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.”
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?”
“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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