Unknown Apartment, Downtown Spire

A lone blogger worked late into the night from the little desk in her studio apartment. She finished typing, then scrolled through the holo screen, checking for sense and making sure she hadn’t left any distinguishing features like vocabulary or sentence structure that might give her away.

Finally satisfied that it was going to appear completely anonymous, she hit Submit. The article went into publish status almost immediately, appearing on the planet’s largest independent alternate news site, Whistleblown.

The view counter started going up immediately. She’d chosen a catchy title, and since the toxin saga was still a hot topic, she knew that an alternate view to what the mainstream media outlets were publishing would be well received.

Besides, people needed to know the truth.

Not the whole truth. After all, there was a reason why Molly Bates and her team felt they needed to operate from off-world. But they needed to know enough of the truth to understand that Molly Bates was not the big bad here.

They needed to know who the real enemy was, and who had really set up the threat to the population of Spire.

They also needed to understand that those people, with their underhanded agendas and fervent desire to accumulate wealth and power, were dangerous. They had already murdered dozens of people in their toxin experiments, they were most likely responsible for Senator Dewitt’s demise, and they had certainly killed one scientist and kidnapped the other.

They were not good people.

And they had power.

A deadly combination. And the only way to break their grip was to expose them completely.

The truth—as her grandma always told her—would indeed set people free.

The Toroid Desert Club, Outskirts of Spire

The following afternoon, in a secluded country club on the edge of the Narvanah desert, a group assembled behind closed doors. Getting to the secure location had been a challenge. It was imperative that no one track them, which was especially difficult given their high-powered positions, entourages and security details.

Nevertheless, within minutes of the calls they each received at four o’clock in the morning, they had started making arrangements to be in attendance. Skipping this meeting was not an option.

“The article has had over twenty million views.” The man who spoke showed a hint of admiration in his voice. Twenty million views in half a day was impressive by any standard, and Mac Kerr was always impressed by people who could get results. After all, it was filtering for that quality which had allowed him to survive.

“And do we know who posted it yet?” The second voice was Mr. Andus. He walked around the wood-paneled board room, then sat down in the big leather chair at the head of the table. The attendees all turned to look at him.

It was Mac who answered. “No,” he told his leader. “The site is deliberately designed to keep its contributors anonymous. Makes it hard to fact-check, but these people aren’t interested in that. Their goal is to get it out there and raise enough red flags to prompt authorities and other people with access into investigating further.”

He leaned toward Mr. Andus, his forearms resting on the table.

Andus tapped the arms of his chair with the forefingers of each hand. “But this site is fairly reputable?” he asked, assessing just how much of a problem they were up against.

Mac nodded, glancing briefly at Jessica for support. “Yes, it has been in the past,” he confessed, looking back at Andus.

Andus pursed his lips. His eyes were steely, in the way they became when he was not pleased. Only people who had worked closely with him would know that, though. “So it’s going to be hard to debunk the article. Or undermine it,” he clarified.

Mac nodded reluctantly. “Potentially,” he admitted, now wishing he hadn’t been the messenger on this little tidbit.

Jessica cut into the conversation, her whole demeanor that of someone who had all the answers. “Clearly we just need to go to back to the source to clear all this up.” She flicked her dark hair over one shoulder with her right hand and kept her chin high, feeling that it made her look more assertive.

Mac watched her perform for Andus. Mac thought it just made her appear arrogant, but then he never had liked assertive women. He glanced over at the new guy, who was sitting on Andus’ other side diagonally opposite from him. The new guy didn’t visibly react. He just sat there quietly taking it all in. Mac tried to catch his eye to get some support, but couldn’t. He looked straight-laced, but to be in this room, that couldn’t be the whole truth.

Andus’ attention had shifted to Jessica. “What did you have in mind?” he asked, his eyes a fraction less cold.

Jessica paused, enjoying her moment. “I think we need to discredit the Bates girl,” she said simply.

Mac tried really hard not to roll his eyes. He was a seasoned criminal in the Outer System and he was sitting here listening to this? He struggled to control the contempt in his voice when he spoke. “So how, precisely, Ms. Newld,” he said slowly, “do you suggest we achieve that?”

Jessica glared at him and blinked. She held the glare, as if mentally boring a hole in his skull with her eyes. “We need to send her on rigged cases, and set her up to fall hard in front of the media.” Only then did she relinquish her glare to look at Andus. He was the decisionmaker here, she reminded herself. “Then no one is going to believe she was innocent in the toxin scare,” she told him.

Mac couldn’t resist. “But Jessica,” his tone was patronizing now, “wasn’t it one of your convoluted plans to set her up in the toxin scare that in the first place?”

Jessica’s eyes darted back to him, and then her head followed slowly, like an animal toying with its prey.

“Yes, it was,” she told him. “And it worked very well.” Her tone was furious, but she’d dialed back to remain somewhat civil.

Mac wasn’t buying it. He leaned back as if he’d already won. “Not according to this article it didn’t. She wasn’t even taken in for questioning, so our media contacts had no leverage.” He held her gaze, dying to look at Andus’ reaction but resisting to avoid revealing that he was actually jockeying for influence with Andus.

Jessica’s face turned to stone.

Andus cut in, mildly amused by the backbiting. “Now, now, children. Jessica’s plan might have legs,” he said slowly. “We just need to be careful about the execution of it. Molly Bates needs to fail.” He paused, turning his ornate tea glass around as he mulled the decision.

“And fail publicly,” he concluded.

He took a sip of mint tea before looking into the glass and placing it back into the saucer on the exquisite dark wood table. He looked up at the group. “Do you think you can all work together this time to make it happen?”

Mac was the first to respond. “Yes, sir.”

Jessica sighed, then relented. “Yes sir.”

The remaining gentleman in the meeting spoke for the first time. “Yes, sir,” replied Garet.


FROM ELLIE >>>  (This is Mike…) We are about 24 hours from release (or less, depending on Amazon… Hopefully not more!) and for your fun… (and my shame.)

Now, from Ellie.

Polygons vs Resolution: Simulation Theory Part 1

In amongst our discussion about how we might be living in a simulated reality, MA made the point that to render the kind of polygon ratio would take way more processing power than we could possibly imagine. (I disagree, but that isn’t the point here).

Me: What do you mean by polygon ratio?

MA: (big long exposition about what he’s doing with LMBPN and pulling from video games etc. etc. Da la la la la…) And so each character is made up of polygons and the more polygons-

Me: Ah. You mean resolution.

MA: Yes.

Me: (quiet eyeroll). That’s ten minutes of my life I’ll never get back.