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The Cassidy Chronicles

The Cassidy Chronicles Vol.1

by Adam Gaffen

The Cassidy Chronicles - Adam Gaffen - Cassidy Chronicles
Editions:Kindle: $ 0.99Paperback: $ 16.99Audiobook

The Cassidy Chronicles Volume One introduces you to two of the most determined characters in fiction: Aiyana Cassidy and Kendra Foster-Briggs.

In 2113, Aiyana (Cass) is a physicist, working on high-energy optics for the premiere orbital passenger and cargo company, Heavy Lift Corporation. During her research she stumbles upon a discovery which might revolutionize the transportation industry.

Kendra is a semi-retired sensie star and Cass's childhood friend. She also has a shadowy, hidden past.

None of this would matter if the Reverend hadn't tried to kill them and their fiance, Derek, at their wedding.

Now it's a race to find out who wants them dead and why!

They'll have to cross the continent, across the shattered remains of a post-fractured America, to find the answers. Along the way they'll discover plots, schemes, betrayals, as well as new friends and allies.

Don't miss this ride!

Excerpt:

Chapter 1: The Wedding

 

Her wedding day was perfect.

The late summer day was warm and bright that afternoon. It should have been; they’d paid enough to Weather Control to get it just the way they wanted.

Guests had been gathering for hours; their families and friends, enjoying the pre-wedding party, trading stories until the minister had gently shooed them outside. The ritual Exchange of the Prenups had been done, duly witnessed and countersigned. Then it was her time.

In later years, she never remembered the wait, or the walk to the altar. To her, it always seemed instantaneous, a jump from the interior of the hall into the sunshine, standing with her bouquet in hand.

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Other details, she would always remember. Her maid of honor’s dress kept slipping, and she was constantly readjusting it, fiddling with the strap and supports as unobtrusively as possible. The old-fashioned tuxedo her groom wore, complete with vest, tails dangling behind. Her mother’s quiet pride. Her father’s attempts, ultimately futile, to hold back tears. The only intrusion of the outside world was the bright flare of the launch, distant and silent, of the latest shipment of supplies for the construction yards high in orbit. There was even comic relief, a squirrel perched in a tree, watching the proceedings and chittering his protests at the unwarranted intrusion into his space.

At last, everyone was in their place. The day, the hour, was at hand.

When the minister lifted his hand from beneath his tunic and showed the flechette gun, she grabbed her bride and groom’s hands and ran like hell.

Chapter 2: Meet the Family

 

Her name was Aiyana Cassidy and she was thirty-two years old.

Half Irish and half Native American, her name meant ‘Eternal Bloom‘, though everyone called her Cass. Tall, at 190 centimeters, and slim, she had auburn hair that trailed down her back when it wasn’t pinned up for work. Her long, tanned legs led up to a slim waist and full breasts, and she had attracted more than her fair share of suitors over the years. But it was her eyes that were her most memorable feature – pale, ice-blue eyes that seemed to gaze deep into the soul of anyone she talked to.

She’d grown up in a small town in northern Minnesota, part of the Northern Imperium. She thought her childhood was uneventful, though outside observers might have disagreed. Science fair winner in sixth grade for her design of a hypersonic transport, she’d always shown a flair for design and engineering. So, it wasn’t a surprise when she announced, political differences be damned, she was going to attend MIT.

‘There’s no way I’m paying for my daughter to go to school in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts!’ declared her mother that night.

‘Fine! Don’t pay; they’ve offered me a scholarship!’ retorted the teenager.

‘But you’re going to be so far away!’ protested her father. ‘And we can’t get visas to travel outside the country, at least not to the PRM!’ The Northern Imperium had been ruled by the Daley dynasty since its establishment in 2040. Periodically, protests for a more democratic form of government would arise. The Imperial Internal Affairs Bureau would infiltrate the protests, gather the names and vital information, then systematically follow them for the rest of their lives and use their youthful misdeeds to suppress further demonstrations of ‘disloyalty’. Both her parents had been snared in the IAB’s net, and had discovered that their freedom to travel had been severely curtailed when they had planned a honeymoon to the Confederate States, only to have their visas denied; they were listed in the IAB’s database as ‘potential domestic terrorists’ and couldn’t get permission to leave.

‘I can,’ she said simply, in the cruel, unthinking way perfected by teenagers from time immemorial. ‘Besides, who said I wanted you to visit?’

Things degenerated from there, and she ended up spending the night – and, eventually, the rest of the year before heading east – at her best friend’s house. Kendra Foster-Briggs was certainly thrilled to have her stay. ‘I’m going west, you’re going east, it’s our last summer together!’

Seven years at MIT later, earned her a Master’s in Quantum Mechanics and a Doctorate in Optical Engineering. The Heavy Lift Corporation sponsored her internship, with a job promised on graduation, to help design the next generation of Photonic Laser Thrusters (PLT). Within days of her successfully defending her doctoral thesis she moved to New Mexico and the Los Alamos laboratories. Within months she had validated the faith HLC had in her and was given her own research team, budget, and allowed the freedom to work as she pleased. Higher-efficiency optics were a priority, allowing HLC to throw larger payloads for lower costs, but she tinkered with high-energy physics as well. She had examined the problem in her thesis: if the power from the lasers was able to penetrate the atmosphere more easily, or skip the atmosphere altogether, then larger payloads, larger ships, were well possible. If more materials were able to be put into orbit, then true deep space exploration ships could be built, ones which would never see atmosphere. She threw herself into her work.

Her professional life flourished, but her personal life floundered. There simply wasn’t time, what with her assigned work, and her side projects, and the classes she taught by remote. Until, that is, she forced herself to take an entire night off. A new movie was opening, and the system premiere was, for some reason, in Los Alamos.

The reason for her interest was simple: her old friend Kendra starred in the movie. More surprising, Kendra was the reason the premiere was in Los Alamos – unbeknownst to Aiyana, Kendra had made the metro area her home. On her way to the theatre, Aiyana thought about her high school friend.

Kendra had skipped college entirely, going directly to the San Fernando Valley and getting into the sensies. Shorter than Aiyana by several centimeters, she was blonde by birth, preferred what used to be called pixie cuts, carried true green eyes, and was fuller across the hips and bust than Aiyana, a legacy of her donor-mother. From her earliest years, she’d loved the pop culture of the twentieth century, throwing herself into the ‘television’ programs and ‘movies’ of the era. In many ways, they were substitutes for the family life she missed. She would often speak to Aiyana longingly of what she called ‘ohana’, the idea of a loving family. She had been entranced by the sensie industry for years, ever since seeing the classic, ‘Behind the Green Door’, and started her own home-based production company as soon as she hit the legal age of eighteen. Now, several years later, she had made enough money, and invested wisely enough, to be selective in her roles. Rare was her on-screen performance, and rarer still a public appearance.

She had purchased a large spread off the Jemez Mountain Trail, fifty klicks west of Los Alamos. The remote location was her attempt to ensure privacy, as much as was possible in an era of constant passive surveillance. When her studio wanted her to appear for a premiere, she had the clout to ensure that the event take place near her new home. That led to the encounter with Aiyana, and the renewal of their friendship.

Though never dormant, it had been purely remote as distance and demands of their jobs interfered. Given their sudden proximity, they were again inseparable, laughing and talking, staying out late and picking up where they’d left off before college. Never shy, a romantic relationship quickly re-blossomed. It wasn‘t long before Aiyana was more likely to be telecommuting to work, supervising her team through a holographic representation and spending most of her time with Kendra at what was now their home.

Derek James was a total shock to them both. He was the heir to a sizeable estate, which might better be described as outrageous. He’d never actually talked about his holdings, but money had never been an issue, no matter the scale, and he had never needed to work. Ten years older than either, he’d spent his life indulging in whatever struck his fancy, whether that was collecting antique internal combustion machines (he was especially proud of his Kuboda KX080 excavator), exploring the coral reefs around the nation of Hawa’ii, or spending weeks on end in orbit observing cloud formations. He’d divorced his husband of six years over a disagreement about children. Derek wanted them and was willing to have a fetus artificially implanted in a ManWomb ™, but Mark wouldn’t agree to provide any genetic material. Since Derek’s first wife, Amelie, had died before they could have children, he felt strongly enough about it to end the marriage.

So, he’d drifted south to the Mishizaki Artist’s Retreat. For the first time, he’d buried himself in a single occupation, and the results were extraordinary. His light sculptures were featured at several local galleries, and this is where he met Aiyana. She’d initially come out of professional interest in the mechanics of light sculptures, but was soon entranced by their subtle plays of colors. Initial, dry conversations soon turned personal, then casual dates, and finally bringing him home to meet Kendra. It was the most nerve-wracking day of her life.

She and Kendra had never been exclusive; they’d slept with, and dated, both men and women in the time they’d been together, but this was the first time she’d brought one of her partners home to her. The last time she’d felt like this was the night before her doctoral defense.

To her great relief, Kendra had accepted Derek easily. Although he didn’t officially move out of Mishizaki, quickly most of his belongings were at the ranch. Kendra gave him an entire wing of the sprawling house for his studio and a gallery, which soon became a focal point of the local art community.

This idyllic arrangement continued for several months, until Aiyana gathered her courage. On a cool ShakesDay evening in 2113, she made dinner for her two loves, an unusual event in itself. Then, getting on her knees, she asked both to marry her. To her joy, they both accepted instantly.

The wedding was planned, the invitations sent out, the guests invited. Vacations were arranged, honeymoon booked, paperwork completed.

So why did Reverend Farrell try to kill them?

 

Chapter 3: Take the Money and Run

 

‘What the hell is going on?’ panted Derek.

‘Cass?’

Aiyana was still dragging them away, pumps long since ditched. The replica Cadillac convertible that was their intended ride after the wedding was forgotten. Forgotten, too, was the pandemonium they had created sprinting down the aisle and out of the hall. She remembered, though, the whine of the flechettes above her head, the staccato ’thip’ as they buried themselves into the ceiling and walls, the screams of terror torn from the throats of her family, friends, co-workers. She didn’t have a destination in mind, but her feet seemed to know where they wanted to go. She was willing to go with that for now.

‘I don’t know!’ she snapped. ‘You saw the gun!’

‘What gun?’ said Kendra.

That stopped her. They were about three blocks from the hall, headed into the center of town. She pulled them between two buildings.

‘Farrell. He had a flechette gun. You saw it! I heard it!’

‘I didn’t see a gun,’ said Kendra, confused. ‘I was looking at you. Your eyes got real wide, then you grasped my hand and ran! I just followed you!’

‘What’s this about a gun?’ asked Derek.

‘Neither of you saw it?’ asked Cass. They shook their heads, almost in unison.

She couldn’t believe it. She knew she saw a gun where there shouldn’t be one, she knew that! And she was sure that Farrell used it, though none too well! So why were the other two being so oblivious?

‘Cass, I believe you. First, we’ve got to get out of here, get somewhere safe!’

‘Back to the ranch?’ said Cass.

Operating on automatic, Kendra shook her head. ‘No. That’s the first place they’ll look.’

‘The studio?’ suggested Derek.

Another shake. ‘Not there, either.’ She was flagging down a taxi as she spoke.

‘Then where?’

‘Let’s get there first,’ Kendra said, cryptically.

An older Shigumi sedan saw them and began slowing.

‘No,’ announced Derek.

‘Yes!’ insisted Kendra. ‘We have to get away -’

‘Why?’

The cab was stopped by them. The door raised slowly, an unspoken invitation to enter.

‘The gun – didn’t you hear the yelling?’ asked Cass.

He dismissed it with a wave. ‘And we didn’t cause a scene by running away?’ He grinned lopsidedly. ‘If you wanted to elope, why couldn’t you pick a less dramatic gesture?’ The joke fell flat.

‘Oh, for Zeus’ sake!’ exclaimed Kendra. ‘Just get in the cab!’ The robot was waiting patiently by the curb, door still open. ‘We can discuss this on the way!’

‘On the way where? This is something I need to know,’ complained Derek. But he bent and entered the vehicle, followed by Kendra and finally Cass.

‘Tube station,’ said Kendra. ‘Quick!’ she said as the cab started to move. ‘We only have a few minutes. How much cash do you have?’

‘I left my bag at the wedding,’ sniffed Cass, giving in to the shock of the past few minutes.

‘Cash? I never carry cash,’ said Derek. It was true. Here, in the twenty-second century, most transactions were done electronically, with DNA ‘thumbprinting’ and a retinal scan. You slid a finger into a sensor receptacle, where a minute sample of your DNA was extracted and verified, while the same was done with the retinal image. If both matched, your transaction was processed. If not, your finger was captured in the receptacle’s pressor beam and you awaited the arrival of authorities to straighten it out. Or you left the finger behind. Your choice.

The practical upshot was, for all intents and purposes, cash was extinct. Oh, vendors and merchants still accepted it – the Currency Laws of 2086 expressly required them to do so – but only oddballs, criminals, and black marketeers carried much cash on a regular basis.

‘Shit!’ cursed Kendra. She thought for a moment, then said, ‘Change destination.’

‘New destination?’ inquired the cab.

‘Nearest bank.’ The cab, connected at all times to the planetary network, instantly recalculated the route and smoothly changed direction.

‘Bank?’ said Derek.

‘We need cash, and you have the most,’ apologized Kendra.

‘Oh, thank you very much!’

Cass sat back, watching her oldest friend take charge of the situation. It felt odd, given that she’d been the one to react first, but also somehow right. Kendra would make it work.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Hi! Thanks for dropping by!
Sorry about the mess.
So, I suppose I should start with some basics, eh?
I was born in Maine, didn't live there for long before my parents figured out that it was too bloody cold and moved south, all the way to Massachusetts. Grew up there and in Connecticut, lived in Maryland and Indiana for a while before moving back to Maine. Lived there for twenty years before I, too, decided the winters were too long. Of course, where do you to get away from long winters? COLORADO! Naturally. Married to a wonderful, inspirational, supportive woman; between us we have five kids, five dogs, and five cats.

Every author starts as a reader, and the same is true for me. Some of first 'real' books I remember are the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, the Hornblower books by C.S.Forester, and Lad by Albert Payson Terhune. The, ah, let's just say 'eclectic' nature of these first few began a trend that continues today, as I read just about anything. You want a list? Okay. In no order (except as they occur to me):
Robert Heinlein. Dave Barry. Lisa Mantchev. John Ringo. David Weber. Isaac Asimov (yes, still). David R. Palmer. Spider Robinson. Randall Garrett. Richelle Mead. F.M. Busby. Frank Herbert. Kevin J. Anderson. W.E.B. Griffin. Clive Cussler. Gemma Halliday.

Is the picture coming into focus? No? Exactly. There's way too many authors out there to limit myself to a single one, or even a single genre, though I do tend to return to science fiction.

'From these seeds did a mighty tree grow.'

As for my writing, well, I've thrown a bunch out onto Amazon. There's a couple Sherlock Holmes stories, a few horror-ish shorts, and then you get to my longer books: Refuge, a time-traveling take on vampire stories, and The Cassidy Chronicles. There are currently four volumes in the series with the fifth book coming in August.

Like I said, thanks for dropping in! You can find me on Allauthor.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on my website www.cassidychronicles.com. I love interacting with fans, but be warned: I often add my fans into my books!