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Life in space, a hard sci-fi series.


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This is my own hard sci-fi series, which may or may not go on for very long... :D

Anyways:

Chapter 1: Space Truckin'

The Red Dart was 3 meters wide, 6 meters high, roughly shaped like a soda can with 4 smaller half cylinders, 4 landing legs, and lots of other greebles strapped to the sides and three engines roughly similar to RocketLab's vacuum Rutherfords and an inflatable heat shield on the bottom, it was painted mostly white with some hints of black and no trace whatsoever of the colour red.

Heinrich "Heins" Clark sat in an acceleration couch below that of the pilot, Valerie "Val" Clark, his twin sister. He packed his phone, toolkit, snacks and laptop into the storage at his feet. He was a mechanic, and hitched rides on his sister's orbital taxi service to get to the stations and bases he needed to get to. He had built the Red Dart, it's aforementioned lack of red was due to it being named after his sister's racing ship, the Red Arrow, which was a nuclear thermal afterburning engine powered 2g pulling monster which had a red paint job, a red engine plume, and red hot radiators. His sister was a quite accomplished racer, having set the record for the Deimos circuit, and won many races around their home planet, Mars.

He sat and waited for the three other passengers to pile in, there were one other martian and two earthlings, recognizable due to their short stature, and struggle to move around in one third of earth's gravity, after a multi-month transfer, at this window, a 5 month semi-hohman transfer, gets you there faster, but takes more fuel than the industry standard 7 month, or maximum efficiency 9 month transfers, they either spent that in microgravity, and struggle due to muscle weakness, or centrifugal gravity, and are adapting to the lack of the coriolis effect. They packed their things away and strapped in, talking as they went.

Val asked him:"Heins, what's the ship status?"  "Everything's good for launch, tank's full, and we're ready to go down here." She thanked Heins and radioed launch control:"Control, this is the Red Dart, on pad three, all systems ready, and we're waiting for permission to launch." They replied:"Red Dart, you got a ten minute launch window, launch anytime."

Val started everything up, including her countdown to launch:"5, 4" one of the earthlings tilted his head toward Heins and said:"Your sister's very ho-" "Ignition!"-Val mischievously explained while throttling up to 1g of acceleration, which caused us to feel a net 1⅓g accounting for Mars' gravity. He suddenly weighed 4 times more than he should, and the earthlings weren't enjoying it much either, after their time in 0g or low centrifugal gravity. She kept it there, before throttling back to the standard 1g of total acceleration (accounting for Mars' gravity). They continued up to orbit on mostly 1g the entire way, his sister was the only one able to talk well in the high gravity, she could even drink some water on the way up, presumably just to brag about her g tolerance.

She got into orbit and plotted a rendezvous with a small centrifugal station in high martian orbit, she told everyone to drink their nausea pills for the coriolis effect of the station, everyone drank their's except for the one other martian.

Edited by Hyperspace Industries
Reason for edit: Thought I made a mistake, then noticed I hadn't.
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Part 1, continued:

Val easily got a rendezvous with a short ⅓g burn, and they coasted towards the station nicknamed Rosy for the next 30 minutes. Heins mostly looked out of his window, the only thing separating him from the vacuum of space was two sheets of aluminum, or in his window's case, bulletproof glass, with a layer of water ice, acting as a radiation insulator, sandwiched between them. They had their solar panels and antennas folded out since getting into orbit. The station steadily grew larger in front of them and Val got them stationary relative to it with a short retrograde burn.

It was light grey with red and orange stripes, it was shaped like old car steering wheel with a large spoke running across its diameter, coated in solar panels, and some radiators. The station radioed them and said they had ended up on the side where the dock was taken, and Val, instead of flying around the ring, threw them through the gaps between the wheel's two spokes. Heins was suitably quite angry at his sister's recklessness. She used short bursts of the rcs thrusters to match its rotation and docked perfectly, she had done this type of maneuver almost a hundred times on many flights.

Heins confirmed the dock was safe to cross, they opened the door and clambered into a decently sized elevator which carried them into the station's centrifugal gravity, and its resulting dizziness. Heins and Val had been in the coriolis effect's grasp many times before, and could function fairly well from the beginning, the two earthlings already knew that they would struggle. As the elevator came to rest in the station's comfy ⅓g, the martian said: "See, I don't need no nausea pills."

The elevator doors slid open, the martian turned towards the outside, and his lunch proceeded to hastily empty itself into a nearby trash can, which was almost certainly the reason why they put a trash can there in the first place.

Val said:"I gotta go pick up some hazardous materials haulers and land them on Mars, I'll pick you up on the way back in about 90 minutes." Heins waved at his sister as she closed the elevator doors and headed back to the red dart. He walked down the outermost floor to meet with Johnson, the station manager and go fix the CO2 scrubber that has lost efficiency, it was one of eight scrubbers on the 50 meter diameter station. On his way he spotted a news broadcast with the title:"Martian independence negotiations break down, tensions rising." He was somewhat afraid of the possible cold war between the two planets, though it wasn't that bad yet.

He met Johnson and asked why she didn't have one of the station's three engineers fix the scrubber, she replied:"Two of 'em got government contracts, on Phobos, they still work here every now and then, but they're not here this week. The other one hurt her arm in a elevator examination, gonna be out for 3 days while they make sure she's okay." Heins went to the broken scrubber, removed the grill over it, and inspected it, he didn't see anything wrong. He got out his phone and used its thermal camera to inspect it, and saw a hotspot on the lithium hydroxide canister baking system.

The scrubbers work by absorbing CO2 with lithium hydroxide canisters, and then they bake the CO2 out, compress it, and later vent it, they have two canisters so that there is always one absorbing CO2 while they bake the other one. They use this mechanism because it is cheaper than a proper oxygen reclamation system. He took a screwdriver and removed the panel, as he expected, there was a minor short, not enough to melt the fuse, but enough to waste power. He switched the scrubber off, fixed the short, and it work just like normal.

Johnson paid him for fixing it and he went to a cafe for some drinks, Val had 40 minutes before she got back. On the way he passed a bar, where a drunken earthling struggled to walk, due to the astonishingly hazardous combination of intoxication, low gravity, and the coriolis effect. He entered the cafe, which had padded white walls, like everywhere on the station, but also, false wooden floors and counters, some glass tables where people talked, and some large screens on the walls, which were standing in for windows, while smaller screens displayed newsfeeds and sporting events. They were playing music, Heins recognized the song: James Cotton's the creeper, martian music consisted mostly of blues with the occasional bit of rock.

He ordered a soda and began drinking just as Val messaged him that she had arrived, he finished his soda and met her, as well as three earthlings, the crew of the hazmat hauler, they went back to the Dart and undocked, they deorbited safely and reentry and landing went flawlessly, on the ground, their landing pad docked a tranfer tunnel and they disembarked.

Before they returned home, he asked one of the haulers what they were transporting, he replied:"50 tons of medium grade Plutonium to Phobos." Heins took a couple of seconds to verify that his ears were working right. He replied:"Who on the Lord's red Mars needs that much Plutonium?!" "The government is workin' on something there, must be a reactor or an engine or somethin'." Heins was still very confused.

 

(Author's note, I really enjoyed making this, I have an idea for where this series should go, but the next part is a bit hard to figure out, for spoiler laden reasons.)

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This is a bit of background info, not the next "chapter". :D

Spoiler

Lore intermission 1:
The martian economy is stable and growing in this series, here's how it got there:

2027: first humans on mars

2040: colony is 80% self sufficient, most of its money is coming from scientific research, private companies/governments giving donations, and tourism

2042: first martians are successfully born, and are stable. (Twin brothers named Marvin and Mark)

2046: they turn 4, and have no health problems, schools, hospitals and universities for new martians are finished. This initiates the "great martian baby boom" which increases the martian population from about 400000 to (over the next couple of years, in conjunction with people moving to mars) a little less than a million.

2051: the "big dip", the martian economy has a major dip as science funding is cut due to no fossilized or living things being found, this is however counteracted by the suspension of the planetary protection act on mars, allowing much more stuff to be done, and giving a large boost to the martian economy.

2053: mars is fully self sufficient, though they do still import things they cannot make from earth.

2056: Mars starts asteroid mining, due to the decreased deltaV to the belt, and their isru ship manufacturing they can do it for cheaper than earth corporations, they often mine the ice, and less precious metals such as copper for themselves, while sending the gold, silver and other precious minerals to earth, most mining ships have small crews, commanding robots, very few stations are established in the belt.

2057: Martians start producing graphene for very cheap from the CO2 in their atmosphere and dry ice on the poles.

2060s - 2070s: Martian economy and population grows, everything is stable, and martians start pushing for full independence (earth governments not having a say in martian affairs), they are entirely self sufficient.

2085: Start of the series. Mars has a bit over 4 million inhabitants.

That's the current timeline, it may change, and this is only Mars' affairs.

(Author's note: I figured out the basics of the plot for part/chapter 2, part 1 and its continuation is in the previous 2 posts.)

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Chapter 2: Coming in hot:

One month later:

The Don Quixote was a gigantic old ship, with two counter rotating rings with four spokes each, it had an old Uranium reactor, and one core beam/fuel tank, to the side of which two fuel tanks were attached, each fuel tank had its own nuclear thermal engine attached. The end result of all its features was a striking similarity to an old earth based windmill, which is where it got its somewhat funny name from. It had a job carrying valuable cargo from earth to Mars, fragile stuff like non lab grown meat, cheese, wine made from actual grapes, wood, and pets.

Its valuable cargo and three of its six crew members had been landed by a large pressurized cargo lander the previous day, and the Red Dart was docking with the Don Quixote to lift the last three crew members off it and land them on Mars where they would wait a month for the maximum efficiency Hohmann transfer back to earth.

A woman speaking perfect English with a thick Russian accent guided them in for docking on one of the two ports, the rings were stationary, and everything except the life support, comms, and essentials for docking and leaving was turned off, they were running on battery power.

As Val was busy docking, the Russian, named Natalya said:"Docking systems spotted another object with no location beacon heading towards us at 172 meters a second relative velocity, four kilometers out, it is projecting a near miss, we're trying to contact it." Val calmly responded:"Roger, I should be docked by the time it flies by."

She docked and Heins confirmed it was safe to open, as he was doing this, he pondered the minuscule probability of a random piece of debris floating by their ship at that speed and nearly missing.

Just as they opened the docking hatch, and just before he could mention the oddness of this encounter, the piece of debris ignited its engine and the Don Quixote was hit by a hail of nuts and bolts, a few of which made holes in the hull, and one injured a crewmate of the Don Quixote.

Natalya shouted what Heins presumed were Russian profanities before the ship contacted them and said,"This is the Blackadder, the Don Quixote must tranfer all cargo to us or we shall open fire!" Natalya responded,"We don't have our cargo anymore, it was landed yesterday!" The Blackadder started punching holes in the Quixote, and approaching the other docking port. The Quixote had to have at least enough oxygen to fill it back from a depressurization once, so Heins guessed they had about 3 minutes left if the pirates kept on putting more leaks in the ship.

He threw himself into the Quixote, grabbed the injured crewmate, and bounced off the back wall to get back to the Dart, on the way he shouted for the other crew members to come with him. The pirates opened the hatch as he coasted by, with the others in tow. The pirates were wearing unmarked eva suits, and had guns.

The last of the crew of the Quixote slammed the hatch behind them shouted at Val,"Get us out of here asap!" She quickly undocked and the crew strapped into their seats as fast as they could, Heins helped the injured crewmate into his seat, and just before he could get to his seat, Val turned the Dart 90 degrees. He scrambled into his seat and strapped in just as Val burned at one g.

She exclaimed,"Initiating GTFO!" As she burned, the Don Quixote shrinked behind them. She screamed,"Retrograde burn complete!" just as the engines shut off. They deployed the heatshield and reentered safely, in a not very shallow trajectory, which pushed the heatshield to its limits. They deployed the parachutes and landed with their engines, in the middle of nowhere, on the terminator.

The other crew member of the Quixote got the emergency medical kit and bandaged the injured one. They broadcasted a distress signal and the rescue team arrived just before the blue of the martian sunset could fade. They were taken to the nearest base and they sent the crewmate, with a severly injured leg, to the hospital. Journalists from all over the base came looking for them, in search of a news story. While talking to them Natalya revealed that she had taken the Quixote's cameras and sensors' footage out with her, and by the end of the day, that footage and those readouts were on every news network on Mars, and most on earth.

Val and Heins were sent back home to Mariner Valley base, and the Red Dart was on its way home. Natalya also joined them there, along with the rest of the Quixote's crew.

They watched the news that night, the leader of the martian congress, in essence, the president of mars, announced, with a large speech, that they shall not stand for piracy, he congratulated Val and Heins in their quick action in rescuing the crew of the Quixote, and lastly announced the creation of the Martian Congressional Navy, or MCN, he introduced the first ever purpose built warship, a type of ship named the Rocinante class, half as a reference to the Don Quixote, half as a reference to the sci-fi space craft of the same name, it had a crew of four, and capacity for twelve more civilians, and is armed with torpedoes, machine guns, e.m.p.s and all sorts of other experimental weapons.

Nobody had any experience in space battles, so nobody knew what would work. They also announced a program for civilians to outfit their ships and become privateers, working for the MCN.

By the end of the speech Val said,"Heins, you know the Red Arrow."

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Give it some teeth!"

(Author's note: this isn't the best thing I've ever written, it is okay, but hopefully chapter/part/post 3 will be better, and I reserve the right to change previous posts, I think for the next couple of posts I might try writing them from Val's perspective. I am also curious, is anybody actually reading this, has anyone got this far, please reply or do something, if you are actually reading this series, I'm starting to think nobody is reading this thread.)

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Hey there @Hyperspace Industries

I'm reading this and enjoying it so far. I liked your timeline for Mars colonization too. 

Don't worry too much if folks are a bit slow to respond here - your story has only been up for a couple of days and this a slightly out-of-the-way corner of the forum. There's a thread on the Fan Works sub-forum (which might not have been updated for a while) for 'Writers to talk about Writing' - you could try posting a link to your story there and see if that gets it a few more views. 

If you don't mind me making one comment, it would be good if you could split your chapters into paragraphs to make them easier to read. They're a bit 'wall-of-text' at the moment, which might be putting some people off.  As a rough rule-of-thumb, consider starting a new paragraph every time you change topic within the story and it's also good to use a new paragraph every time somebody speaks.

Example, so you can see what I'm getting at.

Spoiler

The Red Dart was 3 meters wide, 6 meters high, roughly shaped like a soda can with 4 smaller half cylinders, 4 landing legs, and lots of other greebles strapped to the sides and three engines roughly similar to RocketLab's vacuum Rutherfords and an inflatable heat shield on the bottom, it was painted mostly white with some hints of black and no trace whatsoever of the colour red.

Heinrich "Heins" Clark sat in an acceleration couch below that of the pilot, Valerie "Val" Clark, his twin sister. He packed his phone, toolkit, snacks and laptop into the storage at his feet. He was a mechanic, and hitched rides on his sister's orbital taxi service to get to the stations and bases he needed to get to. He had built the Red Dart, it's aforementioned lack of red was due to it being named after his sister's racing ship, the Red Arrow, which was a nuclear thermal afterburning engine powered 2g pulling monster which had a red paint job, a red engine plume, and red hot radiators. His sister was a quite accomplished racer, having set the record for the Deimos circuit, and won many races around their home planet, Mars.

Heins sat and waited for the three other passengers to pile in, there were one other martian and two earthlings, recognizable due to their short stature, and struggle to move around in one third of earth's gravity, after a multi-month transfer, at this window, a 5 month semi-hohman transfer, gets you there faster, but takes more fuel than the industry standard 7 month, or maximum efficiency 9 month transfers, they either spent that in microgravity, and struggle due to muscle weakness, or centrifugal gravity, and are adapting to the lack of the coriolis effect. They packed their things away and strapped in, talking as they went.

"Heins, what's the ship status?" Val asked.

"Everything's good for launch, tank's full, and we're ready to go down here."

She thanked Heins and radioed launch control. "Control, this is the Red Dart, on pad three, all systems ready, and we're waiting for permission to launch."

"Red Dart, you got a ten minute launch window, launch anytime."

Val started everything up, including her countdown to launch. One of the earthlings tilted his head toward Heins and said "Your sister's very ho-"

"Ignition!" his sister mischievously explained while throttling up to 1g of acceleration, which caused us to feel a net 1⅓g accounting for Mars' gravity. Heins suddenly weighed 4 times more than he should, and the earthlings weren't enjoying it much either, after their time in 0g or low centrifugal gravity. She kept it there, before throttling back to the standard 1g of total acceleration (accounting for Mars' gravity). They continued up to orbit on mostly 1g the entire way, his sister was the only one able to talk well in the high gravity, she could even drink some water on the way up, presumably just to brag about her g tolerance. She got into orbit and plotted a rendezvous with a small centrifugal station in high martian orbit, she told everyone to drink their nausea pills for the coriolis effect of the station, everyone drank their's except for the one other martian.

Hope this helps a bit.

Cheers.

KSK.

Edited by KSK
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2 hours ago, KSK said:

Hey there @Hyperspace Industries

I'm reading this and enjoying it so far. I liked your timeline for Mars colonization too. 

Don't worry too much if folks are a bit slow to respond here - your story has only been up for a couple of days and this a slightly out-of-the-way corner of the forum. There's a thread on the Fan Works sub-forum (which might not have been updated for a while) for 'Writers to talk about Writing' - you could try posting a link to your story there and see if that gets it a few more views. 

If you don't mind me making one comment, it would be good if you could split your chapters into paragraphs to make them easier to read. They're a bit 'wall-of-text' at the moment, which might be putting some people off.  As a rough rule-of-thumb, consider starting a new paragraph every time you change topic within the story and it's also good to use a new paragraph every time somebody speaks.

Example, so you can see what I'm getting at.

  Hide contents

The Red Dart was 3 meters wide, 6 meters high, roughly shaped like a soda can with 4 smaller half cylinders, 4 landing legs, and lots of other greebles strapped to the sides and three engines roughly similar to RocketLab's vacuum Rutherfords and an inflatable heat shield on the bottom, it was painted mostly white with some hints of black and no trace whatsoever of the colour red.

Heinrich "Heins" Clark sat in an acceleration couch below that of the pilot, Valerie "Val" Clark, his twin sister. He packed his phone, toolkit, snacks and laptop into the storage at his feet. He was a mechanic, and hitched rides on his sister's orbital taxi service to get to the stations and bases he needed to get to. He had built the Red Dart, it's aforementioned lack of red was due to it being named after his sister's racing ship, the Red Arrow, which was a nuclear thermal afterburning engine powered 2g pulling monster which had a red paint job, a red engine plume, and red hot radiators. His sister was a quite accomplished racer, having set the record for the Deimos circuit, and won many races around their home planet, Mars.

Heins sat and waited for the three other passengers to pile in, there were one other martian and two earthlings, recognizable due to their short stature, and struggle to move around in one third of earth's gravity, after a multi-month transfer, at this window, a 5 month semi-hohman transfer, gets you there faster, but takes more fuel than the industry standard 7 month, or maximum efficiency 9 month transfers, they either spent that in microgravity, and struggle due to muscle weakness, or centrifugal gravity, and are adapting to the lack of the coriolis effect. They packed their things away and strapped in, talking as they went.

"Heins, what's the ship status?" Val asked.

"Everything's good for launch, tank's full, and we're ready to go down here."

She thanked Heins and radioed launch control. "Control, this is the Red Dart, on pad three, all systems ready, and we're waiting for permission to launch."

"Red Dart, you got a ten minute launch window, launch anytime."

Val started everything up, including her countdown to launch. One of the earthlings tilted his head toward Heins and said "Your sister's very ho-"

"Ignition!" his sister mischievously explained while throttling up to 1g of acceleration, which caused us to feel a net 1⅓g accounting for Mars' gravity. Heins suddenly weighed 4 times more than he should, and the earthlings weren't enjoying it much either, after their time in 0g or low centrifugal gravity. She kept it there, before throttling back to the standard 1g of total acceleration (accounting for Mars' gravity). They continued up to orbit on mostly 1g the entire way, his sister was the only one able to talk well in the high gravity, she could even drink some water on the way up, presumably just to brag about her g tolerance. She got into orbit and plotted a rendezvous with a small centrifugal station in high martian orbit, she told everyone to drink their nausea pills for the coriolis effect of the station, everyone drank their's except for the one other martian.

Hope this helps a bit.

Cheers.

KSK.

Thanks, and I’ve also been thinking it would work better like that, I am going to write chapter/part 3 like that, and I’m considering editing paragraphs into the previous posts. Thanks a load. :D :D 
 

Edit: I’ve decided on splitting them into paragraphs, but not starting a new one when someone new speaks, at least not every time, and I think it works well.

Edit 2: I was only concerned that nobody was reading it, now that you have proved there is a non zero amount of people reading it, I don’t have to worry. I may do that though, but most likely not, I don’t care how many people read this, as long as the number is bigger than zero, and it would be quite a confusing achievement to have less than zero readers. :D

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Chapter 3: The battle is over, but the war goes on:

One week later:

The reporter calmly stated,"The government has reported three more piracy attempts in this week, two of which were stopped by the three new Rocinante class ships, with only minor damage and injuries on Rosy station, and the Hephaestus orbital construction dock. The third was a major piracy attempt on a government run Phobos base, the prototype reactor went near critical after the pirates bombarded it, their ship was hit by a large e.m.p. blast which knocked their weapons out, as well as some other systems. They were arrested by the first Rocinante class ship, which is named the Rocinante. There were a couple of injuries in the base, mostly due to fire from the pirate ship, as well as some radiation exposure in the station, no casualties as of ye..."

Val switched to an earth news broadcast, a new reporter with a background of the earth's jungles, deserts and oceans stated,"It's been three days since the creation of the space navy treaty, a cooperation between major countries for the defense of each other, and earth as a whole, and the introduction of the Gagarin class heavy frigate, as well as the Shepard class corvette. Joining me now is one of Japan's top spacecraft engineers as well as the director of the United states space force. General Grayson, what are the main threats posed by martian piracy?"

Val turned her phone off in slight disgust, they always had to say 'martian piracy' not just 'piracy', as if they were somehow too important, too many, or too amazing for pirates to come knocking at their doors.

She left her seat and coasted towards the airlock, which her brother was almost through. He was done with a tethered eva, along with a MCN technician called Marty to outfit the Red Arrow with a second crew seat, replacing a pressurized storage compartment, and acting as a gunner seat, some armor plating made out of a mix of aluminum and graphene, and weaponry in the form of gatling gun point defense cannons, missiles which are essentially mini torpedoes, and some e.m.p. weapons.

After Heins and Marty left the airlock, she asked to the room in general, "So, is she ready?" Heins tried to reply but Marty beat him to the punch and said, "Yup, ship's ship-shape, and armed to the teeth." to which Heins added, "Want to go for a test drive?" She replied, "As if you need to ask!"

The Red Arrow undocked from Harpo station, a small non-centrifugal station which was mostly used as a parking space for vac-only ships, like the Arrow. Its only crew were some guards to stop any old crook from walking up and stealing a ship. The Armorer, a repurposed civilian ferry-tug hybrid now acting as an MCN engineering ship, carried Marty, other technicians, and some equipment to test their new weapons, such as targets or false torpedoes.

Val spun the Red Arrow around, flipping between prograde and retrograde a couple of times, then putting them into a spin, and using the computer stability assistance to counter it. Then she fired up the engine, and a slightly uncomfortable ⅔g rested on her shoulders, before warning Heins, her gunner, and activating the afterburner. The gravity ramped up to 2g, or 6 times the gravity she grew up in. She could see the strain on her brother in the reflection on her screens as she decelerated, and burnt at a max of 1g on the way back.

When they arrived back, Marty said, "Now you've gotten the racing out your system, are you ready to test the weapons?" Val replied, "Yup, and just for the record, she handles like a dream." Marty released a small cheaply made target and remote controlled it to move around. Val said, "Heins, make some swiss cheese!" The guns fired a barrage of bullets at it, and she could feel the rcs going mad to keep them stable. A second later Marty exclaimed, "Contact lost to target, that was quick!"

Marty asked them to hit it, or what's left of it, with a missile and get out of its range. The Arrow happily obliged and no more than 5 seconds later they were 50 meters away from an expanding cloud of shrapnel that used to be the target.

Marty relayed a message to them, it said in a almost familiar voice, "SOS, this is the freighter Kingpin to all vessels in range, we've been attacked by pirates, and need to be evacuated. We have attached our orbital parameters." Marty proceeded to state, "There is a Rocinante class on the way to pick them up, but we think you should go too, you'll be there first, in case the pirates strike again."

She replied, "Roger, maneuver plotted for rendezvous, burn countdown started." When the count down stopped, she put the pedal to the metal, and the acceleration carried them towards the Kingpin, but mostly tried to crush her.

 

(Author's note: chapter 3, like 1, is split in two parts.)

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Nice chapter. And is that a hint of political turmoil to come…

2 hours ago, Hyperspace Industries said:

Val turned her phone off in slight disgust, they always had to say 'martian piracy' not just 'piracy', as if they were somehow too important, too many, or too amazing for pirates to come knocking at their doors.

Sounds like things could get interesting if more Martians have that attitude. Particularly since Mars is self-sufficient according to your timeline.

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43 minutes ago, KSK said:

Nice chapter. And is that a hint of political turmoil to come…

Sounds like things could get interesting if more Martians have that attitude. Particularly since Mars is self-sufficient according to your timeline.

All I will reveal is that the first of the three pirate attacks was two days ago, and that not everything to do with pirates is as it seems...:wink: 

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Oh boy, that's a lot of words! I just used microsoft word to estimate the word count of this series, from chapter 1 to the first part of chapter 3, and it spat out an absolutely colossal:

3235

This is probably the longest continuous thing I've ever written!  :D I can’t wait to see my english teacher’s reaction to this fact, after we’re back to school from vacation.

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Chapter 3: Continued:

As the Kingpin approached, it started looking eerily familiar to Val, even though it was heavily damaged, that somehow made it seem even more familiar. This made her suspicious, the ship contacted her and asked why a ship as small as her's was sent to them, she said it was to guard against another pirate attack while someone came to get them. She sent a directed message to the Rocinante class ship, named The Huntress, that was coming to pick the crew up, to warn them.

Bob Draper was probably the closest thing space had ever had to a soldier, he was friendly, but strict, and was always a little angry. His father came from earth, he was a soldier who had retired after he was disabled from the waist down, he came to Mars because he had some cousins here, and because the low gravity allowed his barely functioning legs to walk, albeit with a cane. Bob was born on Mars, and his father trained him to shoot, by the time he joined the navy, he was probably the most experienced zero and low g soldier in the solar system. The crew of the Huntress nicknamed him "the marines" because calling him a single marine would be an understatement.


Bob "the marines" stood, along with two other crewmates, in the airlock of The Huntress, the pilot had docked with the Kingpin, and they were waiting for it to finish cycling. They were wearing bulletproof MCN eva suits, with their guns ready, the Kingpin had lost its pressurization, and the eight crew members were wearing eva suits. The Red Arrow had warned them that this may be a trap, so they came prepared. The airlock screen went green, indicating it was done, he contacted the crew on their eva comms and prepared to exit.

They opened the hatch, and he saw the crew, of only four, float in front of him. That was a surprise, but it was massively overshadowed by the fact they had guns. The apparent leader said, in an accent you'd usually only hear in gangster movies, "Are we gonna do this peacefully, o' do we have to fight for yo' ship"

One of them fired a silent warning shot at the wall, and span backwards with about as much dignity as a brick. The others seemingly agreed that this ment war, and shot at him and his crew. He threw an emp grenade towards the shooters before the others tried to shoot back, this stopped the attackers' life support, and more importantly, caused the electric triggers on their guns to reboot. They quickly gathered up the, now disarmed, pirates, with their comms disabled, and brought them into The Huntress.

They told the crew of the Red Arrow that they safely gathered up the pirates, a fact the Arrow's crew seemed disappointed to hear. They put them into the holding cells on the ship, and Bob interrogated the leader. After confirming, with both the pirate's claims and an eva drone inspection of the Kingpin, that there was nobody else on the ship, he asked the pirate other things.

It turned out the Red Arrow's crew's speculation was correct, and this was, in fact, the wreckage of the Don Quixote, used as bait to lure in a Rocinante class. The pirates wanted to take the ship and use it to fight off earth ships, in order to get earth to "leave Mars alone!" They had failed, but it was still a threat.

While he was interrogating them, the pilot, a red haired woman named Alex, came to show him a news broadcast from earth. The reporter looked terrified, he must have been very scared, as he had given up on the journalistic habit of acting calm, even if they weren't.

The journalist said, his voice shaking, "Ten minutes ago, a group of Martian terrorists docked to an asteroid mining station in low earth orbit, and deorbited it. Along with the asteroid it was mining. It collided with the earth in the sea near the Cape Canaveral launch complex," Bob was trying and failing to stay calm, but he could at least control the panic, the reporter shuddered but continued, "the resulting death toll is estimated as a minimum of," the reporter paused, almost in disbelief, "3235, 72 of which are the crew of the station..."

 

(Author's note: this post was a load of fun to write.)

Edited by Hyperspace Industries
Minor modifications.
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Chapter 4: Doom and gloom:

The response from both earth and Mars was fast, both condemning the terrorists, earth deployed its navy en masse, and it put travel restrictions on its entire sphere of influence.
Thankfully for the martians, it was about the exact wrong time to send ships to them, anything less than a gazillion seconds of specific impulse and tons of thrust would be useless for getting to Mars. They did, however, put heavy tariffs on Mars, start to work with the MCN, and start building a skeleton force of earth ships at private construction docks around Mars, with volunteering earthlings as the crew.

Things on Mars were rough, the martians were angry about earthling taxes, tariffs, and control, the earthlings were terrified to Pluto of terrorism and martians, and the pirates were ashamed and surrendered, well, the martians at least, the earthlings started going absolutely pirate potty. Piracy increased by at least twofold, almost all of it was earthlings attacking martian ships and stations.

At least martian colony architecture made riots close to impossible, the bases are made of 3d printed or assembled habs joined together by partly or fully submerged tunnels, the closest thing most of Mars had to a shopping mall was a load of small shops next to tunnels. The best any angry people looking for a riot would be able to do, would look like a bunch of disgraced customers standing in line to file a complaint with a phone store.

Unfortunately that caused people to find other ways to release their rage on the other side. Crime rates on Mars hit record maximums every day, and it wasn't just earthlings fighting against martians, but the other way around too.

For Val, this ment more work (ferrying people around on the Red Dart), but also more fun (shooting down ships in the Red Arrow). She had blasts shooting down ships, her way of fighting ships was massively different from that of a Rocinante class, it was like a space borne tank, coming in at a reasonable pace and using its superior firepower and armor to fight or guard ships. The Arrow came in like a jet fighter, it was small enough that ships would struggle to detect it with its transponder off, and then it shot itself around the battlefield leaving a trail of pdc fire, missiles and general annihilation in its wake.

Her brother, Heins, was busy as a MCN mechanic and as the Red Arrow's gunner. He was also trying to figure out what was going on on Phobos that they needed hundreds of tons of Plutonium for, and which after a pirate based reactor failure, they quietly sent more people to work on. Val would be lying if she said she wasn't curious.

 

(Author's note: Stupid school keeps stopping my writing, well, that and reading the expanse books, and watching videos, and everything else...)

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Chapter 5: Grounds for divorce:

20 minutes ago the half built Gagarin class heavy frigate HMS Asimov undocked from the Everest orbital construction station and put itself on a rendezvous with a station in Mars orbit.

18 minutes ago the MCN had seen this, found the station, and also found that the Asimov hadn't been given permission by them.

15 minutes ago the Red Arrow was dispatched on a fast intercept with the station.

14 minutes ago the Rocinante class Normandy followed suit on a slower intercept.

10 minutes ago press coverage began along with a wildly improvised evacuation and survival plan on the station.

6 minutes ago the Asimov fired a torpedo at Rosy station, breaking one of the two spokes going through the diameter of the station, and the elevator within. Two seconds later its single working torpedo launcher malfunctioned and exploded.

4 minutes ago it had stopped in front of one of the station's docking ports, stopping craft from docking there.

2 minutes ago a small on orbit shuttle, filled with 5 times more people than it was designed for, nearly all of them from the station, narrowly escaped from the hail of pdc fire.


Right now, the Red Arrow was screaming in towards the station at a hundred meters a second. They shot past the Asimov and fired a giant emp blast that crippled all four of its left pdcs, they flew through the centre of the station and Val did a 2g burn to get them to a stop. From the other side of the station they shot a missile which went back towards the Asimov and broke one of its forward heavy artillery guns, as well as damaging its command centre.

Val put them on a diagonal trajectory around the edge of Rosy, they could feel the shots pounding on the outside of the Arrow, and some of the sound came through their acceleration seats and allowed them to hear the shots in their eva suits. A bullet flew quietly through the Arrow and made a hole. No air was in the ship, so it didn't matter. For a few seconds, the shots halted, as the station was between them, when it wasn't, Heins shot a missile through the newly formed pdc blindspot and made a large hole in one of the Asimov's pressurized fuel tanks, forcing it into a slow roll.

Val stopped the Arrow and put it onto a new trajectory passing over the Asimov. About halfway to it, a new blip appeared on the battlefield radar, along with a smaller, faster and closer blip. The small blip tore through the Asimov's engines, they exploded in what the external camera registered as a flash. The Normandy had arrived, bringing torpedoes, armor, and salvation for the station.

The Arrow shot down some of the pdcs on the "top" of the Asimov, its slow spin brought the next line of pdcs to them. A recently fired torpedo from the Normandy exploded as the Asimov's pdcs shot it down. The Red Arrow shot half of those new pdcs down with emp blasts and its own cannons. On the other side of Rosy station, people were piling into the Normandy, carrying the injured with them and whatever things they needed to salvage.

The Arrow came to a stop and then shot itself between the lone spoke and the edge of the heavily scarred and bullet wounded wheel, it launched a missile which broke into the Asimov's unpressurized command centre, the crew were vaguely visible on the exterior camera feed. The inhabitants of Rosy station continued climbing through the emergency access ladders, as the elevator would not be able to ferry enough of them, to the Normandy.

After everyone was on the ship, at least, everyone who wasn't dead, the refugees and Johnson, the manager, agreed that the Normandy could undock, and that no one was left on Rosy. They undocked and burned at full throttle away from the station, the sardine can crowd wailed and struggled as Newton punished them for accelerating. A couple of seconds later, they floated around as Newton's laws were appeased with the gift of constant velocity.

As the Red Arrow safely drifted away from the station at fifty meters a second, Val and Heins were both relieved that the tragic battle was finally over. Val broke the silence by saying over their ship comms, "Good shooting back there." "Good flying," Heins replied, and they fell back into the eerie silence of sadness, fear, and a tinge of rage.


The martian reporter stated, her face struggling to hide the fear beneath, "Of the three hundred and eleven people on Rosy station when the attack occurred, a total of seventy four of them are dead, and a further one hundred and forty two are injured. The quick actions of the crew of the Normandy and the Red Arrow saved the station from even more casualties from the earthling warship, HMS Asimov. The earthling space command have blamed this on rogue navy soldiers, but the Martian intelligence agency has found an encrypted broadcast from earth to Mars giving the order to attack the station. Now we go to the president, who is giving a speech on this matter."

The broadcast cut to the president, who said, "For a long time, we have lived in fear of having to fight in space, we had been designing the Rocinante class long before the attack on the Don Quixote. I personally had always dreaded the day it would be necessary. That day has came and went, and now, after the tragic massacre of Rosy station, we must reevaluate our alliances, we must ensure that this never, ever happens again, we must punish those who caused this tragedy."

"And we must declare war!"

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Ahhh, good stuff. I was going to pitch in with some thoughts but glad you figured things out.

Sorry about the late reply - it’s been a busy couple of days,

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11 hours ago, KSK said:

Ahhh, good stuff. I was going to pitch in with some thoughts but glad you figured things out.

Sorry about the late reply - it’s been a busy couple of days,

Thanks. :D

 Unfortunately I've either got a horrendous cold, a flu, or a false negative on my covid test (I really hope it's not the last one) and I am preposterously tired with a couple of oceans worth of slime in my nose. The next "chapter" may take a while. :(

To quote the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, "We apologize for the inconvenience."

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I have hit what is currently a dead end in writing this series, essentially, with the newest "chapter" I'm getting to the furthest I've planned for. I will continue writing in this universe, and maybe with the war, once I figure it out. I've also been thinking about other things I want to write, such as a flashback episode to Val's racing career.

Also, I'm feeling a bit better now, but next week is the exams.

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Chapter 6: Boom Boom:

In the week or so since the declaration of interplanetary war a lot of earth's ships were quickly destroyed by MCN ships along with prototype ground based anti spacecraft weapons. After the first ships were destroyed, some of the others sensibly decided to surrender, decreasing the losses on both sides.

Heins and Val had been contacted for a mission on a new warship to Earth. Heins had been working on a new ship design which he started officially building on a MCN station. This ship would act as a carrier for the Arrow, it would have some stealth systems which would allow it to hide itself from most forms of ship based radar and laser range finders, but not optical detection. It would allow them to survive on long missions with the Arrow, with decent habitation space, food, and most importantly, a toilet.

There were already negotiations between earth and Mars, mostly around independence, though earth was not intent on granting Mars full independence. Heins was working on the new stealth carrier ship, which they had decided to call The Red October. A couple of weeks on a orbital construction station run by the MCN later, and they had finished it. It reminded both Heins and Val of the Morrigan class ship from the expanse. It had a cylindrical pressure vessel, encased in a metal shell which both gave it its distinctive shape, as well as reflecting radar signals.

A couple of days later, they docked the Arrow to inside of the October's carrier bay (or as they call it: its belly) and closed the doors over it. Thereafter they undocked the Red October, with the Arrow inside, and flew it to a ship around Phobos. This ship they were rendezvousing with was the result of the secret project around Phobos. It was the biggest, fastest and most dangerous space-warship, let alone spaceship ever built.

As they approached the Dreadnought, it grew from something that looked like a thorn in Phobos' side, into a gigantic thirty meter diameter by seventy meter long behemoth of a cylinder. At the back, a cluster of twelve twenty-meter long combustion boosters surrounded it, ready to push it far enough from Mars that its one hundred-thousand-second specific impulse drive won't give every piece of electronics on and around Mars a heart attack.

They entered a ten meter high bay in the centre of the Dreadnought, and docked inside of it, between a pair of Rocinante classes. They exited the October and entered into the first of four floors, the 4 meter high engineering floor, containing a group of ten separate airlocks, more than one of which big enough to fit the entire Red Arrow through, along with mech suits, work areas, paint rooms, and a 3d printer so big that it probably could print Val's hab.

They went through into the next floor, containing the 2.5 meter high (all the other floors are that high too) command sector, along with the armory, jail, and docking/airlock port, designed for the edge case they wanted to board someone. After that they entered the preposterously spacious habitation section, containing a cafeteria that would dwarf most restaurant complexes on Mars, a community area the size of a medium sized tennis court, along with some laboratories for if research needs to be done.

Then they found their cabins, in the habitation floor, and put their bags with clothes, tools and personal amenities in their neighboring cabins. Just before they could start to unpack, the captain told everyone on the ship to prepare for the boosters igniting and them undocking in a few minutes, and called a few people, including Val and Heins, up to the command centre.

They went up to the deck using the same ladder they came up with, in zero g, they could coast up faster than the elevator could carry them. Captain Allonzo Savage was of average martian height, but of slightly above average width, he had dark skin and grey hair, and a preposterously deep voice. The end result of these features was someone who was both friendly and very intimidating at the same time.

He greeted them and, once others had arrived, briefed everyone on the basics of the mission, as well as how to attack the earth. He used a large screen to video call a news broadcast, showing and announcing the launch of the first Red Dwarf class warship, the Dreadnought. When it was almost time to launch, they started a 1 minute countdown, mainly so that everything that would become a hazard when gravity was applied could be safely stowed.

"5," he said and the docking clamps holding it tightly to Phobos released, "4... 3... 2... 1.. Ignition" he said, and 0.4g gravity just like on Mars embraced the Dreadnought as its side boosters pushed it away from Mars' largest moon, and started raising its apoapsis to the edge of Mars' gravity well. After the apoapsis was sufficiently high, the booster engines cut out, with fuel left for other non main drive maneuvers. They coasted for a couple of mildly boring hours, until they started deploying the main drive.

The Dreadnought was powered by a Medusa drive, a cousin of the old Orion drive concept. It functions by expanding a large hemispherical sail in front of the ship, which, alongside its fuel, takes up the front forty meters of the ship, then exploding a nuclear bomb inside that sail, which pulls you along, leaving a giant wake of radiation of all forms.

The sail folded out in front of the ship, using small rocket engines to pull it out, the winches holding it in place tightened when it was expanded. Then, after a brief countdown, a nuke was hurled into the centre of it, and at the exact right time, exploded. The blast shot the sail forward, the winches acted like rubber bands, only much finer tuned. They made the acceleration as constant as they could, and a few seconds later, another bomb exploded, pulling the Dreadnought valiantly along on its 0.4g charge to earth.

Every time it pulsed, a new sun appeared and vanished in the martian sky. It was the beating war drums of Mars attacking.

 

(Author's note: if this was a tv show, this would be the season 2 premiere.)

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(Something a little different this time.)

Chapter 7: The Blue Danube:

General Tina Grayson was no stranger to zero gravity, as the head of the US space force she was in and out of gravity in nearly equal parts, she had her hair in a bun to minimize the occasional annoyance of hair floating into her eyes. She was on her way to a rotating station in low earth orbit for a international military meeting about the Martian battlecruiser barreling in towards the Earth in what appeared to be a nuclear bomb powered partial brachistochrone trajectory at 0.4g.

The Orion, a small Dreamchaser mk3 spaceplane operated by Pan-Astra spacelines, was carrying her to the aforementioned meeting between multiple military generals, ship and station captains, and even a few heads of state. She had seen a clip from 2001 a space odyssey, and had recognized the remarkable similarity between this situation and the clip. She played the blue danube on her headphones and let a pen drift beside her to complete the scene.

Which was immediately destroyed as the rcs thrusters crackled and the spaceplane began to slowly spin in tandem with the station, sending the pen gliding towards the wall. She caught it with one hand and put it into her pocket. The big spaceplane coasted slowly into the rectangular docking bay in the center of the station, and calmly maneuvered itself onto a docking bay with enough precision to almost make you forget how many tons it weighed, almost.

The station verified that the seal was good and a hatch in what usually would be the ceiling dinged and slid open to the side with the slight hiss of retracting pistons. She undid her seatbelt, put her laptop bag on her back like a backpack and pushed herself off the half seat half acceleration couch. She coasted at a reasonable velocity to the hatch, entered the elevator, and rode down towards the edge of Memorial station. As she traveled gravity slowly increased, until the elevator's front doors slid open and she was feeling a comfy 0.75g.

She made her way to the meeting room, which had real wood floors, a few glowing white ceiling lights, and a large high resolution wall display that showed the view outside. The long rectangular table in the centre was made of wood surrounding a large screen which was displaying all sorts of information in a black and dark blue color scheme.

She sat at one corner and looked over everyone else who was there, at a glance, she could recognize Leonid Petrov, head of the Russian space program and one of the leading strategists in space warfare, the Chinese president had a translator bud in his ear, not that he needed one, Alex Peterson, head of Luna, and lastly, someone she didn't expect, chief engineer Simone Kampf of Tycho station. After giving it some thought, Tina knew she shouldn't have been surprised, they were going to need a load of warships, and Tycho was the biggest construction station in Luna's, no, Earth's sphere of influence.

More people piled in, until every seat was filled, she started talking, asking questions and determining strategies. She began with Simone, asking, "How many ships can we build in the two weeks before it arrives?"

"We can build either five Gagarin classes or about eleven Shepards, and that's if we have everyone doing overtime in every construction dock in Tycho." Simone answered.

"What about using other stations too?" Tina asked.

"Then we could probably, if everything that is or can be a dock is used, make ten Gagarins or about twenty five Shepards," Simone replied and then continued, "but our main problem is redesigning the ships."

Tina was surprised and asked, "Why must we do that?"

"EMPs, the rusties built EMPs into their ships, we didn't anticipate that, a single blast can knock out a whole row of pdcs on a Gagarin class. We need shielding, also, the nukes in the big battleship they're sending are the mothers of all EMPs, they could give Earth a radiation belt to match Jupiter's in a couple of minutes with the drive on."

Tina was slightly annoyed by the derogatory term "rusties" for martians, but to be fair they did call terrans "earthlings"

"Okay, so, with that included, how many can we build?" Tina asked, slightly annoyed by how long the engineer was taking.

"Ten Gagarins or twenty five Shepards, I factored it in already." Simone replied.

"Thank you." Tina said semi-sarcastically, then she asked the room, "What's our battle plan?"

"I think our first target is the drive, to strand the little boat around Earth." The British navy general suggested.

"Nyet, drive's nuke proof," Leonid stated in a thick Russian accent, "even if torpedo gets past pdc network, nothing happen."

"Also, they'll probably fold it back in when they arrive, and with that many nukes, I'll be surprised if they even need pdcs." Alex, head of Luna, interjected before continuing, "Which brings me to another question, what's that bucket even armed with? Seriously, we're trying to take down a giant warship without knowing it's armaments!"

"We've been working on that," The head of the CIA said, "from what we've seen, at least a hundred torpedoes, a decent pdc network, and some other unidentified weapons on the side, best guess, high velocity cannons of some kind."

"So, how on Earth do we crack it? You're making it sound like trying to blow up Jupiter with a toothpick!" Tina snapped.

"Well, we have one idea, their pdc network has a small gap in the front, can't put guns on the part that folds open, I guess, and they only have six torpedo tubes. We can get shelter in the blindspot if we need to, but I can't really see the need. Our main advantage is our bigger fleet, 10 or 25 against one.."

"So we swarm them, and throw everything we got at the tubes, and then get to work on the pdcs. This sounds like a suicide mission already." Tina finished.

"Well..." both Simone and John, the space force head of engineering, said at the same time. Simone pointed to John, signaling he could take this one, "We have an idea, we build a load of weaponized drone ships, park some crewed ships where the delay is reasonable and attack with drones only until they have few enough weapons for us to board them."

"And where exactly do we get these drones?" Tina queried.

"Build 'em" Simone said, "Unmanned is a load easier than manned, all we need to do is strap engines, guns and armor to a chip and let it float. Tycho has something like a hundred different drones for moving ships and cargo around, in two weeks, thank goodness they have to coast a bit and can't do a proper bacistrocome trajectory, we could have them all ready go into war, plus a few which we could build. It would be ten times more effective than building crewed ships, and we don't need to lose as many people."

They had a plan, and it could work. They continued planning and strategizing. Then they set their plan in motion.

Edited by Hyperspace Industries
Minor corrections, many of them.
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