The Trikon Deception

The Trikon Deception

by Ben Bova, Bill Pogue

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Overview

In the near future: Earth is an ecological nightmare, and humanity may well go the way of the dinosaurs. But overhead orbits salvation. A vast metallic island in space, Trikon conducts research too risky to be held on earth—research which could save the planet.

Yet Commander Dan Tighe discovers that the Trikon's major project is espionage. Its crew is split into warring factions; its scientists—consumed by greed, lust and drugs—run the lab for their own gain.

Only Commander Tighe can save the Trikon—and only Trikon can save the earth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312850241
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date: 01/01/1992
Pages: 320

About the Author

Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.

Read an Excerpt

The Trikon Deception


By Ben Bova, William R. Pogue

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 1992 Ben Bova and William R. Pogue
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-5832-5



CHAPTER 1

4 SEPTEMBER 1998

TRIKON STATION


TO THE HUMAN eye, space is serene. From three hundred miles above its surface, our Earth appears as a vast, smoothly curved panorama of deep blue oceans and brown wrinkled landmasses decked with parades of gleaming white clouds, ever changing, eternally beckoning. Our world shines with warmth, with beauty, with life.

Floating in the emptiness of space three hundred miles above the luminous curving glory of Earth is a glittering jewel, a diamond set against the infinite darkness of the cold void.

From a distance, hanging against that black infinity, it seems delicate, fragile, a child's toy construction of gossamer and dreams. It is not until you approach that you realize how large it really is.

Nearly three football fields across, its skeleton is a giant diamond of gleaming alloy girders. Ten sparkling white aluminum cylinders form a raft fixed to its central truss; three of them bear the painted flags of nations: on one cylinder are the twenty-two flags of United Europe; on another is the rising sun of Japan; a third displays the Stars and Stripes of the United States and the Maple Leaf emblem of Canada.

At two corners of the huge diamond are attached two bulbous, blimplike structures, burnt orange in color and far larger than the white cylinders. Once they were external tanks for space shuttles; now they are extensions of this island in space, moored to the diamond-shaped structure like giant balloons. The gently tapering nose of one of the ETs points directly forward, the other directly aft, as the diamond knifes through the calm emptiness of orbital space. The trailing ET bears the curious circle-and-arrow symbol of the planet Mars.

Robots slide back and forth across the station's main truss, silent in the airless vacuum, their metal wheels clasping the special guide rails, their spindly arms ending in gripping pincers strong enough to hold hardware that would weigh tons back on Earth. From the topmost corner of the diamond, bristling batteries of instruments aim outward at the stars while others, at the nadir corner, peer down at the dazzling blue sphere of Earth with its white swirls of clouds. On the station's trailing edge, broad wings of deep-violet solar panels drink in sunlight while smaller, darker companions radiate away the heat generated within the station.

For there are men and women living and working at this outpost in space. This is Trikon Station, the first industrial research laboratory to be built in orbit.

Trikon.

To the human eye, space should be serene. Trikon station floated in its orbit on the sunlit side of the Earth, passing across the radiantly intense blue of the wide Pacific, adorned with clouds of brilliant, purest white.

The station shuddered. Like a giant sail suddenly caught in a crosswind. Like a man startled by danger.

Alarms screeched in every laboratory and living module, Klaxons hooted along the lengths of its passageways, and a computer-synthesized woman's voice called from every intercom speaker in the station with maddening mechanical calm:

"Emergency. Emergency. Major malfunction. All personnel to CERV stations. All personnel to CERV stations. Prepare to abandon the station."

No one cared. No one heeded the alarms. No one moved toward the Crew Emergency Reentry Vehicles.

From the astronomical observatory at the uppermost corner of Trikon Station two space-suited figures emerged, one of them encased in the "armchair" rig of a manned maneuvering unit, MMU.

Dan Tighe, commander of Trikon Station, fought back murderous fury and a terrible fear that clawed at his chest as he watched the space station begin to wobble and sway. Through the heavily tinted visor of his helmet he saw the bulbous burnt-orange structure of the Mars module detach itself from the station and begin to drift away, like a rudderless ship caught by an evil tide. The broad wings of the solar panels were swaying, undulating visibly. Dan knew they would break up within minutes.

We're all going to die, said a voice inside his head. We're going to die and it's my fault. All my own goddamned stupid fault.

15 AUGUST 1998

TRIKON STATION


Names are important. When we hammered together this consortium of major industrial corporations I insisted upon a name that would reflect its spirit of international cooperation, a name that would not offend any of the sensitive egos among the various boards of directors, or in the governments to whom they paid taxes. The corporations were based in Europe, North America, and Japan. Three continents: Trikon.

The original spelling proposed was Tricon; however, my public relations consultants suggested that this might cause confusion over the hard or soft pronunciation of the letter c. The letter k connotes strength and provides an echo of classical Greece.

So they said.

— From the diary of Fabio Bianco, CEO, Trikon International


THE STATION HAD been in operation for more than a year on the day when the trouble began.

David Nutt still encountered that moment of vertigo, that feeling that his insides were adrift and he was falling into a strange pastel-colored abyss. Everything was shifting, swirling like a kaleidoscope.

Clutching at the metal edge of the entry hatch, Dave took a deep breath and lined himself up with the strip of black tape stuck onto the bottom of its lip.

"This side down, stupid," he muttered to himself.

The pastels tumbled into perspective. A long cylinder with a pale blue-floor and yellow ceiling. Silver and white equipment in racks along the walls. Ovens, centrifuge, microscopes all where they should be, and right-side-up. But it didn't help that the damned technician was floating almost on his head at the far end of the lab.

The American scientific laboratory module had been nicknamed The Bakery by an earlier rotation of researchers. The pastel colors were the brainchildren of a team of psychologists who had never left the ground. Nutt was grateful for their help. After six months aboard Trikon Station, he still had trouble orienting himself whenever he moved from one module to another. In the microgravity world of the space station, with everything weightless, he had trouble telling up from down without help. If he pulled himself through the hatch at any angle except true vertical The Bakery became a distorted alien world and his guts would start churning. Nutt was a confirmed "flatlander." He felt queasy unless he had his feet on a solid floor, even in the almost-zero gravity of the space station.

Fifteen meters away, at the far end of the cylinder, Stu Roberts was loading tempered glassware into the two huge microwave ovens that had inspired the lab's nickname. His thick mop of brick-red hair was puffed up into a wild, waving nest of weightless microgravity snakes. The mesh hairnet he was supposed to be wearing was nowhere in sight. His white coveralls looked grimy and spattered. Thin-faced, lean, and loose-jointed as a scarecrow, Roberts was making this rotation the longest six months of Nutt's life.

Roberts fancied himself a creative soul. Simple tasks such as sterilizing glassware and monitoring experiments were too easy for him, so he constantly poked himself into Nutt's research. He invented shortcuts, misused organic material, and analyzed data in ways that only he could interpret, all with an irrepressible cheerfulness that irritated Nutt beyond measure.

Roberts closed the oven door, then floated upside down over to the keyboard that controlled the ovens and other equipment and deftly tapped out a combination. He clamped a pair of earphones over his wild hair and immediately started to convulse, feet kicking wildly and arms flailing at tiny spheres of color that bubbled up around his head. A stranger might have thought that Roberts was being electrocuted or zapped by lethal microwaves. Dave knew better.

Heaving a sigh, Nutt pulled himself through the hatch. Properly oriented, he could maneuver through the narrow confines of The Bakery fairly well. It was almost like swimming in air instead of water. The microscope and centrifuge workstations slid quickly past before he grabbed a handhold and steadied himself at the refrigeration section. Roberts's convulsions had slowed down. He was moving in time to rock music from a portable compact-disc player Velcroed to the ceiling between the strips of fluorescent lights. Nutt could hear its thin wail and the thump of a heavy bass beat. The kid must have the earphones up to max, he thought. He'll be deaf before he's thirty.

The colored spheres floating around Roberts's red mane were globules of water shot through with dyes used for experiments, the kid's version of psychedelic lighting effects.

Roberts's back was still to him, twitching in time to the music. Nutt pushed himself past the module's computer terminal, reached the CD player, and cut off the music.

"Circus time is over," he said.

Roberts abruptly turned his head. His body automatically twisted in the opposite direction; his flailing arms made the colored spheres scatter. He caught himself and for a moment hung in midair, a lean youthful scarecrow in dirty white laboratory coveralls hovering a scant few inches in front of the bearded, puffy-faced "old man" of nearly forty who was his boss. Nutt was slightly pudgy and potbellied back on Earth; in the weightlessness of the station his body fluids had shifted to make him look even rounder.

"Aw, Dave," Roberts whined as he yanked off the earphones, "you never let me have any fun."

"Fun is for the ex/rec room. Find your hairnet and do something about those spheres. If one of them gets into a specimen you'll have ruined six months' work."

Roberts hung up the earphones and then shepherded the spheres into a group and pressed them against the door of a small freezer. They adhered to the cold surface and formed perfect hemispheres. Soon they would evaporate and leave smudges of food coloring that could be wiped off with a damp cloth.

"Did you unzip the wrong end of your sleep restraint?" asked Roberts. One of the most annoying things about the kid was that he constantly tried to adapt Earthbound clichés to the realities of life on a space station. Few translated well. "I thought you were happy about going home."

"I'm damn happy about going home. But there's this little matter of a report I have to write in order to justify all the money we're being paid."

Nutt shoved himself backwards to the computer terminal and slipped his stockinged feet into a pair of loops attached to the floor. Chairs were useless in microgravity; it took more work to force the body into a sitting position than to stay on one's feet. All the work surfaces were breast high because under the weightless conditions one's arms tended to float up almost to shoulder level.

Standing at the chest-high desk, his body hunched slightly in a zero-gee crouch, Nutt began pecking at the computer keyboard. After the obligatory beeps and grunts, the display screen lit up in bright blue and spelled out in cheery yellow letters: GOOD MORNING! TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

Another of Roberts's little cutenesses. Nutt cast the technician a sour look.

He entered his password, received clearance, and typed in the preliminary set of instructions he had written with the help of a programmer back on Earth. The computer responded with the date and the time that each file had last been accessed.

Nutt felt his heart spasm in his chest.

"Were you in here last night?"

"When?" asked Roberts.

"TWO A.M."

"You're kidding, right?"

"What about Wilson and the other techs?"

"Beats me," said Roberts.

"The computer says my files were last accessed at two A.M.," said Nutt. He typed in another command; the computer responded with another message. "Holy shit! There's been a download!"

"What?"

"A download." Nutt typed furiously, his stomach wrenching with each response that played across the monitor screen. "The genetic files. Goddammit! Some sonofabitch copied all my genetic files!"

"Dave, there's no problem."

"No problem? Six fucking months of work stolen and you say no problem?"

"If you'll let me explain ..."

"Explain what? The computer's already explained everything. Somebody slipped in here at two this morning and downloaded all the genetic files!"

"There's nothing to worry about," said Roberts.

"Nothing to worry about!" Nutt shouted. "I'm not talking about a glitch in an experiment! I'm talking about a career at stake. My career!"

Nutt unlooped his feet and pushed away from the computer and its terrible string of messages so hard that he sailed across the width of the lab and banged his head against a cabinet on the opposite wall. The pain stunned him momentarily. He tumbled slowly, running his fingers through his hair and checking for blood. Roberts grabbed his arm to steady his movement, but the touch only angered him.

"I've got to tell Tighe." Nutt yanked away from Roberts's grip, spinning himself halfway toward the hatch.

"Dave, don't!"

But Nutt swam away toward the hatch, his shouted curses fading to echoes.

"Well, if you want to make an asshole of yourself, be my guest," said Roberts to the empty lab. He patted the hip pocket of his coveralls.

Mission control for Trikon Station was at Houston. Many of the consortium's European members had objected, but it made more sense to lease time and equipment from NASA's existing Manned Space Center than to build an entirely new complex somewhere else.

So it was at 0753 hours central daylight time that Commander Dan Tighe closed the light-blue plastic accordion-fold door of the cramped cubbyhole that served as his office. It was no larger than a telephone booth wedged into a forward corner of the command module.

His regular morning call to Mission Control was scheduled for 0800, as usual. And after that he was supposed to see the station doctor for his weekly exam. Like most fliers, Dan Tighe did not trust doctors, not even attractive female doctors. He rummaged through the small cabinet built into the corner of his office where the curving shell of the module met the forward bulkhead. His face, red and chafed, was set in a grim scowl of determination.

It was a face built of contradictions: finely sculpted cheekbones and a hawk's nose that had been broken long ago when he had crash-landed a crippled jet fighter. Strong stubborn jaw with a mouth that seemed almost too small for it, lips as thin and sensitive as a poet's. He kept his dark brown hair short enough to meet the old military regulations, but combed it forward to conceal his receding hairline. The gray at his temples bothered him, even though women called it distinguished.

And the eyes: electric blue, vital, brilliant. The eyes of an eagle, a flier, probing incessantly, never still, never satisfied. But now they were wary, guarded, the eyes of a man who had been defeated and banished. The eyes of a man who wanted to be alone in the cockpit of a nimble supersonic jet, but found himself smothered in the responsibilities of commanding a glorified schoolhouse that plodded along a fixed and calculated orbit — and in danger of losing even that.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Trikon Deception by Ben Bova, William R. Pogue. Copyright © 1992 Ben Bova and William R. Pogue. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
ACKNOWLEDGMENT,
4 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
15 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
15 AUGUST 1998 - FLORIDA,
15 AUGUST - TRIKON STATION,
15 AUGUST 1998 - THE MARS MODULE,
16 AUGUST 1998 - BATH, ENGLAND,
17 AUGUST 1998 - FLORIDA,
17 AUGUST 1998 - SPACE SHUTTLE CONSTELLATION,
17 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
18 AUGUST 1998 - LAUSANNE,
18 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
21 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
23 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
27 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
27 AUGUST 1998 - NEW YORK,
28 AUGUST 1998 - ATLANTA,
29 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
29 AUGUST 1998 - AEROSPACE PLANE YEAGER,
30 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
30 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
31 AUGUST 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
2 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
2 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
3 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
3 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
3 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
3 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
4 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
4 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
6 SEPTEMBER 1998 - TRIKON STATION,
17 OCTOBER 1998 - CORONA DEL MAR, CALIFORNIA,
AUTHOR'S NOTE,
TOR BOOKS BY BEN BOVA,
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR The Trikon Deception,
BRITISH LORD MURDERED,
FIRST WEDDING IN SPACE,
Copyright Page,

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