Read Star Road Online

Authors: Matthew Costello,Rick Hautala

Tags: #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Space Opera

Star Road

BOOK: Star Road
6.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Star Road
Matthew Costello Rick Hautala
Macmillan (2013)
Rating:
***
Tags:
Fiction, Science Fiction, Action Adventure, Space Opera

A rebel and an outlaw lead an unsuspecting group of adventurers on a secret mission across the vastness of space
Ivan Delgato, a former leader of a rebel group called the Runners, is released from jail on the condition that he carry out a secret mission for the World Council. His mission is simple: stay under cover, but do absolutely anything necessary to reach the planet Omega IX and offer the renegade Runners clemency if they surrender. Which may be complicated since Ivan's brutally violent brother has taken lead of the Runners in Ivan's absence.

In search of the Runners, Ivan catches a ride out to the wildest reaches of the galaxy via a mysterious transportation system, the star road. His fellow passengers on Star Road Vehicle-66 are an eclectic group, all with their own reasons for traversing the star road. As the travelers contend with increasingly dangerous encounters, it isn't long before suspicions build against Ivan.

Culminating as the Runners must choose one brother over the other, those who survive must confront a mystery that will change the star road, and maybe humanity, forever.

New York Times
bestselling author Jonathan Maberry calls it "a grand adventure of heroes and villains written with smarts, grit and a great sense of fun. Highly recommended!"  

 

 

~ * ~

 

Star Road

 

Matthew Costello &

Rick Hautala

 

No copyright 
 2014 by MadMaxAU eBooks

 

 

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

THE ROAD TO HELL

 

 

 

 

 

~ * ~

 

1

 

 

THE THALOS MINING COMPANY

 

 

 

Captain Marie Rioux stood by
a railing overlooking the massive hold of the mining ship
Seropian.
The cargo ship had been designed to do one thing and one thing only: to carry the rare ores found on distant, desolate planets back to an ever-hungry Earth and its colonies.

 

Rioux watched as one of the mine’s ore ferries landed and dumped its supply of ore. Another small ferry ship floated outside, waiting to enter the airlock system, and still more were waiting below, on-planet, loaded and ready to link up with the cargo ship in geosynchronous orbit.

 

All day long—though who the hell remembered how long a day was here—the mining ships traveled from planet to cargo ship and back to planet.

 

Rioux had to wonder if this was what she had trained for all those years.

 

The excitement of space travel?

 

Certainly not here, sitting in the middle of nowhere, waiting until the cargo ship’s giant belly grew full, and then making the trip to the way station, to the Star Road, and finally home. Well, not “home.” A smelting plant on the Lunar Base Fourteen.

 

But close enough to home to count.

 

Over and over, this routine made her romantic notions about being a space captain seem ... absurd.

 

I’m a damned truck driver,
she thought.

 

The tedium was matched by a constant urge to get the hell away from here, back to where there were green growing things and the normal days and nights of Earth.

 

The small ore ferry below had finished dumping its load and started its return trip to the surface of Thalos.

 

Moving along... Good.

 

All Rioux could think was,
Hurry. Fill me up so I can leave this Godforsaken place.

 

Because if there was ever a place the God had forsaken, it was the dismal planet below.

 

~ * ~

 

Sam Hatch looked up as another ferry moved away from the ore processors, engines blasting as it passed over the great grinding conveyors that brought the ore to the ferries.

 

Each ferry carried tons of ore up to the cargo ship that circled like a hungry bird of prey above the small, red-stained planet called Thalos.

 

The
Seropian
was up there, he knew. But damned if he could see the ship or even the stars through the clouds of red dust churned up by the mining operations.

 

When that cargo ship was full, it would leave to be replaced with another.

 

And another.

 

He looked at the open wound of the mine itself. Huge trucks crawled back and forth over the rubble. The giant diggers, like ancient, lumbering dinosaurs, endlessly moving into caves and then down, below the surface, back to the deep shafts where teams of miners armed with explosives and tools hunted for new veins of minerals.

 

Nonstop.

 

The mining operation was an endless machine.

 

So far, this planet, whose home star wasn’t even visible from Earth, appeared to be rich with the rare ores and heavy metals that could be used to make everything from the World Council’s computers to the good citizens’ sex toys.

 

Giant lights covered the area, so there was no visible difference between the broiling days and the frigid nights. And the red dust shot constantly into the air as if the planet itself were wounded ... a bleeding cloud created by the miners’ endless digging

 

Hatch was satisfied.

 

All was running smoothly. Unlike the miners—whose contracts were tied to how long they worked—his depended on meeting his weekly quota.

 

The faster he got the ore, the sooner he would get to leave this hellhole.

 

Then he’d get six months of R&R.

 

On a beach somewhere. Palm trees. Blue water. Drinking, ogling women in and out of bikinis, and forgetting about this ugly rock, the grinding noises, the dull-eyed miners, and the constant pressure to transport more and more ore.

 

Everyone appeared to be working as fast as they could. The machines mindless efficiency seemed matched by that of the men. All of them men and machines—covered with the red stain of the planet.

 

But could he really tell?

 

Are the loads full?

 

Do the workers stop to bullshit, eating up precious minutes?

 

The whole operation of filling the cargo ship just couldn’t go damn fast enough for Hatch.

 

He turned away and walked over to the miners’ camp to have a few shots. And maybe see if any of the miners decided to go buggy tonight. Because some did go buggy. For some, it wasn’t a question of
if...
but
when.

 

~ * ~

 

Hatch took the shot glass and downed the dark rum in a gulp.

 

The woman behind the bar hadn’t been picked for her beauty. But he supposed that a patron with enough booze would hit on her, drunk and wearing thick enough beer goggles to make him see double.

 

Right.

 

Look, she has a twin sister.

 

Before that patron keeled over and had to be hauled back to the miners’ quarters and tossed into a narrow cot, where the noise of the miners’ snoring was like a rocket engine’s roar.

 

“Another,” Hatch said, slamming his empty shot glass onto the counter.

 

“Don’t dent the wood,” the bartender said as she refilled him.

 

And as he took the second drink, Hatch looked around the bar.

 

Nice and quiet. Off-duty miners sitting at tables, talking about the day, making jokes.

 

This drill bit broke ... that grinder shattered ... this guy fucked up planting the explosives and almost blew his team to hell.

 

Others indulged in the biggest sin of all—talking about home.

 

Earth.

 

Holidays. Kids. Wives. Food.

 

Sex.

 

Now
that
kind of talk would definitely turn you buggy,
Hatch thought.

 

~ * ~

 

Though it was in his mind 24/7, too. Even here, on this planet with its fifty-six-hour rotation, everyone operated on Standard Earth Time and thought about their home planet constantly.

 

Good thing the operation here was outfitted with an infirmary stocked with enough class-A drugs to sedate a city. No one could run this job without that safety net, even though the booze was usually enough to keep things in check.

 

He liked having a belt or two, and then standing there with his handguns at his side, wearing his weapons like some goddamned sheriff. It had worked in Dodge and Tucson in the 1800s. Maybe it would work here.

 

The only other guns were in the hands of the security guards who were posted at key spots with pulse weapons. You certainly wouldn’t want any of these miners running around with guns.

BOOK: Star Road
6.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Just One Taste by C J Ellisson
Shadow of Love by Wolf, Ellen
Shift by Kim Curran
Abuse of Chikara (book 1) by Stanley Cowens
Dead Past by Beverly Connor
The Key to Everything by Alex Kimmell
Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye by Robert Greenfield
The Marriage Lesson by Victoria Alexander