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Hello visitors. On my blog I'm talking about my books, but also about what I'm currently working on and, maybe, some other stuff. Browse through my posts and don't forget to check out my older posts in the archives. If you are interested in my books, please, visit my website Fictitious Tales for more information and a few excerpts. You'll find more excerpts in my old website Herbert's World. Also, take a look at my second blog Herbert Grosshans, where I talk about fun-stuff and things that concern me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Outpost Epsilon

I finally finished my novella 'Outpost Epsilon'. It turned out to be 24,000 words long. I edited it and sent it in today to Midnight Showcase.
My other releases, Book 2 of Seeds of Chaos and the short story 'Orola, the Kiir' in Midnight Raunch has not been released yet, because the editors of Midnight Showcase live in an area of the States where they have bad weather right now and so working on computers proved to be a little difficult. But the books will be available within a couple of days, I'm sure.
Here is the first chapter from 'Outpost Epsilon'.
Chapter One

Terrex Stonewall shouldered his huge duffle bag, which held his meager possessions, and stepped from the shuttle onto the alien soil. Taking a deep breath, he inhaled the hot, humid air, registering unfamiliar scents and finding them not as unpleasant as he’d been told.
The door of the shuttle irised shut behind him, cutting off his way back should he change his mind about this new assignment, and he moved further away as the small shuttle lifted into the air.
He watched it rise, and then disappear into the low hanging clouds.
Although he had been briefed, it still came as a surprise to see the giant mushrooms surrounding him. He walked slowly across the cleared area towards the enormous bubble that would be his home for the next year.
He knew what to expect.
Life on an outpost was not a holiday. Neither did it mean hardship, not usually. His job, as a scout for the Solar Union, would be to keep watch over this area of space and report any intrusion into the system.
They did not tell him why this particular outpost was so important. Epsilon happened to be the fourth planet in a solar system at the edge of controlled human space. There wasn’t much here, as far as Stonewall knew. Nothing anyone would want, unless you liked mushrooms.
The shrill cry of an animal hastened his steps towards the dome. Before he reached it, an opening appeared in the smooth surface of the bubble and a man in the drab brown uniform of the Union stepped out.
“No canvassing allowed.” The man burst out laughing when he saw Stonewall’s perplexed expression. Holding out a hand, he said, “You must be Terrex Stonewall. I am William Peters. Welcome to Hell.”
“Hell?” Stonewall said, then nodded and grinned, suddenly aware of the wet fabric of his uniform clinging to his perspiring body. “It is damned hot.”
“Come inside.” The other man stepped back into the dome.
Stonewall followed him and stood silent for a moment, breathing in the cool air. Behind him, the door closed with a barely audible whoosh.
From the outside, the surface of the dome looked opaque, but standing inside, he could see the sky above and the forest of mushrooms as clearly as if the shell didn’t exist.
“Pretty clever,” he commented.
“It is. Don’t ask me how it’s done. I’m not a scientist. Something about bending the light waves.”
“You even have a garden,” Stonewall observed.
“That and more. Makes living on this hell-hole almost bearable.” Peters pointed to a squat building. “Those are our sleeping quarters. The kitchen and mess hall are over there. That ugly structure behind the kitchen houses the observation screens, computers, and detection systems. Below it, underground, is the power grid. We call that building the Power-building.” He grinned. “Very original, don’t you agree? You’ll be spending most of your time in there.”
Stonewall saw a couple of figures moving around in the garden. Peters noticed his interest. “Don’t worry,” he said, laughing. “You won’t have to work in the garden. Those are work-drones. Robots.”
Stonewall grinned. “You had me worried there for a moment. I’m not a farmer.”
“Speaking of farmers,” Peters said, “there is the Chief right now. His name is…”
“Derrol Farmer. I know,” Stonewall said and smiled.
The tall man who came walking towards them, looked gaunt, like someone who hadn’t slept or eaten for days. “So, you’re the new guy,” he said with a grating voice and gave Stonewall a tight smile.
“The name’s Terrex Stonewall, sir.”
“I’m aware of that. Call me Chief. We are not that formal around here.” Farmer pointed at Stonewall’s duffel bag. “What did you bring with you? I hope all that stuff fits into your locker.” He stared at Peters. “Show him his bunk and introduce him to the others.”
Peters tipped his non-existent helmet in a sloppy salute. “Will do, Chief.”
Farmer turned and walked away.
“Is he always in this cheerful mood?” Stonewall asked when he was out of earshot.
Peters chuckled. “Not always. Today is one of his better days.” He punched Stonewall on the arm. “Come, I’ll show you to your executive suite.”
He took Stonewall to the dormitory and showed him his bunk. “Here we are. Your lavish quarters for the next year.” He grinned. “Just throw your stuff on the bed. You can stow it away later. It’s almost noon, but before we go for lunch, I want you to see your new workplace.”

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