The Tesseract Codex is an epic tale of good versus evil set in a dystopian future with life in the outworlds hanging in the balance. The Tesseract Codex is an action adventure … It is an alien mystery … It is a love story … it is funny and, at times, very human … The Tesseract Codex is must-read science fiction.
John Korbin had lost everything, but he was an outworlder to the nines. He had survived the war. He had survived the loss of his wife and daughter and his whole family, but would he survive what followed?
And then there was the Tesseract. It was a ship built with alien technology, but the mystery only began there. John should have known that when something looks too good to be true that it generally is, but he bought the Tesseract anyway. When he set foot upon its decks, he changed everything.
Politicians had declared the war was over, but that was not at all true as John and the crew of the Tesseract were about to find out the hard way.
Mission one takes John Korbin and the crew of the Tesseract into the heart of darkness to rescue Emma from the Mercenaries, but they would have to rescue Sophie first, if they were to succeed.
Then Mission One brought John Korbin and the crew of the Tesseract face to face with old enemies from the war that wasn’t really over. So, the Tesseract would have to survive in a crossfire hurricane that threatened John Korbin’s new homeworld.
If you enjoy a strongly character driven story with lots of action, then you have to read The Tesseract Codex. This is real page turning scifi that won’t quit on your mind right down to the very last word.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+ Adult readers
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A lot of vets returned home from the war feeling lost and alone, like John Korbin. This story in the far future is dedicated to all of them. It is a personal victory.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Each character fit a specific need to drive the plot ever forward. This is a fast-paced book. It needed a bunch of misfits just like John Korbin to bring this all together. Mariah was the toughest character to get right.
Like a leaf in the wind, John Korbin rode the chaos that surrounded him in space dock. He was the calm in this pandemonium disguised as an orderly disposal of surplus ships after the Corporate War. Nearly a thousand ships no longer needed by Union Fleet would be sold from these docks. Nearly a thousand crews dropped off their ships. Nearly a thousand crews of contractors stripped them. Nearly a thousand buyers, and contractors, and androids all moved in synchronous disharmony to create this sea of chaos.
John Korbin was the leaf in this wind. The chaos delivered him to the right counter, where he held up the thin tablet Fleet Materiel Command had given him for yet another ship to look at.
“Over there!” the clerk told him as he pointed. “Put it on the blue square on the counter.”
John put the tablet on the blue square.
“Wait over there,” the man behind the counter told him, pointing at the waiting area.
John went to the designated waiting area with the two dozen or so other men and women. They all looked at him, wondering what this big, tough-looking marine could possibly be doing here. He knew what they were thinking, but he didn’t really give a crap. He filled himself once more with calm and waited.
He wasn’t always filled with calm. When his wife and daughter were killed, he was filled with pain and anger. Those were bad times. Those dark emotions eventually subsided and left him empty. Now he filled that emptiness with calm. It’s not as if the pain and anger didn’t catch up with him when he least expected; oh no, but dark emotions cloud the mind. He needed to have a clear mind to find a ship and make it his own. Something inside of him had died. Every bit of him needed something more than just a new beginning. What he needed was a resurrection.
From what he was hearing, the people around him were all waiting for light cruisers to refit as freighters, but he couldn’t afford that. What he could afford was a scout-class ship. That is what he was here for, but so far, he wasn’t doing very well. The last four ships he looked at were all stripped to the bone by the contractors, space junk now at best. Calling them ‘spaceworthy’ was a stretch of the imagination as well as the truth. He was beginning to think this might not work out. An hour passed one second at a time as he waited.
When he looked up, yet another crew was at the counter logging out. The Captain put his tablet down on top of John’s. It was face down, so no one noticed the tablet light up for a few seconds. They were all busy leaving. The war was over. They all had the rest of their lives to get on with, just like John. They couldn’t be done with this fast enough.
“I am so damned glad to be off that ship,” John heard one say. How typical, he thought.
“Mike? Mike?” the man behind the counter called his android helper. Without looking, he just grabbed the top tablet and handed it to the android. The android looked at it for a few seconds before coming to the edge of the waiting area.
“Captain John Korbin?” he called out.
“Over here!” John waved at him and grabbed his duffel bag.
“This way, please,” android Mike told him and led the way, never offering to carry his bag.
“You know the rules,” Mike told him. “You have two hours to look the ship over. You decide to take it; you call the office by ship’s com to close the deal. If you do not want this ship, call me within the two-hour limit to come and get you, and we will put you back on the stack for the next available ship. If you make Gerry send me all the way back out to get you, you won’t go back on the stack until tomorrow… maybe.”
John knew all this by now but let android Mike ramble on as the electric cart went very quickly for what seemed like kilometers down endless passageways connected to other endless passageways connected to yet more passageways. It became a part of the chaos of contractors and crews, all moving through space dock in synchronous disharmony.
They made the final turn right into a shipway crossed with yellow caution tape… not a good sign at all. Mike hopped off of the electric cart and went back a few meters to check a marking on a column to see if he had the right dock. While he was gone, John quickly pulled down the caution tape and shoved it into his shirt. This was the right dock, damn it, and he was damned sick of waiting, and damned sick of excuses, and damned sick of delays.
Android Mike returned but now looked confused. The caution tape was gone. To a human, this would have flagged that something very wrong was afoot; but John knew full well that Mike’s android logic didn’t work that way, and he was right. Mike checked the sign for the dock number one more time before he finally decided that they had found the correct ship.
Mike cautiously approached the hatch and held up the tablet. The ship scanned the tablet and opened the hatch. It was indeed the correct ship. Mike turned slowly around, handing John the tablet in one smooth motion.
“Two hours,” he reminded John. “Two hours.”
“Yeah, I know,” John said as he took the tablet. Mike quickly disappeared.
John entered the ship. Most of them smelled pretty bad. This one did not. That was a pleasant surprise. The airlock on this ship was at the stern. Two hours wasn’t very long to inspect a whole ship, even a scout-class ship, so he headed right to the bridge, all the way forward on B-Deck. It was a long walk through the heart of this ship.
The bridge was huge for a scout-class ship. It was spherical, some ten meters wide, five deep, and three high. The 3D displays that covered its walls were all dark. The right seat would be the pilot’s. He put his personal tablet with his captain’s certificate on its scanner pad. The bridge came alive. The 3D displays suddenly showed the other ships around him in space dock, giving the impression that he was standing right there amongst them. There were no portals or windows anywhere on the ship. Tiny cameras everywhere outside the ship provided better-than-windows views on any 3D display on the ship.
“Welcome, Captain Korbin,” the ship’s artificially intelligent female copilot welcomed him.
“Status displays please,” he requested. She put them up for him. Nothing was perfect, but the more he looked, the more he decided that this ship was way better than any other he had seen so far. His quick assessment was that this ship was definitely spaceworthy and in excellent condition, but the clock was ticking.
“Tactical displays,” he requested next. This ship was heavily armed for a scout-class ship, and all of that was intact. None of it had been stripped by the contractors. That alone would save him weeks of work and a lot of money. With where he was going and what he was planning, a full load of weapons was not an option. The outworlds were no place for the faint of heart… or the poorly armed for that matter.
He heard a voice, just barely a whisper like air moving through ducts. “Mariah,” it said.
“What? Is someone here?” he called out. “Is someone else aboard?”
“No, Captain,” the artificial copilot reported. “There is no one else aboard but you.”
“Did you say ‘Mariah’?” he asked her.
“No, Captain. She did.”
“Huh? I thought you said that no one else was aboard?”
“Yes, Captain. No one else is aboard.” Huh?
“So, then who is Mariah?” he asked the copilot.
“She is Mariah,” the copilot answered him as if the answer was obvious.
He shook his head. I am talking to a ship’s computer. That is all that I am going to get from her, I guess. He had no time for mysteries. The two-hour clock was ticking. He had to keep moving. He had to get this whole ship inspected.
Everywhere he looked, this ship was bigger than he expected. Unlike all the rest of the surplus military craft that he had looked at so far, this ship was very nicely appointed. There were carpets and what appeared to be real wood trim. It wasn’t real wood, but it looked like it and felt like it. The galley was more like a gourmet kitchen in a fine home. There were four staterooms on A-Deck, and cabins for twelve on B-Deck behind the mess and lounge. There was room enough in the cargo hold on C-Deck to make a little money there too. For some strange reason, everywhere he looked, this ship appeared to be bigger than it should be. But bigger than he expected was a good thing.
The last two cabins on B-Deck were full of consoles and scientific-looking equipment. Two androids stood silent in the equipment bay. There were spare parts on the shelves in stores. The fuel tanks were three-quarters full.
The contractors have not been here to strip this ship yet. So, that was why there was yellow caution tape across the shipway. That was it!
He had seen enough. He quickly made his way back to the bridge and recalled the ship’s asking price from its tablet. Sure enough, it was exactly what he was expecting. It was Union Fleet Materiel Command’s posted asking price for surplus scout-class ships.
“Is this the correct Captain’s Tablet for this ship?” John asked the artificial copilot.
She examined it and confirmed, “Yes, Captain. That is the correct Captain’s Tablet for this ship.”
John quickly called Gerry.
“I’ll take it,” he told Gerry, the clerk, over ship’s com.
Gerry put the sale details up on John’s display for confirmation. John checked it all over one more time very carefully. It was indeed the correct price that he was expecting.
“All sales are final,” Gerry reminded him as he read.
“All sales are final, exactly as the ship was given to me to inspect; is that correct?” John pressed him while recording his answer.
“Yes, that is exactly correct,” Gerry confirmed. “The ship is as-is as it was given to you to inspect. What you see is what you get. It’s as simple as that.”
“Okay, then. I will take this ship,” John repeated.
“I will have to record your acceptance. Read the script on the bottom of your screen. Insert your full name and the transponder ID for the ship you are buying.”
John quickly checked the Captain’s Tablet one more time for the ship’s transponder ID. It was displayed as USS7747M.
“Okay. I will take this ship. You can start recording.”
A red dot flashed on the screen, indicating that it was now recording.
“I, Captain John Alton Korbin, do accept this war surplus scout-class ship designated USS7747M exactly the way it was given to me to inspect, per the terms and conditions of the contract given to me by Union Fleet Materiel Command,” he agreed. They both waited almost a minute for the bank and the Union Fleet Materiel Command approvals to clear… and it was a done deal.
“Congratulations, Captain Korbin, you are now the proud owner of your ship,” Gerry told him as he sent the clear title to John. “You have 24 hours to re-register the ship with Union Fleet and make way.”
Here’s your hat and coat. What’s your hurry? Well, there you go.
John quickly scurried out into the shipway to pull down the last remnants of that damned yellow caution tape that might still give him away. That is when he suddenly realized that, from the bridge, it was well over 170 paces to the aft airlock. That couldn’t possibly be right. That would make this ship at least 140 meters long: the length of a frigate-class ship. A scout-class ship is only 60 meters long, about 70 paces or so. It wasn’t his imagination. This ship was definitely bigger than it should be. Bigger than it should be was a good thing, though.
He was just finishing pulling down the last remnants of that yellow tape when Android Mike suddenly appeared with a big red ‘SOLD’ sign. John scrambled to hide those remnants under his shirt while android Mike affixed the sign to the post next to the shipway. John waved. Mike waved. John tried to put on his most innocent look as he re-boarded his new ship.
This time, he consciously counted the paces from the aft airlock to the bridge. It, sure enough, was 170 paces. He wasn’t imagining anything. This ship was bigger than it should be. Oh, well. It was his ship now and Union Fleet’s loss. How many times had he said that Fleet couldn’t find its ass with both hands? Well, this was just one more example of exactly that.
John called up his bank account in a window on the main display. What had once been a considerable deposit by Union Fleet of his War Reparations for the loss of his entire family was almost totally used up to buy this ship. If he was careful, what was left would leave him enough money to reprovision the ship and get him all the way home. It wasn’t much.
Provisions and topping off the fuel were the top items on his list. He worked in silence on the bridge to get provisions and fuel delivered while he re-registered the ship over the network. There were endless Fleet forms for the simplest of tasks. He was awash in those damned pilgrim rules and regulations that made him crazy. That would be if the solitude of flying this ship all alone didn’t get to him first.
“Mariah,” again, he heard as barely a whisper as he tried to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
“Stop that!” he said in a loud, commanding voice. “I have no time for your crap. I have a million things to get done, so I can make way.”
He filled in the registration form and attached a copy of the new clear ship’s title. Ship’s name was optional. He left that blank for now. The memories of his wife and daughter were so painful that he couldn’t bear to speak their names, let alone name this ship after them. As far as Fleet was concerned, all he needed was a registry number for the transponder. The lack of a name would match the hole in his heart, a silent remembrance.
While he was waiting for his new registration, he went back to the equipment bay. He went back to those two androids. They were a major plus he would never have expected and certainly could not have afforded. It took him all of ten seconds to find the female android’s on/off switch and turn her on. She rebooted.
“Hello,” she said. “I am Jane.”
“Hello, Jane. What are your directives?”
“I take care of household tasks and cooking.” She connected to the ship’s main server. “May I make some suggestions to the provisions order?”
“Sure. I am always open to doing things better.”
She highlighted her changes in red. They were all of what a real cook would need to do a proper job of feeding a hungry crew. He hit the approval box on the form. There was no time to nitpick here over details.
“Jane, I could really use your help in getting this ship cleaned up and ready to make way.”
“I will get right to that, Cap.” She went right to work. To John’s surprise, Jane ran a whole crew of task-bots that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and went about their jobs cleaning — even more equipment that the salvage company did not strip off his ship. Jane mostly just supervised the cleaning, so she made her way to the galley. All of her pots and pans and cooking gadgets were still where she had left them. All of the dinnerware and silverware was still in their place, too. She checked the laundry and found that all intact too.
“Captain,” she reported, “household is ready for voyage.”
“Great. Thanks, Jane.” One good piece of news.
In the meantime, John had been working on the male android. While the female droid looked perfectly fine, the male android looked like a conglomeration of parts. Even so, it looked to him like it should all work, so John turned the android on. It rebooted.
“Good morning, sir. I am Henry.”
“You look a lot more like a hack-job to me, Henry. I am going to call you ‘Hack.’”
“Yes, sir. I will answer to ‘Hack,’” he repeated, but mumbled, “but my name is Henry.”
John laughed. He slapped Hack on the shoulder. “Good for you, Hack, my man. I don’t take no shit from people either. How do you like that? An android with an attitude. Maybe you know who Mariah is.”
“She is Mariah,” he answered with some authority.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. So how come everybody on this ship knows who Mariah is but me? All right, Hack, what are your directives?”
“I maintain the ship. I adapt my structure as needed to accomplish that task.”
“Like I just told Jane, I can sure use all the help I can get. What input do you need to get that job done?”
“Jessica tells me what she needs and sets the priorities. Then she posts my task list. When you approve the work, I get it done.”
“Yes, sir, the ship’s copilot. Her duties include ship operations.”
“Okay. That works for me,” John decided as he made his way back to the bridge.
To make this ship his own, he needed to connect his mindlink into the ship’s network. He executed the [Connect] command to suddenly come face to face with Jessica, the ship’s copilot and systems operations manager. Her avatar was a very sexy-looking brunette, hi-res 3D, and fully animated. Jessica was a brick house, to say the least. Her artificial intelligence was way better than any military-grade AI that John had ever seen, but then again, he was only a fighter pilot. It might be the norm for this class of ship. What did he know?
[Captain?!] Jessica asked, caught totally by surprise.
[Hello, Jess. Yes, I wear a mindlink. Wow. You are one hot-looking sketch for a copilot.]
Jessica smiled and blushed. She liked him already.
[Can you please put Hack’s task list up for me?]
[Yeah, yeah, I know. His name is Henry, but I call him Hack.]
Jess chuckled. [Hack,] she repeated and chuckled again.
Jessica looked over her new captain standing on the bridge. He didn’t look at all like any captain she had ever seen before. Although they were mostly good men but of average height and build. John was built like a tough marine, with big strong shoulders and chest. Every bit of him was a lean, mean fighting machine. He looked like he could chew up nails and spit people dead, but in his steel-gray eyes, she also saw a gentle man. His classic manly face with just the hint of a bent nose seemed to fit the man well.
I am going to call you Captain Hunk, she thought to herself. You’re going to give this girl some nasty dreams, she hoped.
John reviewed Hack’s task list and approved it. Hack went right to work, updating the task list as he ticked each one off. Jane brought John a nice cup of java while he worked. He wasn’t used to nice, and the java was good too. Everything was going just fine until the provisions delivery showed up.
“Provisions delivery!” the android face on his display announced. Hack went back to the aft airlock and opened the hatch. The delivery android started handing Hack the boxes and bags… and a case of wine just as John appeared behind Hack.
“I didn’t order any wine. I don’t remember any wine on the provisions list. Damned la-de-frikin-da pilgrims drink wine.”
[Jane, did you order the wine?] he wanted to know.
[Uh, no,] Jane replied, but she didn’t sound very sure about it.
“And where is my red beer? My Kara Lager?”
“It’s on the cart,” the android replied, “but you canceled it, so I will take it back.”
“No, no, no. I never canceled it! Let me see that order.” The android handed the tablet to him. There was the wine, and wouldn’t you know; it was Mariah that had canceled his damned beer!
“I’m sorry. There is a bit of a misunderstanding. I will take the beer. Please put it back on my order.” The android retrieved John’s beer from the cart.
“Hack? Hack? You take this beer and put it into the cooler yourself! Do you hear me? I want the damned beer in the cooler.” John handed Hack the cases.
By now, John wanted to find Mariah, whoever the hell she was, and strangle the bitch, but it wasn’t over yet. His registration arrived just hours before he had to make way. To his surprise, they designated his ship as XSS7747M. The ‘X’ usually denoted an experimental starship. Then he saw the name that he had left blank now read ‘Tesseract!’ Damn her! Damn Her! Damn Her!
“Okay, I don’t have the time to get this fixed right now,” John decided out loud.
All he could do for now was to set the transponder for the designation XSS7747M, just as he planned in the first place. But when he went to reset the transponder ID, he found it blank. It should never be blank! It was seriously illegal to fly a ship with no transponder ID, even in space docks.
“Jane! Bring me a cold beer, please,” he requested. He really wasn’t much of a drinker. He did like a cold beer every now and then, but he was going to make a point of it now.
He raised his glass. “This one is for you, Mariah, my love.” Power flickered. Hack flinched and looked around as if ship was about to implode.
“Bit of a temper, love? You really need to deal with that.” He took another sip of his beer.
[Jessica, before we leave port, I need you to download all of the latest star charts and databases from Fleet,] John told her.
[That will take approximately 22 minutes,] she warned him as if 22 minutes was forever.
[It’s very important, Jess. Those star charts are very important.]
[The download is already in progress, Captain. Can I ask you why it’s so important?] She batted her eyelashes at him and gave him a dreamy-eyed smile.
[It’s a long story. Can you please ask me later when I have more time?]
[I will do that. I love a good story,] Jess told him with her best dreamy eyes. As far as she was concerned, he could talk to her for hours.
With one hour left, John prepared to make way. When the docking airlock was closed and locked, the onshore power and network cables released. Finally, he released the docking clamps.
[Captain,] Jess told him, [you are so tired. I have a course laid in. I really am an excellent pilot. You can go to bed if you would like. I can handle this myself.]
[Thank you, Jess, but I will sit right here and just enjoy the pleasure of owning my own new ship for a while as we make way the very first time.]
John eased his new ship out of space dock slowly. It was a lot more sluggish than his old Echo-3C fighter was. After he had maneuvered out into open space, he did let Jessica take the controls. Jessica was right. She was a crackerjack pilot. She put the first three jumps into open space behind them before she found John asleep in his chair. Her avatar appeared next to him and caressed his face.
Mariah whispered her name at him through his mindlink, [Mariah.]
[Stop that, Mariah!] Jess scolded her. [You stop that right now!]
But that woke him up. Half-awake, he still managed to find his new stateroom. He was pleasantly surprised to find that Jane actually had his bed made up for him and turned down. He crawled into the sack between fresh, clean sheets and was sound asleep in seconds.
Sometime during the night, he got up to go to the bathroom. He was sitting there, not awake, not asleep, when a naked woman walked right by his open door. It was one of those lost-in-time moments. He sat there, now wide-awake. Did that just happen? He stuck his head out of the bathroom door and looked around… nothing. He went back to bed and felt around in the dark, hoping that it was not a hallucination but no such luck.
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