Beyond The Frontier

Beyond the Frontier

Book two in the United Star Systems series

J. Malcolm Patrick

© 2017

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J. MALCOLM PATRICK.COM

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

For my family and all their patience while I lock myself away in solitude. For Joshua, who keeps daddy company even when daddy is grumpy.

Books in this series

Border Worlds

Beyond the Frontier

Unite the Frontier (November 15th, 2017)

Contents

Chapter 1 - Constellation

Chapter 2 – We’re Going In

Chapter 3 – Dark Dreams

Chapter 4 – Horsing Around

Chapter 5 – You Were Never Alone

Chapter 6 – The Box

Chapter 7 – Outer Rim

Chapter 8 – A Good Crew

Chapter 9 – Shame

Chapter 10 – Unspoken Rules

Chapter 11 – My Favorite Table

Chapter 12 – Heart of a Lion

Chapter 13 – Twenty Fifth Century Mr. Rogers

Chapter 14 – Resist

Chapter 15 – Stick To Flying

Chapter 16 – Not Just Jarheads

Chapter 17 – No Love Lost

Chapter 18 – No Quarter

Chapter 19 – That Looks Painful

Chapter 20 – The Man

Chapter 21 – Special Crew

Chapter 22 – Saddle Up

Chapter 23 – Good Odds For Any Marine

Chapter 24 – Light ‘Em Up

Chapter 25 – All You Have Left

Chapter 26 – No Giant Too Large

Chapter 27 – I’m Taking You Home

Chapter 28 – Hold A Little Longer

Chapter 29 – Incoming

Chapter 30 – For Yuri

Chapter 31 – They’re Ours Now

Chapter 32 – All You Have Left

Chapter 33 – And Onward To Great Glory

Chapter 1 - Constellation

“There are so many small colonies declaring independence and forming new alliances—grand in name mostly” – Commander Avery Alvarez

Interstellar Space

2.3 light-years from Terran Union Territory

United Star Systems Covert Operations Ship: Endeavor

September, 2475

One week had passed since the United Fleet deep-space survey vessel Constellation vanished. The missing ship had been investigating an unusual concentration of exotic matter detected near the Terran Union—a small enclave which shared a spatial border with the United Star Systems.

A preliminary report dispatched by the survey ship, raised hopes it had discovered another powerful source of exotic matter—a source pivotal for advanced starship construction and design.

That was the final transmission received from Constellation.

Commander Avery “Vee” Alvarez sat at his workstation in his sparsely decorated ready room. He’d only just returned to United Fleet Headquarters from another covert assignment, when Fleet Admiral John Shepherd, the Supreme Commander (SC) of the United Star Systems Fleet (USSF), dumped this new mission on him. The urgency of the mission forced Avery to depart without delay. There was no time to visit his former captain, Aaron Rayne.

Avery tossed his handheld on the desk. His eyelids weighed a ton. He wished Aaron was here. It just didn’t feel the same without his friend. Aaron had sustained a serious injury on their last mission, and he still lay comatose in a hospital bed back at USSF headquarters orbiting Earth.

In many ways, Avery’s ready-room reflected how he felt—empty. The bulkheads were barren, and the space cramped. There hadn’t been time to grab any of his belongings. Avery had taken command of the Endeavor-class ship—the first of her class commissioned a month earlier—and constant assignments kept him busy.

And being busy gave him less time to think about the battle of Atlas Prime. When the United Fleet engaged the Baridian Empire Navy at Atlas Prime, he was certain there’d be no turning back, that war would ruin both of them. That was until Aaron Rayne blasted his way aboard the Imperial flagship to save the one man who could prevent the war­—Quintus Scipio, Lord Commander of the Baridian Imperial Navy.

And at great cost to himself, Aaron had succeeded.

Not long after the battle, the Supreme Commander promoted Avery and gave him a commission. Command was something that never interested him. Although, it was a privilege to command a new starship, he’d prefer to be aboard Phoenix as its XO, with Aaron as captain. Somehow, guiding the strong-willed force of nature that was Aaron Rayne seemed to be his calling. Although there had been no change in his condition, there was still hope for his former captain. Doctor Tanner toiled to develop a treatment to repair the neurological damage caused by the energy weapon.

Avery worried the doctor wasn’t getting enough sleep, he stalked the corridors of the space station looking like a zombie.

The only positive out of everything was his new ship. Endeavor was a smaller version of Phoenix, the prototype starship they’d used to infiltrate the Border Worlds.

In wartime, the Fleet would classify Endeavor a frigate, but during peacetime, the USSF officially referred to all its ships as starships. The Fleet preferred the image of an interstellar, peacekeeping, and humanitarian armada—with teeth. Like Phoenix, Endeavor was a product of Shepherd’s top-secret project to build a new generation of starships.

There were only a handful in service, and the advanced technologies involved required the harnessing and refinement of exotic matter. A stable resource found so far in only one star system within the United Systems.

The dark-matter reactor powered the ship’s advanced defensive and offensive systems, and infused ordinary projectile slugs with exotic energy, creating gravitic charges for the ship’s kinetic barrier. Higher warp-factors were also made possible by the new reactor technology, in addition to a strengthened armor plating matrix.

The new havoc missiles had miniature versions of advanced warp drives powered by dark matter, which propelled them just shy of light speed. It was the main reason they were so expensive to create.

The missiles were in high demand and supply was short.

Endeavor and Phoenix both possessed a fusion reactor also. The fusion reactor powered the sub-light drives and other ship systems, and the dark-matter reactor powered the experimental technologies.

Based on the successful tests so far, particularly in combat, the SC might soon consider deploying the technologies across a wider shipbuilding program.

A low, beeping sound interrupted his thoughts. It was the intercom. “Commander. O’Brian here. You’re needed on the bridge.”

His thoughts drifted too far when he was by himself.

“On my way, XO.”

***

Avery entered the bridge as the general quarters alert blared. He moved to stand next to his XO, Lieutenant Marla O’Brian, who was leaning over Ensign Richards, Endeavor’s tactical officer.

Avery liked that about his XO, she got very involved in everything, but she had to be careful she didn’t crowd the crew.

“XO?”

O’Brian gestured to the tactical screen.

“Commander,” she began. “That Terran Union destroyer we monitored earlier has transitioned from warp. We were told the Union called off their search for the Constellation a few days ago after coming up empty. However, since the spatial anomalies have manifested again…”

“They’re here to investigate,” Avery finished.

“That’s our conclusion, sir.”

Avery nodded and moved towards the command chair at the center of the small bridge. “What’s our status?”

O’Brian moved to stand beside him.

“Stealth systems are functioning within normal parameters,” she said. “Heat sink at fifty percent capacity. Estimate another six hours before we have to ...