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The Guardian

The Guardian

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The Guardian

Lunghezza:
164 pagine
2 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 23, 2011
ISBN:
9781470975593
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Commander Tom Pettygrew is recalled from moonbase to try and prevent an old friend from theatening the earth. What he finds in earth orbit is an old 'Guardian' robotics project, political double dealing and a shocking discovery he could never have imagined.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 23, 2011
ISBN:
9781470975593
Formato:
Libro

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The Guardian - Mark Harris

The Guardian

THE GUARDIAN

by

MARK HARRIS

Version 1

Copyright © 2011 Lulu Press

All rights reserved.

This work is licensed under the Creative

ISBN: 978-1-4709-7559-3

Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

License. To view a copy of this license, visit

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/

or send a letter to:

Creative Commons

171 Second Street, Suite 300

San Francisco, California 94105

USA

The Guardian

CHAPTER 1

Commander Tom Pettygrew looked out of his office window across the surface of the moon. The last three years of his life had been the happiest he had known, but now the ever-present smile on his face was gone.

Ever since he was a small boy he had looked to the sky and imagined himself to be a fighter pilot just like his father. Educated at the Combined Forces collage at Edward’s air base training establishment in the USA, He had intended to follow his father into the UNTF Airborne strike force, the cutting edge of the new United Nations Taskforce, which had kept the peace for the last Twenty Nine years since the gulf war in 1997. However, at the age of 17 all that changed. Both his parents were killed when his father’s private plane crashed as they were returning from a family gathering in Rome, Italy on the 8th August 2002. Thomas Pettygrew had stayed behind to continue his studies and was told of the tragedy by the Dene of the collage. A tearful Pettygrew stood proudly at the military funeral while his parents were laid to rest, promising under his breath to make both of them proud of him. With no other brothers or sisters he knew it was now up to him.

After a very successful career in the UNTF Air force, he took the step that his father had wanted to take but was passed over for, Transfer into the United Nations space pioneer group. He had achieved his Fathers dream and could now sleep soundly in his bed safe in the knowledge that his parents, especially his father would indeed be proud of their son. After working on many projects in the UNSPG both in space and on Earth, came his greatest moment. On the 6th August 2023 almost 21 years to the day since the death of his parents, he was appointed Commander of Moon Base at the age of only 38 years. This was his own personal goal, he had now achieved his own as well as his father’s ambitions and he enjoyed it to the full. He oversaw the running of moon base both its research and military roles with the dedication that that been the hallmark of his career so far. He was well known and well liked by the people under him, especially for the fact that he always had that smile on his face, But today it was gone.

His eyes gazed across the lunar surface, tracks made by workers, scientists and transports remained were they had been formed as there was no atmosphere to erase them. Moon base had been fully functional for two years but routine maintenance and improvements meant that work on the station was a never-ending task. Only this morning he had been in the atmosphere processor to oversee the installation of some new equipment to recycle the precious supply of air the station had. All was going well so he had left his people to it. One thing he had learnt about command was that if you put someone in charge it did not go down very well if you overruled his authority every time you showed up or looked over his shoulder all the time to make sure everything was OK. He returned to his desk and rested his 6ft frame into his chair.

Shuttle arrival in 30 minutes commander. Came the voice from the speaker on his desk, it was Bill Preston, his second in command, currently on duty in main operations.

Thanks Bill he replied to the speaker with no enthusiasm in his voice. In half an hour the transport shuttle would arrive to take him back to earth, away from his beloved Moon base. A frown came across his brow as he went through it one more time in his head. Why were they recalling him to earth? The UN had said many times they were pleased with his work on Moon base and how smoothly he was managing both the scientists and the military, both of whom always thought they were losing out in time and resources to the other. Why send a shuttle to pick him up? The next regular supply shuttle was only 12 days away! What was so important as to go to the cost of redirecting a shuttle from the space station orbiting earth? He shook his head and sighed. Whatever it was he would miss this place dearly. Bill Preston was a good man, a safe pair of hands, but Tom still wished he could stay. He looked at the clock. He had left it as long as possible but could not put it off any longer. Time to pack! 

He was packing the last of his things in a small holdall when the entry buzzer sounded on the door to his quarters. Without looking up he shouted out the command come and the door slid open silently except for the faint hum of the electric motors. Bill Preston stepped inside.

Final reports before you leave chief, He said. Tom looked at the hand held computer in Bills hand. It doubtless held information about crew compliments, assignments, requests for resources, finance, leave and promotion. Probably all four in some cases he thought.

You best deal with it Bill, He said, After all you will be the new commander. Bill looked at him with a feeling of guilt, he knew how much this base meant to his commander and he didn’t like to be the one taking it from him. Tom looked round when his number two didn’t answer.

What’s on your mind Bill? Bill looked round to make sure the door had slid shut behind him.

What’s going on chief? he said at last It’s common knowledge that the secretary of the UN is your biggest supporter, Why do they suddenly call you to earth like this. No explanation no nothing. It’s caused quite a stir among the people here I can tell you, And what about the Mineral rig on the dark side? There ready to start drilling within the week and that’s your baby.

Well your guess is as good as mine Bill, He said You know as much as me, He took one more look around his small but comfortable quarters, and then picked up his bag and turned to face his friend.

It must be something pretty big to divert a shuttle here especially to pick you up. You know how much grief the finance committee gives us about requesting shuttle flights for scientific experiments. They always tell us the shuttles are an expensive commodity we have to use sparingly, but it seems they can rustle up one when they need it.

Tom gave a sly smile at his friends’ remark. Indeed he did know all about how difficult it was to get a shuttle, it was usually he who had to contact the Finance committee to ask for one, and that was the very thing that had been causing him the most concern since he received his orders. Whatever it was they must want him on earth pretty badly. The speaker mounted on his desk suddenly gave a single tone, followed by a female voice.

Commander Pettygrew, This is central control

Go ahead Jane. He replied in the direction of the speaker.

The shuttle has docked commander, the ground crew chief expects her to be ready for lift off in fifteen minutes.

I’ll be right there, Pettygrew out He turned to his friend walk me to the shuttle Bill?

As the pair walked the service corridors to the shuttle bay they passed many members of the crew going about their daily routines, checking systems, atmosphere tests scheduled maintenance and other such chores which kept everything working safely and efficiently.

Don’t forget Bill, said Tom You must chase up the new hydroponics converter in the atmosphere processor, It must be ready on schedule. He was pointing his finger at the other man as they walked, And the mineral rig must get their supplies on time, those people are exposed out on the dark side. They will be in big trouble if thing go wrong, and don’t forget the geological surveys for the new science lab extension.

Steady, steady chief, laughed Bill holding up his hands in mock surrender, I’ll take care of everything, you know I do run this place when you take leave – that is when you do take leave! They stopped at the door to the shuttle bay. Tom let a grin come to his face, the first for three days.

Sorry Bill, I guess I just don’t know when to let go. He held out his right hand and Bill Preston grasped it firmly in a strong handshake of mutual respect I know you’ll take good care of everything, You’ve earned this chance Bill, no one deserves it more than you.

Bill Preston looked straight into his superior’s eyes. I’ll keep the big chair warm, until you get back chief.

Tom nodded, they shook hands again, and then he turned and entered the shuttle bay, the door humming shut behind him, and he wondered if indeed he ever would come back.

CHAPTER 2

The sun’s rays bounced off the fuselage of the shuttle Explorer as she slid silently along in the vastness of space. Her engines had shut down as soon as they had left the moons gravitational pull and she continued on her journey without a sound. Inside the cockpit the two pilots checked their instruments and were in constant contact with Orbital Control aboard the space station. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the blue globe of the Earth loomed up in the distance.

Inside the passenger area of the shuttle body, Tom Pettygrew moved uneasily in his seat. He had forgotten how much he hated flying when he was not seated in the pilot’s chair. He adjusted the harness holding him in his seat by putting his hand under the strap over his left shoulder and running it down the strap to his waist were the lap belt met the two shoulder belts at the buckle. The service robot arrived at his side with the drink he had ordered. The robot was humanoid in shape except for the fact it had caterpillar like tracks instead of feet, and was solid from the waist down, doing away with unsteady legs. It came to a stop beside its customer, the electro magnets in its tracks holding it firm to the aisle against the effects of non gravity, it held out the tray containing a vodka and water inside a sealed plastic sachet with a drinking spout.

Your drink sir. It said in its metallic synthesised voice. Is there anything else I can do for you, we have an extensive range of video and audio disks for your enjoyment if you so require? It waited patiently for a reply.

No thank you. Said Tom how long before we reach Earth? He took his drink from the tray offered him.

I’m afraid we are not en-route for Earth sir, Our destination is Bay 5 aboard the Space Station. We shall be docking in 2 hours and 8 minutes according to the flight schedule.           

The space station? I was told to report to Earth.

I’m afraid I have no information about your orders sir but our destination is most definitely the space station. The robot was almost apologetic in its manner. After a slight pause it continued I could check with the captain if you wish?

No, no thank you, I’m sure it’s correct. I must have been mistaken

Is there anything else I can help you with sir?

No that’s all thank you.

Thank you sir. The robot moved on about its business, its courteous reply’s were programmed into it and it would have used them irrespective of the way it was

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