Miner’s Blackened Bart
By Kenneth Shumaker
August 24, 2017
In Kenneth Shumaker’s Eren’s Challenge, we enter the world of the robotics research technician, a mature human male, Eren. During Eren’s 5th Galaxy Palcard sector journey, he encounters hazards with his friend, Esmelda, the mature human female who is an ambassador’s administrative assistant. The pair struggle with adventures and dramatic developments while in the metropolitan industrial trade city of Goral, on the planet of the Krenar. Here, they fight with bureaucrats and the Hean priestly hierarchy.
In the Previous episode 004, ‘Year’s Aqua Ass’ …
With the evening starting out with tumultuous events, Eren cooks supper for one, but Es invites herself into Eren’s home and life, discovering his secret identity.
We continue with episode 005, ‘Miner’s Blackened Bart’ on …
Lezmor 2nd of RD 78
I set to work finishing my robotics’ project report as Es readies herself for bed.
Damn, she’s quick.
I was only proofreading the second page when she came out of the washroom dressed slinky in a nearly see-through blue nightgown. I almost couldn’t focus on work for the two hours it took to complete, instead of the hour-and-a-half that it should have taken.
We relaxed together in my bedroom as we discussed things that are not work-related, that I’m not sharing with you. That part of our time closes here.
Es woke me an hour before my alarm is set to buzz, saying something about a reporter? Then it all kicks in, and I say, “Yeah, I recall.”
I mutter while I’m trying to remember his name. Soon, I remember the journalist’s name, saying to Es. “What time are we supposed to meet Everest at the Blackened Bart?”
Grinning, obviously having thought I wasn’t paying attention, Es gives me a peck on the cheek before replying, “WE meet her at the miner’s bar at ten tonight.”
Nodding nonchalantly, I respond, “Then I can turn in my report to the asses at work and get my approval, or be cut today. I’ll return home before five, and then we’ll take a Quickie Cab to the bar as a couple out on a date. We’ll meet up with Everest, return home and write our report for Angel … if we can. Everest promised information, correct?”
Turning away, Es replies, “Yes … she did … for a fee.”
I stop and turning to Es, I say, “Whoa there, how much?”
Dressing in her form fitting red dress, Es replies, “A thousand up front … before spilling beans.”
Shaking my head, I respond, “No, if it’s a thousand she wants, she gets five-hundred up front. If the info is of quality, then she can have the other five-hundred.”
Shuddering, Es says, “If I tell her that, she won’t show.”
Getting angry, I loudly state, “Then don’t tell her until we’re all there!”
Walking into my Trontal office after the proposal presentation, I’m frustrated. The aqua asses from Elm Boulevard said go ahead with Archy, but with a third of the original project budget. My proposal presentation was already at half the initial budget. These asses are cutting our throat. They know we’re guaranteed to fail. I’m to cut three research technicians today, leaving me just one. I am also cutting technicians, leaving me with two technical tradesmen.
Sitting in my office are all ten of my project staff. I look them over with a grim expression. Closing the door, I stand near the head of the meeting table. Clearing my throat, I then state, “Lady and gentlemen. Because Archy melted down without having proper shielding, we failed the Gov testing program for the project. Now, they’re giving Trontal a second shot at Archy.”
Cheers ring throughout the room. I hold up my hand sternly. “But the asses in senior management are insisting we finish Archy using a budget that is reduced far from our original project’s budget. They’re leaving me one research engineer and two trades technicians. Jill, you’re still on, as are Fieledon and Gereon. Gereon, I need you to forge and then cut a thermal shield cage within minimum tolerances made from a Heron Cage.”
Angry curses erupt from all in the room except myself, which is what I expected. I hold up my hand again, saying, “Trontal is offering those removed from this project some work on other projects as junior workers … or a tidy severance package, your choice.”
Standing, most leave the room, except Jill and our two tradesmen. They approach me, with Gereon asking, “Did you even fight for the project?”
Sad, I reply, “Tooth and fingers, but they wouldn’t hear of it. The bosses were going to drop the project entirely.”
Nodding, the three shake hands with me, thanking me for saving their jobs.
Looking him in the eyes, I tell Gereon, “Make the Heron Cage three percent above tolerance needed to protect all gear outside of the fusion generator in high heat environments. To Gors with costs. We’re going to run over budget on the project folks. But, don’t spread that though. Or it’ll be all our jobs. We must make Archy succeed. To do that, we need to fill it out at half our old budget over six months. They gave me much less to work with. So, if you want a successful project this time, then nothing I say goes out of this group, and we run on my budget on my schedule. You run as tight as you can financially and schedule-wise. Out-perform my targets, and we’ll all be happy. If we complete ahead, and within MY goals, I’ll give up some of my salary as bonuses to each of you. Understood? But only if we succeed!”
All three of my cohorts’ grin and shake hands with me again.
I motion for them to wait. Then, reaching behind the files in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet, I lift out a bottle of ten-year old SqReee dark spiced rum. I pour each of us three fingers in paper cups and then offering a cup to each of them, I offer a simple toast: “To the success of Archy!”
All three smile and repeat the toast. We all lift and tap our cups together, and then down our entire drinks.
After we dispose of our cups, I put the bottle away, and I say, “Go home, everyone. Gereon, start on the cage tomorrow. Jill, build a new board number twelve. Fieledon, I want a new power-transfer-rout from the fusion generator through the Heron Cage to all gear in Archy. Figure out the routing and our best conduits. But you are all finished for today. Remember, my timer starts today, and six months is the target. I may not be here tomorrow; I may be tying up loose ends.”
By, Kenneth Shumaker
To be continued in the next episode 006, ‘Home Blue Fires’ …
Having defined Eren’s Trontal project and settling his working crew, we now meet Everest, or who is supposed to be a journalist.
© 2017 by Kenneth Shumaker with Inevitable Unicorn Press
We would like to acknowledge the following for their contributions:
Our author is Kenneth Shumaker.
Our graphics are by Kenneth Shumaker.
Editing is by Donna Shumaker.
The distribution, marketing, production, promotions, and publishing are by Inevitable Unicorn Press, also known as InUPress.
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