Orbital by FX Holden

 Orbital

Orbital by FX Holden (Future War #3)
English | 2020 | Sci-Fi / Thriller | ePUB | 2.9 MB

Taking military technologies that are on the drawing board today and putting them into the domain of space 15 years from now, ‘Suborbital’ is a high-octane look at what the growing militarization of space could lead to in the all too near future.

In 2034, a cataclysmic meteorite shower rains down on Saudi Arabia, destroying the world’s largest oil processing facility and sending the price of oil into the stratosphere. But was it an act of God, or of man?

At Cape Canaveral, Colonel Alicia Rodriguez takes over the fledgling US Space Force 615th Combat Operations Squadron’s three X-37C remotely piloted spacecraft and their new mission: to determine whether a foreign State was behind the attack.

At the Titov Main Test and Control Center in Moscow, Lieutenant General Yevgeny Bondarev is trying to balance the ambitions of his political masters with the demands of his Chief Scientist, the scarred, blind and emotionally disturbed Anastasia Grahkovsky.

In Switzerland, Italian External Intelligence Agency deep-cover source, Roberta D’Antonia, is witness to a confrontation between Russia and Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting that could set the world on fire. And 1,200 miles above the earth, in the British Skylon D4 spacecraft, Flight Lieutenant ‘Meany’ Papastopolous finds his craft under fire as he gets too close to the closest guarded secret in space.

It was a meteor that detonated over Chelyabinsk in 2013, though for Anastasia Grahkovsky, it might as well have been a nuclear bomb. She’d been one of 1,200 people injured that day when the 66-foot wide, 12,000-ton lump of rock had slammed into the earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 40,000 miles an hour and exploded 20 miles above Chelyabinsk.

Anastasia got her hearing back, but not her sight. And as she stood at her washbasin 19 years later and applied thioglycolic acid to her ravaged scalp to remove the hair which grew there in random tufts, she couldn’t help reflect on how she could draw a direct line between that day in 2013 and now.

The roof of her mother’s zinc factory had collapsed, trapping a hundred workers, including her mother. Her school had been locked down and the students kept inside, and her brother hadn’t been able to come home until the middle of the afternoon. So Anastasia had lain on the floor of the kitchen, curled into a ball, whimpering and bleeding from a hundred cuts, until her brother got there at 2 p.m. He didn’t see her at first, the apartment a scene of devastation, a freezing wind blowing through the gaping window, glass all over the kitchen, cupboards and their contents strewn across the bench and floor. And Anastasia.

A neighbor had driven them to hospital, Anastasia wrapped in a bedspread, not crying, barely breathing. The hospital emergency ward was chaotic – a woman with a broken back lay on a stretcher in a brace, people with cuts and broken limbs sat on chairs or on the floor up and down corridors as nurses and doctors ran from one to the other trying to triage the worst cases. The car crash victims were the worst, blinded by the flash and then injured as their cars plowed head-on into buildings, poles, trees, or each other.

Thanks to the quick action of her brother and neighbor, to the care of overstretched doctors and nurses who stopped her from dying of shock and cold, Anastasia had lived. And on that day was born her dread fascination with the power of meteorites.

She could trace the day it really took hold to a morning when she was thirteen, and walking with her brother to school. She knew the way herself by then; after all, it had been four years since she became blind. She had a cane, and could walk herself there, but her brother insisted on walking with her, made her take his arm the whole way. He was sixteen, stronger than her and sighted, so she couldn’t exactly fight him.

One morning there had been roadworks, and they had to take a detour through an abandoned car yard.

“See,” Sergei had told her, “this is why you need me. How would you have found your way around the roadworks?”

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