Free Again by Popular Demand

Free Again by Popular Demand

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Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games had a great debut and dozens of copies are now in the hot little hands of happy science fiction readers. Did you miss out? It’s coming up for FREE again, on October 22nd and 23rd. Take a needed break from the election madness and read about what happens when two alien races fight over the rights to a nuclear reactor – and it’s not even running on either of their own planets!

Remember: an E-Book can be read on ANY device, including your computer.

Gamma Ray Games  udp_kcp


Here’s a short excerpt: 

“I didn’t find any documentation for radiation sickness or illness attributed to the reactor,” Beth explained, opening two books across the table. “I found illustrated books on anatomy, and basic medicine, but it’s all mechanical and organic. No references to antibiotics or advanced surgical techniques like organ transplants or even vaccines, only plant extracts and such. And I hate to think about it: sutures and needles for closing lacerations,” she winced and drew her mouth into a flat line. Captain Thomas Jackson smiled at his field medic’s genteel aversion to the archaic medical technology then turned to his geologist.

“And the thorium?” he directed at Jamul.

“Well…um, Tom…” the young lieutenant began haltingly, glancing at the Cetian company in earshot, “there are a few manuscripts on minerals and elements. I didn’t have time to translate them fully.” He put his hands on a stack of geology books and then opened one. “Monazite sand is abundant here, especially this continent. The sands are mined for thorium, above ground, and the process isn’t difficult, not like uranium. Since thorium isn’t stand-alone ‘radioactive’ the mining it isn’t nearly so hazardous.”

“Well, that’s a start,” Jackson said. “I can’t find anything here on electricity except one book on theory, but nothing that would support Cetian technology on 20th century Earth level. I did some research on the trip out here, though. A thorium reactor produces electricity the same way a uranium fuel reactor does, but because the thorium can’t burn alone like uranium it has to be hit with a constant stream of neutrons. There’s a quick two-step decay process, then fission. If you turn off the neutrons, the process will stop. The fuel stops burning, like cutting off the oxygen to a fire. If for some reason it gets too hot, that heat melts a plug underground, and the molten salts surrounding the core drain off, and the process also stops. You can’t stop a uranium fuel reaction. It has to burn itself out.”

“So it can’t meltdown?” Beth asked.

“Yes,” Jamul answered, “but the failsafe is instant so the radiation damage is nominal. This all works at normal atmospheric pressure. And, most important, thorium can’t, reasonably, be made into nuclear weapons like uranium.”

“But, there is still some radioactive waste. And, now we’re left with a new question,” Jackson said. “If they aren’t making weapons from the thorium, why did Kiians put up a reactor here, in plain sight? And why a fission reactor? The Kiians are far more advanced than that. Why not a fusion reactor or better still a solar facility? And for that matter, why at all? Did the Cetians solicit or sanction it?” Jackson shook his head slowly and no one spoke for a few moments.

“Sir-um-Tom, so, why did Earth use uranium reactors if thorium was safer, easier to mine, less waste?” Beth asked. The two men looked at each other with little expression and then back at her.

“Weapons and politics,” Tom replied. “Uranium was used in weapons first, the Second World War, then as a power source. Testosterone ruled in the 20th century, and governments didn’t put up research money for just anything. War was profitable. Luckily that was short-lived, only a few major accidents over a hundred years and then we jumped to renewables.” He leaned on the table and glanced over the books. “What are Kiians getting from a thorium fission reactor they can’t get any other way? What is so valuable to warrant that…” he waved in the general direction of the reactor, “monstrosity?”

When they finished with the books to the limit of the translation reader they left the library with more questions than they’d answered. Tom took a last look at the map before they left to look for Quinaal.

“I hope you two studied your Cetian. It’s time we start speaking their language.”

“This is a charming town,” Beth said in a pidgin version of Cetian. “It’s like going back centuries in time. Everyone speaks the same language?”

“I imagine isolated populations speak their own language, like on Earth.”

“What are those?” Jamul asked and pointed to an ox-like animal harnessed to a wooden merchandise cart. The group paused to look at it.

“Didn’t see those the last time I was here,” Tom said. Perhaps half a kiloton, the animal appeared to be an awkward griffon but more primordial; it was less a mix of lion and eagle, more a mix of horse and a three horned chameleon-alligator. “Apparently, a Cetian beast of burden,” he stated. The lieutenant and the captain resumed their journey toward the metallurgist’s home when a moment later Beth screamed! The men spun about and saw the ensign sitting in the street, her hand bleeding copiously on the ground and on her garments.

Tom leaped five paces back to reach her and noticed a crowd of Cetians gathering around them. So much for blending in quietly. He gathered her off the cobblestones and with Jamul’s help pulled her to the side, away from the animal. It snorted and bobbed its hulking head up and down.

“Danner’s konji bit her,” a woman told them. She stopped to explain. “He should have that animal turned to glue already. He’s such an old brute, probably not venomous anymore at his age.” She continued on her walk. The captain didn’t understand most of her words. He’d hardly become fluent in their language after a month talking with the computer, but he understood enough. His medical officer was in trouble.

The animal snorted again, its grey fur short on the head, long on the tail, and non-existent on the scaly, clawed feet. Jackson tore a strip of fabric from the hem of his shirt and wrapped her hand in it tightly, looking around for a clue as to what he could do for her. No one seemed terribly concerned other than a husky man and small boy that came jogging up to them from down the street.

“Is she allergic to konjis?” the man asked him. He and the boy jumped in close. Beth didn’t say a word, her teeth clamped in pain. Anything she said would probably come out in English anyway. Tom himself struggled with words momentarily.

“I don’t understand, what do you mean?” Tom asked. The big man possessed the physique of an American style football player, not portly, just overall large. He un-wrapped the cloth from Beth’s swollen hand and pointed out the fang punctures under the globs of sticky maroon blood. The red skin paint mixed in leaving streaks of her natural skin exposed.

“You should let it bleed a little.”

“The poison,” the young boy said quietly. “Some people die. Mother can help,” he said.

“Let’s get her home,” the man insisted, scooping the young woman up in his arms and heading off with long strides, the dark haired boy following him needing three steps to each one of his. With no other choice Tom and Jamul followed the two Cetians as they made off with Beth up the road.

 

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