Terran Shift Anthology, Vol 1 by Jamie Alan Belanger - Read Online
Terran Shift Anthology, Vol 1
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Summary

The Terran Shift Anthology, Volume 1 is the first collection of stories set exclusively in the Terran Shift universe. The collection contains seven science fiction stories from five authors set in all four eras of the universe -- from the high-technology dystopian views of the Bio-Tech Era to the sprawling space war of the Sol-Bect War Era.

The Berkutchi Trial by Alan Belanger
An American spy in Kazahkstan accidentally breaks local law and must win a berkutchi trial to get out alive.

Things Taken by Cynthia Ravinski
Only when you've put everything you have into obtaining your hopes and dreams do you find what you've really been after.

Handbook For A Better Society by Jamie Alan Belanger
A misguided man bases his utopia on a satirical novel.

The Unders by Timothy Lynch
The Landers and Unders are at war. The Landers just don't know it yet.

Moroned by Paul J Belanger
Fortune favors the prepared. As for the unprepared, well...

Moon Sweepers by Alan Belanger
Youth on a moon base learn the dangers of regolith mining.

The Sol-Bect Setup by Paul J Belanger
In a missing chapter from The Sol-Bect War, Part 2, Peter McCabe visits the past to lay the groundwork for his future.

Published: Lost Luggage Studios, LLC on
ISBN: 9781936489121
List price: $2.99
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Terran Shift Anthology, Vol 1 - Jamie Alan Belanger

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Catalog

Introduction

A new dawn for humanity begins today...

Well, maybe not exactly today. When we first dreamed up the overarching plot of the Terran Shift universe, Paul and I didn't quite decide when the universe began. We always saw it as an alternate timeline. There are facets of the universe that we would love to see happen, and some things we introduced that quite frankly scared us silly. At some point, we decided to start the universe in the year 2015, figuring that was far enough in the future that we'd be safe to create whatever we wanted.

Now it's 2012, and 2015 is approaching fast.

Still, the intention remains: Terran Shift is an alternate, plausible future.

As a universe, Terran Shift is growing even faster than we first imagined. It all started when I was writing Pariah and Paul was sitting in the same room, writing The Sol-Bect War. We discussed our novels and decided to set them in the same universe. We mapped out the evolution of the human race from there, and our universe was born. Since those days (circa 2004 or so), we have continued to expand the universe. I wrote Fireteam Zulu, set in the Expansion Era. Paul wrote a third part to The Sol-Bect War saga. We both wrote many short stories.

And then something curious happened.

We always intended for Terran Shift to be an open universe -- sort of like an open source software project crossed with the concept of a universe. We wanted people to join us on our journey into the future. Some members of my writing group, the Greater Portland Scribists, expressed an interest in writing stories in the universe. Then Paul and I read a story written by our brother, Alan. We discussed the topic at length and realized that we not only had some great stories, we had another potential anthology series on our hands. Rather than just publishing a story here and there in a volume of GPS' Scribings series, we decided to publish an entire anthology set in the Terran Shift universe. This is the first volume of a new annual series, one that we hope runs for years.

Whether this is your first introduction to this universe, or you've been reading our fiction for years, this collection should give you a glimpse into a future that is both terrifying and plausible. Because no matter what alien races or technologies are found or developed, the future depicted here is about people. Terran Shift is about humanity coming to the realization that we cannot succeed as a race if we never leave our planet. We must shift our population off our home world of Terra and explore the universe. And, in doing so, we just might survive as a species.

The Bio-Tech Era

2015 - 2096

The Bio-Tech Era (and the Terran Shift universe) begins on August 28, 2015, when an unknown organization simultaneously detonates nuclear weapons in Los Angeles, New York City, Tampa, Chicago, and Dallas. The resulting blasts shake the resolve of the United States as a whole while also accelerating the effects of global warming. Thirty million Americans die instantly, and another fifty million die over the next few years from the fallout.

During this era of humanity's evolution, a great surge is seen in bio-technology all over the planet Earth. By the middle of this era, many humans have sub-dermal implants to augment their natural abilities. The most popular of these implants is the Turina Jack, a device that consists of installing a computer inside the recipient's brain to allow the person to jack directly into the Internet, brain first.

It's not all fun and games though -- the vast majority of implants exist to combat cancer and other diseases, and to reverse the effects of the natural aging process. By the end of the era, more than six billion of the planet's nine billion people have some form of augmentation installed in their bodies.

In 2096, scientists warn of a solar flare and all electronic devices are powered down or shielded to prevent burnout. After bringing everything back online, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) burst from the sun hits, creating a massive electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) blast that burns all electronic devices on Earth. More than 6 billion people with sub-dermal biotech implants die instantly, almost 70% of the planet's population. After this era comes to a close, very few people ever turn to biotechnology again -- it is mostly left to the military, criminals, and extreme medical cases where it is absolutely necessary.

The Berkutchi Trial

by Alan Belanger

My quad left a cloud of dust and rocks behind me as I tore across the Kazak steppe, arguing with the inhuman voice in my helmet. There were no landmarks on the shimmering horizon. No trees. Few bushes. Lots of dirt and rock and scenery one might imagine on Mars. Bear point two degrees northwest, said the voice. I turned sharp to avoid a rock. Fourteen degrees too far. Adjust by--

Would you shut up, for god's sake! I don't have--

--now twenty one point six degrees off course.

Damnit, just... increase margin of error!

Unrecognized command.

Could you speak in lay terms? English? Colloquial?

Colloquial mode unavailable.

Don't suppose you could sing to me?

Unrecognized command, replied my helmet.

I drove on for hours, trying to keep my helmet quiet by hitting stuff instead of dodging. Anything to avoid course adjustments. The terrain was mostly flat anyway. Flat grassy, flat rocky, or just flat dirty. Sometimes flat hilly. I passed a lone tree in a small pool of water surrounded by grass, followed by more miles of flat rocky. Fields of grass fed a small herd of sheep to my right, with what looked like a painting of Tutankhamen's yard in the background. A lone horseman sat among the sheep watching me speed past. More flat dirt. I hummed 'Turn the Page' two hundred and seven times in its entirety. The sun set, it got cold, rose again. After another day of bouncing at high speeds over dirt and rocks and grass and more dirt and rocks and obeying subtle corrections from my helmet, I finally found the chopper.

The bodies were gone.

I removed my helmet, yanked the pilot cable and plugged the black box into the base of my skull. My T-Jack whirred and sent goose bumps over my scalp and down my arms. Data chirped and fizzled. Recent history had been wiped clean. Outside, I searched the surrounding area with a carbon scanner but found no sizable mass. No graves. Whoever found the chopper took the bodies. I ate the last of my field rations and put a spy glass to the horizon. Flat as far as I could see in all directions but south: the Tien Shan range from which I came. It was the only direction I had already been.

Patch me through, I commanded my helmet. My T-Jack could not send a signal from inside the new Iron Curtain. Radioactive walls, both intentional and leftover from nuke testing sites, blocked all radio, T-Jack, and nano-comm links. Forget about cell phones. Only the helmet's on-board Russian-made MZ20 Series satellite-laser relay could reach the base. And only on clear nights, like this one. The helmet chirped and crackled.

Danny, said the man on the other end. Bring my fucking helmet back!

Sorry, I need it.

You could have grabbed cheaper gear.

It's a dead zone, Rick. I'd have no way to call for help.

Nobody is going to help you anyway. Soviets own that space again, Dan. Get the fuck out.

I'm at the crash site.

Shit. A moment of silence passed. She there?

No bodies at all, Rick. They took them. I'm heading north. Before he could complain or try reason or threats, I issued a patch over command.

Disconnected, said my helmet. I packed up and drove north. At least they knew where I was, where I was going, and why. Not that they would try a food drop. Not after losing our first manned recon chopper.

Two days later my stomach rumbled louder than my quad's titanium frame. My hydration tube ran low on water and coolant both, tasting more and more like radiator bleed. The sun burnt through my poly pro suit. Years of jacking into console feeds did not prepare me for the heat of the treeless plain, or the sticky aftertaste of dehydration, or the under-satisfying sips of steam. I longed to find my wife's body, extract her soul, and get home. One oasis after another teased me, always puffing into a mirage.

The sun grew bigger and oranger.

I chased a dust patch, thrilled to find a small herd of saiga. What did they drink out here? Could I follow them until they drank? But I was too hungry, and had no weapon, so I simply drove my quad into the herd. The slowest straggler fell easily but smashed a light. I backed over it three or four times, heard bones snap like dry branches, and waited for its body to go limp. Then I parked a wheel on its neck and took my gloves off. Somehow my pack included a kitchen knife but no field cooker, and there was nothing to burn, and bashimi never suited me. Could I short a hand-held in such a way that it would cook meat? My scanner used too little power. Something else? I dug through my pack.

And found the soul extractor. The power pack could be tampered to cook meat, once, but then it would never work again. I tugged at the chain around my neck, fingered the heart-shaped locket there, and my hunger seemed to vanish. Inside, her picture smiled warmly. Memories of dancing and sipping wine and laughing in the moonlight sent a flush of goosebumps through my limbs.

It's not right to extract a soul from a corpse, they told me. Let her go. Popularity of the Soul Bank had waned in recent years, and most people who held loved ones in picture frames admitted the uncomfortable conversations where the contained soul attempted to comprehend their own existence. Learning you are dead could not be easy. Being conscious but not alive could not be fun. Harder to be alive, though, from my point of view. Here I was, no wife, no rations, low on water, my only technology other than the quad and field kit was the bio scanner and state-of-the-art soul extractor. Instead of eating, I sat on the carcass and stared at the empty box that dangled from the extractor, held by what looked like a rubber thread pulled too far out of a bad sock.

Overhead, a golden eagle began circling. Just as I started wondering whether it would fight me for my kill, another cloud of dust appeared on the horizon. Dozens of horses. What would they think of my presence here? I had no energy to flee, and even if I did where would I go? To seek out nomads who might help me find my wife's body? Were these not the kind of people I meant to seek out? Let them come!

Horses pounded the earth around me. Dust choked and blinded me. Men spat, their horses kicked rocks at my face, and mounted children yelled things I could not understand. The eagle descended, landing on the gauntlet of a young woman. She held the bird high in the air. One wing pointed east and the other west. The horses stopped moving and the entire band, about twenty of them, seemed to wait for every last fleck of dust to settle before Gauntlet Girl spoke.

You killed our sacred saiga, she said. I blinked in surprise. Her English sounded nearly American to me. She looked to be just barely legal, so to speak, with two nose piercings contrasting sharply with her traditional garb. Perhaps she spent some time abroad? I