Ballistic by Marko Kloos (The Palladium Wars Book 2)
English | 2020 | Sci – Fi | ePUB | 2.9 MB
There is a personal price to pay for having aligned with the wrong side in a reckless war. For Aden Jansen it’s the need to adopt a new identity while keeping his past hidden. Now he’s integrated himself aboard the Zephyr, a merchant ship smuggling critical goods through dangerous space. But danger is imminent on planet Gretia, as well. Under occupation, torn between postwar reformers and loyalists, it’s a polestar for civil unrest.
Meanwhile an occupation forces officer is pulled right back into the fray when the battle alarm is raised, an ambitious heiress is entangled in a subversive political conspiracy, and an Allied captain is about to meet the enemy head-on.
As Aden discovers, the insurgents on Gretia—and in space—are connected, organized, and ready to break into full-scale rebellion. History is threatening to repeat itself. It’s time that Aden rediscovers who he is, whom he can trust, and what he must fight for now.
“I don’t care for this extended high-g shit, but I can suffer it for a little while longer, I guess,” Tristan Dorn said from his gravity couch behind Aden. He was the ship’s medic and the oldest member of the crew, a tall and lanky Oceanian in his fifties with a craggy face and short white hair. Aden found it liberating that almost everyone on Zephyr was his own age or older, and far more experienced. Only Maya, the pilot, and Tess, the engineer, were not in their forties yet. It was the first time since his early days in the Blackguards that he was the most junior and least experienced member of a team, but there was a certain freedom in taking orders instead of giving them, in learning instead of having to be responsible for someone else’s development.
As their new linguist, he’d been hired to do all the talking and listening whenever the crew needed someone who was completely fluent in Rhodian or Gretian. Universal-translator AI was incredibly useful for everyday interactions between people from different cultures, but even with quantum-state computing, it couldn’t catch nuance, dialect, or inflection as well as a multilingual human could. And Zephyr sometimes moved in circles where people didn’t want to be easily understood by outsiders.
“What about you, Aden?” Captain Decker asked. “You want to keep the throttle open, or have a little more money in your ledger when we dock?”
“I get a vote, too?”
“Of course you do. You’re a member of the crew. Profits get split eight ways. The more fuel we burn, the smaller the payout once we get to Pallas. Might be nothing left over when Lady Mina pays up.”
“What’s the advantage of staying on the throttle if we’re going to win either way?” Aden asked.
“It’s good advertising,” Decker said. She pointed at the situational display projected above them. “Every ship in the neighborhood has us on their plots right now. And the telemetry data from our transponder is public record.”
“Everyone with a comtab can get on the Mnemosyne and see that this ship can do fifteen g sustained,” Henry added. “Reminds people where to look if they need to hire a fast courier.”
“Then let’s keep the throttle open,” Aden said. “That bet was bonus money anyway, right? Might as well invest it on advertising.”
Decker’s brief smile told Aden that she approved of his vote. He had gone out of his way to be agreeable as a new member of the crew, and he’d mostly gone with whatever he perceived to be the majority consensus. Fortunately, the other crew members were easy enough to get along with. Aden was glad he no longer had to mediate disputes or deal with the social dynamics of an entire company of troops that had been mostly in their teens and twenties when the war ended, and who had never known anything but top-down discipline.
“Tess?” Decker asked the last person on the maneuvering deck who hadn’t voiced an opinion yet.
“Keep going. And we have a bit more zip in reserve, if you want to open it up a little more,” Tess said from her gravity couch. She was scrolling through data readouts on her chair’s control tab, and there wasn’t a bit of strain in her voice from the added gravity of acceleration.