Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pandora Post #10

Title: Pandora

Part Ten: For Posterity

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy:) There’s now a page on my blog where you can find all the previous posts without hunting around. Yes, I’m a giver.

Three weeks of final preparations gave Garrett plenty of time to question his own judgment when it came to accepting Jezria’s offer, but fortunately he was too busy to consider it much. The lab was being whipped into shape and stocked with several years’ worth of supplies, and luckily for all of them transport issues kept Martina’s ire facing outward, not at her own employees.

Most of the scientists were friendly enough, but Garrett could already tell that apart from a few standouts, he wasn’t going to be socializing much with this group outside of working hours. They treated him with a wary sort of respect, not because of his qualifications, which were good but not exceptional, but because everyone had found out fairly quickly who he was related to, and that instantly diminished their ease with him. Lila didn’t seem to care, and Shekar, her lovelorn shadow, followed where she led, but apart from the two of them and Martina people were pretty reserved. Friendly nods and envious glances at his expensively ergonomic chair were the most he ever got by the time their departure was imminent

All this meant that Garrett felt more keenly the distance between himself and his family back on Paradise. He had expected to miss them. He hadn’t expected the unaccountable sense of longing he got for Paradise, however. Not the planet itself, really, but the locations he was most familiar with: the Governor’s Mansion, the barracks, Wyl and Robbie’s living room and the terrace overlooking the city. He called them more often than he thought he would, and he was always a little surprised that they could take the time to talk with him.

At least Claudia and Wyl usually could. Miles and Robbie were still in the throes of investigating the explosion at the warehouse, as well as dealing with upcoming parliamentary elections. Claudia called Garrett at least as often as he called her, and they ended up spending hours on the video comms just chatting. Claudia talked about her budding vineyard and Garrett amused her with stories of his new boss.

He and Wyl talked a few times a week, occasionally when Robbie was around but mostly when he was out in the field. Wyl tried not to worry, but Garrett was an expert at worry and he saw right through it.

“Where is he this time?”

“Maneuvers.” Wyl was lying on the couch in his living room, stomach down, head resting on his folded arms. He didn’t have a shirt on. Garrett reminded himself that Wyl wasn’t trying to look so disgustingly sexy on purpose, and refocused on what he was saying. “I don’t even fucking know what “maneuvers” means.”

“Field exercises. The rehearsal of military missions without actual combat.”

“Naturally you know.” Wyl sighed and pushed his hair out of his eyes. “They’ve been going at it gung-ho lately. Apparently they have to prepare for a zillion different types of attack during elections.”

“Better safe,” Garrett said with a shrug. “I’d rather have them fuck up someplace where no one could get hurt than out in the field. My dad was part of a unit once that lost over half its soldiers because someone gave a moron who wasn’t properly field-tested a plasma grenade launcher to use. Idiot forgot to activate the safety, then accidentally set the thing to automatic fire. It was a dumb design for him to be able to fuck it up so completely, but still, he should never have had it in the first place.”

“Holy shit. Did he off himself too?”

“No. He lived.” And was subsequently subjected to one of the most brutal court-martials in the history of the Federation. “You see Claudia much?”

“A lot more lately. She’s starting to show a bit. I think your dad is kind of freaking out.”

“I figured he would.”

“I think he misses you, Gare.”

There wasn’t much Garrett could say to that, so he changed the subject.

The night before the Neptune was set to leave with all its hopeful, harried colonists, the Senate of Olympus threw a celebratory going-away extravaganza. Garrett read it as a “Go-be-difficult-somewhere-else” party, but he got an invitation the same as everyone even tangentially associated with the Pandora Project, not just the people who were shipping out.

He convinced himself in a matter of about two seconds that he had no interest in going. There would be thousands of people packed into the docking bay of the Neptune, bland mass food and dull mass music and decorations that couldn’t make the environment any more banal but would probably try. Instead he went to his living quarters, where the walls were now covered with photo-realistic cloth, and thought about watching a movie. The cloth was projecting a picture he’d taken on a job on Dune, and his room felt very cave-like as a result, grays and blues and blacks blending into the twinkling colors of far-off crystal formations.

A light on his countertop control panel was blinking. It was a light he hadn’t seen before, and it flickered on and off with a merry insistence. Garrett leaned over and activated the alert.

Package in holding. Deliver now?
 A package? He wasn’t expecting anything. Everything he’d paid for himself so far had mostly been for the lab or carted into his apartment and set up immediately. He checked the address. Paradise.

“Fine, deliver now.” Garrett thumbed the deliver button and waited. A few moments later a small box thumped into his receiver. It was the same system they used to send food from the mobile mess, and he wasted a few moments wondering just how sanitary that was before pulling out the box and undoing the clasps holding the top on. Garrett looked inside, did a double take, checked the included note and groaned. “For fuck’s sake.” He turned and marched over to his video comm and punched in Robbie and Wyl’s number, not caring what time it was there.

It rang. It rang some more. Finally Wyl activated the call, appearing sleep-rumpled and pissed off as the lights in his living room slowly brightened. “Gare, what the hell?”

“Do I look like an adolescent girl to you?”


Garrett rolled his eyes. “A diary, Wyl? Seriously?”

“It’s an interactive holographic recording journal and personal planning tool,” Wyl corrected him. Garrett’s discomposure was obviously amusing to him, and he started to smile. “Top of the line.”

“Whatever. Why did you send it to me?”

“Because who are you gonna talk to on Pandora?” Wyl asked point-blank. “Who are you going to confide in? Who’s going to be your best friend, Gare? You need to talk shit out, and once you get into the fringe the time lag will be too much for you to talk to anyone here face to face. At least this way you can get it out somehow, even if you’re the only one who ever listens to it.” He yawned, then added, “Besides, it was Robbie’s idea.”

“I do have a social life, you know.”

“Yeah, and I know most of the people you work with won’t tell you “boo” and the only person who will is gonna be too busy to cater to your needs once things get going.” Wyl sighed. “Use it or don’t use it, man, just take it for what it is, okay? A concerned attempt to keep you from getting lonely.”

Garrett really, really wanted to say he didn’t need a fucking lame recording journal to act as his goddamn sounding board and that he wasn’t lonely, not one fucking bit, but he didn’t want to lie like that to Wyl’s face. “Robbie around?”

“More maneuvers.”

“Tell him thanks for me.”

Wyl grinned at Garrett’s capitulation. “I will. Now I’m going back to sleep. G’night.”

“Yeah, good night.” The comm switched off and Garrett swiveled his head back towards the box, then huffed and went over to it. He lifted the recorder out and examined it. It was nicer than most of the ones he’d seen, a small, compact metal disk equipped with a camera, sensors to detect where he was so it could record accurately, a black-out mode, touch activation so that the only person who could access it was him…he sighed. It was a toy for a goddamn adolescent girl, and he was going to use it because his fucking ex-boyfriend was an asshole who knew him way too well. He read the note again.

Don’t think about it, just use it. Trust me. Robbie.
 “Whatever.” Garrett fumed silently to himself even as he programmed the recorder to his personal specifications, finally setting it across from him on the counter and glaring as the holographic operator appeared. Following a sarcastic impulse he’d chosen a cartoon for his operator, a fluffy little creature with four long ears and goggle eyes. It wiggled its poofy little tail and tossed him a salute. “Ready to record?” it asked in a squeaky falsetto.

“Oh hell no,” Garrett muttered. “Recorder, lower vocal range to bass.”

There was a chime, the cartoon blurred for a moment and when it next spoke, the cute little creature sounded like it could have starred in a testosterone-driven action movie. “Ready to record?” it boomed.

“Better. Sure, why not. Record.”

“Journal record one, beginning.”

“Robbie, you are a piece of shit for sending this to me,” Garrett began. “I am not a child you need to hold by the hand and coddle as it takes its first fucking steps. I have plenty I could be doing apart from using a freaking holographic recorder to talk about my excruciatingly dull days, but now I’m obligated to use it because you and your damn boyfriend are double-teaming me. And not in the way I’d like.

“But fine, whatever. Dear diary, or journal, or planner. I’m peachy. We’re leaving tomorrow for Pandora, where if things continue as they’ve begun I can look forward to three years of an insane boss, meek coworkers and clean, wholesome, mind-fuckingly dull living. Half of me wants to kill Jezria and the other half makes me want to beg her to cancel my contract and let me go back to Paradise, or somewhere else. Anywhere else.

“But I won’t because I can dedicate myself to something and see it through, no matter what certain other people may think. I’ll do this and chock it up as a learning experience and use it to get sympathy fucks, not that I need sympathy fucks but god, I could really go for any kind of fuck right now.” He sighed. “I haven’t slept with another person in over a month. Wyl would ask if I was sick. There’s a thing tonight, which will probably be awful but is also likely the last chance I’m going to get to drink myself sick for a while, not to mention find a hook-up. In fact, with that in mind I should probably be getting my ass out there instead of wallowing in silence in my rooms, but it feels like doing penance. Plus I don’t have anything to wear.”

Garrett stopped, groaned and put his head in his hands. “Fuck, I am an adolescent girl.” He shut off the recorder, went back to his bathroom and started up his shower. If he was fast, he could be there in half an hour.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pandora Page

I said I'd do it, I finally did it.  It's not suave, but there is now a page here where you can find all of the Pandora posts to date, in order of arrival, without having to click around and hunt and curse me.  Yay for self improvement, however grudging!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chez Moi

We went for a hike on a plateau close to our town the other day and all I could think was, "Dude, alien landcape or Middle Earth?"  Because yes, I am a geek.  Still, it's totally different from my home in the states and I thought I would share some of that difference for those who haven't been to this part of Africa.  Raise your hands!

We're careening out of Harmattan and into hot season right now, so give it a month and everything will look like this.  In some places there is still greenery, though.

No Pandora update yet, but the next part will be a long one.  I should have new releases coming out in February, I'm working on Shadows and Light, I'm experimenting with collaborating on a fic, I finally finished my NaNoWriMo that's it.  Yeah.  'Bout all I've got going on in the fictional world right now. This is basically me just saying hi:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pandora Post #9

Title: Pandora

Part Nine: Into The Fire

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy The first parts can be found a few posts down.

Working in a lab was just like working in an office in some ways. There weren’t cubicles, but there were places where people were expected to keep their things, boundaries between projects and equipment and space used depending on the scientist’s standing and the importance of their work. A person needed to be polite moving into another person’s space. You didn’t just lay your hands all over their bio-reactor; you asked politely if you could examine the slides. Even your superiors played nice before they delved into your experiment. At least, that was how things normally went.

Garrett was escorted across half the damn ship by Officer Brady, spent another five minutes going through a ludicrous number of scans before getting into the central lab, and was then treated to the shrill scream of metal on metal, highlighted by an irritated alto. A lovely red-headed woman who looked like she’d be more comfortable sunning herself on a beach somewhere was unclamping and moving a laser set up of some kind, and haranguing the poor man standing a few feet back from her as she did so.

“—far too expensive for you to screw them up by running your heat source too close to the gels! How many times do I have to tell you, Alberts?”

“Andrews,” the man offered quietly.

“Whatever. Did I or did I not tell you this yesterday?”

“I was going to wait until the experiment was done before moving the equipment. I’ll have to recalibrate everything and—”

“And what? Give me your substandard data and ruin countless other experiments in the future because you were too lazy to keep your heat source from fouling the gels? Oh yes, that makes perfect sense.” She stopped pushing the massive laser and wheeled on the man. “I want your experiment up and running with proper calibrations before you leave this lab today. No excuses! If it takes all night, good, that may teach you a lesson about disregarding the guidelines of this lab in favor of expediency.”

Garrett moved a few more feet into the room, and the woman whirled on him like a dervish. The other man, Andrews, shrank back to his equipment and kept his head down as the woman found a new target.

“How the hell did you get in here?”


She blinked at him. “What?”

“Actually I used the doors.” Obviously, his snarky tone suggested.

“Yes, but how did you get the clearance to make it through the doors?”

“By being hired as an employee and given a card.”

“What?” She looked him up and down scornfully. “Please.” She stalked over and thrust a hand out for his badge. He gave it to her calmly and glanced around, meeting a few people’s incredulous eyes and smiling.

“Garrett Carac…Cataract…whatever. You’re my climatologist?”

Garrett arched an eyebrow. “You’re my boss?”

“Doctor Martina Sims, head scientist and engineer, and yes, I am your boss,” she snapped at him. “Even though I didn’t hire you. I don’t appreciate having pretty-boy dilettantes shoe-horned into my operation just because their daddies are friends with the morons on high.”

Damn. This woman had to be a hell of an engineer for Jezria to tolerate her. Garrett wanted to tell her exactly what she could do with her operation, but his innate diplomat reminded him that he’d signed a contract, he was here for three years and he had to find a way to get along with Doctor Martina Sims. “Where will I be working?”

Doctor Sims sighed loudly and handed his badge back. “Over here.” She turned on her heel and led him down the length of the lab, past a dozen staring eyes, and over to a small table. A ridiculously small table, with a ridiculously antique climate modeling unit collecting dust on top of it. “Right there,” she stated, and folded her arms challengingly.

Clearly no one had challenged her lately. Garrett, however, was about to do just that, because there was no way in hell he was working like this. “Impossible.”


“You couldn’t accurately model an asteroid’s climate with this piece of shit, much less a system of the size and scope of Pandora. Unless you want to set me up to fail and by doing so prove to your superiors just how incompetent a manager you are, while potentially putting the entire expedition at risk, you’re going to get me a better set-up.”

“Do you have any idea how much those cost?” she yelled, gesticulating angrily. “I have to supply equipment for physicists, chemists, biologists, and the medical team is constantly stealing from our budget, and I have to deal with idiots wasting gels and issues of stockpiling and—”

“If you want accurate climate modeling that could save hundreds of lives and millions of credits, you’ll get me a better system,” Garrett interrupted. “It’s that simple. You can’t hamstring a lab that will need to operate successfully in the fringe by trying to save money at the outset.”

Doctor Sims stared at Garrett. He stared back. She tapped her foot. He politely stifled a yawn behind his hand.

“I might be able to afford an M-series. Older M-series, mind you.”

“I want a T-series, at least, with all the attachments. Soil analyzer, water analyzer, the works.”

“Ridiculous,” she scoffed. “That’s half the budget for this entire lab! P-series, with the soil analyzer.”

“S-series, with all the attachments.”

“S-series, but no attachments. You can use the geologist’s analyzers.”

“Those will have a completely different operating system and it will be a huge pain in the ass to transmit data between the two. Unless you have a programmer on board who’s fluent in both languages and a genius at making them work together…no? I didn’t think so.”

She stared. He stared. She sighed. “Fine. S-series with attachments, but you’d better be worth the money, Doctor Caratac…whatever your name is.”

“Just call me Garrett,” he encouraged. “Much easier.” Doctor Sims rolled her eyes and turned to go. “And I want a better chair.”

She spun back. “Your chair is fine!”

“It’s a stool. No back, no arms. No support.”

“Would you prefer a bench? Because I’ve got a limited budget which, thanks to your extravagance, is now even smaller, and you seem to expect me to work miracles with it.”

Garrett sighed internally. “Do you mind if I bring in my own, then?”

“Oh.” She seemed flustered for a moment. “No. Not at all. As long as you’re paying for it and you aren’t bringing in any electronics that will distort the signals of our equipment. And absolutely nothing with an entertainment unit. When you’re here I expect you to be working.”

“Not a problem,” Garrett promised her. Doctor Sims nodded, spun around again and stalked down the aisle, muttering to herself even as she scolded other scientists for being in her way.

A short, plump man sitting at the table next to Garrett leaned over and muttered, “Do you think you could wrangle me a new computer?”

The woman next to him smacked his shoulder. “Shekar! He’s not here to handle the dragon lady for all of us. Although,” she batted her eyelashes theatrically, “you are my hero.” She held out her hand. “Lila Englander. I’m the geologist whose analyzers she was offering up.”

“Shekar Pradani,” the man said. “Mathematician. I’ll help you with your modeling if you need, I have some good programs for that sort of thing.”

“Thank you,” Garrett replied. They all shook hands and then he pulled back a bit, looked around the room at the different areas, all partitioned off with glaring warnings, all apparently fair game to the wrath of Doctor Sims. “Is she always like this?”

“Doctor Sims is a little high strung,” Lila said diplomatically.

Shekar snorted. “She’s driven off three staff members in two weeks. We’ll be lucky if the lab isn’t pushed to rebellion before we get underway.”

“She’s not so bad when she’s back on Pandora,” Lila insisted. “Her husband is a geneticist with the expedition, but he stayed behind to run the home lab while she came here and organized the new arrivals. Frankly it would probably have been better if they’d switched, but she’s got seniority on him, so it’s her job to do it. He calms her down.”

“Then all we have to do is survive the trip to Pandora and we’re home free, huh?”

There was a crash at the far end of the lab, followed by a yell of, “Alberts!”

“Wonderful,” Garrett said flatly. “I’m sure that thought will be very comforting over the next two months of our lives.”

It wasn’t very comforting for the rest of the afternoon, however, and Garrett remained stubbornly uncomforted when he had dinner that night with Jezria. “You could have warned me you have a harpy for your head scientist.”

“Martina is an excellent scientist.”

“Well, she’s a shit administrator,” Garrett said, sipping at his wine. “This is good. Did Claudia give you this?”

“She did.”

“Did you bring enough to last you a while? I hear our alcohol consumption is going to be restricted.”

“Not just restricted but monitored,” Jezria said.

“What? Why?”

“Because I don’t want any of my colonists so inebriated that it affects their health or their ability to work,” she explained. “Think what you like about Pandora, Garrett, but this planet represents a new life to thousands of people. It’s a daunting undertaking for all of us, and there will be enough stresses on folk without the damage that can be done by self-medicating with copious alcohol or drugs. Especially since so many colonists are naturals. There is no rapid detox for a natural, no magic pill for them to swallow that cures a hangover. While we’re settling people into an alien environment that they’re going to have to make into a home, they’re going to obey some fairly draconian rules because they agreed to, to make the transition easier on all of us. You agreed to it as well,” she reminded him.

“I know,” he said sourly. “And may I just say how much I loathe the color tan? Beige, sand, dun, whatever you want to call it. It is possibly the most boring non-entity of a color in existence.”

“Loathe it all you like,” she said with a gracious smile. “Just learn to live with it.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pandora Post #8

Title: Pandora

Part Eight: A Bland New World

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy:) The first parts can be found a few posts down.

It took two standard weeks to get to Olympus from Paradise. They could have pushed the engines and gone quite a bit faster, but Jezria didn’t feel any need to rush. They’d still have nearly three weeks on Olympus getting people and equipment loaded onto the colony ship Neptune before that final momentous departure. The ship was an upgrade from the one the expedition had been planning on using, a third again as large with space for as many as ten thousand people. Garrett had read enough of his contract to know that in reality they were only looking at about half that number, but it was still mind-bogglingly huge when one considered that Pandora was to be, in essence, a colony of naturals.

Five thousand people, many of whom wouldn’t be able to use autodocs or regenerative medicine, people who could look forward to perhaps a century of life before they died…it was too fucking depressing to contemplate.

The Neptune was an impressively large ship, even sitting in dry dock in the capitol city of Athens. The control tower directed their convoy to land their personal ships in the Neptune’s private shuttle bay. They set down, disembarked and Garrett inhaled appreciatively. Yes, there was the smell of rocket fuel, but underneath that was the sweetness of hibiscus and native wanlia in a million different hybrid colors and forms. The founders of Olympus had gotten rather carried away with their landscaping, but the place did look and smell great.

Jezria clearly had her hands full with the arrival, official-looking people practically lining up to shove their information tablets in her face. One of her staffers made his way over to where Garrett was lounging against his ship and extended a hand. “If you’ll come with me, Doctor Caractacus, I’ll be happy to show you where you’ll be staying on board the ship.”

“That would be lovely,” Garrett said with a smile, enjoying the sudden flush of color in the man’s cheeks. Jezria had warned him not to tease her people, but it was hard to resist. He pushed off the hull and followed the man towards the nearest lift. “You’re Steven Miyakawa, yes?”

“Yes, sir. You can call me Steven.” They stepped into the lift and Steven pushed a series of buttons, and they began to rise. One of the walls was transparent, and Garrett examined the details of the shuttle bay with interest. Apart from the metallic hues that were expected from the amount of hardware they had in there, the color scheme was light blue and tan, bland, inoffensive colors that Garrett assumed had been chosen to engender calm in stress passengers. The journey to Pandora itself wouldn’t take more than a month, but once they were there colonists would have to construct their new homes before they could move off the ship, which would be a process of months for everyone, even with the help of machines and modular housing. Calm would be a handy thing to have, even if it was just a side-effect of boredom.

The lift kept rising. Garrett glanced over at Steven. “Which level are we headed to?”

“Thirteenth level, sir.” As he said it they pulled to a smooth stop and the door opened. “This is where most of the officers as well as senior staff will be housed.” He handed a folder over to Garrett. “This contains your keys and your ID, which is programmed with all of the access codes you’ll need to get into the labs and other secure zones you’re cleared for. Because the ship will be transporting naturals there are a number of specialized biomedical devices that require extra security with storage, so unfortunately it will take a little longer than usual to get to and from your workplace.”

“Which level is the lab on?”

“Tenth level, sir. All of B Wing.”

“Good to know.” Garrett glanced inside the folder.

“If you’d like, I can have your things sent up from your ship.”

“That would be fine.” Garrett handed over the hatch keys. “Everything is boxed and labeled.” He’d had a lot of free time on his hands over the past two weeks.

“I’ll get it taken care of, sir. Your quarters are down the hall and through the doors to C Wing.”

“Thank you, Steven.” Garrett stepped out of the lift and checked the directions on the wall, then started walking. Five minutes later he reached C Wing and apartment 1369, and he resolved that the first thing he was doing after he got settled in was memorizing where the damn lifts were and finding a closer one.

His living quarters themselves were fairly standard. A large sitting room, with a couch and an entertainment unit, connected to a kitchen with a few appliances in case he was feeling handy and a line to the mobile mess hall if he wasn’t. There was a leaflet with food choices lying on the counter. Garrett skimmed it briefly, then put it back and walked into the other half of the apartment. His bedroom at least had a big bed, but very little closet space. The bathroom had an actual tub, but it was so small he’d have to bend himself in half to get wet all at once. He stared at his less-than-impressed reflection in the mirror. “Wonderful.” And all of it in blue and beige.

Well, that much at least he could change. Garrett scouted around until he found the color controls, located behind a picture of a vase of lilies. He smirked at the attempt by whomever management was to enforce uniformity, then manipulated the controls until his walls were the color of a red sunrise and his floor was midnight blue. He glanced around, satisfied for now, then lifted his hand from the control panel. The colors shifted back to blue and beige immediately.

“Oh, come on.” It was like having a parental control on your life. Garrett modified the colors again, lifted his hand, and…blue and beige.

“Hell with this.” Reaching into his pocket, he took out a flat multi-tool, pulled up the screwdriver and in moments had the casing off of the control unit and was rewiring it to ignore its preprogrammed functions. At least the wiring was good; it was the kind you didn’t need solder for, you could just pick and stick it together how you liked. He was almost done when he heard a knock on the door.

“Security, sir.”

Garrett blinked, then laughed out loud. Fiddling with the controls had alerted security? Oh, they must be really fucking bored over there. “Come on in.”

The door opened and a young woman in a dark grey uniform entered the room. She was wearing a grey beret over short brown hair and had a slightly-apprehensive look on her cute, button-nosed face. “Sir? Your alarm was activated. Are you…what are you doing?”

“I’m saving myself from paralyzing ennui,” Garrett replied. He shifted the walls back to sunset red. “This is nicer, don’t you think?”

“Sir, the color choice is preprogrammed and cannot be changed, except with specific contract stipulation.”

Garrett dropped his hand. “Are you serious? This is actually in my contract?”

“Unless you modified that clause before signing it,” the woman said, her tone slightly apologetic, “I’m afraid it has to stay.”


“Sorry, sir.”

At least she did sound sorry. “That’s fine, Officer…”


“Officer Brady. I won’t attempt to subvert any more impressionable walls.” He looked around and sighed. “I see myself drinking a lot in this room.”

“Alcohol consumption is also restricted,” she added helpfully.

“Naturally. Of course it is. How silly of me to contemplate otherwise.” Liquor, and a lot of it, would be bought before this ship took off. And tapestries to cover the fucking walls. Maybe he could renegotiate this part of his contract with Jezria…no, knowing her she’d just laugh at him and say, “I told you so.”

“Well. I think I’m done introducing myself to home and hearth.” He screwed the casing back onto the control panel and replaced the picture. “Do you know where the nearest lift is?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Would you mind showing me? I want to find the labs without running a marathon.”

Officer Brady smiled. “I’d be happy to show you the quickest way.”

“Lead on, then.” Get me out of here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pour Some Sugar On It antho out today

And now, for my next trick!

This anthology:

comes out today with Torquere Press.  You can find it here: Sugar Anthology.  Let me tempt you with a morsel of my story.

Favorite Dish

By Cari Z

I don’t actually cook for myself all that much.

I know, it’s a weird thing for a professional chef to be admitting. I love cooking. I love making delicious, savory things that will be enjoyed by the people who come to the restaurant I work at. I love cooking for my friends and family. For myself though, I’m just as happy eating soup out of a can as anything I’ve made. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my residual skinflint talking. It helps keeps me thin, anyway.

James makes sure I eat when he’s here. We have dinner together every night, and we eat breakfast together every morning. Our tastes vary wildly. James likes small portions of heavier foods, things made with butter and cream and red meat. If I didn’t put gorgonzola or goat cheese on our salads he probably wouldn’t enjoy them. He eats everything I make because he loves me, and I tend to make what he likes because I love him. If I skip the steak one evening or have rhubarb pie for breakfast, he doesn’t say anything. He’s good that way.

James is good in a lot of ways. But right now James Fitzgerald, lawyer and eco-crusader extraordinaire, is in Indonesia. Jakarta, specifically. He has been for the past two and a half weeks. This is the longest we’ve been apart since we started living together a little over a year ago. Three days to go, and I’m doing my best not to go insane with impatience. I work, and when I’m not working, I cook. Then I give everything I make away.

Last weekend I baked over a dozen pies, just for the hell of it. Rhubarb, cherry, apple, lemon meringue, key lime, and three of James’ favorites, chocolate pecan. I gave them to various neighbors (I think Mrs. Klein wants to hire me permanently for her bridge group), took a few to the restaurant for my coworkers to snack on and brought one over to the house of my former roommate, Johnny. He opened the door, took one look at the pie and snapped, “You hate me.”

“Well, you love me.”

“Do you know how much time I had to spend in the gym when we were living together, Alex? How I am only now successfully weaning myself off of my addiction to your damn crack food? You hate me.”

I sighed. Johnny lives in a world where the only life worth living is a dramatic one. “I’m not going to force pie on you. I can just take it home—”

“What kind is it?” he demanded.

“Caramel apple.”

“God damn you to hell,” he said cheerfully, pulling me and my pie into his foyer. He took the pie out of my hands and looked me over. “James is away, huh?”


“Yeah, I can always tell. You get this tight look around the corners of your eyes and you make sticky-sweet things he wouldn’t eat in a million years. Come on. Time for pie, coffee and talk therapy.” He led me into his kitchen and I spent almost four hours not spending every minute thinking of James.


Recognize the guys?  I couldn't resist playing with them again, they were too yummy last time.  This is my second and final new release for January, along with Surviving The Change.  Speaking of that, if you're having trouble buying it, please send me a line and I'll try to talk to the publisher.  Doing that already, but the more the merrier.  Except not.  Or something.

Now to work on Pandora.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Surviving The Change is out today!!!

And I'm home in time to use the internet and put up some promo, yay!  Let me give interested parties a snippet to pique their interest.  I love this story, loved writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Chapter One

Blythe wiped down the nearly deserted bar and asked himself, yet again, why he’d taken this job. Did he really need the money that badly? Couldn’t he get by on a work-study position, ten bucks an hour with the perk of being an office gopher? Then he remembered the state of his car—damaged and immobile—his apartment, which was behind on rent, and the cost of textbooks—your soul or your first-born child—and reassessed his priorities. Yeah, he needed this job. It had been good of his landlord to point him towards it, but now, three months into the fall semester and his brand new life, he wished he’d looked around more. Bartending was tedious. The live acts were terrible and dealing with drunks sucked. Dealing with supernatural, superhuman drunks sucked even harder.

It figured, it really did, that he’d get a job working in one of the shape-shifting population’s favourite watering holes. There were more shifters on any given night than there were humans, and the vast majority of the humans who walked through the doors were groupies—normals that had a fascination with the paranormal and with shifters in particular. Vampires had the money and the supermodels. Shifters had the groupies and the raw sex appeal. They were the rock stars of the paranormal world, and they, more than any other supernatural type, made Blythe angry.

It wasn’t even that they were all that common. In a city as big as Denver, there were still probably less than three hundred. There were fewer than ten thousand in the entire country. But their lack of numbers was more than compensated for by their huge personalities. Assholes. And he was catering to them.

There was no way around it. The money was good and when a shifter’s band was playing, no matter how lousy it was, the beer flowed like water and the tips flowed with it. But tonight’s shift was over, he was tired, and it was time to lock the doors.

“Time’s up,” he called out to the last remaining patron, a tall, lean man who’d been sitting at the end of the bar for much of the evening. They hadn’t spoken more than a few words to each other, but Blythe had the uncomfortable sensation that the stranger was watching him the whole time. He’d never caught him at it, but shifters moved so fast that you never did, and this man was definitely a shifter. There was a certain aura about him, an air of insufferable arrogance, that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.

The guy took a slow sip from his bottle before saying, “I’m not done yet.”

Oh, perfect. A wiseass. Just what he needed at three a.m. on the only day he’d been stupid enough to sign up for an eight o’clock class. He needed what dregs of sleep he could get. “Well finish fast, we closed five minutes ago.”

To emphasise his point, Blythe started turning off the lights behind the bar. He took his apron off and hung it up, then grabbed his jacket, gloves and scarf from the back room. All of this took about two minutes. When he came back out front, the guy was still sitting there, sipping his damn beer. Sipping it. It looked ridiculously dainty done by such a big guy.

“Hurry up!” Blythe snapped at him, his frayed temper strained to the breaking point.

The man looked up from his beer and met Blythe’s eyes for the first time that evening. Even though the light was dim, the impact of his sudden attention was shocking. It made Blythe want to freeze, play dead, act like…prey. Oh, to hell with that, he was no one’s prey. He met the gaze squarely, even though his back was pressed so hard against the bar that he was sure he’d have bruises. They stared at each other for a long moment, neither one moving.

“I’m almost finished,” the man said at last.

“Good,” Blythe replied. “Then you won’t mind meeting me at the door while I get the rest of the lights.”

Trying to move as if his legs weren’t trembling, he walked over to the wall and began to methodically flip switches. Soon the place was pitch black, and still the guy wasn’t done. Blythe couldn’t even see him in the darkness. He sighed heavily and prepared to turn back on a light, but it suddenly wasn’t necessary. The shifter was right beside him, at the door. Blythe jumped slightly. He couldn’t help it.

The man smiled. “Coming?” he asked in a polite, infuriating voice.

“Just waiting on you,” Blythe replied, annoyed that he’d jumped.

He went outside and shut the door behind them, locking it up. The man hadn’t moved away. He was still standing there, staring. Well, he could stare at Blythe’s back, because he was leaving. He turned around and walked down the sidewalk, conscious of the man’s eyes still on him. Just before he rounded the corner, he heard a low, throaty chuckle that made his face flush. Fucking weirdo. The sooner he got home, the better.

It’s a shame that the busses stop service at midnight, Blythe thought tiredly. It was a mile-long walk to his place—a mile of slick, snowy pavement coated with unidentifiable bits of refuse that he’d become intimately acquainted with over the last few weeks since his car had broken down. He walked as fast as he could, ignoring the few other people that still dotted the streets as he headed towards his apartment. Just a little further, and he could relax…

Except the protagonist never gets to relax, bwahaha!  Part of the evil joy of being the writer.  Again, thanks for checking it out, and I hope you like.  Go here to find it:  Surviving The Change.
And BTW, more Pandora is coming, swear it.  Not as long as the last one, but a fun part.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Tomorrow we leave Germany.

Sigh.  It's a truly sad sigh, because we had an incredible vacation filled with our friends and relatives and wonderful food and unseasonably freezing temperatures, which just made it better for us.  Now we go back to Togo, and we're going to get back to the way of things, and reaccustomed to heat and everything will be fine, but I'm indulging myself in a little melancholy first.  Sigh.

Okay, done!  I wrote up a storm here, and even though I haven't posted the next chapter of Pandora yet (smacks own forehead) I will soon, and I might get a one-shot done for Literotica's Valentine's Day contest.  We'll see.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Favorite Dish

Favorite Dish is my second new release coming out this month.  It's a short story in the anthology Pour Some Sugar On It, which is coming out with Torquere on January 12.  The theme was highly sensual and romantic m/m stories. 

The story I wrote for this antho is particularly fun because if you've read some of my other stuff, you'll recognize the main characters, Alex and James.  I really wanted to revisit them and this anthology offered me the perfect opportunity for that.  Plus, there are delicious descriptions of food.  I personally am not an incredible cook, but I'm married to one, so I had a favorable example to draw on. 

Hopefully I'll be able to post snippets for this and Surviving The Change on their release dates, so as to further entice you:)