Authors: Martin Wilsey
Tags: #gravity, #gravity theory, #time effects, #weapons manufacture
By Martin Wilsey
a work of fiction. All characters and events
portrayed in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual
events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Martin
All rights reserved,
including rights to reproduce this book, or portions
, in any
Cover Art by Martin
The Solstice 31
The Broken Cage
Blood of the Scarecrow
The Outer Ring
Kill Valerie Hume
The Black Pod
I was acting under direct
orders from Chancellor Dalton. None of this is my fault. Yes, I
lied. I had to lie. The prisoner had to believe we were on Earth
and not a moon around Saturn. These weapons we were developing were
not allowed on Earth.”
Solstice 31 Incident Investigation Testimony Transcript:
Thomas McDonald, Senior Research and Development Engineer, Material
Sciences, Artificial Gravity Specialist.
Tom McDonald stood on the grav-plate
apron just outside the hangar. He hated putting on a pressure suit.
He always wanted to take a piss and scratch his nose as soon as it
Without it, though, he
would not step off the apron that maintained a perfect 1G feel.
Some people liked low gravity. Not Tom. Tom hated it. Which
considering he was an expert in Artificial Gravity (AG) technology.
The moon of Saturn called
where the R&D facility was located,
had full facility AG. It must have cost a mint.
He turned and looked back
at the enormous opening to the hangar behind him. Well, at least it
appeared to be open. It was ninety meters wide and thirty meters
tall. A band of light traced the opening and marked the line
between vacuum and atmosphere. There was a field, ten millimeters
thick, of gravity chaos in that wall plain that he could just walk
through. The light had nothing to do with the
though; the light and
the field would still be there even if the base lost
He had designed it.
He still had no idea how it
worked, even though he’d
with inventing it.
Today was the final test of
his latest project: the
gun. It was an amplified
gravity-based directional weapon. It was the most expensive thing
he had ever created. Now it was in final testing. Only the full
power test remained.
His three assistants called
because it was a monster that could kill a lot of people. The
Chancellor liked to call it
. Tom was
uncomfortable with the name “Grail.” It held too many religious
All right you bunch of
monkeys, are you ready?” McDonald asked. The techs were in the lab
monitoring the test.
Yes, sir. All
standing by,” Kristin
replied. She was the team lead.
Tom thought about her as he listened
to her voice.
She was a professional,
stone-cold, bitch with no interpersonal skills. It was too
was beautiful in that modern 2G way. Super fit. McDonald couldn’t
help but remember how great she looked naked. Fortunately, none of
the rest of the staff suspected how she’d gotten herself promoted
to team lead.
I’m firing it
said as he activated the weapon. It was the same size and same
basic shape as a Frange
but the damn thing weighed
more than eleven kilograms when not powered up. The
dampeners had the benefit of making it feel weightless when the
power was on. The biggest problem was that the higher the power
settings, the slower it was to move, so that it felt like you were
dragging it through wet cement at the upper settings. It fought
A change made to the
software, however, had seemed to solve this problem. Now, as he
selected the firing solution power, nothing changed
he pulled the trigger. The standard Heads Up Display HUD targeting
had also been employed to make usage even easier.
This very same issue made
it impossible to use this weapon on the higher settings in a craft
in motion near a planetary body big enough to have its
well. In fact, Watkins had been killed when the
system tore itself out of the shuttle he was
. It just stopped dead in
momentum of the ship itself tore it away from the suddenly
stationary Grail Cannon
He was another casualty to rushing.
Here we go you chicken
shits. Target number one test. Power set to Four of Ten.” Tom had
to remind them that they had
refused to do any full power tests. The first
target was an old surface tractor that they had towed to the Target
Range for the purpose.
Firing.” Tom raised the
weapon and squeezed the trigger. There was no sound, no recoil, no
nothing. The invisible impact struck the tractor just above the
driver side wheel. A perfectly round, basketball-sized hole
appeared in the fender, and the entire engine
exploded out, sending debris all the way to the distant
The weapon moved quickly and easily to
acquire target number two. It was the remains of Watkins’ shuttle,
parked at the base of a cliff about 0.4 kilometers away.
Power settings to Six.
Firing,” he said. Again, no sound, no recoil, not even a vibration,
but this time he felt a momentary freeze of the gun in mid-air. It
was as if he could have hung there suspended from it.
The entire shuttle disappeared, and in
its place there was suddenly a gaping hole in the cliff
Did you feel that, sir?”
Vittori said with a hint of fear in her voice.
Damn right I did. Through
my boots. I just punched a
wide hole in that cliff face.
That hole must be
meters deep. What’s left of
that shuttle lines the back of that new cave.” McDonald laughed as
a slow avalanche began falling in Rhea’s
Cranking it up to Eight.
Send the drone target.” A
the size of a supply container,
into view. Tom knew it was full of rocks and other material, and it
had way too many strobes on it. It wasn’t tough to see. White was
easy to see even this far from the sun.
Target altitude is
” Vittori said.
The targeting software was
running and had the drone tagged. He raised the
trigger. He knew nothing would happen until the targeting software
tag was aligned.
The rifle froze in place for a full
two seconds. Then the drone just disappeared.
Holy shit. Did you see
that?” McDonald said.
Sir, the sensors indicate
that the drone and all its mass
has been reduced
tons.” Vittori was in awe. “Power is down to 30%. I recommend
replacing the power cell before the full power test. You would be
so dead if
dampeners failed for lack of power.”
McDonald powered the rifle down,
knowing she was right. It was consuming power exponentially at the
higher settings. The rifle became heavy again when he powered it
down, and he let it hang from the sling as he pulled out a fresh
power cell magazine. They had cleverly made them the same form
factor as the Frange Carbine ammo magazines, so soldiers could
carry spares in existing pouches.
Tom slammed in the fresh cell and
powered the rifle back up. It became weightless in his hands
Full power test.” McDonald said. He could not keep the fear from
Sir, we were
Vittori said in an uncertain voice. “If the power pack does not
have enough juice to drive the inertial dampener, there could be
the potential of massive recoil, or even some kind of catastrophic
McDonald already knew this.
Sir, please move to the
edge of the apron and
so the base is not directly behind you or in
front of you.” Vittori sounded like she was about to cry. “Are you
sure you don’t want to study the data first?”
He shook his head. They were too far
Tom, don’t shoulder it.”
It was Matthews who spoke. “I’m suited up and already in the
hangar. Use the HUD to target. If it rips your finger off, your
smart suit will seal the glove with an automatic compression
Dammit. Let’s do this.”
Tom walked to the edge of the apron and turned 90 degrees. It was a
smart precaution. “Adjust the drone path for the new
McDonald could see the
drone coming around. It was lower this time. He tagged it in his
targeting HUD, brought the
to bear on the drone and pulled
the trigger. He wasn’t perfectly on target, so when he went to
adjust the weapon to be on target it wouldn’t budge. He let off
he could move it again.
he positioned it so the target would fly into the
weapon’s path, and pulled the trigger. He waited, watching the
drone approach the crosshairs.
When the drone crossed into
the weapon fired.
was knocked from his
. Not from any recoil, but from the
quake in the surface that resulted when the distant mountain peaks
sheared off. The
hung there for two more seconds
the apron. Its power display faced McDonald,
reading 6% in red.
He could hear alarms in his comms
unit. “Vittori, what’s happening?”
The shockwave cracked the
seals on three outer airlocks and an empty residence. We’re
Vittori spoke quickly. She was suddenly on the
edge of panic, all professionalism having vanished. “Fuck me raw,
Tom. The primary long range QUEST comm array is gone.”
What do you mean, gone?
Did we sever a cable?” It was dawning on him as he stood and looked
in the direction of the distant communication facility. The entire
communications installation had been beyond the drone.