Framed for murder, homicide detective Jack Cluewitt has to stay one step ahead of his own Near-Earth Police Department to find the real killer. Jack Cluewitt by Ruth J. Burroughs. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:
In Troy, New York, Near-Earth-Police homicide detective, Jack Cluewitt, is investigating a mysterious antique paper book that is also a map to a secret source of unlimited fuel. International Space Corporation will kill for the secrets of the belt, and the Green Party will go to any lengths to keep the location secret; they will steal, kill or die for their cause. When a Green Policewoman is found dead in a Moon mining cave, a bullet in her heart, Jack Cluewitt is framed for the murder. He has to stay one step ahead of his own Near-Earth Police Department to find the real killer. But his goal to clear his name and find the murderer puts him, his partner, Indigo Jane, and Organ Enforcement Agent, Rappel Luna, in grave danger as they fight to secure a secret fuel that could put Water and its corrupt powers out of business.
Word Count: 100700
Pages to Print: 314
Coming SOON in PRINT!
Edgar Moon Digger Chavez sat on a hydraulic lift-seat atop his Moon-roving, mine-digging, Nova Volteggiare, a nine wheeled Hummer vehicle, on the lunar basaltic plain of Imbrium Basin in the darkness of a lunar night that would last two weeks. It was six in the morning on Monday, June 7th in the year of our Earth-Mother 5030. But on the Moon’s Imbrium Basin it was a long Moon night.
His rover camera hovered over a bleeding space suit sprawled on its back across the chiseled entry way to the ore mines, floating a little top-heavy, feeding him the image on his armchair hologram. In horror, he watched as the holo showed the body of a dead someone. Whoever it was had to be dead; he could see globs of blood escaping the gaping wound in the space suit where a bullet had exited the heart and chest, and more blood bubbling in the helmet visor. His camera coldly surveyed the area, showing him the corpse again and just went black; it just quit.
Edgar called headquarters. “Did you get that boss?”
“Get what?” Missi asked.
“The transmission. The dead Green Police in the cave. I just watched it on the hologram my camera was taking of the cave. A guy or gal in a space suit with a big bloody hole in the chest.”
“Looking.” There was a long pause. “Nope. Sorry, Ed. We got nothing. What makes you think it was Green Police?”
“The Green Police insignia patches.”
Edgar pushed replay, but nothing was in the chair’s memory. It was as though it hadn’t happened. Nothing had transmitted, and Missi ordered him to stay put until Jules, his mining partner, arrived to help him record and witness the corpse or until Near-Earth Police Homicide detectives arrived.
He took a sip of hot lunar grown java and winced at the taste. He dimmed the lights on his suit and the nine-wheeled Volteggiare and enjoyed the view of the blue mass of Earth light in the dark sky. He’d run out of Jovian Java and was convinced they used Moon dust for coffee beans here. Today was his birthday and he was gonna piss and moan if no one bought him any Jupiter coffee beans. They worked an Earth-week schedule despite the daylight differences.
Ed Moon Digger wanted to take off his suit, but knew Security at Vasquez Ore Mining Corporation, or VAQ-ORE Corporation, was monitoring him, plus he had the nagging feeling someone was watching him. Maybe the murderer was nearby.
A magnetic field surrounded him on the Moon-digging vehicle, but there was no guarantee the pressurized atmosphere would always be stable. It was infamous for losing tensile strength at exactly the wrong moment. So there were strict rules about keeping the spacesuit on even if the helmet was collapsed. If the vehicle stopped generating atmosphere within the plasma field, his suit would automatically seal. Ed didn’t like sucking on balls of coffee and he didn’t like squeeze tubes. It just wasn’t the same as sipping, but he did have to use a closed cup or it could get messy. Inside the field the stars looked fuzzy and the shield sparkled luminescent despite being mostly transparent.
He saw motion out of the corner of his eye and looked up. He was surprised to see one of the Moon digger robot dogs come barreling through the Alps Valley, its eyes shining like headlights down the gulley. Jules had finally got the licenses back even after his robot dog had attacked another miner. It had to be proved in court that Jules hadn’t changed any programs in the dog. Edgar’s own robot dog had been taken in the case and their robot dog mining licenses had been suspended and the dogs had been held by Moon City Police until the trial finished. Jules had promised to get Edgar his dog back once he won his case.
Peoples for the Preservation of Historic Space, PEFOPRESH had set limits on mining the Moon, due to the interests of several species on Earth that rely on the Moon’s tidal forces. The argument set forth by PEFOPRESH was that the Earth-Moon system could be altered drastically, causing severe weather changes if the Moon was too heavily mined. More severe than they were now, and Earthbound did not want worse weather.
The PEFOPRESH, the Green Police, NEPD, which included Moon City Police, had to approve the robot dogs’ programming. The robot mining dogs were programmed to act like dogs. The Green Party and the PEFOPRESH, usually at odds with each other, just wanted to make sure the Moon didn’t fall below the restricted mass.
It was easier to get a robot dog license in American Moon territories because space laws differed in different territories. Green Party came down on any religion that didn’t accept the worship of Earth Mother and the Seed Theory. Any religions that supported guns, bombs and violence against seeding space through colonization in the Buckminster Fullerene colonies and evolving into space beings were punished ruthlessly by the Green Party through the Green Police. Anyone taking bribes to mine the Earth’s Moon beyond the restrictions was punished severely, but this was the only way to stop generations of corruption from the old military and Corporate Party system of governance. The worst offenders were sent to the Genetically Modified Organisms Space-Habitats to be punished by the mysterious Genies, Genetically Modified Human Organisms, who, it was rumored, truly hated terrorists and often sided with preserving historic or virgin space and humans.
Ed Moon Digger called into his supervisor.
“Okay, Missi, I’m going in . . . I need to find out what I saw on the hologram.”
“No, wait for Jules. It was probably a normal hallucination. Don’t want to report that. No buddy, no mine.”
“I’ve had breakfast, boss. Jules is late. But he’s had my robot dog released. Now I have something to record the scene. I’ll meet him in the pit. He’s only five minutes away. I’ll meet him under the Alps Mountains on the rille floor,” Ed protested.
“He’s ten minutes away or more. Finish your coffee, and then drive in,” Missi ordered.
“Tell Jules to step on it. I’m tired of waiting.”
“You should have called me earlier. I would have got him up with a cold bucket of water.”
Ed Moon Digger, sipped, savoring his coffee, looking in the distance toward the colorful lights of Moon City in Mare Frigoris, the basaltic Sea of Cold. Toward his right he saw glints of Jules’ rover, scrambling as rapidly as a rover could go on the Moon, in the Alps Valley that cut through the Alps Mountains. If he could help it, Ed didn’t use the Latin names. Looking back toward Moon City, he could almost make out the neon glow from Organdy Poisson’s Sushi restaurant near Protagoras crater in Mare Frigoris if he squinted against the glare. The city used artificial light to mimic Earth day and night, but it was still black as a Moon night out here on the floor of Imbrium. He looked out over the jagged crater rims of the Moon and felt like something was out of place. He’d grown used to not having the robot dogs, but that wasn’t what was bothering him. It was something else.
Even the way the shadows cast out over the rocky expanse seemed different, and things rarely changed in restricted zones. What was he missing? He took another sip of the Moon java and grimaced, spitting it out and then threw the rest of the cup overboard, out onto the plasma shield that covered the shiny gray confection, on the banged up surface of the Moon. The spilled coffee seeped through the artificial mag field.
Ed pushed a button and lowered the chair lift. The hiss of hydraulics seemed loud in his little bubble of atmosphere.
Once the programs were approved and the dogs were tested, they set up the licensing and miners were given precedent. Some people were buying them as companions and watch dogs, to guard their hoards. But there was less looting here than out on Mars and in the belt. The further from Earth, the more lawless it became.
Out in the distance, Ed Moon Digger watched in the Moon’s silence as his dog’s rapid approach disturbed the regolith. Its paw prints etched a jagged line toward the rover. The mechanical canine barked incessantly, but Ed could only hear the hum of the magnetic field generator.
Ed Moon Digger climbed down to greet the Moon dog, glad that Jules had his back and had the judge release their dogs. Jules would never throw him under the bus like some co-workers who trashed him did, just to get ahead.
The EM field parted for any robot and then re-established itself, but the atmo pressure alarms usually blasted if the bot took too long. The Nine Wheeled rover’s superconductive engine pack that generated the mag field couldn’t protect it from EM bombs, amplified Rayguns and the like.
He watched his robot dog leap gracefully through the air, its nose hit the mag field, sparking it, and then the rest of its robotic body came sailing through, like a diver hitting the surface of the water. Its chops still going, he could finally hear it barking. It padded the last few feet and jumped up on his space suit, slobbering. Fortunately its claws were retracted, but it drooled on him.
Ed wondered why the artisans gave it such details, but he believed it must have something to do with its cooling system. Moon Digger looked at its tag. Moon Mining License A0980997 Canine Robot Systems to Edgar Chavez, Moon Ore Extractor. Edgar and his robot dog went back a long way. It was good to see Cavity again. Now, that was some birthday present.
“Off boy.” He pushed the heavy beast down. The dog ran circles around him.
“C’mon boy, up in the cabin. Let’s go. We’re not waiting for those slow pokes,” Moon Digger said, patting the seat. The dog jumped up, wagging its tail, unable to contain its excitement.
Ed pushed the rover into gear and drove into the Alps Valley Rille toward the shade of the Alps Mountains where the mine was located, his lights automatically cutting into the dark shadow and lighting up spots of dirty sparkling ice. In the graben, the sides of the rille loomed above on either side. It was called Imbrium Basin Mine, even though it was technically in the Valles Alps. He drove the flat surface to a blasted area littered with rock, moving vehicles, backhoes and cranes in the shadows of Mount Alps, piled high with mounds of rock. He maneuvered the rover around the dark shapes, sparkling with olivine minerals even in the shadows and creating a maze that hid the entrance to the mining tunnels.