“Okay,” I thought through my options. “It sounds like we’re going to get a lot more out of this if we work together. We’ll have to hash out something. I don’t know when. Where are you staying? Obviously, we don’t have time to do it now.”
She glanced toward the door again. “We don’t. It’s not as if they have any reason to be suspicious, but if we take too much longer they’ll remember this later if either of us ever does something suspicious.”
Turning her head back to me, she crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m staying here in the employee housing. I’ve got my equipment hidden in my car and off campus.”
“Okay. I’m in Grand Lake. Is there any chance you could drive south and meet with us? I can give you an address.” Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 10
Stephanie stood next to me, watching and wearing an expression I guessed to be somewhere between concern and fear.
I glanced over at the buildings, wondering if they had any way to hear what we were saying. Then I pulled a control pad out from inside my sleeve and into my palm, setting my sonics to produce white noise loud enough that it would obscure what we were saying. I’d tested it with a variety of shotgun microphones and Haley’s hearing.
“You can’t tell anyone about this,” I told her. “Especially not the Coffeeshop Illuminati or Gordon.” Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 9
I had to come up with a response that fit her opening, but I didn’t know what her cover was. I decided to be vague and let her lead. “I didn’t expect to run into you here.”
No doubt guessing what I was doing, she gave a catlike grin. “I graduated. After you graduate you have to get a job and I got lucky enough to get one here.”
Emmy looked from one of us to the other. “How do you know each other?” Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 8
“Yeah,” I tried to think of something to say. “That would be great.”
Even as I said it, I thought that sounded kind of stupid, but Sandy kept on smiling, so I guessed that it was close enough to an appropriate answer.
His smile faltered. “I’m sorry I can’t take you over to the labs today. There’s been some kind of snag with your security clearance. They tell me it’s coming but it’s not here yet. It’ll be okay, though. The stuff we work with is so secret that almost every single one of our clearances has had a snag somewhere in the process. It would be strange if one didn’t.”
“I hope there’s no problem…” I let the sentence trail off. I wasn’t worried. If I knew anything about Isaac Lim over the past four years of working with him, it was that he knew what he was doing. If they had problems with clearances, he’d have made sure they had one with me. Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 7
“When you say they’re similar to you in little ways, do you mean that it’s not obvious that you’re related just by looking at you?” That seemed like an okay way to get at the main question on my mind—whether she might be part of a cell of True and somehow not realize it.
It struck me as I asked that one of the True might well pick up that I knew what they were.
So maybe it wasn’t the best question, but if she recognized what I was after, she never showed it. She gave me a wide smile. “Not at all—well, they do look like me a little. You can see it in our faces, but my biological brother and sister look like our mother or our father, but I look like a mix. I wouldn’t have guessed we were related without online DNA websites. We’re a mix of everything around the Mediterranean—Italian, Greek, Northern Africa, Arabic, all of it.” Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 6
That’s what I understood from Tara, anyway. In her parents’ worlds, the True destroyed and replaced humanity before falling into disputes among themselves as to which groups best followed the values of the True.
She couldn’t know the full story, though. The True weren’t historians. They were soldiers. And anyway, both of her parents were born after their bands of True had escaped their own realities by relocating to Infinity City, a city that existed in an Infinity of worlds.
In some, the True followed a nation or world conqueror faithfully. In others, they destroyed humanity in a rebellion or fell sick from a virus they were especially vulnerable to. Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 5
Internal policy? That was an interesting detail. Sensing my interest, the implant gave me more information. Ever since the Xiniti had freed the members of the Galactic Alliance from servitude to the Abominators, they’d been policing the Human Quarantine area. Galactic Alliance policy was to alert them if people on Earth, the birthplace of humanity, acquired alien technology, particularly that of the Artificers and the Abominators.
If that were to happen, the Galactic Alliance might decide to eliminate all life on Earth. Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 4
In my head, my Xiniti implant labeled the helicopter as “Pre-gravitic air transport capable of vertical take-off and landing.” It then followed it up with the word “helicopter” in human and alien languages.
Present in my head, but below my conscious awareness, were examples of different models of copters from different planets. If I wanted, I could call up whatever details the Xiniti high command thought their soldiers might need.
This wasn’t the time to investigate them, but I wanted to. You never knew what you might learn from alien designs for technology you were already familiar with. Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 3
Eventually, I finished signing all the papers. My hand didn’t hurt, but that was more of a surprise than an expectation.
When I signed the last one, I looked up, handed Dr. Hansen back his pen and asked, “I understand that you talked to friends in government about me, but what made me qualified for this? I mean, this is secret enough that only Dr. Strazinsky can read my internship reflection and that I have signed a mountain of papers saying that I won’t tell anybody about this except for people on my projects inside Higher Grounds or that have a top secret security clearance plus codewords that will be defined later.
“I’d be surprised if I have Top Secret clearance. I’m pretty sure they have to do some kind of investigation for that to even be possible. I’m not trying to get out of it or something, but it just seems too easy. You know what I mean?” Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 2
The next day, I got an email from Dr. Strazinsky and the Engineering department chair, Dr. Hansen. That interested me on several levels. First, because I’d been expecting an email from the department secretary with my internship information. Second, because while my engineering department adviser had to sign off on whatever internship I got, neither Dr. Strazinsky nor Dr. Hansen were my departmental adviser. Third, getting an internship meant getting information from a contact at the business, but didn’t mean a meeting with the departmental chair or anyone in the department once they’d accepted you and you’d accepted their offer.
If I hadn’t talked to Agent Lim, I’d have been worried, but as it was, I walked into Dr. Hansen’s office at the appointed time (three o’clock) with a good idea of what was going on. Continue reading Hardwick Industries: Part 1