By Larry N. Martin
Genre: Space Adventure
The Adventure Begins…
Star Force pilot and hero Wyatt McCoy left his medals and career behind after the Rim Wars, disillusioned and bitter when he learns the truths behind the conflict. He takes his converted gunship, the Nellie B, and heads to the Near Fringe, salvaging derelict ships and abandoned stations and mining colonies. Dr. Beth Parker is a space archeologist, documenting the history of planetary expansion and colonization for Kalok Enterprises and the Interplanetary Mining Guild. A piece of alien technology embeds itself in Beth’s arm, giving her the ability to see the energy impressions of long ago people and events. When Beth uncovers proof of genocide that could bring down the big mining companies, she’s the target of assassins. Wyatt makes a split-second decision to intervene, launching them both into a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with some of the most powerful organizations in the system. They can prove Kalok and Interplan killed millions—but can they live long enough to tell their story?
About the Author
Larry N. Martin is the author of the new sci-fi adventure novel Salvage Rat. He is the co-author (with Gail Z. Martin) of the Spells, Salt, and Steel/New Templars series; the Steampunk series Iron & Blood; and a collection of short stories and novellas: The Storm & Fury Adventuresset in the Iron & Blood universe. He is also the co-author of the upcoming Wasteland Marshals series and the Cauldron/Secret Council series.
On Twitter: @LNMartinAuthor
On Amazon: http://a.co/d/1JxBmri
Salvage Rat – Chapter One (Excerpt)
Gunshots went with the territory, no matter how much Wyatt intended to avoid trouble. But here and now? This was not part of the plan.
Space salvage was not for the timid or those with a tender conscience. Wyatt was neither. When the first shot sizzled past his shoulder, he had nearly pried out the last of the electronic panels he had come for, panels that were worth more for the rare metals in their components than for their long-outdated tech.
He dove for cover at the next junction in the corridor and wondered how anyone knew he was on the old, abandoned mining colony. No one else was supposed to be there, let alone be shooting at him. He had scanned the place thoroughly. They must have come in after he’d already entered the mining base.
Then he realized that for once, the shooters weren’t after him.
They were shooting at a woman who appeared to be running for her life. She tore past him without a glance, and he noticed her civilian jumpsuit and lack of weapons.
In that split-second, Wyatt’s battle instincts kicked in, just as a pack of six security men in gray uniforms raced down the corridor with guns drawn. Part of him knew he should stay out of it, that it wasn’t his fight, let alone a fair fight. He knew it, but he leaned around the corner, aimed, and shot anyhow.
“Dammit! She’s got back-up!” one of the Grays swore as Wyatt’s shots clipped three of them before they got a bead on where he was. Outside, those would have been kill shots, since “winging” someone in a pressure suit was as good as putting a bullet through their head. But he had coaxed the old mine’s main gravity and air recycler to working again. With only emergency lighting operational, the corridors had deep shadows.
“Requesting more men,” the Gray spoke into his link as the others opened fire from where they’d taken positions at the next cross-corridor. One of the shots barely missed Wyatt’s ear.
“Screw that,” Wyatt muttered, getting in a couple more shots to pin down the Grays and then running like hell as he followed the path the woman had taken. He took the next right and headed down a long hallway with doors on both sides. Probably the offices for the old mining colony, he thought. Wyatt picked a door and dove into the darkness seconds before he heard the Grays clear the corner. The security guards thundered past, and he leaned back against the wall and let out a deep breath.
Definitely not one of my smarter moves. Damn.
“Who the hell are you?” It was a woman’s voice.
Wyatt blinked in the dim glow of the emergency low-level lighting. He wondered briefly if he should feel grateful or cursed that fates had him choose the same hiding spot as the woman. He took a moment to check out his surroundings. The room looked as if the mining bosses had just walked out and left everything behind—furniture, files, even the pictures on the wall. Very likely since it would have cost more than the stuff was worth to ship it home again, Wyatt thought. Which was what brought him to the mine in the first place.
Most of the time, salvage meant boarding derelict ships and recovering anything useful or saleable. But when space stations and colonies started being built, occupied for a short time, and then abandoned and left to rot, the laws were expanded. Even a hundred years out of date, usable stuff in good condition brought good money piecemeal, especially with the homesteaders out on the hardscrabble moons and the Fringe. Enough to keep Wyatt in fuel and supplies for a while.
Vandals and thieves had been picking at the place for a while, though it was off the main trading routes. Wyatt had a map and blueprints he’d picked up from a trader on Gascon—the great-grandson of someone who had worked in the mine’s construction crew. This job was supposed to be an easy in-and-out. Not anymore.
“You’re welcome,” Wyatt said to the figure in the deep shadows. “For shooting at those Grays back there.”
She snorted. “They’ll think we’re together. So instead of just shooting me, they’ll shoot both of us.”
Wyatt could only make out her silhouette, but it looked as if she had a weapon trained on him. He pondered for a moment as he clearly remembered her hands were empty when he saw her pass.
“You didn’t come in with us, and no one else is supposed to be here,” she whispered. “So what are you doing here?”
“Freelance salvage,” Wyatt replied. “This site just crossed into ‘fair use’ status. It’s been abandoned for a century, so I’ve got a right to be here.” Take that. I know my salvage laws, even if I bend them now and again.
“Kalok Enterprises,” she said. “We founded this colony. And you’re wrong. It’s ours for another three months. The clock starts from the Stellar Commission’s license date, not the Interplanetary Mining Guild acquisition date.”
“Details, details,” Wyatt replied. She came here with the people trying to shoot her? So maybe I’ve got what she needs—a way off this rock. Wyatt slowly stepped closer. He kept his left hand away from the gun on his hip and kept the gun in his right hand pointed at the floor.
“That’s close enough. Who are you?”
“Wyatt William McCoy, salvage reclamation specialist. And you are?”
“None of your business.”
“Remember, I have a ship, and you don’t,” Wyatt said. “Want to reconsider?”
She was silent for a moment; her weapon still pointed at his chest. “Oh, what the hell. I’m in deep shit now anyway,” she said finally.