Read An Excerpt From Rock Killer By S. Evan Townsend
DeWite moved into the observation room and Prince followed.
The room looked almost exactly like a bar since it was a VIP lounge for watching ships land and take off. A large window looked over the shipyard, where various types of spacecraft were resting on the lunar dust. The window, made of Crysteel, invented by SRI’s orbital laboratories, began about half a meter from the floor and extended to the ceiling and was about five meters wide. Crysteel, made in a factory in Earth orbit one atom at a time, was almost as strong as aluminum. Its one weakness was a very high index of refraction due to tightly packed oxygen atoms. It made great lenses but was not good for use where a clear view was needed such as spaceship windows and pressure suit helmets. But the picture window in the lounge would have been impractical without the Crysteel.
Four pressure-suited figures were moving across the plain. The suits were not SRI issue and they were carrying submachine guns. DeWite recognized them as a South African made 9 millimeter caseless that were favored by criminals who bought them on the black market.
One, carrying a 40-millimeter recoilless rifle, knelt just a few meters from the window and aimed. Fire shot out of the rear of the weapon, dying almost immediately in the airless environment. A flame licked a small intra-lunar shuttle followed by an explosion. The ship’s skin crumpled and it folded in on itself in a slow, macabre death dance. An explosion marked the rupture of the fuel tanks. Fire burned until the oxygen ran out.
“Goddamnit!” DeWite exploded. “We need to get to the airlock.”
Just then one of the four figures outside noticed the two Security guards. He tapped the others on their shoulders and pointed. The other three turned and again the recoilless rifle spat a fleeting flame. DeWite dived behind the bar—an easy task in the low gravity. The window exploded inward. Prince was thrown against the rear wall, his body shattered by the impact. Then the window exploded outward as the room decompressed. Prince’s body was slammed against the bottom of the window and sucked out into the harsh sunlight.
DeWite heard the emergency door slam shut locking him in the room. He knew it would never open until the pressure in the room equalized with the pressure in the hall.
He stood, aimed his shotgun, braced his leg behind to compensate for the low gravity, and fired. He was surprised he heard it at all. Must still be a little air in the room, some part of him thought.
The figure with the recoilless rifle was thrown back and blood ejaculated from its torn body. It was freeze-dried before it hit the lunar plain. The remaining figures turned with their weapons firing. DeWite barely heard the bullets hitting the wall behind him. His ears felt as if they were going to explode. He screamed, not in fear, but to empty his lungs to prolong his already forfeit life a few more seconds.
Pump, FIRE, Pump, FIRE, Pump was DeWite’s whole existence. Another figure crumpled, spouting blood. Then the bullets ripped into DeWite. Blood flowed like a fire hose. FIRE—DeWite could no longer stand, even in one-sixth gravity. He sank to the floor and died in a puddle of his blood that was boiling and freezing simultaneously.
Space Resources, Inc. (SRI) mines asteroids for the riches a populated Earth needs without degrading the planet. Yet there are those opposed to progress in whatever its form such as the Gaia Alliance, a front group for eco-terrorists. During a violent attack on the Moon, the terrorists steal an exploration ship, arm it, and rename it the Rock Killer.
Charlene “Charlie” Jones of SRI security is trying to infiltrate the Gaia Alliance’s cabal to find evidence linking them to the murder of her fiancé. But a run-in with the law threatens to reveal her identity to the dangerous men of the Alliance.
Simultaneously, SRI Director Alexander Chun is traveling to the asteroid belt to bring a kilometer-long nickel-iron rock back to Earth orbit to mine for its valuable metals. Following him and his multi-national team is the Rock Killer. Without armaments, millions of miles from help, Chun must stop those who threaten him and the lives of his crew.
About The Author:
S. Evan Townsend is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington.
In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction.
Evan lives with his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 20, and has a 22-year old son attending the University of Washington in biology. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.