Backtracking a little bit, Will and Diana are en route to the ranch.
A little relationship time, you might say….
Diana leaned forward to examine the canyon walls as they threaded through the narrow chasm. According to the map on view in her tablet, they hadn’t yet crossed the boundary of the ranch yet. This was Third Force repossessed land, and it didn’t look as bad as the ranch did. Here, she could see dried grasses on the creek bottoms under the tall pines and some bushes still had dried leaves clinging here and there.
“When are you going up?” she asked Will, instead of answering his question right away.
“Crystal Creek drainage,” he said.
“Good.” That would give her an opportunity to look at the creek bottom on her father’s ranch. “We can eyeball any changes between this Third Force land and Dad’s land.”
“We’re going slow enough to release a data bot.”
“Do you have one ready?”
“I programmed several for on-the-fly release on the way up from Portland for just this sort of contingency.” Will’s gaze darted sideways, briefly, one brow raised.
“Oh yes, Will. Let’s do it. Do I have to get up?”
Will shook his head. “Loaded in an outside compartment. You tell me when and where to release. I loaded three.”
“Oh God, William Parker Landreth, I love you to death. That will be perfect. Saves us time.” Diana blew Will a kiss.
A grin flitted across Will’s face, and his hands relaxed slightly on the yoke. “I thought it was best to be prepared for any contingency.”
“And I love you for it. I was planning on having to take time to do this once we got to the ranch. Now I can do other things.” Diana checked her map. “Can I program release coordinates?”
“Protocol 9-47,” Will answered.
“Got it.” Diana pulled up the protocol and quickly inserted the autorelease settings into the three bots’ programming. All that was left was the pilot’s confirmation of release settings. “Back to you. I’ve set the autoreleases.”
Will nodded, scanning his displays. He clucked a setting into place. “Autoreleases confirmed.”
The bright blue blossom for RELEASE GO flashed in triplicate across her tablet.