Zanzibar’s Rings by Jemima Pett
A galactic crisis: the entire comms system destroyed. No waypoints, no navigation aids, no database access. And how will spaceships in flight get home – or to any destination?
Dolores is stuck in warp with a very dangerous passenger, Pete gets his shuttle back home on manual.
But why does anything in close contact with pure orichalcum fix itself?
Just flying through Zanzibar’s Rings solves the problem – as the Federation’s Fighters find, when they descend on the Viridian System to take possession of the planets.
Zanzibar’s Rings brings the Viridian System series to a conclusion, with a bang and a lot of whimpering. And possibly a view of things to come.
Targeted Age Group:: all
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It was always going to be a three-book series (unless I had enough for a fourth). With the search for the legendary sword in the first book, using it to fulfil Pete's destiny in the second, what did I have left for the third? It was Lori Caswell's Alphabet Soup reading challenge that suggested the need for more books beginning with Z (X would have been even better), so I named the fifth planet Zanzibar, thought Zanzibar's Rings sounded like a good title, and got to work.
And although it winds everything up, it's really more about problem solving, personal development, coping with change and isolation, and missing people. It's amazing what you can write in science fiction.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Pete, Lars, Dolores and Maggie have continued from the previous books, but their motivations and situations have changed. Pete has rescued his family, and settled them in the southern hemisphere of the planet. How does he fit in with them? How does it change his life? Is Lars jealous, depressed, or just at a loose end with no grand plan to keep him occupied? Maggie has developed her food business, but still lacks confidence, and Dolores has struck out on her own in her space business, only to pick up the worst possible passenger—Lars' estranged father.
09:00 Corsair time; 12:00 Sunset Strip
Pete never tired of the view as he cleared the atmosphere and had the whole of Sunset Strip curving below; a ball of variegated patterns where the storm sector in the equatorial zone would rip anything that entered it to shreds, the smoother cloud formations to the north and south, above the habitable zones. And the dark of first sunset creeping across the world like a monster eating a cookie.
His sister and the rest of the Corsairs were right, though. Sunset Strip was the northern settlement and the continent where he lived. It had never been suitable as a planetary name. Neither was Pleasant Valley, for the co-orbital planet, either. Whole worlds named for a single settlement. It wasn’t logical.
He frowned. Something else wasn’t logical. That flicker of green lightning running through the Van Allen belt. And what the heck was going on in the galaxy? The normal blue-silver disc of the spiral galaxy was speckled with green lights.
The green lightning headed straight for him. “Shields up!” he called to his AI, although surely it would be ahead of him. Why hadn’t it alerted him to something in the sensors?
His control panel blacked out.
21:00 Pleasant Valley time, 12:00 Sunset Strip (warpspace)
In the dark of space, Dolores woke to the sound of banging on the doorway.
“What’s going on?” her passenger was yelling. “I’ve lost comms. I had a vital meeting!”
“Please be calm, sir. There seems to be a systems failure. Please take your seat—What was that?”
A green flash lit up all the viewpoints. Despite the lack of a view in space, most shuttles still had portholes.
“Sir, did you see any more of those green flashes before you lost comms?”
“Yes, a few, far off. What’s going on? I demand that you open this door and let me in.”
Dolores turned the manual release to ‘lock’.
“I’m afraid the mechanism is not responding sir. But we have gravity, air and water. I will give you a sitrep as soon as I have run some checks. Is the food dispenser working?”
There was a pause before he responded: “I’ll check.”
Dolores breathed out. Okay, emergency situation. Loss of power, but life support operational. What other checks can you give your passenger to make him feel the situation is under his control?
Meanwhile… what is your AI doing? And what the hell was it with those green flashes?
12:00 Sunset Strip
Lars paused at the top of the hill.
What are those green stars in the early noon twilight? Meteorites, rather, since they blinked out. They don’t fit any normal pattern.
He swung around, mentally mapping the sky.
And lots of green mist in the asteroid belt.
Green is the colour of orichalcum. What is going on?
Alarms sounded in the town of Sunset Strip across the bay. Then, closer to home, screams from Maggie. He leapt down the hillside, registering small explosive noises coming from their home.
Lars bounded across the grass towards the balcony, ducking every time a spark flew from somewhere on or in the building.
She flew from under the arch of the stairway into his arms. “Everything’s exploding!”
“So I see, honey.” He held her close and ruffled her golden streaked wavy hair, tucking her head under his chin. “It’s happening over at the town, too. And I saw lights in the sky, and even in the asteroid belt. But we’re safe, huh? It seems to have stopped.”
He looked down at her, and she nodded, gathering her fears together and tucking them back into the nameless place she hid them. “I must finish freezing this batch or I’ll lose it.”
“Have we got power?”
Maggie’s mouth dropped.
“Where are the handlights?” Lars asked.
“Where we always put them.”
Armed with a wind-up torch each, they checked the electrics and the kitchen gadgets. After a thorough check of the whole villa, including the basement workshop where Pete ran various projects using a separate electricity circuit, they concluded that two circuits were working, but everything that connected with comms was down.
“That means the freezer…”
“Will be down, yes, but I can switch it over to the low power circuit. You won’t have the inventory and monitoring, but it’ll carry on freezing this batch, and keep all the rest frozen too.”
Maggie’s shoulders straightened as she relaxed. It wasn’t until her food was safely batched and stored, with an archaic stamping system to label it, that she turned her mind to other things.
“What about Dolores? And Pete? Will he be at Corsair still?”
“I don’t know.” This was serious. How in Sirtis was Pete going to be able to check where he was? Could they navigate home? Was Pleasant Valley hit by it too? If the asteroid belt had got it, then surely all the planets would be affected. And all the space ships.
Pete’s shuttle would fly if it had power, and Pete could navigate by sight around the planet, but Dolores was in deep space. How in heck was she going to get home?
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