A short raw snippet from “They Said it would be Easy”

“Honey, there is a young fellow who insists on speaking to you. He looks military and is disgustingly earnest. I believe he is genuinely young. He doesn’t look like he’s regressed in life extension. He acts young,” Ben said like it was an indictment. “Do you want to get rid of him, or should I call Security and tell Jon he’s stalking you and we want him gone the safe and gentle way, before I take matters into my own hands?”
Martha came and leaned over Ben’s shoulder.
“Lieutenant I’m not involved in politics now. I don’t want to be involved in politics again. It took months to get the smell off when I abandoned that profession before. Who do you represent, and what sort of trouble are they fomenting?”
“I’m Aaron Janowicz, Ma’am. I did not identify myself as a lieutenant,” he said blushing.
“Well excuse me if you made Captain and I guessed wrong, but Captains don’t usually get thrust out on the sharp and pointy end of things,” Martha said.
Aaron opened his mouth like he was going to reply and then changed his mind and began again.
“Madame President, I’d rather not discuss this on com. Can’t you spare a moment and speak with me face to face in a more secure environment?” he pleaded.
“How do I know you’re not just an assassin, here to finish me off?” Martha asked.
“Would an assassin simply call and ask for an appointment?” Aaron asked with an unbelieving look.
“It sounds very efficient,” Ben said, eyes lighting up. “That’s going in my next book. I have this character I’ve been wanting to kill off, he’s such a creep, but I hadn’t figured out how to do it. The look on his face when he realizes he delivered himself up on a platter for the slaughter will be priceless,” Ben had a manic snarl anticipating it already.
“Uh, that’s just in fiction,” he added when he saw Aaron’s horrified reaction. “This time.”
“Pay no mind,” Martha said. “You get used to the evil cackling as he types. Look, we’re not going to invite you to our home. We’re going to dinner in a bit at a place called the Quiet Retreat. If I leave word with the maître d’ that you are our guest at the club, will you sit and have a civilized interview in a public place, and leave when I tell you I’ve heard enough and not make a fuss?”
“We won’t have eavesdroppers there?” Aaron asked.
“Not political ones. We may have social media stringers take our pix, but they have never posted audio. They simply aren’t interested in ancient politics,” Wiggen assured him, “and it’s the best deal you are going to get.” When he hesitated Martha added. “And I promise I won’t let my husband test his plot device on you.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I’ll be there,” he agreed reluctantly.

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Snippet of Family Law 4 – rough and unedited as always

“Message coming in for Talker,” Jon Burris said. “Big message coming in,” Jon said, amazed.
“They couldn’t wait until we were close enough to speak around the speed of light lag,” Talker said, with a resigned sigh. “Go ahead and put it on an open channel and a real time translation. It’s going to be a hundred thousand words that say – We will take over now. You are being replaced.” Talker predicted.
“You want to move up to a console with a screen to read it?” Gordon offered.
“No, I’m not hiding anything from you or your crew. Unofficially, you are going to be my allies against the bureaucracy,” Talker told them. “I am certain they will try to undo everything that doesn’t have their imprimatur on it. I’ll try to be as polite as possible, but I need you to appear ready to abandon the entire enterprise if they don’t keep prior agreements. If they try to say I had no authority I suggest you appear incredulous. Ask them how I could muster ships and resources to come with you if I had no authority. Stand firm that if they don’t keep agreements, then you have no confidence any pacts they make can’t be swept away by somebody else just as easily.”
“I don’t have to play act,” Gordon told him. “That’s a pretty fair assessment of my feeling.”
Talker, rapidly skimming the message, informed them. “I should tell you that so far the message is just a detailed accounting of who they sent, and exactly what their authority is. When that section ends I’ll put a page break and a yellow highlight bar across it from my personal pad. They have sixteen officials on board with sufficient power to get their names on the list. It’s interesting the order in which they appear, each with their own header before their name and credentials.”
“Yep, dominance games,” Thor said. “All our politicians do that in some form or another.”
“Indeed,” Ha-bob-bob-brie agreed, “among the Hinth the last listed would be said to have the fewest tail feathers from their struggles for position. The big boys will have pulled them all out.”
“Ah, here we are. Twenty three pages in, they finish telling us how important they are, and get around to telling you I didn’t have any authority to make treaties and agreements with you.”
“You are The Voice of Far Away are you not?” Thor asked Talker, gruffly.
“I am, and besides being the executive I speak for the judiciary both high and local, if they have a case important enough to demand a reading from the executive. I am authorized to speak for the species to all the other races in residence and visiting ships and merchants. I suppose they didn’t foresee the possibility an entirely new set of aliens would appear and I’d have opportunity to speak for more than Far Away. But my charter and office in no way preclude doing so.”
“They’re slow to learn then,” Gordon accused them. “The arrival of the Biters and the troubles they’ve brought you were plenty of notice that such things happen.”
“True, although nobody has had much success talking to them,” Talker admitted.
“Explain something for me if you would,” Thor requested. “I’m not trying to be argumentative. But I’m curious. Why does the court ask you to do a public reading or a face to face with somebody impacted by their decision, but not others?”
“As Commander Gordon has mentioned, government is force,” Talker said. “It should be applied with some delicacy. Why don’t you beat your children with a club when they fail to have perfect table manners? Things should be… proportional. If a worker creates a fuss by being drunk in public or puts his ground car in a ditch, a judge will fine him, or perhaps even just issue a public reproof. One does not expect defiance at that level from our people. But if someone causes bodily harm to others or steals from others with a criminal scheme – well that is at a much higher level. The judge will ask me to read their decision so the miscreant knows the court is willing to have me as executive enforce their judgment. They are put on immediate notice that I can send officers to arrest the person or seize their goods.”
“Wouldn’t the judge do that if the fine was ignored for a lesser offense?” Ha-bob-bob-brie asked.
“Yes, but then it isn’t for the original offense,” Talker said.
“I don’t understand,” Ha-bob-bob-brie said, puzzled.
“I do,” Jon Burris spoke up. “In human courts if you ignore a minor judgment they call it contempt of court. Ignoring the authority of the court and defying their decision is much more serious than the original infraction.”
“Exactly,” Talker agreed. “I was short of words to describe it. I believe I’ll try to have that language added to our statutes when we have an executive convention. It translates very well.”
“Nothing about that diminishes my view of your authority,” Gordon said. “These fellows are going to get a pretty thorough grilling from me if they try to dismiss your authority and recommend their own as superior. I’ve had to make decisions out on the pointy end of things plenty of times myself. When all the dust is settled, and the issues are safely decided, you don’t need a bunch of desk pilots second guessing you,” he growled.
Talker was trying to cover his mirth with both hands, but couldn’t. “Another graphic expression I’ll borrow,” he promised. “It transliterates beautifully, but better if you introduce them to it than me.”
“Desk pilots?” Gordon asked, to be sure.
Talker could only nod yes, still giggling.
“Give me a picture of a Badger desk and I’ll have somebody sketch it with oversized thrust nozzles and a wind canopy,” Gordon offered.
That didn’t help Talker stop laughing at all.

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Well crud…

I had a spaceship clone itself. I left Murphy’s Law at Fargone and then started writing about it again… Will fix it.

Far Away! And that’s how easy it is to mess it up.


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Snippet from “They Said it would be Easy.

Rough, unedited as usual.

“I have reports from several of Chen’s operatives about why Earthies are ordering things from Home companies they should be able to make,” Jeff said on com. He had the oddest look on his face.
“I’ll read them in detail,” April promised. “But if you want to give me a quick summary? You usually describe things even more succinctly than Chen.”
“Chen says you get insights from things that don’t impress him at all. So he is reluctant to withhold data. Red tape is the basic answer,” Jeff said. “They’ve had a massive epidemic, with millions dead. Since it was very rough on older people it stripped all sorts of shops and industries of the most experienced workers. There has been physical damage where we bombarded specialty shops that made aerospace components. But nobody will soften any of the laws and rules that impede construction. The USNA also embargoed quite a few things we make right after the war, but that was mostly drugs and electronics. Nobody has shown any interest in expanding or dropping the list. ”
April frowned. “They haven’t been able to rebuild in this much time?”
“I’ll give you an example. Back in the war we destroyed the Michelin specialty shop making tires for shuttles in North Carolina. There is production in Europe and Asia, but not the right types.
“Chen’s guys talked to half a dozen people either living nearby or who have worked on the site. Half the building was gone because it burned, and half was a shell. They had some foundation left, but they couldn’t use it. The plumbing no longer met code and all the areas with pipes under the floor had to be broken up and start over. They went ahead and tore the whole thing up including the machine bases.
“There was a delay because an environmental study had to establish that there were no heavy metal or organic contamination issues in the soil. A water table survey had to be done even though they didn’t plan on having a well. There aren’t a lot of labs and environmental survey companies running to do these things now. Building declined and a lot of them closed up shop.
“An impact statement on endangered plants and animals couldn’t be done because the state office was abandoned when they didn’t get paid after the coup, and nobody knows where the workers went. There were some big issues with a lot of permit issuing agencies like that, because of disruption between factions of the government from the war and then the coup. Some were taken care of, some cut off as likely disloyal, depending on their known politics.
“They also had to do a traffic study and community impact statement, but the guy doing that for the county died and they didn’t rehire because there wasn’t really much building or traffic now. They had a hard time hiring because anybody taking the job knew they’d just be fired as soon as it was done. They man who finally did take it dragged it out for six months to keep getting paid.
“The town opposed rebuilding, because their zoning classification changed after the first plant was built, taking it from light industrial to heavy industrial. That also meant they had to put in a rain water run-off retaining pond, and there wasn’t room on the property. They had to buy the plant next door and tear it down to get the retaining pond in and to increase parking and provide mandatory electric car charging stations for employees. Assuming anybody in rural north Carolina had a functioning electric car by then with periodic power outages. The batteries only lasted so long and then they brick themselves if they don’t get recharged for a few weeks. But that meant the power had to be not only restored to the site, but upgraded by the local utility.
“By the time they could pour a new foundation there was a concrete shortage. Also they could not prove they were paying prevailing union wages or better because the agency collecting data on that was not functioning and there was no established current year prevailing wage. The agency’s computer system was unusable and they bought a new one and the software from the old one couldn’t run on it. When they had a new suite of software written it simply didn’t work. That caused delays.
“There were more delays for things like the plumbing. They had pipe, but the site sat with no work done for a week because nobody had sufficient pipe solvent to bond the joints from supply disruptions. And they couldn’t pour concrete until the pipe was down. They had similar problems with the electrical. They were short some items that had to be under the slab. Also, running the conduit, the fire marshal and the electrical inspector got in a war over who passed on the in-slab wiring for the fire alarm system. Both kept visiting the site and slapping NO-PASS and cease and desist orders on top of the other guy’s PASS tickets on the site permit board.
“They shut down one day because an inspector found an older uncertified hard hat being used at the site and they all had to be inventoried and recertified. Some of them had the compliance label rubbed illegible or removed and they needed to bring in more from a city hours away.
“Neither could they affirm the people they wanted to hire were within the diversity ratios allowed on a Federal project. You bombarded the snot out of all the Federal data centers during the war,” Jeff reminded April. “Even the ones buried really deep. Birth records and citizenship documents were lacking, and just because they had old bills and driver’s licenses, that wasn’t sufficient documentation. They can’t, well won’t, take their word what their ancestry is because people lie to get in the minority classifications. Especially, people from Mexico lacked a lot of records when they were first brought into the USNA. Tons of them had no birth certificate. And it turns out a lot of tire building people are Mexican because all the production was sent down there even before Mexico was annexed. They mostly went home in the chaos after the coup, and none of them would come back because as hourly workers they wouldn’t be paid until they had a functional shop with special machines and the exotic materials needed to make shuttle tires up and running.
“Electric power to the work site was disrupted, and they couldn’t get permits from the EPA to run an onsite diesel generator, and the Governor wouldn’t loan a military unit. When they finally got a gas turbine permit the city and county would only let it be run from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon for noise abatement, and no Sunday work. The site had to have ditching and special barriers inside the fence to prevent rain run-off, and there was a dispute what area it had to enclose. Basically the water authority wanted the barrier where the chain link fence was already installed.
“Then there was a dispute and site strike because the Iron Workers and the Cement and Concrete workers couldn’t agree on work rules for anchoring the frame to go up. A bunch of anchors got ripped out and both sides blamed the other. The site guards said everybody who went on site had the proper identification cards, and it wasn’t their business what they did onsite. They just maintained a perimeter.
“I could go on, but you get the idea. And that’s just what we got told easily, not the full horror story.
“The special machines to build the tires and the molds to cap them are all built in Mexico. They’re somewhat more forceful about making a project go forward there. They haven’t absorbed the full bureaucratic culture yet. You can still get things done under their old system, if you have enough cash to grease the ways. It isn’t practical to bring them across country right now so they’ll come by sea. But they’re holding them until the facility has walls and a roof.
“The tires they want to build are defined in exacting specifications, all the materials are called out, and the glassy aluminum steel wire isn’t being made at ISSII anymore. There’s better available actually, but it doesn’t meet the old spec. They are making as much of the new product as they can, running 24/7 for European shuttle tires, and don’t want to shut down and change dies and purge melt furnaces to make one run of obsolete wire, but nobody will change the spec to European standards, because – not ours.”
“I take it back. If that’s the overview I’m not sure I want to read the blow by blow,” April said.
“It’s amazing and educational,” Jeff allowed, “but you might ration it out little at a time and not try to absorb the whole thing at one sitting. And this is just one specialty shop.
“What I concluded is that when you have a very complex system that has slowly grown over a long period of time, then get hit with a major disruption, is almost impossible to survive, and try to assemble the full complex system again. Especially when a lot of the details of its operation serve no useful purpose. It can carry all those burdens added on one by one. But if you drop that ugly beast to its knees you’ll never get it standing again, much less walking with the full load still on it.”
“What will they do? Give up on it?” April asked.
“I think it has to get worse before it can get better,” Jeff said. “Bad enough to force them to strip some of the stupid from the process. As a friend has told me a number of times, ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys.’ We can’t force help on them they don’t want. And we sure can’t produce enough of anything in any reasonable time frame to be of much use to them either.”
“We absolutely must never let our system get so complicated it’s that fragile,” April vowed.
“Amen. I totally agree,” Jeff told her.

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“Secrets in the Stars” is active on Amazon

Just checked this morning. It was uploaded last night but it takes awhile to propagate through their system. – Mac’


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New cover for “Secrets in the Stars”

Secrets in the stars

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Some more “They Said it would be Easy” unedited snippet

“That was brilliant to give Huian coffee,” Jeff said. “April constantly has to advise me on social things. I probably wouldn’t have thought of it. I read in a banking journal that there was a period of time when banks gave gifts for opening an account. It seems they were legally limited what interest they could pay, so they’d throw in a toaster as a prize to get around that.”
“What sort of a toaster?” Irwin asked, not sure he wasn’t joking.
“The sort you plug in the wall socket and put sliced bread in it,” Jeff said. When Irwin looked dubious he explained further. “It was a post war period and there was a lot of pent up demand for simple consumer goods, and the prices for such things was much higher than later when productivity increased a great deal. They put prizes in boxes of laundry detergent and snacks even. So you sort of reinvented that.”
“I wish I had more, and some bottles of liquor,” Irwin said. “I could create some serious goodwill among my important customers before supply gets back to normal.”
“I’m making whiskey, but by the time it’s ready to taste we’ll have Earth whiskey again,” Jeff said.
“Why didn’t you tell me? How much are you making?” Irwin demanded.
“I have two hundred liters circulating through charcoal to age it,” Jeff said. I expect I’ll have that much every three or four months for the near future. It should increase as our food production goes up and I have more waste to work with.”
“If you get to where you are making more alcohol than you can sell as whiskey you can sell the straight clear stuff for mix, or add some simple flavoring and call it vodka.
“Heather demanded ten liters for herself. I have no idea how she flavored it,” Jeff said.
“You can sell it right now you know. Just like the water from the snowballs, that’s all sold ahead before they return,” Irwin urged him. “Premium Earth whiskey was going for near a thousand dollars a seven hundred fifty milliliter bottle, before the flu.”
“I’m not sure it’s going to be any good, much less premium,” Jeff said. “I’ve never done this and it’s an experiment at this point. It would be a huge embarrassment to sell futures and then it is crap nobody wants to drink.”
“You’re not a big drinker are you?” Irwin asked.
“Not at all. I may have a few drinks with friends when we go to a club, but I don’t care for a lot of it. It has to taste good. I think I had something at April’s place, the Fox and Hare, five or six months ago. That’s how long it’s been since I had a drink.”
“I can assure you… if it doesn’t make you blind or kill you somebody will buy this stuff.” Irwin said.
“That’s horrible. I don’t want to be associated with an inferior product. People will probably make fun of it, and that reputation will rub off on the other things you do. I’d much rather make good beer or champagne, but this is what I had the materials to try. If it is any good I’ll make more money holding it back and letting it age,” Jeff pointed out. “I don’t even consider myself qualified to taste it. When it has a little more color and smells better I’ll have somebody taste it that knows whiskey. I’m not sure if it’s even going to resemble any Earth whiskeys.”
“I will assemble a few friends, who happen to know about such things, and volunteer myself to help you. We have enough group experience to give you an expert panel,” Irwin assured him.
“I’m not going to bring the whole lot until I’m sure it’s ready, but I’ll fetch a liter from the moon when it has some color,” Jeff decided.
“Most of it is bottled in three quarters of a liter units,” Irwin said, “so a full liter will be fine. It’ll make it stand out as different in the market too. Just being from the moon will make it a novelty.”
“Good, I already have some bottles designed,” Jeff said. “I’d hate to change them. Thank you, Irwin. I appreciate the help,” Jeff said.
“That’s what friends are for,” Irwin assured him, keeping a carefully controlled face.

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Just a little snippet of “They Said it would be Easy” raw – unedited

The yard manager stood and stared, unbelieving, at the boarded up ports and hastily patched holes.
“We had a spot of trouble,” Li admitted, walking along after the man as he continued along the deck looking at the damage.
“I’m concerned my yard may be considered complicit in this ‘spot of trouble’ if the authorities come around looking for a boat with a lot of bullet holes. For all I know you have been engaged in piracy,” the manager said. “Unless you filed a police report already, as the victimized party?”
“Actually we were threatened. And they intended to board us. But it happened far off in the North Pacific. Not even in this hemisphere, so there is no report with any authorities you could call. I don’t think anyone is looking for us. If they are, well, it didn’t happen in Australia’s jurisdiction. In fact, it really did happen in international waters.”
The man looked at him hard. “And what of this other boat? What happened to it? Did you manage to outrun it?” he inquired.
“Best not to ask about that,” Li admitted.
“Tell me why I should get involved in this massive… can of worms?” he asked.
“We can pay in gold,” Li said.
The shipyard manager stood frowning, looking down at a cluster of thirty caliber holes awhile.
“That must have been one hell of a hail storm,” he said.

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A snippet from “They Said it would be Easy” Raw unedited copy as all snippets are here

“If we’re going to do much business on Home I have a sneaky feeling we should know who that man is,” the second in charge on their team said as they walked away.
“Because he had automated security?” the leader asked. “Dude, anybody stacking gold bars in his entry has reason to have some serious security. We may never see him again. In fact if the lady had been home we’d have never seen him today.”
“We don’t know they were gold bars.”
“Yeah, somebody dropped a few hundred thousand dollars to kick priority freight off the pre-paid queue on the next shuttle lifting, and have it couriered by crew for never-leave-your-sight delivery to their door, for tungsten bars. That’s the only other thing that would be that heavy.”
“Well, probably gold bars,” the second admitted. He was the sort who would argue the sky wasn’t blue if he hadn’t seen it today. “I’d still like you to ask. You have helmet pix of him don’t you?”
“Yes, I’ll ask just to humor you,” he said. His pad had a one touch to contact his superiors.
“Control this is Thad. Coming off armed escort to a delivery on Home for Larson Lines. We are done and no problems. There was a person of interest to us. He made my partner nervous,” he said, getting a dig in. “No name was given, but here is his face off my helmet camera.”
They had run searches on faces before. Sometimes it was hours before they got a reply. This time they got as far as the lift at the end of the corridor and Thad get a priority squeal in his ear.
“This is Earl Sasser, Vice President for Operations Asia. The gentleman in your images is regarded as a DO-NOT-TOUCH. That includes anyone associated with him or any location or activity observed. You are not to engage him or interfere with him, nor associate the company with him in any way even if in your opinion it is in a positive manner. Actions on behalf of a client do not extend to interacting with this man for them. You are instructed to wipe your camera memory of him, forget you saw him and do not engage in idle gossip or conversation about him on or off duty in the future. Do you have any other questions?”
It seemed like a really bad time to have any questions. “No sir. Thank you.”
The contact ended without any more pleasantries.
“Dude, wipe your camera, then wipe your brain. We don’t know the guy, we never saw him or his, and we don’t ever want to have anything to do with him. VP Ops says he is do-not-touch. Got it?”
“Wow… Got it.”

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April series / Family Law series

Although Family law #3 – “Secrets in the Stars” s ties the two series together I am having Henchman Press handle the Family Law series and take them to paper. I’m waiting to hand the April series off to him until I see how he performs on the other. I’ll still be doing beta readers and handle my own cover and posting for April #7.

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