Death on Moon 4
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by Joe Vadalma
Category: Science Fiction/Mystery/Crime
Description: Was the robot killer or victim? Under the stresses of their jobs on Moon Four of Epsilon Eridani One, Rick and Gabrielle's marriage has disintegrated. Rick is unhappy about living in an artificial environment, hates his job, and blames Gabrielle whose career has brought him to Moon Four. Gabrielle drinks too much and orders their humbot Newton to make love to her, which it readily obeys. Then Rick comes home early and discovers Gabrielle and Newton in bed together. Rick is so furious he orders Newton to kill her. The humbot tells him programing prevents all robots from harming humans. But when Gabriel is murdered, Newton becomes the prime suspect and is arrested. Rick immediately sues the humbot's manufacturer for wrongful death. Enter Duke Wilberstone, insurance investigator. If Newton is found guilty his company will lose millions and the entire basis of galactic -- the belief that robots can not harm humans -- will be at risk. Together with robotologist Shirla Cassico, he must prove the robot innocent and unmask the real murderer. But, as Wilberstone and Cassico's relationship heats up, they find the biggest obstacle to acquitting Newton is -- the robot himself. Art: Sam Addison
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions,
eBookwise Release Date: May 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [115 KB]
Reading time: 69-97 min.
The small lake turned dark as the sun sank below the horizon. One by one the stars blinked on as the rosy sky turned golden and then violet. By the last rays of sunlight, Rick Martilonzo smiled as he watched his wife of ten days, Gabrielle, run naked down the short strip of sand and dive into the lake, her breasts bobbing up and down and her rear jiggling enticingly. He was the luckiest man in the world to have married a woman with such a gorgeous figure, a beautiful face, pleasant personality, generous and giving, a good sense of humor and to put the frosting on the cake, a brilliant exoarcheologist. His friends had chided him about his obsession with her. They said that he spoke of nothing else anymore. Well, maybe it was true. But she was the only thing on his mind these days -- almost. He didn't want to think about the other. This weekend was for enjoyment. The other thing would come soon enough without brooding over it.
As Rick strained his eyes to spot Gabrielle frolicking in the water, the glow in the east faded and stars appeared in the night sky. First bright Venus appeared. As twilight faded to inky blackness, the heavens were filled with glowing gems in intricate patterns. A slight breeze coming off the lake cooled the hot August evening. The day had been perfect so far, just as he hoped. Gabrielle and he had hiked up to the mountain lake through deep woods filled with birdcalls, sweet plant odors and delicious mountain air surrounded by primeval forest.
Rick was in his glory. The only touch of sadness in his heart was that this year he would miss the beautiful foliage that came with autumn, as well as the pure whiteness of winter snows. Not only this year, but for several years to follow these outdoor pleasures would be denied him. He loved nature and hiking almost as much as he loved Gabby. He recalled the moments as they approached the summit of the rise where the land flattened out near the lake. His shirt clung to his back from perspiration and his legs ached. Gabrielle's long bare legs and long strides had taken her several meters ahead of him.
They arrived in time to watch a perfect sunset. As they stood with their arms around each other's waists, the sun settled behind the mountains on the other side of the lake. First the fiery orb rested on a peak like a glowing red basketball. The only sounds in the still air were the soft sigh of their breathing, the chirps and rivets of crickets and frogs and the buzz of mosquitoes. When the last sliver of sun disappeared, the clouds were transformed into a fantasy of pink and gold. Imperceptibly, over several minutes, their color deepened to scarlet, to gold, to burgundy and finally to deep purple.
Gabrielle sighed and kissed Rick lightly on the lips. "Oh Rick, it's wonderful. You were right about this place. It is a paradise. You're sure that it's quite isolated?"
"Let's go skinny dipping." She glanced around to make sure that no one else was around and shed her clothes.
Rick smiled. "You go ahead. I'll join you in a few minutes. I want to raise the tent before it gets too dark."
But he never did join her. Instead, after he set up their camp, he sat with his back against the tree watching the sky. After a while the constellation Orion rose with its bright star Rigel. Recently Rick had learned that the stars stretching from Rigel toward Taurus were known as Eridanus, Greek for river. The brightest stars in this constellation was Epsilon Eri, a group of stars circling a common point is space where their gravity field intersected. As he stared at it, his thoughts turned sour. Despite his pleasure at being where he was and who he was with, bleak thoughts churned in his mind. Today is my last day on earth, he thought. No more blue sky. No more green forest. No more purple mountains. He ridiculed himself. You fool. You're not dying. You're just going to a place eleven light years away for a couple of years. Once Gabby finishes her work, we'll come home with a bunch of money socked away and start our married life on a solid footing
Nonetheless, no matter how he tried to put a good face on it, he had forebodings that they had made a terrible mistake. He dreaded the whole idea. For some reason he had a premonition that they were headed for disaster. A chill ran up his spin, whether it was from the breeze off the lake or from his bleak thoughts, he was not sure.
For Gabrielle's sake he was committed to years in a sterile artificial environment. She loved her work as an extraterrestrial archeologist. She was as enthusiastic about examining strange artifacts on other worlds as Rick was about nature. So far her work had been on earth, classifying and studying what field archeologists had brought back from distant worlds. When a chance came up for her to do field work at the site of a long dead alien civilization, she was bursting with enthusiasm. It was a chance of a lifetime, to actually handle artifacts created by non-humans and try to determine what they were actually like, how they lived, what were the thoughts of those who had left writing in their strange hieroglyphics that stilled to be deciphered. Ever since Gabriel received the offer, she spoke endlessly about alien artifacts, how old they were and tried to guess why the aliens had vanished. She would say, "I wonder whether they became extinct because of something they did themselves or from a natural disaster. Perhaps they simply moved away from their original home moon and still exist somewhere else in the galaxy. Someday we may encounter their living ancestors."
Rick laughed. "You sure are full of ideas. I think that's why I love you so much."
At first it was planned that Rick would stay on earth while she was away. But when Gabrielle learned of an opening for a plant administrator in Eridani City, they rushed their marriage plans. Although Rick has some business experience and had been running his father's factory for a while, he would have preferred employment in a field closer to nature, but such positions were difficult to come by. In order to gain the independence and financial well-being he felt necessary for a happy marriage, he switched to a career in business temporarily; it seemed the best path to a stable and prosperous future.
The blackness that surrounded Rick began to lighten. The moon had risen. It's reflection on the lake took on a silvery mystical glow. In the midst of this shimmering circle of light, Gabrielle appeared like Aphrodite rising from the sea. She gazed up at the moon and raised her arms as though in pagan worship, which caused her heavy breasts to jut outward. The moonlight on her naked body transformed her into a glorious silver statue. Rick's eyes filled with liquid, and his heart leaped with desire at her sheer beauty. She was his life, his passion. He would travel to hell to be with her. In a way he felt as though this was the literal truth. They would be living in an underground city on an airless rocky moon. If not hell, it would at least be a prison as far as he was concerned.
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