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Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1 By AaronDennis Characters: 11532

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02


This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

A note from the author-

Lokians started out as a series of short stories I wrote mostly for myself. By August of 2011, I had compiled the stories into a novel and started shopping for literary agents. None were interested at that time, but an independent press name Eternal Press was, and so I submitted my manuscript.

They said they employed editors, people to help me clean up my work, and truthfully, I thought they were amazing, the editors, but this was before I understood how to write. Once the manuscript was cleaned up by their standards, Eternal Press put me in touch with their cover artists, and they were unable to provide what I wanted, but we settled on some garbage cover with a praying mantis on top of a planet, before a space backdrop, with a ship, that if you looked closely, was Photoshopped so poorly, the stars from the space backdrop were actually visible through it. They also chose the font and over all design, and while I wasn't really satisfied, they claimed it was the best they had in store, and since I had already signed he contract, and was eager to sell, sell, sell, I accepted the cover art, and waited for the next step.

Red flags should have gone up when—during the formatting process—they sent me my manuscript to check it and see if it was everything I wanted it to be, and I found extra spaces between words or letters, spaces removed from between other words, the wrong punctuation, half of pages blank, and shifts in the orientation. I simply jotted down everything I saw, tried to fix it, and sent it back, thinking that mistakes happen, and there was probably just some issue with the copying and pasting of my manuscript from one word document to another. Well, the trouble didn't end there.

After formatting, the book was released, and to my utter amazement, the print copy was priced at nearly twenty two dollars, US, and the e-copy was priced at almost seven dollars, US; this was to me at once outrageous- pricing an amateur author's book so high, from an independent press, no less. I knew right away people weren't going to risk that kind of money on my work, but contracts are contracts, and there was nothing to be done. Unfortunately, though I hated selling my work at such a high price, I still needed to find readers, so I did my best to advertise, to try and land some reviews by way of free giveaways, raffles, contests, whatever, and for the most part, everyone enjoyed the story, but there was one problem that everyone noted; a lack of editing, and yet the editor's name was right there, below mine, and the reviewers were kind enough to blame the lack of editing on the publisher rather than me, but it bugged me, and so I went through my work, reading it, and found that several of the mistakes I had noted during the formatting process were back.

Well, I'm glad to say that after five years, I have my rights back, and I can present to you Beyond the End of the World as it was meant to be, and by way of an apology to those who spent their money on it in the past, the e-copy is here now for free. Thank you and enjoy.

Prologue

Man yearns to explore, learn, perceive, and break beyond the bonds of limitation. Great, philosophic minds pondered such implications, giving rise to questions with no answer. Who are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Are we alone in the universe? Can we reach for the stars?

A decade into the Twenty First Century, a space exploration program known as NASA retired their shuttle, stating their space station, the ISS, was sufficient to advance man's knowledge of space; no more flights to the moon were needed, probes were built to reach other planets, yet a question was raised; was NASA truly marooning their scientists in Earth's orbit? Was there, really, no shuttle in reserve for emergency protocol?

What no one knew was that a new vessel had already been designed and produced. A drone shuttle carried equipment to the ISS, building materials, and there, the engineers constructed new probes. Launching them from beyond Earth's gravitational pull allowed the tiny machines to explore without immense fuel requirements. New studies had commenced.

Survey satellites were then built and released to specified coordinates. Their role was to relay any information gathered by probes back to Earth. It took little time to obtain great findings. Less than a year into the program, the probes detected abundant deposits of precious minerals in asteroids both inside and outside the solar system. The next step required mining probes to retrieve the deposits. A new age began when humans no longer needlessly harvested their own planet's resources.

A few decades down the road, survey probes revealed more than just resources; asteroids, moons, and planets were deemed acceptable for colonization with little cost or effort, however, there was always the obstacle of time. A journey from Earth to the closest sites meant decades of travel. Great minds set their combined efforts on the task, and a solution was proposed; send colonies to midway stations on small asteroids.

It was no surprise to NASA that very few volunteered. Many citizens of Earth were comfortable and happy in their lives. A move to a colonial life in space was practically permanent, and traveling for years only to live in the desolation of space was frightening. Then, the military stepped in, looking to soldiers for support. Project Safe Haven was announced.

In the year 2111, almost fif

ty years after the first successful colony, Admiral John Lay, the overseer of Safe Haven, commissioned Captain Riley O'Hara to lead a team of scientists and engineers aboard the Phoenix, a vessel orbiting a planet called Eon. The new ship and the new crew were set to break new ground; The Horizon Project was employed to begin colonization of the first planet outside the Sol system. O'Hara was beyond psyched.

Chapter One

O'Hara sat in crew quarters, little more than rows of beds, tables, chairs, and lockers utilized by eighteen, military occupants, which included O'Hara. There were also ten scientists aboard the Phoenix—a mixture of geologists, engineers, climatologists, and biologists—and additional ship hands contracted by the Navy. Of the soldiers, O'Hara found the ship's pilot, Sara Day, the more pleasant for conversation.

"Excited? This is our big break, Captain, " Day said, beaming.

She was short and fair. Her light skin blended perfectly with her flowing, blonde hair, and glimmering, green eyes. O'Hara smiled back, looking her over; she was a young, pretty Lieutenant at twenty one years of age.

"Bursting at the seams, Day. I still find it hard to believe Admiral Lay put me in charge instead of Rear Admiral Shaw, " the captain replied as he furrowed his brow.

He was rather tall, and of a darker complexion, older, twenty four, and though he lacked real, world experience, his intelligence and determination shone through almond colored eyes.

"I heard he's assisting Lay with the next step, " she remarked.

"Colonizing a planet…we're really doing something here."

"Yeah, I can't believe they think were ready to do this, " Day sighed.

"First thing's first, we need to determine the cause of those magnetic disturbances."

"Swain's working on it?"

"Yeah. Logically, it's some sort of magnetized, metal deposit, but there's always the risk of radiation. There's just as much we don't know about Eon as we do know…."

A voice came over the Phoenix's intercom. The Automated Monitoring System, or AMS as it was commonly known, stated in a robotic voice that entry into Eon's atmosphere was taking place in two hours.

"Better hit the chair, Miss Day, " O'Hara smiled.

They stood. She saluted, he returned it then she ran to the bridge. It was not uncommon for a ship to have such a young pilot. All colonial children were enrolled in military schools, receiving the best of education. Once they excelled in a certain area, they were trained specifically for that field. Day was no exception. She also had the added comfort of the AMS assisting with small calibrations. At the bridge, she sat in the helmsman's chair.

The Phoenix's bridge was a cold, steel structure. The only decoration in the room was the burgundy, carpeted floor. From the suede chair, Day checked the screens mounted in the console before her. She looked at the large monitor displaying their surroundings.

A tri-sectional screen calibrated to three cameras revealed a 180 degree perspective of the ship's environment. A fourth camera revealed the vessel's six, but the bridge officers marveled at the beauty of the purple and green sphere on display. Day smiled to herself before brushing a few strands of blonde hair from her face as she double checked the landing coordinates. Everything was in order, so she took manual control.

Maneuvering the Phoenix under atmospheric pressure was simple, especially since a location had already been programmed into the AMS. It was set to land about three miles away from a dig site. Any closer and the ship ran the risk of damage by magnetic interference, the same interference Swain was studying. While the Phoenix had its own anti-magnetic, field generator, O'Hara preferred playing it safe, ordering a three mile trip from the site.

He was anxious to set foot on the surface and lead the scientists to the dig. It wasn't simply O'Hara's first, serious mission, it was the first time his feet were to grace genuine soil, and that was something he wanted to enjoy to its fullest. He and the others were suiting up in crew quarters as Lieutenant Commander Albert Swain walked by. He was their premier, tech expert.

"Swain, " O'Hara said, removing his blue and gray Navy uniform. He folded it neatly before placing it on his footlocker.

"I'm pumped, baby, " Swain grinned from ear-to-ear.

Replacing their fabric uniforms with tactical armor, Swain, a tall, black man with large arms and hands like a bear, struggled to buckle the straps in place, pulling laughter from his friends. Fortunately for them, he was not only of sharp mind, but of an easy going humor, and his participation was of key importance.

"All that puddin's' gone to your waist, pops, " one of the men joked.

"Stow it, Marty, " O'Hara chuckled. "You only wear half a suit as it is."

A resounding Ohhh was howled by the others. Swain, who was a little older than the rest of the crew stated that with age came wisdom. Before his mission aboard the Phoenix, he had made many of the modifications on current, exploration technology. It was his expertise that captured aerial photographs of the dig site. At closest range he snapped pics two miles above, revealing a perfectly circular area with no plant growth. It was believed some form of radiation was probably leaking out, stunting the growth of plant life in the vicinity.

O'Hara nodded to his crew as he passed them on the way to the latrine. He entered with his tactical armor in tow and promptly sat on the john. The bright, white light made the floor tiles radiate a blinding reflection. He shut his eyes, trying to relax.

"C'mon now, we both know as soon as I put this suit on, you're going to want to go. Let's just do this."

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