About HOUSES OF COMMON:
In the 22nd
century, pilgrims leave Earth for the nearby
planets that terraformers have crafted to meet
their needs. Ranyk is a smart-mouthed alien, the best of the world-builders employed by the US
government--and he always completes his risky
assignments solo, pushing to the deep recesses of
space for the good of colonists and to avoid his
Until he's handed an on-planet assignment in
Ireland, of all places, as an undercover
international student of aquaponics. His real
plan? To pull scientists and their families out of a
country careening toward civil war--and off earth
to a world of their own before marital-law
lockdown ends their ground-breaking
Risking his life is no novelty for Ranyk. He's
been battered by asteroids, nearly incinerated in
volcanoes, and has out-piloted pirates. But political espionage on Earth is more
dangerous that anything he's encountered before, and he's completely ill-equipped for
such delicate matters. Now he must figure out who to trust and who to eliminate, or it
will mean his freedom, the safety of forty thousand desperate colonists, and the lives of
“I'll use smaller words so you can keep up,” Ranyk said. “This is a terraform ship, and I'm only here to scout this planet. No cargo, no wealthy passengers. No chop-shop ready ship, either. My fusion reactor's older than your mother, my gravcoils get around more than your girlfriend.”
Ranyk was answered only by the attacking ship’s gunner.
“Bullets are how you thank me for inside information? I'm just trying to save you some trouble. You have to catch me, board my ship, and when you get over here and find out my lab equipment has no resale value and all I have are vats of engineered photosynthetic bacteria, you'll be really angry and try to kill me. I can't even give you good booze or do a stand-up routine. Sure, you'll have a ship, but like I said, it's not at all new.”
More flashes of hot bullets plowed through Ranyk’s shielding to plink off the hull of his ship.
“Are you sore because your spaceship's an old junk heap and mine's just old? Here's where I get off the patience train.”
Coming about, Ranyk nosed his ship down, aiming just below the enemy. Beneath them, Ranyk stood his ship on its nose, pointed his reactor chamber at the underside of their cockpit, and sparked a detonation.
Rocketing away, Ranyk watched the shimmering globe of helium-4 and protons swell to enormity behind him. “No weapons over here and I still win. You humans and your guns are the epitome of stupidity.”
Sounding nonchalant, Ranyk felt the queasiness of guilt. Unlike fear, this emotion he knew.
Distracted, he didn't notice the flash on his receiver, would never notice the most devastating message of his life.
About Derick William Dalton:
Mr. Dalton is a professional student who
has taken an occasional hiatus for such frivolities as teaching high school
science, residential construction, and treating patients as a physician
assistant. When not speaking of himself in the third person, he hangs out
with his wife and kids and a smart-mouth turtle. He's also planning a
mountain biking trip on the moon.
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