Kicking off free summer reading in adventure science fiction

Super Saturday – Kicking off Summer Reading.  Fun adventure, great science fiction story, available for free all day Saturday .  Enjoy a free copy of Demeter, book 1 in the young adult science fiction series, Demeter.  Available today on Amazon.

What mischief can Debbie and Becky get into when they’re grounded

Under the Sea

This is one of a number of short stories I wrote (part 1) that chronologically would belong early in Demeter after they reach the planetoid, but after they started to learn to fly.  I will bring in the other parts of the story over the next couple of days.  I looked for some artwork that reflect the look and feel I envisioned for the Stringray (above).  It has been a good weekend for the Demeter series.  All three books, Demeter, Return to Demeter, and Defending Demeter have been in the top 100 books in their category at Amazon this weekend so I felt like celebrating :o).  Enjoy

After two separate incidents with Slick security, and starting a bureaucratic battle with the meteorology division when Debbie grazed an outcropping causing a landslide, which in turn caused the pencil necks to have to recalculate an entire quadrant of the weather patterns, Captain Jonas White was facing a dilemma.  When it came to flying Debbie was a natural, but when it came to judgment, he paused, well she was only fourteen.

Two girls were approaching from the monorail station that bordered the tarmac at Europe.  Both girls sported pony tails, one blond, and one light brown.  Becky, the girl with the brown hair was sensible and methodical.  “She’ll be a good quality pilot, and she’ll probably outlive Debbie by a hundred years,” Captain White reflected.

“So, can we try out the flyers today?” the blond girl began.  “I studied the manual last night; they don’t look much harder to fly than the hoppers; maybe even easier.  I bet I could fly one without even getting any more instructions.”  She paused, as she took in the sober expression on the flight instructor’s face.

“Debbie, you aren’t even cleared for hoppers yet.  And after that incident yesterday,” Jonas began.

“It was their fault,” Debbie erupted.  Turning to Becky, “Wasn’t it?” Turning back to Captain White, “We were just minding our own business, and bang, out of nowhere they were shooting at us.”

Becky stood straight with her arms behind her back, and said nothing.

“The flight recorder indicates that you had violated Sagittarius League space on three separate occasions, before they fired warning shots,” Captain White responded flatly.  Then looking skyward, he continued, “What am I going to do with you?”

The sky of Demeter was, as it always was during the day, an opaque shade of blue that shifted into a haze the more one looked at it.  If the sky were clear, and a person could look straight above their heads roughly 847 miles from Europe, they would see the ice fields that were the counter balance to what most people thought of as the surface of Demeter.

Demeter was an asteroid/planetoid hundreds of light years from Earth.  The surface was barren, with no atmosphere.  But the interior, which could be accessed through one of seven active lock systems, was very much alive.  The Sea of Demeter stretched from the capital city of Europe at one end, to Kuu’Aali Falls at the opposite end of the interior.  One side of the interior, and the ice fields were governed by Terrans and Cryellians, but they were still under the protectorate of the Sagittarius League, privately referred to as the Slicks.  The Slicks maintained roughly half the habitable surface perimeter with four active military bases, protecting three of the lock systems providing ingress to Demeter.

“I think we need to let things settle down from a boil to a simmer before I put you back up in the air,” Captain White continued.

“You can’t do that to me,” Debbie’s voice rose as she tried to get in Captain White’s face, which was comical as she was a foot shorter than the Captain.  “I won’t let you!”

“You … won’t …. let… me?” Captain White stiffened.

Becky interceded, “I think what Debbie means is that we’re just starting to get the hang of this, and it would be a pity for us to slide backward in our training.”

Captain White grinned with a lopsided smile, “Miss Creer, I know exactly what Miss Ryder meant.”  He paused for effect, “but your training isn’t ending, we’re just going to take a different approach for a week or two.”

“What?  What are we going to do?  Are we going to fly on the exterior?  Train in the fighters?  Are we going to be gone long?” Debbie showered a series of questions.

Jonas White had the little devil now.  “Just follow me and I’ll show you.”

The trio returned to the station, and took the next train out that turned right at the beach, and continued through several stations.  They had traveled for half an hour, when without another word, Captain White, who had remained totally silent through a non-stop torrent of questions and speculative statements from Debbie, exited the car, and started walking toward the beach.

An outcropping of rock, a quarter of a mile wide, and a narrow sandbar created a natural harbor.  Three long wooden piers running parallel to each other supported a number of water craft.  Captain White walked toward the last pier, then walked down the pier to the last moored vessel.  “This is your new trainer,” he smiled sardonically.

“What is it?” Becky looked down.

“This isn’t a flyer?  I’m not going to fly a boat?  This doesn’t even float.” Debbie exploded.

Captain White ignored Debbie and looked Becky in the eye, “This is the Stingray.  Notice the resemblance?”

Becky nodded looking down at the long, almost flat design of the vessel whose top barely cut the surface.

“The Stingray,” Jonas White spoke loud enough to cut Debbie off, “Is my personal vessel, and one of the best trainers in Demeter for young pilots.”

Having Debbie’s attention he continued, “The Stingray was built for speed and maneuverability,” he paused, “under the sea.  However, its functionality is very much in line with learning to fly.  Let’s take her for a spin.”  As if by magic the craft began to rise level with the pier, and a gangplank emerged from an opening in the vessel.

“Cool,” Becky quickly followed Captain White aboard.

Debbie hesitated but a moment, and then rushed aboard, “Can I drive it?”

“Let’s test the system first,” Captain White pulled out an old clipboard with several sheets of paper beneath the large clip.  “Read these off to me,” he handed the checklist to Becky.

“Power on?”

“Check,” the Captain responded.

“Fault detection unit green?”

“Check,” Jonas replied.

“Stabilizer Trim green?”

“Check,” Captain White continued.  Jonas White had done this checklist hundreds of times.  He not only had it memorized but could also see it on his microcomputer lens in his eye, but he wanted to make his point.

Debbie started to twitch, but remained silent.

After all 67 items had been confirmed to be on, and or in the green, Captain White ordered, “Take your seats, put on your restraints and let’s see what this old tub can do!”

Rather than screens, the protective shields cranked down, and a broad series of apertures or windows provided an actual view of the exterior that gave them a 180 degree view.  As always, during the daylight period, the sky was clear and the water was a milky turquoise on a calm sea.  The Stingray’s magnetic attachment to the moorings released and the craft eased out into the bay.

The cabin of the Stingray was roomy for four, but had seating for eight.  A small head occupied a corner less than four steps behind the captain’s chair.  A door was centered on the back wall.  Debbie assumed it was for storage, as the cabin occupied the front third of the craft.  The seats were comfortable, and oversized, but she detected that the front seats were beginning to show some wear.  The low purr of the engine was beginning to make her sleepy.

“I’m not sure how this is going to help train me to be a better pilot,” Debbie complained.  “Unless I’m piloting slow freighters across the universe.

“We’re still in the harbor”, Captain White stated flatly.  “It is important to pay attention to landings and takeoffs in all environments.  In a harbor you must use extreme caution.”

“Why?” Debbie moaned.

Captain White swiveled around, keeping one eye ahead, while managing to stare at Debbie with the other, “You tell me.”

“I suppose you could run into another craft entering or leaving,” Debbie replied, trying to escape the staring eye of Captain White.

“Yes, much like you have to beware of other craft entering and leaving the tarmac at Europe or any other landing pad.  That’s why we make flight plans, and follow them.”

Debbie blushed sheepishly.

“What else?” he turned to Becky.

Becky jumped at her name.  “Something about waves?  My uncle took us on his boat once and I remember him talking about that as we passed the buoys to the entrance of the harbor.”

“Exactly,” Captain White nodded.  “When we are in a confined space, such as a harbor, the wake we create causes waves that continue on to the shore and back again.  I once tried to watch the waves on a pond when I threw in a rock.  The waves don’t stop.  Once they hit the shore or another object they continue back out, back and forth.  Your wake might tip over a row boat you don’t even see.”

Debbie was sitting back in her chair with her arms folded, but Becky noticed that she was listening.

“Demeter itself is a sort of harbor.  Your actions are like waves.  The bigger the action, the bigger the wave.  And, you never know what that wave might topple.  In Demeter, creating a landslide creates a shift, ever so small to the ecosystem.  That means individuals and teams have to work to resolve the problem it has created.  Who knows what ripples that causes to their lives beyond work.  When you bait the Slick admiralty, the ripples may affect negotiations on something totally unrelated.”

“Then what you’re saying is we shouldn’t do anything, or have any fun,” Debbie snapped.

Captain White turned to her fully, as they had exited the harbor.  “No, but little waves in a harbor are better than big ones.  Meanwhile, once you get into open waters, the rules can change,” he pushed a lever forward slowly, and the pitch of the engine rose to a roar.  The craft jerked forward pushing everyone back in their seats.

The Sting Ray flew through the water like a jet ski, but faster.  It plowed a giant furrow across the mirror calm Sea of Demeter.  The white foam spraying on either side of the boat brought laughs and giggles from Captain White’s two passengers.  For the next hour he demonstrated the controls and computer screens, and how they worked.

“They’re almost like the one’s on the Pegasus,” Debbie beamed.

Captain White pulled up the charts on the two main screens on the far wall.  “And if you can read these, learning to read star charts will become second nature.”

Becky was scratching her head as she looked at the charts, “There’s something odd about these charts, they seem to project three dimensions rather than two.”

“Oh did I forget to mention,” Captain White smirked, as the front panel opened, and a wheel emerged.  “This is not just a surface craft,” and as he pushed forward on the control wheel, the Sting Ray dove into the Sea of Demeter.

It was late in the afternoon when the trio returned to the harbor.  Both Becky and Debbie and captained the craft both on the surface and in the depths of the Sea of Demeter.  Captain White indicated that at its greatest depth the Sea of Demeter bottomed out at 1200 fathoms.  The he had to explain what a fathom was.  Even Becky got confused.

“So it might be five feet, or five and a half feet or six feet, but its really 6.08 feet?  But that sort of depends on whether you’re a fisherman, or a freighter, or in the British navy?  Where in the world did you come up with 6.08 feet?” Becky looked puzzled.  “This is screwy.”

Captain White looked apologetic.  “I probably shouldn’t have gotten into the history of the term.  If the depth is under 30 feet, we still say feet.  But on Demeter a fathom is exactly six feet.  Simple as that.”

Debbie laughed, “Yeah sure, how many hand lengths, how many arm lengths from the elbow to the tip of the fingers.  It’s a weird concept, and you’ve convinced me it’s a kooky way to measure things after you explained it.  Why don’t we just use metrics?”

Captain White laughed, “I asked the same thing of the Director-General a few years ago.  Remember the waves?”

“What has waves got to do with it?” Debbie looked like she was about to lose interest.

“The ripples of everything we do,” Jonas smiled darkly.  “We were first invited to come to Demeter over 600 years ago.  Units of measure were derived from that period.  The Cryellians have their own units of measure.  The Slicks have their own units of measure, much like metrics I might add.  So if we change from feet to meters, it will mess up all the translation of the relationship to their measures that has evolved over centuries.  So it’s not even just what we want to do.”  He then laughed, “Besides, I don’t want to learn a new way to calculate things after this many decades.”

Debbie captained the Sting Ray into the harbor, at harbor speed.

As Captain White, Debbie and Becky hiked back up to the train station Jonas asked, “So can you see how piloting the Sting Ray can help you become better pilots for hoppers, flyers, and yes,” he paused, “even fighters?”

“Yes,” the girls chimed in unison.

While waiting for the next train he turned to Debbie, “I’m going to do something I pray I will never regret,” he looked like he was about to shoot his own dog.  “I’m giving you and Becky full access to the Sting Ray.  You can pilot and study the charts for the next two cycles, which is twenty days on Demeter.  Can you take care of my baby without wrecking her?”

“You bet I can!” Debbie responded enthusiastically.

Turning to Becky, “Can you promise me that you’ll keep her under control?” Jonas added.

“I’ll try,” Becky replied hesitantly, then more forcefully, “I will do my best.”

“Open your channels and I’ll pass you the codes.  Twenty days should be enough time to get the powers that be to settle down, and we’ll get you back in the air.  Meanwhile, good sailing.”

“Sailing?” Becky queried.

“Figure of speech,” the old man smiled.

Watch that left hook

Aloha – If you have followed the antics of the some of the characters in the Demeter series you’re aware that Debbie’s character is a fun character that tends to react, sometimes without thinking.  Meanwhile, Becky’s character is the quiet character that likes nothing better than a corner and a good book.  The following provides a bit of role reversal in Haumeah that we’re moving toward final editing (third party) on.  Enjoy!

“It’s going to have to do,” Ryder responded.  “I anticipate a reaction from the Sagittarius fleet within five days.  I don’t think they’ll move faster than that after the fiasco with Admiral Jaeckel, but no more than seven days.  That’s too soon.  I have an idea for some delays, but seven days is it.  We still need ten days.  We won’t even have all the light cruisers in for training for another two days.  I’d like to put a permanent sock in Derval Sochal’s mouth,” he finished.

“Probably won’t fit right now,” Debbie commented as she and Becky entered the drawing room.

Becky blushed brightly.

“I assume I know why you’ve summoned us,” Debbie responded jauntily.  “Vaughn’s big-mouthed sister was bragging she’d toppled your house of cards.”

“What did you do?” Ryder asked morosely.

With an over dramatic flair Debbie pointed at herself with both hands, “Me?  I didn’t do anything,” she affirmed.  Smiling broadly she finished, “Now slugger over here I can’t say the same for.”

All eyes turned toward Becky.  Ryder looked at her closely.  Guilt was written all over her face, as she looked down at her hands.  He noticed that the right hand was scuffed up as if she had taken a fall, then he gasped, “You didn’t!”

Becky looked him in the eye, “I’m afraid I did.”

“I waited for her left hook to finish things up, but that Sochal girl fell like a rock as soon as Becky smacked her in the mouth.  It was amazing.  I wish I’d thought to record it, but it happened so suddenly.  Big mouth spouting off, then whammo,” Debbie smacked her closed fist into her palm with an echoing effect.

“I’m surprised they let you go,” Barry interrupted, while Joel stood with his mouth agape staring at Becky.

Becky finally spoke, “I don’t think they knew what to do.  About half the people in the crowd cheered, and the other half looked like Joel does now.”

Joel closed his mouth with a snap.

“It helped that Vaughn’s dad and Vaughn got in a war of words with Vaughn and Derval’s mom.  The scene was a bit chaotic when we left.” Debbie added.  “I can’t wait to tell Cynthia about this, pow” she swung her arm into the air again for effect.  “Wish I’d thought to do it first.  I bet she’d still be unconscious if I had.”

Ryder fought to keep a grin from creeping back into his face as he visualized over and over again timid Rebecca Creer punching out Derval Sochal.  “Okay, anyway, you can probably guess why I need to see you then.”

“Slick reaction,” Debbie and Becky said in unison.

“Afraid so,” Ryder agreed.  “We have ten days left until the Orion Task Force arrives, if I’m counting my days correctly, and I know that I am.  We have five to seven days before the Sagittarius fleet responds by the most probable scenarios I’ve been able to run. ”

“Won’t they be here tomorrow?” Debbie interrupted.

Ryder’s grin widened to a painful smile, “If you were commanding the Sagittarius League fleet I suspect that you would be here tomorrow.  But keep in mind, Admiral Jaeckel ran out of the Haumeah belt in fear of a sizeable Orion fleet already in the belt.  I’m sure the debate over what kind of force we have here already is a point of serious contention.  So five to seven days.  This is a better scenario than Demeter was.  We know the fleet will be here and when.  We don’t have to hold out for weeks, we just need a few days.  Unfortunately, you also only have a few days to organize the Haumeahan fleet with Vaughn, who should be here shortly.”

Is Debbie flying again?

When I think of Hondo’s character in the Demeter series I envision Sam Elliott at his crankiest.  Following is an excerpt from Return to Demeter in which Debbie is again at the controls of transportation Ryder finds himself trapped in :o)

Less than two Demeter weeks had passed and Debbie was driving Ryder crazy.  She seemed determined to kill herself.  That was bad enough, but Ryder and company were with her.  He knew it had been a mistake to agree to let her fly the hopper to Shimmer’s Head.  He thought letting her co-pilot with Ensign Steerman would result in the calmer head ruling.  Instead, Steerman seemed to have gone primitive on them.  Obviously Debbie and Steerman were taking turns seeing who could do the most outlandish thing in the hopper as they traveled to the retreat.

The good news was that the flight took less than two hours.  The bad news was that they traveled twice as far as they needed too.  He was grateful there were no ports to look out on the way.  Twice he heard the types of oohs, coming from the cockpit that suggested near misses, and amazing saves.

Ryder ceremoniously got off the craft and kissed the ground when they arrived at Shimmer’s Head.  Cynthia didn’t even argue with him about the dramatic gesture.  Shimmer’s Head was a break in the narrow canyon that ran the length of the Ashiijin River.  The cliffs rose hundreds of feet on either side.  The far side of the river was climbable if one didn’t mind getting sliced to pieces with the dangerous looking fractured rock slides.  The near side was sheer.  There was a pueblo-like lodge, with a covered porch, and one storage building near the water.  The alcove ran back perhaps a quarter of a mile.  The caretakers of Shimmer’s Head were Hondo and his wife Maggie.

Hondo was actually a retired colonel from the DDF, Colonel Marion Robert Roundy.  He had retired from the DDF seven years earlier, after he had killed the Director-General in a duel.  His wife Margaret Olmsted had retired from DDF intelligence at the same time.  While on Earth, Ryder had a few questions arise that he wanted to get clarified, and decided to ask Hondo face-to-face rather than ask his grandfather.

Another of Robert Heinlein’s best Juvenile Science Fiction

I’ve previously reviewed Citizen of the Galaxy by Heinlein.  Today I’m going to discuss another early favorite written by Robert Heinlein, Between Planets.  Unfortunately, the reader has to suspend believe regarding Venus.  Venus is Heinlein’s vision is a muggy, swampy world.  Earth colonies survive, and to an extent thrive with toehold colonies on the planet.  They share the world with another sentient group of Dragons who are pacifists and I suspect look at Earthlings and wild adolescent children for justifiable reasons.  Mars also supports an indigenous, intelligent lifeform.

The story line in many ways portrays Earth like the 18th century England… expansionist, colonizing, ruling, without much thought to how they are ruling their subjects in these colonies.  They are not portrayed as evil, just not empathetic.  Nonetheless, Earth’s ruling class are the villains for the novel.

The protagonist is young Don Harvey, who has been studying on Earth, but when things begin to look like war is brewing, his parents summon him home to Mars.  His timing is off, and he is forced to decide whether to return to Earth or go on to Venus. He chooses Venus in hopes that he will eventually be able to return to Mars.  Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

It’s a great adventure story for young readers.  It has interesting lessons relative to how we treat people who aren’t the same as we are.  It also addresses on a grand scale the concept of bullying.  This is not a dystopian novel, but it does address many of the same issues.  As with all Heinlein juvenile science fiction it shows the worlds of the future with great optimism.

Northern Lights and Tithe Day

Aloha – About ten years ago I was in southern Alberta, Canada for a family reunion.  I did not have a camera with me one late night/early morning as I did a six hour round trip to pick up some extended family members who had arrived in Calgary for the reunion and being an in-law I volunteered to make the drive to pick them up.  The trip was well worth it.  My understanding is that it is very unusual to enjoy the northern lights in the summer, but that particular night (between midnight and 2am, I caught the glimmer of something odd in my rear view mirror as I drove south.  It was probably three or four minutes before I realized that I was getting a first hand northern lights experience.

When writing the dawning chapter, entitled “Titheday” the northern lights are what I was thinking of regarding the unusual way that daylight was created inside the world of Demeter.  The picture above is a good representation, but the video of 12,000+ photos is a much better way to enjoy the entire sense of the lights.  You can get to the video and story at

Happy Boxing Day

Reduce the Christmas Shopping Stress … at least if you have friends who love Science Fiction

Aloha – It is December 24th, and while speaking with a good friend last night, he informed me that he had not yet done ANY of his Christmas shopping.  This morning at 5am my middle son was up because he had run out of propane and his domicile was freezing.  After attempting to help him figure out how to find propane at 5am I was awake, and thought the whole notion of last minute shopping for gifts or propane is very stressful.  So I decided to provide an easy option for my friends and readers.  I’ve reduced the price of all four books I’ve written that are available on Amazon as e-books to 99 cents (the minimum that Amazon allows :o).  This is a Christmas Eve/Christmas Day offer to help you finish up any last minute Christmas shopping you’re stressing over.  The first three titles are the first three books in the Demeter series.  The fourth book is a “how to” book I republished last year on how to avoid getting ripped off at car repair centers (years ago I was the COO of a large automotive repair chain so I speak from experience).  Browse, shop, and avoid the stress for those last minute science fiction junkies, and/or your friend who just got ripped off at a repair shop.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Oshogatsu Omerito!

So what is going on with Debbie’s character?

So what is going on with Volume 4 of the Demeter series edits for Haumeah? A lot. Debbie continues to evolve and a delightful and frightening character. The photo I’m sharing is obviously not Debbie for the excerpt I’m sharing, but you can begin to see how she has evolved and yet is still the same in the following excerpt:

Debbie began the launch sequence, and the soft purr of the Raven engine came to life.  “If you don’t want to come along for the ride, you better get off!  I’m lifting off in twenty seconds,” turning to Becky she advised, “Start the launch countdown,” then back to Zaina Wepesi, “Find a safety harness or you better start running.”

“You can’t frighten me!” Zaina took the challenge and sat down in the navigator’s station.  “We may all die, but I will be there to testify to your ancestors that you are a fool,” she buckled in.

“Ten seconds to launch,” Becky announced.  The purr of the Raven thrust system began to increase in intensity.

Debbie seemed distracted for a moment, “Not right now!” she spoke, and Becky at first thought Debbie was talking to her, but she continued.  “Duncan, I’m busy, we can talk about that when I get back.”  With a mischievous grin on her face, Debbie took the Raven airborne.  The craft stuttered for a moment, then found its balance.

“How fast to do you think my little bird will fly to Europe against atmosphere?” she asked to no one in particular.

“I thought we were going to try a run up to Shimmer’s Head and back,” Becky inquired, but already sensed the answer.

“Heck that won’t tell us if she’s ready to go, let’s give her some juice and see how she runs,” Debbie laughed a little too loudly.

Zaina Wepesi sat stiff as a board.  At least she fits comfortably into her seat, Becky thought.  The seating was designed for the much taller PerSians making Debbie and Becky look like small children driving a rather large car.  Becky couldn’t help but think that maybe they were acting like small children, but kept the thought to herself.

Debbie leveled the Raven at a thousand feet and started to accelerate the craft.  A few seconds later the whole ship started sputtering and shaking.

“I told you we needed to run more tests!” Zaina chided from her seat.

“I don’t need any backseat drivers today,” Debbie snipped as the craft began to lose altitude.

“You may be able to get it to hover if you switch off the power and shift to emergency systems,” Zaina spoke up again as it they began to fall.

Debbie looked perplexed, but unrepentant.  Becky prepared to enter the voice activated program code for emergency systems, but Debbie waved her off.  “Let me think,” Debbie advised.

Three or four seconds that felt more like an eternity to Becky passed when she saw the light come on in Debbie’s eyes.  “This could be good or bad,” she muttered out loud.

“Good, I hope!” Becky responded, not realizing that Debbie had been talking to herself.

“Hold on to your seat!” and with that, Debbie pushed the nose toward the ground into a sharp dive.  “I think this might do the trick.”

At two hundred feet, Debbie pulled the craft out of the dive, and the power system caught.  She drew the controls to her arching the craft skyward again.

“You scared me to death,” Becky admitted.

“We’re not done yet,” Debbie spoke but her jaws were locked.

Demeter Series launch party T- a couple of hours

Aloha – We are having a launch party in celebration of the Demeter science fiction series.  Volume 3, Defending Demeter is available now at Amazon.  Hint:  You’re welcome to buy a copy of Return to Demeter and Defending Demeter, but don’t buy a copy of volume 1, Demeter tonight :o)

Return to Demeter is available at

Defending Demeter is available at

Debbie convinces kidnappers to let her pilot the flying saucer

Aloha – Ryder’s younger sister Debbie exudes confidence in almost all settings.  When Ryder and his friends are drafted or kidnapped, depending on your point of view, Debbie immediately wants to fly the interstellar craft.  By the time they reach Demeter she has convinced the Captain to let her do exactly that.  The following is excerpted from Chapter 7, Arion.

Ryder came to himself and moved on down the stairway. At the bottom, he turned and looked at the Pegasus and realized why they had lost their windows. The ship had reformed to a circular shape. “A flying saucer?” Ryder commented.

Cynthia came up and stood next to him. “It sure looks like a flying saucer, like they show on those UFO movies. Maybe this is where they got the idea from.”

“I wonder how big it is now?” Ryder asked.

About this time, Debbie came bouncing down the staircase. “It’s three stories high, and in saucer mode it can be as small as sixty feet wide. However, at the moment it is ninety-four feet in diameter to meet the minimum needs of its passengers, luggage, and cargo.”

“Great, now I have a walking encyclopedia for a sister. We’ll start calling you Debbipedia.”

“You can’t bother me today. I got to fly the Pegasus,” Debbie gushed. “In fact, Captain White has agreed to give me and Becky flying lessons as soon as we settle in.”

“Great! There goes our ride home. I hope they have a good body shop here,” Ryder responded.

As the lights began to flare in Debbie’s eyes, Cynthia interjected, “That’s wonderful news Debbie. I’m sure you’ll make a great pilot.”

This seemed to defuse the battle before it even began. Cynthia whispered to Ryder, “You could lighten up on her once in a while.”

“Sure,” Ryder replied. “Debbie, I’m sure you’ll be the best pilot in the class.”

Just then Rebecca joined them. “Oh, so you think I’ll stink as a pilot?”

Ryder just turned red and realized he was in a no-win situation.

Demeter and Return to Demeter are available on Amazon.  Defending Demeter should be out for Christmas.  Check out the first few chapters of Demeter at: