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The Risks of DeadReckoning

Felicia Watson

Copyright © 2021, FeliciaWatson

Published by:

D. X. Varos, Ltd

7665 E. Eastman Ave.#B101

Denver, CO 80231

This book contains materialprotected under International and Federal Copyright Laws andTreaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material isprohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includingphotocopying, recording, or by any information storage andretrieval system without express written permission from theauthor.

Book cover design and layout byEllie Bockert Augsburger of Creative Digital Studios.


Cover design features:

Realistic watercolordinosaur By Ekaterina Glazkova / Adobe Stock

Spaceman running fast.Mixed media By Sergey Nivens / Adobe Stock

ISBN: 978-1-941072-89-9 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-941072-90-5 (ebook)

Printed in the UnitedStates of America


This novel, indeed this entireseries, is dedicated to Ed – without whom these books would notexist. Thanks for being my sounding board, my physics consultant,my beta reader, my cheerleader, and my biggest fan.

Many thanks also to Dave and Lisafor their invaluable support.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Knowing Wherethe Rocks Are

Chapter 2: Echo from aVanished Past

Chapter 3: Just BeforeRevelation

Chapter 4: Are They NotMonsters

Chapter 5: SecretDestinations

Chapter 6: The MostDangerous

Chapter 7: Never ThroughMe

Chapter 8: The Heart of aHurricane

Chapter 9: Love, Courageand Wisdom

Chapter 10: Our Universe Changes Directions

Chapter 11: More Than True

Chapter 12: God Hath Not Given

Chapter 13: Evil Triumphant

Chapter 14: Varying Degrees of Certainty

Chapter 15: Invisible Fish

Chapter 16: Sins of the Fathers

Chapter 17: Steppingstones to Truth

Chapter 18: Like Oil above Water

Chapter 19: Cleaves the Mountain Asunder

Chapter 20: The Journey That Matters



Chapter 1

KnowingWhere the Rocks Are

“The secret to walkin’ on water is knowing wherethe rocks are.” Bootsy Collins

Lieutenant Naiche Decker was past ready for this mission tobegin. From the pilot seat of Lovelace’s most battle-readyshuttle, she watched Chief Corpsman MarvinWerther distribute particle rifles totactical corpsmen José Abello, PriyaKapoor, and Yenlin Quan. Slouched againstthe bulkhead, re-reading the briefing package on his hand-heldcomputer, was Lt. Commander Conway Kennedy, leader of theexpedition to the enigmatic planet, Saclaten-c.

The team hadbeen waiting in the shuttle bay for nearly anhour for Captain Ricci to green-light their departure. Thecaptain was conferring with the sciencedepartment, who were still seeking a sensor mode that couldpenetrate the planet’s bizarre atmosphere and scan thesurface.

Decker killed time by onceagain running though her preflight check of the L3 shuttle. As shefinished up, a soft whine from the Blue-Heeler dog at her feetreminded her that the Search and Rescue animal was feeling asimilar impatience. Though she relished the heady mixture ofanticipation and anxiety that bubbled within at the prospect of amission like this one, Decker believed it was go-time – no matterwhat news came from Scientific.

“I’m gonna let Kayatennaestretch his legs a bit,” she said to Kennedy. He was chatting withWerther and simply nodded.

Before Decker and Kay hadmade a half-loop of the shuttle bay, she saw Lt. Commander TalakoJacoway enter and head towards her. She gave her boyfriend a warmsmile but had to check her reflexive impulse to greet him with akiss. Tal’s temporary assignment to Lovelace was of recent vintage, soshe hadn’t yet acclimated to treating him as no more than acolleague – a necessity while they were on-duty.

“Please tell me you’rehere with word from Captain Ricci.”

“I am – but probably notthe word you’re looking for.”

“Meaning what?”

“His order was for me toready the L2 shuttle as mission support in case you guys need helpdown there on Saclaten-c.”

“Sounds like he’s notexpecting Scientific to have a last-minutebreakthrough.”

“No, he’s not. Andapparently he doesn’t want to send hisdaughter into the great unknown withoutexpert back-up ready and waiting.”

Decker knew Tal was teasingher but couldn’t curb her knee-jerk irritation at the deliberatemention of her kinship with Ricci. “I’m sure the captain is equallyconcerned about the entire mission crew.”

“Equally? I don’t think so.” Ratherthan answer directly, Naiche let her scowl do the talking. Tallaughingly continued, “I know, I know, while on-duty we’reall supposed to maintainthe polite fiction that you two are just like any other captain andlieutenant.”

“It’s not a matter ofpretending, it’s one of…what’s that word Lindstrom’s so fond of?” Amoment’s thought brought the first officer’s favored term to mind.“Decorum.”

“And you are ever thedecorous one.”

Knowing how far that wasfrom the truth, Naiche grinned. “And yet even I manage to maintain decorumregarding my relationship with Captain Ricci, whileon-duty.”

“Touché, Decker.” His tonesoftened as he added, “You win this one.”

“What do Iwin?”

Tal threw his hands up in amock gesture of surrender. “Whatever you want.”

With a wink, Naichereplied, “I’ll collect tonight.”

Any planned rebuttal fromJacoway was interrupted by the entrance of Captain Matteo Ricci,Commander Nils Lindstrom, and third in command, Chief EngineerCarla Ramsey. They were followed into the shuttle bay byLovelace’s chief scienceofficer, Lt. Commander Aqila Lateef, andsenior linguist, Lt. Commander Jeffery Sasaki.

The mission crew crowdedaround to hear what the Command Unit had to say. Ricci announced,“I’m afraid that Scientific has exhausted all options. We currentlypossess no sensor technology which can penetrate thedielectric-barrier around Saclaten-c.” There was a breathless pausewhile they waited to hear what that meant for the mission. Riccicontinued, “I’m still green-lighting the operation – but mainly forreconnaissance purposes.” He looked at Kennedy, ordering, “You’renot to make planetfall, Commander, unless you’re convinced it’ssafe.”

“Understood, sir,” Conreplied.

Corpsman Quan turned to thechief science officer. “Commander Lateef, is it possible that thisbarrier shield thing is some kind of…defense that the inhabitantsput up?”

“No,” Lateef answered.“It’s an entirely natural phenomenon – but an impenetrable one. TheCarraiks did warn us about that in the briefing packet they turnedover.”

“Considering how much wetraded for the information,” Lindstrom complained, “it would havebeen nice if the Rock People had told us just how it was that they managed tobreach the atmosphere.”

Lateef said,

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