Scary transition from Mars orbit to descent for Nikki and her crew …

A TEASE FROM THE UPCOMING NOVEL
NIKKI RED: MARS COLONY AGATHA

June 19, 2023

“Initiate landing sequence,” Xander calmly instructed Jo, who reached to tap a button on her digital console.

“Landing sequence is a go,” the pilot declared, her voice strong and confident through the intercom in Nikki’s bubble helmet.

They were all suited up and strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule for the harrowing six-minute descent that could either establish humanity as a two-planet species or end in disaster.

Nikki and Sunny locked white gloves as they had for every life-or-death moment on the mission, and Nikki once again had to remind herself to breathe. She felt the thrust of the ship’s engines at her back and the level floor give way. The ship’s nose pitched downward, illuminating the previously dark windows with the blood-orange glow of Mars.

Nikki’s jaw dropped without exhale.

Starship accelerated its descent as programmed by the onboard computers, and Xander and Jo studied their digital screens closely to monitor their course toward Planum Australe near the southern polar cap.

“Maintaining current course,” Jo said.

“Accelerate descent to 7.5 kilometers per second,” Xander directed.

“That’s a go,” Jo replied, the engines roaring now and sending Starship into a virtual nose-down free fall toward the heavily cratered Martian surface.

Twenty seconds into that top-of-the-rollercoaster plunge, the ship’s internal lights and digital screens all flickered off and back on in a split-second.

“Electrical malfunction,” Jo reported, pointing to a flashing button on her console. “We’re on backup.”

Nikki and Sunny exchanged alarmed looks and gripped gloves even tighter.

“What the hell happened?” Nikki heard Eddy ask.

“Damage sensor flashing to the rear of the ship,” Xander announced, still amazingly calm.

“Heat shield issue?” Jo theorized.

“Too soon for that,” the commander replied. “How’s our course?”

“Good.”

“Speed?”

“Good.”

“Then I’m guessing a plasma surge from micrometeorites,” Xander said.

“Dammit!” Jo shouted.

“Too small and too fast to detect … we might’ve been sandblasted with our ass up in the air.”

“Welcome to Mars, Earthlings,” Jo said with a gallows tone. “We just got hazed.”

20 chapters are now complete:

PART 1
CHAPTER 1: An International Chorus
CHAPTER 2: Epic Decision
CHAPTER 3: A Long, Long Way
CHAPTER 4: The Link
CHAPTER 5: Red Zeppelin
CHAPTER 6: Parking Lot Reunion
CHAPTER 7: Sisters in Space
CHAPTER 8: No Softballs
CHAPTER 9: Last Supper on Earth
CHAPTER 10: Mars is a Lucky Guy
CHAPTER 11: Dancing with the Stars
CHAPTER 12: Space High

PART 2
CHAPTER 13: Black Aces
CHAPTER 14: Song in a Letter Box
CHAPTER 15: Hazed
CHAPTER 16: What Now Genius?
CHAPTER 17: 12-Story Horror
CHAPTER 18: No Further Communication
CHAPTER 19: Is Matt Damon Here?
CHAPTER 20: This is Mars

Words completed: 22,132

Advertisements

Nikki and the crew get interviewed in low Earth orbit before the burn to Mars …

A SCENE FROM THE UPCOMING NOVEL NIKKI RED: MARS COLONY AGATHA by Jack Chaucer …

“Are any of you scared to put Earth in your rear-view mirror and travel so far away?” “CBS This Morning” host Norah O’Donnell asked the astronauts aboard Crew Dragon.
“I am,” Nikki said, “but I wouldn’t be human if I weren’t, so you embrace that fear and blast right past it to a place no human has been.”
“I feel like a conquistador, myself,” Eddy boasted to laughs all around. Then he grabbed his larger friend. “Pluto Parker, here, is disappointed we’re stopping at Mars and not going to his home planet … ice-ball dwarf, whatever it is.”

The 12 chapters of Part 1 are now complete:

CHAPTER 1: An International Chorus
CHAPTER 2: Epic Decision
CHAPTER 3: A Long, Long Way
CHAPTER 4: The Link
CHAPTER 5: Red Zeppelin
CHAPTER 6: Parking Lot Reunion
CHAPTER 7: Sisters in Space
CHAPTER 8: No Softballs
CHAPTER 9: Last Supper on Earth
CHAPTER 10: Mars is a Lucky Guy
CHAPTER 11: Dancing with the Stars
CHAPTER 12: Space High

Words completed:
15,674

6 chapters complete so far for Nikki Red: Mars Colony Agatha (Nikki #4)

BFR and Crew Dragon on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

CHAPTER LIST SO FAR
1. AN INTERNATIONAL CHORUS
2. EPIC DECISION
3. A LONG, LONG WAY
4. THE LINK
5. RED ZEPPELIN
6. PARKING LOT REUNION

(8,276 words completed)

THE CAST SO FAR
Nikki Janicek, specialist
Sam “Snowbow” Archambeau
Thomas Harvey
Adam Upton
Roger Janicek
Lynn Barrett
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO
Jane Rushmore
Xander Vermilyea, commander
Jo Giguere, pilot
Ulysses “Pluto” Parker, specialist
Eddy Etergino, specialist
Susan “Sunny” Wilkes, specialist

Work begins on Nikki Red: Mars Colony Agatha

Jack Chaucer wants to write a NIKKI RED to go along with the previously published NIKKI WHITE (2017) and NIKKI BLUE (2015), as well as the prequel STREAKS OF BLUE (2013), so he has begun toiling on the opening scenes from the fourth book. It will pick up right where NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES left off, in the skies over the North Sea on Sept. 8, 2022.

Let’s just say things won’t be going as Nikki had expected, per usual.

The goal is to have this one published by July 4, 2020 — so very Red, White and Blue — well before humans actually set foot on Mars.

So far, there is a two-part PROLOGUE featuring Nikki and Thomas in one part, and South Pole legend Sam “Snowbow” Archambeau in the second part.

There’s also CHAPTER 1: AN INTERNATIONAL CHORUS and CHAPTER 2: EPIC DECISION, starring Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX.

The first line of Chapter 1 will be a short one … “Scheisse!”

That’s the German word for “shit.”

Stay tuned …

A fun day at The Big E

Jack Chaucer sold and signed 26 paperbacks for a bunch of awesome people at The Big E in West Springfield, Mass., on Monday. It’s a great event with a good crowd in the Connecticut Building. Readers of all ages were looking for new books and my pal Jim Fuller made the drive up from CT to buy the whole Nikki trilogy. I actually sold out of the Nikki trilogy plus eight additional books from my other three titles. Thanks to fellow author Karin LeFranc, a veteran of the CAPA booth, for her helpful tips.