"Alibi Jones and the Ghost In The Machine" is the new tale: A hulking, ancient, abandoned alien ship appears at the edge of human space. A ship approaching the wreck gets a terrifying visitation - a ghostly form begs them, "Don't let me die AGAIN!"
Now, the Solar Alliance Interplanetary Force tasks Alibi and his crew with an investigation of the ancient dreadnought...
Available now as an eBook - coming out in paperback in early 2013! Get it at:
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Ghosts-Thrilling-Paranormal-ebook/dp/B00AQ18N3E/
B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hunting-ghosts-buck-weiss/1113994150?ean=2940016107608
Kobo eBooks: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Hunting-Ghosts/book-uGOCvbAo-kuRzyeHhop3sg/page1.html?
Here's a taste of the story:
ALIBI JONES AND THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE
By Mike Luoma
“I just saw Mac.”
“Mac. My old boyfriend.”
“The bad ex? Out here? What, he bothering you again? Calling you on the com? I warned him about...”
“No. Not him. The one before him. Peter MacDonald.”
“The SAIF Captain? But I thought... isn't he? He died.”
“So how did you 'just' see him? Watching old footage?”
“Alibi, tell me... Do you believe in ghosts?”
Space blurred, refocused, readjusted around an ebony shape as it materialized and obscured the velvet black, purple-red nebula beyond it. The hulking alien leviathan, an interstellar traveler of ancient appearance, loomed over the Librecampista and Librecampista de Dos, two small cargo vessels owned by the “Independent” Hector Ruiz.
Hector captained the interstellar trading ship Librecampista, had for over ten years, plying trade lanes around and across the border of the Solar Alliance near Depot colony. His long-trusted associate Bob Bond piloted the other ship. Both men would bristle if you called them pirates. They didn't steal from other people, but didn't always operate above the law, either. Like most people around the borders of the Solar Alliance, they got by.
As their new visitor appeared, surprising them, Bond began running every scan available to him from the bridge of the Librecampista de Dos. The new arrival could be a threat. Could be harmless. Hard to know. Thing was mammoth and tenebrous enough to seem a threat. Something about it rubbed Bond the wrong way. It felt like death.
Bond called over to Hector's vessel as he scanned incoming data.
“Holy... Hector, you seeing this?” Bond asked. “That's one giant, dead old ship out there!”
“Seein' what, Bobby?” Hector said. He peered at the viewscreen in front of him, trying to make out any details in the inky black surface of the new arrival.
“Very funny, Hector,” Bond said.
“Space junk, amigo,” Hector said. “Could be some serious salvage money.”
“That thing is huge!” Bond said. “I don't know, Hec – there's something not right about it.”
“It's dead. Inert. Muerto. Didn't know you were so superstitious, Bobby,” Hector ribbed his friend. “You sound like my mother!”
“Tell you what. You want it? You can have it. We're going back to Depot.”
“What?” Hector asked. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
“It looks... wrong,” Bond said. “All wrong, Hector. I don't know how else to put it. I'm sorry, Hector. You want the salvage, it's all yours.”
“If I find something worth hauling off of there, you're comin' back to help, you hear?” Hector warned him.
“Maybe,” Bond said.
Hector watched as the Librecampista de Dos turned and flew off far enough to safely make the jump into Transpace. Then it disappeared.
“You're a superstitious old woman, Bobby!” Hector shouted at the com. Bond would hear the message once he crossed back out of Transpace.
“All right. Let's see what's up,” Hector said to his crew. “Bring us in closer to that thing.”
“Looks like someone's been here before us,” Hector said as he squinted at an unexpected feature mounted on the side of the shipwreck. On the screen in front of him searchlight dots from the Librecampista played over a small section of the alien vessel's surface, occasionally lighting up an incongruously normal, human-sized airlock door. “That's a portable airlock someone installed in this old cascabillo,” Hector said.
“Work of the SAIF Corps of Engineers,” Hector's ship's own engineer, Dr. An Ryoshi, said from her perch on one of the passenger seats at the back of the bridge. The trading ship's crew of six were all gathered on the bridge. Each wanted to see more of the spooky old ship that had appeared outside. “At least, looks like their work. From here,” she added.
Hector brought the Librecampista closer in to the giant old wreck. His copilot Janice ran new scans on the anachronistic airlock as they drew nearer.
“Definitely SAIF handiwork,” Janice said. “Few years old.”
The lights on the bridge dimmed.
“What the? Janice, what's going on?” Hector demanded.
“Power drain!” she said. “We're getting drained – power plant is down to eighty percent power.”
Ryoshi stepped up to the console next to Hector. She appropriated one of the floating viewscreens and began looking through incoming scanning data.
The lighting dimmed more.
“Seventy-five... and dropping, Hector!” Janice warned.
“If it's that ship that's draining us, we're not detecting any connections,” Ryoshi said. “And no sign of an energy build-up over there.”
“Dios mio... if?” Hector said, exasperated. “Something's draining our power! Bet it's that ship. Easy bet!” He punched at the bridge controls.
The Librecampista turned around and began pulling away from the old hulk.
“Tell me when the power drain stops,” Hector said to Janice. “Is it slowing down as we move away?”
“Yeah. Looks like,” Janice said.
The trading ship continued pulling away from the old wreck.
“Okay, it's stopped,” Janice said, after just over a minute had passed. “The draining effect has ceased. We're at sixty-eight percent power, but we're not losing any more.”
“Nor are we gaining power back, however,” Ryoshi said, nodding at the controls in front of her. “We should keep moving so the power reserves can build back up.”
Hector nudged the controls to keep the ship moving away.
One of the hired muscle spoke up.
“Not getting' any brighter,” Mercer said as he looked around the dimly lit bridge.
'Neither are you,” the other muscle, Swenson, snarked at his fellow Security and Handling Officer.
“Shut it, you two,” Hector said.
He was beginning to feel the same sense of unease Bob Bond had been describing. Just an uneasy feeling that something wasn't right. Something was wrong.
He felt cold.
Their eyes were blinded as a pillar of light appeared and glared a sickly greenish yellow in the center of the bridge. The light became a blurred and strangely shaped man, and then seemed to focus. In the middle of the room stood a translucent green astronaut, in a helmeted SAIF EVA suit.
Hector could not make out any details of the phantom astronaut's face inside of the helmet. If the ghostly astronaut even had a face. The figure raised its right arm, as if grabbing for the crew of the Librecampista.
“No!” The figure rasped in a rough mechanical voice. “Don't let me die! Don't let me... die again!”
“Dios Mio!” Hector gasped. He turned back to the ship controls.
Hector punched in a Transpace jump and prayed they were far enough away from the gravity footprint of the old ship to make it clean. As the engines complained at the sudden demand for Transpace, Hector also prayed the ghostly green astronaut would go away when they jumped.
“No!” the glowing green apparition cried. “Don't let me die AGAIN!”
Alibi Jones sat on the bridge of his Cruiser watching footage from the mission package sent by SAIF Command. His Covert Ops team's members were posing as independent contractors to work openly with the Project and the Solar Alliance Interplanetary Force on this current investigation, as a favor to his aunt Anita. His Cruiser was masquerading as the Free Trader A.D. Foster, working the Depot trade routes.
The recording in front of Alibi alternated between a humorless man with a severe crew-cut in a SAIF Commander's uniform and an Independent Trader dressed in flamboyant maroon, gold and black.
“A haunted ship? Are you kidding me?” Garrison Commander Sharkovski asked.
Alibi knew the man was still new to his post, appointed a few months ago after a corruption scandal cleaned out the old SAIF hierarchy on Depot. He obviously didn't suffer fools.
“You want me to believe there's some kind of old, haunted ship out there?” Sharkovski said.
“Look, man, I know you're new there, I get it. Respect. You don't have to tough-guy me,” Hector Ruiz said. “Maybe you don't realize this, but I'm an Independent – ain't my habit to call in to the SAIF garrison to chit-chat. Just trying to tell you there's some sort of old alien husk floating out at those coordinates I sent ya. And some kind of spaceman ghost with it that appeared on my bridge, saying 'don't let me die'! It was messed up!”
“What sort of cargo are you carrying, Independent?” Shakovski asked. “Hallucinogens?”
Alibi laughed as he switched off the footage. His feline-like Dakhur co-pilot Kat appeared on the bridge and made his way up to his flight seat on Alibi's right.
“What are you watching?” Kat asked. “Some more of your human com-eh-deeee?”
“Not exactly,” Alibi said. “The mission package. The first report of the 'alien derelict' – our 'ghost ship' – at least this time around.”
“This time?” Kat asked. “I did not realize there was another time.”
“Yeah,”Alibi said. “It appeared before. About five years ago. No talk of any ghosts back then, though, according to the reports. No talk of anything, really.”
Kat cocked his head to the side, inquisitive.
“None of it was made public knowledge. I never heard anything about it, myself,” Alibi explained. “Another covert ops team investigated back then. But most of them didn't make it back. Commander of the mission actually got ripped in half.”
“Yeoewerrr,” Kat growled.
CONTINUED in the anthology Hunting Ghosts!
Available now as an eBook - coming out in paperback in early 2013! Get it at: