Excerpt for Mars Corporation by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Mars Corporation

Book 2 of Mars Corporation Series

By Stephen Brandon

Copyright 2017 Stephen Brandon

Smashwords Edition

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cover images courtesy of NASA

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Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Author's Notes

This book is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, incidents, and dialogue are from the authors imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or other persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Real and fictional locations are used for background only.

The fact that this is fiction is for the entertainment of the reader. Nonfiction, however is for the education of the reader. There are many nonfiction documents that set the mores of behavior and physical capabilities of individuals. Fiction expands upon, stretches, and adds to these physical capabilities. The authors license to do so is understood and applauded in a good story. Superior strength and speed, ability to wield forces vaguely hinted at in nature, manipulation of time and space, and knowledge of events through the use of what in called magic are some of these licensed abilities. Prophesy, however indicates that the far future, the settings in fictional stories may never exist. The dystopian behavior of civilization in many fictional stories indicates the crushing of the human spirit in the societies described. There is much more than advanced technology to make the future. I attempt to weave in some of the lesser used attributes of humanity, both physical and spiritual, to give my characters hope. A character without hope of success is merely an automaton marching from birth to death.

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My wife has put up with me for over forty seven years. Without her support and love I don't know who, what, or where I would be, so I thank her from the bottom of my heart, and I dedicate all me books to her!

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Mars Corporation

Table of Contents (ToC)

Chapter 1 Mars Corportation

Chapter 2 Lucky Lady

Chapter 3 Wild Rose

Chapter 4 New Blood

Chapter 5 Obstacles

Chapter 6 Tug, MOT-033

Chapter 7 Fed Up

Chapter 8 Unwelcome

Chapter 9 Rendezvous Station

Chapter from Rendezvous Station

About Stephen Brandon and his other books.

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Chapter 1 Mars Corporation

Ninety-two international corporations on Earth made the business decision in the 21st century to build a space-station in high Earth orbit. Construction time and staffing time took five and a half years. Upon completion, workers were hired. They and their families were signed to life long contracts, with the provision to work to own their quarters and spacecraft.

When the launch window was favorable, the space-station was launched to Mars. The eighteen month journey was a great experiment. The Board of Directors of Mars Corporation had a grand plan.

Asteroids would be redirected from the asteroid belt to Mars orbit. Deimos, the outermost moon of Mars was the target. The corporations scientific teams theory was that if Deimos was built up to a mass equal to 0.012% the mass of Mars, Deimos would cause gravitation stresses similar to the Earth-Moon system. These stresses should cause the core of Mars to heat and liquefy. If the core was of sufficient magnetic ore then Mars would grow a magnetosphere. Once Mars had a magnetosphere, terraforming would advance quickly with full colonization of the surface shortly thereafter.

This five hundred year experiment would be supported by mining the asteroid belt with manufacturing facilities built in Mars orbit. Ore and finished products would be exported back to Earth. Most governments back on Earth made the decision to let Mars Corporation foot all the cost.

What the five members of the Mars Corporation inner circle did not reveal, even to the other members, was their plan to completely control the resources of Mars and the Asteroid Belt.

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Chapter 2 Lucky Lady

Well Carol, this is the last asteroid for our contract. When we get back, we'll own the Lucky Lady.”

“Aye, Aye Captain. What are you planning?”

“We have enough supplies and fuel to wrangle another one. That would give us a positive credit to resupply the ship before we head back out.”

“Are you nuts? I have a boyfriend back on the station!”

“What would your boyfriend say if you took him out to celebrate at The Point?”

“Oh-h, I think he'd think I was showing off.”

“Well Carol, if you got it, flaunt it. Now what do you say about getting another asteroid?”

“Linda, do you remember that smallish one that we almost took on the last trip.”

“Yea, the one that was almost solid iron.”

“It's only a few days from here. If we follow it in, we can claim mining rights.”

“That's all well and good Carol, but you know we'll only get ten percent.”

“I know, but don't forget the other part. The ship will get a full resupply. Is this rock on course?”

“Verified. Shall I cut us loose and set course for our iron rock?”

“Do it. Rocks don't wait for anyone.”

~ ~

Thirty hours later their iron asteroid was within sight. As they fired the anchors, half of them bounced. “We have a problem Linda.”

Linda yelled from the living quarters, “Be there in a minute.

“OK, what's the problem?”

Carol replied, “Half the anchors bounced. Now some of the cables are tangled.”

“So what you're saying is, we have to go outside and untangle those cables, rewind them on the winches, and fire them again.”

“That's SOP Captain, but those were our last anchors and we don't have any extra charges.”

“That does present a problem. Are the iron deposits big enough to weld the anchors to?”

“The only way to find out is to try.”

“Lets get suited up. After all, the anchors are only supposed to hold the ships pusher frame in place.”

Six hours later they came back inside.

“Four of them are secured now. However, SOP demands six anchor points.”

“Lets take an hour break and then go get the other two. I saw a promising outcrop, but it was out of line with the pattern.”

“I know Captain, but we still have those other two we had to rewind from earlier this trip. We could use them if needed.”

“OK, get the suits serviced and we'll head back out now that we have a plan. What's our drop dead time?”

“Sixty hours, with no margin for error.”

~ ~

“Well, everything is set, winch us up tight Carol.”

“Done, computer course set. Ready to start, unless you want to wait three hours to the time limit.”

“Bullshit Carol, hit the button.”

~ ~ ~

“Captain, get up here. We should be within radio distance in less than an hour. I've already picked up two radar pings.”

“Cut the ion drive Carol. I'll be up in fifteen. It'll take that long for the interference to clear.”

“I cut it off when I got the first ping. You now have five.”

“Hey, I'm the captain remember. I get to set the timing, unless headquarters is involved.”

“Yup, got the third ping. I don't want to get penalized for not answering on time.”

“Mars Communications, this is Captain Johnson of the Lucky Lady. Over.

“Mars Communications, this is Captain Johnson of the Lucky Lady. Over.”

“Lucky Lady, this is Mars control. We expected you in last month with your final asteroid.”

“Control, we decided to pick up a piece of iron for the mineral rights. Where do you want it.”

“Lucky Lady, give me a few. Out.”

“Lucky Lady, this is Mars control.”

“Got you loud and clear control.”

“OK Lucky Lady, mining wants it parked two hundred kilometers behind their station. Contact them on channel seven. Over.”

“Will do Mars control.

“Mining control, this is Lucky Lady, over.”

“Go ahead Lucky Lady.”

“Control said you wanted this hunk of iron two hundred behind your station.”

“Lucky Lady, this is Mac. I'll have a tug rendezvous. Be prepared to transfer your winches to the tug.”

“Mac, we have a minor problem. We used seven cables, two are crossed plus four others are welded to outcroppings.”

“What's your analysis dear.”

“Mac, you know only my boyfriend is allowed to call me that. Anyway surface survey showed three quarters of surface iron plus a few other metallic ores. No radioactivity detected. We used our boot magnets to walk over most of the surface.”

“Lucky Lady, this is mining control. Mac will meet you at five hundred kilometers. If he has a secure hookup outside the two hundred kilometer safety limit, we'll take it. If not, then it gets dumped on Mars and you'll have to wait until surface mining starts to get your percentage. Over.”

“Carol, how long will it take to transfer all seven winch assemblies.”

“Forty-five minutes per assembly if the damn bolts aren't twisted.”

“Mining control, this is Lucky Lady. My engineer estimates forty-five minutes per winch assembly if the bolts aren't warped. We will park this hunk of iron at five hundred kilometers and wait for Mac.”

“We copy Lucky Lady. You will park at five hundred. Estimated five and a quarter hours for winch transfer.”

“Mining control, this is Lucky Lady. I'll park at five hundred. Lets make it a six hour time frame for winch transfer. After all, you know, Mac will waste at least half an hour scratching his butt and cross threading bolts.”

Mac broke in and said, “Hey, Hey! Linda, I never took that long for anything.”

“Lucky Lady to Mac, some of the girls have told me about how long you take ...”

“Lucky Lady, this is mining control. You got six hours and stop giving Mac a hard time.”

“Mining control, tell you what. If Mac does a good job, I'll buy him and his crew a good meal when we get our percentage. Fair enough?”

“Lucky Lady this is mining control. That's now on record, and we'll hold you to it. Proceed to parking location at five hundred. Out.”


“Mars control, this is Lucky Lady.”

“Go ahead Lucky Lady.”

“Control, we need a location to park the Lucky Lady.”

“Lucky Lady, now that you own the ship, you'll need to park it in open space unless you want to rent a maintenance slip.”

“Control, this is Lucky Lady. Give us a free location. We'll take a week R&R and then load up for our next trip.”

“Lucky Lady, find a spot five hundred out from the main station zero relative. As soon as you're parked you can call for a shuttle. Out.”

Carol then complained, “Captain, that's bull. We've never had to park free before.”

“Carol, I bet you never talked to any of the other owners about some of the hassles control has thrown at them. At least we weren't required to hire a ship sitter.”

“What! you got to be kidding Linda. That shit don't float”

“Ask your Dad Carol. First generation owners had to hire a ship sitter unless they paid docking fees. My Mom told me how she used babysit ships to make ends meet, before they had a comfortable credit balance. At least they don't charge us for the air we breath, like they did when Mom and Dad first got here. They also got taxed on the ten percent they got from mineral rights.

~ ~

A week later they were about to board the shuttle back to the Lucky Lady when the alert sounded. WARNING WARNING, ROUGE ASTEROID, ALL PERSONNEL TO EMERGENCY STATIONS AND SUIT UP! ALL PERSONNEL REPORT TO EMERGENCY STATIONS AND SUIT UP!


Hours later they got the bad news. “Captains of the Flying Fish, Hound, and My Babe. Your company ships were damage or destroyed by the rouge asteroid. A shuttle will take you out so you can remove any personal items. Then the ships will be towed to the bone yard for salvage. Captain Johnson and Miss Adams, the first third of the Lucky Lady was destroyed by the asteroid. The tugs have stabilized its orbit to prevent it from becoming a navigation hazard. It will be towed to the bone yard. You may board it in the bone yard to determine whether you want to try to rebuild, or salvage it. One percent of your mineral rights will be assessed for emergency tug service and towing to the bone yard. You still own the remains of the Lucky Lady.

After their inspection they determined that they could rebuild the pilots compartment, and living section. The maintenance compartment was in good shape and the engines compartment was untouched. They moved back in with their parents to save expenses and got jobs with corporation headquarters to save up a repair fund.

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Chapter 3 Wild Rose

“Damn it James, this is the fifth asteroid that we've processed this trip.”

“Yea, but we're getting paid well for this. Plus the fact that we get to survey this section of the belt at their expense.”

“That second one almost killed us when it fractured!”

“But it didn't, did it, Bill.”

“James, at least we only have to move two more into orbits that will intersect Mars before we get our time off.”

“I'll be happy when we get our required number of asteroids headed in, then we'll own this ship.”

“James, quit bitching. Think about the job those boys around Mars have. They've got to catch each one and then reset the trajectory so they will impact Deimos.”

“Yea Bill, we only have to move twenty. The figure I saw was eight thousand before the gravitational effect should begin to influence Mars. Some of those scientist think that they can build a moon that will cause tidal forces to melt the core and give Mars a magnetosphere.”


“Bill cut that damn alarm off. I'll suit up while you figure out a course correction.”

“James, I'm disengaging from our asteroid. Grab something quick!”

As the anchoring lines disengaged, Bill hit the forward maneuvering rockets and then the side ones to rotate the ship. “James, full power in thirty seconds. Get on a back wall.”

James was floating in the airlock, unconscious, as the main chemical rocket fired. He wasn't lucky when his leg twisted under him, or when he slammed into the rear gear rack. Almost in slow motion his thigh bone broke poking outward through the flesh and then through his spacesuit. Because his suit helmet was not locked in place, the suit sensors didn't activate the leg collar. The suit leg filled with blood until some shorted the broken suit wiring. The electrical arc across the punctured suit cauterized the wound.

Bill watched the radar as the small fast moving asteroid disappeared from the screen. Then he felt the impact and heard the explosion to his rear. Popping open the compartment to the emergency air helmet he pulled it over his head and activated the adhesive neckband. He now had ten minutes of oxygen and life. To his relief, the air pressure alarm didn't go off. However, he could feel the spin of the ship. “James, James, are you all right?”

With no answer, Bill carefully unfastened his seat straps. Moving quickly he jumped to the bridge hatch, and busted his knuckles as the spin threw off his trajectory. Shaking his hand to get some feeling back, he pulled himself through the living quarters toward the airlock. With relief he could see the green LED indicating it was pressurized. The first thing he saw as he pulled the hatch open, was James' twisted body, and smoke rising from the leg of the suit. Turning the suit after pulling the power pack, Bill realized that his partner was dead. With reverence, he pulled a cargo strap and fastened his younger brother to the rear airlock wall.

Then he slowly started to put his spacesuit on. His right hand wouldn't fit into the glove. He looked and saw that two fingers were bent back and turning black.

Reaching up with his left hand he pulled the release tab on the emergency air helmet. The sickening sweet smell of burnt flesh hit him like a club. In seconds he lost his dinner, and could feel his stomach trying to retch again and again. Tossing his helmet and glove through the airlock hatch, he then pulled himself into the living quarters and closed the hatch. Turning towards the cargo compartment he checked the pressure LEDs. They were green, so he spun the release wheel and pulled that hatch open.

After fastening the first-aid kit to the workbench he searched for the sheet metal cutter. Spot welding the cutter to the bench he strapped his suit to the bench and then positioned his arm with his right hand fingers in the cutter jaws. Removing a packet of insta-clot he taped it through the cutter jaws to his fingers. Putting his helmet on with one hand was hard, but he managed. Realizing he only had seven hours of air in his suit, he swallowed and reached over his right arm and punched the trigger on the metal cutter. The upper blade snapped down, and then released. Screaming in pain we watched his two little fingers float off the bench and the pack of insta-clot start to swell as it came in contact with the blood squirting from his hand.

Looking at his suit clock he realized he'd been out for almost an hour. His hand hurt like hell. The insta-clot packet was nowhere to be seen. Pressing the release on his arm straps he pulled it back from the cutter, and reached for the first-aid kit. Grabbing a can of insta-skin he sprayed his hand, and felt the pain immediately ease. It bubbled briefly and then absorbed into his skin. Closing his eyes he thanked God that he was still alive and prayed for strength to do what he knew he had to do.

Carefully putting the suit glove on he gave it a twist, locking it in place. The LED at the airlock door to the engine compartment was red. Going through the airlock he looked around and realized he could see open space through two walls. The exit hole was easily patched with three patch plates. Checking his air he realized he needed a recharge. Entering the living module he turned toward the exterior airlock. Opening the outer hatch he pulled his brother out and toward an external cargo compartment. Fastening his brother in a cargo net to a set of cargo hold-downs, he closed the hatch went back inside.

Resetting the collision alarms and starting a full ship diagnostic, he turned to the radio. Mars headquarters was sixteen light minutes away. Giving a brief summary of the accident and estimated ship status he transmitted the message. Setting the receiver to record he returned to the living quarters and made a meal. After eating he returned to the bridge, what a laugh, and realized that he'd need to move some of the controls over to the pilots station.


A return message came in from Mars headquarters. It stated that he was to turn on the locater beacon so the ship could be salvaged. Angrily he slammed his hand down on the transmit switch and yelled, “This ship ain't salvage. I'm still alive and can make it back on my own. Notify my parents that I'm bringing my brother home.”

Mars control could hear him start to cry before he flipped the transmit switch. The supervisor standing behind Carol, the radio technician, coldly stated, “That boy better pull himself together.”

Carol turned to him and growled, “Mr. Johnson, you ain't human no more. He's been running on nerves since the accident. It's about time he broke down and released his feelings. I'll handle the notification of his parents. Get me a relief tech.”

“Carol, you have two more hours on your shift.”

“Boss, you can ping my pay. This is something I have to do, because I know them.” As he turned to go she pulled a memory stick and recorded both of Bills messages, and the replies.

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