Unedited

CHAPTER TWO

QBBS Meredith Reynolds

Lance nodded to Admiral Thomas as he sat down with a cup of something akin to coffee in his hand. Team BMW plus Tina, Jean Dukes with three of her team, and six Yollin specialists in gate technology surrounded a large table.

“Thank you, everyone. I appreciate you being here,” he started. “Use your tablets if you want to know who is who. I’ve hated the ‘Go-around-the-table and introduce yourself’ thing for two hundred years. Technology has improved, so use it.” He turned to the woman sitting four chairs to his left. “Jean?”

Jean Dukes nodded. “It’s going to take us a while to pull that oversized gate out of the Leath system.

“No choice,” Lance replied. “We got it as part of our war reparations and I’m not leaving a back-door like that anywhere. In fact,” he tilted his head toward Admiral Thomas, “I don’t know if I want it here in the Yollin system either. If we can hide that big sumbitch and keep it safe, we need to do that.”

“With what?” Jean asked. “The Meredith Reynolds is the biggest gun we have.”

Lance nodded to Team BMW. “We’re starting large-scale production of the BYPS setup. Let’s plan on using those, plus we need a dead-man switch on the gate. I’d rather blow it up than give someone a straight shot back to Earth.”

Bobcat spoke up. “Can we perhaps not blow it to shit and gone?” He flipped his hand over and back. “I’ve seen the requirements to build another of its type, and while not unique, it would make a banker pucker their butt to have to write another check like that.”

“I’ve seen the cost just to move it,” Lance agreed, “and that is a pittance compared to the actual effort to build one of those behemoths.” He turned to Jean. “Do we have an EI ready for the gate?”

She shrugged. “Archangel says we don’t need a true AI on that fucker, so yes. I’d have preferred to chat with ADAM and TOM on the subject, but I understand that the few comments we get back from them consist of ‘Give them time?’”

Lance nodded. “Yes. Their comments are, ‘She’s safe, she hasn’t found the Seven, and she hasn’t destroyed a planet…yet.’”

“Not exactly the most comforting message,” Admiral Thomas said.

“Yet brief and accurate,” Bobcat tossed in.

“This isn’t a Baba Yaga meeting,” Lance’s eyes narrowed at the humans in the group, “so let’s focus. We need to give our Empress a reason to concentrate on this project herself, so this gate needs to be moved safely, effectively, and quickly.” He looked down at his tablet, his eyes narrowing at a new number.

“Meredith,” he continued, “is this new projected time to move the gate accurate?”

“Yes, General,” the station operations AI replied. “We have done the numbers, and it will take…”

“Decades.” Lance sighed. “Less costly than building, but more than I’d hoped.”

“Not much we can do,” Admiral Thomas said as he looked at his tablet. The rest of the people around the table started doing the same. A couple of the Yollins had their heads together. Arguing over something to do with the update, he figured.

“Okay, as Dan would say if he were here instead of on Leath, ‘Grab some bricks and start slamming some nuts until someone figures out a solution to make this happen a little,” he looked at his tablet once more, “no, a lot faster.’”

The teams worked on options for another thirty minutes  before Lance called for a stop. “Get with the main team liaison and work through the communications group. Bart, Jean, Bobcat and team, please stick around.”

It took five minutes for everyone to finish up their last few questions with each other and step out of the meeting room, but soon there were only seven of them.

“Ok.” Lance looked down the right side of the table, which held Bobcat, William, Marcus, and Tina, and then back up the left with Jean and Admiral Thomas. “We need to deal with getting that big-ass circle here faster.”

“It’s not going to be ‘snap your fingers’ fast, Lance.” Admiral Thomas looked him square in the eye. “Can’t fight physics on this.”

“Not worried about a little time, but I’m sure as hell worried about that much time.”

Bobcat scratched his cheek. “I’m sure we can cut it…maybe in half at least. But,” he pointed a finger up, “we need time to mass-produce enough of the BYPSs to surround a planet and seed them in Earth’s system on likely routes. We can’t build them fast enough to leave here in ten years anyway.”

“When we get Bethany Anne back I’ll let her deal with that issue,” Lance replied. “That’s up her alley anyway.”

“Anyone got a system that needs to be cleaned up?” Jean asked. “She seems to like to straighten out systems. I suggest we give her nothing but a ride and drop her off, then we all get to bet on how many months it will take her to sort out the world.”

“I would give her weeks,” Tina popped in.

“Less than two,” Bobcat replied, smiling at Tina, who was thinking about the bet.

“Not so much to clean up in the Empire anymore since the Rangers have been working so hard,” Marcus commented. “I’ve heard that even Tabitha is bitching about being bored.”

Jean leaned forward. “That’s true, I’ve heard the same. I understand Barnabas is actually eager to find a new criminal organization or two.”

Lance tapped on the table. “Focus, people! Tabitha isn’t our problem at the moment.” He sighed. “I’m personally hoping that Bethany Anne will focus on getting to Earth and securing that area. It would be nice if there was a Michael at the end of the trip.” He looked around, a small smile playing on his lips. “Might as well wish for Santa Claus to swing our way, too.”

“Well, if this were a romance story we would get our happily ever after,” Jean told him. “All by the end of the first book.”

“How the hell do you write one book about a love that spans over a hundred years and finish it with a happily ever after?” William asked. Everyone turned to look at him and Jean raised an eyebrow. “Love is ephemeral.” William snapped his fingers. “It’s here one moment, gone the next.” He smiled and waved a hand when he noticed everyone staring at him. “Uh, forget I said anything.”


FROM MICHAEL >>>  WOOP!  Almost to Christmas day and I'm baller excited (that is a term one of my sons uses…So, I'm being timely with my slang. At least, I think I am. Geez, I could be using it ALL wrong and how embarrassing would that be?)

 

Anyway. We just dropped Candy Crum's new book THE DAMNED today so lookout in your email(s) for the link to get it for $0.99 today! (or use this I suppose – books2read.com/thedamned )

I'm about to fly to Vegas before going to Cabo for Christmas … break? Is it a break when you work it?  How about a Holiday ‘slow down.'? I'm excited to say we are working, just slower at the moment.

There seems to be a fair amount of not working (by me) right now. I feel a bit guilty by it, but then I saw Jumanji last night (LOVED IT!) and think “Isn't this why I'm a full time author, so I can go see imaginative stories that help fill my imagination back up?”

I think so!

I read a few books in the last week and a half, and I'm pretty stocked about that. I've loved reading SO much in my life and as those fans who are working in the Fans Write for Fans group now know, when you start writing, your time to read goes WAAAAY down.

 

I've spoken with Ell Leigh Clarke recently, and her LATEST (#8) Molly book is about 40,000 words right now, so that book is coming ‘soon.' So, if you haven't started HER stories, what better time than Christmas?  Try out Awakened here: books2read.com/awakened-aoe

If you like Zombies and that genre, our Age of Madness stories linking the time when Bethany Anne leaves Earth the second Time to the Age of Magic starts with Hayley Lawson's book in Late January!

I'm going to go ahead and ‘turn off' now, and allow myself the opportunity to put this up on Facebook.

If you want to grab the Pre-Order copy of Capture Death – $2.99, a $1.00 cheaper but not the same as $0.99 on Christmas day (when that finally gets updated by Amazon) you can have it as SOON as Amazon goes LIVE by clicking here: books2read.com/capture-death