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
I tried to think of ways I could stop the True’s creation without leaving a trail. The best option that came to mind was one I’d thought of earlier. Cassie had been cloned from her father’s DNA plus an X chromosome from an unknown source and a structure in her brain that allowed her to control Abominator technology.
She’d be able to turn off the birthing machine or better, set it to almost, but not quite, follow directions.
The only problem was that she’d been created by Dr. Mind, Nazi brain in a jar, and enemy of her father, Captain Commando. Dr. Mind had either played a role in founding the Nine or they’d acquired his equipment and records. The Nine had been looking for her for years and putting her within their grasp wasn’t the brightest of all possible moves. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 5
The meeting didn’t last too much longer. We agreed that Stephanie and I would coordinate what we were doing and keep everyone informed—especially Vaughn. He’d be in a better position to help or be hurt than anyone else.
Haley and I went out for a walk after that, coming back later to talk and play with the dog.
Agent Lim called while we were sitting in my lab. We’d been waiting for him. I’d passed an audio file of Tara’s story over to him with her permission. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 4
“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
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