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Thorsten Schröder

Bartu - Part I





BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
80331 Munich

Foreword by the Author

I have long been obsessed with writing a post apocalyptic story and playing Fallout - New Vegas again in 2013 made me finally do it for real.

At the same time, I was also completely reshaping the universe my Sci-Fi stories took place in up until then (Norkon, Lima 6, Spacehounds - Aurora, etc.) and combining the story of a few teenagers who survived the nuclear apocalypse with a proper introduction to this "new" Universe was the logical consequence after a few attempts at other methods to introduce this new setting.

 

Another thing I wanted to try was to write a story in english to reach a bigger audience and to improve my language-skills. This story provided me with the perfect opportunity to do that.

Chapter 1

The deep, constant pounding of the big 1-cylinder diesel engine could be heard all over the bay. It slowly faded away, while the fishing-boat set course for the rich fishing-grounds roughly 12 miles off the coast.

Thoras stood on the edge of a cliff, his car behind him, and watched the bay and the small town with its yacht-club. It was a beautiful morning and the perfect day to drive around in his car, which he had finished rebuilding the night before.

He continued to watch the bay, about 60km away from the big city „Rodaron“ and its 2.1 million inhabitants, for a few more minutes, before he got back into his car and started the engine. He listened to the 6-Cylinder turbo-diesel humming under the bonnet for a moment and checked the instruments. Then he drove back on the coastal road and hit the accelerator to make some use of the empty lane before he reached the highway which would take him back to the city and his home.

His eyes caught a short glimpse of the clock. 1 hour, 29 minutes to the first lesson at school today, but with every minute passing by his will to attend classes today vanished. He had worked all night to finish his car and now he had to test it before getting some rest.

He hit the brakes hard to decelerate at a tight corner and with a stomp on the accelerator he unleashed 300 impatient kilowatts of power at the apex of the corner. A short screech of the tires bore witness of the struggle between inertia and adhesion between rubber and road, but was quickly ended by the traction-control-software in the car-computer. The power output was automatically decreased to avoid wheel spin and convert every single torque into a brutal acceleration that pressed Thoras into his seat.

“Yeah!” he cried out, as the double-clutch-gearbox slammed the third gear into position and connected it to the 4 wheels of the small car at 2800RPM, which meant that the full amount of 480 newton-meters of torque propelled the car like a rocket towards the next corner, where Thoras hit the brakes so hard, the computer displayed a Overheat-Warning in the monitor between RPM-Counter and speedometer.

“As I thought: I need a 6-cylinder-brake....“ Thoras muttered, as he made a note in his mind. This was flaw number 4 with the first being the Sub woofer he had connected to the wrong audio-crossover and therefore produced almost no sound at all.

He stayed on this curvy road for a few more kilometers and then got to the highway, where he searched for a hole in traffic to max out the car he bought for only 100 Uniams as a almost complete wreck and rebuilt it for about 9000 Uniams. Aside from the chassis, almost nothing remained vintage. This was most obvious in the engine-compartment, where he installed a new VR6-Diesel fresh from the factory-lines with 2 turbochargers and common rail-direct-injection, which was connected to a 4-Wheel-Drive via a double-clutch-gearbox and governed by a modern car-computer, as it was standard in today’s car.

 

As he failed to find a free strip of tarmac on the highway to max out his car, which was designed as a compact car for young people with less money yet fast and agile enough to appeal to the target-audience, he just swam with the traffic on his way home to get some sleep.

Tonight there would be a big party at the house of one of his classmates and he wanted to be there and look good to start a new attempt on his crush, Aliana. To look like the oil-covered zombie he often was when he worked for several hours in the workshop of his fathers car-serving-company would certainly be contra-productive.

 

Since he had worked during the night the intended short sleep became much longer and so he woke up in the early hours of the evening.

As he had promised a friend and his girlfriend to drive them to the party, he had little time left to shower, eat something, get dressed and fill the car up with diesel before he had to arrive at the house of his friend.

He tried to hurry as much as he could but the best he could do was to arrive 30 minutes late and with his hair still wet.

“There you are.” his friend greeted him after opening the door. “Something with your car?”

“No.” Thoras replied. “Worked all night and overslept... Sorry.”

“No need to be sorry.” Oklas said. “Julie is still in the bathroom.”

“Okay...” Thoras looked back at his car, which he simply parked on the road. “I don't think, I can leave it there for too long.”

Oklas nodded. “Honey, how much time do you need?” he yelled into the house where he lived with his parents.

“Almost done!” she answered from the bathroom that was located near the entrance-door.

“10 minutes...” Oklas said. “Enough time to check out your car.” he added curiously.

They walked back to the car and opened the hood to look at the brand new engine which ticked its heat away.

“How much Power?” Oklas asked when he had finished inspecting the engine-compartment.

“302 Kilowatts.” Thoras replied. “Had to change the pistons, piston-rods, camshaft, and so on for race-fit parts made of titanium. The whole program basically.”

“Wasn't cheap, eh?”

“The pistons alone were 120 Uniams each!”

“Ouch!”

“Yeah. You are looking at 5800 Uniams of metal, cast and machined into a masterpiece that puts out 480 Newton-Meters.”

“Not bad!”

“Wanna hear it?” Thoras went to the drivers side, got in the car and started the engine.

After not even one full revolution the engine roared into life and settled at a modest 700rpm.

“Nice sound!”

“Thanks.” Thoras gave the accelerator a nice push and revved the engine a few times so that everyone in the street could hear it. Then he got out of the car again and closed the hood. Oklas continued to inspect the car, while Thoras crawled into the back of the car and rewired the Sub woofer in a few minutes, so that they had proper sound when they drove through the city.

Roughly 15 minutes after Thoras' arrival, Julie, Oklas' girlfriend, left the house fully styled and sat in the back of the car, while Oklas called shotgun and seated himself in the passenger-seat.

Following the instructions by the navigation-system Thoras avoided the clogged city, where a demonstration rallied for peace and new arms-regulations, and used the ring-roads to get to the party location. On this 35 minute trip they listened to the new soundtrack of a fantasy-movie that came out 2 weeks ago. While Thoras drove Oklas and Julie listened closely to the music and adjusted the equalizer until the sound was perfect.

 

“Here we are...” Thoras turned the car right and through the gate of Ben's house, whose parents weren't at home for the next 2 months. So they hopefully wouldn't notice the tracks of the tires, most of the cars made in the lawn.

After he stopped the car and checked the instruments, which indicated that the electric oil-pump would work for another 5 minutes, Thoras and his passengers got out of the car.

It was a lovely evening. Only a few clouds in the sky which now turned red from the setting sun.

“Can you walk?” Oklas asked his girlfriend, who opted for a pair of high-heels with a pretty thin heel.

“I think I can manage.” she said. She made a few steps on the grass and grabbed Oklas' hand. “It's difficult, but it's okay.”

Thoras waited for them at the corner of the big mansion. Behind the mansion there was a big swimming-pool, a little arena for the popular martial-art sports, several sun beds, a bar with a robotic bartender and a set of spot- and floodlights which illuminated the big garden.

“Thoras! Hi!” Zeska, Ben's girlfriend, greeted Thoras and gave him a welcome-drink. “Make yourself at home. Hi there!” She fetched another two drinks from the table besides her and handed them to Oklas and Julie. “Nice dress!” she added, after she looked at Julies pinkish/white short-dress.

“Thank you.” Julie replied and relaxed significantly, when she had reinforced ground under her feet. “How are you?”

“Fine!”

Oklas looked at Thoras. “Let's fetch something to eat.” he said.

“I could use something.” Thoras agreed.

They literally followed their noses through the crowd that had formed around the arena, where Gosalynn and Ricardo fought against each other in a sparring. Their elegant but lightning-fast moves were hard to follow and reminded Thoras of something. „Hey, Oklas! Did you read about the newest research on these psionic abilities?“

“No.” Oklas replied. He finally arrived at the buffet, where a robot grilled tasty looking and smelling chunks of meat over a charcoal-fire. “Whats new?”

“They have recorded the EM-Anomalies around fighting monks and are on a very good way to scientifically explain how and why these monks create these EM-Anomalies.” Thoras said, while he grabbed a nice piece of medium grilled meat.

“I am more interested in space-exploration.” Oklas said. “And especially the colonization of the third planet in our solar-system.”

Thoras nodded. “As i recall it, the last report on that ship stated, that its hull was finished and they had now begun to install the cryo system.” he said.

“Yeah.” Oklas went to a free chair at a table and sat down. Thoras sat down next to him and began to eat his steak which he dipped into barbecue sauce. “But with all the delays, the earliest possible launch will be in about 2 years.”

“Some Investors and sponsors weren't very happy about this.” Thoras remembered from the news, which reported several lawsuits against the company that was building the ship.

In the arena, the fight got more intense now. Both contestants were roughly equally strong and fast and the fight looked more and more like a draw. A result neither one did desire. So they both mobilized their last reserves and gave it their best. But the result remained the same: Draw.

Exhausted and a little bit disappointed, but also proud of their abilities and complimenting each other on the different techniques they used, they and the spectators went to the barbecue. After everybody got something to eat, they sat down around the pool, eating and drinking, while Ricardo, also one of Thoras' and Oklas' classmates, got behind the DJ-Rack and played some soundtrack-themes, which he later changed for party-tunes when most of the guest had finished eating.

 

Thoras and Oklas talked a little bit longer about some of the scientific breakthroughs that were being made in physics and the area of space-travel, before Oklas was claimed by Julie, who wanted to dance and have some fun. Talking about „Science-Fiction and stuff“ could be done anytime, she said and took off with Oklas in her tow.

Thoras hesitated to get to the dance floor, where his crush, Aliana, moved her body to the beat and danced herself more and more into a trance-like state.

After several minutes of hesitation, he finally decided to make a move. After all, school would end in little over 1.5 months and if she refused him, he wouldn't have to live with the shame for too long.

He stepped on the dance floor, what was already reason enough for some curious looks, for this was a very rare sight, and got near Aliana. At first, he had trouble, losing himself in the music like Aliana did, but with time, he managed and after a short while their moves synchronized. Soon she noticed him, smiled and changed her moves, to which Thoras quickly adapted.

Without exchanging any word, this game went on for quite some time, until they both got thirsty and went to the bar for a drink.

“Nice party, isn't it?”

Thoras wished, he hadn't said that. That was probably one of the worst pickup-lines he ever said. Even by his standard, which was pretty low.

“Yeah...” was her appropriate answer.

Just keep going! Thoras told himself. It couldn't probably get any worse. Wrong!

“What'cha...” doing? He almost said. How are you?sounded equally stupid, so he went with “How did your driving-test go?”

“I passed.” she said happily. “Did you finish your car?”

“Yes.” he said proudly. “It's finished and everything runs perfectly.”

“Cool.”

“So...” Thoras thought about the next topic for a few long seconds. “Have you heard about... Psionic abilities?”

“Only briefly in the news.” she answered. “Some monks seem to possess some supernatural powers.”

“Scientists have now collected data that could prove and explains these powers.” he said. “It's very interesting...” Do it! Do it now! “But not as interesting as you.” he added with difficulty.

She looked surprised.

Keep up the momentum! “You see, I've had a crush on you from the first we first met.” he said. “And... I hope... I hope, you feel kind of the same way, you know?”

She smiled. “Yeah... I like you.” she said. “But I don't know... I don't think, I am ready for another relationship just yet. I had a relationship with some guy I met on the Net until 3 weeks ago... It ended quite badly,”

“Oh... Okay.” Thoras said. “I can understand that.” His heart felt like a massive spear just went through it. “Wanna talk about it?” he asked almost automatically, giving in to his curiosity.

“Maybe.” she said and took a sip from her drink. “But I think, I need a few more of these before that.”

Chapter 2

“And thats how it ended...” Aliana said with a surprisingly neutral voice. She shrugged her shoulders and took a big gulp from her drink to flush the memories from her mind.

“Not very nice...” Thoras murmured.

“Such an asshole...” she added, getting a bit angry. “But I won't shed a tear because of him.”

Thoras agreed. Betraying Aliana after almost 2 years at a party and then leaving the party with the other girl instead of Aliana, made him boil inside and wanting to enact vengeance on her Ex. “He isn't worth it.” he said. And added: “Say, do you have a ride home?”

“My parents dropped me off here earlier this evening when they drove to their yacht.” she said. “I had hoped...”

“I could drive you.”

“That would be nice.”

“No problem.” Thoras said.

She relaxed on the sun bed and looked up to the stars, where a bright object went slowly from east to west. “Do you see the space-station?” she asked after a while.

Thoras looked upwards. “Yes.”

“I want to work there some day.” she said. “Living in space... Must be great to be there.”

“I agree.” Thoras thought about his daydreams, where he would fly to the stars and explore strange new worlds. Or fight evil aliens.

“Hey.” he said after a while. “Are you going to the opening of the Volume-Palace in 12 days?”

“Of course!” she answered.

“Do you have tickets already?”

“Bought them, when they started the sell.” She finished her drink and got up. “You want another one too?”

“That'd be nice.”

She went to the bar and came back a few minutes later. “What are you doing after school?” she asked after she handed him his drink. “I mean: After we have finished school in 6 weeks.”

“Working in my fathers car-workshop, I guess. You?”

“I don't know.” she shook her shoulders. “Maybe joining the Navy for a few years and getting a scientific degree afterwards.”

“I don't think, I can join the Navy, or any branch of the armed forces.” Thoras said. “I really dislike the methods they use in basic training. And the fact that they try to take your individuality to create new bonds with your fighting brothers. I have always been a individualist and I don't want them to take this away.”

“I never looked at it that way.” Alina looked rather disturbed. “But sometimes you have to make sacrifices to achieve your goal.”

“Maybe...”

 

The rest of the evening passed quickly and soon cooler air from the north drove most of the guests inside, where the living room had been converted into a dance floor, which was later used for playing video-games on a big flat screen.

The kitchen became the meeting-point for several guys, who talked about sports and the library on the first floor was the place if one wanted to talk about scientific discoveries, which were pretty high in numbers since several gigantic experiments of the Northern Coalition five years ago led to a much better understanding of physics and the first hints to another dimension, scientists dubbed Subspace.

Thoras took particular interest in a discussion about space travel and the possibilities, the Subspace offered for starship-drives and communication. A new theory even speculated that the absence of artificial radio-signals from space was due to subspace-communication, which renders normal radio-communication obsolete.

But despite all these very interesting topics, almost every conversation finally got to the point, where the Island-Crisis, which involved a region around several islands near the equator and the surrounding oil-fields, could no longer be avoided.

Since the discovery of these fields 9 years ago, the Northern Coalition, an alliance of several states of the northern hemisphere, in which Thoras and his friends lived, and the Zu-Confederation, a massive state on the southern hemisphere, were fighting for these Islands. First over official diplomatic channels, later with covert operations and now both sides stationed more and more ships in the region.

It began with the occupation of several Islands by the Coalition, which were only populated by a small handful of Bartu, who had settled there only 120 years ago. The Coalition declared they now had the right to exploit the resources surrounding these Islands and began building Oil-Rigs immediately.

The Confederation declared this unacceptable and occupied several other Islands and they too began building Oil-Rigs. For almost half a year, it seemed that the conflict had been settled and both sides just tried to pump as much oil out of the wells as possible before the other side was able to start pumping too. But then an accident on one of the Rigs of the Coalition escalated the situation extremely quickly. The Coalition declared the accident only 30 minutes after the first explosion an act of sabotage and 5 hours later, the Banner of the Coalition flew above a Confederation owned Oil-Rig. The Confeds captured a rig of the Coalition in return and after two days, almost all rigs were considered contested territory. 5 days later, the fighting was stopped and oil-exploitation continued. This time under heavy military protection.

This started an arms-race in the region, as each side sent more and more ships to have the advantage should fighting start, which seemed more and more likely with each day that passed since the resume of operations.

2 months ago, the Coalition revealed their new missile-defense, which they claimed to be 95% effective against ballistic nuclear missiles, which meant that at max only 50 to 100 nuclear warheads could reach the Coalition, if the Confederation fired all of their missiles at once. Enough reduction for the SAM-Sites around the cities and important installations to bring their 90% efficiency against these warheads to bear and reduce this to a theoretical maximum of 10 Warheads that were able to reach the Coalition. Enough to cause serious damage, but not enough to destroy the Coalition and therefore rendering a nuclear strike by the Confederation ineffective.

Under this shield, the Coalition seized every rig in the region and the Confeds could only retreat to a safe distance and watch the Coalition pumping the oil out of the ground.

But instead of retreating back to their bases and abandoning the Islands completely, as it was anticipated, the Confederation just retreated outside the firing range of the Coalition ships and since then they were reinforcing their fleet steadily, which the Coalition countered accordingly.

Some experts, and some of the Guests at the party, speculated that the Confederation was trying to win the Islands back by placing a huge strain on the fuel-reserves of the Coalition, which was quickly refused by Thoras in the discussion, that happened in the library. The Oil from the Islands was cheap enough and the Oil-Fields big enough to support extensive military operation and lowering the oil-price to record-breaking 12 Uniams per 100Liters. The fact, that the Confederation already used Nuclear Fusion in power plants and had just commissioned two Fusion-Submarines, while the Coalition relied heavily on Nuclear Fission and Oil, couldn't discount the fact that the Confeds had to pay much more for the fuel, that was burned on most of their warships.

Because of that, military experts speculated that the Confeds were planning something and attack soon.

The result was a constant fear in the Coalition, that the Confeds could attack every minute now and that if nuclear missiles would be fired, their city would be the one that didn't shoot down the incoming warhead.

On the party this had the effect, that the mood took a sudden dive whenever this topic came up and in the library everyone became almost depressive, until Oklas turned the focus on the colony-ship, that was under construction for the last 5 years in a big underground hangar. It was funded completely by private investors, who could book a seat for 212 Million Uniams. The company, which was building the ship, offered 1500 of the 2500 available seats like this and reserved 500 seats for experts and the rest for volunteers, who could take part in a lottery. Surprisingly, the paid seats were sold out almost immediately and construction of the ship began only one month later with daily updates on the Website of the project.

Inspired by this, the conversation in the library turned to much less pessimistic topics and kept on going until the participants one by one went to sleep.