An interstellar war is brewing. Races will come together in common purpose to fight against a dark and evil foe.
A temporal anomaly propelled humans from the 21st century into the future. Those humans are treated unfairly and labeled as 21 Cents by the Intersystem Conglomerate, an alliance of human colonies brought together by economics. No one knows how the 21 Cents got there, and no one seems to be interested in figuring out the truth while there is a war going on.
Caused by a series of unfair circumstances, Jarod Garren is given a chance to build a ship as part of a competition. Now Captain Garren successfully constructed a freighter out of scrap metal and junk. He is an accomplished engineer but The Intersystem Conglomerate will not give the 21 Cent a chance.
Despite the prejudices against him, Captain Garren manages to assemble a crew of unique friends and attains a contract to serve an Uthorogud General to deliver supplies for the war effort. The war gives them a chance to dispel the lies about him and his 21 Cent peers, but the Conglomerate will not make it easy.
But a mystery unfolds that reveals the secrets to how the 21 Cents had arrived in the 26th century. There are players set against them, trying to undermine the progress of Dark Wine and her crew.
Take a spin on Dark Wine, a simple freighter with incredible engineering talents. And follow the wacky and gifted crew of misfits, thieves, detectives, doctors, losers and assassins.
This book is intended for adults only: it contains violence, language, and adult situations.
Dark Wine, My Favorite Drink
After three months, Jeebs and I were given the opportunities to build our ships. As expected, we were offered no help, unlike the teacher’s pets. That was fine for both of us. The junkyard was full of a wide variety of ships, alien and Conglomerate. The vicinity had been emptied of civilian personnel, and we were monitored by several Conglomerate cruisers.
I managed to build an excellent vessel out of junk, to my amusement and great satisfaction to disappoint the Conglomerate’s prejudicial expectations. The reversal of their snickers had shifted into my giggling fits. They could not believe that it was possible that I could design and build a vessel better than the minimal specifications. They expected me to waste my time twirling my umbrellas and shining flat tires with turtle wax. Then I would come crawling back to them, pleading for their forgiveness like I was the prodigal son returning after wasting my money.
It was a beautiful ship, puzzled together from many parts. The interior was sectioned and divided with contemporary versions of intermodal containers and rail cars from space trains that intertwined through the Deltus System. In between the container cars were open spaces that could be divided by walls. The floor could be rearranged by puzzled blocks that could raise the floor, make stairs, create one room from four, or make five rooms out of one. For each cargo run, the cargo rooms were adjusted to compensate for the needs. The interchangeable style of the cargo areas made it impossible for the enemy to know what to expect when boarding her.
The central cargo room was called the Media Room, with the addition of an excellent sound system, holographic screen for movies and the forge where we welded our own hand weapons. The vessel’s stern was an egg-shaped dorsal segment from a Luther battle cruiser. Its shell appeared scaled like a fish, reduced towards the top and budded into three smooth ribs like fingers. The shell opened and closed in specific patterns to protect certain sections of the engines. The engines were multi-propellant, using two different forms of FTL drive systems. The Dark Wine flew at a top speed of Cell eighty point two, typical for a cruiser warship but not for a freighter, which made my vessel an asset for delivering supplies during war.
The nose lifted from the front like a preying mantis jutting forward on its march. Its fangs were high powered lasers protruding below and off to the side of the bow, consecutively one lower than the other and shorter than the opposite. Two scrubbers dangled from the neck like the frilled flaps of a lizard. Two barrier condensers from Uthorogud warships protruded from below like spiked arms.
After a year, we added two rings connecting several gunneries above and below the vessel for thirty-nine operators. The gunneries tilted and panned while firing high yield plasma rounds. Individually, the gunneries could do minimal damage to the enemy defenses but were lethal in ensemble combat.
Before reaching the Command Operations Deck (COD), two shrines parted from the central hallways, the Shrine of Peace and War Shrine. The War Shrine was decked with torches and stone, with several columns. Allied hand weapons adorned the walls, a lot of swords and axes and spears. The shelves were cluttered with god statues of all Allied mythologies and religions. The stone was extracted from various planets that we had visited during and before the war, carved and chiseled to fit. Ominous music filled its chasm.
The Shrine of Peace was brighter, white columns, gold trim and billowing curtains. The center was a fountain that interchanged into a moat or a subtle waterfall. An oval panorama covered the surrounding walls showing a scenic video of allied homeworlds, perfectly melded together by Merlin’s design. The video shifted to other places, so subtly that no one perceived it. I found it difficult to explain the need for the Shrines but I could share my feelings for them. I needed the War Shrine to focus my warrior side and The Shrine of Peace to centralize myself into a calmer place. I was sure that my crew used them for their own reasons, as long as it was respectful.
The COD was plotted close to the bow of the vessel but remained central, surrounded by crew quarters and then cargo areas, above the medical bay. Unlike the Conglomerates, Uthoroguds, Luthors and probably most races who designed ships, I did not place my control area close to the outer hull, exposing it to a lucky shot, crippling the snake with one slash at the neck. A hallway circled the COD, which we called the “moat” and sometimes we referred to the COD as the Island. The COD was separated into two parts, the main area containing control consoles and Merlin’s Research and Information area (MRI). Merlin and I kept that area off limits. The MRI was the yin to the control area’s yang, and the island was shaped much the same.
The COD was organized with navigation off to one side. The tactical station positioned in the back, ninety degrees from the Plidar sensor and science controls. The Captain’s console was centered but angled. The captain’s chair sat on a pedestal in the center of the room, which we called the Barber’s Chair. The robotics console was stuffed in the back corner. All consoles could be reconfigured and translated into multiple languages. The console arms shifted inward or outward to the liking of the operator. Holographic systems interchanged with manual controls for easy access.
Dark Wine had an oddity, a central hallway along its back that led to itself, a dead end to nowhere. We added stairs but it was still a useless corridor. It was an unnecessary hallway, a detour around nothing. We called it the Aorta, out of irony. Later, we had filled the walls with shields marking the scorecards of the dead crew members; a weapon was welded and placed behind them. One hundred and seventeen names had filled those walls, fewer than I expected since the beginning of the war.
The Dark Wine was armed with Druidfire laser weapons as well as a multitude of torpedoes, some of my own design like Angel Dust and Red Demons. It was defended with typical Electrical grid, shields and EMP repulsor cloak. We had two versions of detection, the particle spread and collider scope which we referred collectively as Plidar. It was not necessary to have both, most vessels only had one, but the diversity offered options in different environments. The particle spread released millions of neutral particles into an area and using a laser to bounce off of them, analyzed the reflections from those particles to create the outline of a ship or distinguish details of its operating systems. The collider scope worked similar to sonar and radar, sending out dark matter waves to detect objects.
We considered building a fleet of short range fighters, typical of most heavy freighters that accumulated pilots and fighters to protect against piracy. Dark Wine’s high LPH reduced the chance that any enemy could keep pace with her. Just as well, Dark Wine’s versatility made it difficult to find the space for the fighters, and there was not enough room for a catapult system to push the fighter to maximum burn in order to be effective against enemy targets. We could have stored five to six short range fighters, but so few would make such a defensive attack ineffective. Besides all of those reasons, we didn’t have any pilots. We did house two shuttlecrafts, which was all the space that we could afford.
We painted Dark Wine black with black-emerald stripes in strategic niches along its jagged lines, for a natural camouflage. A secondary holographic cloak disguised the vessel with the background. This shrouding technique was not perfect, especially at higher speeds, but it enabled some guile when delivering military goods.
All rights reserved: copyright 2013
Written by Jax E. Garson
Science fiction, military science fiction, ebook, amazon, space opera, galactic war