About Shifting Infinity:
She signed up for active duty with the International Space Force in the hope they would liberate the station. Instead, they chose to maintain a crippling siege that has lasted for ten months.
A small ship escapes from the station with on board a single male occupant whose mind appears to have been wiped.
With her skills in artificial mindbases, Melati is part of the team that tries to get information out of him.
He could be a human Trojan horse sent by Allion and his calls for help nothing more than a trap to get ISF to send people to the station. Or he could be a genuine escapee from the station where the recycling processes have collapsed and ten thousand civilians have mere weeks until they die of asphyxiation. Either way, the time for watching and waiting is over. War is about to begin.
"Fuck," Ari said again. There was a little maintenance platform a few paces back. He pushed the trolley in there, so that it looked as if it normally stood there.
Melati asked, "Do you think they've seen us?"
"Maybe. Come." He lifted his leg and let himself fall over the railing--and his tether cut in before he hit the ground. He swung and hit the bottom of the walkway with a thud that made the walkway reverberate.
"Ari!" Would the aggregates have felt the vibrations?
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah. I'm about a hand's width short of the deck. Can you undo the clip up there?"
Melati unclipped the tether and let him down. Then she unclipped her own, climbed over the railing and jumped. The gear was so heavy that her legs wouldn't support her. She landed with an inelegant tumble.
Ouch and oof.
Ari crawled underneath the walkway. Melati followed him, noticing that he walked stiffly on one leg.
The aggregates were still coming down the ladder. Melati said, "They're going to find the trolley."
Ari said, "They will. But if they get to the shuttle, they're going to find the gantry walkway that I've put down from the ship. They'll know that the shuttle crew has been outside."
True. And that would not bode well for Hasegawa and the others left behind. "What can we do about it?"
Ari pointed his gun at the underside of the walkway. "One for me, one for you."
"Shoot them?" A horrible feeling crept over her.
"It's either that or be discovered and have everyone else killed as well."
She hoped the guys decided to go back up the ladder.
They didn't. The walkway vibrated with footsteps. The lights cast long shadows ahead of the two as sunlight peeped over the rim of the station. "I take the first one, you take the second one."
The men came closer and closer and--
Two shadows appeared above them through the mesh of the walkway.
"Now," Ari said. He jumped aside and fired.
Melati stepped out on the other side of the walkway and fired, too. The charge that went off and the way it hit the walkway were all silent. She could hear the crack and zhing in her mind. One of the men fell down. Melati could feel the thud when he hit the station's outer skin. It had been the man closer to her; it seemed like Ari's shot had missed. His target had jumped the railing and come down on the other side of the walkway.
Ari fired a second time.
It was hard to see because the power had cut out again. There was no indication that the shot had hit anything, and she didn't think it had. But the man in question was nowhere to be seen. Melati stared in the darkness, clutching the gun in both hands. The only light was the reflected glare from the opposite side of the ring and it only showed the walkway and the frequent protrusions, many of which were large enough to hide behind.
Ari crouched under the walkway.
Melati felt awkward in the suit. She couldn't turn her head properly; she couldn't see behind her. She couldn't hear anything except the whooshing of her own breath inside the helmet, and that was fogging up again, because they were in ink-blackness and it had suddenly gone very cold.
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About the ISF-Allion Series:
About Patty Jansen:
Patty was trained as a agricultural scientist, and if you look behind her stories, you will find bits of science sprinkled throughout.