Chapter Seven “Training and Execution” of part one “The Moon” of a Science fiction novel in progress
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After getting to their room Roberta had reviewed the auto-edited version of her feature which was now complete according to specifications she had progammed into the system in their secured hovercar before she went to dinner. She then started to watch the piece on her minicamera but Joseph had insited that she connect the camera to the room’s television. For some reason thecrowd at Forest Vie Point in the opening sequence disturbed Joseph. He did not know what disturbed him but he made a mental note of the feeling.
They made love once tenderly and fell asleep in eachother’s arms. Life was feeling happy and peaceful. A once dear cousin and a beautiful lady felt like a wonderful improvement over his last few months on Earth. He was feeling the edge melting off his nervous awareness. The crowd of faces seen in a video were vaguely recalled as he reeled off a sort of habitual mental list before falling asleep.
Joseph woke in the middle of the night. He had been sleeping better since being with Roberta. At least on the nights when they made love and slept in the same bed he was more physicaly and emotionaly contented. But he awoke and he had the words of an Old Cukathadreil Training Ritual he had learned many years ago when trying to become a man and still practiced if not as often as a warrior starting to age and looking back on years of manhood. He thought of his childhood forthe second time recently. His father taught him to shoot, fence and practice several unarmed martial arts but also hired indtructors for his three sons. The Culkathadreil Clan had checked also to see if he had enough religious instruction to take their ritual courses — regular religous instruction. Mostly it had been his now unreachable but still living mother who had seen he went to good religious training and education classes. He let the words he remebered waking to play over his mind and let the childhood memories fade into and merge with his more recent memories as his breathing and pulse adjusted to the pracitced rhythyms. Like most of their Clan’s rituals this one borrowed pieces from various sources. In his head he realized he had run through the first part the second clearer time already:
“Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
Christ be beside me,
Shield in the strife.
Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left hand,
Christ all around me,
Light of my life.”
Had he in any since really recited the prayer or remebered it only? The question had no answer. Then the verse “The eyes are the light of the body” and another “Be vigilant for I am sending you out as though you were sheep among wolves.” He felt his body adjusting the rhythyms of his meditative breathing. Verses of scriptures, poems and self commands flowed through his mind.
REALIZE, REALIZE, REALIZE!
There he was. No not he — they. There they stood as he and Roberta left the train station. They were wearing ski suits and very much were the tourists heading along as if checking in to the resort. One had a red moustache the other an eye patch They were behind him in the blue rental hovercar when he was picking up Roberta for supper and had gotten into their backgound shot out of the cars at Forest View Point. One had shaggy blond hair and the other a military uniform but no eye patch, moustache or ski suits. They were at the dinner table with two girls who in retrospect were obviously strangers but experienced high end prostitutes. The men had greasy black locks of straight hair and severe suits and their skin was tanned. Joseph had never even consciously noticed them. However, now he was pretty sure he knew who they were, not personaly but organizationaly. They were the Pirates of the Outer Darkness. He had no doubt that they were following him but he did not know why. He reached for the gun he had hidden in a pile of shoes and clothes by the bed. He slipped on his bathrobe and he closed the shades of the suite. He then walked to the door and looked through the peephole. He expected to see nothing but an empty bit of hall and the door of the suite across the hall. Instead he saw the heavier man hiding a piece of electronic equipment behind a wall sconce he could see the man planned on then putting the sconce back into place. Culkathadreil’s mind raced calmly through his options. He sensed several involved either his pills or the superburst transmitter and so without fixing on a specific plan he moved acrocss the room opend his valise and picked up the disguised piece of equipment. Sill the man was holding the electronic gadget, supporting part of the lighting sconce with his elbow pinning it to the wall. In his hand was a small multi use tool.
The security light above the wall sconce had its blinking light off and was obviously de-activated. There was combination knife and stunner showing above his belt while the man’s jacket rode up as he worked. The man was an obvious professional bad guy in this situation.Joseph’s mind rushed through complex and complete thoughts.
“He is installing it with us inside, that makes it much more likely to be weapon with a remote, a sensor could have been installed when we were out. ”
“So could a weapon be installed at a better time. Something is forcing his hand to act off schedule. but the fact that we are inside increases chance it is a real weapon”
“He is most prepared for an attack by me opening the door right now, he had to calculate for that.”
Many other thoughts past through his mind so fast, so fleeting and then they were done. He was half wearing the space mask using eye movements and his hand to adjust the complex computer built into the small object. He was tuning the superburst transmitter as well and quickly as he could. It was good for about twenty superburst even if recharged and four on its battery. They were for secure communications. It was to be his possible secure communication system from the Armstrong. But it had other uses. He was able to sdjust its sensing components so that all the small fields and charges in both the gadget and the light fixture showed up as a receiver grid. The he dialed in the bands of transmission for the composition of the door and the peephole he added a graphic read of the man’s bioelectric field his nerves showing up on screen as bits of data. The distance was very small, negligible. He focused a full single superburst on what he had defined as a receiver. Then before he hit a button and watched the result he lifted a coffee table and put it between him and the door. He put himself between the door and Roberta. he cleared off a few objects, set them down and set the legs forward to the door and braced himself against the top. Then he pressed the button.
The sound was not deafening or even extremly loud but it was complex with the assisted hearing field in the mask’s proximity he could hear the hissing and crackling of electricity. He heard fuses popping which were very small but very powerful. He heard the distinctive slapping pop of two balistic charges or rounds and the rush of flame on a flamable material. He heard a powerful thump against the door but nothing that shattered it. All this he heard and then the sound of a wailing fire alarm and the click of the foam drop and water mist sprinkler system on the ceiling. He evaluated the situation and pushed the transceiver under the bed and the cofee table simply upright and way just before he heard Roberta’s startled, “What is that?”
“Not sure, but grab your robe we need to try to get to an exit.”
Roberta appeared very quickly wearing a suit which he could just barely tell covered no underwear and holding the minicamera she kept in the room which she had just turned on and was manilpulating. “This is Roberta Dupuis with Channel Nine shooting in the Hilton & Hyatt Hotel in Aldrinia.”
Joseph opened the door and watched the body of the man slump in as he opened it. He heard Roberta’s voice become loud and shrill as she tried to describe the man and the situation. His own mind and eyes scanned over the man’s body and assured him that he was indeed dead. He saw that his right thumb and index finger had been blown off. He the close up lacing of the clothes from the effect of a pair of scatter darts going off at launch and very close to the man’s chest. As Roberta passed him and focused the camera on the body he reached under the bed and grabbed the mask shoving it under his robe hooking to his adhesive gun. With the same motion he grabbed the bed’s top sheet. He rolled the body gently into the sheet, leaving the face exposed as though he hoped the man might still be alive. Then he lifted the man so that most of his body was in front of him. He readjusted his mask into his robe’s inner belt and palmed his small gun behind the sheet. The he stepped out of the small alcove in front of the door and looked both ways. guests were already pouring into the hall which was also filled with gel drops and mist. But there where the hotel corridor formed an elevator landing and two servobot were flashing lights toward the pneumatic elevator and the stairs and warning people not to use the electric elvator he could see the other pirate. He could see the man using a housekeeping cart, the servobots a piece of luggage and a potted plant as a sort of fortified blind. Joseph made sure he coud see a gun. A silencer on the tip of a conventional firearm. Conventional firearm posession in the colonies was a serious felony becuase of the damage they might do to the caps or vital sytems. Even cops and soldiers did not bring them below the caps. The man was seeking a good shot. Joseph shot four times. The first two shots took off the top of the pirate’s head. There was default switch on the gun and one of the guests screamed in pain and grabbed his leg. The next two shots Joseph fired destoyed the brain box of the servobot able to have made a recording.
Guests near the dead pirate were shouting “Gun! Gun!”
Deftly sticking the gun to his back he asked Roberta to hand him a towel lying on the flooor. Using one hand and the help of the wounded man at whom he barked many orders quickly he secured a bad tourniquet around the wounded man’s leg. Joseph lifted the wounded guest over his right shoulder and carried both his dead enemy and the wounded man. Not for the first time he was feeling grateful for the low gravity. “Press on the wound as hard as you can one hand on the entry and one on the exit.”
He ran toward the landing and found two medibots exiting the forbidden electric elevator. There he layed both his burdens on the plasic sheets the bots laid down. One bot sprayed liquid bandage on the wounded man. The other bot sprayed blood disolver on the large parts of Joseph’s own body covered with blood. Roberta was talking and shooting video and recording. The wounded man was injected with a sedative and the dead pirate was recorded by Roberta and the bots. Then both he and Roberta took the pneumatic lift to the lobby. Roberta shot interviews with a dozen people while Joseph told his parts of the truth to the police and the management. They were in a new suite in about two hours and their picked over and inspection sealed luggage was in their room. They were offered complimentary sleeping pills by by the Aldrinia Surgeon General and their ski gate time was moved to noon. The hotel had informed their friends in the other tower of the hotel and was offering them complimentary ski game passes between ten and noon so they could still start the big course of slopes together. Roberta forwarded her report as it was and they both took the pills and went to sleep. Joseph wondered what it had all been about and then went to sleep.
When they did wake up it was about 10:15. They turned on the Lunar News Network and watched Roberta’s Channel Nine Report picked up by the network along with the Aldrinia Police Chief’s press conference. After half an hour of that the top anchor of the Lunar News Network gave his summary of the story:
“Thanks to our extraordinary reportage by Channel Nine LNN Afiliate reporter Roberta Dupuis and the wotk of our Aldrinia bureau we are able to reach these conclusions. Some may be ammended over time and indeed the facts are murky and confusing. But here are the facts as we believe them to be:
First, the gun has been examined. The gun recovered was definitely a silenced 38 rifle. The rounds used are not issued to anyone on the Moon.
Second, the dead men. Tattoos, e-tablet memory, notation glyphs in wallets and other material have been held to conclusively identify the dead men as both being members of the organization known as Pirates of the Outer Darkness.
Third, the fight. Some kind of very exotic weapon was used by this pirate who died first but it was so badly damged it was hard to know what happened to it. We believe another person entered from the stairwell bay at the end of the hall and exchanged fire with this man killing him and even though no blood was recovered probably being wounded. The first pirate’s weapon may have self-destructed and set off the alarm. The person in the stairwell may then have inflicted a non fatal head wound on the second pirate and then a fatal wound that did not prevent a default switch activating a shot which wounded a guest from Earth who is in serious condition in the Aldrinia General Hospital.
The person in the far stairwell was able to slip out unnoticed and mingle with the crowd at the transit level because for whatever reason the second pirate appears to have knocked out all security cameras. Aldrinia police say they do have some leads and are working on apprehending this unknown third man. They even indicate that given the nature of the Pirate’s of the Outer Darkness organization there is a possible case of self defense here as the rounds used do not appear to have been felony rounds and no innocent people were killed and the third person did not directly injured the wounded guest. However, the stairwell shooter may also be aserial killer or bandit of any kind and is presumed to be armed and dangerous.
As we find out more we will keep you informed. I am Jack Blandon with Lunar News Network.”
Roberta called her station in Lunapolis and then they dressed and got to the slopes just in time to make their 12:OO noon ski time. The conversation with Daniel and Cindy rehashed the events of the day.
While they were both certifying their basic ski competence Joseph spoke to Daniel. “Daniel I know we have only been back together for a day but I have to leave Roberta in Lunapolis in a week. Truthfully I was going to ask you to look in on her from time to time anyway. But now it seems even more important. I realize now that you have an MC Astrotech branch in Lunapolis and we have a history together despite how little we have had a chance to discuss things on this trip. I would like to feel like you had an eye out for her now and then.”
“I hear you Joseph. Things haven’t changed so much that I can’t do as you ask. I know too that you kept an eye on my ex-wife for two years, kept me in my daughter Isabela Marie’s life even paid my child support a couple of months. I do owe you and I do know it.”
“Well this will make us more than even then. I am very grateful.
” Don’t worry about it, Joseph, I have other worries. I have to tell you I had a secure bot in your stairwell. But something blew it out. My man recovered it and ran out with the broken bot after the alarms went off. I am afraid that in the end it will be my security guard that the cops are following as the third man. But we should be able to prove he was not. But who the hell was? And what are the POD doing here?”
They continued to talk as they all skied flips, twists and obstacle courses.Roberta’s experience overcame all other advantages and she outshone them all. She clearly enjoyed the course and the success. The first time they reached the artificialy low part of the main crater colony they looked at the forest of geneticaly altered trees which grew straight, light and 400 meters tall in the low gravity of the Moon.
“Aldrin Coprporation was the first to use large amounts Moon grown timber in framing spacecraft. The place plates and foils outside an internal frame instead of modules attached to an external frame. The frames are about half wood and half metal and the wood is grown right here.’
“This is an amazing crop.” Daniel said sincerely.
They took the fast snowmobile train back to the top of the slope and enjoyed hot cocoa on the ride up. Then they raced down the slope. In this contest of speed Joseph and Roberta finsihed to close to call and Cindy and Danile were not embarassingly far behind. The same qualities that made the Moon great for tricks made skiing in a colony’s low gravity and thick air a fairly slow affair in a flat out race.
They made three runs of the grand course before supper and knowing that each couple had to catch two different seven o’clock trains. During the long break in their slope reservations between 3:30 and 4:25 the women bonded in a slope-side spa and Joseph and Daniel kept talking as they went into the mines run jointly by the Aldrin Corporation and the The Amalgamated Lunar Mining Guild. Joseph made sure his e-tab video features were set up well for the mines and then headed out with Daniel to see how well over half of Lunarians currently lived ( as miners no doubt differing a great deal from mine to mine) They drove around in a rental mine buggy that Joseph knew were the same Ford MineMoles that were used in Lunapolis. They stopped at a small shop that Daniel supplied and which sold only highly filtered cigarettes that combined tobacco with either coca leaves or marijuana in small quantities and released only lightly cented water vapor. Smoking occurred but all the recognizable smoke ended up in the filters which could be and usually were returned for a credit and then were sent to Daniels company for recycling. They each took one of these cigarettes and smoked them as they drove. Ornate fountains marked the small plazas scattered through the mines. Elevators and trains appeared to go off in countless directions while streets for the buggies were rare. A large office for the Indentured Labor Authority sat in front of the family village, men’s dormitories and women’s dormitories where almost all the miners working under indenture contracts lived. While they were there another van fifteen or twenty complete newcomers showed up and were being processed into the mines.
Free laborers gathered around dormitories, cheap bars, cafes, lots of theaters that projected films on polished wall sections and served fast food at arrayed tables. Some were simply cutouts or dugouts but others were really buildings that simply connected to the ceiling as well as the floor of the caverns. The squares and plazas had ceilings that were about forty feet high. The average streets with shops and sidewalks had ceiling twenty feet high. Most of the routes went through twelve foot ceiling workshop and storage lined roads. But trains ran off into nine foot high channels from many points. Every so often a huge plaza with two hundred foot ceilings and metal columns carved like trees opened up and plants grew and bands played under sunlamps while people fished from ponds in them with rods and reels. Joseph could feel that life was hard here for many but also that it was well run and both more humane and more free than the places many if not most people lived on Earth.
There was a lot of evidence of authority here compared to America on Earth however. Exemplary punishments were common on the moon and he saw radio collars with signs that said “Unsafe”, “Tool-loser”, “Air-waster” and “Peacebreaker”. Rock climbing walls and aquaria full of tropical fish lay around the larger squares. He saw children in school uniforms gardening in gardens near the two schools he saw and he also saw a group of school children headed to one of the crater floors on a field trip. They stopped for a coffee near a row of electo-booths and he saw that Aldrinia Colony Council and the Sector government both had seats reserved for “freemen” seats which meant those who had been indentured less than five years earlier. He even saw that on of the Sector Council Represntatives running for reelection was Leonard Hearthring. He was one of the famous and infamous Hearthring brothers who were US and Brit dual citizens and lived on the edge between criminality and left-wing politics. He also saw that the Levantine and Magitic Rite Church had a collection a ministry to mining families with school and home enhancement programs. He checked his effective account and saw that his royalties on the bullets he had patented had just seen a bit of a jump and he had small excess that had gotten into his personal account. He donated half of that to the charitable outreach and then walked back to the coffee shop where Daniel was watching another news story about the shootings on a wall screen television. He signaled readiness to go and they took a long route back to the buggy return. Breach Emergency quarters and the only high school in Aldrinia’s mines were on this road. They also passed several social clubs. He saw that several advertised race and religion as criteria fo membership. These were all in a small green commons that had four small houses of worship.that touched the cavern roof. After they left this park they saw the great elevator trucks full of copper, iron and silver ore being loaded and driving the route to the train station. In the same region he saw two smelters processing ore into refined gold and refined cadmium. The plants that produced water from ice nd saturated dust also could bee seen working nearby.
While he took alll this in he chatted with Daniel and asked about the Armstrong Agency and UN wormhole studies on the Moon. He also ran his e-tab as a video camera for as long as possible. He saw a few Adults Only Zones where strip clubs and public executions among other things were zoned. Aldrinia had about three executions in these mines every yearaccording to his e-tab. He had learned a great deal about the life in the mines by the time he met Roberta and Cindy with Daniel. They made their last run and then they found their luggage and travel suits waiting at the front desk. They rode together to the Aldrinia Train Station. Once they arrived they mad separate boardings in short order. Daniel and Cindy went to the Grand Central Spaceport. While Joseph and Roberta bought tickets exercising their one free layover per round trip of this length although laying over for only for five hours instead of the allowed five day and to Lunapolis and the Valley View Hotel. On the train to Grand Central Spaceport Daniel’s cabin had a guest. He had a long conversation with Darrel Bourque. He made clear that he wanted to know a lot more about the situation. He also wanted the best lawyers working with the security guard who had recovered the damaged security bot. Darrel could tell his boss was very uneasy. On getting back to the Astronomy Club Daniel called his people in Lunapolis to keep an eye out fo Channel Nine’s best-looking reporter.
The layover that they had chosen for a shrimp etoufee and rabbit sauce picant dinner and an evening of Cajun Music and Lunar Fusion Jazz was Arkadios-Acadia Proprietary Crater Cap Colony owned by the somewhat mysterious Ethnos Arkadios Corporation. A fourth of the stock in this corporation was owned by Special Charter Parish Government of Basileus-Beausoleil Island which was a sixty square mile artificial island in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico and was the nearest neighbor to Culkathadreil Island.
The Mare Serenitatis-Mare Tranquilitatis Line’s Diana’s Arrow left the Aldrinia station and did not run straight to Lunaplois partly beacuse the spaceport deddicated large crater was in the way. It went first to the Boeing-Chevrolet Colony in Posidonius P Craterjust skirting the big uncapped crater. Then it continued in a straight line over the flat and opend lands of the mare to the Michigan Technology Trust Colony in Luther Crater and its station and there it made a hard turn towards Lunapolis starting with a straight run over the flatlands to the Arkadios-Acadia Proprietary Crater Cap Colony in Menelaus Crater with one stop at the Silicon Valley Space Foundation Colony in Bessel Crater. Each station required the train on this route to take a five minute stop and they began to realize the real cost of not taking the express and wondered if they could change to an express train from the Menelaus to the Tauruntius Crater. But they never did that in the end as their time in the crater where they did layover was very tight and they were enjoying riding together.
There were almost no motor vehicles inside this Crater Cap Colony and it was quite wealthy because of the large ice mine but the wide floor was half lakes and wetlands and teh circulating waterfalls graced the walls. They did not sell as much as much water as they could have. St. Martin de Tours Cathedral dominated the floor and there were the major buildings of the Lunar Campuses of Saint Anne’s University and The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. They took a horse drawn buggy seating twelve passengers and went down to Parque Fais Do-Do in a large cavern cut into the wall and supported by steel columns in the shape of live oaks made from locally mined steel. The cavern housed the Summers Foundation Hall, La Rochelle City Consulate under its French and English names and the Greek Consulate but most of it was the Salle de la Musique et le Danse . Here they listened to music, danced and ate crawfish pies, boudin balls and shrimp etoufee. When the concert was over he rushed her to the Louisiana Museuem in an adjoining cavern. He had heard that there was a twenty minute holographic tour of Culkathadreil Island available in one of its couple size imaging chambers. They took the tour and he realized that as a Lunarian she was used to the way the largest bird sanctuary was crisss crossed with foundation top brace bars and the way that windmills covered the seawalls near the beaches. She understood why the luxury hotel must also be covered with soloar panels and the thrum of scrubbers could be heard cleaning pollution out of the Gulf all the time. He realized tha the crater caps and the islands had shared elements and figures in their early history. Suddenly he realized that he and his Miss Dupuis had a great deal in common that he did not share with others among Earth’s women. They caught the the horse drawn bus back to the station noticing the steep ramp as they had not before. They just made their connection to the punctual train to Lunapolis.
Joseph and Roberta got back to Lunapolis without problems. But at the station they had to do a brief set of media interviews. Then they took Roberta’s car and went to the Valley View Hotel. There they took their last set of free sleeping pills and settled down for a restful night.
Roberta lay awake a little longer than Joseph. She was truly attached toJoseph. He had handled the wounded and the crisis and everything else wonderfuly well. On the other hand she felt sure that he was holding something back. She felt he had seen something during the incident which she had missed. Perhaps it had something to do with his cousin. She sensed that Daniel might have a few secrets from the law. Did Joseph suspect that his cousin was involved as a target and that it would be better for her not to know? She put all of this out of her mind and surrendered to sleep for the night.
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In the Apollo Bar on the Tropics Atrium elsewhere in Aldrinia man hired by Malisha Andrievna Ryshkova put together a file of news footage and both video and audio recordings he had hacked from dozens of security systems throughout the colony. There was quite a bit of information. He sent her a message at the end.
I believe this man is an incredibly skilled security officer but also an assassin. I have huge amounts of evidence but I do not know what he did. However, he killed these pirates, found them out, is known to be on the spot and none suspect him. I cannot prove it myself. I provide the basis for my assertions but my judgement is based on small things here. Had I not been following him for you I would never have suspected him.
You must also realize that for the POD to target him in this way in this place he must be a very valuable target indeed. I hope that you are ready for the kind of contact he will be for whatever you are doing.”