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Tom Olbert

Thomas Olbert, author of Star Dancer Tom Olbert lives in Cambridge, MA. His sci-fi and horror fiction has appeared in Lillicat Publisher’s Visions series and in Mocha Memoirs Press anthologies In The Bloodstream and An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Tom’s full-length science fiction novel Dissent: Book I in The Nexus is now available from Phase5 Publishing.


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Star Dancer by Tom Olbert

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Star Dancer by Tom Olbert In a dark future, the orbiting Mars Platforms are an independent space nation and open trading port where every vice known to man is legally practiced.

Sabine DeGuerra is a professional concubine with a long list of wealthy clients. A master of dance, mathematics and martial arts as well as sex, Sabine makes a comfortable living, though haunted by the dark nightmares of her secret past and the dangers of her present.

Sabine’s life changes dramatically when Mirabelle, a young orphan girl fleeing torture and death in a tyrannical Mars colony, seeks her help. Sabine risks her own life to get Mirabelle and herself off the platforms and out of Mars space. Surrounded by the cold, black vacuum of space, death lurks around every corner of the platforms at the hands of the Guard, the merciless security guild. Sabine has only her courage and cunning against overwhelming and deadly odds…

Word Count: 15323
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99


Star Dancer

Chapter 1

Sabine spun in a soundless black vacuum, her blood racing in zero gravity as her tether line was severed a hundred miles above the surface of Mars.

Her heart pounded, her breath fogging the glass of her oxygen helmet. She hurtled past the spheres and docking tubes of the space Platforms, against the burning orange curve of the planet below. She saw the sparkle of the sun rising over the horizon, glittering silver across the polar ice caps. The stars twinkled mockingly in the black void above, cold and distant. “Come, lost little lamb…” the voice of that sick bastard came scratching through her earphones. She looked up, the rocket line he’d fired at her twisting, glittering in the weak sunlight, a silver strand. The freezing vapor of his rocket gun dissipated in a glimmer of frost, his free hand beckoning mockingly. She could almost see his cold eyes as she fell away from him. As she had in that moment, he’d sliced through her tether line with a vibro knife.

She saw the game, childish as it was. He wanted her to reach desperately, pleadingly for the line. He wanted to hold her life in his hands. To hear her beg, humbled. “Fuck you, you little prick,” she said defiantly as she seized the grapple-like head of the line, fighting to keep the edge of anger out of her voice, even as her heart slammed her chest.

“You think this is a game, bitch?” his gravelly voice spluttered out through clenched teeth. “No one’s coming out to get you. Your life is mine, you hear me?”

She heard his frustration in the quaver of his voice. She managed a smile, even thru the fear, which was already becoming a rush. Good, she thought. Keep him angry, keep him off balance.

“C’mere, bitch,” he growled as he activated the pulley in the rocket gun. She saw the distance closing between them as the line was reeled in. He pulled the vibro knife from his belt pack, activated the blade and swept it threateningly back and forth, like a sickle.

“You are boring me, you limp little freak,” she taunted him, all the while calculating the angle of her trajectory relative to the upsweeping agro sphere at the end of the revolving tube at the nearest Platform’s middle section. The timing had to be perfect. You can do this, she assured herself. Why not? She’d made a lucrative career by calculating the physical intricacies of sex in Zero-G. And her teachers in the finest schools from Luna to Venus had complimented her on her extraordinary mathematical aptitude. Numbers she could embrace; one more thing to take precious space away from feeling. Her thoughts raced even as another part of her mind calculated. The angle of trajectory against the speed of the rotation, the rate the line was retracting, the center of mass, the length of the tether at the right moment… Her breath accelerated as she tinkered with the electrical system in her suit, swearing under her breath as her gloved fingers clumsily struggled with two live contacts. Sweat beaded on her forehead as the last remaining seconds ticked off. Now.

She opened the valve on her suit’s recycling system and sparked the two contacts together, igniting the escaping flammable gas before it could freeze. The make-shift jet flared in the icy vacuum, knocking her aside. As she swung downward, the bastard at the opposite end of the tether of course swung upward, his counterweight giving her just enough kick to intercept the agro-sphere as it swung up. She fought to keep her breathing steady as she twisted the valve closed. She unhooked the grapple head from the tether line, falling free, the superstructure of the agro-sphere hurtling up beneath her. She glimpsed the still boughs of fruit trees in the soft-white glow of hydroponic lighting as she somersaulted and braced for impact. She groaned, her thighs aching as she flexed her legs on impact. Her bones rattled, her body battered against the interior of the suit as she swung the grapple head over her shoulder and snagged one of the support struts running along the glassy curve of the agro-sphere. She panted, the tendons in her arm straining as she pulled herself forward against the inertia, grabbing the strut with her free hand.

“I’ll kill you, bitch…” His voice grated through her earphones. She looked up and there he was, coming straight toward her, firing his jet pack with one hand, swinging the vibro knife with the other. The sun was behind her, glinting off the glass in his faceplate, now fogging with his rapid breath. She heard him chuckling as he drew close. “Here is a candle to light you to bed… here comes the chopper…” She waited, calculating the precise moment, then hurled the grapple at him. The heavy metal rod spun, end-over-end, straight toward his faceplate. He raised his arm to shield himself, groaning as the grapple collided with his helmet. She kicked off and rammed straight into him. Swinging onto his back, she ripped the air hose from the valve at his helmet. He had just enough time to scream as his air shrieked away, freezing into vapor that congealed on their suits.

“And here comes the chopper to chop off your head,” she taunted him as his eyes bugged out of their sockets, his face bloating in vacuum. She smiled as his face exploded in a mass of red goo inside his helmet. His momentum carried him straight against the agro-sphere. Behind him, she used his body as a cushion, feeling the soft thump of the impact. She plucked the vibro knife out of his dead fingers, switched it off and slipped it into her belt pack. Nice souvenir, she thought with a smile as she unfastened his jet pack and climbed into it. She trembled only slightly as she strapped in and jetted toward the nearest airlock. The numbness worked its way out of her body as the warm rush of blood resumed. Working out the residual tension with a long, deep breath, she reflected on the wisdom of the first rule of her profession.

Always make them pay in advance.
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