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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Snippet of April 7 – 18.5K words into it. Rough and unedited. Not even a quick read through.

“Why so glum husband? I thought things were going very well for us,” Huian said.
“Ah, I can never hide my moods from you,” Chen said, with a sigh. “Indeed as I was telling you yesterday things are going very well for us. Our security cooperative has a lot of work, and T has been generous sharing the profits from a number of his enterprises. I feel much more secure financially than when we arrived on Home. No, I feel sad because the gentleman we visited in Myanmar, Chan Aye, was taken by this horrible flu. He had a couple more names, but that was what he always invited foreigners to call him. I’d hoped to disperse some of our new funds to him and when I called I was informed of his death. I counted him a friend too.”
“Oh… Did he have life extension to be particularly susceptible?” Huian asked.
“No, he was deeply suspicious of the treatment. He’d asked before what the down side was, because he said there was always a down side. As it turned out he was right for many people. But, no,” Chen said, “he just was one of the many older people that died from this flu, as flu has always killed some.”
“Did you still have funds on deposit with him? Is that a problem?” Huian asked.
“No, given the uncertainty when we were fleeing I asked to withdraw all our funds. And it was quite accommodating of him to allow it on such short notice. But then I was quite frank with him about our situation. I was looking to deposit monies again. We have funds in both Home banks, and still have deposits in a few Earth institutions, but we saw the advantage of having assets dispersed when we had to leave abruptly.”
“They are not continuing the family business?” Huian asked surprised.
“Do not be offended wife, but they are a very traditional household. The man had no sons and he never trained a daughter to the business. They have his books, literal books as well as electronic records, he always said the memory of computers is too ephemeral. I’d joke with him that others found it entirely too hard to erase. I’ll miss the back and forth with him,” Chen said.
“So, they are just going to pay the funds out and shut down?” Huian asked. “I hate to see a business die almost as much as a person. Their means of living will vanish.”
“Chan Aye left them well provided for. His wives are of an age like his, and he was looking at retirement soon. His daughters will be provided for amply when they marry. I spoke briefly with his eldest wife and she was in no distress like they would be homeless or scrambling for a bowl of rice. A lot of their customers died in the epidemic too. Some of the accounts will never be demanded. She would have appointed another relative to handle dispersing funds, but the only uncle who was a traditional banker and takaful agent died too. She and her co-wives are managing their funds. They are mature women, experienced in life, they won’t do anything stupid with his wealth.”
“Could you not ask them to take you funds and continue as before?” Huian asked.
“I speak with you candidly, and ask your opinion, I value it highly. To do so new for us, and is even rarer in their culture. I’ll be honest that I’d feel very uncomfortable to do business with them. It was awkward just the short conversation we had, because I know women of their household do not interact with men who are not closely related.”
“And yet the young woman who entertained me while you dealt with the banker had no trouble at all speaking with you after, when you asked her help to outfit me,” Huian remembered.
“Yes, that was Myat, he often bragged on her. But she is of the younger generation. She is more comfortable with outsiders, and I admit I’m more comfortable with her, knowing she is different.”
“Would the sum you intended to entrust to him break us, Husband?”
“Not at all, that was the intent, to disperse our holdings, so no one part would be a catastrophic loss. I’d intended to send the equivalent of two ounces of gold to his accounts. Either by electronic transfer or the physical metal transferred by courier as two Solar, if he wished.
“Let me propose something, Husband. Allow me to call Myat. I thought very well of the young woman Although she was not that young. Like you, I can talk to her easier than the older women I never met. I’d like to offer to put the funds on deposit with the family, since they still have funds, and are managing them. She can do the talking to the older women for me. I remember she said she was the daughter of his second wife. If they are brave enough to accept the challenge then surely there are many other new widows down there who have funds to safeguard. I wonder how many of them lack male relatives they wish to act for them now, and would be very comfortable dealing with another woman. The young daughters like Myat are of an age now to be useful. Surely they have the assets to continue Chan Ayes work if they chose to.”
Chen didn’t reply for so long she thought he might not, or if he did he’d certainly decline.
“The way we’ll do this, is I’ll start an account with the System Trade bank in your name,” Chen said. “That way you are approaching Myat to handle the funds for another woman. That is even easier for them to accept than you merely as my agent. I’ll do this periodically and you may invest the funds with them, or wherever else you think it wise. You may want to confer with Tetsuo’s wife, Lin, on occasion as I know he has directed her to manage a separate fund in just this manner.
“I confess, the first time I knew of that it made me uncomfortable, but given his success in everything the man touches, how can I second guess him?” Chen asked.
“Thank you for your confidence, and expanding it,” Huian said.
“There are things you need to know,” Chen said. “You have to speak to them in the terms their traditions allow for financial services. You may think that it’s a silly way to do the same thing as western banking and insurance accomplishes, but the distinctions are real and important to the way they think.
“For example, they do not pay interest in the same manner a European or American bank would. Rather you are sharing profits in an enterprise, which can mean you may be called on to share in losses if that’s the way things go. Now we are not believers, but I always made deposits with the understanding that we’d accept that risk the same as them. It’s no different than other western investment vehicles that have no guarantee. But it has frequently been a source of conflict between Muslim bankers and western bank regulators, who insist on the deposits being completely insured. Now, anybody would know that is an illusion and a lie, because their insurance never has the funds to cover a total loss. But they demand that face to the public. Similarly insurance in their system accomplishes the same thing, but they describe it differently as a form of shared risk. It matters when you speak with them, because they regard the way they accomplish that as moral, and the way westerners do so as a violation of their religious law.”
Huian nodded every once in awhile, and maintained eye contact. Once Chen got in full lecture mode like this he could go on hours. Sometimes she thought he’d have made a better college professor than a spy. He was however an engaging speaker. Not one of those fellows who droned on in a monotone. He was really getting enthused to his subject, and she really did need to know these things, which helped make them interesting.
She might have to force him to stop for a meal in a couple hours, or he’d press on oblivious to the passage of time. But best not to stop him while he was expanding on what he’d granted. The more he built on the idea the less chance anything would undo it. Even though she was just itching to call Myat and get started. She suspected Myat would be much more forgiving of any gaps in her knowledge and gently correct any cultural gaffes she made. One tended to be patient and forgiving with a person when the money was flowing from them to you. Just like she was right now.

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Family Law 3 is finished.

Title tentatively “Secrets in the Stars”
It ended up at 138K+ words.
Editor has it . Now back to April #7.

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Another short F.L. 3 snippet –

“Hmm… Maybe I’m playing this wrong,” Gordon suggested. “Are you up to a little eyelash fluttering and coy smiles? Pour the feminine charm on and get the fellow to babble everything?”
“Probably not,” Lee said. “I suspect my efforts might make Gabriel rupture something from the spasms of laughter, not babble secrets. I’ll keep that in mind as a needed skill set.”
“Yeah, you probably need to start learning that stuff at about four years old,” Gordon admitted.
“If we see each other again I’ll just ask,” Lee decided. “I think he’s admire the forthrightness far more than any social wiles I can fake this late in the game.”
Gordon nodded. “Your right. He’s seem plenty of the other in a century. You’re interesting because you’re different, not the same.”
“This is scary, but I actually understand that,” Lee said surprised. “I can even see how to cultivate it and use it. Which means I’m getting socialized, but not by becoming more like them.”
“Whatever works,” Gordon said, shrugging.
“No really, because I want to get along with people, but I haven’t had any desire to become like them. It’s encouraging. I know it’s possible now.”
“Call him up if you want,” Gordon said, making an effort to seem indifferent. “Since it’s atypical social behavior he’ll probably like it.”
“Is it really? Why’s it atypical?” Lee asked.
“I’m not sure. But if you watch enough old video you’ll see that the social convention is that the female waits on the male to call her.” He screwed his nose up and had that – thinking about it hard – look again. “I’m embarrassed to say I never questioned it, because Derf do the same thing to a large degree.”
“That seems silly,” Lee decided. “If I want to call him I shall,” she decided.
Gordon said nothing.

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