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The Corrigan Factor
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-208-9
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 367 Pages
Published: November 2004



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Total Readers: 6

From inside the flap

Two ships, Alcyone and Solira, an alien vessel, in trouble from unprovoked attacks and in need of help.

Two captains, one still aboard his disabled ship, the other picked up by Alcyone’s sister ship Electra, and accused of desertion.

A daughter eager for reunion with a father she hasn?t seen in years.

The father who all but abandoned her, who has long been secretly conducting illegal scientific experiments and profiting from the venture.

An ambassador in a hurry, eager to take credit for first contact with an alien species.

And a minor crew member aboard Electra, whose unexpected abilities eventually unite them all.

The Corrigan Factor (Excerpt)


Chapter One

From Alcyone’s Log:

On schedule and on course from Mandarat. Thanks in great part to the efforts of Dr. Velga Svenson, the problems with the miners there have been resolved and production has begun. We antici­pate arriving in the Hathar system shortly, allowing time for geological research and exploration.

All systems operating smoothly. Crew health excellent, morale good.

Nokuro Deverest filed his captain’s report and logged off with a sigh of re­gret. So many things over the years he would have liked to say in his daily reports, but for various reasons had not. Some things, no matter how true or how strongly felt, were best left unsaid.

Strange how, despite all mankind’s advances and skills, tact was still often no more than keeping your mouth shut.

Yes, Nogo Deverest had his second thoughts and his regrets. They came to haunt him sometimes, sidling into the corners of his mind and hovering there like uninvited wraiths. When he was tired beyond exhaustion, when he found himself alone and lonely in a crowd, when for some rea­son his mental defenses slipped, allowing the ghosts and ghouls in his mind mo­mentary escape.

But he had no regrets, no second thoughts about this ship, or this crew. Alcyone’s personnel were top rate, selected as much for their potential compat­ibility and synergy as they were for their skills.

And Alcyone?well, Alcyone was what she was, first of her kind and pride of the Humbolt fleet.

Now she loafed through the induced dimension of wrapspace at an easy pace, her engines idle in the mathematically null environment. Here, all her power would gain her naught. Once the algorithms and equations were set, the data entered; once she had begun travel in this void, there was nothing that would alter her course. She would arrive at the predetermined time, in the pre­de­ter­mined place?not a moment earlier, not a moment later?assuming that the constancy of the laws of time and physics and space remained unchanged.

Assum­ing, too, that she arrived at all.

There was always the possibility of error, of failure, even though every pre­cau­tion was taken. The loss rates were exceedingly low, but failure to arrive was still a real possi­bil­ity faced by all ships that utilized the mathematical shortcuts be­­tween the stars.

Alcyone had made many such runs before and suffered no mishaps. She ran as she always had, a shimmering silver form riding a self-induced crest wave of reality, her deflectors up as protection against any stray objects that might hap­pen in her path. Wrapspace might be null, but you never knew when?or what?you might encounter.

On the bridge, time and reality appeared no different than they did on any other day. Deverest turned away from the recorder with a satisfied air, his bland face revealing no hint of the efficiently active mind behind the dark, clear eyes. Legacy from his mother, the grace and air of elegance, the high, fine cheek­bones. Margaret Kirsten Olsen may have been Scandinavian to her toes, fair haired and blue eyed, but Jasir Amnat Deverest had borne the mixed genotypes of six gen­era­tions of slavery, captivity, and exploration. In his family tree, grandparents of Asian, African, and Amerindian descent had mingled freely. From Deverest’s father had come the thick, dark mane of hair, the strong jaw, the broad, muscular shoulders. The result was a man of presence, a quiet, thoughtful man of decision and compassion, respected by his peers and beloved by his crew.

Command suited Nokuro Deverest. He sat the center chair as easily as his father had sat a horse, with an innate ease that was far more than the result of mere train­ing. Deverest’s great-grandfather may have commanded some of the last great horse troops on earth, but Nogo Deverest and his generation reached for the stars. Now Nogo was captain of the Alcyone, and his sister, Olanthe, was head of communications aboard her sister ship, Electra.

Deverest almost smiled, then caught himself, but not before his navigator, Aalar, had noted the pleasure that announced itself?to those who could see it? about her captain’s eyes, and in the way his slender fingers lay along the chair arms. Aalar bent closer to her console, suppressing an inward smile herself.

"Vess."

The scientist turned, as lean and fluid as his captain, his face as calm and devoid of emotion as Deverest’s own. Similar heritage and training had their results.

"Exit time?"

"One minute and counting."

Deverest nodded, toggling a comm switch. "All hands, prepare for exit from wrap­space." Throughout the ship, crew reached for handholds, slid swiftly onto benches, braced. Exit from wrapspace could be as rough as a storm-tossed sea, or as easy as a canoe gliding onto the bank of a mirrored moun­tain lake. You never knew which.

This one was easy.

"Five, four, three...." Vess counted.

And they were out.

Alcyone winked into shining existence and sailed serenely toward the paired suns of the Hathar system.

Alcyone, guided by human hands and state of the art computers, moved smoothly into her predetermined orbital position. If the Mandarat mines were unable to supply a sufficient quantity of the specialized minerals Station 4 engineers demanded, perhaps some of the thousands of asteroids orbiting the Hathar system could offer additional sources. None of them had been mined, but early surveys had indicated major concentrations of a number of prized ores. Alcyone was to further survey the area and drive sample mines.

Which explained the presence aboard of Dr. Velga Svenson, wife of Alcyone’s first officer. Married couple assignments were hardly unusual, but this dual assignment had proven more difficult than most. Everyone aboard liked and re­spected Paul Simmons. Few felt the same way about his wife.

She was brilliant, dogged, stubborn?and a poor space traveler. Despite extensive training and the use of antinausea medications, she invariably became airsick on local trans­ports and shuttles; positively claustrophobic and panicky on long­er range starcraft. Like a caged tiger, she paced and glared and growled, tak­ing out her frus­tra­tions and her discomfort on whomever happened to be nearest. Unfor­tu­nately, extensive travel was a requirement of her profession. She was forced to endure space travel, but she never quite got used to the idea of being sus­pended far from home in a metal bubble, with no dirt beneath her feet or trees to look at or insects buzzing about her ears. The Big Dipper no longer sailed the friendly night sky above her, lulling her to sleep on the family farm in Ohio. Cattle no longer lowed in the distance. Nighthawks no longer swooped above her head at dusk.

Although Deverest recognized and admired the mineralogist’s professional achievements, he had yet to find an easy way to deal with her. Working through his first officer, her husband, Paul Simmons, was no ans­wer; it just put husband and wife at odds. Deverest must do the job himself. That Svenson had more than the usual dose of irrationality, coupled with a pre­cise scientific curiosity and well honed skills, was simply another factor to be weighed in the balance.

Her mineralogical and geological credentials were impressive. Even the most critical could find no flaw with her grasp of advanced metallic and non­me­tallic crystal structure and substrate technology. And the excitement of new dis­cov­eries and new places tended to erase some of her doubts about sub- and supra-light travel. She would have been more content with a donkey and pick­axe, trudging doggedly across a mountain range planetside, but she had been born on the wrong planet and in the wrong century, then had married a man in the wrong profession for that option.

Dr. Cowan Walker of Electra would have understood Velga Svenson on sight and known precisely how to handle her, even while admitting to an intense dislike. Alcyone’s navigator, Aalar, found her irri­tat­ing, highly emotional, and diffi­cult to understand, if at moments, brilliant.

"Status report on ore-scan five," Deverest requested. They had been in stable orbit for some time, with the scans running steadily.

"To date, two hundred thirty-seven readings indicating the presence of selected ores, either singly or in recoverable combinations, ranging from two to seventy percent by weight or mass," reported Vess, reading from the file displayed on the monitor before him. "Impurity levels range from five to ninety-one percent. Dr. Svenson has been moni­­­toring the results."

"Excellent. Any noteworthy anomalies?"

"Only an unusual number of asteroids and debris in the area," Aalar re­plied. "We?re monitoring for unusual activity, and for avoidance."

"Good." There was no use in taking unnecessary risks. This area was known for its high lost ship index, which approached seventy percent during the period when the suns were in their closest orbits.

"Where’s Dr. Svenson now?"

Aalar tilted her head slightly, listening intently to her comm implant, her long hair swinging like a black waterfall, framing her honey brown face, accenting her slightly slanted hazel eyes. "The auxiliary lab," she said.

Like the rest of Alcyone’s crew, Aalar tended to be quiet, reserved, and intensely courteous. Velga Svenson was assertive, strongly opinionated, and vocal. At times, she was patently abrasive, not in the least hesitant to express exactly what she thought. Most of the crew had already encountered her acid tongue at least once; few would voluntarily do so again.

***