Read Orbital Decay Online

Authors: A. G. Claymore

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Genetic Engineering, #Hard Science Fiction, #90 Minutes (44-64 Pages), #Post-Apocalyptic, #Science Fiction

Orbital Decay (2 page)

BOOK: Orbital Decay
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The Road to Hell

From
:
[email protected]

 

To
:
Oversight23@(withheld).gov
;

 

CC
:
Steering23@(withheld).com

 

Subject
: Progress of Project Chronos – Live testing protocols.

 

Successful uptake of target sequences in test animals is now confirmed. All eight subjects exhibit the proteins required for viability of the phase II bacterium. Despite my predecessor’s fears regarding live testing, we feel that it’s perfectly safe to move directly to the second phase with the chimpanzee subjects.

 

The bacterium, in its current form, is unable to survive outside of the host cells. The retrovirus has enabled the host cells to produce the proteins needed by the bacteria to survive. When they act in symbiosis with the host, the bacteria will thrive – the moment they find themselves outside the cell membranes of an adapted host, they will die.

 

This provides us with a fail-safe mechanism, one which I have long advocated. Now that I have been appointed to the post of lead researcher, I can safely predict a move to human trials by the end of the month.

 

Dr. Kelvin Narcisse

Gaia Bio Design

23345 W. Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL

Hiccup

Virgin Xanadu, Low Earth Orbit

B
en waited until half of the shuttle had emptied of its passengers before getting up to join the shuffling column. He stepped out into the best-decorated shuttle bay he’d ever seen, and the most alarming.

He’d been to an orbital hotel before, but he’d never seen such tight security. He forced himself to
see
rather than just look at the scene before him. A hotel employee was ushering the passengers toward the line with an apologetic smile. The cordon itself was thrown together with the usual extendable tape stands one sees at a business for temporary line control.

The staff at the security point didn’t look like hotel employees. They were dressed in black fatigues with the latest submachine guns hanging from shoulder slings at their sides. Ben couldn’t quite remember the name but they used the new caseless ammunition and could put out three rounds before the weapon began to recoil.

They were looking at each face and comparing it to a pad strapped to their wrists. They were looking for him.

Facial recognition,
he thought. He had first-hand experience with the massive bank of quantum-core computers that formed the heart of his old division at the NSA. They could crack any decryption known to man by brute force, essentially throwing all possible permutations at it at once. Pulling in all of the camera feeds in America and comparing the faces to a database of known targets was child’s play by comparison. The check-in kiosk at the spaceport had obviously picked him up.

Ben had known his enemies would learn, sooner or later, that they had failed to kill him. He had been hoping for later.

Now he had only seconds before he was spotted. He reached out to the red-clad hotel employee. “Do you have a washroom in the shuttle bay? I don’t think I’ll make it through this line.” He nodded at the queue with a wry grimace.

“Absolutely, sir,” the young man replied with indecent cheer. “Just inside that service corridor.” He indicated a hallway with bare steel walls and flooring. “Staff only but, under the circumstances, we can make an exception.”

Not needing to feign his look of relief, Ben headed for the corridor. With a little luck, the unexpected wrinkle might have very little impact on his plans. The only hiccup was the lack of data on the staff-only regions of the hotel. He had been able to find floor plans of the public areas on his smartphone, but this particular region had been blacked out.

He pushed open the washroom door and stepped inside, letting the door swing shut as he turned to face the back of the door.
Perfect!
On the back of the door was what he was hoping for. Next to the cleaning roster was an emergency evacuation plan and it showed him the regions that he couldn’t see on his phone.

Indicators

From
:
[email protected]

 

To
:
Oversight23@(withheld).gov
;

 

CC
:
Steering23@(withheld).com

 

Subject
: Progress of Project Chronos – Live testing progress.

 

Hyaluronidase production in subject CL13 has led to patches of severe degeneration in tissues exposed to air. Saprophytic activity has also been observed in the affected regions, eliminating the infected cells.

 

We believe this may be yet another fail-safe mechanism built into the alien organelles. They appear to target any diseased tissues almost instantly.

 

Subject CL13 has been moved to level-five containment facilities at the suggestion of Dr. Davis during a recent surprise inspection of the facility. He had spent several hours with the staff to get a handle on where the project is. 

 

Dr. Kelvin Narcisse

Gaia Bio Design

23345 W. Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL

Plan B

Virgin Xanadu, Low Earth Orbit

B
en pretended not to hear the employee as he exited the washroom and turned to his right, heading deeper into the staff-only region. He could, however, hear him calling to the personnel that were manning the impromptu security checkpoint. He quickened his pace, resisting the urge to draw his sidearm.

He had flashed his badge when passing the security checkpoint on Earth, and the guards had let him keep his weapon. It was now the standard procedure for flight marshals. Nobody, not even air or space-port staff, were privy to the random officer schedules. Pretty much every police force in proximity to any port had been tapped to provide officers in rotation.

Ben had been to several orbiting facilities on flights from O’Hare and it had become second nature, bringing weapons on flights. A gunfight was the last thing he wanted. He would go from being a secret target to an openly-hunted criminal. If his plan was successful, he still wouldn’t be able to get his old life back.

He heard a voice shouting orders as it approached the opening of the corridor.

He broke into a run, pelting down the corridor, taking the second right turn and finding nothing but an empty break room.
Must have based the evac plans on an old drawing,
he groused as he ran  back out and headed for the next right-hand turn. He could hear combat boots slamming against the steel decking behind him, but no voice shouted for him to stop.

He threw himself around the next corner just ahead of a burst of rounds that punched through the thin plating on the far wall. There would be no more chances. If this turn was also wrong, he was likely to bleed out on the floor while one of his pursuers put his service weapon in his hand.

Always best to make it look like your victim was about to fire on you.

Ben made an inarticulate grunt of relief as he realized he had found the right hallway at last. He punched his fist through the emergency panel, activating a loud alarm throughout the hotel.

And opening the hatches of the escape pods.

No Return

From
:
[email protected]

 

To
:
Oversight23@(withheld).gov
;

 

CC
:
Steering23@(withheld).com

 

Subject
: Progress of Project Chronos – Live testing protocols.

 

Cortical samples from CL13 exhibit high levels of hyaluronidase. It is believed that tissue degeneration has spread to certain regions of the frontal lobe, destroying the subject’s memories. Prior to testing, CL13 was able to communicate in simple sign language and could complete the ring test in less than five seconds. The subject is now unresponsive to all attempts at communication and does not even seem to recognize the ring-board.

 

The subject is also highly aggressive toward staff. Even the sight of a human through the window of his compartment is enough to send him into a rage. CL13 has broken several bones in attempts to reach staff and we have been forced to conduct all observation by infrared.

 

CL’s 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 15, and 22 have all begun to show signs of tissue degeneration consistent with CL13.

 

Subjects CL25 through to CL50 have not shown any indications of tissue degeneration. As they are a separate testing group, we believe the pathology exhibited in Group 1 to be the result of some aberration that originated in CL13. All subjects in  both groups have been isolated from each other.

 

Dr. Kelvin Narcisse

Gaia Bio Design

23345 W. Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL

Crossing the Styx

Escape Pod, Low Earth Orbit

B
en was reasonably sure he had managed to smash the synch unit for his pod before he slid down the escape chute. It should prevent the hotel from being able to recall the unit, and it also prevented the pod from automatically descending to the Earth. His main cause for concern, at the moment, was getting the app on his phone to synch with the pod’s onboard systems.

He would only have a minute or two before the security team launched their own shuttle and came after him. He needed to get to his destination as quickly as possible and, to do that, he needed his unauthorized free application to start talking with the systems of his escape vessel.

Finally, with a short warbling tone, the control buttons of the app went from grey to full color scale and he touched the only pre-loaded destination in the menu – Tartarus Station. He held his breath, hoping the coordinates in his case file were accurate. With a gentle tilt, the pod’s mag field kicked in and he accelerated away from the hotel.

He realized, with sudden alarm, that he was instructing the pod to follow a straight path from hotel to research station. What if there was another station or a satellite in the way? He looked out the small window but saw nothing but a graceful blue curve to his right.

He knew the chances of a collision were slim, but he hated the idea of not being able to steer.

The pod tilted to begin deceleration and the only difference he noticed was the change in angle. The deceleration was at the same rate as his acceleration had been and he did a quick ‘guestimate’ of how long he had been traveling so far. If the shift heralded the midpoint of his journey, he had a four-minute ride to reach the station.

The security team was almost certainly following him, but the pods traveled as fast as any shuttle and he had a comfortable lead. There was just the tricky question of whether or not he would be granted access to land his small craft in their shuttle bay.

He was rehearsing various arguments, hoping to come up with a way to convince the staff of the research station to let him come aboard. He had planned out how to get
to
the station, but actually getting
aboard
was a dangerously loose plank in his plans. He was in the middle of an impassioned plea for assistance when the gravity suddenly disappeared.

The tiny craft rotated and he found himself looking out at Gaia Bio Design’s orbital platform. It was an impressive sight – at least twenty levels, and big enough to fill a football field. Stations like this had led to a new industry – orbital lift. Companies specialized in renting out mag-lift engines that could carry structures up to low Earth orbit. Without the cost of zero G construction in bulky EVA suits, orbital facilities quickly grew in size.

Looking at the huge lab, Ben got the definite impression that he wasn’t welcome. The bay doors were sealed and the place just looked as though nobody was home. He noticed a row of circular hatches, similar to the one that he had just launched from eight minutes ago. Something was definitely out of the ordinary.

There were no escape pods attached to the hatches.

Oh well,
he thought.
Better to ask forgiveness than permission.
He used his app to send an RF interrogation to the bank of hatches and found them active. Selecting one of them, he imitated an automated docking procedure before reaching out to hold one of the handles on the side of the pod. His knuckles turned white as he committed his life to an unlicensed phone app made by some kid in his parents’ basement.

If he ever wanted to go back to his loft – if he wanted to see his son on weekends – he had to see this through.

BOOK: Orbital Decay
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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