Oh Fortuna


by John Steiner

During a deep space rescue, the Mockingbird receives emergency dispatch orders for the Fortuna asteroid. Colonel Rama is warned of Russian Federation and Remote Space Conglomerated Industries vessels. The Fortuna Foreign Relations Office invites Mockingbird's senior officers and Federation command officers to an embassy dinner. The two Earth powers are asked to defend Fortuna from RSCI clandestine ops. Lt. Cipactli Arroyo-Diaz, and his team are invited to a "friendly" game of soccer with Russian security. Stanley Goddard runs into an old nemesis in the form of a Federation Logician.


Chapter 1

Between a Rock and a Cold Place

In what could barely be called an orbit, ISS Mockingbird made slow circles around the asteroid, Themis. It measured almost two-hundred kilometer in diameter. Named for the god of natural law and order, Themis proved to be a natural, albeit coincidental choice for raw materials to be used for spacecraft. Among them was the ill-fated Astraeus. When one of the asteroid’s remote operating bases declared an emergency it gave Sumitra Ramachandra a momentary chill.

But Colonel Rama hid that away, as she floated in Mockingbird’s small Combat Information Center next to Major Fitch. She listened to comms of suited crew members deployed to render aid. Two of the Ghostwalker Security Force operators were among them. The Mockingbird was several kilometers above the station, which served as an outlier base of operations to the asteroid’s main complex. Maggie, the ship’s AI had been quick to detect the point of decompression. It was a rupture in the facility’s operations compartment, possibly from a micrometeorite impact.

“It looks like zey’ve secured ze breach with emergency patches,” Lieutenant Sveindottir, the ship’s senior engineering officer reported from the top of the dome.

“Can you assess the conditions inside?” the colonel asked, having not yet taken the Operations Command Station. “We’re still having trouble connecting to their network.”

Through Mockingbird’s external cams and sensors, Rama watched, as Tech Sergeant Wei Jin used a technical assist glove worn over his suit. He placed his palm on the surface to get readings through the dome. A secondary view inside Kevin Wei Jin’s helmet let Sumitra see his subtle head shake.

“It’s not good, Colonel,” Wei Jin reported. “Pressure’s down below half an atmosphere. We’re going to need the flight surgeon and a couple med-rigged Hummers down here.”

“Copy that,” Sumitra acknowledged, and turned to operations. “Tell Captain O’Connell to suit up and deploy, and get Sup-Dep to config two Hummers for medevac EVA.”

"FLIPSPACE: Oh Fortuna" by John Steiner


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