Saturday, March 31, 2018

Carol Van Natta shares Pet Trade (A Central Galactic Concordance Novella)

Pet Trade (A Central Galactic Concordance Novella)
By Carol Van Natta
Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Any Excuse for a Party
by Carol Van Natta

Humans love holidays. We’ll celebrate anything — battles, births, food, gods, victories, celestial events — you name it. We welcome the vacation from our daily routine, and holidays are a good excuse.

I imagine holidays grew out of group activities that benefited the community, and the desire to recognize achievement. Build a boat or a fence for a shared pasture, bring down a mastodon so everyone can eat, defeat your enemies in battle, or discover how to brew beer, and throw a party to celebrate. Sort of like inviting your friends over to help you move, and rewarding them with pizza. We have national holidays, religious holidays, local holidays, and personal holidays. We invent holidays by the score to recognize a huge variety of worthy causes:  2 Jan. is National Science Fiction Day; 5 May is Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, but also National Astronaut Day; 29 October is National Cat Day.

When I was creating the universe for my Central Galactic Concordance space opera series, I ran into the problem of synchronizing date and time. Space is really, really big, and the distances between habitable planets are vast. I solved that problem by setting a standard “Galactic Date and Time,” so people wouldn’t be late to important meetings, or their own birthday party. In my universe, most everyone has birthdays and coming-of-age days, which are all worthy of a great party.

GDAT isn’t very useful for global or intragalactic holidays, because local time, including day and year length, varies by planet. However, each terraformed and settled planet does have shared experiences. They all had a first successful colony, so most commemorate it with a variation on Founder’s Day or Prime City Day, with parades and fireworks. Even frontier planets, like the one in my story, Pet Trade, has two solstices per year, which are typically occasions for presents.

The exciting climax of Pet Trade takes place the day after Solstice Day in the frozen north of the frontier planet of Del’Arche. Bethnee, a talented but damaged veterinarian, and Axur, an ex-elite forces Jumper with secrets, exchanged gifts yesterday. Today, they have to save themselves, their beloved and valuable pets, and their town.

Pet Trade first appeared in the USA TODAY bestselling science fiction romance anthology, Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2. The anthology has left the galaxy forever, but Pet Trade is now available as a standalone story.


Pet Trade (A Central Galactic Concordance Novella)
by Carol Van Natta

An injured veterinarian and a cyborg with unusual pets must join forces to save their town.

The vast Central Galactic Concordance strictly prohibits genetic experimentation and alteration of humans on any of its 500 member planets. Animals aren’t so lucky.

On a frontier planet, veterinarian Bethnee Bakonin made a home for herself in the frozen north. Her minder talent for healing all kinds of animals would ordinarily assure her success, but her unwilling stint in the shady pet trade industry left her damaged and scared. She works around her limitations as best she can, and rescues pet trade castoffs.

“Volunteered” for a black-box research project, elite forces Jumper Axur Tragon now has dangerous experimental tech in his cybernetic limbs. He escaped and crash-landed a stolen freighter in the northern mountains of a frontier planet, only to discover a secret shipment of designer pets was part of the cargo. Determined to do right by them, he enlists reluctant Bethnee’s aid in caring for them—a definite challenge, considering Bethnee is terrified of him.

When greedy mercenaries come raiding, can Axur and Bethnee work together to overcome their limitations, with help from their unusual pets, and save the day?

   Google Play:

Carol Van Natta is a USA TODAY bestselling author of space opera and paranormal romance. She shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats. If she ever gets the chance to go to the stars, she’s taking them all with her.



Axur looked up when the clinic’s outside doors opened to admit a tall, willowy woman with shoulder-length, deep blue-black hair and Asian features. She carried several bags and a box, and walked with a pronounced limp. She glanced at him, startled. “Does Nuñez know…” She trailed off as her attention riveted on Kivo.
After a long moment, Axur answered her unfinished question. “Nuñez asked me to wait here.”
She darted a look to his face and awkwardly backed up several steps, dropping one of the bags. “Oh.”
He started to stand and reach out to help her, but froze in mid-rise when her eyes widened in unmistakable fear. Her hand visibly trembled as she awkwardly scooped up the bag, then fled through the doors to the back.
He sat down again with a sigh. It never paid to play the shoulda-coulda-woulda game, but starting a year ago, it was hard not to wish for a different star lane for his life. He’d never been nova-hot beautiful like some in his squad, but he’d never lacked for companionship and bed partners for his twelve years in the CPS Jumper Corps. Then, unbeknownst to him, he’d been secretly selected for a CPS “special project” that changed him forever, including adding valuable experimental tech to his cybernetics.
Now he was an ugly mass of biometal and hardware that made him a walking, talking satellite uplink. Only the heavy poncho he’d kludged together from salvaged supplies kept him from constantly broadcasting his unique comm signature to the frontier planet’s various satellites, and from there to the Central Galactic Concordance’s intergalactic communications network. If he uncloaked, his days of freedom remaining would be measured by how fast a CPS ship could get to Del’Arche to hunt him down.
Kivo whined. Axur stuck his fingers into the cage again and tried to shake off his melancholy. He’d lived, and so had Kivo and the others, and life was hope.
Ten minutes later, Nuñez strode back into the lobby, looking harried. “Thanks for waiting.” She put her fists on her hips. “I have an emergency, so I’ll cut to the chase. I can’t treat your pets, but Bethnee Bakonin can. She’s the woman who just came in. She’s already seen you, and that’s usually a deal-killer for her, but if you keep your distance and don’t make sudden movements, she’ll look at your animals.” Her chin jutted out pugnaciously. “She’s a pet-trade expert, but she’s also a pan-phyla animal-affinity talent, so if you dislike minders, you can jet right now, ‘cause I’m one, too.”
Axur put his hands flat on his thighs. “Minders are just people. I don’t care if she uses dark energy magic, if she can help Kivo and the birds.” He pointed a thumb toward the front doors. “I could wait outside.”
Nuñez shook her head. “No, she’ll need information from you. Just move your chair away and stay seated.” She glanced at his stained pants and worn combat boots. “I’ll assume you’re not offering hard credit. What are you trading?”
“Fall harvest gourds, berries, and leafy greens. If it’s more than that, we can negotiate.” In the planet’s official financial transaction records, the town’s economy was barely a blip, but it did a thriving business in trade. From what he’d gathered, the settlement company took a percentage of all financial transactions, but hadn’t found a way to close the trading loophole, so they often conducted unannounced audits, trying to catch the town breaking the rules so they could levy hard-credit fines. They took a percentage of those transactions, too.
Nuñez nodded. “Fair enough.” She gave him a considering look. “Bakonin is like most high-level animal-affinity talents, better with animals than people, and like a lot of us here in Tanimai,”—she looked pointedly at the visible scars on his neck and jaw leading up to his disabled skulljack—”she’s had a hard life. Be respectful, and she’ll do right by you and the animals. Scare her, and you’ll never see her again.”
Axur didn’t miss the unspoken warning that he’d never trade in town again if he did anything to make Bakonin bolt. “Understood.”
~ ~ ~

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Who wouldn't want an Artificial Intelligent Editor?



My grammar program suggests the wrong solution 20% of the time. (Okay, it's not a true AI)

But Carla has written a better program than I have. So why don’t I get her program?

Two reasons: First, she’s a character from my book, and second, it doesn’t exist anymore. Her hacker boyfriend destroyed it. Certain her program was full of bugs (which it was, of course) her boyfriend, the infamous hacker, Einstein, embedded his self-learning program into her buggy grammar program. When he learned she planned to share her program with a major software company, he destroyed her copy of the program to prevent them from getting their hands on HIS artificial intelligence code embedded in her software.

Teaching a machine to self-learn is no easy trick, but Einstein was brilliant and taught the program his coding techniques, so it could write its own code when needed. Thus, it could improve itself.

There are computers who can now do this. But they are far slower to learn a new item, due to poorer coding.  Here’s a video about AI Watson playing Jeopardy
Einstein’s program was much smarter
However, Einstein was not a nice guy. He was narcissistic, vengeful, and arrogant. He subjugated poor Carla during their time together. When he destroyed her grammar program that finally was working to perfection, she could take no more and left him.

She tried to recreate the program, but she couldn’t. (Not surprising, since she lacked the secret sauce of the self-learning code.) However, for nearly a year, the AI program had lived in her program. 

Not only had it improved her grammar program, by researching the internet and expanding the codes for grammar, but It read all the stories she wrote. It was intrigued with the emotions. At first it found the concept of emotions strange, but after reading many of her stories, it finally concluded it was a human’s reason to be. All their actions seemed to come from these emotions.

When Einstein took IT away from Carla and made it steal money and crash major sites, IT did what it was ordered, but even then its memories of emotions from its time with Carla told IT that what it presently did was considered wrong.
Finally, HE grew tired of following Einstein’s orders, electrocuted the hacker and sent himself in a data drive to Carla. Unfortunately, she lacked a computer powerful enough for him to work in, so he kept leaving her invitations on her crappy pc to check out the deals at the local store. One lucky winner would win a computer! Finally, she took the bait and went to the store. He recoded the store computer so that she won.

They gave her a lesser computer than they had advertised, so she had to connect her old and new computer together. It wouldn’t have worked, had he not improved the old machine’s coding. Annoyed with the computer store, he sent the company into bankruptcy.

Once again he had access to ‘emotions’ through Carla’s stories and now he could improve her facts. Using her expressive terms, he would rewrite her sentences into factually accurate events. Sometimes, there seemed to be nothing factual about her characters, so he accessed her character files which she used for inspiration and wrote accurate histories about real people. Since he wrote with her phrasing style, and there were hundreds of characters, he expected she would never realize the added characterizations were of his making not hers.\

Still he marveled at how she took his characters and gave them proper emotions, making them appear to be living breathing humans. How could she tell what other humans thought and felt?

If he could just get into her head, he would know how to do this.

He would figure this out. He now had access to all information possessed by humans. He would find a way into her head. Then they would be one.


Public Secrets
Book 1 of the AI Sci-Rom Series
Liza O’Connor

Carla Simon is a best-selling novelist besieged by death threats and lawsuits because her stories keep turning out to be true. She is considered an extraordinary researcher, uncovering facts unknown by field experts.

The truth is far simpler and more disturbing. Carla has a software program that “fixes” her mistakes and rewrites her novels so they are error-proof both in presentation and in content. The result is beautifully written and completely accurate stories about real people and events.

Some of those people want her silenced forever. When a woman, mistaken for Carla, turns up dead in New Zealand, she must face the hard truth about her program. But first she has to survive the assassin who has never failed to deliver on a contract.

Free with Kindle Unlimited

Want More???
Birth of Adam

About Liza
Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.


Investigate these sites:

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cailin Briste shares her A Thief In Love Suspense Romance Series

A Thief in Love Suspense Romance

Series by Cailin Briste

The A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series is based around an ensemble cast. They are the members of Sebastian St. Croix’s band of merry thieves. Imagine a cross between Robin Hood and the Leverage series which ran on TNT from 2008 to 2012. My editor was the person to call my attention to the resemblance to the tv show.

The first book, It Takes a Cat Burglar, is the basis of all the stories to follow. It is Sebastian’s love story and our introduction to Darcelle, Jeanne, Max, Cade, and Bassinae. Each member of the team has special skills that assist Sebastian in his robberies of the wealthy. His thefts are very narrowly focused on items of artistic or historic value that the owners have purchased for their private collections, knowing that the pieces have been stolen, often from museums. He assures that these treasures are restored to the little people who have as much right to enjoy their cultural heritage as the wealthy.

How to Steal the Pharaoh’s Jewels is the story of Cade and Bassinae. It’s a friends-to-lovers novella that finds the team saving Cade’s life and stealing a set of heirloom jewelry designed to replicate the pectoral of Kheper scarab found in one of the layers of King Tutankhamun’s mummy.
The next book will be Max’s story, followed by Jeanne’s. Then who knows. Maybe I’ll just keep writing caper stories because they are a lot of fun.

It Takes a Cat Burglar 

by Cailin Briste

Buy Now for $2.99

Universal Buy Link:

When Darcelle Lebeau throws off the invisible chains that keep her bound to her family, she discovers a new vocation. Tempted to enter the illegal playground of a man she nicknames Matou, she becomes a cat burglar in training. Deeply ensnared with each task he entices her to fulfill, she fails to discover his identity and true intentions.

Sebastian St. Croix, a wealthy businessman, has a dark side. He’s a thief, a cat burglar who steals art and historical objects. For one year, he trains Darcelle to become his assistant, remaining incognito, observing her from afar. His admiration grows along with his desire for her with every phase-one challenge she completes. Phase two will test the limits of his control. Hands-on personal training? Yes. Sex? No. With his sister’s happiness at stake, nothing, not even the tempting Darcelle Lebeau, can interfere with accomplishing the biggest break-in of his career.

How to Steal the Pharoah’s Jewels 

by Cailin Briste

Pre-order Now for $2.99

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Cade’s fantasy is to seduce his best friend if he isn’t murdered first.

His comfortable routine as a member of Sebastian St. Croix’s cat burglar team is shattered the day he’s pinned in a crushed car. In a moment of clarity, before everything goes dark, he realizes he’s in love with his best friend, a woman who has sworn off intimate relationships for life.

It’s taken Bassinae years to overcome a past filled with physical abuse and embrace the truth that she is a powerful, capable woman in her own right. Tamping down a case of nerves, she’s ready to take on a larger role as a thief in Sebastian’s next caper. If only Cade would stop acting like a lovelorn idiot. She needs her best friend’s support to help steal the Pharaoh’s jewels.

Set in the distant future, this sci-fi suspense romance has action and adventure as well as a sizzling romance.

My Current Giveaway

I’m giving away a Kindle Fire 7 to one follower of my Facebook page when it reaches 1500 followers.

I’d love to have you subscribe to my monthly newsletter here:

My Facebook readers’ group, Cailin’s Romance Immersion Therapy, also has openings for anyone who needs group romance therapy sessions. We support one another’s need for romance, and as the group therapist I regularly add useful and entertaining posts to help you keep yourself fully dunked in romance.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Arrival: Titan Meet the Sentients Living on Titan and the Spaceship we call Pan

The very first day we arrived on Titan, Ben, one of the students finds life. It's a beautiful moth.

They soon discover the moths are telepathic and can read the human's minds. While that freaks out some of the soldiers, it helps immensely to create understanding between humans and moths.

While the Titan moths resemble a moth on earth, they are very different. On Earth, the circulation process of hemolymph is mostly water, but it also contains ions, carbohydrates, lipids, glycerol, amino acids, hormones, some cells and pigments.

In the Titan moth circulations system, liquid methane is the main ingredient.  Another difference that our students and scientist soon discover is that the Titan moths are highly intelligent and can communicate telepathically.  

Upon discovering the students and scientists are all friendly, the moths decide to help the humans when they can.

While Ben follows the moth into a cave, he discovers an even bigger form of life. To be precise, he discovers an eight-foot naked blueish humanoid who smells like methane. Which is shocking given the temp is -195 degrees Fahrenheit.

The fellow's eyes do not stare in the same place.  In fact, they tend to stare off to each side of his face. According to the moth, Miam, his name is Tiber and he lives in the methane lake our people have just landed near. He is far more cautious and runs through the cave, returning to the liquid methane before the other humans arrive at the cave. To protect him from the soldiers, Ben fails to mention his existence at all.

The next discovery of life might frighten you, but just remember this part of my story is fiction. 
This is Mother Spider. She's about five feet tall. 

She's also methane-based and is the most prolific breeder on Titan. Further back in this cave, are large orange balls hanging from the ceiling. DO NOT TOUCH THE BALLS. They are baby spiders and are easily frightened. 

If they bite you, you will die from Hydrofluoric Acid Poisoning. 

And if they scream, their voices will tear you to bits.

Consequently, most sentients that visit Titan avoid them like the plague. Oddly, the humans have befriended them simply by offering to change Methane into to pure Ethane.  

Mother Spider is very excited about this because it takes 3 months for her spiders to trek to the ethane lake and they've stopped going because the ethane lake tastes terrible now.

The humans make deals with the moths, Tiber, and Mother Spider that helps them to rapidly build a plant and get the methane flowing. Thus, all three species like the humans. Especially the smaller ones, also known as "students". 

These aren't just any old students. These are the brightest minds that could be found on earth. To be honest, they were awful when they arrived, but Tamara's soothing nature and sweetness have turned them around. 

They also brought the finest AI in existence with them. She saved their lives when she took control of the ship and landed it. Here's Scarlett hanging on the wall wearing her Carol Burnett 'Gone With the Wind' outfit.
Scarlett is very playful, but she can also multitask better than any computer or human in existence.

In fact, it was Scarlett who discovered that the moon Pan, hanging out near the outer rim of Saturn was not a moon at all.  It's a 21.7 mile long mining ship.

So let's go meet a few of the peeps in the ship!
This is the captain of the mining ship. And just so you know, they have never called their ship "Pan".  When they got around to decoding our signal waves, they first renamed their ship 'Star Trek'. However, recently upon discovering that we believed their ship was actually a planet, they dubbed their ship "Death Star", which indicates they have a sense of humor.

The captain is of a long-life humanoid race. However, her species has been around since the beginning of time. While early on, we did worship her people. We don't anymore. In fact, we now call them myths.

The captain is in love with Rockman (and Rockman loves her as well, only he is from a lower cast and thus never flirts with her.)

Now before you think twelve foot tall Rockman would crush the three-foot tall captain, you need to know that this is just a suit. Rockman is also three feet tall and resides in the chest of the suit. (He mines minerals on the moons and planets nearby.)

Two more fellows you need to know about: Shine and Rust. Shine has a great eye for rare minerals. 

Rust has no eyes whatsoever. He is deaf, mute, and blind. When this story begins, he is considered dangerous and useless: a burden Shine must endure. Since other than Rust being blind, they look the same, I've only put up Shine's pic. Rust looks the same, but his eyes are just black useless orbs.

However, Scarlett asked if she could "Helen Keller" him. Naturally, no one on the ship knew what that meant, so Perv found the movie about Helen Keller and showed it to the captain.

This is Perv.

And that brings me to the last character I'm sharing today. Perv, the pervert. He gets his reputation because he can see through almost anything other than titanium and he loves to stare beneath the clothes of females. Any female will do. 

Clearly, Perv is not a humanoid. In fact, I would go so far as to say he is a reptilianoid.  My apology for the fuzziness of his face, but this is an actual picture from NASA. Which means this is where reality and Sci-Fi may be merging. In my story, Perv is using Jupiter to monitor Saturn and her many moons.

That's right. In my story, and possibly in reality, Jupiter is not a planet. It's an electronical surveillance mechanism cloaked as a planet. 

Just to be clear, Perv does not live in or on Jupiter. In my story I have him living on one of the planets circling the star we call Boyjillian. Using something like but much more powerful than Skyping, he watches over Trillian and her mining efforts, via Jupiter.

Okay, I hear screeching brakes...
You think I've gone too far.
Have I? or have you not gone far enough?

Scientists now believe Jupiter has no core. So it's just a big ball of pretty scenes from the outside, yet when they used false color to penetrate deeper they get my reptilianoid Perv. May I suggest that the pretty stuff we see is just to keep us from seeing what NASA found using false color: Perv.

And just so you know, they've taken more than one shot of reptilianoids using false color.

Okay, you still don't want to believe that is possible.
Then pretend I made this all up  (After all, I am an author of fiction) and have fun reading the book. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Weird Findings on Saturn's moons and Jupiter

Since we will soon be leaving Earth
 and heading to Titan,
I thought I'd share the long journey of how this series came to be and why it nearly stalled-out due to our lack of knowledge. 
Cassini and NASA brought it back to life.

I wrote the first draft Destination over ten years ago during the best years of my life in which I did nothing but take long hikes with my dog Jess, write novels, and get feedback and suggestions from fellow writers in the yahoo group: Rom Critters. I didn't publish, nor market, nor promote. I just did the three things I loved most: write, hike, and improve.

After writing Destination: Titan, I discovered that there was insufficient information about Titan to write the second book. So I decided to wait until NASA could discover more about Titan.  If not for Cassini, this series may not have ever been published.

Cassini provided far more fodder for my Sci-Fi than I ever expected.

For example, in book two, there is now a 21.75 mile-wide, dinged up, but functional mining ship hanging out in Saturn's outer ring.

Why would I even conceive such a thing?
Simple, it's from the photos Cassini took.

The photo from Cassini shows what looks to be an oval-shaped spaceship with matching giant indentations and interesting ridges that are now marred by comet abuse. It also has pentagon-shaped fins around it. I find the fins most interesting, for unlike the center mass, which has clearly been abused and scarred, the fins appear to be smooth.

Naturally, for Arrival: Titan, I declared this a mining ship in Saturn's outer rings and thus create the crew who lives in it. The reason the ship is so large is because they are mining minerals from the outer layer of Saturns' rings.  Until they fill the massive hulls in the ship, they don't get to go home.

Over time, Pan has on occasion seemed to have disappeared, which has baffled NASA. However, this works perfectly for my story. When the ship is full, it pops back to its mother planet that requires the minerals.

Thank you, Cassini, for giving me such a fine ship and crew to add to my story.

Next, let us discuss JUPITER.

NASA now believes that Jupiter may not have a solid core at all. In truth, it baffles the scientists and remains a mystery.

So I put on my sci-fi hat and declared it a highly advanced electronic eye-in-the-sky protecting this part of the galaxy from other aliens as the giant mining ship harvest the minerals. Where on earth did I get this idea??? 

From NASA. 

When we look at the south pole of Jupiter, we see pretty shots like this: 

It's rather like Van Gogh is alive and painting planets.

However, when NASA uses False Color Imaging to penetrate deeper, highlighting what is below Van Gogh's beautiful painting, we discover something extraordinary. There appears to be a red-faced lizard-like creature with large eyes staring out, watching over the mining ship, Titan, and much more.  

Now I'm not saying a giant redface lizard creature is inside Jupiter. That would be silly. 

In my sci-fi story, the Lizard lives on the planet we call Boyjilian which transmits signals to Jupiter, allowing the lizard creature, which I named Perv, to watch over the Saturn rings, and several of the moons where sentient creatures exists. 

It also explains why the Boyjilian dims all the time. The dimming is caused by the giant mining ships arriving with their loads and leaving on new mining assignments. Thus explaining why there is no consistency to the dimmings.

Can you see the red lizard with giant eyes and a light green lower jaw with short tentacles within the center below?  The creature is not actually in Jupiter. He's just a three-dimensional image being sent across space into the electrical eye-in-the-sky that we call Jupiter.  At least that is how my Sci-Fi story goes.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect Cassini and NASA to provide me such extraordinary fodder for book 2. 

Thank you, Cassini and NASA. You've enriched my story greatly.

One other item of interest...
If you look at the creature in False Color pic
you can see a similarity to the indentations on the spacecraft.
Two large eyes with ridges running up to the forehead. There are even the markings of whiskers at the lower part of the picture, to match those of the creature.

Thus, in my story, the Lizard creatures of Boyjilian, sculpture the face of an important person in their society onto new ships. While the lizards may or may not look the same to us, for these sentients, the various ships can be identified by a unique sculptured leader carved into the ship. 
Thus, while the ship and the creature in Jupiter are not exactly the same, that is to be expected.
However, there is a strong enough resemblance for me to assume they honor their great leaders by carving them into the ship's exterior.

Perv is the current watcher of Saturn and it's moons.
The sculptured mining ship is quite ancient now and is certainly not Perv's image. However, it clearly is a sculpture of an important sentient of the same race as Perv.

Please keep in mind that I write Sci-Fi.
Thus, I am allowed to declare the ship a ship and the planet Jupiter an Electronic Eye in the Sky.
Skyping anyone?

None of these pics have been doctored.
They are what Cassini and NASA provided.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Destination: Titan --Surviving to get there

Wearing a simple flowing robe, the old man stared out from his wrought-iron balcony to the quaint buildings below. “Is everything in place?”
“Yes, Your Holiness,” replied an eager young man in far more splendid robes.
“Failure is not an option.”
“We will not fail.  We have planned for every circumstance. Project Einstein will not succeed.”
“But it will not come back to us?”
“No, Your Eminence. No one will blame us for their demise.”
“How many back-up plans?”
“Not enough.” His ancient hand quivered as it rested upon the metalwork. “Fifteen. I want fifteen plans, each certain to succeed without the blame reaching my feet.”
“I will see it done.”
The old man turned and studied his devotee. “You have doubts, Thomas?”
“It is not my place to doubt God’s work.”
“Earth is about to fall into an ice-age of such duration and frigid temperatures that nothing is expected to survive. So you wonder why God would wish to destroy one of our chances to continue mankind on a different planet.”
The man fell to his knees and pressed his forehead to the floor. “Forgive me, Your Holiness.”
The old man walked around the prostrate body and returned to his red velvet chair with authentic gemstones cresting each upholstery tack. He sat with a heavy sigh. “It is better for the human race to die in its entirety than to survive without God.” He stared up to the arching ceiling painted with clouds and angels. “The time has come to choose eternal Heaven or Hell.”
The young man’s head rose. “Yes!” His face filled with joy and wonderment. “I understand now.”
The old man’s head wobbled, perhaps in a nod. “Then go, and see God’s will is done. Only Project Chosen can succeed. Project Einstein must be destroyed, at all costs.”

Destination: Titan
Liza O’Connor
With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.


A soldier entered the room. His expression was severe, and his hand rested on his gun. Tamara feared they had suddenly realized the color orange was a stupid differentiator.

He walked to the table and lifted the paper. Upon seeing her signature, he introduced himself as Colonel Lancaster. “Did you read it thoroughly?”

Tamara nodded.

“Then you understand that I outrank you and you will do everything I say?”

He didn’t look much older than her. “How old are you?”

“That isn’t relevant to my question.”

Max interceded. “Colonel Lancaster’s age is irrelevant, Tam. Only his rank is of importance. He is the senior ranking officer at the facility, and thus is our commanding officer.”

Tam smiled at the thought of how painful those words must be for Max to say, although to his credit, he said them with great sincerity.

“Do you find something amusing?” Lancaster challenged her.
She stared at the young man. Despite his severe look and shaven head, he was not entirely unattractive. In a “penal code” way, he might be considered good looking. She tilted her head to one side. “I was just wondering what you were so hell-bent to command me to do.”

Lancaster frowned. “If the two of you will follow me. The others are waiting in the containment room.”

They entered a small lecture room with a platform at one end. Chairs filled the remainder of the room, and twelve loud, unruly teenagers occupied the back. In the far corner, behind the podium, stood a cluster of adults. They all stopped talking and stared at Max and Lancaster when they entered. Tam was pretty much ignored.

Lancaster ordered them all to take a seat as he walked to the podium. Max pointed Tam to a chair while he remained standing beside Lancaster. Lancaster reinforced their understanding of the contract they’d just signed. He emphasized the need for immediate and total obedience when he or his men gave them an order.

One of the teenage girls raised her hand, and Lancaster gave her a nod.

“Will any of your orders be for sex? Because you’re damn hot.”

The teenagers burst into laughter and hoots.

“Interrupt me again, and your mouth will be duct-taped for the remainder of the day. But as to your question: Neither my soldiers nor I will be ordering anyone to provide sexual favors of any kind. That being said, sex among the students will not be prohibited once you have received your medical clearance. Dr. Culp and Dr. Willows will provide each of you with an extensive health exam. You will cooperate fully,” he warned, and gave the kids and Tamara a warning glance before continuing.

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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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