Get Your Pasty Self Outdoors

Regardless of your skin color, or attempts to fake-tan, everyone takes on a pallor if they’ve been in the house too long. It’s something akin to drywall-grey. Ladies and gents, here is a secret, I love living in my head. It is where I’m at my most creative, and professionally the most satisfied with my accomplishments. But I have to force some limits on myself.

You can’t stay in a dark room, all by yourself, all the time! You have to get out and do stuff. Recently I read the Kristen Lamb’s Blog Post, 13 Ways Writers are Mistaken for Serial Killers. I highly suggest it. I laughed so hard I cried and the people on my bus wondered if they needed to call emergency services because I laughed so hard I couldn’t breath. But it reminded me that I am totally guilty as charged … as I sit in my dark room, alone, in solitude … plotting the attempted murder of another victim.

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Even the ground cover loves the sun!

It also reminded me of something. Spring!  That’s right ladies and gents, we are in spring time. Get out, see the sun. Smell the flowers. I love the smell of wet mud. Maybe I need to sit down and describe the smell and how luxurious it smells this time of year. Not the hot, hardened smell of dirt we get during the summer. Wet earth smells of the decay of last years leaves, slightly of mildew, but also wet and humid. It is intoxicating while standing in a forest of budding trees with a light jacket on, enjoying the suns rays for the first time since November. It’s the smell of hope and possibility!

So, writing is great. It fulfills our sense and need for creation. Stephen King, in his book, On Writing, encourages writers to get out for regular exercise and commune with the real world. I think that’s great advice. So, I’ll adopt it as my own (sorry Stephen). For heavens sake, go outside! You need the sunlight. Without that stimulus, you are no longer a creative being. It is the food and fuel that keeps you going.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

P.S. On Writing, by Stephen King, is a great book and well worth the read if you are a writer. You can find it on Amazon.

 

What am I up to? Glad you asked!

Greetings Fellow Earth Dwellers!

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My Office Chair

To be fair, no one actually asked me the above question, but I wanted to give a shout out to everyone who has followed me either on Twitter or Facebook. Because I’ve been a little quiet lately.

Novels

Presently we are all waiting … pining … seething with anticipation for the release of my next novel. It is called The Dramatic Dead and I am so stoked I could almost cry. Expect it to come out, with major fanfare, sometime around the 15th of April. The graphic artist is finishing her work and I am obsessing over the back cover.

My present work in progress is called Crimson Tassels and is set in an area of the country I grew up in. It is really coming along well. It still has a long way to go before it can be considered a novel, but it is getting there.

No Name, is out there in the world to read, if you haven’t I would highly suggest it. I do have a whimsical plan to release a second edition. There are things in the story line I have never been one-hundred percent happy with and I might go back and fix it.

Blog Series

Haley the Space Assassin is a hoot to write. I notice, every time I put the next episode out, I get more and more followers. It is still something I do for fun, but I have now accumulated half a novels worth of words. I may decide to take the first 40K and release it as a novella at some point.  I literally am writing the story line during the 30 minutes I take to eat my lunch during the day.

Speaking of Haley, I am still looking for someone to do a drawing for me. I need a hand drawing of Haley the Space Assassin. If you are interested in sketching something up for me, contact me and I can tell you what I think she looks like. I can’t promise you anything other than my gratitude. But, if the novel does get published, I can promise you that I’ll use the final version somewhere in my novel or novella.

Website

Yes, I said it. Website! Next month (April 2016) you will see the launch of bryannowak.com. On it you will find my latest offerings and other things of interest. No link to my blog yet, but that will come. I have to do some research into how to make that happen.

Politics

I am presently politically agnostic! You will not here anything good or bad from me on any candidate for the President of the United States. Why? Well, because, my dear friends, I am not willing to commit literary suicide by turning my readers off. Liberal or Conservative I write for you! But also, there is so much garbage (most of it lies or half-truths anyway) that you really don’t need me adding to it. So, I am throwing my support for that one person who is presently or may possibly run in the near future. I did briefly consider trying to resurrect the Presidential Candidacy of Ralph Wiggum.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

Haley the Space Assassin, Episode 8: Something Rotten on Platform Zeta Seven

As The Splendid Two reached the outer approach beacon, the screen flashed with an incoming communication. Haley hit the accept button on the console and on the screen appeared an image of something which could best be described as a Venus fly trap with five human arms.

“What the hell is that?” she said, reflexively.

“I might ask the same thing of you. Don’t be rude, Earthling,” the thing said. Its flytrap-like mouth moving in response.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I’ve never seen someone like you before. I mean, to say is …”

“She’s charming Trelax, where can I get one? Ha ha ha.” The way the thing laughed sounded like it was reading from cue cards.

“Nice to see you again Captain Flotz. Haley, meet Port Captain Flotz.”

“Yes, ehem … back to business if you don’t mind. Please relinquish control for docking.” Captain Flotz was all business.

She suddenly remembered that all space ports require port docking to be done by one of their own personnel. Allowing control and movement of only a few ships at a time prevented any accidents where the space port would be found financially liable. It also allowed the ports to gouge the vessels with port insurance, port fees, Captains fees, and other fees that were unexplainable by any rational measure.

Flashing on the Navigator’s Panel was an icon.

Captain Flotz

She hit the ‘YES’ icon and suddenly her controls greyed out. A new message advised her that she could regain control by filling out the required forms and filing them with the front office; however, additional fees applied.

“Seems somewhat bureaucratic if you ask me.”

“Oh, you have no idea. Flotz is from a race of super intelligent, but overly bureaucratic people. And yes, before you ask, they all look like that.”

Finding herself with little to do, she learned forward in her chair, pushing her navigators console out of the way. Trazhidoria Space Port, as it was called, was not really a space port at all. It was actually a collection of maybe five hundred smaller space ports. She seemed to remember studying the great unionization of space ports a thousand years ago, which forced the smaller outfits to either go out of business, or set up shops in far flung reaches of the galaxy.

It was functional, but not terribly pretty. As they approached the main part of the complex, she saw ships moving in all directions. Undoubtedly all at the control of Captain Flotz, or someone of his ilk.

Flying past a dock, she saw bunch of creatures get out of a ship that looked like it might have started life as a sheep dog. Three creatures, which looked like melted plastic soldiers, slithered out of the thing and started communicating with another humanoid creature holding a clip board.

As she watched several other ships zipping from one part of the port to another, she marveled at the things going on. It was, from one perspective, a ball of chaos but there was something supremely organized about it all. It was exciting.

“There we are, platform Zeta Seven,” Trelax pointed to a landing platform in the distance.

It wasn’t much to look at. The entire platform was gun-deck grey. There were three crates sitting on top of the platform. A quick review of the other platforms revealed they all the same exact three crates sitting on them too. Kind of an odd coincidence, she thought.

“Trelax, what’s in those crates?”

“You know, I never really thought about it. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen them opened before.”

“Interesting. Aren’t you the least bit curious?”

“Nope, I just want to check into the suite, get some dinner, and gamble with my dad’s money.”

“Trelax, you’re such a big kid.”

Haley could hear the landing gear of The Splendid Two extend beneath them.

A few bursts from their thrusters, and Captain Flotz brought them down carefully to the dock.

Descending the ship’s gang-plank, a door opened in the wall opposite them. Haley recognized the small woman who came through the door from the conversation Trelax had with her on the bridge. It was Zhiara, the manager of the spaceport. Two men followed, at a respectful distance, behind her. One carrying a tool box and the other a clip board.

“Trelax, my favorite Bagorian son!”

“Zhiara, so wonderful to see you.”

“So, what are you doing to my ship here. She looks a little rough for the ware. Let’s see if we can’t fix her up for you, huh? And Haley, my dear, you are too lovely of a girl to be hanging around with this sorry sack of Bagorian.”

“Thank you so much, how nice to meet you in the flesh.”

“You’re too kind sweetie,” Zhiara said.

“Well, we had a bit of a run in with Dalrin. Haley here, gave him a black eye for it. I want her to have full station privileges. Anything she wants is to be charged back to the ship. All repairs I want to charge to my dad’s account with a little note.”

“Okay, and what note is that?”

“Forward all charges to Dalrin.”

“Haley, I’m not sure what you have done to this playboy, but I think I like the affect your having on him. Dalrin isn’t going to like that.”

“It is my sincerest hope that he doesn’t.”

“Say, as long as we are charging things to Dalrin, can you change the navigator’s seat on the bridge?” Haley, pointed back to the ship.

“Sure, why?”

“Not to offend, but that seat was made for a massive Bagorian behind, not mine.”

Zhiara laughed at her candor. “Okay, will do.”

Trelax walked off with the guy who was carrying the clipboard. She could see that they were talking about repairs and structural things on the ship. “Oh yeah, one other thing. Can you check into our stuck engineering door? It won’t open and the door seems to be locked.”

There was a sudden flash of panic in Zhiara’s eyes. The comment had, struck a nerve.

“Engineering door … which engineering door?”

“A3A-4, I believe it was.”

“I’ll look into it. One piece of advice, Haley, be careful where you poke your nose around. Some things are really not your business.” Zhiara seemed suddenly cold and distant.

Haley had definitely struck a particular nerve. That flash of panic had turned to a momentary look of anger. There was something special about that door and Haley had a feeling Zhiara knew something about it. Haley decided she was going to make it her mission to find out what it was. “My business? Well, I’m the named First Mate and navigations officer.”

Zhiara’s demeanor suddenly changed. “I mean, with the engineering is all. Don’t worry, I’ll look into the stuck door. Just leave the engineering to me. I have people for that. Really, it is below your station on the ship to go tinkering around. When you leave our fair sector of the galaxy, I’ll have you Ship-shape and Bristol fashion, as you earthlings say.”

Haley got the impression she was being talked to by Zhirara. “Sure, absolutely. I mean, what would little ole’ me know about variable positronic thrust engines anyway?” She quickly walked away, glancing over her shoulder to see a shocked look on Zhiara’s face. She assumed Haley was dumb, an assumption Haley was itching to disapprove.

“Oh, also add a new sensor array. This one is old and I know they have some new upgrades. And remember, we pay for it and then a bill needs to be sent to Dalrin.” Trelax pointed to the array on the top of the ship.

“Seriously, Trelax, why can’t you two get along.” Zhiara had rejoined them. “You two have been kicking sand at each other for as long as I can remember.

“He did damage the ship, Zhiara, he deserves to pay. But really, Trelax, what is your beef with that guy?” Haley asked.

“C’mon, let’s let them work. We’ll go get something to eat, and I’ll tell you the story.” Trelax pointed to the door Zhiara and the men had entered from.

Walking through the doors to the main part of the space station, the world of Trazhadoria opened up. It looked like the coolest mall Haley had ever seen. While the docking pads outside were full of ships, the inside was cavernous and filled with shops, casinos, and hotels. It had hundreds of decks going either direction. The sides had been optimized for businesses of very type. Trelax explained that if you wanted to buy a whole new space craft, you could simply walk into a store and it would be waiting for you the next day. You could then go into another business, dubiously called, Papers and Things, and get a new fake registration. You could also buy, for you and your entire crew, new identities. And, speaking of crew, you could walk into the Delerium Spacebar and have a whole new crew. But, Trelax warned, you could also get your throat cut in there too. In Trazhidoria you could show up one day, fake your death the next, and fly out with a whole new identity the next morning.

They entered a place which was built to look like a stateroom on an early ocean going vessel, but it was larger than that. The walls were all wooden and the lights and metal work were all in a brass. Although it reminded Haley of a pirate ship, the waiters were all dressed in formal wear.

“Good evening Sir, the usual table for one?”

“Good evening, no. Tonight my First Mate and I are dining together.”

The creature, visibly shocked by Haley’s presence, brought them to a table in the corner where they were away from the other people.

“You should try the Bagorian rum, it kicks like an Earth mule, but tastes like heaven in a glass.” Trelax said.

“No thanks, I’ll just stick with some tea.” She said to the waiter. “Besides, I have to go to the ship later. I forgot something. So, what’s the deal with you and Dalrin anyway? If we’re going to be blown to space dust because you two have a school yard pissing contest going on, I want to get off this ride sooner rather than later.”

“Dalrin, what an ass. Don’t worry, he’d never blow up The Splendid Two, that’s what he really wants.”

“Why’s that?”

“The power really.”

“I’m confused. Explain. What power? The ship has no weapons on-line, it’s actually a repurposed freighter. Granted, it has some sweet upgrades, but it’s really not anything to write home about. So, why is he so hard-up to take something of yours?”

“You’re looking at it the wrong way. He’s not really out to hurt me specifically. It’s the ship that’s important. See, years ago there was a great war for control of the underworld. Lots of factions fought over it. I wasn’t even born yet. My great grandfather was just a baby when it happened. There were five principle families involved. Three of those families have essentially withered into nothing. Their empires were taken over by the remaining families in the galaxy.”

The waiter brought Haley her tea, which smelled heavenly. “So, let me guess, the two families remaining were Bagorian and Tal-Severn?”

“Exactly. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. You see, when the five families were vying for power, it almost broke the galaxy in half. I’ll tell you a secret. You remember the dinosaurs? Of course not, no one has ever seen one. You know why? A guided missile went … unguided. Slammed into Earth. Sorry about your dinosaurs, Earth.

“But I digress. So the five families almost tore the galaxy in two. They met, in secret, to discuss the matter. Everyone wanted control of the galaxy, but no one wanted to rule over a destroyed galaxy so a compromise was reached. They would share the Galactic Order. Every five years control would switch. All of the information from their predecessor would be uploaded onto the databanks of a special ship. Which was outfitted for command of the order.”

“Okay, wild guess, The Splendid One?”

“Correct. After it was down to just the two families, this arrangement carried on. Control passing from one to the other every five years, like clockwork. Until about a hundred years ago. I was just a kid then. The Tal-Severn crime syndicate decided they wanted it all for themselves. Well, you can imagine my dad didn’t think too kindly of that. But, he decided to give into their demands for the moment, for the sake of galactic tranquility. He sent them all invitations to a formal ceremony cementing their uncontested leadership of the Galactic Order. Even had a new Splendid One built. Then he rigged their engines to catastrophically overheat. Ooops.”

“Dalrin’s parents were on-board?”

“Yep, and now he is the theoretical head of the Tal-Severn Syndicate. But it isn’t what they once were. Without his parents to run things, it fell into hard times. Once they had over a thousand ships. Now they only have about three hundred. Most of them are smuggling vessels. He has no real leadership skills and no one respects him. The Tal-Severn follow him because the last time he had a significant temper tantrum, he started a war. It killed a quarter of their people. Essentially they follow him out of fear.”

“Okay, so that explains why he hates you, but why does he want The Splendid Two?”

“See, The Splendid One is really the figure head of the Galactic Order. If you control it, you control the entire galactic crime syndicate. However, The Splendid Two is a good thing to have as well. The ships are linked. We essentially work as a traveling relay station. The outposts and affiliated organizations send data through us to The Splendid One.

“So, whomever controls The Splendid Two could theoretically control the flow of information in both directions?”

“See Haley, this is why I knew you would be a great First Mate.”

Haley Raised up her cup in a toast. “To us then!”

“To us then!” Trelax raised his cup in response.

The dinner, she had to admit, was excellent. Surprising, given Trelax ordered something which looked like a living jello mold which seemed to scream every time he took a bite.

Leaving the restaurant, she excused herself, and told him she would meet him back at the suite. There was something she needed to do.

She snuck her way back to the ship. Ducking behind the pile of boxes on the landing platform, she hid as people were coming down the gangplank of the ship. It was Zhiara and another man, she hadn’t seen before. They were deep in a serious conversation.

“So, you’re sure you can take care of this problem?”

“Yes Maam, I promise it shall be done. But, I have to ask, what happened to Dalrin?”

“He’s a putz, as stupid as he is unimaginative. I told him I needed that ship if he was going to have any chance of taking out The Chiny’ll. He had Trelax in his sights, but he chose to just babble like an idiot.”

“Well, Zhiara, then why not just kill Trelax and be done with it?”

“We need him for now. If we kill him here, his father will be suspicious. Besides, the Earth girl complicates things. She was asking about the engineering section. I can’t have her figuring out what we are up to. I want her taken care of. Make it look like an accident.”

Haley swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. She just witnessed a hit taken out on her life. She had only been off Earth a short while, and now she had to deal with something like this. Way to fail hard, Haley. She needed to get back to Trelax and tell him everything she’d heard.

But first, she needed to get into that engineering section to see what was really going on there. As soon as the coast was clear, she climbed aboard The Splendid Two.

Book Review: Dark Winter, The Wicca Circle

Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle (Dark Winter, #1)Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle by John Hennessy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently read Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle by John Hennessey. Anyone who knows me for any length of time knows I love character building. To me that is the most important aspect of any book. John Hennessey sort of threw me for a loop in this book because I really felt it was his world building which dominated the narrative. He is a master at it.

The woods are used as a frequent location for much of the action and in my head I can see the woods, feel the cold of winter, see the cliff at the end of the woods. I can see the two cabins in the woods. When the girls go into the antagonist’s house, I can see the house. It is really well done. There is a decrepit church and cemetery in the story which I could see in my mind’s eye. He took me on a journey of the senses that’s what any good author should do.

John is good at what I hope to be good at. He makes you feel creepy in parts of the story where you need to feel that way. When the main character is in the antagonist’s house and she feels the rats biting at her, it did creep me out considerably and delightfully. This is, in my humble opinion, what good writers should be able to do in horror. The reason we read such stories is because we want to feel uncomfortable!

Now, if there was one thing that I will deduct points on it was that I got a little lost in the narrative once or twice. It can be frustrating when you aren’t entirely sure where you are in the story line. But I never got so lost that I felt like giving up on the book. The end of the story is well worth the rides occasional bumps.

So, the million-dollar question. Will I read the second book in the series? Absolutely I will!

View all my reviews

Haley the Space Assassin, Episode 7: Trazhadoria Space Port

Haley reclined in the navigator’s chair. For the first time she noticed how large it was, being that it was designed for a large Bagorian, and not for her slight frame. Outside the ship, space slipped by in silence. Trelax sat in his captain’s chair, the ship on autopilot, playing a game of Bagorian chess with Carl. She wondered if anyone had ever explained to him the futility of playing a computer based game with a computer.

Closing her eyes and relaxing for a moment, letting the moment of silence wash over her, something else washed over her. It was a smell. Worse, it was a foul smell. A smell that wasn’t just simply bad, but intolerable.

“Trelax, what’s that smell?”

“Oh, yeah, that’d be you,” he said. He moved his king to avoid check mate.

“No, that can’t be me.”

“Pardon me for saying so Haley, but an analysis of your olfactory glands indicates the odor is definitely coming from you. Might I suggest a shower?” Mike the computer seemed unusually plucky for a computer that just told a woman she stunk.

“Oh my God, Mike!” She was more irritated that he did an analysis of her olfactory glands than the insinuation that she stunk. The clothes she was wearing were so filthy, they could probably stand on their own. She was mortified. “Wait, so everyone knew I smelled bad and no one thought to bring it up in a conversation? You know, like, ‘Hey, Haley, you may want to take a shower. You smell like a garbage truck.’”

Trelax made another move to counter Carl. “Well, you know Haley, I’m a Bagorian and my threshold is pretty high when it comes to anything smelling bad. Mike is programed only to analyze overall health and he is only going to say something if it is life threatening. Carl has no analysis module so he’d never know the difference.”

“Not entirely true,” Carl chimed in. “I would notice if the bed sheets were unusually soiled, but it would not make any difference to me really.”

Trelax nodded. “So basically, none of us care.”

“Okay, new rule. As long as I am part of this crew, you tell Haley when she is stinking up the place. Alright?”

“Okay,” they all answered in monotonous unison.

“Wow, it is like being stuck in a house with three brothers. I’m going to take a shower.”

As she left she heard Trelax say, “Wow, human women are kind of loud, aren’t they?”

As she stomped down the passageway towards her quarters she realized something about her clothes. Mostly that she had no extra clothes. It was probably a good guess that Trelax didn’t keep a set of stylish women’s fashions aboard. Based on the condition of his room, it wasn’t likely he had any interest in fashion at all.

“Oh crap,” she said.

Suddenly the annunciator panel lit up. “Something wrong Haley?” Carl said.

“Well, yes, I don’t suppose there are any women’s clothes onboard are there?” In the back of her mind she realized there had to be clothes somewhere. It wasn’t likely Trelax wore the same thing every day. But, then again, he was Bagorian. They were not known for their fancy clothing.

“Why would there be?”

“Good point. I realize now that I have nothing to wear.”

“Well, what I mean is, we have no clothes on board at all. I make everything myself.”

“Really, you can do that?”

“Absolutely, you give me thirty minutes and you’ll be looking good. You give me an hour and you’ll be amazing them in Paris.”

“Come on Carl, you’ve never been to Paris.”

“True, but I watch a lot of earth television.”

“So, how do we do this?”

“You go take a shower and I’ll access Mikes scans of your body. When you get done with your shower I’ll have a complete set based on your specific size.”

“No kidding? That’s kind of the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.” She took off her shirt and bra, throwing them into a pile on the floor. “You can just throw those away, Carl.”

“You were in them for a week, I was thinking the incinerator.” Two mechanical hands came out of the wall to retrieve her old clothes.

A few moments later she was in the shower. She found everything she needed. There were even fluffy towels in a warming rack in the bathroom. Washing her hair, the third time, she suddenly had an uncomfortable feeling. It was like someone was watching her. That was when she heard Trelax.

“Haley, do Earthlings always take such long showers?”

Haley let out a loud scream and covered herself as best she could while trying to avoid getting soap into her eyes. Trelax, Carl, and Mike were watching her shower from the bridge. “Trelax, what the hell are you doing!”

“Oh sorry, did I scare you?”

“No Trelax. You can’t just watch someone shower. It’s creepy and wrong.”

“It’s my ship, I can do what I want.”

“Telax!” Haley’s eyes pierced through the video screen at him.

“Under the circumstances, Trelax,” Mike interrupted, “it might be best if we do avoid bothering her while she is in the shower. You know, domestic tranquility and all.”

Trelax rolled his eyes at the computer panel. “Fine, naked humans are kind of gross anyway.”

The screen went dead. Haley finished her shower, all while keeping a much closer eye on the screen.

Stepping back into her quarters, on the bed, she saw a brand new spread of clothes. The set was laid out as if being presented for her approval. She picked up each piece and looked it over. It was amazing. Carl really had some latent fashion tendencies. In that short time, he made her a pair of jeans, tank top, leather jacket, a pair of what looked like biker boots, and a holster for a plasma pistol. Everything matched. More importantly, everything fit perfectly.

“Carl, this stuff is amazing!”

“It’s my pleasure. It’s nice to make different things for a change. I got inspired.”

“Well, Carl, consider me your muse then. Anytime you want to make me something you just go right ahead.”

Making her way out of her quarters, she decided to do some exploring before going back to the bridge. About half way around the large u-shaped corridor that made up the main passage-way of the ship, she saw another, smaller, corridor that bisected the ship.

At the end of that hall, she came to a door marked simply, “Engineering/A3A-4”. The door, unlike the others, didn’t open automatically when she approached and its mechanical release appeared to be locked.

“Carl, can you open this door please?”

“I’m sorry Haley, what door are you referring to?”

“This door Carl, the one I’m standing in front of.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t see any door in front of you.”

“Carl, are you still day dreaming about making clothes? I’m standing in front of a door. It’s marked Engineering/A3A-4.”

“How may I be of assistance, Haley?”

“What? You can open the door Carl.”

“I’m sorry Haley, what door are you referring to?”

Carl not only seemed to have lost his mind, but he also took on an uncharacteristic monotone. It was like he had become a recording of himself. Granted, she only knew these guys for a short time, but Mike and Carl were pretty friendly for computer programs. They were the ship’s rock and foundation. So if something was the matter with either one of them, that would be disconcerting.

“Carl, where am I standing?”

“Haley, you are in your quarters, room C4D-1.”

Now she knew something was very wrong. He thought she was standing in a completely different part of the ship. Potentially worse than that, he seemed confused about the existence of this room. Secrets were bad in general, but could prove downright lethal on a space ship.

“Carl, are their sections of the ship which are off limits to me?”

“Upon leaving Splendid One, The Chiny’ll gave order number 315, giving you full access to The Splendid Two. So no, you have full access to the ship.”

Haley made her way back down the hall to the main corridor. There had to be an explanation for this. Why would you have a room on the ship that the computer didn’t even know about. Yet another puzzle to be solved. Maybe she could find some old engineering drawings to look at.

Entering the bridge, she saw someone talking to Trelax on the screen. “That should be no problem Trelax. You can land on platform Zeta Seven. I’ll meet you with a few technicians and we can assess the damage.”

“Thank you so much Zhiara. Oh, by the way, let me introduce my new navigator and tactical officer, Haley. Haley, this is Zhiara, the best fringe mechanic in the galaxy.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Zhiara.”

“I’m honored, Haley. You are both to be my guests tomorrow night at dinner.” The way she said it made it seem like less of a request than an order.

“Thank you so much, your hospitality overwhelms.” Trelax looked a little uncomfortable accepting her offer.

“Zhiara out.” The video screen went blank.

“Zhiara does the best work in the galaxy on ships preferring to remain … hidden. But I want to stress this, I don’t trust her.”

“Why? Is she a spy, or murderer? Or worse, a space assassin?” She laughed as she looked over at Trelax.

“Really funny. No, worse than any of those, she’s a close friend of my father. Nice duds, by the way. Carl must like you. All my clothes come out looking like this.”

“Captain Trelax,” Carl suddenly appeared on a monitor. “I have told you a million times, you need to tell me what you want if you want some variety.”

“Did you just call me, Captain Trelax?” Trelax laughed.

“Seeing how we are actually more of a real crew now, I thought I’d try it out for once.”

Haley thought about it for a moment. Part of a crew. Granted, maybe the oddest crew in the galaxy, but she had to admit, they had their charms.

On the screen Trelax called up an image of their destination. To her it looked a little like wedding cake and a toaster had a baby.

“Haley, I’m more than proud to introduce, Trazhadoria Space Port. The closest thing to heaven you can get while you’re still breathing!”