The Well: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

“This man claims to have built a worm­hole,” said Mark Mason, point­ing to the paper, then glanc­ing back at the video camera.

“I seri­ous­ly doubt he has,” said Doc­tor Vogel­mann. “Such a thing would be high­ly unsta­ble and require mas­sive amounts of ener­gy to pro­duce. One does not pro­duce such a thing in one of the biggest lab­o­ra­to­ries on Earth, let alone in the basement.”

“He claims to have one and is will­ing to have me look at it.”

“Then, sir. I rec­om­mend you bring me along to eval­u­ate it.”

“That’s what I pre­fer,” said Mark, lean­ing clos­er to the camera.

“There is a how­ev­er com­ing. I sense it.”

“Very per­cep­tive, Doc­tor. There is a however.”

“I knew it,” she said.

“It’s a mat­ter of finan­cial secu­ri­ty, Doctor.”

“I get it. You won’t want investors or com­peti­tors to be aware of your activ­i­ties yet. You’re afraid that they’ll pull the rug out from under you if they get a hint of what you are doing.”

“That’s the gist of it,” said Mark.

“You real­ly need to give me an expla­na­tion some­day. With your mon­ey, I sus­pect suc­cess is enough to keep the mon­ey flowing.”

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the oppo­site is true. Suc­cess means that the investors become risk adverse.”

“True,” the Doc­tor said. “Your invest­ment with me will raise some eye­brows regard­ing risk. Few believe that FTL is possible.”

“You’ve already said that you know it is.”

“I do. In fact, it is a well-ground­ed the theory.”

“A fact you always bring to my atten­tion,” said Mark, feel­ing the irri­ta­tion cross his nerves. “Though you’ve yet to prove any of it.”

“You know, I’ve explained why that will take some time. You are per­sis­tent and I now have some tools we need to prove it avail­able now. It is only a mat­ter of time.”

“That’s good.”

“Yes, it is,” she agreed.

“In the mean­time. I need to know what to look for to eval­u­ate this man’s sup­posed wormhole.”

“Well, I expect to see a face star­ing back from the bot­tom of a well.”

“You’re jok­ing,” exclaimed Mark.

“Yes. If there is a face star­ing at you, I’m cer­tain it is a scam.”

“Why in the world would he do that?”

“He heard the rumor,” she said.

“What rumor?”

“The one about you see­ing a face in the mine when Yel­low­stone blew.”

“Doc­tor,” said Mark, sup­press­ing the urge to get angry. “I appre­ci­ate the attempt at humor, but you don’t know what you are talk­ing about.”

The Boardroom: A New Vignette by Torn Macalester

Mark Mason glanced at his phone. The mes­sages were still in the pos­i­tive despite the board tak­ing their time. The drag­ging of feet favored his father, Mor­ris Mason. If Mark was going to wrest con­trol of the com­pa­ny from him, now was the time. Mor­ris had out maneu­vered him sev­er­al times before, but this time Mark was sure that he held the upper hand. How­ev­er, the longer the meet­ing took, the more he wor­ried his father would find anoth­er trick to pre­vent it.

“My son seems to think I am going to cause trou­ble.” Mor­ris sneered, fold­ing his hands on the table. “He should find me very coop­er­a­tive if giv­en the prop­er motivation.”

“Just like you were coop­er­a­tive when you stole Lab 18 from me,” Mark countered.

Why are you full of such bull-shit old man?

“You mere­ly left your­self vulnerable.”

“The fam­i­ly and Mason Oil had no inter­est in that project. You stole it.”

“To teach you a lesson.”

“One that I have learned real­ly well,” Mark snarled. “Nev­er trust family.”

“Gen­tle­man,” Vin­ny Dil­lon, the lead Mason Oil coun­cil, inter­rupt­ed. “If we can get back to the busi­ness at hand.”

Mark glanced at him and noticed his father hold­ing up his hand.

“Just a minute, Vin. My son and I have a few more things to say to one another.”

“I have noth­ing more to say to you, old man.”

“Mark!” Mor­ris barked, “Even though we are clear­ly not busi­ness part­ners, I still expect cour­tesy when address­ing your father.”

“It’s a two-way street.”

“Fair enough.” Mor­ris slid his hands from the table into his lap. “I would like to exer­cise my options as CEO and sell out.”

“Sir.” Vin­ny set his pen down on the table in front of him. “Your options allow you to only sell out to a fam­i­ly member.”

“Pre­cise­ly.”

“What the hell?” Mark exclaimed.

“What do you think, son?” Mor­ris grinned. “Care to buy me out?”

“What’s your game?”

And why should I lis­ten to any more of your shit?

“No games.” Mor­ris said as he set his hands back on the table. “I will sim­ply step aside and let you take con­trol of the com­pa­ny. It is what you want?”

“Yes,” Mark seethed.

“I’ll even agree to thir­ty cents on the dollar.”

Mark nod­ded, keep­ing quiet.

“And one more thing,” Mor­ris smiled.

“What?” Mark snapped.

“I want your shares of Orbitdyne.”

“Why?” Mark felt con­fused but held his composure.

“Let’s just say that it is a bet, giv­en you acqui­si­tion of KG Aerospace.”

“Orbit­dyne is a long-shot man.” Mark dismissed.

Besides, you won’t have a con­trol­ling inter­est in Orbit­dyne, any­way. Ernie and Ava McDer­mott con­trol Orbit­dyne. Mark knew that his father and the McDer­mot­t’s had a his­to­ry of dis­agree­ment. It was not like­ly that Mor­ris could ever con­trol the com­pa­ny with them in charge.

The Lunadyne Incident: A Short Story by Torn MacAlester

Diamonds: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

Nils depart­ed Con­rad Lunar Sta­tion, dri­ving his pres­sur­ized crawler. He imag­ined the sta­tion would become the hub of lunar activ­i­ty asso­ci­at­ed with the Luna­dyne Cor­po­ra­tion. His hab wasn’t far off, allow­ing him to be away from the cen­ter of activ­i­ty and on his own. The whole point of his being here had been to build up the Moon. He knew Luna­dyne was an excel­lent group to be asso­ci­at­ed with, but he didn’t work for the com­pa­ny. He was an independent–one of the first.

The crawler was the cen­ter of his life on the Moon. He knew it was nec­es­sary for trans­porta­tion and work. Nils knew that with­out the crawler, it would lim­it him to Con­rad Sta­tion and the com­pa­ny would either con­script him for work or send him back to Earth. Nei­ther of which appealed to him. He planned to do free­lance activ­i­ties. Before he arrived, Nils knew there would always be some­one on Earth that need­ed a pair of hands on the Moon. The crawler enabled him to trav­el and offer his skills wher­ev­er they were required.

As he drove, he con­sid­ered the list of jobs that had arrived through his bro­ker. Using the bro­ker had been a last-minute con­sid­er­a­tion. He want­ed to han­dle it him­self, but con­nec­tions to enough peo­ple would prove impos­si­ble on the Moon’s sur­face. The bro­ker would send a list, Nils would review it and select a job, nego­ti­ate a price, and pay ten per­cent as a fee. He’d worked through the last list, enabling him to make a down pay­ment on the deliv­ery of supplies.

Scan­ning the list while the crawler auto­mat­i­cal­ly drove the path toward his habi­tat, Nils noticed one that he real­ized he need­ed to avoid tak­ing. Some­one want­ed to hire him to look for dia­monds on the rim of Coper­ni­cus Crater. He knew that was impos­si­ble. The geol­o­gy for the Moon was all wrong to form dia­mond. There wasn’t a suf­fi­cient source of car­bon on the life­less Moon. Know­ing the answer before­hand, he did­n’t want to spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of mon­ey on con­duct­ing the sur­vey. He called the bro­ker­age firm.

“This is Nils Carmike,” he said once he reached the voice of a human oper­a­tor. “I need to review one of the poten­tial clients that is on my list.”

“Is there a prob­lem with the price of the job, Mis­ter Carmike?” asked the Bro­ker in her smooth voice after the two sec­ond delay to Earth. “We estab­lished the prices based upon the work instruc­tions that you pro­vid­ed to us.”

“Regard­less, the price is out­ra­geous for this job. Obvi­ous­ly, some­one has deceived the indi­vid­ual who made the request at this out­ra­geous price. There are no dia­monds on the Moon, oth­er than the once we brought with us.”

“That’s a shame, Mis­ter Carmike. We have no process­es to deal with this kind of discrepancy.”

“Tell you what,” said Nils. “We need to fix this, or I will end my con­tract with your firm. Because of my rep­u­ta­tion, I can­not exploit some­one’s lack of knowl­edge about the Moon on purpose.”

“Hold on a moment, Mis­ter Carmike. I will arrange for you to dis­cuss this with the client.”

 

*****

“What is wrong with dia­monds?” asked the man, called Herald.

Nils could tell that he was elder­ly but did not know how old.

“Sir, you don’t know me,” said Nils. “But I’ve been work­ing on the Moon already more than any­one and been study­ing it far longer. Believe me when I say that the Moon doesn’t have diamonds.”

“I’m afraid that my nephew insists that this is correct.”

“If I may, how much did the min­er­al rights to the area cost you?”

“I think it was about three mil­lion,” said Her­ald. “I’ll have to look at my accounts to get the exact amount.”

“Did you get the rights because the sell­er insist­ed there were diamonds?”

“Yeah, I’m no fool. I wouldn’t have got rights with­out a sample.”

“You have raw dia­monds that they claim came from the Moon?” asked Nils.

“Yes. I have them in a bag­gy in the draw­er. One sec­ond, let me get them.”

“Okay,”

“Yeah,” said Har­ald. “I have them here.”

“Can you describe them to me?”

“They are lit­tle rocks, most­ly clear.”

“Are there any inclu­sions that are col­ored?” asked Nils.

“I see some col­or. What was that word you said?”

“Inclu­sion. It means that it’s buried inside the crystal.”

“I can’t real­ly tell,” Her­ald said. “Some look on the surface.”

“What col­or are the stones?”

“Most­ly gray, maybe slight­ly green.”

“Her­ald, I can tell you that these rocks might not be dia­monds. I would get them test­ed. The cost of the sur­vey means it will take me a day to com­plete. That cost cov­ers all the expens­es of me being on the Moon for that day.”

“Okay.”

“That means that cov­ers the cost of ship­ping all the water I drink, the food I eat, and even the air I breathe. That is a round­about way of say­ing my ser­vices are expen­sive. I’d like you to have your sam­ples checked first. If your sam­ples are legit­i­mate­ly dia­monds and the exam­in­ers will ver­i­fy that they are not from the Earth, then I’ll go out to your site and look for diamonds.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes Harold, I fear that they have duped you and I don’t want to add to your finan­cial bur­den to prove that to you by tak­ing a day at your site and find­ing noth­ing. I would call your local police as well and report the fraud. You can give them my number.”

Nils closed the con­nec­tion after reas­sur­ing the man that the sit­u­a­tion was seri­ous. Even though the mon­ey would have been easy, he knew some­one oth­er than him might take it. He hoped Harold would take his advice and ver­i­fy those diamonds.

Vignette: Clash of Titans by Torn MacAlester

Antares: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

After exam­in­ing his offices in the L5 sta­tion, Mark Mason ulti­mate­ly deter­mined that he was pleased. The O’Neil cylin­der was years away, so the tiny space made sense. At first zero G dis­agreed with him and he feared he would need to aban­don his quest. He built Selene Corp for the quest, but the Moon was not the goal. It was anoth­er dis­trac­tion among many. Most notably try­ing to keep his chief finan­cial offi­cer from sell­ing Mars as the next goal.

“I don’t under­stand why you are so obsessed that we don’t go to Mars,” said Gina Simon, the Selene Corp CFO. “It’s the next obvi­ous destination.”

“I agree it’s obvi­ous, Ms. Simon, but it also is a trap,” said Mark.

“Trap?”

“Let me explain.”

Mark adjust­ed the video cam­era so that his pic­ture was more cen­tered on the video screen.

“Mars is a nice des­ti­na­tion,” Mark con­tin­ued. “How­ev­er, it has sev­er­al draw­backs. It is not a source of mate­ri­als. Its bor­der­line for hab­it­abil­i­ty. The atmos­phere is far too thin. It has no mag­net­ic field. It will be a resource sink for lit­tle benefit.”

“Isn’t Mars as resource rich as the Moon?”

“Oh yes, it is. But some argue that it’s twice as hard to export those resources from Mars. They will be per­fect for build­ing on Mars. But those same resources will give us lit­tle ben­e­fit for the rest of the solar system.”

“But isn’t it the only hab­it­able des­ti­na­tion?” asked Gina.

“Not exact­ly. Mars is only bor­der­line hab­it­able. The atmos­phere is insuf­fi­cient and made of the wrong stuff. The habi­tats we’ve built for the Moon and the vac­u­um of space will almost be required for use on Mars.”

“What about terraforming?”

“Again pos­si­ble,” said Mark. “But the busi­ness is unap­peal­ing to me. It’s as big of a dead end as end­ing all space pro­grams and stay­ing on Earth.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stel­lar evolution.”

“Huh?”

“Stel­lar evo­lu­tion, Ms. Simon. Over the next fifty to hun­dred mil­lion years, the Sun will evolve and even­tu­al­ly swell into a red giant. That inevitabil­i­ty will con­sume both Mars and Earth. There is an uncer­tain­ty con­cern­ing Jupiter, so Sat­urn is the first place that we might con­sid­er safe.”

“So that’s the rea­son for all the plans for Saturn?”

“No, I have oth­er rea­sons for Sat­urn that are more imme­di­ate than sur­viv­ing the Sun’s life cycle.”

“Can you let me know what those are?” she asked.

“No, I’m not ready to open up the Sat­urn dis­cus­sion today.”

“Aren’t you push­ing Mars aside for the Sat­urn activity?”

“No,” said Mark. “I’m point­ing out that we have bet­ter des­ti­na­tions than Mars, such as Near-Earth Aster­oids. Even Pho­bos and Demos are bet­ter des­ti­na­tions than Mars itself. We have access to resources that aren’t at the bot­tom of a grav­i­ty well. That grav­i­ty well is the rea­son I call it a trap.”

“What’s our next goal?”

“I want to move an asteroid.”

“You’re kid­ding,” said Gina.

“We’ve got a cou­ple of years, but that is what I think is our best option.”

“Why the best?”

“We need mate­ri­als to build the O’Neil cylin­ders,” said Mark. “An aster­oid pro­vides a rub­ble pile of mate­r­i­al that we can spin up.”

“So, what in the meantime?”

“We’ll see if I can stir some things up when I go vis­it Nils Carmike and Deputy Miller.”

 

 

Cycle 3: A New Story by Torn MacAlester

From his Texas Office, Nils fell into the rou­tine since they land­ed the remote-con­trol crawler on the lunar sur­face. For about two weeks, he’d work near­ly four­teen-hour days. Then once the sun had set on the land­ing site, he’d spend the next two weeks relax­ing and work­ing only a cou­ple of hours a day. He’d been through two full cycles, await­ing the sun­rise on the third cycle, start­ing in two days when the sun ris­es on the land­ing site.

He grabbed the cof­fee from the con­ve­nience store across the street from the office. Even though he only planned to spend two hours in the office, he felt it would be a long day. He real­ized he need­ed more time to pre­pare the site at Mare Frig­oris for land­ings and start build­ing the road to the North Pole before he could go to the Moon. Based on their timetable after the acci­dent, Orbit­dyne won’t be able to send humans to the Moon until next year at the ear­li­est. Mean­while, Nils pre­pared every­thing with auto­mat­ed rovers and a remote-con­trolled crawler. There was four months.

Once in the office, Nils dialed the ven­dor wait­ing for the tele­con­fer­ence to start between him and the KG vendor.

“Nils,” said Zia Hill, the woman who appeared on the screen. “I hope the Texas sum­mer hasn’t total­ly wiped you out.” Zia was the flight direc­tor for the KG launch ser­vices in Savanah. She was the tech­ni­cal face of the com­pa­ny and pro­vid­ed Nils a pow­er­ful lev­el of con­fi­dence in KG’s abil­i­ties. Zia nev­er sug­ar-coat­ed an issue, but she didn’t dwell on triv­i­al­i­ties that meant noth­ing to the over­all operation.

“Hi Zia,” said Nils. “It cooled off overnight, so it’s been quite pleas­ant this morning.”

“That’s good. Geor­gia sum­mer hasn’t been too bad here either.”

“What’s the status?”

“We’ve got your pay­loads secure. Your part­ner is over­see­ing the final lock­down of the fair­ing. We expect to com­plete the stack tomorrow.”

“How is Milt?” asked Nils, won­der­ing about his busi­ness part­ner, Milt John­son. Milt had been most­ly absent from the office dur­ing the past two months since land­ing on the Moon. He left Nils in charge of the dai­ly oper­a­tions of the Moon land­ings while he dealt with fund­ing and tech­ni­cal issues across the coun­try. “I haven’t spo­ken to him since last week’s telecon.”

“You know Milt—always on the move. We spoke just enough this morn­ing that he could ver­i­fy the crates and the rovers. Then he was off to anoth­er meeting.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No,” said Zia. “But I didn’t ask.”

“Okay, that’s fine. I was just won­der­ing. What do you have for me?”

“We’ve com­plet­ed the tra­jec­to­ries. We’ll land sun­rise plus 27 hours at the land­ing site at Frig­oris. The lan­der will need to be unloaded so we can launch it back into lunar orbit in five days.”

“That doesn’t give me much time,” said Nils. “That’s a lot of car­go on this run.”

“We can’t do any­thing about it. The agency has anoth­er pay­load that they want deliv­ered to Shack­le­ton by the sev­en­teenth of the month. They are very insis­tent and spend a lot to make it hap­pen. Offloaded or not, we launch five days after landing.”

“I got it. We’ll get her unloaded.”

“On anoth­er note, I have the pre­lim­i­nary time of land­ing based upon cur­rent esti­mat­ed launch time,” said Zia. “I’ll send that out with the morn­ing report.”

“Are we going to increase the pace of the meet­ings after launch?”

“We can pro­vide you with a twice dai­ly brief­ing, but it will offer lit­tle more than our twice a week briefing.”

“Okay, we’ll for­get that for now,” said Nils, real­iz­ing the extra expense wouldn’t be jus­ti­fied. In fact, delays asso­ci­at­ed with Orbitdyne’s acci­dent had seri­ous­ly com­pro­mised their ven­ture. Since Milt had han­dled most of the fund­ing side, all Nils did was to wor­ry about it and keep oper­a­tions going. But there had been this per­sis­tent nag­ging in his mind that he was over­look­ing something.

 

*****

 

Nils drove out of Richard­son and head­ed to his apart­ment in Dal­las. He was plan­ning to take every­thing and put it in stor­age months ago as he felt he’d already head­ed to the Moon. Now, the land­lord sought him to sign anoth­er six-month lease. It was damn incon­ve­nient. He had to han­dle a dozen things, includ­ing get­ting ready for his own voy­age to the Moon. The neces­si­ties of Earth­bound life just nev­er seemed to make sense to him. He planned to leave, so tying him­self finan­cial­ly or oth­er­wise seemed non sequitur.

He con­tin­ued dri­ving, head­ing toward the apart­ment office. And he got caught in anoth­er traf­fic sig­nal. It turned out unfor­tu­nate, but the sig­nals weren’t in sync dur­ing that time of day. In fact, he knew bet­ter than to try going home this time of day. It would take close to an hour to make a twen­ty-minute dri­ve. As he came to the stop, his phone rang. He touched the but­ton on his earpiece.

“Yup,” he said.

“Hi, this is Milt,” said his part­ner. “We’ve got a problem.”

“We always have prob­lems. What kind do we have today?”

“Luna­corp wants to have a look at oper­a­tions. Luna­corp wants to inspect our oper­a­tions because of our delay. I promised their audi­tor a chance to look at operations.”

“When did you make this promise?” asked Nils, fear­ing the answer.

“Day after tomorrow.”

“Shit. That’s absolute­ly the worst day.”

“We can’t do any­thing about it. They think we are not using their invest­ment effec­tive­ly,” said Milt. “You will need to prove it.”

 

*****

 

“This is going to be dif­fi­cult,” said Nils. “But you are wel­come to watch.”

“That is what I am here for,” said the auditor.

“The sun came up a few hours ago, and I am wait­ing until the ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture reach­es about freez­ing before I turn the heater on with the solar power.”

“Why wait?”

“I don’t want too large of tem­per­a­ture gra­di­ents across the elec­tron­ics as things warm up,” explained Nils.

“Tem­per­a­ture gra­di­ents? I don’t understand.”

“Large changes in tem­per­a­ture over short dis­tances between com­po­nents. That cre­ates a sit­u­a­tion where it’s pos­si­ble to crack wires or com­po­nents because they expand uneven­ly. If it breaks, its dead until Milt and I get up there to fix it.”

“Assum­ing you can,” said the auditor.

“Yup, assum­ing we can.”

“You seem to have built a lot of your oper­a­tion off of assumptions.”

“Not as many as you would think,” said Nils, real­iz­ing that the audi­tor was pok­ing at their busi­ness plan.

“How so?”

“Well, I build my plans based on set­ting pri­or­i­ties. Those pri­or­i­ties are often to deal with an assump­tion that anoth­er piece of the con­struc­tion depends upon.”

“Like you are work­ing so hard on the solar arrays the past two months?” asked the auditor.

“Exact­ly. With­out pow­er, we are help­less to do much. Part of that pow­er has to keep us alive dur­ing the long lunar nights. The first cycle pre­sent­ed the major chal­lenge of pro­vid­ing enough pow­er to keep the crawler alive through the lunar night. He set up solar pan­els and con­nect­ed them to a bat­tery pack, using as lit­tle pow­er as possible.”

That first two-week lunar night had been frus­trat­ing. Nils couldn’t help the feel­ing of screw­ing up and leav­ing a dead rover on the Moon’s sur­face. The crawler had enough pow­er, even more than he expect­ed, when it came back to life after sun­rise. To dou­ble the usable ener­gy on site, he spent the next lunar day build­ing a sec­ond pow­er station.

“By doing this,” Nils con­tin­ued. “We can bring AR1 and AR2 to Frig­oris tomor­row on the third cycle’s car­go run after we set­tle at base camp for a bit.”

“Oh,” said the audi­tor. “That means you are too busy for this audit.”

“Yup. You could not have arrived at a worse time.”

“I’m sor­ry, but this is essen­tial to Lunacorp.”

“Some­one has said that,” said Nils. “If Luna­corp wants a scape­goat for the delay, it’s Orbit­dyne. Their fly­er has been out of ser­vice because of their acci­dent. What I am doing is keep­ing us on some kind of sched­ule despite the delay in their sys­tem. Go back and tell Luna­corp what­ev­er you want to tell them, but I’m real­ly too busy to feed them a report because they are scared.”

“If that’s the way you feel.”

“Feel­ing has noth­ing to do with it. Those are the facts.”

“Well, I can say one thing,” said the audi­tor. “If you’re the one work­ing on it, it’s like­ly going to suc­ceed. How­ev­er, I can say that you and your part­ner gave Luna­corp a line of shit a half mil­lion kilo­me­ters long. This plan is about a like­ly to suc­ceed as putting a cork in Yellowstone.”

“Get out.”

“Have a good day.”

 

*****

 

Nils answered the phone.

“What the hell did you do?” asked Milt.

“What do you mean?”

“You know full well what I mean. That could lead to Luna­corp can­cel­ing the con­tract. We’re build­ing the road for them, remember?”

“No,” said Nils. “We’re build­ing it for our­selves, they are a facilitator.”

“How in the hell can’t you sep­a­rate the two in your head?”

“If they can’t stay the hell out of the way of the work, then they are of no use to us. When that audi­tor start­ed dig­ging yes­ter­day for me to jus­ti­fy what I was doing. He admit­ted I didn’t have time for it, but when he per­sist­ed. I laid it on the line. The facts were that his mere pres­ence was putting the Luna­corp invest­ment at risk.”

“Did you say it in those words?” asked Milt.

“No.”

“Then you might have as well said nothing.”

“What the hell do you mean?” asked Nils.

“Exact­ly what I’ve been say­ing. You put the whole thing at risk over a few hours of your time.”

“No. They jeop­ar­dized every­thing by tak­ing away my work time. I could have done it in two weeks, but you didn’t both­er con­sult­ing with me.”

“I—,” start­ed Milt.

“The sched­ule is too tight dur­ing the lunar day to allow for that kind of non­sense. You should know bet­ter. It’s what we spent years train­ing for max­i­miz­ing our use of favor­able time.”

“But—”

“With you not here help­ing me dur­ing the day­time, I’m left with try­ing to work six­teen to twen­ty-hour shifts on my own to keep the activ­i­ty going,” said Nils. “With­out you tak­ing the oth­er shifts, it puts us against the wall.”

“We need to keep the investors happy.”

“Yes, but not at the expense of the work.”

“Okay,” said Milt. “I’ll see what I can do about rescheduling.”

“Do it. Once the sun sets at Frig­oris, I can chat with the audi­tor for two weeks. I bare­ly have enough to do as it is.”

“I’ll take care of it.”

“Now,” said Nils. “About my oth­er concern…”

“You mean I can’t con­tribute because of all the investor meetings?”

“Yup. What are you going to do about it?”

“Noth­ing,” said Milt. “But before you get pissed off, let me explain.”

“Sure.”

“I expect that dur­ing the bet­ter part of the next year, we’re going to be on the Moon. The investors and Luna­corp need to get a good sense of me before we put a screen and a quar­ter mil­lion miles between us. They need a sense of trust to keep us mov­ing with­out me being here to hold their hand. Luna­corp is going to be tough enough, but we need to keep our con­struc­tion com­pa­ny investors hap­py. And I’ve got to get into a meet­ing with them in the next five min­utes so we can get this issue to blow over.”

“Okay, we’ll talk more lat­er,” said Nils. Switch­ing off the phone, he won­dered why he still felt that Milt was feed­ing him a line of bull.

 

Cycle 3 is a short sto­ry based on the char­ac­ters and events of Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester.  It occurs right after the events pre­sent­ed in Chap­ter 18.

Thun­der Moon Tus­sle is avail­able on Kin­dle and Paper­back at  amazon.com

Vignette: Directors and Malcontents by Torn MacAlester

Vignette: Another Plot by Torn MacAlester

Vignette: Decisions by Torn MacAlester