WarSpell Space Race – Snippet 05

“If you set your goal to try to make a better mousetrap, you generally get a better mousetrap and not that much else. Try to measure the age of the universe and mostly what you’re going to find out is how old the universe is. But try to put a girl on the moon and there are hundreds of problems to solve. Solve one of those problems, find another, solve it, and the solutions to one have to fit with the solutions to the others. That means black boxes that you can plug in and they do their job without screwing up all the other black boxes. When you’re done, you not only have a girl on the moon, you have a whole load of black boxes that can be plugged into all sorts of systems. Now, add in magic, a whole new type of energy that we understand about as well as a seventeenth-century sailor understood the wind.”

Lanai’s entire body felt eager, almost ready to jump up and fly. “What we’re looking at is a new industrial revolution, and I can’t think of a better way to jump start it than a project like this.”

“Why doesn’t that work with mouse traps or the age of the universe?”

“Because the mouse trap doesn’t have to put the dead mouse in the trash. So it’s not affected by the trash can. Nor does it affect the trash can. But the air supply on a spaceship is affected by the water system and the food system and the waste disposal system. And they’re all affected by the acceleration and the radiation and so on and so forth.” 

Location: Le Filippe, San Francisco, California

Time: 1:35 PM, January 8

It was a cold and blustery day even in California as Jerry fidgeted in his seat. He looked out the window at the gray sky and worried. “I hope she gets here soon. I hope she says yes.”

Tim nodded. “I do too. If Honey Abrams can be convinced, then with Dodger’s money, we can do this . . . I’m not thrilled that our dreams rest on the judgment of one of Dodger’s bimbos, but any chance is better than none.”

Jerry looked over at Tim. There were changes in Tim since the Merge. He was easier around people and it wasn’t practiced. So when he came out with a Tim-ism–the sort of thing Tim would say before the Merge–it caught Jerry a little by surprise. Tim must be even more nervous than he’d thought. 

A stir at the front of the restaurant drew their attention. Their mouths fell open a bit as Honey Abrams and three other women headed for the table. “We’re going to need a bigger table,” Honey told the waiter. “There are six of us, not three.”

The waiter looked a bit desperate, but wasn’t about to argue with the women in front of him. He was clearly a bit stunned. “I’ll see what I can do. Give me a moment.”

It didn’t take long. The waiter quickly moved another table into position and rearranged the place settings. When everyone was settled, he took their drink orders and left, still open-mouthed. With good reason, Jerry felt. He recognized all three of the other women. He’d had their pictures as screen savers off and on for years.

“Gerian Mason.” Tim nodded to the redhead. She’d always been one of his favorites. “As beautiful in person as I ever dreamed you would be. And Lanai Jones. And Cheri Stewart. I am honored that you would all join us today. But I do wonder why.”

Jerry was sitting frozen, stunned by the women surrounding him. It was a pity that he merged with Freedric the Incompetent, another nerd, instead of the bard Tim got. Caught by surprise, Jerry tended to show all the grace and style of a fourteen-year-old caught with his pants around his ankles.

Honey smiled. “It’s a go, gentlemen. I’ll do it. I told Dodger that last night. But there are some conditions. These ladies, friends of mine, have talents we’re going to need. Lanai merged with a priest, Cheri with a natural wizard and Gerian with a book-wizard. All at least in the middle levels. We’ll be working with them.”

Jerry thought he might have died and gone to heaven. Four beautiful women. Working with them every day. On a spaceship. Life couldn’t get much better than that. Now if only he could get his tongue untied.

His hopes crumbled a bit, though, when Gerian looked at him. “I’ve got an aerospace background too. And I’m the highest level Merge at this table. So why do we need you?”

Tim spoke up smoothly, before Jerry could get defensive. “Contacts. We’ve got contacts in the industry, people who have worked on this for years. You don’t.”

Jerry gulped a bit. “And you may have the education, but you haven’t worked in the field. We’d have met if you did. At the least we would have known about each other’s work. Certainly, you would have been mentioned.”

Gerian smiled. “Not going to let me intimidate you, Jerry? Good. We’ll need to work together on this. Now, what’s our first step?”

“The first thing we do,” Honey said, “is set up the company. Then we’ll need to find the people we need, sign contracts, all that stuff. Find a place to work, come up with a design.”

Location: Home of A. Dujarié, San Francisco, California

Time: 8:27 PM, January 20

Normally, Artemis Dujarié would as soon have done this in a boardroom. Cocktail parties and serious business didn’t fit together that well, in his mind. Schmoozing investors, that was cocktail party stuff, not contract signings. But Honey wanted it this way, and what the hell. He liked her. There was a sharp mind hidden under the “bimbo” style she affected. So he’d agreed, this once.

His living space was full of beautiful women–not a bad side effect of having agreed to this. Honey Abrams turned out to have more contacts than he’d have expected, thanks to that little sorority from her centerfold days. It was surprising what those beautiful girls went on to accomplish, in many cases with the money they’d been paid for those pictures. Apparently a great deal of it went to further their educations.

Lanai Jones, there. Gorgeous, that woman. With a doctorate in environmental systems. Gerian Mason, with a degree in aeronautics. Cheri Stewart, the tiny Cajun with a faint French accent, a medical doctor, fresh out of her residency in athletic medicine. And the others who wanted into this project. Who would have thought it, Dodger mused. Who knew the sheer number of young women who dreamed of space and were prepared to put up nearly every dime they could scrape up to buy into the company that would give them a shot at it?

Andrea Elliott, beautiful, blond and a mechanical engineer. She wasn’t a centerfold, but once did a Girls of Cal Tech photo spread. She called Frank after word of the project got out. So did Susannah Cordoba, yet another blond, and a CPA. Still others, a few men as well. And each of them bought into the company with a minimum of $100,000 or some necessary skill, for the opportunity. This was going to work, Dodger thought. With this kind of talent and determination, it would almost have to work. So. Time to sign contracts. Contracts that gave him thirty-five percent of “Space Exploration Corp,” which some of the girls were already calling S.Ex. Corp. Not unreasonable, Dodger thought, since most of the investors were pictured with a metaphorical staple in their belly buttons at least once. In a way, it was a good thing that they weren’t taking themselves too seriously. Besides, it didn’t hurt to have the competition underestimate you, as these ladies knew full well.

* * *

“Well, yeah, probably.” Jerry waved a hand holding a flute of champagne. “It’s where most of the people who know this stuff are. Not now, I know that, but soon.”

“Eyew.” Honey wrinkled her nose as she examined the table of canapes, but it wasn’t the canapes that offended. It was the notion of moving to Houston, Texas. “Move to Houston? Why should we do that?”

Tim grinned. “Contacts, for one thing. We have a lot of contacts in NASA. We used to work there, after all. It’s kind of a brotherhood, like you and the other women. Not to mention, that’s where the astronauts are. We’ll need some, sooner or later. Also equipment, like rocket engines and air locks.”

Jerry nodded. “The other thing is that everything is cheaper there. Labor, rent, taxes, all of it. I’m not saying we have to do it now, Honey, but we’ll have to do it sooner or later. You may as well start planning it.”

Honey wrote herself a note. Investigate moving to Houston.

“All right. Who’s next?”

Lanai Jones spoke up. “We’ve got two new investors, Honey, if we want them. A natural wizard and a priest, both fifteenth-level and space nuts. And you can thank Andrea and Cheri for them.”

Cheri’s laugh was an explosive laugh for such a small person. “You betcha. Who knew? There we were, having nails, hair and makeup done over at de shop, talking about de ship. And Gary, he pops up. ‘I’m a fifteenth-level wizard, Cher,’ he says. ‘And my Donny, he got a priest. And we want to go to space, always have.’ So, I tol’ him about us and he wants in.” Cheri dropped her accent for a moment and her eyes sparkled. “I always knew I was tipping those boys too much. I’m a little surprised by it, but they’ve got about $125,000 between them and they want in.”

Honey shrugged. “Well, their this world skills may not be much use, but the Merged skills are going to come in handy I expect. Any objections?”

Gerian Mason grinned. “Now, Honey. You know as well as I do that a good hairdresser shouldn’t be wasted. And if we wind up in Houston, we’ll need these two. They’re wizards with hair and makeup, and were even before the Merge.”