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Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession - ROCK FORSBERG
Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession - ROCK FORSBERG
Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession - ROCK FORSBERG
Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession - ROCK FORSBERG

Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession

$5.99
FormatE-Book

An Earth politician disappears on Luna. A young woman misses her man. An old mystic appears on a spaceship.

Ava Levin seems to have it all: the face, the body, the beach house, and the revered husband.

But when her love disappears on Luna under suspicious circumstances, everything else loses its meaning. Determined to find him, she defies the interplanetary travel restrictions and boards an illegal space flight with an eccentric mystic, Rasputin.

Unlike Earth, space is a perilous place even without the militant Lunar police, shady underground organisations, and armed-to-teeth Martian warships. To survive, Ava must learn to trust herself, even if every step closer to her husband is a step deeper into the unknown.

On the eve of the biggest seizure of power in the millennia, she must make a tough choice and face her destiny . . . or risk a war that could kill billions.

If you’re looking for a space adventure with a touch of the fantastic, and you got the guts to fly with Rasputin, this is the ride to take.

Print length: 310 pages
Audiobook length: 7 hrs 51 minutes digitally narrated
Audiobook sample:

 

 

Chapter One: Lost on Luna

Ava rubbed her eyes. It was early Wednesday morning and her alarm hadn’t sounded yet. But she had woken up to something. It wasn’t the hum of the waves, but maybe it had been a bird. Another sound chimed in, and it took her a moment to understand where it had come from: a call, not to her handset, but to the big screen in the library.

Something was wrong.

She stood up, threw on a silk robe, and made her way to the library, half asleep and uncaffeinated. The comms portal on the wall pinged with the logo of the Earth Council. They were sixteen hours behind Sydney in New America on Luna, about to end their day.

She tidied her hair back and answered. An image of a solemn woman appeared on the screen. She had a round face and dark hair, and wore a sharp, dark-blue blouse. Ava guessed she was maybe in her late thirties or early forties. She didn’t know the person, but expected they worked with her husband, because she wore Earth’s official emblem on her chest.

“Good morning, Mrs Levin. My name is Polina Cave, and I am the Earth ambassador on Luna,” the woman said, with heavy worry lines between her brows and a slight blush on her cheeks.

“Good morning,” Ava said, and yawned.

“I’m sorry to contact you like this,” the ambassador said, “but three hours ago, we had an unfortunate incident. We lost contact with the craft carrying your husband.”

Ava’s heart skipped a beat, and she wasn’t sure if she had heard her correctly. “What?”

“Your husband joined a survey run across Luna when we lost contact with the craft,” she said, and took a deep breath.

Ava shook her head. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“I’m really sorry. This is real.”

“Is he all right?”

The ambassador rubbed her neck. “As of now, we don’t have an affirmative on MEC Levin’s situation. We wanted to let you know the soonest.”

Soonest? Ava tensed. “But you said it’s been three hours!”

“First we thought it was just a glitch, but when they didn’t arrive…” She paused and looked past the camera. “Mrs Levin, the local authorities are surveying the area beyond where they were last seen, but because of the distance the shuttle can cover in a short period, the search area is vast and—”

Now Ava was fully awake even without coffee. She had to know what was going on. “So, does that mean you don’t know if he’s dead or alive?”

“No, we don’t. I’m sorry.” She rubbed her neck again. “But let me assure you, we are doing our best to find and rescue the party. Or Luna is. They’re running the operation.”

“Do you have Earth’s vessels on Luna?”

“That would be against the treaty, but we have our agent on the ground overseeing the operation.”

Ava leaned closer to the screen and lowered her voice. “Could this be intentional?”

“Mrs Levin,” the ambassador said, her cheeks now glowing, “that is something I am not in a position to speculate about.”

Ava sighed. Ever since the colonies had become independent, the tension between governments had increased, though Luna was—at least publicly—a firm ally of Earth. And now her husband was caught in the middle of it.

“So, you’re asking me to wait?”

“Yes, ma’am,” she said, and pulled a contrived smile. “We remain hopeful that it is only a malfunction, and that your husband and the rest of the crew return safely.”

Ava didn’t want to hear promises of false hope. She straightened up, and said, “Who’s the agent on Luna?”

The woman on the screen pursed her lips. “I’m afraid I can’t disclose that information. We will keep you updated as soon as we know more.”

“Whe—” Ava said, but the woman was gone. The council logo filled the screen, fading to black after a few seconds.

Her body became numb while her heart thumped hard. It was the message she had been dreading ever since Lachlan had started conducting diplomatic talks in New America. He was the youngest member of the Earth Council, the highest governing body of the planet. It had been established sixty years earlier in 2332 to drive the best interests of Earth’s citizens when the new governments on Luna and Mars had declared themselves independent.

She wobbled back to the bedroom, grabbed her handset, and dialled him. If it were just some sick joke, he would clear it in a minute. But the call didn’t connect. He was off the grid.

Her parents had been so proud of him when Lachlan had told them the news.

They had all been so proud of him.

And now he was gone.

They were gone, too.

Their beautiful home, the one where Ava had grown up, had fallen thirty metres to the beach when the headland collapsed during a severe storm. In the evening, she had spoken with them; in the morning they were gone.

The thought twisted her insides. She swallowed to keep the nausea at bay, but she couldn’t hold it. She thought of running to the toilet, but it was too late: she kneeled down on the cold floor and threw up on the shiny living room tiles.

When she finally got up, she was cold. She’d lost track of how long she had remained crouched on the floor, on all fours, panting, shivering. She fetched paper towels from the kitchen and cleaned the mess off the floor, then headed for the shower, hoping it would help get her head straight.

Under the cool water, she could focus on her options. She only had two, really: to wait, or to do something. Do what? It wasn’t as if she could just get a ride to Luna and go search for him; she had never been off-planet, and besides, with the rising tensions between the governments, all travel from Earth was restricted. She wanted to do something, but soon gave up the thought. Just like the ambassador had said, she could only wait.

After the shower, she pulled on loose sweatpants and a surfer’s hoodie, and pulled her hair back. She raised the blinds, letting the sunlight in through the north-facing windows. With a press of the button, the windows moved to the side. She stepped out to the terrace overlooking the ocean, feeling the fresh morning breeze on her skin. It made her feel better, at least physically.

Far in the sky floated the massive Pacific portal, one of the five orbital waypoints to and from Earth.

Fuelled by new energy storage technology and the subsequent advances in powerful propulsion systems, the interplanetary travel boom had driven the Earth Defence to create the portals as part of the force field that stopped unauthorised entry to the planet, but also protected it from projectiles such as asteroids or hostile attacks and helped maintain global temperatures at twentieth-century levels.

To the right of the portal shone Luna, white on blue, so close, yet so far.

Ever since Lachlan’s career had taken off in the Earth Council’s Department of External Affairs, he’d had to travel extensively. Ava had feared that they might even have to move off Earth at some point. When he was elected to the council, she had been happy, hoping that would be the end of his space travel, but the new role brought more travel. With his experience in international diplomacy, he was soon negotiating trade treaties. He spent a lot of time on Luna, Mars, and the frontier states, not to mention how long it took to travel to each place. To balance it out, he also spent long stretches with Ava on Earth. She always looked forward to those.

And now he was gone.

Disappeared.

Ava had expected to enjoy a nice easy workday shooting a commercial at the beach and then meeting Savannah in the evening. She thought about calling in sick, but she couldn’t stay with her welling thoughts at home, either. She needed some distraction while she waited for the news.

* * *

When Ava arrived in a compact open-top antigravity vehicle, a “floatie”, the production crew were already building the set. While they built a makeshift bar in the middle of the beach, Ava started getting ready. She put on the blue bikini and stepped barefoot over the hot sand to sit in the make-up artist’s chair to have her face painstakingly augmented.

A few years ago, she had been over the moon with her acting gigs, but since she had met Lachlan, her priorities had shifted. Politics was sometimes dirty, but at least his job had a purpose: to make the world a better place. Though some small part of her still enjoyed being pretty in front of the camera, and the attention that came with it, she found it lacked meaning.

Big corporations used her face to sell more products, many of which the world would have been better without. She was selling shampoo, augmented reality wear, sports drinks, shuttle boosters, and everything in between.

Instead of selling stuff, she wanted to make a positive impact on the world, but she hadn’t yet found her way. Until she did, she would continue modelling.

Her agent had arranged the gig with Vita, a global multivitamin water company. She had no lines to speak (which he preferred), but would smile at the bartender, take a sip of the drink, and show some love for both it and the camera. That was easy, and that’s why they had wanted her. She usually excelled at looking effortlessly pretty, but not today.

Covered in a light-blue sarong, she stepped barefoot towards the shoreline. The light wind caressed her face, fluttered the hem of the sarong, and whispered soothing melodies in her ear. She wished she could just spread her wings and let the wind carry her. The hot sand under her feet and the invigorating sea breeze on her skin made her forget for a moment that Lachlan was missing.

She sat down on a stool at the bar, and her mind raced. What if he had crashed, been shot down, kidnapped? What if he was stuck somewhere without help? The longer it took, the less likely he would be alive. What if he were already dead?

A strong breeze blew, making her eyes water.

“Why do we have a wind machine on the beach?” Ava said to the director. They had positioned a large fan between her and the camera.

“We want a natural feel,” said Carlos. Ava could barely make out what he was saying through his accent, and because his beard was so thick it made it hard to see his mouth move. “Your dress and hair cannot fall flat, but must come alive! You understand the effect we’re aiming for, no?”

“You want natural? You shut the thing off, yeah?”

He stopped and stared at her for a moment, then ordered the technician to shut it down. “We’ll try it without, but you must put extra effort into being flowing and light for the brand.”

You make some effort to look flowing and light yourself, Ava thought, and sighed in relief as the natural breeze replaced the annoying machine.

They went through the script a few times. Once everyone was on the same page, she sat on the bar stool facing the camera crew.

Dan, a colleague she had worked with before, played the bartender perfectly, but Ava couldn’t get the feel she wanted. She wasn’t having the time of her life in a paradise bar with the multivitamin water. Instead, she worried about her husband dying in the lonely vacuum of space.

“Ava,” the director said, “we need more smile from you.”

“I am smiling. Wouldn’t it be better if I was natural?”

“No, no, no… Ava, what are you thinking? Why are you thinking? I know what sells this liquid, that’s why they pay me. You are just a pretty face, yeah? You do what I tell you to do, OK?”

She took a deep breath, wanting to tell him he couldn’t do his work without her pretty face, but that would have been unprofessional. In the long run, reputation was perhaps an even bigger asset than her looks.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “How about this?”

Even though she didn’t feel like smiling, she could pull a smile that melted most of the men and women behind the camera.

“Right on,” Carlos said, emphasising his words by shaking his three curled middle fingers with extended thumb and baby finger. “Let’s roll it from the beginning.”

They filmed the key scene in five takes, after which they took additional imagery for various media, which took more time than the actual scene. After the annoying beginning, Ava found that a few hours had passed without her fretting about Lachlan. As much as she wanted to hear from him, she needed the break.

Walking away from the set towards the dressing room, she checked her handset. No messages from anyone. She sighed.

Someone tapped her arm. Carlos.

“It’s your husband, isn’t it?” he said. “I saw it on the news.”

“Oh, it’s on the news?”

“It’s everywhere. They think his shuttle crashed, but they didn’t release any details. You must feel terrible, yes? Do you have anyone to talk to?”

“Yeah,” Ava said, and continued walking.

“Hey, I’m sorry for what I said there. Let me make it up to you. I’ve a Lux floatie, that one over there. I’ll give you a lift.”

“No, thanks, I’m good with a taxi,” she said. She appreciated the apology, but she wasn’t warming up to a director who spoke like that to a model on the set.

He continued pacing beside her like he was made of Velcro. “Are you sure? Maybe after today’s events you need a bit of relaxation. I could offer you a soothing massage at my place.”

She stopped and raised her brows. “A massage?”

“Well,” he said with a chuckle, “you must feel tense and alone… I have a sympathetic touch and can make you relax if you come.”

Instead of relaxing, Ava tensed and crossed her arms, leaning back away from him. “You realise what you’re doing? I’ll be sure to quote you to the letter when my agent asks how the shoot went today.”

His face turned dark. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

She placed her fists against her hips and said, “And why is that?”

“You might find it hard to get new gigs… I’m well connected, and if you came over, I could make you a star.”

Unbelievable. What made him unable to understand a simple no? He knew she was in a vulnerable state. She didn’t need this. “Go massage yourself!” she said, and ran to the close-by floatie, leaving Carlos muttering curses at her back. She tried to let them roll off her, but every one of them hurt.

* * *

On the way back home, on the southbound flyway, in an open-top floatie, Ava leaned back and let the sweet wind tousle her hair. She tried to clear her mind after her exchange with Carlos, but it continued to bother her. She didn’t want to care about what he had said, but she did.

She tried to breathe calmly, but found the grip around her windpipe tighten again. The quick turn of the taxi into a corner made her dizzy, and she had to catch the handlebar to steady herself.

She didn’t need yet another broken professional connection, but she couldn’t yield to his abuse either, even if that meant losing future modelling gigs. Why did he treat her so badly now that she was weak? At least now she knew that under the guise of a creative genius, Carlos was just another loose bag of slime.

Tears welled up in her eyes and blurred the world around her. Gritting her teeth, she told herself that things would work out, and let the sweet wind dry her tears.

Floating past a sports track reminded her of her teenage years. She had spent a lot of time with her father, who often took her to practice physical outdoor activities—mostly swimming and rock climbing, but also a lot of diving, running, and calisthenics—whenever he was off the clock. Her mother had been the complete opposite and liked her leisure to be relaxing. Although her father would have wanted her to apply to the university where he taught history, after high school, Ava had received such a fantastic offer from a modelling agency she couldn’t turn it down. Incidentally, all the movement patterns and habits her father had instilled in her, especially the endurance from swimming and the strength from rock climbing, had made her body too perfect to sit with dusty old tomes at the university. This wasn’t the first time, but now she seriously doubted her choices in life.

There was no word from Luna. She shouldn’t have let him go, but then again, what could she have done? He would’ve gone regardless of what she said, because he would always have found the words. And unlike her, he was brave. You didn’t become an MEC without taking risks.

She had always admired people who stood up for what they believed in. Like Queen Elana, who had made Mars a thriving egalitarian monarchy. Or the MEC Maria Flores, whose unrelenting humanitarian work had made her a renowned figure across the solar system. While Ava admired people like them, she could only hope that maybe someday she’d be as assertive as they were.

Her breath strained. It was the first sign of anxiety which, left unchecked, could lead to a full-blown panic attack. She reminded herself that it was just a sensation, and however uncomfortable it was, allowed it to be.

Her handset beeped and she grabbed it fast, expecting a word from the ambassador on Luna. Instead, it was her agent calling.

Ava paused. Her agent, Phoenix Vega, an ex-model and a veteran in the business, ran a boutique agency with a few models to whom she was warm like a mama bear, but fierce like… a mama bear when her assets needed protection. She was a tough businesswoman, and Ava couldn’t know before she spoke to her which mama bear she’d be. Would she have heard about the fallout with Carlos already?

The image on her handset showed a tanned older woman, her perfect dark hair fluttering in the wind before a backdrop of the sea. She often worked on the terrace of her beachside mansion, the location of many a legendary party. “What happened with the Vita gig?”

“I’m sorry,” Ava said, “but the director acted like an ass.”

“Tell me,” she said.

First, Ava told her about what had happened with Lachlan.

“Oh, dear! I’m so sorry… I hope they will find him well.” Phoenix detested politicians and had advised Ava to stay away when they were dating, but as time passed, Lachlan’s charm worked even on the mama bear, who had gone as far as donating money to fund his campaign for the Earth Council. 

Ava told her about Carlos’s offer for a massage. She remembered his words to the letter.

Phoenix took a gulp of a fizzy drink. “He told me you were an uncooperative diva.”

“He’s lying!” Ava burst out. “It was a thirty-second discussion, after which things resumed normally.”

“Don’t worry, dear, I believe you,” Phoenix said. “Carlos has a bit of a reputation… I will deal with him. But you should’ve told me about your husband. I could’ve cancelled the gig.”

Ava pressed her palm to her heart and said, “I didn’t want to cancel. I thought work might be the distraction I needed to get my mind off Lachlan for a while. But yeah, it didn’t help. Maybe I need a bit of time off.”

“Of course. I will speak with Carlos, so he won’t do it again. And hey, Ava, don’t worry about his threats. Carlos is but one director. I suggest you take a break to recover now, and let’s talk about new and better opportunities later.”

“Thank you, I appreciate your help,” Ava said.

“Always, dear,” Phoenix said, and closed the line.

Ava was glad to have Phoenix as her agent. Carlos, that self-centred sleazebag, would face the wrath of the mama bear.

She neared the city with the wind in her hair. Her handset beeped again, this time with a message. She wiped her eyes and read it. Her handset showed no sender information, only the message:

You’re not safe in Sydney.

Rasputin

END OF PREVIEW


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Captain Rasputin: the Martian Succession

$5.99
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Author

Rock Forsberg

Rock loves awe-inspiring stories and writes to create epic worlds and stories of his own. He has also written songs, poems, and short stories, both in English and in Finnish. For him, writing is a long game, with a lifetime of learning and dozens of novels to write.

"I hope you will find the same awe in reading this book as I found writing it."

Quality

Long Live Editors!

As any quality-conscious independent publisher, I work with several professional editors and proofreaders.

I strive to deliver the best product possible, but it's impossible to be objective about one's own work, so the editorial support is vital.

The quality of my prose wouldn't be what it is without my editors.

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
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P
PHILIP VANITALLIE
With Earth, Luna, Mars, and a mega obsession for control, there is plenty for a rollicking story

Ava Levin has learned that her husband Lachlan Levin, Earth Council's representative to Luna, has been abducted. Ava wants to find her husband. Ava contacts her late fathers' friend, Rasputin, a disheveled and bearded gentleman who is particularly good at getting people to do his bidding and just happens to have a spaceship ready to whisk Ava to Luna.

Space travel is easy in the 24th century. Politics is still mankind's drug of choice at least for the rich and well-connected. At this time, all people are descendants of humans born on earth. Mars has developed a regal monarchy with a powerful Queen. Luna is much more than a mere earth colony; there should be no surprise that smuggling continues to be an important time-honored art.

Be aware that some people have special abilities. You will learn how things are not always what they seem; some magical abilities can affect the balance.

There is a swashbuckling nature to this tale; you will see people switch allegiances unexpectedly. Only at the end will you understand the who and how of a convoluted scheme to upset the order of the universe. Along the way, you will be in the room where people are murdered by firearms only to fully recover. There is no way that people who are "spaced" (tossed out of an airlock) usually can't be found again. As a front-line witness of these actions ... well you really need to pick up this science fiction adventure and see for yourself. You will be drawn in.

V
Victor Larsen
Good read

I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next book

T
Terry
A really good read

Plenty of action from start to finish. Manipulation, lies, deceipt and not knowing what's real and who to trust. Plenty of twists and good humour. Loved reading every minute of it. I received a complimentary copy and voluntarily leave an honest review.

M
Matt Seniff
A really great read

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author has done a good job of balancing character development, world building and plot to create a story that flows off the page and into the reader’s imagination smoothly. It was difficult to put down between reading sessions. I also found myself a little sad to reach the end of the book it came soon. Hopefully there will be other stories involving Captain Rasputin and his fellow characters. I recommend this book with no reservations.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

V
Victor Larsen
Captain R

I really enjoyed the book. It caught me by surprise the way the plot twisted and turned the further I read.
I enjoyed reading and will read more of your books. Thanks for the escape for a little time.