Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike and Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome have been updated with minor format fixes and proofreading. Find either of these books wherever fine ebooks are sold. If you previously purchased either of these books, you should be able to re-download the newer version.
Astrid Maxxim, brilliant teenage inventor returns. Astrid is looking forward to racing against a professional driving team to prove her electric racecar can take on the gas-guzzlers. Then without warning, she wakes up in the hospital with partial amnesia. What could have happened to her? Now everyone treats her like she’s brain-damaged! What if her IQ really did drop to 184? What a nightmare!
“We have a clean burn,” said copilot Carl Williams.
Ariel, propelled by her custom Maxxim liquid fuel blend, a combination of hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene, nitrous oxide, and several top secret ingredients, pushed the advanced spaceplane higher and higher into the atmosphere.
“Throttling up,” said Astrid.
She looked over her shoulder at her three passengers.
“Everything good back there?”
Laura Bell flashed a smile. Booker Larson’s eyes were glued to his instrument panel, but her threw Astrid a thumbs up. Sergei Bryce simply looked like he was going to throw up. The three of them, all of whom could be found on the list of the twenty richest Americans, had each paid $2 million for the chance to fly into space.
The force of acceleration pressed everyone back into their seats.
“Nosing up to forty degrees,” said Astrid. “Throttling up to seventy percent.”
“Mach six point three,” called Williams. “Altitude is four five miles.”
The gentle rumbling of the rocket engines through the fuselage of the space plane continued.
“Fuel is good,” said Williams. “Pressure is good. All navigation and secondary systems are good.”
“Flight controls are good,” said Astrid. “Plotting a geostationary transfer orbit.” She looked back at her three passengers. “This will take us flying out to 22,230 miles out, and then swing us back down to one hundred miles.”
“That’s fantastic!” Laura Bell’s shout was amplified by the microphone.
“Easy there, Miss,” said Williams. “I’d like to return with both my eardrums intact.”
“Who’d like to get out of their seats and float around?” asked Astrid, as she released her restraints.
The others followed suit and soon they were all floating around Ariel’s large cabin, spinning, doing summersaults, and peeling off their flight suits. Astrid had just finished stowing her suit and helmet, when she turned around to see Sergei Bryce throwing up.
“I’ve got it,” called Carl Williams, as he retrieved a vacuum hose from a ceiling compartment and began chasing down the spherical globules of vomit.
Several hours later, back in her seat, Astrid made an announcement.
“Congratulations lady and gentleman, you have just reached the farthest point away from the earth of anyone since the crew of Apollo 17.”
Astrid spent the rest of the week close to home. Friday night, she had dinner with the Bundersmith family next door. Aunt Gerta baked a Schweinshaxe, a ham leg with a crunchy brown crust. It was moist and delicious on the inside. It was served with brown gravy and knödel, a type of boiled dumpling, that while delicious, Toby’s great-aunt seemed almost apologetic about serving.
“It’s not German, strictly speaking,” said Aunt Gerta, “but the boys like them.”
Both Toby and his father nodded.
“I’ve eaten your wonderful apple pies,” replied Astrid. “They may not be German, but they’re pretty fantastic.”
“Not tonight. We’re having Dampfnudel.”
Astrid turned her head to look at Toby.
“It’s like a cinnamon roll,” he said.
“There’s no cinnamon in it!” called Aunt Gerta over her shoulder, as she popped into the kitchen to bring out the dessert.
There might not have been any cinnamon, but it was quite like a sweet roll, filled with sugar and fruits, and topped with vanilla custard. As was usually the case when dining with the Bundersmiths, the girl inventor was very full when she returned home. Toby walked her to her front step and looked like he was going to bend over and kiss her, when Agent Toulson opened her front door.
“Are you going to Detroit this week?”
“I have to,” said Gloria. “I wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta for Spring Break, but Mom says she misses me or something.”
“And you’re too young to go to Mexico for Spring Break.”
“She might have said something along that line too.”
“So, when are you going to Detroit?” asked Astrid.
“Tomorrow at 10:00 AM.”
“Do you mind if I catch a ride?”
“It’s a free country. I mean, I don’t mind.” Astrid could almost hear the strain of trying to be pleasant in her cousin’s voice.
“Great,” said Astrid. “See you then.”
“Plans?” asked Kate Maxxim.
“I’m shooting up to Detroit for a couple of days.”
Her mother raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything.
Astrid arrived just before ten at the Maxxim airfield, with Priyanka Sharma in tow, and stepped up into the cabin of the Starcraft 170 commuter plane. Gloria was already seated about mid-plane, and standing in the aisle was Maxxim Industries pilot Carl Williams. Agent Sharma took a seat by the door.
“You’re flying us, Carl?” asked Astrid.
“No, you are.”
“I don’t know,” said Astrid. “I haven’t flown anything bigger than my hoverbike since my brain surgery.”
“And you crashed that,” added Gloria.
“Time to get back onto the horse,” said Williams. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right there next to you the whole way. I’ll make sure everything’s fine.”
“Please do,” said Gloria. “If we crash with her, your name probably won’t even make the papers, and mine will be at least a half column down.”
Nova Dancer is a space adventure set so far into the future that Earth is nothing more than a myth. We follow an intrepid crew of a small free trader as they ply the spaceways in search of passengers of freight to transport.
Nova Dancer is a novella-length story and is available for 99 cents.
Feeling her stomach growl, the girl inventor looked up to see that it was almost 1:00 PM. She decided that rather than visit the cafeteria there in the R&D building, she would go on home. Chef Pierce could fix her something light that wouldn’t spoil her dinner that evening with Toby.
The weather was warm for late March, though it was a bit windier than one might have wished, flying fifty feet above the ground. Zipping down low, just over the tops of the saguaro cactuses and zooming back up and over the high red rocks, made Astrid smile. When a few strands of hair slipped from beneath her helmet and down onto her forehead, she broke into a laugh. She finally had hair long enough to get in the way!
Suddenly the gentle humming, which was a constant companion to anyone flying a hoverbike, went silent. The flying scooter dropped toward the ground like a brick, and Astrid went with it. She tried to steer toward a spot of soft sand, but the vehicle was completely unresponsive. There was no time to do anything else. Pushing herself away from the no longer flying scooter, she landed in the soft desert sand, just as the hoverbike crashed on a slightly firmer patch of gravel.
It was a minute before Astrid could suck any air back into her lungs. Though her entire left side hurt, there were no pains that stood out from the others. Carefully checking her legs and arms, and then feeling over the rest of her, Astrid decided that she hadn’t broken anything, at least not too badly. She sat slowly up and looked at her hoverbike. It was sitting about ten feet away. Though its frame was intact, the hoverdisks on the bottom were smashed to pieces.
Astrid tapped her Maxxim Carpé watch computer with her finger. Then she looked down at the device. The screen was shattered and there was a dent. Retrieving her phone from her pocket, she pressed the speed dial to her father.
“Hi, Dad. I’ve had a bit of a hoverbike crash. I’m alright, but I’m stuck out in the desert.”
Getting to her feet, the girl inventor looked at the landmarks all around her. Ahead of her, she could see the low rise of hills between her and Maxxim City. To both the north and south were large sandstone hills. She was north of the Saguaro Cactus Park and miles northeast of Pearl Lake. If she walked downhill, she would run into one of the many dry riverbeds in the area. They all flowed toward Pearl Lake, and between it and her was the monorail line.
“I think I can walk to the monorail from here,” she said. “It may take me an hour or so.”
“Astrid, stay where you are. How’s you’re phone battery?”
“It’s fine… um, seventy-four percent.”
“Good,” he said. “As long as it’s on, we can track you by GPS. Wait where you are.”