- Author: Jason Kilgore
Book online «The First Nova I See Tonight Jason Kilgore (classic books for 7th graders TXT) 📖». Author Jason Kilgore
The First Nova I See Tonight
Jason A. Kilgore
Copyright © 2021 Jason A. Kilgore
Caution: This book contains depictions of sexuality (with aliens!) which may not be suitable for individuals under age 18.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events is entirely coincidental.
For my lifelong friend, Matt McFarland, a real-life hero.
Cover: © 2021 Ivan Zanchetta & bookcoversart.com
A special thank you to my friend, Adam Breashears, whose generous patronage paid for the cover art. You can help, too, at: ko-fi.com/worldskilgore
This book was edited by Donovan Reves of Bloomsday Editing & Proofing (bloomsday.net).
Thank you to my beta-readers, Ashley Hay and James Lundberg for their awesome feedback.
And my everlasting thanks to my writer's group, the Peeps of Corvallis, Oregon,
who critiqued every word and helped me take my writing to the next level.
Just this one more job, Dirken Nova thought, and I'll get a ship of my own again. He reached into a breast pocket of his leather jacket and rubbed his lucky Rigellian runestone. Easy money. He closed his eyes and tried to picture his dream ship, but he kept going back to the last one he had. The Brilliant. She had been perfect. Fast. Deadly. For two long years he'd gone without a ship of his own.
Dirken snapped back to reality, focusing on the immaculately clean, white room he shared with his smuggler partner, Yiorgos Ganas, who sat on a cot across from Dirken's. Yiorgos looked down at his cybernetic right arm, adjusting something in his wrist, his head bent in concentration. The entire top of his head and the right side were robotic, including a computerized cranial implant, an auditory implant in the place of a right ear, and a purple-glowing right eye. His vocal cords were replaced with an implant that could translate and reproduce all Terran languages and many alien ones. Both of his legs were robotic, too. Dirken didn't want to think about the accident that led to all of these "upgrades," as Yiorgos put it, but Yiorgos didn't try to hide his cybernetic additions with realistic limbs or lab-grown tissue. Instead, he embraced his identity as an active member of Cyberalia, a religious interplanetary and interspecies network of cyborgs who practiced the ritual of Netfolding.
Yiorgos glanced up, noticing Dirken's gaze. Dirken gave a nod of acknowledgment, then turned his gaze out the little window in the door of the room.
Outside the room was a spacious, well-lit corridor. A yeoman with curly blond hair and slim physique stood outside, having been assigned to "assist" them. Dirken knew full well, though, that the captain had put him there to watch over them. The yeoman looked back and gave a nervous nod, his pale blue eyes registering something other than just professional courtesy. Recognition? Dirken had never seen him before this mission.
"The sooner we reach our destination the better," Yiorgos said, his voice tinged with a metallic rasp. "This gig is fishier than a vat full of Proximan eels."
"Don't worry about it. Nothing can go wrong. We're sitting near the bridge of a United Worlds starship — a destroyer, in fact. No one would dare attack this ship, and no crew would defy the captain."
Yiorgos shook his head and returned his attention to his wrist. "I still don't like it. The sooner we can get this safebox to Nüwa the better."
They both glanced down to the safe that they had been paid to escort. The nondescript metal safebox had an old-fashioned alphanumeric keypad lock on its door and a handle bolted to the top. Dirken continued, "Escort it from Earth to Nüwa, don't open it or let anyone touch it or scan it, and hand it over to the Nüwan ambassador undamaged. Simple."
"Well, at least we have more comfortable bunks than the last job."
Dirken looked away. He hated being on UW starships. Most people thought of them as works of art. Sleek. Silvery. Wide beam. Not a straight edge or sharp corner to be found. Seeing them in orbit was like watching the flexing arm muscles of a fucking gigantic chrome robot.
Inside, each section was wide and well-lit. Feng shui ruled the decks. Wood was used wherever possible. Plants graced the corners. Large screens broadcast video and audio of vibrant forests, babbling streams, and windswept mountaintops. The entire ship was like some sort of corporate lobby.
Worse yet, the philosophy extended to the entire crew. All UW uniforms were matching, white, and clean. Prompt haircuts. A shower every day. Personal grooming was mandated, right down to cleaning their fingernails. Everything was timed, with ship-wide chimes and notifications. Twice each Sol day – at each shift change – there was a mandatory group stretching and aerobic exercise in the Commons.
Plus, when ships of the "Silver Fleet" arrived at their destination, scores of smaller private ships would fly out to meet them in orbit and escort each ship to the surface. They landed like ballerinas, the crew parading down the gangplank like god-damned dignitaries.
And every single member of the crew was human. It shouldn't be called the United Worlds, Dirken thought. More like the United Human Worlds. Even though the three UW planets, Earth, Nüwa, and Tesla, were majority human, or Terran, and officially speaking the Terran language, alien species were quickly growing in numbers due to immigration and reproduction — and accusing the UW of discriminatory policies — and were now the majority on the various UW offworld mining operations. The other worlds were no longer dependent upon Earth for support and feeling the economic drain from supporting their "parent" planet simply for cultural reasons. Where there's imbalance, there's war and corruption, he thought, and that means profits!
Though it hadn't come to war, yet, there was an ever-growing secessionist movement on both Nüwa and Tesla, with public protests, insurrectionist cells, and even terror attacks. They were self-sustaining worlds, and their economies had overtaken that of