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This Corner of the Universe

This Corner of the Universe

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This Corner of the Universe

ratings:
4/5 (32 ratings)
Length:
307 pages
5 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 21, 2015
ISBN:
9781311191151
Format:
Book

Description

The mission of BRS Anelace was supposed to be simple and uneventful...

When Anelace is sent to investigate the accidents plaguing mining operations in a remote star system, Captain Garrett Heskan and his officers soon suspect more than random mishaps are in play. As clues to the mystery unfold, the stakes quickly turn deadly in a cat-and-mouse game to expose the true threat while protecting the civilian miners in the system. Heskan's first command could be his last, as Anelace is outnumbered and outgunned in her fight for survival.

This is Book 1 of the This Corner of the Universe science fiction series. Get to know the crew of Anelace, as this ongoing series explores the careers and lives of this family of characters in the face of political turmoil, fallible leaders and emerging technologies.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 21, 2015
ISBN:
9781311191151
Format:
Book

About the author

Britt Ringel has been a windsurfing instructor, Air Force captain, attorney, and teacher, but his passion is building galaxies and the characters who inhabit them. When not writing, or reading, he enjoys military documentaries, building model ships, and spoiling his golden retriever, Jengo.


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This Corner of the Universe - Britt Ringel

This Corner of the Universe

By Britt Ringel

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2015 by Britt Ringel

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Contents

Dagger Class Corvette

Brevic Northern Border

Skathi Solar System

Skathi Solar System (side view)

Command Structure of BRS Anelace

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Author’s Acknowledgments

K—My Love, Always

Several people put a great deal of effort into this book. Without their help, the product you hold in your hands would be seriously different and I owe each of them my gratitude for their time and insight. First, to my wife, to whom I owe everything and without her support, this book would not have been possible. Additionally, my deepest thanks go to my mother, Sharon, my mother-in-law, Carol, and finally my best friend, Lawrence, who revealed a disturbing characteristic of a main character over a glass (or two) of beer. Each of you volunteered to read this story and provide me with invaluable proofreading and insight as to the story and characters. I hope this product is worthy of the time you selflessly dedicated.

Oh, by the way, you guys are on the hook for Book Two as well…

For more maps, layouts and information regarding TCOTU and future books, please visit http://www.thiscorneroftheuniverse.com.

Dagger Class Corvette

Brevic Republic Fast Ship - 776 Anelace

Tonnage: 3,540 tonnes

Length: 106 meters (350 feet)

Beam: 18.6 meters (61 feet)

Draft: 17 meters (56 feet)

Crew Complement: 50 (7 Officers, 43 Enlisted)

Armament: 1 Kruger Mk 237 mass driver, 4 Lyle Dual General Purpose (GP) pulse lasers

Drive: 6 Allison-Turner Type-22 drives powered by Kanata Split power plant

Sensors: Standard Naka-Fujita sensor suite, APG-85B BigEye Array

Defenses: Duralloy armor, Turner AIPS Screen

Brevic Northern Border

Skathi Solar System

Skathi Solar System (side view)

Command Structure of BRS Anelace

Chapter 1

The door slid closed behind Garrett Heskan, not with the smooth, quiet efficiency one would expect from a rear admiral’s office but with a sharp, loud clunk. The civilian secretary’s face popped up from her deskwork with a surprised expression that softened quickly to a puzzled look. Are you lost, Lieutenant? she said as the line of her mouth began to turn upward.

No, ma’am. I believe I have an appointment with Admiral McMurray. Heskan closed the distance to the secretary’s desk. I’m Lieutenant Heskan. I’ll be assuming command of BRS Anelace… FS Seven Seventy-six. I hope, he added to himself.

The secretary leaned back as she checked her datapad. Oh yes, now I see it. We don’t get too many lieutenants in this part of the building… unless they’re bringing us coffee. Still, Admiral McMurray likes to meet with all his new ship captains. It’s sort of a tradition with him. The secretary then paused and frowned slightly as her eyes scanned her datapad. Unfortunately, Admiral McMurray is busy. You’ll have to meet with one of his staffers instead. She pointed to a door and added, Commander Treemont will see you.

Heskan nodded and walked past the faux-oak double doors of, presumably, the admiral’s office to a simpler door with the stenciled words of CDR TREEMONT centered squarely on its front. Looking down at his uniform, he quickly ensured everything was in its proper place before knocking firmly once. An equally firm voice responded, Enter.

Opening the door carefully, Heskan stepped through and let the door close behind him. It took only three paces to stand in front of the commander’s desk and, after a precise salute, Heskan stated formally, Lieutenant Heskan reports as ordered, sir.

The commander returned the salute from his chair and then gestured to a nearby chair. Please sit, Lieutenant, and welcome to Anthe.

Thank you, sir. Pretty small office for a commander, thought Heskan as he seated himself. He unbuttoned his service dress coat to keep it from bunching up. Let’s get on with it, Commander. I see my file on your desk so just go ahead and ask.

Academy graduate, I see. Two years in the weapons section on Fearless, split four years on Archer with weapons and operations, then two years on Derringer as the first officer. Nasty business, Derringer… Treemont trailed off.

Nope, you don’t get a response unless you ask me the question. Heskan kept his posture straight and his look as calm as he could maintain.

The commander sighed and after a brief pause, continued reading from Heskan’s file. Two more years planet-side and now you are to assume command of Fast Ship Seven Seventy-six on or about stan-date 0325.995. I hope you understand while Anelace may only be a corvette, there are no unimportant ships here in Third Fleet, Lieutenant. He paused to let his pearl of wisdom sink in. We don’t get many ships since Second Fleet takes most of the tonnage to secure the border with the Hollaran Commonwealth combined with the need to keep the Home Fleet strong against the Solies.

Treemont used the informal reference to the citizens of the Solarian Federation, the birthplace of humanity. The Hollaran Commonwealth, along with Heskan’s own Brevic Republic, had formed separate, sovereign entities when the Federation splintered less than a century ago. During the Secession Wars, the Federation had also shed several other, much smaller, entities consisting of just a handful of star systems dominated by powerful corporations. While the Hollaran and Brevic governments had fought for their independence, the corporate controlled systems had essentially purchased theirs. A now weakened Solarian Federation that was also busy eyeing the Chetellx Empire, the first and only non-Terran race humanity had encountered, resulted in the Hollaran Commonwealth being free to assert its claims of ownership over several border systems inside the disputed zone between itself and Bree. Thus, the Brevic Second Fleet, the War Fleet as it liked to call itself, received the lion’s share of the new ship construction from the Republic’s primary systems. Even the core star system of Titan, home to Third Fleet’s headquarters, sent nearly as much tonnage to the War Fleet as it did its own.

As much as Third Fleet resented the poaching of its ships, every Brevic citizen knew it was necessary because of the increasingly aggressive behavior of the Hollaran government. Most recently, the Hollaran Commonwealth declared Brevic commercial shipping in its systems an affront to Hollaran commerce. Worse still, the Hollaran navy had now effectively blockaded the disputed system of Anesidora to all Brevic traffic, prompting Brevic leadership to order its own navy to dispatch a sufficient show of force to compel the Hollaran government to reconsider its position on the matter. The disputed zone was becoming a tinderbox with the Hollaran and Brevic navies positioned to strike a match.

Treemont’s droning voice continued, …in spite of this ‘show of force,’ or rather because of it, every ship is important to Admiral McMurray right down to the corvettes. Do you understand, Lieutenant?

My God, has he been speaking this whole time? What the hell did he say? Of course, sir. Very clear.

The commander closed Heskan’s personnel file and looked up. Good, now let’s get down to brass tacks. Anelace is currently stationed in the Narvi system. She’s on patrol and commerce detail along with five other corvettes, although not all of them are Dagger class corvettes like Anelace. The planet-side commander is Lieutenant Durmont, an excellent officer who has done a fine job regulating the system.

However, he continued, Durmont has reported increased disturbances in the neighboring system of Skathi. It’s a minor system just one tunnel point down the chain from Narvi. Only a mining company that’s working the system’s two rich asteroid belts currently inhabits Skathi. The miners have lost a few ore extractors in the last three months.

Treemont swept his desktop clean of particles of dust that Heskan did not see. He looked up at Heskan to ensure he had the lieutenant’s attention before resuming. Just last week, an ore freighter making the run from the mining station to the tunnel point leading to Narvi went ELTI. Treemont pronounced it EL-TEE, the commonly used expression when a starship launched its emergency locator transmitter implement, usually only launched when facing impending destruction. The ELTI was recovered and analysis showed a massive decompression indicative of a major hull breach. Consequently, you will take Anelace and another Narvi corvette, FS Three Eighty-three, to Skathi and conduct routine patrol and commerce regulation operations in that system for no less than six months. That will stretch our assets in Narvi pretty thin but Durmont can handle it.

Heskan’s brow furrowed. Since corvettes don’t have tunnel drives to make the dive from Narvi to Skathi, how will Anelace and the other ‘vette be getting there, sir? Treemont nodded and replied, Quite so. Renard Mining Enterprises just towed a mining station into the Skathi system with one of their tugs. She’s a flatbed tug, a civilian type, but something as small as two corvettes will easily fit on her. The tug is currently in transit from Skathi to Narvi.

The commander resumed his mission to eliminate all traces of micro-particles from his desk as he continued, Renard says the tug was heading back to Titan but they’ve agreed to let us lease her to dive back to Skathi with your flotilla loaded on her. I suspect that by the time you reach Narvi, they’ll have the ships all secured and ready to make way back to Skathi. At the end of your patrol, Admiral McMurray will have arranged for one of Third Fleet’s tugs to carry you back.

Sounds good, sir. Inwardly, Heskan groaned. Damn, I’m going to be in the deep black for some time. Third Fleet has a grand total of two tugs and our corvettes are going to be pretty low on the priority list for them. I’d better become fast friends with that mining station manager and maybe he can convince Renard to give us a ride home. We’re going to be unsupported for a while, aren’t we, sir?

The commander nodded sympathetically. Narvi won’t be much good to you since Lieutenant Durmont will only have corvettes that can’t tunnel to you. However, he could send word back down the system chain to Tarvos where there’s a destroyer and frigate stationed. Treemont looked upward as he did some mental calculations. Figure four days to tunnel from Tarvos to Narvi, a day to transit across the Narvi system to the actual Skathi tunnel point and dive in, then four more days tunneling to Skathi… that puts help in-system nine days after they get word. It’s a bit of a wait but that’s why you’ll have another corvette under you at Skathi.

He tapped the screen of his datapad and he read the relevant information. Fast Ship Three Eighty-three is a Chaperone class corvette, BRS Whip. She doesn’t have sensors as good as yours but she has long legs and is almost as fast. I’d recommend you patrol near the mining station and let Whip escort the ore freighters to and fro.

Treemont waved in the air dismissively with his free hand. Nothing is going to happen anyway, Lieutenant. He leaned closer to Heskan as if revealing a state secret. Off the record, Durmont has already said that these incidents are the result of Renard’s poor safety practices combined with the inherent danger of frontier mining.

His chair noiselessly swiveled as Treemont turned to look at the wall screen behind him. On the two-meter wide screen was a stellar map of Third Fleet’s area of operations, the Brevic Republic’s so called northern border. Treemont entered a command on his datapad and one of the points of light on the edge of known space pulsed brightly. "As you can see, Skathi is right on the frontier… it literally is the frontier. We’ve barely sent a scout ship through its other tunnel point. He looked up and paused while consulting the star chart before regarding Heskan again. Skoll, that’s the assigned name of the next system past Skathi."

There were more consultations with his datapad before he continued, Skoll’s a dead system with nothing of value and just two tunnel points, one to Skathi and one to who knows where. It’s been scheduled for exploration later in the year. He turned back to face Heskan and tapped his desk as if to draw attention back to the matter at hand. From what I understand, Renard Mining Enterprises paid through the nose to get the mining rights to Skathi and these incidents are just a simple case of rushing to get the ore flowing from the system. You’re bound to have accidents and mishaps even in the best cases under those types of circumstances. Treemont carefully placed his datapad on his desk. He aligned the bottom of the datapad with the edge of his desktop as he spoke, Just follow your patrol orders, shepherd the ore freighters and send reports back to Lieutenant Durmont through those freighters. He’s in charge since he’s the planet-side commander. He’s also one of the admiral’s rising stars as he’s proven quite effective. Any questions?

Let’s see, you’re sending two tunnel drive incapable ‘vettes out to the edge of known space whose sole means of calling for help is through the occasional freighter that transits the system? Do I have any questions? How about, ‘Did you have a relative on board Derringer?’ Is that why I’m being banished? Nothing comes to mind, sir. Sounds like a good mission and I’m happy to be a part of it.

* * *

The trip beginning from Commander Treemont’s office at Anthe and ending in Lieutenant Durmont’s office at Narvi took nearly two weeks. The distance between those two offices equated to roughly 8ly (light-years) or forty-eight trillion miles. Even though Heskan was a full lieutenant in the Brevic navy, he rode aboard a civilian passenger liner during his long trip from the provincial star system of Anthe to the outlying systems of Tarvos and finally Narvi. More often than not, Brevic military members took passage on civilian carriers as the scarcity of military transports made limiting military personnel to strictly military transports impractical.

The voyage was possible only due to a loophole in Einsteinian laws and the discovery of the tunnel point nearly seven hundred years ago. Hypothesized for centuries before discovery, the existence of tunnel points allowed man to travel certain vast distances of space in a fraction of the time normally required. Terran scientists found that these tunnels in space had, at most, two points of entry and rarely just one. The most common tunnel, classified as Type A, connected two star systems and ruthlessly violated the laws of physics between its entry points by compressing the normal distance between the systems to mere light-hours. The normal space (n-space) outside of the tunnel points between the Anthe and Tarvos star systems measured approximately 2ly or twelve trillion miles. Inside the tunnel (t-space), the distance was reduced to 4.8lh (light-hours) or about twenty-two million miles. Since Terran scientists were still unable to break through the .1c (one-tenth the speed of light) speed barrier inside a tunnel, a trip between those systems took two days. Transiting the actual Tarvos system, with its red sun and four planets, to the Narvi tunnel point took another twenty-four hours of Heskan’s life.

Had the tunnel been a rarer Type B tunnel, the trip would have been much shorter. These infrequent tunnels connected two star systems while still having literally one entrance. The distance between the two connecting systems was reduced to zero. When positioned at a Type B tunnel point, a starship could activate its tunnel drive to create the tunnel effect and it would simply appear at the connecting system immediately. Consequently, star systems with a Type B tunnel point were coveted and quickly became major economic and strategic powerhouses. Nearly all of the well-developed core systems had Type B tunnel points. For Heskan, the trip from Third Fleet headquarters in the Titan system to Anthe, home of Task Force 3.2 under Rear Admiral McMurray, had been instantaneous due to the Type B effect.

During his travel to Narvi and technically while still on leave, Heskan tried to relax as best he could but found it difficult. He had never held a command billet before and even though his years as first officer on board Derringer were event-filled, the short time he had assumed actual command of the frigate was more along the line of command by pure instinct rather than the methodical day-to-day operations routine of a ship’s captain. He had also had the majority of the crew’s support when he assumed command, earned through his two years of hard work as the first officer.

Heskan stared at the starscape on his cabin’s view screen without seeing it, lost in thought. This will be different, a command I’ll have to build from scratch. The second I step on board Anelace, I’ll be The Captain and I can’t show any doubt. The Captain always knows what to do even when he has no idea what to do. Please, just let me have a good first officer and boatswain. If I have those two things, I’ll be fine. If either one works against me, it’s going to be a long patrol.

Heskan had such problems earlier in his career. As a lieutenant, junior grade (jg), a petty officer second class had constantly undermined his authority in the weapons section aboard BRS Fearless and Heskan had been too inexperienced to put the hammer down early to stifle it. Yes, he had finally come around and corrected the situation but not before months of problems and low morale in his section. I won’t make that mistake again. Hopefully, I’ll never have the chance to. Promotions past petty officer first class were difficult to come by and self-serving people such as that PO2 were usually weeded out before attaining the higher rank. I wish the same were true of officers, Heskan thought ruefully. It seems the more politics enter into promotion consideration, the more successful the me-first officer crowd is in achieving promotion… and there’s a lot of politics in field and flag rank promotions.

Heskan knew he had plenty of time before he had to worry about such things since he was a mere lieutenant. A long way to go and besides, I don’t care about the rank, I just want to be a good ship’s captain. His thought process had come full circle as he re-opened Anelace’s crew files once again on his datapad.

Chapter 2

The Brevic Republic classified the Narvi star system as an outlying system. It was developed but only enough to support the sole habitable planet’s main economic activity, agriculture. The actual star of Narvi was an orange dwarf more properly known as a K2V, an orange sun two-tenths toward a red main sequence star. With slightly less mass than the Terran sun, it also produced less heat and emitted less light. As a result, the habitable zone of the Narvi system was closer to its star than was the case in the Terran system. The first planet in the system, Narvi-1, was actually hotter and drier than Terra but still environmentally habitable for humans. Since Narvi-1 could sustain human life without extensive terraforming or domed cities, it was assigned a name by the Brevic government, Hulda. The two other, more distant planets in the system, Narvi-2 and -3, were too cold and without breathable atmospheres and, hence, proper names.

The civilian Model D11 transport Heskan traveled in exited the tunnel point and entered the Narvi system. The brief sensation as time and space re-oriented from tunnel space to normal space was nauseating even to the most experienced spacefarer. Seconds elapsed as the nausea passed and the ship’s computers rebalanced for n-space. A chime rang through the ship’s quarters and the transport captain’s voice came over the speakers. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Narvi. We are currently two point four light-hours from Hulda and accelerating to our cruising speed of point one-five light. That makes our estimated docking time at her orbital sixteen hours.

Heskan slept for half of those hours and then rose to eat a hearty breakfast and look over his uniform. While Lieutenant Durmont shared the same rank as Heskan, he would have command authority over him by virtue of his position as a planet-side commander. It’s a good thing Durmont’s a sharp officer because he’s going to have to make do with a lot less now that he’s losing nearly half of his system fleet. He can’t be happy about that and hopefully he won’t take it out on me.

The atmospheric craft ride from the orbital station down to the surface of Hulda was uneventful and the craft touched down at the port of the planet’s largest city. Heskan began sweating immediately as he stepped out of the artificially regulated environment of the shuttle and into the blazingly hot sun. Walking quickly to the spaceport, relief washed over Heskan as he was once again introduced to air conditioning. How the hell do they work outside in that heat? Who in their right mind would come here to farm?

Heskan’s trip through the port took twenty minutes. Fortunately, a passageway connected the civilian port to the military port so he was spared another walk under the brutal, orange sun. Experiencing a quick feeling of déjà vu, Heskan paused at the door to the office that would undoubtedly hold Durmont’s secretary. Let’s not let the door slam this time, Heskan, he thought as he entered quietly with what he hoped was a confident stride.

The secretary’s office proved empty. Heskan quickly checked his watch to confirm that he had arrived during the duty day and began to step toward a chair when he heard a woman’s laugh from behind another door. Puzzled, Heskan sat and then tried his best not to eavesdrop. The laughter died down and was followed by low conversation between a male and a female voice. Minutes later, the door opened and a female lieutenant walked out of the room tucking her dress shirt into her skirt. Bye, Shane, see you la— the attractive lieutenant stopped short upon seeing Heskan. Immediately she dropped her arms to her side and looked toward the exit, quickly moving to depart.

What the hell? Did that just happen? Heskan stood and then moved toward Durmont’s open door. Hello? he queried as he poked his head into the office. He watched as a male lieutenant quickly moved around his desk to seat himself. Were

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  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A book about a naval battle...not much more...hardly uses space/future.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Good start to a series. Some parts get a bit bogged down in technical aspects, but working through those spots is very worth it in the end. Highly recommended.

    1 person found this helpful