The Guardian Begins

marsglobe1

Well, it’s New Year’s day in my other home – New Zealand, even though it’s still December the thirty-first here in the UK. So I have begun to write my new science fiction novel. I have settled on The Guardian as the title. For the few who bothered to at least read https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/the-first-version-of-the-hook/#comment-3442, let alone the six who I am indebted to for offering their opinions, and whose advice I took note of, here is my New Year’s gift to you – the reconstructed Hook and a short extract.

***

The guardian’s dark pitiless eyes surveyed the scene one last time. Satisfied that the threat was finally eliminated, it returned to its duties while awaiting the return of its masters. Three weeks later, while on patrol, something on one of the video screens in the mine operations centre got its full attention. More trouble was on the way. Intruders had just arrived. Until they were dealt with, the guardian could not even begin to repair the damage they had caused. But at least it could finish sealing the entrance to the inner sanctum.

Chapter One

“Why us?” Lynne grumbled, once they had arrived at the Space Port in stationary orbit above Mars. Even though she already knew the answer, she still needed to vocalise it, if only to emphasise her displeasure at being volunteered. She had driven her new boss crazy with endless questions like this during the month long journey aboard the robotic solar-wind powered transport. They both knew that this was likely a suicide mission. “What’s so all-fired important about an automated mining operation on Mars?” she continued, “and why the hell did we have to put up with that stinking ancient transporter. Why didn’t the cheapskates get us seats on something more luxurious for the trip?”
“For Christ sake woman will you give it a rest, quit bellyaching! At the moment I’m guessing that the bastards have downed tools over pay and conditions. You’ve read the brief from Earth Corp, therefore you know as well as I that we are to establish why the Olivine mining has stopped. Even though the system is automated, techs are still needed to keep an eye on the machinery and fix things when they break. Plus the ore has to be brought up here to the Space Port to be loaded aboard unmanned transporters like the one we just arrived on for the return journey to Earth. Which means someone like you has to fly the damned cargo shuttles back and forth. Until we get there, we’re only speculating. The first thing we have to do is talk to the mine boss, David Malcolmson. He and everyone else is housed in an accommodation block just inside the mine in Ganges Chasma, an eastern branch of Valles Marineris.
If you are wondering what Olivine is used for, it is the principal component in the carbon dioxide sequester process back on Earth. You know how bad our atmosphere is, thanks to heavy industry. According to Earth Corp, the last load to arrive back home was six months ago. Before that the mine was sending regular monthly consignments. Any more questions? No? Good. Now quit complaining and get us the hell down there!”
Adler shook his head as he strapped himself into the seat behind Lynne. Why the hell he had to be saddled with this totally unpleasant woman was beyond him. Surely there must have been other pilots to choose from?
As far as Earth Corp was concerned, being ex-military, both Major Adler Stevens and Lieutenant Lynne Crawford were the obvious candidates for the job, and therefore expendable. The CEO of Earth Corp saw no good reason to send one of her own on such a hazardous mission. If they managed to work out what had happened, fix it, and send back a report to say that everything was back to normal, all well and good. If not, someone else would soon be sent in their place. After all, since war was declared illegal, there were plenty like Adler and Lynne to choose from. They had been given precisely one week after their arrival to investigate before they must send that report to Earth Corp.

~~~

The guardian watched the shuttle descend to the loading bay airlock inside the mine entrance from inside the inner sanctum. It heard the unmistakeable sound of the outer door closing, sealing off the mine from Mars’ atmosphere, which is one hundred times thinner than that of Earth, being mostly carbon dioxide, and the hiss as the now sealed loading bay automatically pressurised as oxygen was pumped in to allow whoever was inside the shuttle to enter the mine reception centre. It watched as Adler and Lynne walked across to the door connecting the airlock with the living quarters.

***

So, there it is. With this one, I’m in no steaming hurry. I just want it to enthral the reader all the way through to the end. That requires hours of thought and endless rewriting on my part. To achieve my aim, I’ve given myself the whole of two thousand and fifteen to complete the task.

I’ll keep you all up to date as I progress. Have a happy New Year.

😀 😀 😀

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