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First Chapter Reveal: Lieutenant Henry Gallant by H. Peter Alesso

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Lieutenant Henry Gallant 2Title: Lieutenant Henry Gallant
Author: H. Peter Alesso
Publisher: Video Software Publishing
Pages: 320
Genre: Science fiction space opera
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

In an era of genetic engineering, Lieutenant Henry Gallant is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. Many of his superiors, including rival Anton Neumann, have expressed concern he is not up to the challenge. However, his unique mental abilities have proven essential to the defense of the United Planets in its fight against the Titan invaders.

Serving on the first FTL prototype, the Intrepid, on its maiden voyage to Tau Ceti, Gallant finds a lost colony on the planet Elysium. Cyrus Wolfe and his son, manipulate planet politics against the democratic opposition led by James Hepburn and his granddaughter Alaina. Wolfe has allied himself with an ancient Artificial Intelligence which had lain dormant on the planet for millennia, but is now willing to protect the colonists against the Titans.

With Alaina’s help, Gallant discovers the ancient AI has a sinister ulterior motive and he matches his unique and exceptional mind against the complexity of machine intelligence to escape the ultimate trap and prevent the extermination of humanity.

In Lieutenant Henry Gallant, one man pits the naked human mind against the perspicacity of machine intelligence.

First Chapter:

Gallant ran—gasping for breath, heart pounding; the echo of his footsteps reverberated behind him.

He hoped to reach the bridge, but hope is a fragile thing.

Peering over his shoulder into the dark, he tripped on a protruding jagged beam, one of the ship’s many battle scars. As he crashed to the deck, the final glow of emergency lights sputtered out leaving only the pitch black of power failure—his failure.

He lay still and listened to the ship’s cries of pain; the incessant wheezing of atmosphere bleeding from the many tiny hull fissures, the repetitious groaning of metal from straining structures, and the crackling of electrical wires sparking against panels.

Thoughts flashed past him.

How long will the oxygen last?

He was reluctant to guess.

Where are they?

He heard the clamor of dogged footsteps drawing closer even as he rasped for another breath.

Trembling from exhaustion, he clawed at the bulkhead to pull himself up. His hemorrhaging leg made even standing brutally painful.

Nevertheless; he ran.

He heard the clamor of dogged footsteps drawing closer even as he rasped for another breath.

Trembling from exhaustion, he clawed at the bulkhead to pull himself up. His hemorrhaging leg made even standing brutally painful.

Nevertheless; he ran.

The bulkhead panels and compartment hatches were indistinguishable in the dimness. Vague phantoms seemed to lurk nearby even while his eyes adjusted to whatever glowing plasma blast embers flickered from the hull.

As he twisted around a corner, he crashed his shoulder into a bulkhead. The impact knocked him back and spun him around. Reaching out with a bloody hand, he grasped the hatch handle leading into the Operation’s compartment. Going through the hatch, he pulled it shut behind him.

He started to run, then awkwardly fought his own momentum and stopped.

Stupid! Stupid!

Going back to the hatch, he hit the security locking mechanism.

It wouldn’t stop a plasma blast, but it might slow them down, he thought. At least this compartment is airtight.

Finally able to take a deep breath, he tried to clear his head of bombarding sensations. He should’ve been in battle armor, but he’d stayed too long in engineering trying to maintain power while the hull had been breached and the ship boarded.

Now his uniform was scorched, revealing the plasma burns of seared flesh from his left shoulder down across his back to his right thigh. He had no idea where the rest of the crew was; many were probably dead. His comm pin was mute and the ship’s AI wasn’t responding. He had only a handgun, but, so far, he didn’t think they were tracking him specifically, merely penetrating into the ship to gain control.

Gallant tried to run once more, but his legs were unwilling. Leaning against the bulkhead, like a dead weight, he slid slowly down to the deck.

Unable to go farther, he sat dripping blood and trembling as the potent grip of shock grabbed hold. The harrowing pain of his burnt flesh, swept over him.

Hope and fear alike abandoned him, leaving only an undeniable truth; without immediate medical treatment, he wouldn’t survive.

I’m done.

Closing his eyes, he fought against the pain and the black vertigo of despair. He took a deep breath and called upon the last of his inner resolve and resilience . . .

No! I won’t give up.

Exhaling and opening his eyes, he caught sight of a nearly invisible luminescent glow of a Red Cross symbol, offering him a glimmer of hope. He stretched his arm toward the cabinet.

“Argh.”

He heard a cry of agony and only belatedly realized it had escaped his own lips as he strained to pull away twisted metal from the door to a medical cabinet. Reaching inside, he grabbed a damaged medi-pack.

Painstakingly he used the meager emergency provisions to stop the bleeding and to infuse blood plasma. His limited mobility prevented him from reaching awkward areas, but he managed to insert an analgesic hypodermic into his raw blistered flesh. Finally, he crudely bandaged his suffering body.

He relaxed momentarily as the medication coursed through his veins working to stifle the worst effects of shock and blood loss. His parched throat demanded . . .

Water.

He looked at more cabinets, but was unable to make out their markings in the dark. Stretching his fingers, he opened the nearest one, groping for something familiar inside.

No.

He opened the next.

No.

And another.

Yes. Finally, he snatched a half-buried survival kit. Greedily he drank and even managed to take a few bites of an energy bar.

A surge of adrenaline helped him shift his position to sit more comfortably as his mind came into sharper focus.

As he examined his surroundings in the faint light, he spotted an interface station. He was about to reach up and patch into the ship’s AI to get an update on the ship’s defensive posture when he was disturbed by the dismal clangor of footsteps.

He held his breath. Are they coming this way?

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