Original article was published by John J. Sanders (Sandwolf) on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Rising, 1st Evolution
Chapter 16, A Girls’ Night Out, part 1
Once the temperature trends showed that CAT9 was stable, Dominic had Jenny send out a companywide message to stop all production lines. For the next few days, the whole company was focused on preparations for leaving. Employees closed out their personal accounts and did their finalizations. The day CAT9’s temperatures stabilized, the last two trains arrived and were lowered down to the track. The test vehicle had been positioned in front of the trains, only waiting on CAT9, to make the switch from test black-hole to the twinned ones now being maintained by two Q.F.R.s.
Lacey stood at the Anchorage Maglev station entrance with Grizz sitting quietly next to her, watching the people walking around them, they were oblivious to the huge, quiet dog. Lacey absently reached down and smoothed his ears down with a loving touch. She felt him lift his head into her touch and leaned his shoulder into her thigh. They had been bonded companions from the moment Lacey had found him on the side of the forest highway, abandoned as a small pup. She had been on her way back from Wilsonia, where she purchased her supplies. Lacey had seen what she thought was a lost bear cub and stopped to check. She found, a half starved and dehydrated puppy. She nursed him to health, and he became her loyal companion.
Across the street, a dark blue aerocar swept in, hovered for a moment, and then gently settled down in the landing area. The canopy opened to reveal Laira and another woman that Lacey didn’t recognize. Laira quickly got out and crossed the street to Lacey. She embraced Lacey, who returned her embrace.
Lacey pushed Laira away to look at her, “Girl! You are positively glowing! What have you been up to?”
Embarrassed, Laira quietly said, “Dominic and I are…” She couldn’t seem to bring the words out.
But Lacey finished, “Together, just as it should be hun. You deserve him. Though he may not deserve you.” She smiled.
Grizz pushed his massive head at Laira, butted her in the hip. She tentatively knelt down to Grizz and gave his head a loving hug saying to him. “So how is Grizz? Is Grizz a good boy?” Grizz made a bright whimpering sound that Laira took as meaning he was good.
A voice above and behind Laira said, “Laira?”
Laira stood up and turned to Christine, “Christine, this is Lacey Gist, Dominic’s long time friend from Cali.”
Christine extended her hand out to Lacey, “Very pleased to meet you.” She glanced worriedly at Grizz. She thought, “One bite and Perseus is a goner.”
Lacey saw the look of concern on Laira’s friend only laughed and reassured, “He is pretty harmless. I don’t think he has a mean bone in his body. Never seen him do anything aggressive, not even when he was a little pup. Are you afraid of dogs?”
Christine looked at Lacey surprised, “Uh, no. Daddy had bull terriers for years, and we would play chase with them all the time. I have a cat now that’s all.”
“Well, I doubt you have anything to worry about. The last cat that Grizz saw was a bobcat, and I think he was more terrified of the cat than the cat was of him.”
They turned and crossed the street to where Simon patiently waited. Lacey’s luggage followed obediently along behind them. They put the luggage in and encouraged Grizz into the aerocar. Once he was in, they all climbed in.
With the canopy closed, Simon asked, “Destination Ms. Sands?”
Looking at the other girls and smiling, “Kelly’s Salmon Smokehouse. I’m hungry!” She continued to the girls, “I think it must be a great place to eat as it’s one of the places that Dominic frequents.”
Lacey commented, “Sounds scrumptious.”
“So, Lacey. How long have you known Dominic and Laira?” asked Christine.
“Well, I’ve known Nic for some ten years or more. Met him in a tree.” Laira giggled outright while Christine raised an eyebrow.
Christine suggested, while looking at the mischievous look in Laira’s eyes, “I think you will have to give me the whole story.”
So on the way to the smokehouse, Lacey retold the story of how she had rescued Dominic from the evil Sequoia that ate his aerocar. By the time they had arrived at the restaurant, they were all crying from laughing so hard at Dominic’s expense. They dabbed at their tears as they entered through a gated entrance into a large backyard-like area. There were several covered picnic tables, spread throughout the yard. Two small buildings where drinks and condiments were served, a large covered area where many tables surrounded a stage, and to one side of the yard a building where people filed in to make their orders.
Lacey taking a deep breath said, “Yum, I smell apple wood smoke and sweet corn. They must have imported it, seeing as neither grows this far north.” Though the smells were new to Laira, they still made her mouth water reflexively.
The general noise of people visiting and eating stopped suddenly, as they became aware of the three women standing just inside the gate. Laira felt their eyes first, she glanced at the tall, beautiful figure of Lacey with her light blue eyes and gorgeously long red hair. She looked at Christine, who came up to about Lacey’s shoulders, with her raven black hair and her deep penetrating emerald green eyes. They must have looked mismatched and out of place, a dirty blond with deep green eyes and her two companions. From the order house, a large round man wearing an apron walked quickly toward them.
His eyes flicked between them and something behind them. Lacey picked up on it first, as she turned around she saw Grizz, he had decided to follow them from Simon. To Grizz, she started, “Grizz! I told you to stay in the car.”
Grizz looked hurt and put his head down, when the man said, “No. No, it’s okay. He can stay as long as he minds his manners.” Lacey and Christine looked surprised at the proprietor.
Laira put her hand out, “Thank you for allowing Grizz to stay. I’m Laira Sands, and these are my friends, Lacey, and Christine.”
“Well welcome to my humble restaurant. I would like to offer you a more private table over here set aside for people with four-legged family members.”
The three laughed lightly but proceeded in the direction that man indicated. There they found a comfortable picnic table to sit at where Grizz made himself at home underneath.
The proprietor addressed them, “I’m Kelly and this is my smokehouse. On our smoked menu, I have apple and maple smoked salmon, along with roasted corn. Just fresh in from Iowa state. I can grill up some salmon if smoked isn’t your thing. “
“It sounds all very delicious to me. What does Dominic Marshall normally get?”
Surprised by the question, “You know Mr. Marshall?”
All three nodded
He surveyed the three women, “My, my. Well, he usually gets a share of each maple smoked salmon and apple smoked. And of course, corn when I have it.”