Saint vladnitz, p.1
Saint Vladnitz, p.1David Wiley
Book 1 of the Borgia Trajectory
Set in the Eichi Testaments Universe
By David Wiley
Copyright 2016 David Felstul
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Table of Contents
Excerpt from Toothless
"Okay class, who can tell me who Saint Vladnitz was?" Of course Seraphina's hand shot up before anyone else's. "Delos?" The teacher prodded. Seraphina shot a dirty look at Delos who was absently staring out the window at an orange-legged Specker hanging upside down from a branch of a gollywan tree. Seraphina then glared back at the teacher, but Miz Corintos persisted. So few of the indentured plantation workers here on Demeter bothered to send their children to school, she was determined to enlighten those that did come. "Delos?"
The boy finally shrugged. "He lucked out and found the first wormhole is all."
Miz Corintos prodded. "And why is that important?"
Delos heaved a sigh. "If he hadn't, we wouldn't be sitting in this boring classroom."
Several students tittered as Seraphina's hand waved like a semaphore signal. Miz Corintos gave in. "Yes, Seraphina?"
Seraphina cleared her throat. Obviously anything she had to say was something all the other students needed to listen to very closely. Miz Corintos sighed. It was already one of those weeks and it was only Monday.
"Miz Corintos, Saint Vladnitz, in 559 Post Kosmos, not only discovered the first wormhole through incredible persistence, but he showed incredible bravery and skill in navigating his ship through the wormhole and with his loyal crew, returned to share the secret, so he could save the human race by releasing us from the shackles of our single solar system."
Miz Corintos nodded wearily. It was word for word what the text said and why the Church Universal had made him one of their foremost saints, along with Darwin, Newton, and Noya. Of course, the history texts tended to gloss over the fact that on the very next voyage he vanished without a trace. That was hundreds of years ago, lucky devil.
Miz Corintos decided to change topics to something that might be of interest to boys. "Okay, who can tell me what his ship's name was? Anyone? Come on, didn't anyone else read the lesson?" The silence was deafening. "Fine. Seraphina?"
"Well, duh, it was the Arch-Angel, of course. What else would a saint's ship be named?"
Miz Corintos glanced longingly towards where a bottle of alcohol lurked in her bottom desk drawer. If Seraphina really had memorized all of the lessons for this week, it was going to be a long week indeed.
"Captain? Sir?" the annoying voice would not go away. "You really need to take a look at this, Sir." Annoying and polite, that would be Ernie, the youngest crewmember on the Arkhangel.
Boris Vladnitz warily opened one bloodshot eye. She was still standing in his cabin. Hell, he had not even heard her come in. He gave up and grunted by way of encouragement.
"I think it might be an exotic, Captain." Ernestine Borgia had been with the Arkhangel for a few months and she still sounded like an eager little puppy. Frankly, Vladnitz thought she could use a little less Ernestine and a little more Borgia, and yes, he did know who the Borgias were. A sure sign of his wasted education if ever there was one.
"For your sake, I sure hope it is," Vladnitz growled, but he was already calculating what values of some of the scarcer platinum-family metals might bring back on Haumea, the closest of the Kuiper Belt's trading outposts. "How big?" he asked, absently rubbing at a stain of indeterminate origin on his coveralls.
"Four or five tonnes, at least that's what Horst thinks. Of course, Abasolo disagrees, but then, he would. He-"
Vladnitz opened both eyes. He tuned out the rest of what Ernie said, knowing that she did not care for their arrogant young pilot, handsome devil that he was. On the other hand, if the ship's purser thought the rock might be five tonnes or so, then it damn well might be five tonnes. Horst Schroder and his razor-sharp mind had been out here in the Kuiper Belt even longer than Vladnitz. Of course, it was the use of a different kind of razor that had brought Horst out here. Regardless, the man knew his way around a goddamn rock. Maybe Christmas had come early this year, even if this particular gift would take the ship up out of the elliptic where most of the Kuiper Belt Objects resided.
The vast majority of the KBO's were icy, comet-like bodies made up of simple organics, which, although they could be distilled for fuel and even food for the crew, were worthless to anyone else. But, when you are dealing with millions of objects, even a small percentage meant a fantastic number of metallic asteroids. Of course, finding them in a volume of over 1.5 light years was the problem. However, when you did....Boris smiled, visions of well-aged bourbon dancing in his head.
Boris was still breathing hard from the exertion of quickly climbing up the shaft that made up the internal core of the ship. The ship was under the usual 1 G of thrust so he had felt every single kilo of his body with each of the ladder's rungs. Newer ships now had lifts instead of the cursed ladders, but not ancient relics like the Arkhangel. Now the Captain's complexion went from dark pink to brick-red as he entered the bridge and his blood pressure spiked. "It's a what?!" he bellowed.
"It's a shell," Horst admitted. "It happens. They're not sure why, but some exotics form with only a thin shell of valuable material, platinum, iridium, palladium, and so on, over an icy core. Some scientists think that it might be due-"
"I don't care what caused it. All I care about is that we wasted over a week going after it," Boris roared. "We're already dipping into our fuel reserve. How are we going to refuel this piece of shit ship?"
"Well, the nearest snowballs are about a half-million klicks up this way," Abasolo Cesar indicated a blurry return on the scope.
"Solo, we hadn't decided yet whether-" Horst looked anxious for the young pilot. As well he should. As Captain, Boris resented the young man's studied insolence.
Boris' voice sounded dangerously calm. "What? And do either of you idiots realize what going even further above the elliptic is going to do? You may enjoy dining on snowballs for weeks on end, but we're running out of micronutrients, so we are all likely to be anemic by the time this is over."
"We're a lot more likely to have the runs with zinc deficiency," Horst observed. "Be that as it may, Solo is right. Our best shot is to head up for this target." He tapped on Solo's scope image.
"And if this doesn't work out any better than your KBO shell?"
"Then we start coasting back into the thick of the Kuiper. The Arkhangel will get us there eventually," Qing Zhu interrupted. The tiny woman rarely inserted herself into the arguments, but the engineer knew the ship's ancient Dobrynin engines better than anyone else. She also knew the captain. "Before we start suffering too many deficiencies," she added.
Vladnitz grumbled for another five minutes before giving in to the inevitable, then retreated to his cabin to commiserate with a bottle of cheap bourbon, a fitting epitaph to his dreams vanishing faster than a comet's tail.
Saint Vladnitz by David Wiley / Science Fiction have rating 2.4 out of 5 / Based on33 votes