Sol (1/?)

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Quite possibly one of my favourite shape-ship design ever, the Razorback from The Expanse TV Series. The whole series just has a fantastic aesthetic to all their spacecraft. 

It is the year 2279.

Humanity is now master and commander of the entire Sol region of the Milky Way, with colonies that stretch all the way to Uranus. 

Mars is now a Empire, calling itself the Royal Martian Systems (RMS), ruled by a mysterious Emperor obsessed with Ancient Roman mythology and culture. 

Earth is a shadow of its’ former self, governed by the United Nations Federation, clinging to former glory, deeply beset by internal in-fighting amongst various factions vying for power.

Both sides are locked in a cold war, limited only by their technology, which revolves around Magnetic Pulse Drives (MPDrives), advanced engines that can achieve nearly 10% the speed of light. 

MPDrives require highly specialised minerals, known as Nitro, that allow the engine to burn at steady rates across large distances. While the mineral has an extremely long half life, this has sparked a resource-race, reminiscent of oil in humanity’s past, for reserves of Nitro. 

Controlling this race, is the Quintant Mining Corporation, greedily monopolising the few reserves that can be found across the Sol system, trading with both sides with impunity.

This is the world of Sol, a solar system that shows, even with the ability to engage the stars, humanity will never truly learn to live together. 

Europa floated gently on its axis, its bone-white surface, marked by thousands of soft brown cracks and streaks, a serenely beautiful moon, oblivious to the drama several thousands kilometres above its’ icy crust. 

Jean “Iceman” Raikkonen glared at the blue holographic screen that showcased the trajectory of his beloved Icarus IV, as it rocketed through Europa’s gravitational pull, using the orbit as a sling to accelerate further out into the vastness of space.

A warning alarm pealed loudly in his ears, as he felt immense G-forces assault his body. Behind him, Raikkonen could hear the pained gasp of his co-pilot, Lada “Frost” Kournikova as their chairs injected a cocktail of drugs into their necks, to prevent blacking out.

With such immense force being applied to their body, Raikkonen and Kournikova could only stare at their screens, and watch as their racing craft began to peel away from the malignant blip behind them, until it was out of immediate danger.

Raikkonen, using the armrest controls, gently began to ease the acceleration of the Icarus IV, and ever so slightly, the huge weight on their body began to ease, as the vessel began the process of deceleration.

Kournikova’s thick Martian accent came from behind; deep, low, husky and gravelly.

“Do you think we lost them?”

Raikkonen stared at the holo screen, and shook his head, even though he knew Kournikova couldn’t really see it.

“No. We’re still in range of their scopes and missiles.”

Kournikova looked at her own screen, doing mental calculations of the distance between them and the pursuing vessel.

Frowning at the result in her mind, she pulled up a star-map, and began to look over the Icarus IV, noting the fuel load, and the stress the vehicle was under and where it was in relation to other colonies.

Kournikova found herself sweating profusely, nerves and fear and exhilaration racing through her body. Gingerly lifting her right hand against the G forces, she pressed a button on the left side of her suit, and felt her skin tighten as it was sucked against her suit, voiding the interior clear of sweat.

Sighing, she turned her attention to the screen again, and noted the critical systems status.

“We still got our full payload of counter-measures and enough Nitro to make it to Arcturus Station.”

“Then that’s where we’re going.” said Raikkonen quietly.

“OK. Let’s do it. If we continue this speed to maintain distance, and we should be able to Nitro-burn the final straight to Arcturus. I think.” said Kournikova, as she punched in the necessary calculations.

Spinning on a gimbal, Raikkonen turned his chair around and looked at his co-pilot in the eye. It was rare for her to second guess herself. But then the entire scenario they were in was alien to them. It was his idea to pull this off. His responsibility.

Kournikova looked through the holo screen, and felt her fear begin to fade, as she beheld her best friend’s blue eyes.

“Everything will be alright Frost.” said Raikkonen calmly, and holding out his hand, he squeezed Kournikova’s gloved hand reassuringly before readdressing his screen.

Shaped like an arrowhead, the Icarus IV was a crimson-silver bullet in space. Raikkonen affectionately once called it “an MPDrive with seats” and in essence, that was all it was.

Like most Formula 0 racing crafts, it was extremely lightweight, durable enough for the rigours of high G-force turns and reliable in most circumstances. Equipped with retrorockets near the base of the MPDrive’s main thruster, it could effortlessly spin around in any direction, and re-engage its MPDrive within a second of shut-off.

Yet acceleration was its primary purpose, capable of nearly 11% the speed of light, however after extensive modifications by Raikkonen and Kournikova, it was now on the apex of achieving 12%. But such speeds were unable to be proven, as both pilots would black out before they could hit such velocities.

With its’ distinct crimson and silver livery, the Icarus IV was a legendary racer, having already won several Formula 0 Grand Prixs and setting the fastest lap records for multiple inter-planetary-courses.

Which was why, the Captain of the RMSMC Aurelius was so utterly confused as to the reason why his ship, the flagship of the Martian Marine Corps, was chasing it.

At an imposing 2 metres and 20 centimetres tall, Praetor Deckard Quintus was as typical as a Martian could get; dark features, a tall, lean muscular frame and a deep guttural voice.

Aged 45, Quintus was one of the Marine Corps youngest and most exemplary officers/strategists. His numerous victories against several smuggling crews and pirates vessels earned him the title of Praetor, one of the highest honours bestowed upon anyone in the Royal Martian Systems, a rank only succeeded by Consul. 

Taciturn, experienced, unflinchingly loyal to his men, and a surprising teetotaller, Deckard Quintus was a typical example of the type of men and women that were lost to Earth, during the Mars Revolt against the UNF.

As Quintus stared down at his war-desk, the Captain’s station on the bridge of the RMSMC Aurelius, his XO, Marcus Vorenus, came alongside him and saluted.

Looking across at the slimmer, younger man, who Quintus treated like a son, despite not ever having any children, he raised an eyebrow in question.

Marcus gestured at the war desk, and Quintus opened the readout his XO had sent.

“Arcturus Station hmm?” mused Quintus.

“Yes sir. We compared their Nitro load to other typical Formula 0 racing craft, and based on their current velocity, and trajectory, that is their most likely destination.” said Vorenus, curtly.

“Any chance we can make it there before them?” queried Quintus, with bemusement, knowing full well the answer.

Vorenus smiled back. “No sir. Definitely not.”

“Pity. If we can’t race them, give me options to slow them down.” said Quintus, with a wolfish smile, wondering which of the Aurelius weapon platforms could perform the job.

Vorenus walked over to the weapon specialist, Aiko Cicero, a tall, attractive young Asiatic woman who was now busy flicking through multiple options.

“What do you have for me, Principales Cicero?” asked Vorenus.

“Sir, they are out of our SCM (Space Combat Manoeuvring) range, so our only option is to use our torpedoes and set it to proximity.” replied Aiko

“What are the odds, it will destroy Icarus IV?”

“If we detonate 10,000 clicks ahead, it should be OK. At the very least, it will cause them to slow down or take evasive manoeuvres. We can always direct the missile away, further sir.” said Aiko confidently.

Vorenus clapped Aiko’s shoulders and reported the news back to the Quintus.

Nodding his approval, Quintus gave the order.

“Fire, 2.”

“2 torpedoes. Understood sir.” Aiko glanced at her holographic screen and with a flourish, tapped a button.

“Torpedoes away. Controlling proximity detonation.”

Seen from the outside, the RMSMC Aurelius was a incredible feat of engineering, a true military vessel, that had little penchant for flair, except in its brutal aesthetic. Coloured in orange and black, after its’ homeworld’s distinctive soil, the Aurelius was one of the most advanced and sophisticated warships ever conceived by man.

Essentially a tree-trunk styled vessel, with 4 large MPDrives at its base, and featuring multiple railgun turrets with a sharply defined nose section, the Aurelius was classified as a Decurion-class frigate, one of the biggest sized vessels in the system, dwarfed only by the Centurion-class capital ship.

The Aurelius’ front bays opened, and out shot two Pilum torpedoes, glowing blue as they engaged their small MPDrives, accelerating quickly and shot out in pursuit of the Icarus IV.

Author’s Note

This is the first time, I have ever ventured into the sci-fi genre and what a ridiculous struggle it was. I don’t think I have ever even tried to build a world before.

I realise now, how easy it is, to get lost into the descriptions of things, and lose sight of the characters.

I scrubbed this story, 5 times, before being satisfied with how it starts. That meant 5 attempts to write the first 400 words and deleting it all to start afresh.

Fans of The Expanse show will see obvious parallels. I truly tried to differentiate it, but since I am currently watching it, and was so inspired by it to write sci-fi because of it, I ended up borrowing almost everything.

Hopefully by the second chapter, I will be able to start pumping differences between this story and The Expanse, but I love the show so much, that I suspect this will just seem like a hollow fan fic story.

I will also start reading The Expanse stories relatively soon, because …. you can’t write sci-fi without reading sci-fi.

I will probably need 2 days to write chapters, instead of pumping them out day by day, because this is such a challenge for me to write.

I don’t know how many parts this will be either and I am definitely concerned I will run out of good images to use for this story.

Anyway, I got to think about the next chapter.

~ Damocles

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