In his latest novel, Speed weaponMegan E. Keefe takes up the story of a military pilot named Sergeant Sandra Greeve, who is fighting in an interstellar war in the distant future and is shot down during a battle. When she wakes up, she discovers that she was rescued by an autonomous ship called The Light of Berossus (which is called Bero), and was put on suspended animation for two centuries. Everything she fought for was nothing; mankind essentially went out in war.
Keefe jumps between the timings, returning to Sandra's brother, Biran, who discovers that his sister was supposedly dead in battle. But he soon discovers that the story behind his death does not fit and begins to seek the truth of what happened to her.
In the future, Sandra and Bero are trying to figure out how to get to a human settlement 75 light years away, when they make an unlikely rescue: another human survivor from the battle named Tomas, who fought on the other side.
The book comes to bookstores today, and below is a chapter for you to read.
PRIME STANDARD YEAR 3771
FIRST DAY OF SANDA IN THE FUTURE
Sanda tapped her palm against the screen, leaving a goopy hand print. Two hundred and thirty years. It was not possible. She heard rumors that the Icarions were working on something big, but not big enough to wipe out two whole planets. Nothing in the universe created by man could produce this kind of power. She should know. Bero was fucking her. Some kind of sick joke. They could not all have gone. Dead. Dust among the stars.
"Bero." His voice was tense, not out of disuse. "Do not mess with me." Evac's pods are not designed to last that long, I would just be another piece of space debris on that timeline.
"My original calculations are correct," said the soft voice. She wanted to scream. The exhibit was giving nothing but rubbish numbers, silly estimates. He continued to show her that empty empty space where his house used to be. She nudged a few more diagnoses. Nothing deep – medibay was not created for that sort of thing – but it could force you to show your motor power, life support. Everything seemed fine. There was no reason for Bero to be defective like that. She reached out to comb her sticky hair with her fingers, then aborted the movement as a wave of pain appeared between her eyes. Just a headache in the cold. Breathe. Forces to the end.
Sanda turned, wheeled wheeled screams, and stared at the ceiling where she thought a camera might be.
"Explain." "No need to face my cameras, Sanda. I do not need eye contact for engagement. I can see you anywhere in medibay.
"Wonderful for you." She pointed a finger at the bulbous gun metal eye. "But I need some answers and I'm tired of seeing this – this – perversion."
The screen flickered in the corner of her eye and she glanced over her shoulder. Icarion's logo opened, bright and gray.
"No." "Of course." "My apologies." The screen blinked again, this time filling Ada Prime's dual system. She licked bitter, gel-coated lips, looking at the little dwarf planet and orbiting station she called of home, with the Casimiro Gate in orbit around.It could not have gone.It was not possible.
"Bero!" "If there is another image that is more appropriate to your current mood-"
"It's not the image. I request information related to the Fibon Protocol. Immediately."
"You do not need to talk to me like I'm a computer." "Then stop acting like one! You know very well what I want. Why do not you explain?
Hesitation. "This is … unsettling." "Oh, we're already there." I'm really insecure, full of ruffles, now stop playing computer games and tell me what I just woke up.
"I do not want you to get mad at me. My existence was part of this destruction.
Her gut got cold. She adjusted the serum holder under her arm, pulling it against her body. "You did it?"
"Not!" The word was sharp enough to hurt his ears. "I am a result of the research, nothing more. I am a smartship, yes, but I am one interstellar smartship First in my class. They were using my labs for biometric research. "
There was a touch of pride in Bero's voice, an ascending cadence. She imagined the ship getting ready and tossing his hair. Sanda swallowed a mockery. Icarion was always trying to pay gate fees for the Primes that controlled them. It makes sense that they create some crazy scheme to cross the slow black style.
"How interstellar are we talking here?" "Eight percent of the speed of light." She bit her lip. Slowly like a snail to a fox. Pass through a Casimir Gate – a technology that only her people, the Primes, knew how to handle – and you could appear on the connected star system within an hour. How to poke a needle in space-time. Of course, the gates only connected one system to another, but going through stellar systems to reach the gate you wanted was much faster and safer than burning between the stars.
"Not bad," she lied. "But what does this have to do with the Protocol?"
"I'm not the only thing that can accelerate to eight percent W. "His mouth was thick. She swallowed viscous saliva. Anything that had a significant percentage of the speed of light was a missile hell.
"You're talking about RKVs – relativistic death vehicles – great launchers created to release mass at speeds so fast that any technician on board would not survive the acceleration." Not having a guidance system makes them useless in war because there is no guarantee that you Icarion would be very close to achieving the desired goal.Why would Icarion bother? They are junk in the battle.
"Fantastic against the planets." "God." Her face loosened, her fingers numb in the grip of her IV holder. But that fish-eye lens just stared at her, impassive, unblinking. She did not know what she expected. That was not it.
The screen blinked. She turned to her. "The first demonstration," Bero said, "was aimed at an asteroid passing near the planet Ada. That was a month after the Battle of Dralee.
On the screen, the double bodies of Ada Prime – the planet and its gate in orbit – emerged. On the other side of the black, an asteroid arched. Orbital lines appeared to illustrate the path of the asteroid near Ada.
"Icarion leaked to Ada a warning of an attack and led them to believe they were using the asteroid to hide their approach. Ada's fleet of airplanes were in LPO, waiting to detect the advance of the Icaron fleet, as the asteroid passed within range. Icarion fired the protocol on the asteroid. Dissolution was complete. The wreck struck down ninety-five percent of the fleet, and Ada's surface suffered heavy kinetic bombardment. This has damaged many domes of habitats. Sanda slid down the whey stand, holding it with one hand and sank to the cold ground. His gaze was glued to the screen, watching the debris – transmuted to plasma at these speeds – fly from the vaporized asteroid to the fleet and to Ada. Yellow triangles, weapons like hers, blinked en masse. Was it for your family to watch the footage after the Dralee? She choked on the bile.
"Survivors?" "Many". Bero's voice was soft, but not gently. With shame. Sanda wrapped her fingers around the base of the serum holder and squeezed tightly. Its limbs were frozen, shaking everywhere. Weak of two different types of shock.
"The habitats were damaged, but most of the civilians and Keepers survived. Keep Station was spared. Icarion threatened to bombard the planet directly if they refused to allow access to the secret of building the gates. "
The Guardians would never allow that, Sanda insisted. "With their defenses in shambles, the Guardians stopped for a while, delaying responding to Icarion's demands.The Icarions were not deceived.
"They have changed the protocol into the space between the two planets. That version spun, casting heavy weights at relativistic speeds in a crescent spiral – whipping them through space, a carousel rifle.
"Icarion had planned to start the Protocol when his planet was safely protected by the gas giant Kalcus. They started too soon. Icarion suffered the same bombing.
"Sabotage?" "Sounds likely." "Serves them right."
A pause. "I agree." She reminded herself that Bero must have lost people too, and repressed her anger.
"All right," she said. "OK". Groaning, she stood up and squealed to the screen. She leaned against the wall with one hand and stuck the screen with the other. So we are close to the Dralee, right? That means the gate is about half an astronomical unit from this location, if we …
"The gate does not exist." "Excuse me?" "Ada Prime's Casimir Gate was destroyed during the final bombardment. The planets Icarion and Ada did not survive. The debris fields remain where the planets have already been. With enough time, they can coalesce into planets, but that timeline is irrelevant in human terms. "
She swallowed. Difficult. "The gate is gone." "Yes". "And you can only go eight percent of the speed of light." "Yes". "At this rate it's going to take." She typed a few calculations on the smart screen. "About seventy-five years to get to Atrux Prime, the nearest inhabited star system."
"Yeah." "Fuck you." "You say that a lot, Sanda." "It's kind of a day, Bero." She pinched the bridge of her nose where her glasses used to sit before eye surgery. . "Suggestions?"
"I believe no sensible time will be wasted if you stop to take a shower."
Sanda looked at the fluid, flowing pool around her foot. Bold ship.