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Privateers of Mars, excerpt

By Matthew Castleman
Dec 17, 2020 · 332 words · 2 minutes

Marscover

Art by Justine Backes.  

From the author: Excerpt from my adventure novella Privateers of Mars, a story of Solar System cold war, atomic swashbuckling, and companionship in the dark of space. For fans of The Mandalorian, Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and The Expanse!


“What’s the first thing we do when we arrive?” asked Morton.

“Drink,” said all three of her crewmates.

“Guess I should’ve asked what the second thing was then,” she mumbled.

“More like the fifth,” said Blythe. “With Blackport you want at least the first three or four things you do to be drink.”

A repeating ping came, slightly garbled, out of the deck’s speakers. Rhys reached up and flipped his comm toggle.

“This is Captain Jacob Rhys of the freight hauler Impaired Forethought.” Morton crossed her arms and exchanged looks with Blythe and Ivanov about the executive naming decision.

“Rhys, I remember you,” responded the crackly male voice. “Hang on. I had cleared bay eleven but I think some people just ran in there to settle a grievance. I’ll let you know when the gunfire dies down.”

When the Impaired Forethought was clear, it lumbered into an assigned berth whose cheap polymer walls were fresh with blast scoring and bullet dents. Thick pressure doors sealed behind it as dock webbing extruded from one wall and nestled the ship. When it was secure, atmosphere flooded the chamber and mass sims in what became the floor clicked on to about one fourth Earth gravity.

The crew gingerly alighted into a room whose walls and floor only partly covered bare asteroid rock, maintaining atmospheric integrity with minimal effort.

“So this guy, Boateng,” said Morton.

“Doctor,” said Rhys.

“Gambling addict,” said Blythe.

“Former career arsonist,” said Ivanov.

“I was going to ease her into that one,” Rhys muttered, finalizing arrangements for docking fees.

“I didn’t know you could make a career out of setting other people’s stuff on fire,” Morton said, her hands nervously twining together.

“Only if you’re damn good at it,” Blythe said, squinting. “He was a member of an… establishment-unfriendly organization on one of Venus’s orbital habitats.”

“He made a career of setting things on fire in a space station?”

“Right,” Rhys said. “Then he decided to go back to med school. Drink?”


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Privateers of Mars

Privateers of Mars is my newly published, long-awaited novella of Solar System cold war, atomic swashbuckling, and companionship in the dark of space. For fans of The Mandalorian, Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and The Expanse!

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Matthew Castleman

Matt Castleman writes strange adventures, imaginative tales and serialized swashbuckling.