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SPECIMEN 959 Copyright Š 2017 Robert Davies All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by Indigo an imprint of BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2017933755 ISBN-13: 978-1-946006-68-4 ISBN-10: 1-946006-68-8 Also available in ebook Visit the author at: www.bhcpress.com


ALSO BY

ROBERT DAVIES THE SPECIMEN CHRONICLES

Echoes of Esharam


But the nature of the universe is such that the ends never justify the means. On the contrary, the means always determine the end ~ Aldous Huxley ~


PROLOGUE: SEPTEMBER 19, 2182

T HE TRAPS WEREN’T

intended to cause pain and Doctor Kol was silently grateful 959 would be unconscious throughout the return transition. On the day of his arrival so long before, it bothered her knowing he felt any discomfort at all. The earlier specimens she studied may have suffered random headaches and soreness, but to Kol they were impersonal annotations in a scientific journal; they were not dear to her. And anyway, she reminded herself, Haleth—her prodigal assistant and systems expert— had made adjustments to the machine and the likelihood of negative physical effects had been eliminated altogether. This time, 959 would feel nothing when he woke on the other side; the only pain would be hers—and the linguist’s—forced by the stupidity of Pod Elders to send him back early. She would endure in silence, watching for the last time. It took only seconds for him to reach the Trap’s radiant envelope as Haleth monitored the machine’s transit sequence on a display from the planet’s surface. 959’s abrupt departure would be far worse for the linguist than anyone, Kol thought sadly. She held tight as the ‘young one’ fought against the tears, but it was useless. The linguist, trembling in Kol’s grasp, swallowed and blinked through swimming eyes as the distant machine did its work.


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Far above, 959 sat motionless, harnessed securely into his seat; an unconscious passenger no more aware of his condition than he had been on the day he first came to them. Kol wondered if he would dream of other things. Could his brain somehow act to compensate for the memories now gone? Would 959 become the locus of fascination, or an object of suspicion and scorn? She hoped with all her soul a prolonged absence from his people would be dismissed as only the unexplained product of a navigational anomaly and ultimately, the architect of his conditional amnesia. Outside the cocoon of 959’s vessel where it drifted in the freezing darkness, the energy field began to build. Haleth counted down the final sequence far below and then it was done; the readout went blank. Somewhere across the void, 959 would soon arrive asleep and alone, returned to where he began. Kol shielded the linguist in her embrace, but nothing could take away the emptiness and despair that gripped her. It had to be, and now, it was finally—mercifully—over. As they filed slowly from the chamber, the Professor turned quietly to Haleth, holding him as the others walked solemnly toward the lifts that would take them to the upper levels. “He is there?” “The return signal was strong; 959’s transit was eventless. He will be at the far end long before he wakes.” “Leave it, now; do not detonate the Trap’s destruct charges.” Haleth frowned and waited at the control panel in the hope the Professor may have misspoken. “Doctor Kol’s instructions were quite clear on this matter, Professor; the Trap was to be destroyed, once the return confirmation could be verified.” “She is acting out of fear, Haleth. There is no way of knowing if it will benefit us later, but I don’t want to limit our options. Say nothing of it for now, but I assure you, she will approve after she’s had time to consider. We can always scuttle it later, but once done, it would remove all our options for a future retrieval.” “It could take years, and there is no way of knowing if he will ever…” “I am willing to wait as long as necessary; destroying the Trap now is a step we need not take. We both know what is at risk, Haleth; events may one day make the decision obvious.”


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The assistant nodded and silently keyed in the commands that would put the Trap into standby mode. Where it sat silent in the ocean of deep space, a swirl of dazzling colors faded once more. The machine would wait quietly and faithfully for another time.


ONE: FEBRUď Rď ™ , 2198

I N T HE N O R T H E R N

latitudes, darkness took its time before giving way to the dawn. The stunning cold held fast with little regard for the temporary, anemic warmth when distant, twin suns finally broke over the horizon on a mineral harvest planet they called SLC-28. Brief, cheerless daylight brought some small relief to those waiting out the days before spring, but temperatures would plummet once more when the night returned. As it had been for a hundred million years, days and nights on that remote and desolate world had passed unnoticed, each blending quietly into the next. It would likely be so for a hundred million more.

E V E N IN T H A T early hour, the wind was building as it accelerated from the west beneath a leaden sky. Snow and stinging pellets of sleet driven onward before the advancing storm were constant, unwanted companions of a condition that knew little seasonal decline. The wind rose and fell with a lonely moan as gusts coursed unimpeded through barren, rock-strewn valleys. Nothing moved. SLC-28 was a place surely void of life and only the


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snow, sculpted by a relentless wind into graceful arcs and drifts, offered contrast to the exposed striations of brown and red stone angling deep into the permafrost. No one went there, save for a small army of miners determined to secure their share of profits extracted from the cold dirt. On the Plain of Horab, it was said, winter’s residence went unchallenged. At the top of a gently sloped incline nearly five kilometers long, Transit Station 8 stood alone on the road to the ore processing settlement at Demaeus. Darrien Norris looked out from the window of his apartment on the third floor of the habitat as a company personnel transport rattled to a halt on the far side of the compound, overtaken at last by the swirl of dust that had chased it since its departure from Demaeus. In the twilight of dawn, he could not make out the faces of three crewmen who stood beside the six-wheeler, waiting for a dozen ‘grade’ laborers as they filed quickly from the Operations shack below. They scurried for the big bus, tilting their heads simultaneously like puppets against the cold, cutting wind. The station’s pale blue structures straddled a wide, hard-packed gravel road dividing the complex into roughly equal halves. Unseen tunnels beneath the surface connected each to another by a cat’s cradle of passageways, allowing workers and staff to avoid the typically severe weather when moving from building to building. Unlike most places on the Plain, Station 8’s footprint at the 2,000-meter summit of a smooth, wind-swept rise afforded its inhabitants an unbroken, 360-degree view of the surrounding valley floor. But there was little to see from that lofty point, other than occasional, distant lights of land vehicles laboring on the road below. Station 8 had been constructed atop the remains of an isolated, unremarkable mountain that seemed to have been eroded and sand-blasted smooth over countless centuries by punishing wind storms to little more than a lonely, grandiose hill. A sober, utilitarian place, the station was still an important waypoint and repair facility for transport crews and their huge, ‘Centipede’ material transporters, laden with raw ore for weekly journeys down from three open-pit production fields in the north. On the far side of the road stood three cavernous repair bays, each nearly 700 meters in length, where breakdowns suffered by errant Centipedes on their way down from the mines were analyzed and repaired. Across the road, domed administrative and habitat buildings, like wind-lashed grain silos, huddled against the cold where most of the tenant staff spent their days.


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On another world, the view from them might’ve been breathtaking, but here, it only served to make worse the feeling of intense isolation that came with employment at Station 8. One by one, mechanics and technicians moved quietly through dimly lit, sub-level passageways to begin their day. The walls of access tunnels once gleamed with the sheen of new enamel, but after decades of uninterrupted traffic, a layer of grime, smoke and dust from countless shift changes and maintenance vehicles made it impossible to know for certain what color the walls had been when builders first set the tiles into place. Small groups shuffled through corridors between the habitat section and the spaces where they tended to the needs of Centipedes. Those about to spend the next ten or twelve hours in the unheated repair bays waddled along in heavy coveralls and bulky, hooded jackets like a gaggle of penguins in a dust-covered rookery. Conversation was often loud and lively among the crews when their work day was just beginning, but starkly muted from those going off-shift, their spirits dulled by the effects of knuckle-busting work on the cold, filthy machines in their care. Extravagant pay had always been the most compelling reason men and women took to isolated duty in such harsh conditions, and its lure was powerful; few places in the Colonies could match the money. Laborers and technicians made their way to mineral planets almost entirely for monetary reward, willing to accept a few years of mind-numbing boredom and drudgery in exchange for ten years’ salary and bonuses. Unlike the adventurous spirit of Earth’s early off-world pioneers who were as temperamentally suited to living in the wilderness as they were financially compelled to do so, Station 8’s crew was utterly mercenary. They endured the tedium in a colorless wasteland void of warmth and natural life, solely for the excessive salaries they would earn. Still, the reward came with a cost measured by hard work in brutal weather that sapped the spirit and ravaged the body with a grinding tedium that somehow, almost imperceptibly, turned hours and days into years. Station 8 was not a place for the restless soul. Norris had spent half his life seeing to the machinery that fed Colonial expansion on seven different harvest worlds—some of them desolate and remote places just like SLC-28. His first tour was spent as a traveling repairman for Murcer Systems Transport, an upstart company trying to claw its way


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into a then-burgeoning market, but the bulk of his career was in the employ of the Earth conglomerate, CenturoCorp. It was supposed to have been temporary, the business of isolated duty, but the path he had once drawn out so carefully for himself in youthful days had changed. Yes, and he had changed, too. After his unfortunate, early release from military service, Norris figured staying put for a few civilian tours out in the distant Colonies would bring considerable pay, plus the excitement that would no doubt accompany life as a pilot and engineer in the wilds of the Epsilon Sector. By the time he signed a contract that brought him to SLC-28 fourteen years later, all such notions of adventure had been washed away by the reality of stark solitude on the fringes of human experience. With so few life-sustaining worlds in the vastness of the Colonies, there was little to ignite the passions of a young man. In the end, nothing could’ve attracted him as forcefully as his ever-swelling bank account. Like his colleagues and co-workers, Norris had given himself over to the inevitable power of economics, discarding the illusory notion of excitement and adventure he once held so long ago. By his own hand, he had come for the money and willingly so, yet the release from his self-imposed exile grew nearer with each passing day; Norris’ contract with CenturoCorp had nearly run its term and with that expiration, the life he had known for so long would change when the early retirement he had chased for more than a decade was finally within reach. Norris loitered at the curved window of his apartment, watching through thick glass toward the west as the weather turned. The leading edge of the storm raced onward, gathering speed as it crossed an open expanse toward the hill. The squall line seemed almost two-dimensional; a uniform wall of dark gray, steadily growing in height as it closed on the complex. Even the crest of a distant ridgeline at the far end of the valley, so prominent on clear days, had been swallowed up by the monster as it came on, ever widening. He’d seen a hundred storms like this and felt the power of their fury; it was not a new experience. Still he watched, mesmerized by the hand of nature, unbridled and fierce in that cold and lonely place. As he watched the elegant arc of the storm’s snow and sleet falling downward beneath the racing cloud mass, Norris’ mind wandered to other storms on similar, distant worlds. Time had once held promise for him; it had been measured in future terms when he was young. Now, time had become an indifferent and thoughtless tormentor forcing him to look ever backward to a


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life some would say had been wasted in the distant planets of the Colonies. His cost had been made real by years away from family and friends and spent in the expectation of an elusive vision that could never be reached. Time had been consumed by the endless battle; a fight with machines that seemed to wait for those most inconvenient moments to fail, demanding his ingenuity, muscle and even his blood before they returned to the road. The lure of possibilities—those counterfeit illusions of youth that tease and flirt with the imagination—became dulled and forgotten as the years passed. He began his journey to the outlands with the aim of becoming a special and enviable man, but he would end it as an ordinary. Time would leave him unfulfilled, except for the money he made, but time was running out. At last, Norris shook off the bitter daydream and glanced at the table beside his bunk where an opened book lay upside down. He cradled it gently, frowning at a tattered back that had been broken by a hundred years of mistreatment at the hands of university kids and book stall browsers who held little regard for its delicate nature. On the torn and yellowed dust cover, the title Shakespeare’s Greatest Sonnets had been embossed in thin, silver foil, now nearly gone. He found the old, paper-printed book on the top shelf of a locker during his first tour as a shuttle pilot in the Colonial Defense Forces Navy, abandoned by previous occupants. With so little to do between flights, he passed the hours thumbing through its pages, trying to make sense of the Bard’s ancient words. Norris looked again at the page and smiled. “Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore So do our minutes hasten to their end, Each changing place with that which goes before In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith, being crowned, Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight And Time that gave, doth now his gift confound. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth, And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow, Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow;


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And yet, to times, in hope, my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.” It was nearly 8:00 by the time Norris finished dressing and his closecropped hair, still damp from the shower, revealed the first flecks of grey, even if he chose not to notice. A glance at his holo-phone showed no unseen messages, which was a welcome rarity even during the colder months when mine traffic slowed. It was time to go, although he was in no particular hurry to complete the short walk to the café, knowing Rachel was habitually late and wouldn’t show before 8:30. He had found himself spending breakfasts with her, though before, he couldn’t really work out why. After her arrival at the station nearly three years before, there had been friction between them. But that certain familiarity which accompanies the passage of days had grown, and each quickly softened toward the other. In that early time, Norris decided it was mutual, professional respect, unwilling to cede the possibility of genuine friendship. But the purposeful illusion couldn’t last and irritating to him though she had once been, Rachel became more than another inmate at the asylum; she was, in the end, a part of his life. Rachel seemed to regard their relationship likewise and that was good enough for him. Finally at the Café, Norris made his way to their favorite booth next to a low marble wall that defined the borders of a jungle-like atrium in the restaurant’s center. As usual, Rachel arrived late. With propulsion specialist Justine Ozawa in tow, she slipped quietly into the booth, rubbing the remaining sleep from her eyes like kids do as they prepare for school. It was amusing to Norris as she came slowly to life, buoyed by a cup of strong coffee and the avalanche of sugar that always followed. In seconds, the little girl gave way to the determined engineer. She looked at him for a time, expecting that her disappointment with the maintenance schedules would mirror his, but Norris said nothing. A client corporation called Bechtel Industries had two Centipedes in the bay, but delays had pushed Rachel beyond her limits. “Are you going to look at the balancers on Bechtel’s 505 machine?” she asked. “I can,” Norris replied, “but I thought you were done with them.” “No, we’re not,” she said wearily. “I’m getting tired of waiting for those idiots to order their filters.”


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“Don’t worry about it, Rae, it’ll get done. The damn thing hasn’t been here a day and Ten Team hasn’t even started on the treads yet; we have plenty of time for the filters.” “I know,” she replied, tossing a chewed piece of toast onto her plate before turning to Norris with a disgusted scowl. “It just pisses me off when they complain to us, after sitting around all day doing nothing on their own Centipedes.” “I can’t argue with you there,” Norris said with as even a tone as he could manage. Rachel could become fierce if she suspected condescendence, even from him, but she ignored the gesture. “And Daynes just goes along with it!” Rachel was warming up and Norris could hear her temper slipping away, word by word. “He smiles and kisses their ass when they come begging, but I’m telling you, somebody at Bechtel is taking care of him.” “I don’t think he’s getting paid off, Rae,” Norris interjected softly. It was always tricky, easing her back from that place her short fuse could take her so effortlessly. Norris had heard the stories and it was no secret others believed the station’s quartermaster was on the take with competing firms. “I’ll swing by and talk to Daynes first thing, okay?” Rachel didn’t hear Norris’ reassurance, or at least she pretended not to. “They’ll start bitching about their schedule, and how important it is to get it back on the road.” “Rae...” “I don’t give a damn about Daynes; those parts are ours and they have a price tag if Bechtel wants to…” “Rachel! I’ll talk to him, alright? Jesus!” Norris looked at Justine. “Did you wake her up early today?” She smiled and shook her head. “No way, boss; I know better.” After a few moments in silence, Rachel finally looked up from her breakfast and offered Norris and Justine a brief expression as her apology. “Sorry; I wasn’t yelling at you, Darry.” Norris feigned confusion, if only to tease, but mostly for Justine’s amusement. “That’s weird because it sounded just like…”


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“You know what I meant, smart-ass.” Norris returned a sheepish grin and a subtle wink at Justine. With her temper restored, Rachel pulled up a status list from a vid pad and contented herself with log entries from the night crew—and her last piece of toast.

A T L AS T , T H E Y were ready. Norris followed Rachel and Justine down a wide staircase toward the underground hub, angling left for the tunnel that would take them to Bay 2. Brightly lit, the tunnels were alive with the sounds of movement; shuffling feet, loud and often boisterous conversation, all echoing from the polished stone floor and filthy, tiled walls. Oversized holo-displays hovered just below the ceiling, enticing with advertisements for travel and vacation packages to exotic, tropical destinations on leisure planets in the neighboring systems. Financial management services offered advice on investments, while ‘commercial companionship’ houses promised discrete, temporary services to soothe the lonely. Rachel was clearly more eager to get there than Norris and Justine, reluctantly slowing her pace to keep from outrunning them. Norris had long ago given up a willingness to rush, so he made no effort to speed up. It always annoyed Rachel, but she had become accustomed to more of his eccentricities than just a dislike of being hurried. At the end of the tunnel, a stairway led up to the entrance alcove of Bay 2 and from it, a long corridor filled with the offices of lead technicians, procurement staff, schedulers and the modest spaces where customer corporations’ liaison officers coordinated tasks to fix their broken Centipedes. Beyond its walls lay the cavernous bay’s interior and within it, the huge machines undergoing or awaiting repairs. Justine begged off in order to attend a safety meeting for team leads as Norris and Rachel veered to the right, aiming for Daynes’ office. They made it halfway along the corridor when a voice from behind called out. “Mr. Norris! Do you have a moment?” “Damn it,” Norris said under his breath. “It’s Izabel.” “What’s she doing here?” Rachel whispered. “I don’t know, but it’s a good bet we won’t like it.” “Pretend you don’t hear her.” “I can’t do that.”


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“Yes you can! We’ll be here all day if you stop and talk to her; just keep walking.” “Let’s see what she wants,” Norris said as he offered a limp wave toward a tall, thin woman struggling to hurry in heels and a stylish suit, conspicuous and out of place in the corridors of a repair bay. Izabel Vieira, CenturoCorp’s exploration and development manager on SLC-28, reached Norris with a wide smile, even if it was less than genuine. An attractive executive in her early 30s with sparkling blue eyes and short, black hair that complemented her Brazilian skin, Izabel was the picture of corporate success. Her cosmopolitan presentation, made complete by expensive clothes and considerable jewelry, kept her always a standout in a crowd, especially when surrounded by laborers and technicians in their worn and grimy weather suits. It was no secret she enjoyed the notoriety it brought her, yet most would admit her skill as a geologist was at least equal to her political savvy. Vieira had worked her way quickly through the ranks, but her technical skill was sound and even Rachel respected that truth. “Izabel,” said Norris, blandly. “What brings you all the way up from Demaeus?” “Good morning, Darrien,” she replied, making a needless show of catching her breath, although it was clear to Rachel and Norris she hadn’t lost it. “Hello, Izabel,” Rachel said deliberately, and with just the right amount of mild sarcasm to show her annoyance with the interruption. “Oh…hi, Rachel,” Vieira replied with her own, subtle tone of indifference. “How have you been?” asked Norris as he herded them gently toward the wall of the corridor and away from passing workers. “Well, not so great, actually. I have a problem, and I’m going to need some help.” “Okay, what problem?” “I know this is going to sound like bad timing, but…” “If by ‘bad timing,’ you mean this is going to extend my contract, forget it.” “We’re in a bind. This is bad, Darrien, and I can’t send anyone else. Just hear me out, okay?” “I’m not signing a new contract, Izabel.” “Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to.”


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Norris folded his arms and looked down the long hallway with raised eyebrows, waiting for her to continue. “Out with it; what’s this big problem, and why am I the only one who can fix it?” “Because,” Vieira continued, “you’re the only tech within a light year who knows how to repair a Chalmers 550 air truck.” “Chalmers? Nobody flies them anymore.” “It’s a little, well…complicated,” she said, looking down at the floor. “And here comes the punch line,” said Rachel. Vieira ignored her. “If I had any other options, I wouldn’t ask you, believe me. I know you were scheduled to retire next month, but this is really important, Darrien. Please?” “I’m listening.” “We have a survey team doing a preliminary, with core samples. Their air truck—the Chalmers 550—has broken down. They’re sending back data that indicates deep, multiple resources, but also, they think they’ve found seams that are less than a hundred meters beneath the surface.” “So?” “So, it means we can start exploiting those sites within six months, including refinery work. That’s at least a year ahead of normal schedules, Darrien; we can really affect the markets.” “So send out another air truck and bring the broken Chalmers back. What does any of this have to do with me?” “There aren’t any to send.” “There aren’t any air trucks? None? There has to be at least ten of them down at Demaeus right now!” “Yes, but they’re ordinary trucks. The model the survey team is using has been modified extensively—it’s a one-off design and they need the survey gear that was built-in.” Norris frowned at the growing likelihood his trip home was about to be co-opted by circumstance. “Let me guess; you used an old Chalmers because it was the cheapest truck you could find, right?” “That wasn’t my call, Darrien.”


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“I thought so. Instead of paying the money to modify a new truck, you picked up an old, beat to hell Chalmers and did a re-fit because the gear is more expensive than the truck.” “Yes, probably so, but that’s not the point right now.” “What is the point, Izabel?” Rachel asked, leery and suspicious as always. “We’re under extreme time limitations here; we can’t miss this window.” Norris could hear the growing urgency in Vieira’s voice. “What’s the hurry? Just tell them to bring the Chalmers back and I’ll take a look at it.” “All that dirt isn’t going anywhere,” Rachel added sarcastically, “It will be waiting for them after Darrien makes their piece-of-shit Chalmers all better again, I promise.” Rachel had little patience for ‘Geologics’ and the chance to needle one, especially at Izabel Vieira’s level of authority, was irresistible. “It won’t fly. Something’s broken and they can’t get the diagnostics programs to find the fault. But more than that, the survey team is…well, they’re not alone.” Norris frowned at the notion and a new urgency he hadn’t considered. “Who’s with them?” “Shen Ming,” Vieira replied. “They have two teams out there already and they’re getting close to the area where our techs have found the biggest deposits so far. If they can file a claim on those big fields before we do, we’re going to lose billions.” “Then file your stupid claim now, Izabel,” Rachel snorted, “You’re making this harder than it has to be.” “We can’t; not yet, at least. The survey treaty everyone signed last year is very clear; no claim can be filed without ten independent samples, and our team only has four.” “Hold on a second,” Norris said with a frown as her request became clear. “You want me to go to them and fix up their Chalmers on-site?” “Exactly.” Norris paused to consider what Vieira was asking, but Rachel stopped her cold. “Where are they, exactly? Last time I checked, Shen Ming doesn’t have any works on 28.” Vieira hesitated and she wished the question hadn’t been asked, but Rachel already knew the answer.


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“They’re not on SLC-28, are they, Izabel?” “No; they’re remote,” she replied softly. “Well, isn’t that a surprise!” “Can you give me a break, Rachel?” Vieira snapped, “This wasn’t my idea, alright?” Norris wanted the details. “How remote is ‘remote,’ Izabel? Where are they?” “Zero-Six Theta.” “Doesn’t ring a bell,” Norris replied blandly. Izabel waited a moment before answering, knowing the reception her words would receive. “It’s in the Copernican Maze.” Norris knew what it meant; Rachel did, too. “The Maze?” she said in disbelief, but Vieira only nodded. “That’s going to take better than a month in transit alone, Izabel,” Norris said, but his voice was rising as the scope of what Vieira’s request finally emerged. “I know, I know,” she replied desperately, “but I don’t have any other viable options! Look, I realize it will put you beyond your retirement date and I am sorry for that, but there isn’t any other way. Nobody else out here has ever touched a Chalmers, let alone its flight control systems. It would take me months to get somebody this far out who has half your experience with these things.” Norris narrowed his eyes and moved close. “I’ve been out here more than fifteen years, Izabel; it’s time for me to go home now.” “Darrien, I’m not expecting you to take this run for nothing. It’s a pain in the ass, I know, but we’re prepared to make it worth your while. They know your help won’t come cheap, so don’t worry about that.” “I’m not worried,” Norris said flatly; “you are.” “We’ll double your full bonus amount for remote duty. Come on, Darrien, that’s a huge amount of money!” After a few awkward moments of silence, and a knowing glance at Rachel, Norris decided to consider helping Izabel, even if it was solely for the excessive bonus he would bank for a couple of extra months on the job. “Give me some time to think this over, okay?” “Yes, of course. Can you let me know this morning, at least?”


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Norris could feel Rachel’s stare. “I’ll call you in a little while.” “Thank you, Darrien; you don’t know how much I appreciate this.” “I’ll remind you of that when they piss and moan about the bonus.” Izabel turned quickly for the admin complex, nearly at a trot to reach the elevators before Norris could change his mind. Rachel shook her head and frowned at Norris. “This means you really are going to miss your bus next month, you do know that, right?” “I haven’t agreed yet.” “No, but you will,” she said with a good shove against his shoulder. “Just do me a favor and soak them for everything you can get, alright?” “Have no fear,” he replied. Their relationship had never been complicated. Norris and Rachel fought and bickered with each other; they laughed and cried the way brothers and sisters do. They kept no secrets and the bond of trust between them was unshakable. In all the ways that mattered, each had found a comfortable place that demanded nothing, but still gave warmth and tenderness on a cold, alien world when it was needed most. “Come on,” Norris said at last; “let’s go slap Daynes around for a while.” “I’ll hold him for you,” Rachel replied with a grin as they turned and walked together down the noisy corridor.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Davies is a born-and-raised Michigan kid with an overactive imagination and love of literature that eventually became a disease, curable only through the odd, frustrating therapy of writing fiction. A Navy veteran, musician, private pilot and erstwhile traveler, he crossed oceans and countless borders to find and understand Earth, only to leave it behind in the pages of his first novel. Released from the University of Portland with a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Rob has spent the last twenty years as a contract manager in the information technology and telecommunications industries. He currently lives in southwest Washington with his wife, Stephanie, daughter Natalie and two mildly overbearing female tabbies.


Profile for BHC Press

Specimen 959 by Robert Davies (The Specimen Chronicles #1)  

Imprint: Indigo Genre: Science Fiction Release Date: 7/25/17 Book Description: Astronaut. Repairman. Prisoner. CenturoCorp engineer Darrien...

Specimen 959 by Robert Davies (The Specimen Chronicles #1)  

Imprint: Indigo Genre: Science Fiction Release Date: 7/25/17 Book Description: Astronaut. Repairman. Prisoner. CenturoCorp engineer Darrien...

Profile for bhcpress
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