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The Explainer

Pontiac, MI

Moira fiddles with a nickel-sized black-and-silver enamel pin on her lapel. Across the conference table, the man whose name she has never remembered is apparently still talking. Alan? Aaron? Probably something with an A...

With great reluctant effort, she wills herself to focus on him.

"...package combines the leading-edge GNSS engines with a device that actually measures your acceleration in six different dimensions, would you believe it! And it also has a three-dee compass, which tells you where you are going, anywhere in the world..."

Maybe Arthur? Also, was this guy for reals? Such a smarmy ass. Moira fidgets as she feels the stress building.

"...nothing like this on the market; we would know, we have a combined eight years of industry experience on our team and I think you will find we can help you solve even your most complicated navigation problems-"

Moira has had enough. "Bullshit."

"-excuse me, little lady? I assure you-"

"No. You probably need to do more market research if you think a combined avionics package with a nine-axis inertialmagneto unit and GNSS is anything revolutionary or special. I mean, I built my own as a de rigeur lab assignment as an undergrad-"

"Well, that sure is a special little project, girl. I can guarantee that our system is like a Porsche to your tricycle though! You see, we take the results from over three different sets of satellites and using advanced math, we can..."

What. The. Fuck. She grits her teeth and interrupts the guy. Arnie, maybe?

" I was saying before you interrupted, you also have yet to tell me what I actually asked, which was: " she ticks off the points on her fingers for emphasis, "1. whether your systems are certified for vacuum; 2. what your systems' behavior is above a hundred kilometers altitude; and 3. what your systems' behavior is above Mach two. If all you are doing to do is condescendingly explain to me things I know better than you, we are done here."

The man sputters and turns violet, "Look, now, little lady, there is no need to get bitchy with me-"

Moira's voice is so cold, the air crackles. "You will cease patronizing me, Arnold, and you will immediately exit the premises, either voluntarily or with a police escort. You have successfully rendered yourself and any future company who stoops to employ you barred from doing business with The Luminiferous Motors Company in any way. Shannon will see that you find the nearest available exit."

She stands, turns on her heel, and leaves the room. An aching, frigid, siren of crystalline anger has descended upon her and she knows she must avoid taking any further action on Arnold for fear of an uncontrollable escalation. She calls out as her fury takes her down the hall. "Artemis."

A soft chime. “Yes, Moira?

"Please ask Shannon to escort Mr. Arnold Loria of Synergistic Guidance, LLC from the premises with all due haste."

Ok. Shannon has been notified” followed by a soft chime.


A soft chime. “Yes, Moira?

"Please add Mr. Arnold Loria to the permaban database, and set up a company ban filter active if he is on their payroll."

Ok. Banning Mr. Arnold Loria and any company for which he is on payroll” followed by a soft chime.


A soft chime. “Yes, Moira?

"Please alert Ashe priority-one about the new bans, and attach the logs from conference room 3-lambda from the past hour."

Ok. Ashley has been notified” followed by a soft chime.


A soft chime. “Yes, Moira?

"Call Janais."

Janais is currently in a meeting with priority-two do-not-disturb set. Is this priority-one?

"Ah, shit. Belay that, call Kian."

Calling Kian on your earpiece” followed by a soft chime, then the characteristic sound of the telephone network connecting her to her partner.

"Mon ciel étoilé, what is it?"

"Need physical affection. Had an angry. Probably cannot relax alone. Available?"

"I just hit a stopping point with this network analysis, sure. Where are you?"

"Building A, third floor, leaving conference room 3-lambda to the west."

"Hey, ok, I am over in Building C. Can you make it there? Otherwise, I can get over to the lounge in about ten minutes."

"Please? Crashing." And she is. The fury is dissipating fast, leaving her drained, numb, and shaking. "Lounge good. Love. Bye."

"Be there soon, ma mie." A click, as Moira finds the lounge, enters and locks the door, and collapses into an exhausted, overwhelmed heap on one of the large, cozy beanbags scattered about the room. Empty, hollow sobs shake her small frame.

The door lock clicks open, and Kian enters softly, closing and locking it behind her. She walks over to the sad heap in the corner, gently sits on the beanbag next to her, and caresses Moira's head. "Moira, love. I'm here for you, what do you need?"

Moira shifts a little to sit up and free her arms, and signs. «Uncertain. Nonverbal. Soothe?»

Kian asks "Do you need me to sign as well?"

«No, you are fine. Brain not working right. Stupid head vendor and I got angry.»

Kian pulls the trembling woman into her arms and squeezes carefully and tightly, helping Moira center herself with the comfortable stim. "You're my shining little one, and my life is measurably improved with you in it. I love you dearly!"

Moira leans into her larger partner, tangibly relaxing under the body hug and sweet nothings.

After twenty minutes or so, Moira takes a measured deep breath, then releases it quickly. She rubs the smooth arms encircling her to wake Kian up, then signs «Much better now, thank you love. Still nonverbal but we can probably go home.»

Kian unwraps herself from Moira and stands, stretching tired muscles and distracting Moira immensely. She offers a hand to Moira, who takes it and then smiles as she is whisked to her feet (and a little beyond!). "OK, love, your car or mine?"

«I can drive.» Moira shakes her body to get the sleepy out, then opens the door for Kian.

The pair head to the front parking lot, politely wishing Shannon a good day as they pass her desk in the foyer. They reach Moira's car Lavernge in short order, and Moira hops into the driver's seat. The second Kian is buckled in and the passenger door is closed, Moira rockets the car backwards from the spot in a 90° arc, deftly shifts to forward, and tears out of the parking lot smoothly and with vigor. Lavernge whips down Joslyn Road and then Perry Street. Moira fidgets at the light on the Loop, then at the green light, presses both into their seats as she accelerates around the northernmost section of Woodward Avenue. She takes the turn onto Orchard Lake Road more cautiously, and waits for passing traffic to clear before turning onto Bagley Street. Kian is tossed into Moira as she takes the corner onto Gillespie Avenue, then into the door for the turn onto Branch Street.

As Lavernge slows up the driveway, The Den opens the garage door automatically and Moira carefully centers Lavernge in the garage, then shuts her down.

Moira giggles, opening the door into the house while The Den closes the bay door behind the car. Kian smiles at the first audible communication from her partner in almost an hour. "Feeling better, ma mie? We really need to get you a track day again..."

Moira has already gotten half a donut into her mouth, but mumbles around it anyway, "Yesh quite." Swallowing, she continues. "And yeah, I was thinking this weekend that we could go play with cars out at Milford?"

Kian thinks it over briefly. "I can make that work, love. Janais too?"

"If she wants to. She threw up though, last time I took her on the Circle Road."

Kian smiles, remembering the weekend several months ago. "True. And I think she was saying she had a Moonshot install this weekend anyway to make the cluster better for the next round of design work."

"Ooh. Gamma gen-two!" Moira practically bounces with glee, thinking of the increased capacity that would let her generate refined versions of the control surfaces for the nascent spaceplane.

Kian pulls Moira towards her, deftly spinning her in a swing move, then kisses the top of her head. "OK, love, unless you need me for something, I'm going to work on the GLAIVE monitoring and control system in the homelab."

"Nope, have fun with sims!" Moira longingly watched Kian's backside retreat down the hallway.