GROND: The Raven High
Publication date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE END OF CHILDHOOD
…The orbital cannon, flying five hundred kilometers over the High House, readily obeyed the code introduced by Petrov, coming under his command in manual mode. He didn’t have to switch on the long-range radars since the House’s path was fixed and the curator only needed to introduce the station’s coordinates. Then he watched as the thirty-meter barrel turned on its electric drives.
He switched on the precise guidance telescope. What was left now was to aim at the ship moored to the axis. The cannon’s guidance system would independently calculate the required lead. Now the thin red lines were coming together on the Swan’s bow, where Petrov hoped the control post was. He didn’t want to hit the reactor compartment.
The cannon accumulators fully charged; the fragmentary round was in the barrel. The target was attached to the High House and therefore couldn’t evade, and it wasn’t protected by jamming. Everything promised an ideal shot.
“Well, dear citizens engaged in alcoholism, hooliganism, and parasitism!” Petrov announced with unconcealed relish. “Time for the fate you so richly deserve!”
A space artillery gun is an inconspicuous thing. It fires without a bright flash or deafening sound of a shot. But the shell, boosted by the pulse-driven electrode accelerator, rushed to the target at a speed of eighty kilometers per second.
“Ensign Voronov is calling Electra Donovan. Over.” Olga’s voice was even as usual, showing no emotions.
“Wha-a-a-t? You’re still alive?”
Olga smiled wryly and looked out the porthole.
“Alive, my friend. And now I’ll show you my funny trick!”
“Beautiful!” Olga exclaimed, watching with admiration as bow of the Black Swan shattered to hundreds of glittering fragments. The shell that hit the yacht exploded inside it, producing thousands of splinters in the shape of curved saber. They cut through everything on their way—partitions, equipment, spacesuits, human bodies … The maneuvering engines and oxygen tanks exploded. The controls inside the ship threw off showers of sparks. The dazzling flame flared up and died out. The metal and ceramite bulged outward, then came apart in a donut-shaped ring of shrapnel. Only the reactor compartment, protected by armor, survived. The High House’s docking unit was damaged, but it was of no significance now.
With the destruction of the generator, the pain vanished like a nightmare. Olga regained control of the station and immediately introduced new security codes that would make any further hacking impossible. Simultaneously an SOS signal and an encoded short message detailing the attack on the station left for Earth…