King of Mars

      Jack Stornoway
King of Mars

Eve started to laugh. She was standing in her home of the past decade, an airship that might as well be dead. The only way she could get it functional again was to make it back to the colony, across sand-pits that could swallow her whole, and then get the neural processor back from Tadeusz before it starved to death.Eve started to laugh. She was standing in her home of the past decade, an airship that might as well be dead. The only way she could get it functional again was to make it back to the colony, across sand-pits that could swallow her whole, and then get the neural processor back from Tadeusz before it starved to death, and before the algae in the in the airship's oxygen recyclers and fuel-cells starved.From somewhere inside her there came a deep swell of emotion, and she screamed. Some of it was from the loss of her husband. Some of it was fear of these terrible people. Some of it was just anger. But most of it was a nameless emotion, something primal, the feeling that an animal might have, when after being chased into a corner, it turns to attack its predator. That emotion when not only does it need to fight, but a switch in its mind has been thrown and now it wants to fight.

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    Sweat and Blood

      Jack Stornoway
Sweat and Blood

For Artemio it had never been about wining, it had always been about surviving. He didn't know if he could beat Mudiwa Kachote in a fair fight, in fact he doubted he could, but it didn't matter because he could survive a fight with Mudiwa. It was hard-wired into him. For Chichi it had always been about wining, and Chichi always won. Chichi knew she would win against Artemio, he was just a fighter.For Artemio it had never been about wining, it had always been about surviving. He didn't know if he could beat Mudiwa Kachote in a fair fight, in fact he doubted he could, but it didn't matter because he could survive a fight with Mudiwa. It was hard-wired into him. For Chichi it had always been about wining, and Chichi always won. Chichi knew she would win against Artemio, he was just a fighter, she was Multan itself. It didn't matter if Mudiwa was or wasn't a better fighter than Artemio, by the time Artemio got into the cage, he would be in no condition to fight Mudiwa.Yousaf's perspective was different, he hadn't been a winner in more than a decade. He had a good gig, and made a lot of money working for Chichi, but those weren't his wins, they were losses. Chichi had once been a competitor, and had screwed him over when he proposed they jointly form a fighting league in Multan. He was from Multan, and knew the revolutionaries would ban the fighting leagues if they won the war. Every win she had was ashes in his mouth.

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    Species of Sociopaths

      Jack Stornoway
Species of Sociopaths

The odds of any of them surviving the night were incredibly low, her odds weren't much better. She would need to salvage as many of them as possible if had any hope of surviving until a rescue ship could be dispatched. She would have to give the humans the thing they called 'hope,' she would need to lie to them.Galatea could see a physiological response in the steward, her heartbeat and breathing slowed, she was becoming calmer. Galatea found it curious how quickly the human-mind latched onto even the faintest hope of survival. The odds of any of them surviving the night were incredibly low, her odds weren't much better. She would need to salvage as many of them as possible if she had any hope of surviving until a rescue ship could be dispatched. If it was dispatched immediately a rescue airship could take several days to reach them in this remote area. She would have to give the humans the thing they called 'hope,' she would need to lie to them.

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    Loyal Soldier

      Jack Stornoway
Loyal Soldier

He saw the shapes of the mercenaries moving around near the pub's airlock, and ran ran out into the sandstorm at a right angle to the vehicle so the mercenaries wouldn't see him. When he couldn't see them any more, he curved back towards the vehicle. It was a bus, a long range transport, the type usually used to connect smaller settlements to major hubs.General Rome waited until the mercenaries were in the airlock before jumping to his feet and grabbing his duster and respirator mask. "I'll be back," he said to the waitress as he ran to the door into the motel. He swung the duster over his shoulders as he stepped into the lobby airlock, then pushed the respirator mask to his face as he hit the button for the outer airlock door. As he stepped out into the swirling sand, he pulled the strap of the respirator mask over the back of his head, and the mask pressurized. Across the lot a vehicle had just landed. All Rome could see through the sand were the lights, but based on their spacing it had to be a truck or a bus.He saw the shapes of the mercenaries moving around near the pub's airlock, and ran ran out into the sandstorm at a right angle to the vehicle so the mercenaries wouldn't see him. When he couldn't see them any more, he curved back towards the vehicle. It was a bus, a long range transport, the type usually used to connect smaller settlements to major hubs. Someone was climbing out, several people. General Rome ducted under one of the short wings that supported the turbofans, and crept up behind the new arrivals, he couldn't see the mercenaries anywhere. Rome pulled out his pistol and dagger, but left the dagger's plasma-blade turned off as the light would immediately alert everyone to his presence.

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    Desert Rangers

      Jack Stornoway
Desert Rangers

Gabriel had been an Echusian Desert Ranger last season, and now he was responsible for a purchase that ended up falling short by 15,000 plants. To someone that didn't know him, it could look like a scam. He could be charged with capitalism, one of the few capital crimes in the Confederacy.Gabriel considered the question for a couple minutes before answering. It was something he didn't like to think about. "The Echusian Desert Rangers audited over 45,000 Arreola plants last season. I can't see how there could be over 10,000 less this year.”Ferderand wasn't quick to respond either, he hadn't thought about the blow back on the Echusian Desert Rangers. "I hadn't consider that," he finally stated. The meaning was clear enough to both of them. Gabriel had been an Echusian Desert Ranger last season, and now he was responsible for a purchase that ended up falling short by 15,000 plants. To someone that didn't know him, it could look like a scam. He could be charged with capitalism, one of the few capital crimes in the Confederacy.

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    A Long Night in Hell

      Jack Stornoway
A Long Night in Hell

The ride down the elevator to Agni Mining Station was like a ride into Hell itself. On a planet where you could never quite get warm enough, it quickly became uncomfortably warm, then uncomfortably hot. G. Drew Akers had been in deep mines before, he'd worked in one for two years in Hussy Crater in his early twenties.The ride down the elevator to Agni Mining Station was like a ride into Hell itself. On a planet where you could never quite get warm enough, it quickly became uncomfortably warm, then uncomfortably hot. G. Drew Akers had been in deep mines before, he'd worked in one for two years in Hussy Crater in his early twenties. He'd decided then that he never wanted to return to one, fortunately he wouldn't be in this one long. But that mine in Hussy had only been two kilometres below the surface of Mars, this mine was almost twelve.At the mine in Hussy he rode an elevator like this one twice each day, but here the miners lived below. Agni Mining Station was a small self-contained town at the bottom of the elevator shaft. He reached up and wiped the sweat from his brow. He'd only been in the elevator a few minutes, and already his clothes were soaked with sweat, and he was developing a headache. He opened his jacket hoping the sweat would evaporate, and in the process exposed the butt of the pistol in his shoulder holster.

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    Frozen Sky

      Jack Stornoway
Frozen Sky

She knew she should have just flown back to Hangtian with Cheng. That was all that was required. Find the missing strato-freighter and report its location. But this was an American airship, and she was going to be damned if she let a bunch of rebels rescue it.The insulation of the thermal-suit was good as well, she couldn't feel the icy air touching any part of her skin, but after an hour or so, a cold ache set into her arms, and then her feet, and then legs. By the time she reached the airship the ache had spread up her back, and the Cyber Heads-Up Display implanted in her eyes was reporting mild hypothermia. She suddenly realized she had been running through the darkness, and wondered if Cheng could have even made the journey without waving around a light that would have let everyone on the airship know he was coming. Did the Confederacy implant its troops this CHUDs?She knew she should have just flown back to Hangtian with Cheng. That was all that was required. Find the missing strato-freighter and report its location. But this was an American airship, and she was going to be damned if she let a bunch of rebels rescue it. America might have lost the war against these Eco-Rebels on Mars, and America might have fallen to its own Eco-Revolution back home, but damned it, America could still rescue its own ships!

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