by Martin Cuff
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Action Adventure
Logline: Lord of the Flies for Grown-ups. In Space.
Tagline: We All Have to Play Our Part
Words: 123000 (First Draft)
The year is 2089. Space Mining corporations exploiting the riches of the asteroid belt have accumulated the kind of wealth and power last seen with the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. The economy on Earth has crashed though, the environment has collapsed, and the only work available for the 99% is on low-paying, high-risk contracts on the moons and asteroids at the far side of the asteroid belt.
Uzo Igwe is the ship’s doctor aboard the VOC Company mega-freighter the ORS Batavia that’s traveling to the Company colonies off Jupiter. The ship is carrying six smaller vessels (known as oxpeckers), four hundred passengers and crew, and a cargo of terraforming and mining equipment and prefab housing. It’s also carrying enough gold to run the Company’s entire colonial enterprise for several years.
During the grinding boredom of nine-month journey, Uzo uncovers a conspiracy to kill the Batavia’s Director Frank Pelser, and steal the ship’s gold. The mutiny is lead by Jerry Cornell, the Batavia’s charismatic and manipulative deputy chief, and he’s surrounded himself with some high-ranking co-conspirators who sit at the nexus of power and influence on board. Because of this, the plot has a high likelihood of success.
Just as Cornell’s mutiny is unfolding, the Batavia is violently struck by a meteoroid and fatally disabled. In the chaotic aftermath of impact, the Batavia’s life support systems are critical and she’s low on power, oxygen and water. More troubling: 360 people are now awake and there’s only food for 100. With communications down, Pelser takes a life-raft and races ahead to Jupiter for help. In doing so, he unwittingly leaves Jerry Cornell in absolute command over the cold and starving survivors.
Jerry Cornell has no intention of dying or even suffering on the ruins of the Batavia. He adjusts his plans to the new reality and determines to hijack the rescue vessel once it returns, and continue with the plot to steal the gold. But to do this, he first has to survive. And to survive, he has to “thin the herd” without causing panic or opposition. 240 people have to die, preferably with nobody noticing.
But Uzo has noticed and she pushes back. Under pressure, Cornell’s mask slips, and he unleashes a savage free-fall into torture, rape, enslavement, and murder. Now Uzo must take urgent action, assembling a rag-tag group of Defenders in order to save the remaining survivors, the ship and the gold.
A final brutal battle to the death between Defenders and Mutineers is spun into another electrifying direction when Pelser’s rescue ship appears on the horizon and starts to dock. Now everything is left to play for. A mad, desperate scramble takes place through the metal corpse of the ship; the victor will be the one who reaches Pelser and tells his – or her – story first.