June 2019 Archives

From my first draft for Setting The Board, which will be number three in the Preparations for War series:

"Dammit, was this some kind of suicide pact you idiots made?"

We'd just had the first fatality in our new facility. A workman named Kodos had been killed when his team neglected to secure the mobile crucible before opening the sluice to fill it. The crucible had been pushed off station by the force, and Kodos had taken the stream of molten metal full on, with predictable results. Not only did I have a dead workman, I had my only operational furnace out of service until we could clean up the mess, which involved the time for the spill to cool as well as the actual clean up. There were blood and charred remains mixed with cooling steel all over the area, and the less said about the smell of burnt human, the better. "It could just as easily have been all of you! Do you want your wives to be widows? If so, please don't make it happen in my factory!"

I was pretty sure Kodos' short, blood-curdling scream had scared them more than my rant, but there was no way I was letting this violation of safety pass without driving the lesson home. "You're all going to come with me to break the news to his widow, and after it's all cleaned up, you're each going to spend an entire shift unpaid, practicing the safe operation of moving the metal from the furnace to the forms while the furnace stays cold! No shortcuts! You idiots thought you'd save five breaths it took to secure the pot, and instead it's going to take three days to get this line back into action! I even painted nice big pictures so you could see what had to be done if you forgot! Breaking the safety rules doesn't help things go faster - it brings the line to a complete halt! If I have to replace you to save your lives and my factory, I'll do it!"

Eyes downcast, the foreman of the gang, Vodran, apologized for his failure, "I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again!"

"It better not!" I told him, "It's expensive to train a whole new crew, but if you boneheads can't remember a few short, easy steps, I'll be saving myself money! That goes for all of you! Watch each other, make sure the steps are done in the proper order! Saving five breaths doesn't help when it shuts the line down for three days! Both your lives and your jobs are in each other's hands!" Their wages were significantly above most workmen in Yalskarr; losing their jobs would be painful.

I'll follow, bringing the widow our death benefit, Asina told me. That way it would remain our little secret - if thinking their families got nothing in the event of their death made them work safer, it was worth the deception. Eight gold wouldn't replace her husband, but it would keep her and whatever children from starving for a while. It was better than a year's pay for most people.

The inciting event in the prolog of The Man From Empire brings an Imperial human (Osh Scimtar di Baryan, informally ScOsh) to Earth, where he discovers some failed rebels from a long time ago have taken up residence on Earth, intending to use it as a base or springboard for attacks on the Empire.

He meets an Earth native, Graciela Juarez, a non-traditional college student with a troubled past who gets caught in the crossfire. Together, they discover that the rebels have a hand in most of the problems Earth has had for quite some time, as the rebels are able to do things for their stooges that cannot otherwise be done on Earth. After a climactic scene in which they discover just how screwed up the rebels have been in their handling of events on Earth, Grace is left alone.

The events of A Guardian From Earth begin seconds after the conclusion of the first book, as Grace tries to put her life back on track. But she gets an invitation to travel to the Empire to train her newfound abilities, where she spends approximately two years Earth time as the foster child to one of the Empire's more important families, learning how best to harness her new gifts. When she returns, she discovers that her parents have been murdered and that although the rebels against the Empire are gone, their organization is still active on Earth, and there are some very hostile aliens as well.

In Empire and Earth, events are causing governments on Earth to fall apart - but Grace has a plan to preserve some sense of order - until China and Russia go to war against each other, and the fallout from that conflict tilts the balance towards a resolution that accomplishes more than Grace had hoped.

Finally, in Working The Trenches, Grace and her husband join the Imperial military - but the military will not let their unique talents to to waste.

PS: The four book series is available all together in one collection here

 



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Working The Trenches
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Preparing The Ground
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Building the People
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