Published!

The E.T. Guy is uploaded and in review! It should be available for sale soon! 😀

UPDATE: Here it is!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9ARELN/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1480290827&sr=8-5&keywords=vc+lancaster

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The E.T. Guy Cover

Dear All,

In preparation for the book’s release, I have put the cover below. It took me forever to find a stock photo of a computer, but I finally get the pink titles I always wanted! They never seemed appropriate for Ruth & Gron :p I only wish that dumb plant wasn’t there…

I’m so close to finishing the book! Just two more chapters to go, then formatting and editing. I hope I’ll get it uploaded at the end of the weekend, so look for a Monday or Tuesday release!

the-e-t-guy

Timeline for Office Aliens Universe

This is the timeline I had to come up with to keep everything straight in my head. The new series is set in the future, in the year 2266, and this is how Earth ended up accepting aliens from another planet. I hope it helps you figure out the world-building, since there’s a lot of stuff in my head that hasn’t made it into the book, but I hope it still makes sense.

 

Timeline

On the 24th of October 1945, the United Nations was established.

On the 12th of April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to go into space.

On the 21st of July 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the Moon.

On the 20th of November 1984, the SETI Institute was signed into commission, and began the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

On the 15th of January 2096, the unmanned probe Traveller VII discovered the first extra-terrestrial life, on a planet named Aeaea.

On the 1st of December 2099, the United Nations became the United Nations of Earth, with only nine territories yet to attain member status.

2120 – Sophia Gonzalez Rhea became the first human to walk on Aeaea.

2149 – Aeaea is used as a jump base to reach further into the universe, enabling the discovery of planet Learael and the first sentient alien species, the Rhacahr.

2158 – A small exploratory fleet is sent to Learael.

2173 – The first Rhacahr comes to Earth

2195 – Earth finally agrees to an alliance with the Rhacahr, and an armada is sent to aid them in their war with the Ypex.

2251 – The Ypex spread to planet Teiss

2257 – The UNE agrees to accept Teissian refugees

2260 – Zir leaves Teiss

 

The E.T. Guy: First Chapter

Hi, everyone! Below is the first chapter of my upcoming novel, The E.T. Guy. I hope you like it and let me know what you think 🙂

Chapter 1

“Just call IT,” Susan suggested, watching sympathetically from across the aisle. They shared the Intake Office with four other people, their desks arranged facing each other in two rows of three, and their shifts lined up so they were often alone in there. Lois had her back to the window so she could feel the sun, but Susan could see the sky, so they didn’t fight over the positioning.

“I don’t want to call IT,” Lois grumbled in response, her lips half-hidden behind her curled fingers, her chin propped in her palm. She stared at the screen in front of her like it was a puzzle to solve, searching for the answer as if it was written in a corner somewhere, though she knew from experience it wasn’t. Their software was out of sync with the Rhacahr software again, and she couldn’t fix it herself. She was learning Rhacahr, but what she had was basic. So when the text box came up, “Error” was about the only word she understood.

Lois suppressed a growl and glared instead, closing the message, re-selecting the names, then trying again to drag them into the folder. The purpose of the interface was to share with the Alliance governments the records of the safe arrival and processing of the most recent intake of Teissian refugees. In other words, a group of displaced people from Teiss had arrived, and it was Lois’ job to confirm the names and data so that everything was official and above-board. It was too easy for someone to fall through the cracks on a journey through space, and Earth didn’t want Teiss accusing them of anything.

If Lois couldn’t get this done, it was at best criminal negligence and cause for instant dismissal. At worst, it was treason against the governments of Teiss, as well as the United Nations of Earth. It could be seen as a hate crime, a war crime, or an act of sabotage against the Alliance Treaties.

If she didn’t get these names to copy, she could find herself serving prison time, possibly in maximum security, possibly in space, possibly even facing execution.

Lois sighed and sat back in her chair, resting her stiff back and admitting defeat. She couldn’t fix it herself, and it needed to be done, so she would have to call IT to come and fix it for her. She glanced at the clock that hung on the wall. 11:20am. She’d already wasted almost half an hour on this. Maybe she’d get lucky and Zir would be on a choba break or another call. The interface was so temperamental, surely he would have to be going all over the building. She sighed. She had to call a technician out at least twice a week, and ninety per cent of the time it was Zir who showed up. She knew he was the expert on the Rhacahr interface, but hers couldn’t be the only computer to be struggling with it.

“It’s their job, Lois,” Susan said.

“I know,” Lois replied.

Susan must have seen the resignation on Lois’ face. “Are you going to call them?”

Lois nodded with another sigh. “Yeah, I think I have to,” she said, and dialled the extension, listening to her earpiece ring.

“Good morning, Information Technology Services, this is Aaron speaking, how can I help?”

Lois relaxed a little. Aaron was the IT co-ordinator, he processed the jobs and dispatched technicians to deal with them. He was a sweet guy, really friendly, and he worked hard. She had been worried Zir would answer. The technicians sometimes worked the phones if Aaron wasn’t on the desk, but Zir only did it if there was no one else. Some people said he was hard to understand on the phone, but Lois thought that was unfair. In her opinion, Zir was kept off the front desk because he had the people skills of an Exit sign.

“Hi, Aaron, this is Lois, up in Intake. I’m getting an error message when I try to copy my names over to the interface. Do you think you could send somebody to get it to sync back up again?” she said, pleasant as anything. “And yes, I’ve tried turning it off and on again.”

“Oh, hi, Lois! Yeah, no problem! I’ll send Zir up soon as he’s free,” Aaron chirped back, helpful and like he was genuinely happy to hear from her.

Lois winced. “If he’s busy, you know, I don’t want to rush him. You guys are all trained in the Rhacahr tech, right? You could just send whoever’s available.”

“Sure, but Zir can do it in no time, you know, he doesn’t need to install the translation patch first, he can just do it like that, lickety-split,” Aaron said.

“Lickety-split?”

Aaron laughed. “I read it in this old book. Isn’t it funny? It means fast.”

“Right, well, I’m just saying, you know, it might be faster if you send someone else, rather than wait until Zir is free, even if they do have to install something…”

“It’s fine, Zir’s just walked in,” Aaron told her.

She heard him speak again, presumably to Zir because it was muffled, so he must have been covering his earpiece. She thought she heard Aaron say her name, and then Zir’s much deeper, gravelly response, and Aaron came back to her.

“He’s turned around and is coming straight to you,” Aaron said happily.

“Thanks,” Lois replied, hoping Zir wasn’t just about to take a break, or had another job waiting. She didn’t want him to turn up even grouchier than usual.

“No problem! Anything else I can do for you?”

“No, that’s everything, thanks… I’ll wait for Zir,” Lois told him. “I’m sure he’ll fix it.” They ended the call, and Lois looked up to see Susan watching her. “He’s coming,” Lois said.

“He’s not that bad,” Susan argued.

“I know,” Lois said, refusing to argue back. She wasn’t going to start listing the things she didn’t like about Zir, not when he was going to walk in any minute. It was unprofessional to gossip, and needlessly cruel. Everyone on the Intake team had guessed how she felt about Zir just from watching them interact when he came to fix their computers, but she wouldn’t talk about it. She knew he wasn’t well-liked by most people, and she wouldn’t add to that. He had to work there too, and his life had been hard enough without a hostile work environment.

The glass door to their department swung open with a soft whisper against the carpet, and Lois looked up, a tight-lipped polite smile all she could manage as a welcome. Zir marched straight over to Lois’ desk without greeting her or Susan. Susan stared openly at him as he crossed the room, but he didn’t even seem to realise she was there. He treated her as if she was invisible.

The black pupils in Zir’s yellow eyes had done the unique Volin thing when he looked at her. Volin eyes were yellow with no white, with a limited range of motion that didn’t allow them to look left or right without moving their head. To counter this, their pupils usually took the form of an infinity symbol to increase peripheral vision at the cost of focus. If they saw movement or heard something, the two halves merged into one sphere to focus on whatever had drawn their attention. It was normal to see their pupils in two conjoined halves when they were just walking around, and only see them whole when they were talking to somebody or reading.

Zir was an interesting case, because his eyes always switched back and forth around Lois, as if he was trying to pay attention to her but found her too boring. Lois tried not to take it personally, but after dealing with him for almost two years, it was hard not to wonder why he couldn’t stand to look at her for more than a few seconds at a time. She had watched him talk to other people without doing it, so it wasn’t a medical problem. He just didn’t like looking at her.

“Hello, Zir,” she greeted him with a smile and the highest level of polite professional cheer she could muster for him, which was not much. She had just been through this dance too many times before, with her interest never being reciprocated. She turned her chair as he came around her desk, almost dropping his equipment on her foot, barely acknowledging her greeting with a grunt. He crawled under her desk to work on the Rhacahr hard-drive, a scarab-like blob that was fixed to the underside of her desk where her own computer hard-drive was.

Well, she’d tried and that was all she could do. No one could say she hadn’t tried. Susan gave her a questioning look from across the aisle and Lois rolled her eyes back.

Lois crossed her legs as Zir worked, trying not to tap her toes. She didn’t like the vantage point he had of her legs in her skirt, but it was nothing he hadn’t seen before. If he had ever been friendly towards her she might have worried about it, but as it was, he made her feel like a piece of the furniture, a stool he might prefer to move to get more elbow room.

She let her eyes drift over the body at her feet for the umpteenth time, knowing he couldn’t see her with his head and shoulders out of sight under the desk.

Like all Volin, Zir had tough leathery scales rather than skin, and his were dark green. From the knees up, he was the same size and shape as a young, trim human man, with a slim waist and muscled thighs. From the knees down, his shins ended at an extended heel, so that only the ball of his foot and his toes were on the ground. His legs looked built for speed, like a cheetah. He had two thick toes on each foot, and each toe was mostly hard white claw. Another smaller talon descended from his ankle.

Though she couldn’t see them just then, Lois knew he had two fingers and a thumb on each hand, each twice as thick as a human’s, dominated by thick claws. They didn’t grow from a nail bed, but rather the fingers turned into the claws as the bone tapered to a sharp point, the scales ending in a soft black velvet after the second knuckle. Lois knew these claws had no sensation and could be incredibly sharp, and Zir’s people used them for climbing trees on their home world. People thought they would be clumsy and unwieldy, but actually the Volin could be incredibly precise and delicate with the points, and were found to excel at fiddly tasks like working with computer wiring. The claws could be singed, but didn’t conduct electricity or burn, so technical careers seemed perfect for them.

Zir was wearing the uniform of the support teams at the Department of Extra-Terrestrial Immigration: a black polo shirt with the green United Nations of Earth logo just below the right shoulder. These teams looked after the buildings and everything in it, but had no dealings with official DETI business, so IT wore them, as did Catering, and Estates and Repairs. He also had a tag with his name on it and “Information Technology Technician” written underneath.

Zir’s uniform had been specially altered for Volin employees, so that it was open under his arms and down his sides. This was to allow for the “wings” they had that deployed from wrist to hip. They were a defence mechanism, so he should have no reason to extend them at work, but it was soon found that sleeves and constricting fabric irritated the membrane, and feeling that they couldn’t deploy their wings if they wanted to caused the Volin undue stress.

He was also wearing the uniform khakis, which in his case were actually capris, cut short and tight to suit his inhuman feet, on which he wore black neoprene socks that exposed his claws but covered everything else. This was part of the Volin office dress-code, to appease the humans who didn’t approve of bare feet at work.

His face was characterised by the typical Volin jaw, strong and smooth and culminating in a sharply pointed chin with a small barb underneath. He had prominent cheekbones which made flat planes of his cheeks. Instead of teeth, he had ridges growing in his top and bottom jaw that fit together much the same way and didn’t look that different unless you looked closely. The difference was that the ridges grew continuously, and were easily chipped or eroded. He didn’t have eyebrows or hair, but instead had a mohawk of colourful feathers that he could make stand up if he wanted to attract attention, but Lois had only ever seen it tucked close to his scalp. His ears were pointy and lay close to his head.

“Have you found the problem?” Lois said as she listened to the clicking of his tools against the inner workings of her desk-computer hybrid. Zir always worked quickly, and always had the problem fixed almost embarrassingly fast, as if it had been nothing, but Lois couldn’t just sit in silence. It made her feel ridiculous when they didn’t exchange any small talk at all, just a wham-bam-thank you-Ma’am visit from the alien in IT.

There was a pause in the clicking, and Zir answered “Yes.” He exchanged one tool for another and continued.

Lois nodded. It was obvious when he spoke that English was not his first language, but his use of it was always impeccable. He just had a strong accent on top of the gravelly rasp of his voice. He spoke slowly and carefully as if choosing every word to make sure it was right, and mostly in an emotionless monotone. It made him sound very serious. Lois had heard him speaking in Volin with the others of his species who worked in the building, and the difference had been striking. He had been animated, his voice lively and quick, and full of emotion.

Lois had felt irrationally upset when she had heard how different he was with them than with her. It felt like she was being rejected, shut out, but then she decided that she was just sad on his behalf, because he was forced to communicate in a language in which he couldn’t express everything he wanted to. So the next time she had seen him, she had tried to speak Volin, but he had shut that down quickly. He had just looked offended and told her “I speak English,” so that was the last time she had tried that.

It was obvious he just didn’t want to be friendly with her, that he would rather keep their interactions professional, and that was his right. That was what she insisted to herself, but she had still felt snubbed, and that memory often came back to her when she tried to figure out why she disliked him as much as she did. That, and the fact that he had such an arrogant air. It often made her feel stupid when she couldn’t fix whatever was wrong with her system herself, despite it being department policy that only the trained professionals should attend to bugs in the interface.

“That’s good. I hope you weren’t about to go on your break when Aaron sent you up here,” she said, trying to keep her voice light.

“No.”

“You know you don’t always have to come up here to deal with me if you have other jobs waiting,” she pressed. “I don’t know why Aaron doesn’t let one of the others sort me out.”

There was another pause. “I will come,” he said. Of course he would. It was his job.

Lois looked up at her computer and stopped swinging in her chair as her screen started doing things, messages popping up and disappearing rapidly, the green text flickering. Several progress bars filled and closed themselves one after the other, and Zir pulled himself out from under her desk. He reached for his black bag and jerked his head at the screen.

“Try now,” he said, and Lois obligingly highlighted and moved the names of yesterday’s immigration list into the interface folder, which accepted them as if there had never been a problem.

“Thank you,” Lois said, again feeling stupid that he had been able to fix it so quickly. Everyone knew the interface was patchy at the best of times, human and Rhacahr software just not designed to be compatible, but Zir still made it feel like it was her fault somehow. Maybe it was the way he always towered over her as she sat at her desk, bending over her shoulder to look at her screen.

Zir didn’t reply, he just pulled out the little electronic pad so that she could sign it and close the job, confirming that the problem had been fixed. He took it back and dropped it into the bag. She looked up at him just in time to catch him glance at her face, his pupils tightening from sideways-8s to zeros briefly, before he turned and walked out of the office.

Lois turned to look at Susan.

“See?” her co-worker said, twitching an unconvincing and unconvinced smile. “That wasn’t so bad.”

Lois just shook her head and got back to work.