Aries 181 by Tiana Warner Genre: SciFi, LGBT
A crime spree to steal aerospace technology. An intern with the brains to stop it. When Jess uncovers evidence that her boss is stealing technology to build his company, her coveted internship at Aries turns from dream job to catastrophe. Worse, her boss cons another young woman into becoming his accomplice, and the duo’s chemically enhanced skills and weapons help them become the most infamous supercriminals to sweep the tech world. Before they pilfer every aerospace lab in North America, Jess must use her ingenuity to stop them—risking her career, her relationships, and maybe even her life. Goodreads * Amazon
Tiana Warner is the best selling author of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy. Her books have been acclaimed by Writer’s Digest, Foreword Reviews, and the Dante Rossetti Awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. Tiana enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and is an active supporter of animal welfare. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads
Excerpt from Chapter 5
Beneath the chandelier of the hotel’s massive ballroom, hundreds of people wound
shoulder-to-shoulder through the exhibitor booths. Halley was one of them, head on a
swivel, dazzled by all the technology. The companies had brought their flashiest
prototypes, priciest equipment, and most charismatic staff—a smorgasbord of the most
cutting-edge tech the world had to offer.
The number of exhibitors filling the ballroom injected hope into Halley. Maybe she
didn’t have to be a “hello, would you like a flyer?” girl.
Phone ready, she took notes on what companies to apply for. She was determined to
find a solid job prospect before the night was out.
A 3D printing booth brought her to a stop. One of the employees in front had a white
prosthetic arm that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, which he was using to
solve a Rubik’s Cube. Intrigued though Halley was, the booth was surrounded by viewers
trying to get a better look, and she continued on, letting the flow of the crowd guide her.
She stopped at another cluster of people who were wearing headsets, looking around
and waving their arms. Augmented reality, no doubt. One guy was making an odd
gesture akin to milking a cow.
Okay, humanity had either reached a peak, or it was officially doomed.
“Want to try?” said a twenty-something employee, catching her staring.
Halley summoned some extrovert powers and stepped closer. She took the device from
the girl’s outstretched hand.
“Are you hiring software developers?”
“We are. Are you looking for full time?” said the girl, helping her tighten the headset.
A 3D dreidel appeared on the booth. Halley reached out and spun it by closing her
fingers over the air where the augmented object appeared.
“Internship. I’m a Computer Science undergrad at UBC.”
“Great! I’d watch our job listings online to see if anything comes up.”
So … is that a soft rejection?
Halley let the girl show off a 3D tap dancer and a kettle she could pour—but the
graphics were terrible. She had seen better dancing hot dogs and twerking rabbits in
“You should try augmenting information about the surroundings—maybe the pipe
network beneath the floor—instead of a tap dancer.” She handed back the headset.
“Show prospects the potential for real-world applications. Military. Architecture.
Construction. You know.”
The girl stared at her blankly. Halley moved on.
The next booths had robotics, drones, and sensors for self-driving cars—engineering
that was tragically beyond her skill set. She stopped at a company that made wearable
GPS devices. The guy showed her a web interface where he’d tracked his cat’s day-to-day
journeys using a GPS collar. Halley refrained from pointing out that tracking a cat
wouldn’t stop it from getting run over.
“We’ve got two internships open,” he said, handing her a business card.
“Excellent. What’s the position?”
“Are you comfortable wearing a GPS collar?”
“Yes. Wait, what?”
The guy flashed her a charming smile. “Kidding. We’re hiring devs.”
Halley’s cheeks warmed. She gave a weak laugh and dropped her gaze to the business
This, she was qualified for and interested in. She made a note in her phone to send
them her resume.
One prospect in the bag. A couple of others would be nice, and then she could go
home, roll herself into a blanket burrito, and call the night a success.
Past the GPS booth, two girls struck a Charlie’s Angels pose in what looked like an
airport security scanner. They held still while it whirred around them, rendering their
shape on a computer screen. A 3D scanner. Halley entertained the idea of becoming
immortalized as a 3D model, posing like she’d died dramatically in someone’s arms. But
that would mean finding a willing stranger. Besides, the queue of geeks waiting their turn
stretched out of sight.
She continued on, contemplating how to start her cover letter to the GPS company.
I made an idiot of myself when I met you at the Vancouver Tech Show … Your
useless cat demo was intriguing.
A spacey-looking car rotated in the middle of the room, which must have been self-
driving. Beyond that was the aerospace section, marked by a massive rocket standing in
the midst. Halley smirked. Funny how competitive men got about rockets. This particular
eight-foot phallus stood erect in the middle of the booths, showing everyone how much
bigger it was than all the other exhibitors’ products.
Then Halley saw the logo on the side, and her heart skipped a beat. Heat rushed to
her face, making her lips tingle.
This was an Aries rocket.
In front of it stood a vertical banner explaining a launch vehicle concept. The booth
had stacks of flyers and a bowl of miniature satellites.
And there, standing beside it, talking animatedly to a young man wearing a backpack,
was Tony, her interviewer. He was more handsome than she remembered, dressed for
the occasion with his thick hair gelled back. He wore a charcoal suit with the jacket open,
revealing a white collared shirt underneath.
Before Halley could stop herself, she imagined what it would be like to unbutton that
Then he looked up. She flinched and turned away.
Dammit. Their gazes had definitely connected. Should she go over to him? What
would she say? He probably didn’t remember her, and she’d look pathetic for thinking
“Hey, there!” A guy with a Volunteer badge appeared out of nowhere, motioning in
the opposite direction of Tony. “I’m Tim. Would you be interested in—?”
“Yes.” She bolted in that direction.
Tim jogged beside her. “Love the enthusiasm! This way.”
She brought a hand to her face, trying to calm the charbroiled tomato feeling in her
They excused their way through the crowd, Tim checking to make sure she was
following. Perplexed, Halley stayed close behind.
They arrived at a circle of computers and gaming chairs. Five of the six chairs were
already occupied. A banner advertised a Guavasoft-sponsored hackathon.
Halley’s mouth dried up. Shit. What did she agree to?
Cheers erupted behind her, mostly from women.
“Go, girl! Represent!”
The other computers were occupied by dudes, who all appeared older than she was.
“Winner gets five hundred bucks and an interview with Guavasoft,” said Tim, the total
asshole who tricked her into this.
Halley stood immobile, stage fright ready to come out in the form of projectile vomit.
Why? Why did she think going out tonight was a good idea?
The crowd cheered. The other participants were looking at her. Tim grinned,
motioning to the vacant seat.
Five hundred bucks. Interview with Guavasoft.
Halley weighed which was the more embarrassing choice: running out of the building,
Tim picked up a megaphone. “Let’s hear it for our final participant!”
Never had a round of applause sounded so sinister. She glanced around as if searching
for the place from which the hungry lions would emerge.
“Um—” said Halley.
“Hands off the keyboard until I say go,” said Tim, making eye contact with each of
the six hackers. “On my word, open the doc on your computer to read your challenge.
You have one hour.”
The empty chair waited. Halley had been looking for an opportunity, and the universe
had shoved her straight into one. She could do this. She should do this.
Pretending she wasn’t at the center of a crowd full of geniuses, Halley sat.
A new PC lay before her, Visual Studio installed as the programming environment, a
Word document titled Challenge.docx ready to open.
“Hackers ready!” said Tim.
Halley grabbed the mouse.