed to be out there, among them, to leave Earth and, especially, to leave the chains of her medical career far behind.

Like the moon — that harsh mistress — she was trapped in a fixed orbit, a traveler on a path, following in someone else’s footsteps. Though she chastised herself for feeling resentment, the fact remained that someone else had chosen this path for her. She wanted to be free of it.

Her gentle smile faded. The enormous moon soon shrank back down to normal size — just like her dreams. Only twenty-four Earth standard years old and already her longing heart overflowed with pangs of regret.

Backing away from the railing, Dana lamented, “The last thing I should ever have become was a doctor.”

From within the Capitol City Observatory came an announcement. “Gentle-beings, your attention please: Our esteemed guest speaker this evening, the Ambassador to the Republic from Centauri Prime, has experienced an unavoidable delay at the spaceport. We do expect his shuttle to land momentarily, on the upper level landing zone. Please accept our apology for the inconvenience; and in the meantime, we will present a short, alternative prerecorded documentary on the Triple Star Systems of Centauri Prime. For those who do not speak or read Alphan fluently, kindly turn your audio devices to channel nine for a universal translation. Again, we do sincerely apologize for the delay.” The message repeated in a variety of languages.

Dana shrugged off the notion of going inside to watch, having seen the documentary at least a dozen times, but she’d also heard the lecture from the Ambassador just as often. Cray wasn’t the greatest speaker or lecturer and his thesis on the subject certainly left a great deal to be desired. She enjoyed just being in the audience, elbow-to-elbow, with all the Star Service scientists and astrophysicists.

DOC Cartwright chided her constantly for wasting free evenings at the Observatory when, as a second year resident at the Medical Center East, she could be in the surgical theater watching operating room history being made in the fields of neurosurgery and spinal restoration.

Neuro and spinal were light years away from her chosen specialty of ophthalmological transplantation, but her protests fell on deaf ears. DOC was, actually, partially deaf; due to a botched cochlear implant many long years ago. However, that did not stop her legal guardian from browbeating and drumming into her perfectly sound ears his opinions on the matter.

The upside of his perpetual diatribes meant she could tune out his tedious lectures, and miss nothing of importance, until he reached the part, “…One day you will follow in my footsteps and teach advanced medical research techniques at a science academy.” She’d nearly vomited at the notion the first time he’d ended that way, and had to consciously suppress the urge thereafter.

No matter how often she pointed out to him that she did not want to be a professor at a medical school, he still went on and on about the prestige and the perks. Four Cartwright’s before Dana had worn the moniker of professor — though David J. Cartwright was the only one to attain the coveted title Director of Competency — hence his nickname of ‘DOC’ — she wasn’t about to be the fifth professor or medical school dean in the family.

Dana pulled her oversized, autumn cloak a little tighter about her petite form, shutting out an icy blast from the North.
 

“Winter’s coming; I can feel it in the air. I hate winter. I hate snow and gloom. They say the Medical Center South at Albuquerque has more clear nights than any other location on Earth. Maybe I should go for the conference next month. I can sleep through all the lectures on cardiology and maybe take one on reflexology, or homeopathic medicines. That would certainly upset DOC.”
 

Dana chuckled, musing, “I’ve never strayed far from Capitol City, but from the images and videos of the deserts and canyons, Albuquerque seems a fascinating landscape.

“I should travel more, go explore, accept that standing invitation to visit the Star Service Academy at Coronado,” she reminded herself. “Don’t have many friends left there, most have shipped out. I might find a few familiar faces; and it stays warm there all year round.” Dana shivered, “Time to go inside.”

The Ambassador’s shuttle was obviously not going to appear any time soon. What a pity... She hated to miss the spectacular arrival and landing of the Blade Class Centauri craft, with its drone escorts flying formations — a light show to behold.

“One day, I’d like to be aboard,” Dana mused to the full moon, her brilliant companion. “Wouldn’t that be special?”

Xavier Via watched the Alphan shuttle on his computer screens, still a few minutes out from the landing zone, wondering what caused the delay. On all the tracking screens, the path was clear. “Just about everyone in Capitol City has already arrived. Except the guest of honor,” he scoffed. “That old fool insists upon making a dramatic entry and timing his arrival to be the last to land.”

Via hailed the pilot, “Shuttle
Stiletto
, you are clear for landing.” His face held a wry smile. The show was about to begin alright; and it had nothing to do with the Observatory lecture program.

As the Blade Class shuttle entered the inner marker, Via initiated a computer program: Code Zebra.

The Alphan Ambassador deserved a warm welcome, and he was about to get one.

Via’s hatred boiled up into a sneer. “Your voting days are over, Cray. You’ve countered the powers that be once too often.”

Code Zebra shut down all the security cameras and the drone guidance system. It also erased key bits of time code from the recorders.
 

“Let the fireworks begin,” Via chuckled.

Dirk Skeller hated lectures, especially from hot-air windbags like the Alphan Ambassador. He hated them at Academy and all during his twelve years as a Star Service officer. He hated them from his mother, the queen of lecturers. He’d even argued, “Why do I always pull this miserable duty!” when the ‘King’ assigned him to the inside of the Observatory for the Alphan Ambassador’s arrival. It should have been some no-name grunt — an ensign or a crew chief — but King didn’t trust grunts to do reconnaissance. And he definitely didn’t trust them to pull off critical missions.

Skeller looked about, mumbling, “A full house. Why would anyone — especially a Star Service scientist — give Cray any credibility?” Yet, the Observatory auditorium held several thousand and every seat was taken.

With his serious gray eyes, Skeller scanned the faces on the lower level, where the interior vomitorium lights still glowed. On the upper big screens was the stupid documentary, “Triple Star Systems.”

Skeller scoffed. “What utter garbage!” He’d been to Alpha Centauri AB-C, and it wasn’t all that impressive. There were better triple star systems… The Galactic Colonies of Enturize boasted quad-systems, for crying out loud. However, Ambassador Cray could certainly fill seats and that brought big charitable donations to the Observatory Foundation.
 

Skeller blended in with the other dark suited ushers, keeping an eye on the guests. Most remained in their seats and once the lights had dimmed were captivated by the documentary; the real show, however, was outside. He slowly moved to separate himself from the rest of the ushers, chanced a glance at the small square device in his left hand, and saw the signal lamp shift from green to amber.

Code Zebra had been initiated. “Time for the fun and games…”

Skeller grinned and stepped out through the lobby doors for a better view. A few seconds later, out on the landing zone level, the Blade Class shuttlecraft came into view, with the drones circling.
 

Yes, the show outside was starting. Pointing the hand-held device at the craft, Skeller pressed the center button and waited. “Show time.”

Dana turned away from the lookout railing toward the Northwest and her heart skipped a beat at the sight of a luminescent green glow, with five amber equally bright strobe lights.

“Oh, good! Here’s the Ambassador’s shuttle now.” She skipped down a flight of stairs to get a better view, ignoring one of the ushers standing at the main lobby entrance. The incoming craft would land, literally, at her genuine, calf-skin leather boot-clad feet. She hoped that Cray wasn’t offended by real leather or fur, since her boots had both.
 

As she recalled, the Alphan Ambassador was a rather pompous character, always decked out in the finest costumes with velvet and brocade capes, and lots of silver embroidery — all done by hand, of course — and sporting jeweled rings and oversized silver chains. Cray came from royalty, much like the ambassadors from Galaxea. He flaunted it beyond what most of the Republic found tasteful and acceptable. Still, he could charm the socialites and made certain his image made the rounds of all the news outlets whenever and wherever he made speaking appearances.

DOC Cartwright loathed the man and never even bothered to cover up his contempt for the entire Alphan delegation. There were just a few other Republic ambassadors her guardian could not tolerate and would not even dignify with an appearance. Cray, however, topped the list.

Dana, on the other hand, enjoyed the man. He could tell a tall tale. Well, maybe they contained glimmers of truth. She couldn’t say, never having been to Sol’s closest star system neighbor, Proxima Centauri, a mere 4.24 light years away.

“I’ve never even been to Earth Station One,” she grumbled. “Maybe Francis will take me. Have to escape Earth gravity one day.”

A dozen robo-droids — a full security detail — flowed up from the lower level landing zone, fanning out along the expected route of the Ambassador’s egress into the Observatory at the North entrance. They rolled, like a double-stack of big ale kegs, and hovered about a foot off the deck. Doctor Calagura called them ‘beer barrels’ and suggested some Star Service inventor probably designed them that way as a joke. One of the heavily armed and hardened floating tubs chose that moment to accost her, demanding, “Source and ID required” in a very mechanical and harsh accusatory tone.

Dana scowled. “Must you confront me every time?” She dug for her credentials in the medical kit slung at her left hip, going through the nuisance of an iris scan, and all because the robo-droid’s programming could not comprehend that her left iris was blue and her right was brown — a mismatch — and, though quite rare, it was perfectly natural.

BOOK: Dana Cartwright Mission 1: Stiletto
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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