Today I have another blitz for you and without further ado, let’s start!
Title – Daisy’s Run
Author – Scott Baron
Series – The Clockwork Chimera #1
Publication Day – November 14th, 2018
Genre – Adult/Science-Fiction
Synopsis provided by the organizer:
Life in deep space could be a drag sometimes, but Daisy supposed things could have been worse. They were still alive, after all, which was always a plus in her book. Now if only she could figure out who, or what, was endangering her return home, things would be just peachy.
It had been one hell of a way to start the day––being rudely snapped from a deep cryo-sleep, and in the middle of a ship-wide crisis to boot––but Daisy was pleased to note that the ship had not decompressed, the crew hadn’t been blasted into space, and, most importantly, they hadn’t simply blown up. At least not yet. So, they had that going for them, but being stuck on a damaged ship in the inky depths of space as it limped toward Earth was not exactly the relaxing trip home she’d imagined.
With the powerful AI supercomputer guiding the craft beginning to show some disconcerting quirks of its own, and its unsettling cyborg assistant nosing into her affairs, Daisy’s unease was rapidly growing. Add to the mix a crew of mechanically-enhanced humans, any one of whom she suspected might not be what they seemed, and Daisy found herself with a sense of pending dread tickling the periphery of her mind.
Something was very much not right––she could feel it in her bones. The tricky part now was going to be figuring out what the threat was, before it could manifest from a mere sinking feeling in her gut into a potentially deadly reality.
Add the book to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41750345-daisy-s-run?ac=1&from_search=true
A native Californian, Scott Baron was born in Hollywood, which he claims may be the reason for his off-kilter sense of humor. Before taking up residence in Venice Beach, he spent a few years studying abroad before settling into the film and television industry, where he has worked off and on for some time. Scott not only writes, but is also involved in indie film and theater both in the U.S. and abroad
“Should we wake them? I mean, the ship is on fire, after all.”
Barry didn’t seem stressed. In fact, his voice rarely showed any extremes of emotion at all, though that was to be expected of a cyborg.
“It is a bit early, but yes, given the problems I am experiencing with my internal sensors and fire suppression systems, I think that would be prudent,” the disembodied voice of Malorie, the ship’s artificial intelligence system, replied. “Though I would like you on hand, just in case there are any issues cycling the crew out of cryo-sleep so early, and on such short notice.”
“Of course, Mal. Understood.”
The handsome flesh-and-metal man with sandy-blond hair rose from his seat in the control room and stepped into the double airlock leading to the central passageway network. Starboard Peripheral Corridor One would have been the faster route, but after the impact, with the possibility of undetected depressurization in any of the damaged and offline pod sections or one of the unmonitored inter-compartmental conduit routing spaces, he’d just have to take the long way. The inconvenience, he reasoned, was certainly preferable to being unceremoniously blasted into space.
The Váli was a sturdy ship, and she had only been nudged slightly off course by the collision. There was time to set things right, but sooner was far better than later. At the speed and distance they were traveling, “slightly” could easily become “a lot” quickly.
Normally Mal would simply right the course herself, diverting a fraction of her attention toward adjusting the maneuvering thrusters to gently ease them back on target. In the event of a fire of any significance, however, protocol required her to wake the crew of the Váli.
The ship’s unusual name had been taken from old Norse mythology, given to it by a cybernetically-enhanced engineer with a fondness for ancient texts. Váli, the son of Odin, brother of Thor. A god prophesied to survive Ragnarok, the end of times.
She was a fast ship, no doubt, and extremely nimble, when not laden with additional research, living, and lab pods locked to her support frame for such a long voyage. That bulk-saving performance, however, came at a price. The multiple layers of outer shielding found on larger, sturdier vessels—the kind that would have prevented such a minor impact from damaging them in the first place—were sorely lacking, and so it passed that the ship had succumbed quite spectacularly to what would have been an otherwise minor incident.
“Is everything all right?” Barry asked her, pausing his scan of her cryo pod’s vitals readout to survey the groggy woman.
“I was having a dream,” she said, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“A dream? No one dreams in cryo,” Barry replied, eyeing her with an odd expression. “Perhaps it is merely data ghosting. I had to pull you from the neuro-stim cycle prematurely. That might be what you experienced. You have had many years of information fed into your mind as we traveled, after all. Do you know the crew roster? Your duties? All the relevant data for the voyage should have been trickle-fed through your neuro-stim unit during transit.”
Daisy looked at him, confused.
“You’re aboard the Váli. We’re still six months from the moon’s Dark Side base, orbiting Earth. I understand you may be feeling groggy or disoriented, but I really do need to tend to the other crewmembers. The cycle was not complete, and you are all still coming out of your stasis-sleep. The neural stimulators were—”
“What in the hell is going on with my ship?” Captain Harkaway bellowed as he lurched from his cryo-pod, yanking the physio-stim electrodes from his skin as he hopped to his feet. His metal leg impacted the floor with a jarring clang. From hip to tip, Daisy noted, his left leg was entirely mechanical. He rubbed a hand through his gray crew cut.
“Dammit, Mal, what’s the sitrep?” he growled to the ever-monitoring computer.
“We have experienced an unexpected impact, Captain,” the AI calmly informed him. “Short-range nav is down, multiple communications systems and sensor arrays are compromised throughout the ship, and there is unknown external damage. Port Storage twelve has been sealed, and we have been knocked slightly off course from the impact.”
“You’re designed to handle these things, why did you wake us up? Hell, you could have sent Barry out for that. The whole point of having a cyborg with us is he doesn’t have to go into cryo-sleep and can do—”
“There are also several small fires on board, and my sensors have been unable to detect them all.”
“Oh. Shit,” he said as a burst of adrenaline flooded his system. “Get the others up!”
“On it already, Captain, as per protocol,” Barry replied.
“I’m heading to the bridge.” He cast a curious look at the groggy tech. “Swarthmore, you all right?”
“Daisy, are you with me?”
“Yeah. Just feeling a little weird.”
“It’s to be expected. Try to pull yourself together and get your head on straight. This is what you do. You’re the tech guru. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be needing your expertise once we get this whole burning-to-death-in-the-void-of-space thing under control.”
Daisy slowly slid to her feet, steadying herself on awkward-feeling legs.
“Mal, send a full report to my station in the command pod. Barry, get the others up and moving. If we’ve got a fire, I’m going to need every damn hand on deck, ASAP,” Harkaway barked.
A shining metal fist smashed through the hardened shell of the stasis-pod nearest the cyborg.
“Barry, handle it,” the captain grumbled, then stormed out of the chamber’s airlock doors.
The fist belonged to Tamara Burke, a sturdily muscled brunette with wisps of gray hair streaking her temples. Her entire right arm from the shoulder down was metal, thin seams and indentations crisscrossing the surface at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. Where the metal met her flesh, the foreign material seemed to meld to her body, a faint scar the only sign she wasn’t born with it.
Her metal hand began tearing free of the pod as if it were paper, not heavily-reinforced polymer.
“Tamara, calm down,” Barry soothed her from a safe distance.
She paused, the stasis fog clearing from her head. A slight blush colored her cheeks.
“Oh hell. Sorry, Barry. Training. What the hell happened? I was mid-upgrade when you snapped me out. You know what can happen when you interrupt a neuro-stim cycle.”
“I am aware. However Mal and I concurred it was best to have the entire crew awakened at once. We suffered an impact, and there appear to be one or more unlocated fires on board.”
She rapidly scanned the chamber until her eyes fell on Daisy, standing unsteadily beside pod and looking groggy, while the rest of the crew slowly clambered from theirs.
“Shit, you really did mean everyone. Hey, new kid. Good morning.” She nodded a greeting to Daisy.
“Wait, you did what now?” Sarah looked at Daisy with a questioning gaze.
“I said I hacked into his file. Look, I was curious, okay? Besides, it was the absolute lowest level of encryption, so it couldn’t have been that big a deal, right?”
Her friend did not relent with her disapproving gaze.
“He’s your boyfriend, Daze. Why didn’t you simply ask him when his birthday is?”
“Well, yeah, obviously that’s an option, but that’s the boring option. Besides, a surprise isn’t a surprise when the surprisee isn’t surprised by their surprise.”
“You practiced saying that, didn’t you?”
“Maybe once or twice,” Daisy replied with a grin.
“Okay, so let’s just say I’m okay with you hacking into the crew’s files to find out Vince’s birthday—which I’m totally not, by the way—then what do you plan on doing with that information? And hey, you’re a wire-pulling tech monkey, not a code geek. How did you even know how to do that?”
Daisy blushed and looked away.
“Jesus, Daze! Another mod to your neuro stim? You’ve gotta stop switching off those inhibitors before you fry your brain.”
“Hey, I’ve still got nearly all of them left,” she said.
Technically only four, if you want to be specific, but that’s only a slight exaggeration, Daisy mused to herself.
“Plenty of redundancies to protect me,” she continued. “And besides, I only added a few relatively simple coding protocols I thought might come in handy, which they have, by the way. It’s really cool, actually. I think I’ve finally figured out how to get all those little neuro-stim upgrades to work.” She paused, a slight look of unease on her face.
“What? What aren’t you telling me?” Sarah asked.
“Well, the weird bit is sometimes it feels like there are things in there that I shouldn’t even have in my feed.”
“I don’t know, I only get flashes of them. But crazy stuff. Advanced AI design, ship specs, even the medical equipment. Did I mention I think I got that portable scanner working?”
“But that’s been busted for nearly five months.”
“I know, and I didn’t even add any new repair protocols to my feed this time. It just happened. Like I said, crazy.”
“I wonder…” Sarah mused.
“I was just thinkin’, all of our neuro-stims are routed through dedicated servers in our quarters before tying in to the ship’s primary storage banks, but during cryo we all shared that one main hub. I wonder if maybe something glitched and started trickling other people’s feeds into yours. Like medical info. That’s Doctor McClain’s area. Or ship specs. You’d expect the captain or Reggie or even Gus to be downloading that data, not you.”
“You think that’s a possibility?”
“Hell if I know. Your guess is as good as mine, but so far as I can tell, you’re the only one it happened to. I just hope you don’t lobotomize yourself fiddling around with the thing. That’s some dangerous tech if used improperly.”
“Would I ever do that?”
Sarah didn’t dignify that with a response.
“So, what’s this surprise you want to do for Vince’s birthday?”
A huge smile broke free on Daisy’s face. “I’m going to bake him a cake!”
“Seriously? With what?”
“Well, Vince baked me cookies. Actual handmade cookies, can you believe it? Anyway, I wanted to one-up him, and Finn said he’d hook me up with some substitutions that should work. It won’t be a totally traditional birthday cake, but it should do the trick.”
“And would that trick be getting you laid?”
“Oh, honey, I don’t need a cake for that.”
“All right, I’ll help you with the festivities. What else do you need? And don’t say candles. You know how the captain is about fire on board.”
“I was thinking balloons.”
“Yeah. Think you can wrangle something up? We have helium in the labs, so…”
Gears turned in Sarah’s mind.
“I think I can manage that. All that Mylar we used for long-term packaging. If I tape the seams, I bet I could make a pretty darn nice bunch of balloons.”
“Sweet! See? I knew I could count on your brain-box to come up with something. I owe ya one!”
“I’ll hold you to it when we finally get back to Earth.”
“Less than a week and we’ll be sipping margaritas on the beach. First round is on me. Just you wait and see, it’ll be excellent.”
“Captain, what happened? Mal woke up everyone.”
“I know. Impact on the port side. Sensors are down, and there’s fire on board.”
“Are the engines all right? I can head down there—”
“Barry’s already on it. They seem to be untouched, but we’ve had a few artificial gravity fluctuations, so he’s going to examine the pulse feeds. Once he’s done there, I’m having him do an EVA outside to check the collection panels for damage.”
The Váli, unlike most ships, possessed an unusual secondary propulsion system, one that allowed for extremely long-range travel without draining power. While the standard fusion engines would provide basic propulsion and maneuverability, the collection panels would gather cosmic energy and solar radiation when deployed, gradually filling a series of reserve power stores, while also directly feeding a supplementary pulse drive.
Without the resistance of an atmosphere, this system allowed the ship to progressively ramp up its speed over time. It also allowed, should an emergency occur, for several short, but intense, bursts of speed. The only drawback being such an act would drain the entire system and require quite some time to recharge.
“Captain, what about the shuttle?” Reggie asked.
“Impact was up top, so it was protected by the body of the ship. Good thing it’s mounted upside-down to the bottom. Unfortunately, that means our comms and navigation array are what took a beating. How are the others coming?”
“I saw Vincent and Finn gearing up. Do we know where the fire is?”
“Negative. We have to do a full-ship check, starting with compartments in proximity of the damaged area. Where the hell is Gustavo? We’re flying blind here.”
“Here, Captain,” Gus called from the airlock door. The command center’s lights reflected off the exposed metal patch of his skull near his cybernetic eye. The metal, like Tamara’s arm, smoothly blended into his skin. Whatever had happened to him, they’d done extensive repairs, including not just his skull and eye, but part of his ear as well. The navigator slid into his seat.
“Plug in,” Captain Harkaway barked. “No wireless, it’s glitching. Go hard-line and tell me what you can see.”
Gustavo pulled a high-capacity data cable from his station and plugged it into the slot at the base of his skull.
“I see where Mal’s problem is, sir. Several relays near Starboard Seven have been damaged. Possible fire, though I can’t be sure.”
“Starboard as well? Get Swarthmore and Moore in there. Those two are going to have their work cut out for them.”
“Affirmative, sir,” he said, switching on his mic. “Daisy, Sarah, do you copy?” Gus asked over the wireless comms.
“Copy,” Daisy replied through her headset. “Sarah’s still suiting up, but she copies too.”
“Okay, listen up. Captain wants you to hit the Narrows. One of you in the exterior layer, port side near Pod Twelve, the other starboard near Pod Seven.”
“We’re on it,” she replied, clicking off the comms.
“The crawlspaces. Why does it have to be the crawlspaces?” Sarah lamented.
- Signed copy of Daisy’s Run
That’s everything! Are you interested in reading this book? I had to add it to my virtual TBR! How about you? Please let me know in the comments below!
All the information and pictures were provided by the organizer of this blitz.
Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for including me in this blitz.