Saturn’s moon, Titan is a terrible place to live – who’d be crazy enough to settle there? View the trailer, read Chapter 1 below.
Chapter 1 from my upcoming book, Titan
Fynn pressed close to the shuttlecraft’s window, ignoring the cold against his fingertips. “I always dreamed of a trip into orbit. I’m lucky Dad arranged this tour.”
They were about to dock at the Herschel. It didn’t look like a classic spaceship. From their approach vector, it looked like a fleet of gleaming white submarines bundled together and attached to the tee-shaped Collins Spaceport by a straw. Beyond the spaceport, the moon loomed huge against a galaxy of stars.
“I’ll race you to the ship when we dock.” His sister, Maliah, was older than Fynn. Pushing thirty. But she often sounded like a kid. “You’re gonna get a big surprise.”
Fynn felt like a kid himself, and excitement further agitated his queasy, zero-g stomach.
Once inside the dock, while the other passengers obediently gripped a railing to listen to their flight attendant, Maliah pushed Fynn towards the passageway to the Herschel. “I’ll explain anything you need to know. I’ve been here before.”
“You never told me that.” He scrambled to find handholds, pushed off, and followed her. He’d studied the diagrams. They’d be entering the Herschel’s central core, an open recreational space, so he slapped both hands on each railing ring, gaining speed.
Maliah snagged his arm as he emerged and spun them close to the hull. “Surprise.”
Fynn’s chest tightened. This wasn’t a recreation bay. Streamlined coffins ringed the module like spokes of a wheel, each with a panel of steady green lights and a bright yellow gear bag alongside. Another level of the shiny steel pods hung above them, and another, as far as he could see up the Herschel’s dimly lit core.
Fynn stared through the layers of pods, trying to understand what he saw, and gawked open-mouthed for a moment. “Where are we?”
“The Herschel’s a colony ship.” Maliah’s face glowed. “We’re going to Titan.”
She hugged him tight, losing her handhold, and they floated towards the core’s center.
Fynn gripped her with one arm, twisting for a better view of the endless pods. “But, the Herschel’s a research station, to study the Saturn system.”
“So the mongrels think.”
Despite the ship’s distractions, he winced at the word. “Don’t call them that.”
“You’ve spent too much time at university. All the Kin call outsiders mongrels. You do, too, at home. Not that’s Earth’s home anymore.”
“But…” Fynn gasped for a lungful of air. “My PhD classes start in two weeks.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“I promised Dad. He picked my thesis topic.”
“You always were daddy’s good little boy. Well, he’s waiting for us.” Maliah kicked against a pod and towed Fynn upward, towards the Herschel’s bow, through the open center of the pods.
He swallowed hard, his mind scrambling for words. “But, the university consortium. They expect a crew of scientists to board next week. What about the mission’s corporate sponsors? Subscribers worldwide?”
Maliah laughed. “Not to mention the latest crypto-currency bubble. Won’t they be surprised?”
Fynn grabbed a pod and jerked her to a stop. “I’ve seen media coverage of this mission. I’ve seen the inside of this ship, and this isn’t it.” He waved in confusion at the pods.
“That’s been my job. Creating fake feeds to convince everyone while we packed the Hershel for a colony.” She kicked off, pulling him loose. “Our suppliers were all kept in the dark. Only approved workers are allowed onboard, and they’re all Kin. But to bring up planeloads of everyone else, Doctor Tanaka had to overrule the Mission Directors. It was quite a battle arranging tours.” She giggled. “So I’m told. But even a mongrel can’t be fooled forever. We’ve got to hurry and break orbit.”
Fynn allowed her to tow him onwards. He wasn’t convinced, even as they cruised past level after level of steel pods. What about school? What about his plans?
“Look, there’s Dad.” She slapped a pod to hurry towards a flood of light.
The tightness in Fynn’s chest became painful. Why hadn’t Dad told him any of this?
Their father waved a thin arm, his khaki sleeve flopping. Several other figures in identical coveralls floated below him next to rings of pods hinged open under bright lights. One of them snagged Maliah.
“Maliah Rupar? Fynn Rupar? If you’d take your shirts off, please.” The medic was only a few years older than Fynn. She’d been in the Kin’s school barracks with him and certainly knew who they were, so he ignored her question. He did, however, follow instructions automatically and pulled his sweatshirt over his head. His brand new, cardinal red sweatshirt with engineering stenciled down one arm.
When he pulled himself around to face his father, it was like looking in a mirror. They’d both inherited sharp black eyes and dark skin from the Indus Valley. But a smile spread over his father’s broad face, while Fynn’s chin trembled. “Maliah says we’re going to Titan.”
His father gripped the closest pod and clapped him on the shoulder. “That’s right. The Kin will have a world all our own to conquer.”
The medic frowned. “Chief Engineer Rupar, I must insist we proceed.”
Fynn hugged himself with one arm, secured by the medic’s grip on his other side. “Why didn’t you tell me? What if I don’t want to go? Ow!”
The medic had pressed an injector against his arm.
“Of course you’re going,” his father said. “I’m sorry for the deception. You’re right to be angry. But we had no choice. Our secret was hard enough to keep, and you were leaving for university. Now, what you learned there makes you a vital part of my team. I’m relying on you to help me get this colony up and running.”
Fynn’s throat closed around his protest. To work with his father, who’d spent so much time away from home, was something he’d always wanted.
His father’s eyes sparkled. “I’ll be on the surface when you wake up. We can discuss it then. Right now I want to talk to your mother.”
The group from the space plane approached, floating or clutching handholds, some faces full of confusion, others eager or fearful. Maliah moved faster than their father to hug their mother who, graceful and athletic, was at the front of the crowd.
There was a lot of Mom in Maliah. His sister’s face had more color and her hair was golden brown rather than pale blond, but she resembled their mother while Fynn did not. A few dark Indian faces stared out from the crowd behind them, and even fewer with a Samurai appearance, but most of the Kin showed his mother’s Viking blood.
Mom waved to him from inside Maliah’s arms. Her jaws were clenched and her face was ashen. She hadn’t known either, Fynn thought. He wasn’t the only one who didn’t share his father’s secret.
The medic slide a half-mask over Fynn’s head and he jerked his attention back to her. “We need to be sure this mask fits tightly,” she said. “So you don’t choke on stasis fluid.”
“Stasis?” Fynn stared into the open pod for the first time. It was sleek with a half-dozen slender tubes floating inside and would be a tight fit. “I can’t get into that thing. Is stasis even approved for human use?”
“There’s no way we can accommodate over four hundred people on an eighteen month flight without it. Now don’t worry. Stasis development is well advanced, and we won’t seal you inside until you’re asleep. It’s perfectly normal for Kin to resist confinement.”
The medic continued talking about aerosols in the breathing air, metabolism rates, and how the pod would be filled with fluid. Fynn knew he should be terrified, but a sense of contentment spread through his chest and warmed his face. He wanted to ask what was in the injection, but his tongue was paralyzed, and he drifted into a dreamless sleep.
So, who’s crazy enough to try to conquer Titan and what deadly dangers await? Read the book to find out. Coming December 2018. Pre-Order Today so you won’t miss this story.