Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH


Nick Bryant was a junkie. Lived on the streets, and everything. And then, he saved a baby girl from drowning, and fell into the role of protector. As he, the baby, and her older brother get to know one another, he decides that maybe, there’s more left to him than the drugs, and decides to try to live again. And maybe build a family.

FROM MARY CATELLI: Madeleine and the Mists

Enchanted pools, shadowy dragons, wolves that spring from the mists and vanish into them again, paths that are longer, or shorter, than they should be, given where they went. . . the Misty Hills were filled with marvels.

Madeleine still left the hills, years ago, to marry against her father’s will. If her husband’s family is less than welcoming, she still is glad she married him, and they have a son, two years old.

But her husband’s overlord has fallen afoul of the king. And all his men fall with him, including her husband.

She sets out, to seek the queen and try to bypass the king — and the Misty Hills.

Some things are not so easily evaded.

FROM LAWDOG: The LawDog Files: Revised and Expanded.

The entire sworn personnel complement of the department consisted of the Sheriff, the Chief Deputy and two patrol deputies.

That was it.

I miss that county.

To me, law enforcement is tracking an Alzheimer’s patient for four hours through the boonies after he wandered away from home; answering a 911 call because a rattlesnake is about to eat a nest full of baby birds; and scaring off ghosts because the lady of the house lost her husband ten years ago, her children live out of state, and you are the only outside contact she gets.

For me, being a cop is about keeping an eye out for a black-and-white dog of indeterminate ancestry, red bandanna, whose 9-year-old owner is crying his eyes out.

Most new officers will start out in medium-to-large cities/counties and never know what it’s like to patrol when your only back-up is 45 miles away as the cruiser drives – and asleep in bed, to boot.

So, I tell stories and hope that through those, the Gentle Reader can get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a Western small-town, rural Peace Officer

FROM LAWDOG: The Africa Files (The LawDog Files).

Africa is different.

Most people who grew up in the Western world don’t realize just how different.

In this volume, LawDog relates stories of growing up in West Africa, including run-ins with the flora and fauna, a younger brother, their engineer father and redheaded mother.

The Africa Files isn’t just a collection of childhood shenanigans, though there’s a lot of that, but also a fond recollection of a time and place that shaped a Texas lawman.

FROM C.V.WALTER: Pursued by the Alien Pilot

Dorcas knew what she was doing when she volunteered to join the Forward Hope; getting as far away from her past as possible.

What she found on board was a purpose and community far beyond anything she’d dreamed of since her escape. Off the planet and surrounded by aliens, she’s safe from the machinations of the creature who abducted her years before…

Or so she thought.

When a nightmare from her past threatens to come after her family, Dorcas does the only thing she knows how to do; confront the monster in his lair and pray for a rescue.


The continuing story of April, Jeff, and Heather after they conspire to rebel against North America and their efforts to find friends and a safe haven in the stars. Continuing to close the time gap to the later Family Law series of books.
Heather and her peers impose a ban on armed ships beyond L1 in the Solar System and a prohibition for explorer ships going interstellar heavily armed. There are continuing stories of future characters still stuck on Earth.
Heather has a lot of help from her friends but it isn’t easy being the queen.


Ice is back!

And back in trouble.

His mission–sabotage the Cyborg Empire–goes awry when the Cyborgs discover his dimensional gate, and Gior, the obnoxious young woman with the rare talent of being able to manipulate dimensional phenomena, is forced to close that gate moments before the Cyborgs capture her.

Now Ice is not just marooned in enemy territory, he needs to rescue Gior quickly, before they get a control chip into her brain.

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Lord Adrescu’s Blade: A Familiar Origins Tale.

A legendary sword, and the man who wielded it.

Lord Danut Adrescu returns to his keep to find a mystery and a warning. A battered young Healer who cannot speak, and a vision of battle with a half-bull monster. What links the two? And what ties them to his new sword, a battle-claimed blade made by the finest Italian swordsmiths?

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: SMOOTH

29 thoughts on “Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. In three hours with Deborah, I learned so little that it was almost like I had gotten anti-knowledge.

    Deborah lived with her mother in Manhasset, just off the 25A. She lived with her mother and a single live-in maid and cook that they had “forever.” Her Dad was gone since “forever,” and she wouldn’t say a thing about it. No pets.

    …and that was it. Over three hours and questions designed to get you to talk about yourself.

    Every effort Sayuri and I made to try and draw Deborah out of her shell was quietly rebuffed. She refused to say anything or said as little as she could, and she was more than capable of looking forlorn, quiet, and unable to answer a thing. She was willing to talk more about Aretta than herself, and every time I tried to draw her out, she made me feel like I was kicking a puppy.

    She was quiet at lunch and ate with a surgeon’s precision. Each bite was a third of an inch square if it was at all possible, brought up to her mouth in a smooth arc, and chewed about seventeen to nineteen times. While she is chewing, she cuts another inch square of what she’s eating. Every ninth or tenth bite, a sip of water.

    Eidetic memory is wonderful at times, except when trying to figure people out and you can mentally work out a pattern in her cuts and her chewing routine.

    After lunch, we had another set of exercises, where we had to answer trivia questions about the Lycée. This one went better, because Deborah knew so much trivia about the Lycée that it was scary. She knew what buildings had been renovated in what order, and why they were named that way. She knew about the time capsule in the Ney building, why it was put there in 1940, and what was in it. It was like listening to a living history book, and it was the only time the entire afternoon that she showed any expression of joy.

    Yet, there was something…and I realized what it was.

    The entire time we were together, Deborah kept trying to open her notebook and do something in it. When she snuck off to the bathroom, the pen that she always had with the notebook was in a different position and she looked like a junkie that had just gotten her fix. The one time I asked about the notebook, she started like a scared rabbit in a hawk convention and clutched the notebook to her chest so hard that I thought she was trying to shove it into her own body.

    And it said things about what I’ve seen so far that she might be able to pull it off.

  2. Grumble Grumble

    I shouldn’t have but I did.

    IE Purchasing the updated Lawdogs Files.

    I wish he would publish them in the KoboBooks site.

    But at least, it’ll be a smooth read. [Crazy Grin]

  3. Employing his Sleath Fields to the fullest, Andrew smoothly entered the pocket universe. Hopefully, he’d find Diana safe and sound.

  4. Sometimes it works
    More often it doesn’t
    Occasionally perhaps it does
    OK, very occasionally
    The odds are in your favor
    However that’s usually a sucker’s bet.

  5. Hair combed, shoes shined, trousers creased, with a dab of Father’s cologne, Young Nigel strutted into the drawing room.

    Noticing him, Lily smiled. “While your appearance is unusual, it has failed as a disguise. My scanners recognized you straightaway.”

    “Oh, blast!” said Nigel. “I was trying to be all smooth!”

  6. Clem required assistance to stand. The shot of moonshine Delbert offered him made him see red, white, and purple, and then he thought he saw smoke.

    “Smooth,” Clem gasped. “Just what was in that?”

    “Habanero blend!” said Delbert proudly. “If that don’t bring in those Martian tourists, ain’t nuthin’ will!”

  7. Autumn frowned in thought. They had followed the bird for the lack of a better thing to do.
    “It’s not as if it hasn’t gone smoothly for us as soon as the snake died,” said Lucie. “A safe journey through this muck, we didn’t lose sight of the bird for a moment, and now we found our way to this.”

  8. The culmination of many months of meticulous work. A hundred different varieties of grains tested. Yeasts from all over the world, and even some from orbit. Thousands of distillations before this small amount of amber liquid was produced. Chilled to the perfect temperature. And when sipped, it went down smooth.

  9. She returned to the door and pushed it open. The dust lay smooth on the corridor. She would not need to blow the horn to search the castle, she reminded herself. She could easily search it all herself, without the aid of guards.
    She stepped outside, and heard the voices.

  10. Shepardsport Pirate Radio was pretty much always playing down here in the Engineering levels, so it tended to become background noise. As a result, it took a while for Juss to really notice the lyrics of the song that was playing at the moment. But as soon as they started sinking in, he wondered what the heck Spruance Del Curtin had been thinking to put that particular song in his lineup, especially given that it was more jazz than classic rock.

    When had “Smooth Operator” come out? Before his time, definitely — but memories not his own filtered in. Leland Andersen had been finishing his engineering degree at UMinn when it hit the airwaves, while Frank Corerra had been in grade school, just old enough to pay attention to the radio but young enough that most of the song went whooshing right over his head.

    More importantly, playing it right now showed dogged lousy judgment, especially after Sprue had just gotten his airshifts back after the trouble over explicitly dedicating “Hot for Teacher” to Dr. Ayles.

  11. Voices rose in the forest, and he stepped back. The waters ran smoothly over the pool and down the stream.
    “Bunch of stuck-up prigs,” said one man. “Probably get huffy that you didn’t call them sanctimonious.”
    “Just be glad to be rescued, and they’ll go away,” said another.
    “Rescued, huh.”

  12. Beside him, as if Osric had used his powers in a fight less lopsided than with a goose. Athelwulf glared as the words flowed from Osric, smooth as honey, denouncing Athelwulf as a foul hedge knight who obtained unlawful powers and thought himself greater than the common lot of man.

  13. Sarah, a while back you suggested that I should write fiction. Still a hard no, nope, not gonna, but here’s an example of where my creativity takes me. This is adapted from a Facebook post I made first thing in the morning a few days ago:

    I dreamt I was on a long weekend vacation on Île Saveu, a small French island in the northwest Mediterranean between Corsica and the mainland.

    Saveu is a crescent-shaped island about six miles long and about a mile wide at the center, with the open side of the crescent pointing roughly southeast. The original non-Indo-European name of the island is usually rendered as Snegnonagne or Snegnonagno. Some local folk etymology suggests that “Saveu” is the original source of the name “Savoy”.

    The inner side of the island is a typical white sand Mediterranean beach, with a series of hotels up against it and a narrow strip of development behind. Since the civilian population was concentrated onto a hill at the northern tip during the war, the outer side of the island has been restored to nature and is now a protected reserve. There are some unique tree, flower and lizard species found only there.

    The southern tip of the crescent has the ruins of an ancient fort overlaid with multiple layers of Napoleonic and 20th-century fortifications. There is still a Second World War coastal defense gun turret in place, although subsidence and sea level rise mean that it’s now awash at high tide and is no longer safe to visit. Just north of there is the ferry port and also the airstrip.

    During the ’90s and ’00s it had a huge rave and drug scene as a smaller, French Ibiza, but that has mostly calmed down and now eco-tourism is the main draw.

    I was there for a convention of fans of a certain internet hot babe influencer. 😄 After a picnic in the reserve where I met said influencer as she briefly flitted by in her attempt to meet everyone, I found myself on a beachside patio sipping a fruity cocktail and trying to compose a Facebook post about the island [basically this post], and a French journalist was sitting next to me and trying to make sure I included a bit about how the English had shelled the island and destroyed some distinctive building at some point.

    Saveu, of course, does not exist. All this geography and history were entirely products of my subconscious; I haven’t added a thing after I woke up. I can draw you a map and sketch the view of the island I had from the plane.

    Yes, my brain is weird. I guess this is what happens when you study history and maps and make up fictional places for RPG scenarios. 🙂

    After a few minutes of thinking about it, I realized I could basically run an RPG scenario or even campaign at any point in Saveu’s history from the Iron Age to the present day. The most interesting periods would be the era of Phoenician/Archaic Greek trade and colonization, the Norman period/early Crusades, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Vichy years.

    1. Use a fictional time travel team to teach history to kids/YA.

      Hijinks as Team Time Travel tries to watch key moments without interfering, but somehow getting caught up in the action.

      Trite? Of course. But it works.

      The substitute snare drum

      A pen for Mr Jefferson.

      Phoney Express

  14. The bull-man snorted in obvious irritation and walked away, commanding his to also leave – despite serious irritation.

    “Smooth move, Ex-lax. Allies, right? Don’t screw it up.”

    “What? Everyone calls it battle rattle?”

    “Yeah, and battle rattle or full battle rattle would be no issue. But you had to go and use THAT word, with THEM. Smooth move, Ex-lax.”


    “You said ‘Full CATTLE Battle Rattle’ to already tense minotaurs. ”

    “So…? They are-”

    “Idiot! Would use the n-word for Denzel and Treyvon?”

    “HELL NO!”

    “Alright, maybe not an idiot after all. But… you just volunteered.”


    There was a long, very involved, call… “I know, but he needs the experience. And I’ll send a sealed packet with him.”

    “Alright son, you are now the human liaison to them.. learn fast.” Take this and give it to the commander UNOPENED. Got it?”

    “Y..yes sir! I am with them… and this is for the commander’s eyes only. Sir.”

    “Good. Go!”

    The commander read the contents of the envelope, at the nervous new liaison and… roared ..with laughter. “I shall let you read read this. It is… amusing.. though likely not to you.”

    He read… that bastard… his signals code was now, and likely forever… Stupid Monkey.

  15. She ran her fingers over the laquered surface, bent down to look at the way the light reflected off it, and sighed.

    “Not good enough; sand it – very fine grit – and do another coat. “

  16. Listening to Passepartout banter with Mme. Brodeur, Fixx scowled in irritation. L’Aiguiere Verte was less crowded than usual that afternoon; it would have been a perfect opportunity to chat with the proprietress had his partner had not been monopolizing her attention. He had even practiced a few conversational openings, apparently to no avail.

    Why is the man so damned… smooth? he thought unreasonably. Then more truthfully, <Why can’t I talk to women the way he does? He makes it look easy.

    For many years Fixx had prioritized his job over all else in his life. Working with Passepartout, who clearly enjoyed everything he did and had a gift for social interaction, had made him realize that there was in fact more to existence than work. He suddenly realized that Mme. Brodeur was gazing at him expectantly.

    “I am so sorry, Madame,” he stammered. “I did not hear what you said.”

    “Are you enjoying yourself, M’seur Fixx? You looked rather sad.”

    “I am indeed, Madame. Our visits here …” he couldn’t believe what he was saying… “are the highlight of my week. It always lifts my spirits to see you.”

    Passepartout looked stunned; madame beamed. “Ah, you are too kind!” She patted him on the shoulder and moved on to the bar, where a customer was waiting.

    Fixx took a deep breath and realized that Passepartout was smiling at him. “Well done, my friend! She has taken an interest in you, I believe. She often asks after you.”

    Fixx sat up straighter. “Really?”

  17. A bit late on account of me getting sucked into gaming last night! Follow-up to one a little ways back.

    “Dammit! I can’t believe I did that!”

    “Smooth approach failed, Brad?” Vincent asked, giving his cousin a wry smile as he sipped his cola.

    “Yeah,” he sighed, slumping onto the stool next to the Undying soldier. “I wanted to tell her what pretty blue eyes she had, but…”

    Vincent shook his head, knowing exactly what happened next. “Your eyes were quite a bit lower, weren’t they?”

    “…Yep.” Brad admitted sheepishly, his face almost as red as his hair.

    “Don’t beat yourself up too much, Brad,” Eike said with a chuckle, refilling both men’s drinks. “Klaudia knows exactly what she’s doing when she wears dresses like that on stage. You were hardly the first one she’s seen do that.”

    “But I was hoping she’d think I was different!” he moaned, taking a long drink of his beer.

    “I’m sure most guys who approach her think the same thing,” Eike replied, pausing to clean a glass. “In any case give her a couple of days and I doubt she’s even going to remember.”

    “That may well be worse,” the engineer moaned, slouching against the bar after he downed his tankard.

    “I think I’d better get this drunk home before he embarrasses himself further,” Vincent sighed, reaching for his wallet. “Thanks as always, Eike.”

    “Anytime, kid.” the bartender said with a smile, accepting his payment before Vincent helped his larger cousin off the stool and out of the bar.

  18. He pointed to the most vigorously waving reporter. “You have a question?”

    “I do. You say,” she referred to the information packet, “you generate electricity by extracting charged particles directly from the fusion reactor. That makes the electricity radioactive, doesn’t it?”

    For several seconds he just stared at her, and her smug attitude, in disbelief. She really seemed sure that she’d scored a major strike against this dreaded ‘nukyular energy’.

    Finally, he said, “I’m sure when you were in college, you were told that there are no stupid questions.”

    “Well, of course! Every question deserves an answer!” She still thought she’d trapped him. She thought she was smooth.

    “This is not college,” he growled. “This is the real world. There are stupid questions, and that was a very stupid question. Anybody with the most superficial understanding of electricity would know why it’s a stupid question. And anybody living in a modern society should know at least that much by the time they reach the fifth grade.”

  19. There’s a knack for walking on glare ice. The coefficient of static friction for frozen water is a bit larger than its coefficient of sliding friction, so having your point(s) of contact remain immobile is a really good idea, even while the rest of you is moving. Think ”corporally unctuous“

  20. (Posting this in two parts, because it’s steadfastly resisted being edited down below 8 K characters — for a day or several — and posting it ~1 week late, because it’s also decent hard-SF background inside that Earth-invades-Mars story that’s popped up here before.)

    “It may be,” said Angus Claybourne slowly, sunlight sparkling yellow on the white tablecloth from the small glass in his hand, “you’re expecting the next advance in theory to follow too… smoothly from previous ones. Think how different Einstein’s view of gravity is from Newton’s, for instance; ‘matter tells spacetime how to curve, the curve of spacetime tells matter how to move’ in four bent dimensions, vs., a ‘field’ of force reaching out through uniformly board-flat ‘absolute space and invariable time’ as each mass pulls on every other.

    “That’s really a pretty discontinuous jump; not easy to find any picture that includes both, except maybe general relativity itself, with Newtonian gravity simply a low-intensity limit.”

    The woman with the long-stemmed glass of white wine smiled, and almost but not quite chuckled. “Says the man who has only a double-handful of years ago pulled such meager hints as ‘the quantum landscape’ and ‘conjectures on the swampland of low-energy theory’ together into something almost like a ‘theory of everything’ — deep mathematics by your wife Colette, or course — and by it, opened the door to ‘alternative vacuum states’ and ‘intrusion by guest fields’ into our familiar, well-known universe. To such practical purpose as artificial gravity, as Kuzmin neutron oscillations and matter-matter annihilation. And handy things like electron stacking and demi-collapsium, or the Outer System’s favorite, slingstrings, too.

    “It would quite’ve set the world on its ear, or the worlds on theirs, if you two’d ever published your theory openly. Merely as itself, innocently naked of any consequences or applications.”

    Angus not only didn’t blush, his body moved in something like a shiver or the faintest of shudders, though the sun was warm and the soft wind only pleasantly cool, on the terraced, almost Italy-esque slopes of this little mountain. (Mostly still the central peak of a crater, revamped only a bit by human work.) “The Belters do well enough with our Mostly Unified Theory, as do we Settlers here Redside. And all I have to do is look out over all these square miles of now-almost-Earthly terrain, to see you Terraformers have done a fine job with it too.” He took a small sip of single-malt whisky from his glass, like the wine a strictly local product.

    “But those mostly stuck-up cloud-dwellers on Venus, with their stratified societies and notions of ‘social obligation’? Those cultist followers of the Mad Prophet Marx back on Earth? I’ve a bit more responsibility than to post our theory on the zero-net here, far less send it to Earth onto some pre-print World Web site. I’m not one of their Licensed Scientists, mind; ever since they declared ‘Math is racist!’ back in the Crazy Years, our first foreshock of their nasty new World State… it’s never been a safe bet they’d let our Theory of Almost Everything go up at all. But if they did?

    “You remember” (he did not make it a question, given this company) “that old term ‘dual-use technology’ for such things as uranium centrifuges and ultra-high-speed electrical switches… Well, this theory is — as you’ve said — well suited to practical use. And our two Inner Worlds, at present in my opinion, ain’t old enough yet to wear those britches.”

    “Oh, we’re not regretting how you’ve chosen not to publish outright, and surely you know your own discretion is appreciated here as much as you’ve said you appreciate ours,” said the sandy-haired man across the table with the slight Russian accent to his English. “Our occasional collaboration with you and people like Keeling and Lake has been most fruitful indeed. As you well know, this scene around us” — he waved his hand at the miles of open air beneath the demi-collapsium ‘lid’ of what was once ‘simply’ one more crater on Mars — “would almost surely not have been achievable in any of our lifetimes without it.

    “But that’s not really the point, I think, we were discussing. You truly did achieve something of a breakthrough, not just mathematically or even in linking mathematics with physics to describe this world and its known behavior more elegantly. You really did, Angus, at least as far as I and we can tell, jump past even ‘scanning a quantum landscape’ of similar but different physical theories, all the way to ‘unifying’ our universe with other ones that are not so similar, maybe even have totally new forces in them — like para-gravity — that as far as we can tell do not exist in our universe, save we use your ideas and others’ ways of applying them to bring them forth. Totally new fields! Quite ‘alien’ but easily-reachable effects, that never appear in the natural world around us otherwise! That is — different, Professor Claybourne, beyond what anyone’s ever thought into being before.”

    (to be continued)

  21. (continuing with part 2 of 2…)

    “Well, it maybe is more of a smoother process than I just said, once you can see it from the inside… all I did was take that old idea of a ‘quantum landscape’ I did not invent, and move it a few steps further on. Once you take the view that changing what we used to see as the ‘fundamental constants’ of nature is like moving about a metaphorical ‘landscape’ — walk six paces to the south, say, and the electron neutrino’s mass goes up by a milli-electron-volt — you’ve already accepted and internalized an idea that our universe and its once so-called ‘fundamental’ features… ain’t so fixed or invariable at all.” He smiled, a soft and merry smile. “Sort of the same way ‘absolute space and invariable time’ — is neither, once Einstein steals cat-quiet onto the scene.

    “And if you keep calling me ‘Professor’ for long, Vassily, you’ll see me finding out whatever your own title is, in whatever the Duality holds as its own equivalent to our little multi-site University of Mars. Never you mind all the things I’ve learned and all the things I’ve done, at heart I’m still that odd wee lad from the Western Isles, and so I will remain.”

    Vassily Kozyrev gave him a sort of smile and a nod, that managed to bring across mild apology and friendly agreement and a request to continue, all in a few motions. Never mind the teracycles of processing capability and the gigabytes per second the machinery inside his head could boast; like almost all of the Dualists present — at this table and across the crater that was their largest terraformed home to date — he could express such things in the old, accustomed, immemorial human ways quite well enough.

    And Angus Claybourne replied in kind, with a briefly-boyish grin.

    “Likewise, once you get to the idea that different vacuum states — and it’s right there in the Swampland Conjectures that coupling constants are not free-floating magic numbers, they’re always vacuum expectation values of some field, in some particular ground state — could possibly ever be physically together, touch at a common border, right next door in literal space not just some parametric ‘landscape’ — then you do have to wonder, could fields that are present in one ‘kind’ of spacetime but not in the other ‘kind’ (say, in our kind), somehow not ‘tunnel’ from the first into the second, a ways; or do they always have to stop cold right at that boundary, instead? Looked at that way, our idea of ‘guest fields’ is decently close to obvious.”

    “The same way Einstein said special relativity begins to become obvious, once you imagine riding along with a light wave, and then find Maxwell’s equations don’t let you ever make any sense of doing that?” The one with the white wine and the slight Italian accent, again. Smiling, impishly.

    “Still not an Einstein, not even when you drop Colette an’ me together on one side of that balance and him on the other.” And his expression darkened a bit. “But Einstein wrote his little ‘extremely powerful bombs’ letter to their President, and did a lot of good to their war effort by it. If I need to do more, ladies and gentlemen, now and for Mars I will.” He did not need to mention the armada from Earth, now on its slow way; no need to tell them anything of it — their own intelligence was by far second to none.

    And they looked at him, all at once as one. “And if you must, then we’ll be with you, with the other Settlers and the Belters and the Frosties, as much as we all need; never doubt it.” It was the handsome-looking redhead only, who spoke; but with a chill Angus realized in truth it was ’em all.

    “And look,” she continued smoothly almost without a change of inflection, quite as matter-of-fact as before, “here’s dinner, Angus, so let us leave off such weighty matters as those for now and enjoy our pasta in peace.”

    (Based on some pre-existing setting and characters — and unlike a lot of fictional physics and engineering here, the ‘Swampland Conjectures’ in their setting of string theory are quite real, if not such easy going…)

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