Mars Wars Series:
Detonation Event (Mars Wars Book 1)
by John Andrew Karr
GENRE: Science Fiction
For decades the Space Consortium of America has searched for new ways to harvest resources beyond an increasingly depleted Earth. The ultimate plan is about to be ignited. So is the ultimate threat to humankind . . .
Battle-hardened Captain Ry Devans and his crew of the Mars Orbiter Station One (MOS-1) are part of a bold plan: resurrect the active molten cores of the Red Planet with synchronized thermonuclear explosions, and terraform the hell out of that iron-oxide rock for future generations. It’ll change history. So will the strands of carbon-based Martian cells that have hitched a ride on the ship.
Dr. Karen Wagner knows the microbes’ resistance to virus is incredible. It’s the unknowable that’s dicey. Her orders: blow them into space. But orders can be undermined. Two vials have been stolen and sent hurtling toward the biosphere. For Devans and Wagner, ferreting out the saboteurs on board is only the beginning. Because there are more of them back on Earth—an army of radical eco-terrorists anxious to create a New World Order with a catastrophic gift from Mars.
Now, one-hundred-and-forty-million miles away from home, Devans is feeling expendable, betrayed, a little adrift, and a lot wild-eyed. But space madness could be his salvation—and Earth’s. He has a plan. And he’ll have to be crazy to make it work.
“Take the shot!” Hamilton’s voice, excited in his ears. “You’re at seventy yards between. That’s easy range for the atomizer.”
“Yeah, thanks, but I’m not exactly a sniper, Ham. And it’s not even a rifle, okay?”
At fifty yards he unbuttoned the holster and drew the atomizer, aimed, and fired a single pulse. The white fluorescent laser beams snaked out and missed, just above the rounded beetle hull of the repair drone. Its long arms went into motion, as if it were alive and realized it was under attack. Tendrils of laser-encased hyper-vibration streaked for Wagner’s face shield.
“Whoa!” he cried, ducking low so the ray passed overhead.
“What was that?” Hamilton asked.
Trent swerved in his descent spiral as another bolt lit the tunnel. He shot back, and one of the drone’s arms fell from a missing socket. A hit, but not debilitating. “Guess who also has an atomizer?”
“The drone is firing back?” Ham said incredulously.
“Somebody’s hacked the crap out of this thing!”
“Thought the operating system got messed up and it went rogue.”
“Well, the rogue must have artificial intelligence, or it’s a pure hack…It’s fired atomizer slugs at me twice now!”
“Repair drones don’t have AI. Kill it and return to the surface!”
He took aim, but the atomizer fixed to his opponent’s arm glowed before his own. He had a split second to dive to the side or a third beam would have put a hole in the size of a fist through his torso. The board, obeying the relative position of the computer on his forearm, went into a side spin. He countered and fixed on the drone, but it kept a relative position directly beneath him now. Soon it would open fire, and he was vulnerable. He rolled his forearm. Now the board was overhead, and he hung beneath it like a space bat, if there were such creatures. He fired three quick blasts as it aimed its own tool-turned-weapon.
A flash of sparks, and the drone sheared in half, then quarters. Pieces of it flickered, then faded.
“Boom, baby!” Wagner shouted.
He rolled his forearm hard left and stood on the board and balanced, then hovered after a few more adjustments. He watched as residual glowing pieces fell beyond the nearby relay. “It’s dead, Ham!”
“All right! Great stuff! Now get the hell up here!”
“And please leave the twentieth century down there,” she added.
“That was uncalled for, Senator,” he said, with a laugh.
“No crap, Trent, you have to get moving. You’re five miles down.”
He heard her swallow.
Up! he thought.
He flew upward and soon passed the four-mile mark. At the third mile the drone board flashed red and slowed its ascent.
Not optimal, he thought.
“You’re doin’ great, Trent.”
“Now you’ve really got me worried.”
“Only now? Why?”
“I don’t think you’ve used my first name this much, ever. Oh, yeah, and my ride’s ion supply is spent.”
He kicked out of the board as it gave its last bit of ion energy. It fell away in the darkness, red lights glowing down the abyss. Warnings sounded in his helmet and the jet pack flashed red around the tunnel walls. He considered activating his boot jets but nixed it. They were the last-ditch option. He didn’t want to use them until the others gave out.
Fresh sweat broke out on his forehead. “Uh, you said something about another drone board?”
“I’ve got it flying like a plasma bullet a half mile from your position, kid,” Captain Devans said, his voice, tight with tension.
“Hey CapD, this is a private channel.” Trent’s belly tightened as he dropped down a few feet as the pack drive sputtered, stabilized, then sputtered some more. He swore and backed off the speed.
“Captain’s prerogative,” Devans said. “Hang on! Second drone’s coming.”
“Thanks. I don’t know how much longer…This was still worth it, you know.” A tremble had entered his voice.
“Shut up and just hover instead of climbing,” Devans said. “Let the board come to you.”
The jet pack increased the flickering of the red warning flashes and decibel level of the alarm now, as Trent leveled out to hover. He looked up. He thought he could see a pinpoint of light way up there. The jet pack gasped, sputtered, and quit. He plummeted in a sickening free fall. He touched a button on his suit.
“Boot jet time!” Wagner said and leveled out once more, then slowly climbed. It wouldn’t be enough to take him to the surface, however.
“Drone?” he asked.
“It’s coming, it’s coming!” Hamilton said.
“Hang on, Wagner! I’ve got it closing on you,” Devans said.
He flew upward another few moments, then the pressure vanished from his boots. The ion jets were done, probably quit early from his antics at the mouth of the tunnel.
His stomach lurched. This wasn’t drone riding at Lunar One for kicks. This was the calculated risk where Death shows his cards and laughs. Trent held his arms out at an angle, fought to stabilize. He forced his eyes to remain open and scan upward. Searching. Searching.
“Status, Wagner?” Devans said.
“Not…too…good,” he grunted. “Jets…all done.”
“You’re falling! God!” Hamilton said.
“Hang on, Wagner! The board’s coming faster than your fall. Get ready!”
His helmet lights illuminated the rush of tunnel wall.
A plunging glow from above. New lights! A rectangular outline was coming fast.
He grabbed at the board, but it shot past him. His gloved fingers swept the surface.
“Slow it a little!” Wagner said.
“Getting beneath you,” Devans returned.
Wagner’s breath got knocked out as he struck the drone squarely on his back and nearly rolled off trying to grab hold. “I’m on! Got it! Got it!”
Cheers through the comm link.
On his belly now, with legs too shaky to try to stand, Trent flew upward on the second board, this time straight up. The tiny light above grew larger and larger. Two shadows appeared in front of it, and the helmet lights of two forms came toward him. The identity text labels of Hamilton and Devans came up on his face shield.
“Are you two star-shined? Don’t come down here!” Wagner said.
“Wagner, please,” Hamilton said.
They slowed, hovered above Wagner’s rising position, then matched the board’s upward speed. They grabbed the retention rail at each side of the board and set their jet thrusters on high.
“Enough tunnel diving…Let’s get the hell out of here,” Devans said. “Wagner, link this drone board to your forearm computer.”
A few seconds passed. “Got it, Cap.”
“Okay, I’m breaking off my link.”
Upward they flew. Wagner grinned at his companions.
“Don’t give me that crap,” Hamilton said.
“Come on, Ham, you gotta admit it’s pretty cool.”
Devans shook his head back and forth inside the helmet. “It’ll be cool when we get back in the shuttle and on our way to MOS-1 for the Detonation Event, surfer boy. By the way, you saved the mission, but never risk your life for equipment unless it’s life or death.”
Wagner smiled. “This mission is about mortality. It’s the only shot Mars has at life again.”
“We all want success, but let’s agree it’s a very long shot,” Devans said. “Calculated risk should involve better odds.”
“Got that right,” Hamilton said.
Wagner’s smile faded as bright light moved back and forth over the tunnel mouth, casting moving shadows of the rim. “What’s up with the lights?”
Devans squinted upward. “Nuro, why is the shuttle in motion?”
“Nuro, Klemmet, what the hell’s going on with the shuttle?”
“Somebody give me a damn status up there!”
No answer. From anyone.
The light danced back over the tunnel in sweeps of varying intensity, and glimpses of a spinning and shuddering PS-9 could be made out as the tunnel mouth grew wider and wider as they flew for the surface.
“Burroughs, what the hell is happening? Burroughs!”
“They’re not on this private freq,” Hamilton said, looking over Wagner’s prone body on the drone board at Devans. “You hacked your way through.”
Another form rose above the edge of the tunnel, ion jets glowing on her back. She frantically waved them upward.
“Hold on, I see Burroughs,” Devans said. “Changing freq to public. You two do the same. Keep pushing up!”
His mouth moved, the veins on the side of his neck bulged, and his eyes glared as he kept staring upward. Wagner changed his frequency with a verbal command and picked up the conversation between Devans and Burroughs.
“Nobody’s replying to my hails! Nine goes up two hundred feet, out a half mile, down to bounce off the surface, then back into a spinning swing!” Burroughs said, her voice tense to contain the note of panic.
“Navigation’s degraded or gone. Describe the tail section,” Devans said.
“White hot! There are cracks all over the hull and smoke’s streaming out! Ry—Cap—it’s horrible!”
Through the face shield Wagner saw shock on Devans’s face; then his features hardened. “The nuke drive is in overload! Crew of PS-9, abandon ship. Repeat, abandon ship!”
The Pulse of Mars
Article by John Andrew Karr
Already it sounds whimsical. Adventures in space. Stuff for scientists and science fiction afficionados.
So many of us are so rooted in daily existence in our bubble that we forget or never fully grasp that Earth is just that—a rock in a bubble of air and water and heat.
And that bubble can easily be popped by an unwelcome asteroid.
Or the liquid and radioactive cores that churn and produce a protective magnetosphere around the planet go cold little by little over eons, or all at once. But in the end, go cold.
No more magnetosphere to ward off the surface-stripping solar winds. No method to prevent the escape of air and water and heat.
How long before Earth turns as barren and void of life as Mars is?
Not “appears to be.”
. . . unless there are underground caverns or something.
Unlikely, at best.
The NASA InSight lander, after another incredible flight and landing by scientists and engineers, is on a vast red plain called Elysium Planitia, with instruments to drill into the ground and rest on the surface to seek out and monitor tectonic activity.
They seek the pulse of Mars.
Judging by the lack of magnetosphere, I don’t believe they’ll find any.
Mars is a dead planet.
You need active cores to heat things up and outward, then have moving continental plates for there to be tectonic activity, a.k.a. marsquakes.
In my science fiction novel, Detonation Event,the first in the Mars Wars series, the opening mission is to resurrect the inner and outer cores with thermonuclear blasts. This allows for a magnetosphere, which in turn allows for the capture of air and water and heat, which then allows for the terraforming of Mars.
And human colonization without living inside domed cities or other encapsulated surface structures, or underground.
Artificial global warming is also an option to thicken the atmosphere so it doesn’t get pulled out into space.
Maybe we can smash asteroids into Mars to jumpstart the cores.
None of this can happen now, or soon. But there’s always a first step.
And the InSight lander could be that first step.
You have to know current conditions to solve problems. Honest current conditions.
Detonation Eventoccurs two hundred years from now. Technologies have advanced so far in the last two hundred, who knows what the next two centuries will bring?
Last night I was jumping rope out on the back patio, gazing up at the red dot that is Mars in the western night sky. It was cold for Wilmington, NC; maybe thirty degrees.
So much colder and inhospitable on that red dot.
But as I wrote in my essay, The Case For Space, And Mars, humans need more than one planet to decrease the odds of extinction.
The moon could be a start, but it is not enough. It is not far enough, or large enough, for the next phase of human exploration and colonization.
We’re not there yet, but if we keep pushing, Mars may become less lethal to the average human being.
Because right now, humans and every other living thing on Earth are vulnerable.
Mars Wars Book 3 – Annihilation Plan
The debris would be recovered by the drones for re-purposing.
No one on MOS-1 wanted human bodies to be stripped of their space suits by drones.
The machines would take them to Mars entry, however, for incineration.
Devans flew just past the next drifting form. He twisted into a one eighty to allow the ion jets to act as space brakes, then angled the small funnels to keep himself at the same rate and direction as the deceased.
He held an arm out and touched the suit.
The helmet had been atomized on a diagonal. He could not determine the gender of the victim inside. The identification chip was either gone or damaged.
This one’s even worse than the last one, he thought.
A glow spot grew in the corner of Devans’ eye. At first he thought it was notification of a mindtext, as they came with tiny dots in the periphery. But this was on the wrong side of his mindtext queue.
“Ry, duck and move! NOW!”
He knew Burroughs’ tones well enough to react first, ask later.
His hand blurred to hit a double max jet burst downward and sideways.
A concentrated cluster of laser beams lit up the inside of his helmet and hummed through his suit speakers.
He didn’t stop there.
He arced up and he drew the spatz pistol holstered at his side.
Another flash and he hit a jet burstupward this time. The beam went low, anticipating a maneuver similar to his first.
“Crew, back to ship!” Devans said. “Gwen, fire a volley at the origin.”
PS-17 shifted and fired, the beams trailing out into darkness.
“Shannon, where the hell is it?”
“I can’t see it!” her voice was frantic. “INCOMING, RY! Go, Go, Go!”
He zipped away on a spin, returned fire though he had yet to make visual, even with the face shield’s enhanced zoom.
“They must be cloaked,” he said, dodging two more beams.
PS-17 lit up the originating area with a barrage of streaking plasma rounds. He saw a single splatter that had appeared as nothing.
He aimed and fired at it, shouting coordinates.
“Get in the ship, Ry! They’re after you!”
If true, then PS-17’s shields were as about as impervious as human flesh to a spatz beam, and he’d be putting the crew at greater risk. However, his little suit jets were micro thrusters compared to the fusion engine of a shuttle, and the crew and all the ‘rebels’ of MOS-1 had already been hurled into the risk vortex that accompanies war.
The space crazy had an answer.
“Nah, I’m good out here.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
From his home in Wilmington, North Carolina, John Andrew Karr (also John A. Karr) writes of the strange and spectacular. He is the author of a handful of independent and small press novels and novellas, and also leaves in his wake a trail of short stories.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/John-A-Karr/e/B003DVNQ8G
Detonation Event: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D6BDQBC
Rogue Planet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XFMCD21
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