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
“We take the business seriously, but not that seriously. Mostly, I mean. At his worst, I don’t know what Grandpa Hardwick did. He was pretty far gone near the end. For all I know, maybe he did kill people.”
“I don’t know,” I told him. “I’m not up on what happened internally at your family’s companies during the worst of it. The funny thing is that right up until the end, my grandfather was still working on stuff for your companies—first, because he didn’t know and after he found out because he didn’t want Giles to know he knew.” Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 10
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
The corners of Lim’s mouth went up in what was almost a smile. “I’m glad. You’ve seemed a bit down lately and I wasn’t sure you’d be up for it. I would have been okay if you’d said no. I wouldn’t have been excited about it, but we’d try another route to get at them. You can still say no, by the way. I’ve been in combat and even when you win, it still takes time to heal, physically and mentally.”
I thought about it. “I think I’m okay. I had a period where I didn’t want to put on the suit after I got back, but this isn’t putting on the suit. It’s kind of the opposite. So, I’ll be okay.” Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 7
That left me alone in the lab with tools, tables, the machines I used to fabricate parts, and the computers I used to design and monitor the machines.
I reached out and used the nearest mouse to click to accept the call.
The picture changed from the FBI seal to Agent Lim’s actual FBI office—which could have passed for a professor’s. By that I’m not talking about Dr. Strazinsky’s which was organized and clean, I’m talking about the sort of professor where you have to take books or piles of paper off one of the chairs if you want to sit down. Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 6
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
And like all of the True, Tara stood out a lot. Unlike most superheroes, she had the physique women have in comic books—thin but with larger than average breasts, a look few women have in real life without plastic surgery. Female martial artists, for example, tended to be thin everywhere—though the ones that did look like Tara got a lot of attention online.
All of which is a long way to say that if I had to bet, I’d bet that the True’s designer was a straight guy.
On the other hand, I supposed that if the men were just as attractive, the designer might have been a gay man or a straight woman, making a female True’s appearance accidental. Continue reading For His Own Good: Part 4