It was a cloudy dark day in Brussels, darker for being late in the day and the auditor examining the expenses for the join Mars base was in a still darker mood. Things didn’t add up to make any sort of sense. Simon knew all sorts of patterns for the myriad ways people stole or defrauded. Sometimes they committed crimes to cover up accidents and incompetence instead of enrichment. If the odd things he was seeing were happening on Earth he’d know exactly what the scam was.
There were too many items marked as damaged in transit or ruined beyond repair on site. If it was on Earth he’d figure things were being skimmed off to sell on the cash market or even sold as scrap. Thieves had no shame to sell a new roll of copper tubing for a fourth of its worth as scrap. The scrap metal dealer probably had the connections to resell it as tubing, but that was too dangerous for a construction worker to do.
The trouble was there was no cash market on Mars. There weren’t any other colonies, outposts, or any private enterprise or construction. Somebody might pilfer a roll of copper to make a still. That sort of diversion was expected and not worth pursuing. But an outpost of two hundred people wasn’t going to have a half-dozen illicit stills. It was going to some other use.
There were other inconsistencies. They made their own fuel, and still had an excess of capacity to synthesize it. If you wanted to skim off and steal a bit of it then one might imagine nobody would know. There was limited access to the fuel for safety reasons, but nobody had to sign or pay for fuel. You might think it wasn’t tracked, other than seeing there was sufficient and the tankage was staying comfortably ahead of use.
But fuel usage showed up two other ways. The power system was smarter than that in any private residence. It was ahead of even a lot of industrial users who tracked electrical usage as a very important expense. The amount of power it took to create a liter of fuel varied little. But the numbers for power use didn’t track with reported production. Somebody was jiggering the system.
The equipment which used fuel, and the rovers in particular, were tracked for both hours at idle and kilometers driven. Not only for maintenance, but a sudden change in fuel economy could signal something going wrong and a rover breakdown was not just an expense or an inconvenience but could be a life threatening event.
On Earth fuel consumption varied with season and weather. It was altered by occasional traffic jams even. On Mars the rovers were not as sensitive to seasonal temperatures. The air was so thin wind made resistance going east versus west inconsequential. There were variations. If a route took a rover to a site at a higher altitude, then the trip back downhill was always proportional too. Loads varied more, but the AI integrating all these numbers knew what the loads were too.
That’s why his expert program was asking him to explain how things were happening like a rover suddenly getting better mileage climbing to a elevation with a heavy load and then worse mileage coming back downhill light.
The program wasn’t sophisticated enough to conclude the Martians were just sloppy liars unable to create a complex and consistent lie. As far as he knew there wasn’t an AI that smart yet. It took a human to perceive that, but it was still beyond him why they were doing it.
Jonus stopped outside his door and made a show of crossing his arms and leaning his head back to stare at Simon with a haughty air. It was all put on.
You realize Capital in People will be watching you since they forced you to take a vacation. If you keep working past quitting time they will label you as elitist and trying to rise above your peers.”
“Somebody has to actually do the work. It took me longer to fix everything they screwed up than I was off.” Simon groused.
“People who won’t take time off are huge warning flare going up to CiP that they are embezzling,” Jonus said.
“But… I’m the guy looking for embezzling and fraud,” Simon objected.
“One layer of the search,” Jonus corrected him. “It’s the old ‘Who will guard the guards?’ conundrum.”
“OK I’ll wait to finish busting their butts until tomorrow. They’ll still be there. But there’s something crooked going on in the Mars outpost and I’m going to pick at the threads until I figure out what,” Simon vowed.
Jonus looked interested at that. “There’s something not quite right there in the hiring process too,” he revealed. “Why don’t we go have a beer and talk about it? If you take a later train home it won’t be as crazy and packed. Your cat can survive an extra hour without being fed.”
“He would claw your throat out if he knew you were saying that, but you’re right about the train. Twice last week, I couldn’t even get on the earlier train. It was packed standing room only and the doors closed before I could get on. Where do you want to go?”
“There a new place I want to check out. It will have beer and I want to watch other people’s food to see if it looks any good.”
The beer was fine and the food too, once they had seen enough go by to decide to order. They found so much to discuss Simon’s cat had to wait almost three hours, and was inconsolate.
Points for Simon’s Cat reference. 🙂
inconsolable cats go and pee on your pillow…
Or do unspeakable things to your shoes.
Thanks for the snippet!
Can’t wait. How many words written so far?
I clearly timed my latest re-read of April series wrong…just finished book 9 again (and again…rinse…repeat)…. Thanks for the snippet Mac! Really! But I’ll be so glad when 10 is on my tablet and ready to rock.
Your snippets are more dangerous than potato chips, and your books more addictive than crack!
I’m glad people like them. They’re still fun to write.
Thanks for the snippet! As I was reading it I noticed two errors that I thought I would pass on.The first one is in the first sentence, it should be “joint Mars base” instead of “join Mars base”, and the second one is a forgotten quotation mark when Jonus starts speaking.
I am waiting impatiently for the next book with April. Snippets are interesting, but make me hunger even more for the book. A new Family Law book would be nice also. But thanks for the tidbit.
Thanks for sharing. Do you have an expected timeframe to publish book 10?
Have you given any thought to creating bundles of the bookies at a lower price or discounting the first few books to get people hooked on the series? I read through Kindle Unlimited but would like to purchase the two series outright. I’m in the process of checking out each book, re-reading and then checking back in to get the next.
No I don’t set deadlines. I don’t need the stress. I write when I have time and still enjoy it. I’m retired but my wife works and I do the shopping and almost all the cooking and my own laundry. The extra money is nice, but I don’t really need the money to live so that’s not a factor to push me. I think five bucks for a book is reasonable and am not really interested in experimenting with strategies to maximize sales. It takes time to fiddle with marketing I could use to write. Once in awhile I have done a sale or give away but I haven’t seen any certain return from it. If I give away the first in a series there is no big follow on surge of sales after. I’m about half-way through this book so – mid summer is as close as I’ll guess.
I’m very glad that writing continues to be enjoyable for you——reading your writing is a great pleasure for many of us!
Thanks for responding! That makes sense given your life.
Surprised to hear that selling the first book cheap or free doesn’t result in more sales of subsequent books. I know I get hooked easily on great writers with the first book… I’ll just have to tell more friends to buy your books.
Thanks for writing them!!!
Thanks for the snippet 🙂
I just checked on Tantor Media for your Family Law Audiobook and found Book 1 will be released already in 3 weeks and 1 day if all goes right – and book 2 and 3 are announced, too.
Thats something which makes this one little big fan really happy!
I have no idea how rewarding this will be as far as sales. Other authors that have them have told me they get 3 to 5% of their sales that way. Actually that surprised me, as that’s about as much as most folks make on print books if they aren’t working with a traditional publisher who pushes print as their first format. I am very happy however for the few folks who have vision problems and wanted the audiobooks to enjoy them at all. Since I don’t have to hire a reader and even get an advance it’s all a win to me. I note Smashwords is trying to promote an audiobook service, but they want fees up front. Family law being a big book would have cost me about $10,000 to get released instead of them paying me. I’m 70. I might easily be dead before it earned back those big fees.
I can understand that – fees up front are giving always a bad feeling.
I just have been checking on Tantor Media again.
The MP3-audio-sample for Family Law wasn’t disappointing.
Or more: I like the voice, which is at least important for me – nothing is worse, than your favorite books read by unpleasing voices.
So I just made my pre-order!
… But still 2 days and some hours to go, since we’re here at least 6 hours earlier.
So I just have to take comfort in re-reading the kindle-book and stop here with a “have a good weekend”
ditto … what she said
There’s a question that keeps bugging me about the various space stations, we know they are building more rings on M3 during the first few books and this is what triggered my train of thoughts that seems to be stuck.
I’d love a short story about the building on M3 especially if it had the history behind the other stations as well. When where they built in relation to M3 and so on and why they where built.
Due to certain tech innovations that are showing up or are being worked on right now (the Sabre engine) I can sort of see a coming space race where Bigelow Aerospace’s B330 will be a launch platform for a bigger spinning station like M3, just smaller to test the concept during the next 20 years or so depending on funding. From there to bigger habitats and more.
And this is what drives my wish to learn about how those things happened in the world of April Lewis.
I am thrilled to know another book in this series is coming. Just finished second reading of Family Law series and hoping to find out that Born and Musical discover the quantum drive fluid for Lee. So many good ideas as well as on point observations about Earthies.
Confused about one point. Jeff uses his gravity device to cancel out G forces under acceleration. The badgers don’t use their gravity plate because it creates drag. The Caterpillars apparently do use their gravity compensation to cancel acceleration.
Lee has one of the Caterpillar gravity plates but Born and Musical are using a badger plate as a reference. What happened to the other gravity plate?
You’ll have to wait for Family Law 5 for that…
I’m having Lee and April withdrawal symptoms…help!!! Any predictions on when #10 is going to be published? I’ve re-read both series twice, starting a third time.
Enjoyed the snippet. Love all the April and Family Law books. Looking forward to next ones! I have read them all twice but am thinking a third read is in order! Thanks for writing such good stories!