Zac stood in his office and scanned the briefing file in front of him, looking up briefly as Colonel Archer arrived. He was aware of her standing to his left but said nothing as he finished looking over the report.
‘So, not what we’d hoped, Archer.’
‘No, Sir. Fewer groups of refugees are arriving. I don’t think there will be many more. We can clear cities 24, 30 and 11 from the board. They’re not viable.’
Zac glanced at the map on the wall. It was accurate as they had been able to make it. Everyone who arrived at their camp was questioned carefully to determine which city they came from, which cities they passed and other important environmental information.
‘You can take 36 off the map, as well as 15.’
‘Were they both destroyed by New Corp?’
‘No. 36 is full of radiation, it won’t be safe to inhabit for decades to come. Shame really, a stronghold in the mountains would have been a tactical advantage.’
‘Not when you read the latest report, Sir.’ Archer bit her lip as she waited for her superior to catch up on the results of weeks of investigation. She caught herself tapping her fingers impatiently and held back the urge to speak before he’d finished reading. Finally, Zac put the handheld down and leaned heavily on the desk in front of him.
‘The entire country?’
‘That’s what it looks like, Sir.’
‘And the calculations are correct?’
‘To the best of our knowledge.’ Archer paused. ‘Who are the people you brought with you, Sir?’
Zac pushed himself to standing and began ticking names off his fingers. ‘Artem you know. From City 42 we have their former rebel leader, Martha Hamble with her son as well as Archivist Kira Jenkins and former Force detective Jed Jenkins with their children. Dr Max Carter and Dina Grey are scientists, originally from Camp Eden, and Ash is one of Jed’s men.’
‘Perhaps their scientists can independently verify the data for us. It might also make them join our cause, when they know some of the facts.’
‘I don’t think we need to worry about whether they will join or not. None of them are pro New Corp.’
‘How do you know, Sir?’
Zac closed down his info wall, indicating that he wanted to leave the room, and Archer came with him as he swiped to exit.
‘New Corp wiped out Artem’s complex…’
‘Yes, we know that, Sir.’ Archer interrupted.
‘Kira’s parents were there. As was one of the new mothers from City 42. With her child.’
Wide-eyed, Archer paled and took a step back.
‘Are they all… dead?’
‘Completely annihilated. I don’t think we need to be worried about them being motivated to help us. We might have to hold them back.’ Zac gestured at the discarded handheld on the table. ‘Make sure they get a copy of your latest report. I want them to have all the facts.’
A Bite of… Claire Buss
Q1: How much do you see your Gaia books as being about our actual future?
A lot of the technology I mentioned has basis in things that are being developed at the moment and my use of sweeps is an extension of how invasive social media can be, especially Twitter. I do believe that the next mass extinction event will be manmade, and I like to think that the planet, guided by Gaia perhaps, is capable of balancing itself out despite the damage mankind is making. Is it inevitable that one ruling, faceless company will be in charge of everybody’s life? You tell me.
Q2: If there was one thing from the Gaia series you could have in real life, what would it be and why?
Solar-powered transport would be awesome, I’d love a skimmer.
Q3: Cats or dogs – and why?
Neither. In theory, both are loveable with many attractive qualities, but I have small people, they provide all the walking, pooping, feeding and cleaning I could possibly want.
Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. She continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake. You can find all her books on Amazon, share her thoughts on her blog, follow her on Facebook stalk her on Twitter or sign up for her newsletter. You can also participate in her Facebook group.