By the end of the day, I’d been shown everything I’d need to know to start work. At any rate, I knew how to get at my files, what programs I’d need, and been told multiple variations on, “You can’t tell anyone about this.”
Around five I got a text from Vaughn saying, “Copter’s leaving late—6:30. Execs going to old hotel to get hammered.”
I texted back, “Are you going with them?”
“No choice. Family. Higher Ground’s going too. U?”
“Don’t know. I’ll ask.” Continue reading Deeper In: Part 1
“Don’t forget it,” Russ said. “No business can survive without good people. You and your father have both been good influences in his life.”
The sound of helicopter blades ended that conversation as everyone in the crowd turned to watch the copter land.
As it came down, Vaughn’s mom turned to me and tapped my shoulder. “Good to see you, Nick.”
I managed to get out, “Good to see you too,” but not much more. The noise made conversation impossible and I was fine with that. It’s not that I disliked her, but the last real conversation I’d had with her involved her informing me that she knew I was the Rocket and that she didn’t want Vaughn to be involved with the new version of the Heroes’ League in any way. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 7
I couldn’t argue with her. We stood at the nexus of humanity’s extinction by the True, the possibility that Higher Ground’s mission to understand alien technology would kick off humanity’s genocide by the Xiniti, and the more day to day menace of the Nine and their attempts at worldwide influence.
By this time we ought to be used to it. Things we’d done during the summer had the potential to affect the fate of far-flung human and alien civilizations that spanned the galaxy around us—not to mention becoming peripherally involved a civil war between Lee’s people that had lasted for millions, possibly billions of years.
The difference being, of course, that the stakes felt higher when they affected the city where you lived. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 6
“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
“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
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