Star Dancer Free Preview from Dell Sweet
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The main trap was exactly as it sounded a trap between the free world and one of the largest prison colonies in the known worlds. Two officers in separate bubbles, both outside the trap itself, controlled the comings and goings. All entrances and all exits were announced to shift sergeant’s colony wide, no access in or out was granted without documentation.
As Far as Superintendant Sam Ellison was concerned Twenty Seven was a super max facility classified as a max. That meant that it went well over the threshold of security for a max prison and came in just under the official super max classification: Lacking the certification because they did not possess a thirty foot wall that completely surrounded the facility.
Superintendant Ellison had petitioned to be moved to the super max classification despite the wall. His argument was short but eloquent: Although they did not possess the necessary wall they did have an absolute barrier, an atmosphere that could not sustain life. Anyone breaking out of Twenty Seven may not have to then scale a thirty foot wall, but they would die in seconds from the lack of oxygen and most likely they would begin to freeze to death before that occurred; or find themselves burning up, dependent upon the phase of the Martian day.
Four soldiers decked out in full riot gear; including fully loaded laser rifles stepped from an el lift at the end of a transport hall just outside of the main trap and looked over the area. Another group at the opposite end of the hall came to attention, spread out across the front of the entrance to the trap, a two story steel monstrosity made of chrome carbon-steel bar work that could not be moved without the machinery that had been specially designed to move it. Before that machinery could be activated both of the bubble officers would be in radio contact with one another and reach complete agreement as to the authenticity of the orders for the movement.
The four officers stepped back into the el, took custody of the prisoner from two other officers that had remained in the el to secure the prisoner and got him moving.
Kenneth Rowland shuffled forward, the chains that bound him and the heavy footfalls of the soldier’s boots were the only sounds in the short hall. He wore a chain around his waist: A second chain ran down to the chain on a set of ankle cuffs and was joined to that chain via a heavy double keyed padlock. His hands were chained with a few short links to the waist chain, also joined with a heavy double keyed padlock. He wore finger spanners that kept his fingers separated and spread apart as well as disabling flexing more than two fingers at one time. A final chain snaked away from the waist chain to an appliance truck that carried a small, metal file cabinet stuffed with files pertaining to his charges and cases, both on Earth and here on Twenty Seven. A soldier pushed the truck. A lawyer representative walked beside Rowland carrying a small camera to record the procedure live to courts on Earth and Twenty Seven. It would also be retained as part of the permanent record.
The ungainly crew moved quickly down the short hall, the soldiers hustling Rowland along faster. When they reached the gate the soldiers there parted and formed a complete circle around Rowland, the lawyer was cut out; left standing on his own. Two soldiers separated from the group and faced the lawyer, watching him carefully: It was not unknown for an attack to occur from a lawyer that had been planted for just that purpose. In 2099, to protest the end of a half century of Fed rule, a Martian law representative had detonated a half ounce of fiber-gel explosives he had combed into his hair in this very trap killing thirty two people. With the rebuild had come the bug lights which could deal with all known manner of electronic and bio bugs, explosives and tagging equipment. The Feds had many enemies.
A series of bug lights in the overhead ceiling came on and almost simultaneously grills mounted in the walls came to life. The air current was stiff and steady. The first lights killed everything biological, and the air movement kept the contaminants moving out of the space. After three minutes the lights died down and a second set of lights came up bathing the hall in blue light. The second set of lights carried destructive electronic impulses within the light wave that would destroy any electronic circuitry. The total time was just under seven minutes. The lights cycled down once more and the regular lights came up. Shorty after that the big doors began to move.
Rowland looked around the narrow hallway. There would be no chance of escape. If he tried anything at all he would most likely wind up dead: And if you were dead it was all over with anyway; so he would bide his time and wait. There would be something. Some mistake and when it happened he would be ready for it.
“Move your ass scumbag!” One of the soldiers gave him a quick shot to the kidneys. The lawyer was blocked and would never see it he knew. Rowland bit down hard, a slight trickle of blood running away from his lip where he had bitten it. He refused to cry out. The door finished its travel and he shuffled into the center of the trap, the lawyer left behind.
Mike clicked his Log-link on: “Intra System Cruiser Star Dancer. Present: Michael Watson chief operating officer: Petra Stanovich Navigation officer. Two hours ten minutes and fifteen seconds out of Mars Twenty Seven. Contract FQHPX2879 concludes. U.P.T crew Twenty Nine, one additional crew, see addendum CL44988 per U.P.T crew manifest… Stop two will be Mars One for a tech drop… Contract 771926F… Our last drop will be IO Six… Prefab buildings plus one, to total three now, see addendum 279916BX… Out.”
Petra looked up from where she was programming her navigation interface and smiled. They were at slow speed, orbit maintenance speed; and Mike watched the surface of Mars slip by far below as Petra prepared to break orbit and head for docking at Mars One. He took one last sip of coffee, drained the cup; popped it into an in-seat holder and belted himself in for descent…
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