“That would explain the coincidence, but it’s so weird that Higher Ground would include people who actively murder people. I’d have pegged them for the kind of people who do it indirectly by working with the Nine—because if they hand over their research to the Nine, the Nine will use it to kill people.”
Tara shrugged. “I told you I don’t have enough information to really do my thing well. If I could talk to someone else who worked there, I’d be able to make more connections. Like maybe if Stephanie came over here again and I asked her questions…” Continue reading Claws & Eyes: Part 2
My lab hummed with the sound of 3D printers and other machines putting together more bots, some of them from new designs. I didn’t know how sophisticated Higher Ground’s security was, but I’d have to beat it if I wanted to learn more.
Off the top of my head, I listed what I wanted to find out more about and wrote them on a piece of paper, numbering them, but not in order of importance. Continue reading Claws & Eyes: Part 1
“It’s complicated,” I said, and after a pause to put the story together in my head, I told her about Sandy and Emmy, Victor, the birthing chamber, the ansible, and the walk down the beach. I didn’t mention everything Kals had told me because if there were ever a time to go into that, it wasn’t now.
“So, basically,” I finished, “now everyone’s going to believe we’re an item or want to be.”
Jeremy looked up from grabbing two more pieces of pepperoni pizza. “I did my internship this summer at a physics lab near Chicago. I’m pretty sure nobody was having sex with anybody there and if they were, I don’t want to imagine it.” Continue reading Deeper In: Part 4
“I guess,” I said. “I think she’s on our side, but she kind of tricked me into doing what she wanted. I think I’d have been just as uncomfortable with having people think I was cheating on Haley if I’d known she was setting that up. She could have asked me.”
Vaughn glanced right and moved his car into the right lane, roaring past the three cars that had been ahead of us, hitting close to ninety miles per hour as he did it.
On a Saturday morning, the freeway would have been almost empty, but this was Friday around 7 pm in the middle of the city during one of the last weekends of summer.
There were cars—not as many as rush hour, but more than Saturday morning. Vaughn weaved back into the middle lane and I reminded myself that he’d only ever crashed cars when he was drinking and driving. Continue reading Deeper In: Part 3
“That’s more than we knew.” I looked over at her and Tara smiled at me. “Do you have any idea when that happened? The year? Or if we’re lucky, maybe a specific date?”
Tara’s expression went blank again for a few seconds. “No, but a lot of the stories sound like they could take place in this year. My mother’s and father’s stories both include mentions of the Heroes’ League as one of the first groups to face the True.”
“Cool,” Vaughn grinned and asked Tara, “how did we do?”
Tara frowned. “You all died—not all at once, but eventually.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 3
Tara frowned, but then her face went blank as her brain went into whatever state allowed her to predict opponents’ moves before they made them and recognize patterns of human behavior by connecting details no one else remembered.
Then she took a breath and relaxed, becoming the Tara I was more used to. “The True aren’t historians. We could have kept everything about the story if we’d wanted to, but it’s important to the leaders of the True to revere the Designer as the one who decided what it meant to be one of the True.
“My parents each told me their battalion’s version of the story and then I heard half a dozen different versions wherever we moved in Infinity City. Every group of the True has their own and they’ll tell it to anyone willing to listen.
“I don’t know which one is real. Maybe all of them are. I don’t know enough to figure that out, but I can tell you what’s common to all the versions I know. Maybe that will be close enough.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 2
“It makes sense,” Haley pulled her chair out from under the table and sat down next to me. “It’s the right thing to do, but I don’t like it.”
Short with black hair and olive skin, Haley frowned. We’d been going out since my senior year of high school and after years of being together, I knew her well enough that I knew both what bothered her and that she’d be telling me aloud anyway.
“She and her boyfriend stole our plans and then handed it over to the Coffeeshop Illuminati. From what I heard, she’s the one with the connection to the Illuminati.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 1
Tiger sniffed his hand and leaned in to lick Jeremy’s face. Tiger had a large tongue, adding a layer of slobber to Jeremy’s right cheek and the side of his nose.
I’d have been worried that I’d just contaminated Jeremy with alien bacteria, but the Xiniti had already worked that out. We’d stopped by the Xiniti space station next to the Earth jump gate for debriefing and decontamination after we entered our solar system.
Bearing in mind that the Abominators terraformed the planets where they settled humans to use Earth species, the Xiniti had procedures for moving humans and animals from one to another without causing epidemics or dietary deficiencies. Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 9
“Okay,” I said. “I suppose I should ask what the name of the company I’ll be interning at is then.”
Lim grinned for a second. “No kidding. I like to think I do a better job briefing people than this, but here’s the basics. It’s called ‘Higher Ground’ which is both a reference to a song the founder liked and to the business’s mission—getting humanity into space no matter what that takes. It’s a startup that gets money from several sources, Hardwick Industries being the largest investor, but there are others. It’s also getting money from the Defense Department in addition to the alien technology they and other government agencies have collected.”
I rested my hand on my chin, thinking about that. “Why them? Why a startup? I’d half expect that they’d go to GE or some big firm.” Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 8
Tara nodded. “I hope so. At first, when you got back, you didn’t have any enthusiasm for anything but going to your lab. You did everything Lee asked you to, but only just enough. And you left as soon as you could after the class ended.”
I remembered it from another angle. After we’d gotten back, it was hard not to see our fighting lessons for what they were—a way to keep us alive and take the other guy out of the fight.
If you’d asked me before I’d left, I would have said the same thing, but at the time I hadn’t seen people die because they’d made a mistake or felt how close the line was between death and survival. Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 5