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Prosperous: Chutes & Ladders

Prosperous: Chutes & Ladders

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Prosperous: Chutes & Ladders

259 pagine
3 ore
Sep 18, 2017


In the year 2260, the Merchant Raitor Union governs space travel across all known galaxies. The motto of Merchant Raitor is to help establish safe trade routes and peace among the nations. However, there are some who want to destroy Merchant Raitor and anyone who opposes them.

On Earth, Truman ‘Tru’ Barnett left his xeno-psychiatry practice to join Merchant Raitor and return to space in his father’s ship, Prosperous. When he unexpectedly is promoted to Captain, he is assigned a 9-month cargo stint with the most dysfunctional crew that Merchant Raitor has to offer. The stint becomes even more complicated when the ship’s A.I. computer starts behaving erratically, he discovers there is a murderer on board, and his ship is targeted by the Terallians after he and his crew learn of the Emperor’s plans to start a war with Merchant Raitor. He begins to wonder if he and the crew will even get to their destination alive.

Sep 18, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

A. RHEA KING has been a struggling writer for three decades. While most authors put something interesting here, she prefers to leave that up to the reader’s imagination with minimalistic description. She has always lived in Colorado, she has a service dog, and she is not a fan of menudo (dish or 80’s boy band).

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Prosperous - A. Rhea King


Chutes & Ladders

Volume 1

By A. Rhea King

Copyright 2017 A. Rhea King

Published by A. Rhea King a Distributed by Smashwords.

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents




Chapter 01

Chapter 02

Chapter 03

Chapter 04

Chapter 05

Chapter 06

Chapter 07

Chapter 08

Chapter 09

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

About the Author


The New York Times

May 10, 2520

Silerium Miners Demand Support

By Carl von Goebbels

With the growing concern among the Lunar colonies about the increasing number of babies being born with psychic abilities, miners are now threatening to go on strike. The halt of Silerium would cause a massive ripple effect across most nations since the mineral is used to reinforce off world vehicles and space-faring vessels.

The miners are demanding that Arizona Bay, Inc. and other mining companies provide greater safety measures to protect their children from these often crippling genetic defects.

Today the Lunar Colony Governor, Steve Parish, issued a statement to the press and miners:

These birth defects created by the Silerium dust are a shame, but [the miners] were aware of the risks when they took their jobs. They knew full well what they were getting themselves into when they came here to work. There isn’t a corporation in existence that doesn’t tell miners – male and female – what exposing unborn fetuses to this dust will do. If the miners continue to procreate in the Lunar colonies, they do so at their own risk. If the women keep carrying their babies to term, they do so at their risk. We will continue offering government funded abortions, but we will not be harassed into providing services for miners beyond that. If you do not like what happens here, go back to Earth or your own colony.

Proponents for the miner strike state that the is not likely to come to a peaceful end.

Protesters continue to speak out across Earth and Earth colonies. They demand that the government force abortion of Silerium children, stating that these mutations will doom humanity. While many government officials and presidents are unwilling to enforce such a measure, but they do openly support Governor Parish’s stand.

Chapter 01

13 APRIL 2660

UNDER the lights of the congressional room Emperor Lixu’s yellow and dark green striped skin glistened with an almost glowing sheen. His Terallian lizard eyes focused on a holographic screen at the center of the room, and the video playing on it. An external camera on a Terallian freighter ship saw a dozen Merchant Raitor Patrol Vipers rushing through the blackness of space toward the freighter.

The view changed to show a Dilcarq trade ship. As Vipers moved to surround both ships, his head drifted to the left to follow the Vipers. Dreadlocks of skin fell across his face. Colored tattoos decorated most of the dreadlocks, along with several piercings which tinkled like wind chimes on each subtle movement. Not that he ever noticed anything that came from the five artistic skills allowed on Tetra. His scaly, bony fingers curled around the arms of his chair. Long, yellowed fingernails pushed into the scratches he and his predecessors had dug into the ancient wood.

The view cut again to show a Merchant Raitor Patrol cruiser coming to a halt. He leaned back, jerking the edge of his green and yellow robe over his triple jointed knee. Sewn onto the shoulder of his robe was the rank insignia of an admiral and flowing down the robe were various symbols of the ancient Terallian language to identify his family house.

The video cut went to black, leaving his blood boiling. The intense anger now coursing through him made the veins down his neck pop up and the green stripes across his body darken. His anger made his nostrils flare, lifted his lips into a sneer to show his small, serrated, pointed teeth.

Sitting at the head of the long oval table under the holograph screen, Lixu looked at those gathered around him. Lixu sat at the head of the table. To his left were twelve advisors of industry, commerce, religion, and various other areas of government; to his right were twelve advisors from the military, strategic, and citizen patrol boards. Across from of him were the family advisor and liaison for his wives and bairn. Lixu didn’t trust any of them. He didn’t trust any of his eight wives, twelve bairn, or ever-growing number of grand-bairn. That was a lesson he had been taught by the proceeding Terallian emperors. His grandfather had murdered his great-grandfather to take control of the empire, his father had assassinated his grandfather, and one hundred and eight years ago, he had killed his father. One day he expected one of his male bairn or grand-bairn would murder him to usurp the throne from him, but his distrust of everyone had kept him alive so far, and he planned on staying that way. Perhaps he may even be the first emperor to die from old age, rather than a slit throat.

But right now, his empire had become fat and weak, fed by the ever-more-controlling Merchant Raitor Union and its stifling laws.

"Why did Merchant Raitor interfere with this trade? And how did they find out where it was occurring?" Lixu snarled, his teeth gnashing each hard syllable.

We were selling weapons to the Dilcarq, as you ordered, Emperor, came a slithering reply from Admiral Riliq. As for how they found out about the trade, we appear to have a spy somewhere in the government. I have men searching for the traitor’s identity, and when he is located, I will bring you the heads of him, all of his mates, and any offspring they’ve dared to pollute our people with.

Admiral Riliq was his youngest military advisor and most vocal. He was the youngest Terallian to hold the rank of Admiral, but Lixu admired how he had earned it. Each time a superior officer dared to question his advice or issue a discipline order, Riliq challenged them. Challenges were one on one, hand-to-hand combat, and although the rules didn’t state that opponents had to fight to the death, the rules didn’t say they couldn’t, either.

When Riliq left his dead opponent in the arena, he always said the same thing to his superior’s grieving mates, I will expect that weakling’s offspring killed and you in my harem by nightfall. And if you cry while I mate with you, I will kill you too.

Lixu could only wish for that same cunning, deceit, and brutality among his own sons.

Riliq continued, Without provocation, the Merchant Raitor Patrol interrupted the trade, seized the weapons, arrested both crews, and impounded all vessels. Now the Dilcarq refuse to conduct any further trades with us.

Along his long snout, Lixu’s lips twitched.

"They interfered with a trade again?" Lixu asked although it wasn’t really a question. He knew the answer. This happened far too frequently. How many millions of cubits had been lost because of these raids that the Merchant Raitor board deemed ‘illegal’ or ‘monopolizing trade markets’?

With a voice dripping with disdain, Riliq answered, Yes, Emperor Lixu. They did.

Parak, a commerce advisor for his family, cleared his throat. With respect, Emperor, it is in our peace agreement with Merchant Raitor that we aren’t to sell weapons without obtaining the appropriate permits and informing the Merchant Raitor board. We failed to follow the protocol… Again… Emperor.

Lixu’s angry eyes moved to focus on Terallian. He immediately looked away and sat back as far as he could, trying to hide behind the others sitting around him.

"Should we really have to get permits to trade outside of the Merchant Raitor Union, even for weapons? Riliq growled at Parak. We don’t have to have permits to trade staples with the Dilcarq, why weapons?"

Parak didn’t reply. He seemed to know that he’d already said too much.

Lixu, for a brief moment, was indecisive. He knew why that protocol was in place. He had read all of the regulations and protocols before agreeing to sign the peace treaty. One of the many stipulations of joining and remaining a Merchant Raitor nation was that no nation would go to war with another nation, and limiting the movement of weapons was meant to enforce that stipulation. Lixu’s indecision quickly vanished, however, when he also remembered the billions of cubits and allies his nation had lost each time Merchant Raitor interfered with weapons trades.

Military advisors, remain. All other advisors are dismissed.

The rest of his advisors didn’t move. They looked at each other in confusion, as if they couldn’t understand their emperor’s order.

GET OUT! Lixu screamed at them.

They quickly obeyed, falling over themselves to leave.

As soon as the door solidified behind them, Lixu asked, Riliq, doesn’t Advisor Parak have just one male offspring?


Order it killed and be sure he understands that if he speaks out of turn again, all of his offspring will be executed.

Riliq tapped a button on the table, and a holographic keyboard and monitor appeared before him. He quickly sent the order.

The Merchant Raitor was interfering with our trade and economy long before we tried to be at peace with them, Lixu said, and for eight years I’ve listened to my people voice how tired they have become with Merchant Raitor’s meddling. Lixu looked at each face of his military advisors as he continued, "Acquire, by any means, three ships from every nation, hide them, and equip them all with a cloaking matrix and warship computers. The Tetra Empire is about to rise back to its former power and glory, and exterminate any nation that dares to oppose it."

The room vibrated with gnashing teeth, fists pounding on the table, and roars of approval.

Like aged Gaxean Barutiaa mead, trust knows how to kill or make a soul true.

Basparah proverb

Chapter 02

APRIL, 2660

CAPTAIN Truman ‘Tru’ Barnett was tall, lean, and athletic. His blue eyes were light enough that even in a dark room there was no mistaking the color. Tru’s light brown hair had that magical softness-without-effort that men are often graced with, and women envy. Tru’s natural beauty made him popular among women, and, his personal preference, men.

He was a charmer, some said, but that was really a trick he’d learned in his previous profession as a xeno-psychiatrist, one that came in very handy since he’d joined the Merchant Raitor. He was normally an easy going, optimistic, human with boundless kindness.

Today, however, he was not feeling jovial, easy going, kind, or remotely humored.

He stared at a dossier on the 8 x 10 doc-slip in his hand. It started with his name as the Merchant Raitor captain, a rank he’d had for only a week. The crew listed below him had been assembled hastily in three days, instead of the usual two weeks. He’s seen many dossiers, and there were always a few crewmen who had disciplinary marks, some of them violent even. But this dossier resembled a police rap sheet, something he’d seen numerous times in his previous career. Nearly every crewman had screens and screens of disciplinary remarks, and those infractions ran the gamut of severity. To add insult to injury, only seventeen of the sixty-three crew members were even humans.

Perhaps they thought because I’m a xeno-psychiatrist I would want this crew. Tru considered that for a moment. No. It’s because I’m the youngest captain in Merchant Raitor and someone thought this would be an amusing initiation!

He looked up at Admiral Greg Larson. He was a small man who, when standing, was only one point five meters. His diminutive stature was even more noticeable as he sat behind the large desk between them. Larson was getting up in age and his gray, thinning hair held testament to that. His dark blue eyes watched Tru with open expectancy.

Was he expecting? For Tru to fly off the handle, perhaps? Tru had lost count of how many times he’d witnessed Merchant Raitor captains throw temper tantrums (in his professional opinion) when things didn’t go their way. But why would Larson, who had known Tru since he was six, think that of him? Tru reserved his ‘flying off the handle’ moments for critical events – like when he learned his parents died in a shuttle explosion or when his husband confessed infidelity for their entire six years of marriage. In fact, his easy-going attitude was considered unusual for a half human, half Silerium.

To be a Silerium was like being of African origin and living in the southern United States during the early nineteenth century. These children were descendants of Lunar miners who mined for Silerium, a mineral crucial to reinforcing the hulls of spaceships and spaceports. Like the coal miners from centuries ago, these miners couldn’t get away from the mineral. It slipped into their homes, their clothes, their bodies. But while coal dust caused the death of only those exposed to it, Silerium altered the DNA of the miner’s sperm or egg, causing a mutation. The mutations weren’t visible. The mutations resulted in psychic abilities. Humans had not evolved enough to handle these types of abilities, however, and many descended into a variety of mental illnesses. Their plight was further impacted by the fact that other humans and non-humans discriminated them. Truman understood why they were discriminated, even if it made him angry to see it happen.

While the mental illnesses were no different than those which other human or non-human species suffered, these mutants were potentially more dangerous because of their psychic abilities. Skills ranged from predictions the weather, pausing time for a few seconds, or communicating with crickets, to more malicious abilities such as causing molecules to explode, emitting disintegrating heat from hands or eyes, or thrusting thousands of kilometers into sub-zero temperatures that killed everything.

But there were also those who tested positive for the mutation, like his father had, who never displayed any mental illness and were able to harness and control their abilities. It didn’t, unfortunately, change how they were treated. Or keep their children, like Truman, from also being labeled a Silerium and enduring discrimination.

Was that what is happening here? Tru thought. He mentally shook off that thought. No. I’m just letting my annoyance be irrational. But then again, maybe making him think my Silerium heritage has gotten the best of me is the only way to get out of being a brand-new captain commanding the worst xeno crew Merchant Raitor’s crew.

His parents had raised him to work out his problems, not manipulate people to get his way. The psychiatrist he had been also discouraged him from using his Silerium heritage to get his way. To live with himself, he had to remain calm and professional and figure out a way to deal with this catastrophic crew.

Tru sighed and then cleared his throat. Quietly pointed out to Larson, I requested a human crew for my first stint, Greg. I filed that request two days before the deadline. Why is this a xeno crew?

Larson frowned, looking at his own doc-slip. I just couldn’t make it happen on such short notice. I’m sorry.

"Owning my own ship means I can have the crew I requested. I want a human crew."

No, Tru, owning your own ship gets you a larger paycheck, better retirement pension, premium benefits, and you get to choose your stints. Merchant Raitor has control over everything else, including who is on your crew. If you request a type of crew, and we can’t accommodate, you get what we can put together.

Tru didn’t reply right away. He was feeling angry, and it took a lot to get him angry. He stretched his neck up a little. Scathing words quickly formed, begging to fly out of his mouth in response, but he swallowed to hold them back. Calmly he asked, "Isn’t there a regulation against sending a captain out with a xeno crew on his first stint?"

Not if one isn’t available, no. Are you saying you can’t handle this crew, Tru?

"Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. There are species on here that are still at war, even after joining Merchant Raitor. Do you understand how tense my ship is going to be? For nine months! And judging from the amount of moderate to violent infractions on this dossier I’ll be lucky to arrive at Righel Prime without half of my crew dead or in Brig stasis. Not to mention that most of this crew failed primary classes, and some of them must have deep connections because they’ve been trying to pass those classes for years. You have assigned me a time bomb, Greg!"

Larson smiled as he leaned forward on his desk. "I told them you could handle this crew because of your father. Are you saying he and I put too much faith in

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