SLA 3 Sneak Peek
Jaxon Reed's Occasional Newsletter for 11-17-21
Hi Crew! I wanted to let you know that Condor Rising, third in the Pirates of the Milky Way series, is free on KU promo days until Saturday. If you have not already downloaded it, here’s a chance to snag it gratis.
In other news, the third book in the Star League Assassins series is coming right along. Here is a sneak peek:
Jorge Diego-Campo walked painfully down the hall, all 65 of his years seeming to protest with every movement.
It was early, the morning was young, and Jorge had no coffee in his system yet. He felt like the proverbial truck hit him. But he soldiered on, bleary-eyed and stiff-jointed, shuffling down the hall from the elevator pod.
He finally reached his door and palmed the access panel. It turned green and swished open. Jorge walked into a large research laboratory. Three inactive bots stood at tables in the center, heads bowed.
Reflexively, Jorge glanced over at the office of Pritchard Hsu, the man nominally in charge of what remained of the Space Drive Advanced Research division.
The time and space drive division, Jorge thought. That would be a more accurate way of putting it.
He glanced across to the far side of the room, where a door stood sealed off. No one could get through that door except for Dr. Hsu and perhaps I. Jonas Kraft, Republican Shipworks’s CEO.
Jorge was one of the few people who knew what was in the room: a time machine, of sorts. He had helped design it.
Before the war, he helped develop the first working prototype. Campo worked side-by-side with Holland Bainer and Dr. Hsu, each bringing different but complimentary expertise to the project.
Forty years the team worked on it, Jorge thought. Well, 35 years before the war intervened.
Of course, a breakthrough like this involved multiple people, all sworn to secrecy. Time travel was a side a project by old man Kraft. But it was an important and well-funded side project. After he passed on and his son took over the company, Jonas Kraft continued funding their developments.
Ships teleported one astronomical unit per jump, making space travel feasible. The gold standard had always been improving their speed. An astronomical unit was the distance between Old Earth and her sun. Recent developments allowed ships to improve on the distance, but the time to jump that distance remained one second.
Since time and space were related, it had long been thought desirable to speed a ship through time somehow, as well as space.
Of all the research Dr. Hsu’s lab performed, though, using quantum fields and current knowledge, one thing became clear over the decades. People could not travel to the future, because it has not happened yet.
Traveling to the past, physically, remained virtually impossible too. But Hsu found a brilliant workaround. After the quantum ocular breakthrough, which allowed people to see things in the past, Hsu had the idea of setting up a clone bank and leaving it on over the years. Tethered to a connection in the present, someone could activate a clone of themselves in the past and walk around, interacting with events.
He shut the whole thing down at the end of the war. Dr. Hsu said nothing about it, even to Campo who had been on the team for years. But Jorge could make an educated guess at what happened. Somehow an operative had used the machine to send a clone of himself back to the past where he gave other clandestine League agents information about the present.
Jorge put two and two together and guessed the League operative was his colleague Holland Bainer, who disappeared around the time of Chancellor Elsa Cole’s assassination.
Jorge did not care much for Cole. The only bad thing about her death was that she became a martyr, he thought, thus leading to the election of Admiral Severs as her successor. Right about the same time Holland disappeared, Hsu locked up the chamber with the clone bank and other machinery.
Jorge looked at the sealed door now, and wondered about it. Could someone even get out of there, if their clone came back to right now? Was it locked from both the inside as well as the outside? Maybe he would ask Dr. Hsu about it someday.
Right now, his tired legs took him to the coffee machine in the room’s corner.
One nice thing about the war ending, he thought, was the reopening of League markets. He liked a particular coffee bean variant grown on Seneca in the Euripides quadrant.
Seneca was a big agricultural center for that quadrant, providing a lot of food to the League in the same way Pearl provided food for the Republic.
Of course, during the war, Jorge had to do without his precious coffee from Seneca. Now he happily opened a plastic container and measured out the perfect amount for half a pot.
He smiled at the dormant droid nearby.
“We don’t have any gorgeous receptionist bots to make us coffee here, do we? No matter, they’d probably mess it up.”
He let the machine steam up and left it while the glass pot slowly filled with dark coffee, the aroma drifting out from the kitchen cubby, seeming to wake up the whole room.
He walked over to his workstation on the far side of the lab, opposite the door to Hsu’s office, and sat down.
“After today I can take retirement,” he said out loud, although the droids were all powered down and no humans were present. “At 65, they give full pay for life. Could have left at 60 with three-quarters of my last year’s salary. But there was a war going on. Anyway, I got to continue working on this time research thing.”
He glanced down at the small square object on his desk. It looked like an old-fashioned wristwatch, and in fact Jorge had emptied the guts from one in order to refill it with his current electronics.
“Just a few more adjustments,” he murmured, pulling up a small screen floating above the desk that served as a jeweler’s loupe.
“I think I’ve about got it. This serves as the world’s smallest quantum manipulator device. Not too different from a Wu Drive, in some ways. Just . . . manipulating time instead of place.”
He smiled at the dormant bot by the coffee machine. Nothing would happen in the lab until 8:00 in the morning, and he was early.
“Well, no time like the present.”
He closed the back on the old watch carefully, and flipped it over to the front, smiling. Then he slid the band over his wrist and touched the face of the timepiece.
For three seconds the lab stood quiet. The bots remained silent.
Then Jorge Campo reappeared. In that time he left his desk and walked back to the coffee machine, poured himself a cup and drank it.
He looked around the lab, smiling with his empty cup.
“Now we’re getting somewhere.”
The early edition of SLA 3 will be posted on Substack in 10 parts through the remainder of November for subscribers only. As usual, this is a 40 chapter book so the parts will be posted in 4-chapter chunks.
Until next time, happy reading!