Tag Archives: novels by Frank Summers

Chapter Eight and the last On this Blog, end of Part One of my e-novel…

Chapter Eight “Time for Parting” Last in Part One “The Moon” of a Science Fiction Novel in Progress

by Summers Progress on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 7:24am
While Joseph and Roberta slept beneath the shell of a fortified Lunapolis cap the upper side of which was proof against a single strike by most meteors and most human weapons and which was guarded by anti-meteor devices that all doubled as anti-spacecraft weapons. In the small world which was almost its own planet they felt far from the cold and dark of the still enduring Lunar night which was ongoing where they were andacross the barren and cold landscape to Aldrinia as it had been night when they went and night when they returned. Day was now breaking at the Grand Central Spaceport. But far out from the Moon where Night and Day had little meaning and hovering on the very edge of the Earth’s outer most gravity well in a kind of engineered and assisted orbit so exotic as to be no orbit at all the Deathwind was hovering. A half kilometer ship covered in cooling tubes and energy tubes sunk in ice and covered in the blackest and most radiation absorbing materials known to man. When they want passive the only way to see them was to observe something behind them when a black object passed in front of it or to send a signal at a timed interval and have it not arrive when they crossed its path. They were totally non-reflective and nonemitive most of the time an utter darkness, blackness and silence in the darkness of space. Inside the ship they were discussing Joseph Culkathadreil and Roberta Dupuis. They communicated through a very focused beam to on of several very secure communications hubs which communicated to with a web of relatively “super secret” pico communications satelites and relays. These received radio and television signals, direct beam communications from their spies, assassins and agents and from their fortresses in the asteroid belt. When a pico sattelite was found by the United Nations or anyone else it almost never led to finding anything else.

  They were always busy where the Pirates of the Outer Darkness operated their most agressive positions in interacting with the rest of humanity. They were always thinking differently and very cunningly about human affairs.  They always were not thinking by some definitions of thought. But right now every resource they could bring to bear was abing called up. They were faced with a new flood of telemetry aboard Deathwind and similar ships about four years ealier. Normally they would have paid little attention to such a thing which offered so little opportunity for torture, extortion and robbery. But it just so happened that shortly afterwards they captured and tortured to death a Polish scientist from the Copernicus Institute whose words under torture and files in his computer had helped them to see that there really might be aliens from other stars trying to communicate with humanity. They had decided to devote some of their best resources to this project and the project had kept growing ever since. 

 Joseph had almost no idea of these new conditions. He did not find the idea of contact inconceivable however. It was one of countless things he sometimes imagined and thought about carefully. It was not a major interest but it was an enduring one as were the Pirates of the Outer Darkness. What was said and who said it Joseph did not know. But he more or less assured himself that these conversations were taking place somewhere in secret. He simply did not lose any sleep over that fact.

 At an early breakfast Joseph made sure with Roberta that she would be joining him for the Captain’s Dinner at the hotel. Roberta told him that she was indeed ready to be there and to be making the necessary connections with the wives, girlfriends and dates of the pilots who were all men. “Thank you Roberta. I don’t know what the future holds for us but this has been such a great time with you and so much seems to have happened since we got started.” With words and other simple expressions Roberta let him know that she felt the same. They left the suite together because Roberta’s first meeting was near Elevator Road and so she was going to drop Joseph off near the Armstrong Agency to start this week. She set down the hovercar between the back of Mouton’s Markets and an edge of the Armstrong Plaza where there was a very small parking lot. Joseph kissed her as he left the car.

Joseph could see as he turned from watching her fly off in the car that the young Samantha Gould and Anais Durand from the prize winning softball team were watching him from near the center of Armstrong Plaza. He crossed the plaza to greet them as he still had a few minutes before he had to reach the lobby.

“Hello Ladies!”

“Hello Officer Culkathadreil!”

“Beautifuly pronounced Miss Gould.”

“Well, a year is a long time. I hope I can speak to at least one pilot and you are the only one who came to our big exhibition game so it might as well be you.”

“Well you gals play a very impressive game of software anywhere and it was the first lunar softball game I had ever seen. I really enjoyed it.”

“Roberta was very nice too. Is she your girlfriend?”

“Actually, when a man has been married twice, widowed and divorced has buried a baby son who bore his last name he might get to feeling like girlfriend is not the right word for any woman in his life. When in addition he has had a bound concubine and still supports her and his natural son but has more or less agreed not to see her except on the days of the week of his son’s birthday then maybe he is no longer sure what a girlfriend is. I don’t want to scandalize your parents about which pilot you can talk to though. But Roberta also really enjoyed the game.”

 Samantha smirked but deftly avoided talking about sex and relationships. “Thanks to both of you for the support. We are going to play in the inaugural tournament for the big new stadium on Mars. But Anais and I don’t like our chances after six and a half months off.”

 “Yes,” Anais nodded ” We are scheduled to play less than a week after we get there and that is if there are no delays.”

 “Well they tell me that the athletic facilities on the Armstrong are very excellent. I certainly hope that this is true.”

  “Well,” Samatha acknowledged nodding. “that is why Anis and I are here today. We are going to be testing the software part of the simulated softball facilities.”

  “Well since I need to be getting inside can we go in together?”

  Joseph thought he detected a wave of relief like a dawning sun spreading across the faces of both girls. Distracted as he was by other things he did not think of the reason they were relieved right away, he noted that he had missed that cue when he found the reason moments later and he noted it as a lapse in his normal sensibility. Anais dispelled all doubts quickly because she answered with a quick and forceful eagerness. “I would feel better going in with you. All the lions and robots make me uncomfrotable.’

  “That makes sense to me. Lets make an impressive group entrance of our own.”

   Samantha nodded towards a part of the colonade which had a exhibits in various media showing a bit of the history of interplanetary travel. The visual arts depictions were modest in size and the engraved words were larger  in scale. Samantha clearly indicated a particular area of writings. It was too far off to read but all three of them knew what was written on it. “The record for a trip from the Moon to Mars is less than two weeks right?”

  “Yes,” Joseph smiled with a bit of a quizzical look. “But that was in a modified UN Blue Wing Fighter. They also left on time for a launch window. We have a freiter drone that makes a trip in a week every year.  You know that right?”

  “Yes, but what was the Supercruiser record?”

  “I think it was set by the Armstrong and was about  a month and a half.”

  “So Anais and I are wondering why we are going to be cooped up on the same ship for more than six months.”

  “I guess mostly it is because we are stopping by the ASOS 1 with tons of supplies. It is a mothball cruise and so we have space available for the job.”

  “ASOS1 means first Autonomous Solar Orbit Station right?”

  “Yes, the ASOS 1 is a United Nations orbital fort, an observatory that monitors comets and rogue asteroids all combined with a maximum security bioresearch lab. If all that did not make it special enough some people say it is designed to be a place to coordinate humanity’s defense if we are ever invaded by starfaring enemies. It’s probably our largest military asset that one could not logically get close to just by knowing where the planets and the Sun are located.”

  “Will it be a dangerous place for us to vist?”

  “I don’t think it would be all that dangerous even if we had to dock with them. Although any deep space docking is risky. But as it is we are just planning to rendezvous with their shuttle-tractor about a thousand kilometers off from the station and to drop them a half dozen modules. That sounds pretty safe doesn’t it?”

  “I guess so.” Samanth sort of shrugged towards Anais as she said this.

  “I tell you what if either of you have any safety questions you can either talk to me about them or e-mail me with them. Does that sound OK?”

 “You mentioned aliens invasion. I know going near that base won’t make it happen but do you really think it is possible.”

  Joseph readjusted his weight and pulled his e-tab out of a pocket and keyed up some addresses. Instinctively and silently the girls each produced their own e-tabs and he transferred a few files on the subject of aliens which he kept in his personal library and the links that tied those files to the right sources. “People don’t agree at all about that. The only alien culture we know of for sure is Regulus Sector X-317. In 2098 the SETI Institute received a single transmission that has proved there are other technological cultures or on very big culture in the universe very definitely.”

  “SETI, that stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence  right?  But here we are being extraterrestrial intelligence.”

  “Not a bad point. But we are all still really Earthlings don’t you think?”

 “Well what was such a big deal about the 2098 message anyway. I was taught that we don’t understand most of it even now.”

  “Well it was 500 hours long and it was not addressed to us. The experts think it was sent from a planet circling a star near Regulus to another unknown object about a hundred lightyears further away from us. What we got is a sort of bounce back return to sender copy that went wide of its target. The first thing we translated was a kind of address and calendar because it was based on real things we could observe around Regulus. But whatever else it means it means that before Jesus of Nazareth walked the Earth there were creatures near Regulus communicating with other creatures a hundred light years away. That is pretty significant.” He showed a map of Regulus and the object in relation to the Earth before pocketing his e-tab. The girls looked at the image and he felt sure Regulus seemed like a more real place since they had committed to leaving the Eath’s gravity well.

  “Why is it significant Officer Culkathadreil”? Anais asked the question with sudden intensity of interest.  “What has it done or how has it made a difference?”

  “We have translated about ten percent of the total information by now. That has led to some improvements in our computers, optics, navigation and communications — but that has been a lot less so far than most people expected. But they say the chance of us are anyone picking up that transmission in an energy packet like a kind of laser beam but better was one in fifteen billion at least. So we are lucky in a few ways. We have had well over a century and a half so far to know for sure that there are much older spacefaring societies without having to meet them. There has been much more unified support for space colonization since ’98. We have United Nations and national space fortresses that have been specificaly designed to resist superior forces attacking from outside the sloar system and we have five or so giftships which are meant to act as gestures of goodwill without destroying or betraying too much of ourselves. Whether we will be ready or not we are much readier than we would have been if that day ever comes.”

 “Has anyone tried to reach those people?”

 “Well it is ilegal to try. But someone may have tried. The UN has decided it is not wise or safe for us to announce ourselves yet.”

 The pilot and the two seventeen year old girls had been walking in intervals as their conversation developed. They now walked through the lage entrance found the lions feeding on large slabs of pork while a keeper and two droids watched them and their conversation ended as the three of them entered the lobby. There was nothing but a farewell nod and a smile to mark the end of the conversation. The subject of alien civilizations was put out of mind. Today we cannot think of Joseph Culkathadreil or even of his companions and not think of about aliens but this was not how any of them flt about themselves at the time. He had taken one course in xenobiology and one in the Culture of RS X-317 in college. But aliens were a minor interest in a full life.

 That day the pilots who were present had a seminar and a waking demonstration of the new Dreamlearner programs related and copyrighted by the  Goddard Agency onf of the many sister agencies that came from Old NASA and still participated in the Old Nasa Heritage Foundation Board. The Goddard men spoke on a basic theme, ” The Neil Armstrong is powered almost entirely by huge nuclear explosions captured in your MIRROR-BOWL system and which is made workable as sustained acceleration in your WHIRLIGIG sytem. Most of the deliveries that justify operating great ships without launch windows are made with solar sails and Goddard does not specialize in nuclear or solar sail  propulsion. But did you know that the Armstrong carries over five thousand chemical rockets of various sizes and  has hundreds of chemical thrusters that you will use for steering and close maneuvers and those also dispose of some of the most hazardous waste in our socirites and civilization”. Joseph was also asked to talk about his travels to Jupiter on a largely chemical ship and what a five-sixth or four fifths sleeper cruise was like. He had worked a few  hours slept for days, then gone through a halfwaking update and orientation process and worked another set of a few hours. This had gone on for years. The Armstrong was nothing like this.

After lunch he met briefly with Dirkson, Smith and Jones to discuss some security matters that had been referred to him and a few others for pilot review. But then he was back with the Goddard group helping them really to explain the vagaries of chemical thrust as much as learning it. The day was fairly intense and tiring. The last seminar showed how the Russian Ship  the Moscow used chemical thrusters differently in its configuration. Again the Goddard men already knew that Joseph had a friend or at leat an old companion in the Russian Fleet who commanded this vessel. Joseph said a few words about Sharapov and all he knew about Russian close maneuvers training. 

He sped by everything else on his way back to the hotel and sent all of his bonus from Goddard as a copresenter to his bound concubine whom he seldom saw and to his son he also saw only a few day each year at best. He sent a brief note to each with the money. “China is still charting a path that Louisiana has been a participant in for centuries and I see again here the need for that path. I have not made it to any Chinese colonies but I believe the effort to integrate Imperial, democratic and socialist values into some kind of context that uses the disciplines of the free market is not a bad path overall”. He had little personal in this communication but hoped to write to several people including these two in China while he was on the Shuttle and setting up on the Armstrong. He then checked to make sure his corsage and other matters were ready for him to meet Roberta. While he was thinking of it he sent in a brief not on her to the Registrar of Consorts in the Clan Culkathadreil — her category was “unclassified” but he knew she was important to him. “Truly ploygamous men fall in love more easily than they fall out of it. That is how harems are best built — on that principal’. That was how his great uncle the High Prince and High Chieftan Culkatrhadreil had eplained things to him when he was a teenager. He had not known his great uncle well but the words of the Majestic Leader were usually remebered by any Culkathadreil. He was already showering as he thought over his great uncle’s words.

The dinner with High Captain Commander Emerson his wife Cilia, First Pilot Xander Xavier and his girlfriend Natsiela and Second and Third Pilot Jims and Hanks with their dates was a pleasant time. The fifth pilot was rather against type. He was redhaired very tall and covered with an odd assortment of tatoos which showed through on his wrist and neck. “My name is Thor Swensen-O’Brien and a proud Galllowglass wanderer am I who can pilot anything on or under water, in air and in space. I am the only full pilot you outrank here. This my lovely wife Rowena.” Joseph introduced the couple to Roberta andfound the man likable enough.

The Commander was an impressive man and most of all they discovered through Natsiela that there was a status and a network available for significant others who did not have formal bonds. Both Joseph and Roberta felt able to set up that account near the bar on Natsiela’s e-tablet. The men all danced with eachother’s women and Hanks who was admiitedly a Bisexual Binarian Brotherhood member gave no evidence of any but heterosexual mores or fokways. Everyone got along well and exhibited the good manners that Space Pilot Guild members were known for on such occasions.

Once the dinner was in the past the relationship with Roberta became a bit sadder. Roberta by now had hear stories of some of the many ways the Joseph had made money that was not typical of anyone’s idea of what a Prince should consider due and fitting (or even as the Duke he had actually been born before a series of deaths and two sessions of the Council of Successions Viziers had changed his place in several lines of succession). However, she had not heard about the grant he had gotten to be part of a temporal distortion study. The study had lasted five years and studied how space, high speed travel, suspended animations and many other factors affected both time sense and aging. One result besides earning quite a few extra credits was that he had discovered his own age signature. This study indicated that once awakened and engaged his emotions were more of a young adult than of the majority of his peers. However, they did not become aroused in the way a young adult’s did. He really felt that he was finding it easier to leave Roberta because he was wanted and celebrated and being pulled away. But he was careful not to ruin the relationship by being unkind or insensitive. He was not completely in love perhaps but he might be closer than he had been in a long time. He wanted to love, he knew men of action who did not but that was not his way. Even as a professional he found love made his mind work better in reasonable doses and unreasonable doses had abandoned him long ago.  He could be mor loving to other women he passed time with if he loved Roberta. That is what polygamy was and though he had not made that clear to Roberta he had always known he was polygamous by orientation. He might not work out a plural marriage here but he wanted to leave feeling he had been good to her and that there was still a tie between them. He wrote her a letter summarizing in poetic language some of their experiences together. He had the messaging software arrange to deliver it to her at work or just after during one of the times when they would have been apart the longest that week.  

Joseph had long hours with the pilots on Wednesday and Friday. He had lunch with Samantha and the flirtatious doctor Bliss on Thursday. She gave a seminar on the laws and practices of sex, reproduction and family in the Armstrong Agency, admitting she had never really operated in the agency and that “book knowledge about sexual practices is often misinformation  despite the efforts of researcher like me to make it otherwise”.  That evening in bed he talked to Roberta about her speech and also about how much he really enjoyed the brief set by her brother and his band which they had managed to catch at the Ben Bova Hotel in Lunapolis’s mines. His brief foray had convinced him that while things differed the mines in Aldrinia were more typical than not at least of the American Moon. He realized now that indentured adult workers only got a Crater pass once a month for a thirty hour window and free workers with mine addresses had access to the craters only on a plan so that each had three days in the week when they could enter the craters without business or an emergency and four days when they would be stopped at the entry port. Likewise he found that there was a restriction foreign entries to every colony’s mines. Lastly there were Lunar standards that every country was bound by and a set of Lunar inspectors that made sure the mines did not become the hells to which they bore a simplistic resemblance.

On the weekend, he and Roberta toured the forest of Lunapolis, made love and drank, she read him an answer she had written to his poetic letter. They went to Church at the Church of the Holy Magi and she stood with him as he lit a candle at the side Altar of Departures and placed a donation in the ket. He enrolled her as a nonmember participant in the parish’s caring network and payed the suggested fee for a year. She read the brass sign in the front and was duly impressed with Joseph’s great grandfather.

They made love, slept,woke on the fateful morning,  had breakfast and shared a few tears. Then he joined the rest of the Armstong’s Lunapolis contingent in a private train to Grand Central Spaceport. Robert followed in a media train. They headed off to separate parts of the auditorium for the official Celebration of the Launch of the Retirement Cruise. Then they headed off to separate shuttles assigned by remote authorities. His would dock with Armstrong but hers would only view the proceedings from fifty kilometers away.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

End of Part One of the Novel

Part one titled “The Moon”

Seventh Chapter of my Online Novel

Chapter Seven “Training and Execution” of part one “The Moon” of a Science fiction novel in progress

by Summers Progress on Friday, November 19, 2010 at 2:31pm
“The history of the Culkathadreil Clan themselves  is very complex and confusing. Three daughters of King Solomon by a Persian wife were given as brides one to a Greek King, one to an Arab Prince and one to an Egyptian Prince. They vowed to remain in contact and during the rise of the Assyrian Empire these disparate  families formed a small kingdom together in a complex of trading posts and small fiefdoms  that included  lands reconquered from Assyria and others adjoining Greeks and Celts in Northern Turkey. So he is no Greek this Great Culkathadreil, not in the strictest sense. His grandmother was a Countess of the Acadian-Arcadian secret tribe. But he is called the New Ares because of his godlike qualities in a fight.”  Introduction to The New Ares by the Jean Nicolai Broussard-Summers, Third Baron of Broussard-Summers and Elector of LiLuna.

*    *****   ****

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.

Relax,

Recall,

Reclaim, 

Retouch, 

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.

 ***  ****   *****  ***** ****

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.

 

“MAR,

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.”

Lars Rykavik”    

 

Fourth Chapter of the online novel…

Chapter Four ” A Day’s Work” in Part One “The Moon” of a Science Fiction Novel in Progress

by Summers Progress on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 8:41pm
Roberta Dupuis felt physicaly sore from lovemaking. Her inner passages and her lower back muscles. Her relationship with Joseph was much what she might have expected if she had taken a twenty-year-old First Class danger miner as a lover. She was not complaining. Physical lovemaking  had been less in recent years than she would have liked. Partly she had achieved those associations which men find a bit physically intimidating. She both knew and had spent a weekend with the man who was now Lunar UN High Commissioner and Vice Secretary. She was barely more than a cordial stranger with him now but she was able to drop names and mention events that cooled the hottest fires she had known to some degree. There were less  hot forms of sex but they were not Joseph’s. It was clear to her that he had a well-earned deposit of self-respect, courage and intensity that he found did not pale compared to any man. In addition he was completely reconciled with sexual desire. The wanting that flowed through him consumed him completely at the time and yet was under technical control and left no sign of serious injury to the mind or sensibility. She had a knack for putting things out of mind at work and she knew that she must try. Joseph would let her feel no shame about their shared excess of passion and so she knew she would see him again for these weeks and she could not lose her job.

She really did quite a variety of jobs in her network and one was a monthly magazine style show she edited, produced and was principal reporter for each month. This month as always she did the main story herself and it was titled “Water and Population: Lunar Limits“.

She had a holocube appointment with the Governor-Mayor of Chandraayan the Capital of India’s  Lunar Colonial Sector.  While the units were linking together she began a recorded greeting and set-up that she could then edit and overlay at will. “Tonight I am your host Roberta Dupuis and I will Speaking with His Triple Excellency Ganesh Mullanghmalangalam Governor-Mayor of the Indian Lunar Capital city-colony of Chandraayan just southeast of the Oceanus Procellarum in the Sirsalis Crater. Later we will have His Triple Excellency respond to comments by others with similar responsibilities but because of his work with water law abd the water industry I chose to start with him alone”. The hologramatic Indian was now fully present and she spoke to him, “Welcome Governor-Mayor”.

“Glad to be here Roberta”.

“So tell us about you water projects briefly if you can”.

“Well I lead a group of political and industry leaders on the Moon who think the water treaty needs to be improved now that asteroid ice mining and comet ice gathering  are really becoming going concerns. Simply, we need to create incentives and a structure to bring in much more water”.

“What do you propose”?

“Well,  First, a real integration of all governing atuthorities into a Lunar Water Exchange Board. Secondly,  a real cap and trade rquirement that for every kilogram of material shipped off the Moon for any purpose someone is bound to add a kilogram of nonterrestrial water”.

“So, Governor-Mayor, with other imports would that lead to the Moon gaining mass over time”?

” Yes, it would but it would be many centuries before it became an issue we needed to address if ever”?

“You said in your book Wet Work that overall our water purity and reclamation regime is doing passably well.  owever you gave our gross water strategy a failing grade — is that still how you feel”? 

” Indeed I do Roberta. I think the most important assurance we need is that as more ships are built on the moon they are not being sold with tanks full of water from Lunar ice mines. If we allow population to increase and ground water to decrease we are in effect murdering our own progeny as quickly as we can”.

The interview went fairly well and Roberta called several contacts at various shipyards and started asking questions and making appointments. In the middle of her work an expensive flower arrangement arrived. She smiled as she read the simple card — “To Roberta, Love Joseph”. She sent him an e-tab thanks and placed her flowers  where she would see them most often. He was certianly very romantic.

She did an interview for the same show later with High Chief Knifeweather, Governor of Aboriginal Americans Capital Cap Colony in the Sinus Armoris subregion of the of the Mare Serenitatis American Protectorate Sector. The colony was in the Maraldi Crater that  rested in those twisted lands. Here Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros and members of every registered US Indian Nation had been given a share of a single crater cap colony under a single government as a sign of good faith. It so happened that huge deposits of uranium had been found there.  TheHigh Chief spoke of the law they had made there, “We have agreed that for every pound of uranium we sell to the US government or an approved purchser we must first receive payment in kind of a kilogram of non terrestrial and nonlunar water, another kilogram of certified compost, another kilogram of healthy living vegetable matter and a final kilogram of Lunar water. Then we calculate the market value of all these products and take only the remainder in credits, coin or cash. We have the purest and richest uranium ore ever found so the remainder is still pretty much. But we demand delivery of these things to our colony itself in order to do business”.  

The chief was rather taciturn and the interview as brief but she felt that it was fairly successful.  Before the workday was over her piece she bet would be starting to take shape.

When she finished the basic bulk of the work of any average morning she had learned to leave a few minutes free for miscellaneous research. She had touched her e-tab with Joseph’s e-tab  and because he had it set on a friendly setting it gave her a list of the associations, guilds and organizations to which he maintained a public link. Before stopping for lunch she joined and associated herself with some of these and went to public sites offered by others of these groups.

One group she found he belonged to was the Culkathadreil Charitable Coastal Conservancy and she sent in her ten e-credits for a basic membership. She saw that two corporate patrons of the Conservancy were the Etnos Arkadios Corporation and the Summers Foundation and that these institutions had directors on one anothers boards as well.  Further Joseph had some kind of membership in an auxillary of each group. The Summers Foundation was open to the public so she joined it as a basic member for ten e-credits. Then she researched some of its interactions with Culathadreils and found a long list. Another long list greeted her as she dealt with the interactions with the Ethnos Arkadios Corporation. Finally she came to an entry that began to give her a picture of things:

“The Summers Foundation  was established in 2110 as a consolidation various entities after the Disolution Settlement that formally ended the Arcadian Renewal Movement. A best date for the start of the movement is June 15, 2025 which was our namesake’s sixty first birthday and began the Worldwide Series of Skirmishes. The work building up to this failed effort at reform goes back thoroughout the life of our namesake and its roots are described by him in a brief post from early in the twenty-first century reproduced below:

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<!– #masthead –>An Acadian Moment

Posted on September 2, 2010 by franksummers3ba

The following timeline is from memory and tapped out quickly. It leaves out far more than it includes.  Nonetheless, in this blog I often argue that we may have reached an Acadian moment in American history. Therefore, I want to give some idea of where that moment would fall in our history.

1600ish Project of founding Acadie begins in Western France.

1755 Le Grand Derangement peaks with exiles from Grand Pre area as the Brits drive out the “French Neutrals”  and burn, confiscate  or destroy almost all their possessions.

1785 Joseph Broussard Dit Beausoleil  and his company receive near state statue from the Spanish Empire on the Atakapas Prairie. Connections well established with Olivier Theriot’s Acadian Colony in East Louisiana.

 Very Early 1800s Acadians deal with numerous transitions including the Louisiana Purchase, some fight at Battle of New Orleans, Louisiana becomes a State of the United States.

1850s Tensions build toward the Civil War. Acadian Governor Mouton prominent in crisis. Comite de Vigilance des Atakapas founded.  

1860s French Prince Camille de Polignac fights in Acadiana as a Confederate general. Acadian Confederate General Mouton dies in a smaller Civil War battle in part from complications caused by new wounds affecting wounds received at Shiloh. The Confederacy loses the war.

1881 5000 or so Acadians gather for the first National Convention intended to represent the whole people publicly since the exile. August 15, Feast of the Assumption is named national Acadian holiday.

1938 the Pope recognizes Feast of Assumption as Acadian holiday.

1940s through 1950s Dudley Leblanc leads a high  profile movement of activism, study and international committees.

1960s Acadian music, festivals and crafts better organized in Louisiana. Sometimes call the start of an Acadian Renaissance.

1980s Congres  Mondial makes strong steps to restore national union of family associations.

2003 Her Britannic Majesty Elizabeth Queen of Scotland and of England Second of the Name issues a proclamation regarding the Acadians and Le Grand Derangement.

To see a bit more go to my glossary:     https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/acadian-forum-archive/glossary-of-terms-casually-defined/

The Culkathadreil Clan in the largest sense included several thousand people at least. Apparently they were scattered in pockets around the world.  However, the largest was the population associated with that name in Louisiana. There they intermmarried with and established relationships more with the Acadians than anyone else. They had four official Louisiana Ethnic Liasons in the Culkathadreil Clan that were listed in the Clan Association Archive. One was to the Germans of the Cote des Allemans, one was to the White Creoles of the  Five Parishes and one was to the Acadians. She found photographs of Joseph at an important dinner or two with each of these Liasons in the Louisiana Newspapers Society Pages website.   There was a whole network here she really did not understand. And yet she knew  that she had ancestors from the region.  She would not pry. Joseph would talk as he wished and over time she would learn more.

 ***   *****     *****     *****     ******   ****  

As soon as he got off the phone with the front desk  and verified the placement of an earlier flower order Joseph began to look around for the gift left for him by his family network. He knew it was not in plain sight, in the bedclothes or in the shower curtain. So he tried his half empty valise. As soon as he lifted it he knew he had picked the right location. There was a bag with a wax seal bearing the Culkathadreil Signet crest. He broke the seal and examined the contents. there were two data disks, a proteinate polymer gun and 500 microtips to load its 50 shot magazine. There was a superburst transceiver built into a working space mask. There was also a 12 hour one use spacewalk pressure suit. There was finally a small set of familiar pills that the ranking members of the family usually carried but he had exhausted. One would turn his skin (or anyone else’s) much darker for two weeks, one would allowthe taker to survive large exposure to radiation if taken quickly and followed by treatment, a third would boost his speed, strength and metabolism and the last would kill him fairly painlessly in three hours unless an antidote he did not have was administered by a family medic.

He loaded the gun and placed it on his abdomen where it adhered instantly on its own. He let his shirt fall over the ver small gun and was satisfied. The middle of his well muscled lower back would be even better but this would do for now. He grabbed his e-tablet from the table near his computer station and put in the green disk he knew from the color that it would erase itself soon or destroy itself after being read. He activated the the disk and saw the redhaired woman and a distant cousin he knew as Melvin but some called Baron de Zargos. They were seated in a room overlooking Atlanta Georgia on Earth.

“Joseph, I hope you are well. The contest you won was not rigged but we entered your name as our bid on five contests numerous times. The Armstrong Agency is using an unusual route to mothball the Neil Armstrong. On the screen now you can see the route taken by the Neil Armstong II Supercruiser. You can also see the route taken Aldrin Corporation’s BuzzBeast Freighter. Now you will see your own projected route. Why is this being done?”

Now the redhaired woman stood up and pressed a button. She then spoke, “The screen you are watching now shows a totally unkown anomaly. A series of lines appear in sequence emmiting gravity and electromagnetic waves for no known reason. The pattern predicts that these lines will appear again during your journey. They have always been about ten times stronger than the previous time. It could be a wormhole opening up through space-time but that is a fairly wild guess. It is the only one we have not been able to disprove beyond 99% probability by our own estimate. We also believe that the Asteroid Belt Pirate Syndicate is communicating about and somehow with this phenomenon. To tell you more could mostly mislead you. We know you are busy.”

The screen showed “ERase and diSoLvE” cyciling through fonts and cases. He ejected the disk and threw it into the air. It gave off flash of light and a puff of smoke and turned into a real tourist holodisk showing an image of the Grand Central Spaceport. He left it by the computer and hurried out to make his appointments. He saw a variety of crater cap engineers and some were wearing the distinctive uniform of the Summers Foundation. He smiled at one them and gave a sort of half wave.

He found the elevator behind the great waterfall to be another visually stunning sight. The directions he had gotten to the Armstrong Agency were very good directions and he arrived on time. He saw directions to Olympiaville where all the sports facilities on the floor of the crater were located. He noted the bus schedules and a few scheduled events and hoped that he and Roberta could make it out there during his stay in Lunapolis. He also hoped that he might make a connection with Daniel and they might make it out there. However, at the moment it was clear that his priority was to hurry through the Market Street crowds between Mouton’s Market West and Mouton’s Market East. He took in the smells of fish, herbs, dried fruits, nuts and spices. His eyes saw butcher shops with chicken, pork and a few with beef. There were stands with ceramics and those with used space gear. The merchants were mostly locals and the shoppers were mostly people from other colonies on the Moon he sensed — but only a bit over half. Many were locals shopping for their restaurants and convenience stores on the walls of the crater. The further he got down Market Street the more clearly he could see the large red building behind the markets.

There was a fountain in slabs of stone and the stone formed a sort of plaza with a handful of large potted plants. There were several metal statues in the plaza that Joseph recgnized as the work of Jean Claude Bazerac. Bazerac was a French sculptor who had actualy done a small bust of Joseph’s father when he had been a struggling young artist. Joseph greatly admired his work and was amazed to see so many examples of it here on the moon. Bazerac had just recenly died and that had brought him to the forefront of Joseph’s mind.Then he had seen that in the Church of the Holy Magi there were two pieces by Bazerac. One was a bas relief of the Holy Family and the other was a scene of the Magitic interpretation of Jesus walking on the water. Bazerac he suddenly remembered had lived for a few years in Lunapolis as the Artist-in-Residence employed by the Lunapolis Government.

As he entered the plaza proper one of the nearest statues moved towards him and bowed slightly its ten foot height. While the face moved very litlle the voice coming from the mouth sounded quite natural.

“Welcome Mr. Culkathadreil, you are awaited in the Crew Conference Hall. Follow me please.”

Joseph was a litttle stunned. He felt the blood flush in his cheeks and the widening of his eyes. He was sure that Balzerac had fashioned these bodies from the metal mined on the Moon and they were fitted around the best functioning androids he had ever seen. Clearly this was a chance for the Armstrong Agency to display their skill and expertise in robotics. How rich were these people?

His thoughts went back to Bazerac though. He had only been married to Louise for six years. Four of those he spent in two colleges. He had already been to Technical school and become a shutle pilot who never commanded a ship becuse of his inferior education. Then he took the chance for three months of Officer Candidacy School and a Two month flight school for aircraft. After fighting in the US Army as an ornithopter pilot against the Central Asian Islamic Comity’s forces he had used his GI benefits to go to school. He had the rarest of double majors. He majored in aerospace business and interior design. Horribly Louise died in childbirth because CAIC guerillas shelled the hospital and nearby power plant. They were inserted by Scandinavian pirates into a series of freight shipments. A Bazerac figurine was by her bedside when she went into labor.There were electic shocks that flowed through the New Orleans Touro & Superior Hospital. His baby son Benjamin died a few days later. He took the figurine with him when he was crewing the stasis dreamliner to the Orbital array around Jupiter. When he got back he married Louise’s cousin Elsie Charlotte Didier much younger than he. They had lived together as he coached rugby at his old junior college. After five years they divorced without children and he gave her the Bazerac figurine because Louise had cared about her young cousin who had also been nearby when his first wife died.

He had used all his elective programming on the dreamliner for psychotherapy protocols. While he often used Bazerac in his academic interior designs the man’s work had become a symbol of great pain. Now he was following the work of his favorite and also least favorite sculptor into the place where he would become a crewman and officer on his next deep space journey. These thoughts carried him through the colonade and into the tall and stately doors of the building, Inside the lobby giant fountains of gold, silver and bronze burbled and splashed. Three real living lionesses and a real lion wearing gold studded neuromatch collars languished on the rich carpets.The ceiling of the room was thirty meters high, athin webwork of steel, silver and amalgam was embedded into the ceiling, walls and floors. Crew Conference Hall was etched into a large slab above bronze door and between stone columns. He followed the stately robot through the door and was greeted by a man the robot introduced as “Chief Agent Saul Rojas Netanyahu”. The rather heavy man greeted him with, “Really Grand you won there Culkathadreil — Really Grand.”

The hall was a bit less overblown than the lobby. However, there was a mosaic on the wall of the Neil Armstrong with the Moon in the background. The huge room was an elongated rectangle with the lobby entrance in the middle of one of the long sides. The only other doors wre locate in the opposite long side but were not directly across from the lobby entry. Instead each was about a third of the way in from eith of that walls corners. they were wide enough that he could see a bit into them but eah was hung with double doors that swung into the next room and he could mostly see those door panels. The short wall to his right was lined with obvious one person holospace simulators he noted that five of them fit and took up almost all the space. The small wall on the otherside was equally filled by ten computer workstations. In both cases there was good bit of space between thes entry side of the aparatus nearest the wal and the place where the door stood in the long wall. It was a huge room. Between the two doors were about 30 highback chairs with the tops of their backs just below the bottom of the mosaic. This all takes a while to write but took Joseph a split second to observe.

“Well, I assure you it is grand to be here — fantastic really. I am impressed to see such fascinating people and robots here. I hope these are mostly my fellow members of the Armstrong Complement.”

“Quite right they are. Grand people Culkathadreil. We brought in the seven contest winners today as well as some of the people who might be working most closely with each of you. Now most of the inners are individuals but one of the winners is a group. That is the group of lovely young ladies in the softball uniforms.”

Joseph smiled at the large groups standing about just inside the door. “I am pleased to meet all of you. Hopefully we’ll be properly introduced soon.”

It turned out that servodroids with trays of drinks and treats were moving around as well as several fairly famous human photographers. The first part of this first day was about introductions and photographs of various kind. There were twenty four members of the Armstrong High School Strongarmers Softball Team. The Captain was a very shapely seventeen year old pitcher with the look of a practiced athlete in her eyes. He also met the co-subcaptains Anabella Rodriguez and Anais Durand. Anabella played first base and Anais was a catcher. He was friendly to these girls and took several posed and candid pictures involving one or more of them.

He met Harriet Bliss who had won a berth by winning the award for Lunapolis Physician of the Year. She was a flirtatious recently divorced redhead. She was meeting with the man who would be her direct subordinate as she was the New Ship’s Medical Officer. He was of real interest to Joseph who had some varied knowledg of medicine. He held eight acredited allied health licenses. Thus he was certified as a Nutritionist, AutoDoc Technician, Physician’s Assistant, Vedic Medical Practitioner, Sports Medic, Herbalist, Massage Therapist and Accupuncturist. There were more pictures and introductions. The old Ship’s Physician and Medical Officer was a man named Bloomfield but although he was present his aged appearance made it easy to see why he was not going on this trip.

There were two winners of security contests. These men were named Dick Smith and Harry Jones and assured him that those were not cover names. These were meeting with the regular security officers Wang Li Cheng, Bob Dirkson and Ivan Kaspersian. He knew he ha been entered for these slots by the Culkathadreil machine and wondered how different that win might have been. The group were still sizing eachother up and trying not to show it too much. There was alternating silence and excessive laughter.

The two winners in the Aerospace Technology also had slots he might have won. One was a young woman named Cynthia Blair and the other was an amazingly tall black man named Kweisei Hanzu. They were there with several regular techs whose names he missed and with a bright eyed engineering officer named Henry Enrique Ramirez. When they shook hands Joseph felt a familiar rhythym of pressures in the man’s fingers. He was another member of the network called the Culkathadreil Clan. Joseph returned a suitable signal.

After photographs and introductions they all watched a two hour orientation film. They had lunch and sat in a two hour Holoshow as a group. After this each winner went into Evaluator and Bio-accelerator. When they got out they were given Dreamlearner enhancement disks and told to show up at the same time the next day. The softball team would only come for two days but the other winners would be in training for two five day weeks.

As Joseph was waiting to process out he met Alan Germany the white coated trainer in chief. The man introduced himself almost deferentialy. “Just come in at this time and plan to leave at five. You can be a tourist whenever you are not here or in the Dreamlearner, the Dreamlearner will handle the homework with you. There will not be banquets and photo opportunities everyday so we will get a lot done.”

“Well, I plan to be here on time and ready.”

“I am sure you will be. Your piloting aptitudes are far above the minmum. But I did notice something. Your combat aptitude is the highest ever recorded in our machines and we have tested some very fine security officers here. Are you sure you have the right job?”

“Yes I am sure.”

“Well would you accept a bonus to serve as Bridge security liaison? We are running short crewed you know.”

” How much for how much?”

“Ten thousand dollars up front and fifty thousand upon arrival at Mars. You will move from thrity official duty hours to forty two per week. You will be relieved of some routine duties and have more high responsibility hours.”

“I accept.”

“Very well, sign this e-tablet and the money will be in your account in five minutes.”

“Good enough. I would like to keep the score kind of need to know though. Is that possible.”

“That is policy!”

Joseph smiled and gave his half wave. He wondered to himself how it happened that he as a pilot had not met the Ships Commander and High Captain or any of the other pilots. He just had to go with the flow on some of these things. He could not afford to cause to o much trouble or attract to much attention.

Early twentieth century Acadian scene from a Regina Oubre Hollier painting on Summers Foundation website.

 

First Chapter of My Science Fiction Novel on the “Summers Progress” Account on Facebook

Chapter One “First Trip to the Moon” of Part One “The Moon” a Very Different Sci-fi “First” Contact Novel in Progress

by Summers Progress on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:40pm

“Those days were above all the age of the Crater Cap Colonies. No other technology or social scheme had such an influence on the period of the Contact as did the Crater Cap Colony. While it was devised in a Facebook Group in the Twenty-First Century it came into its own just at the middle of the twenty-second century”. Historical Essays Section, Encyclopedia Humanitica

****  ****  ****  ****  ****

The Shuttle from Earth Orbit Station 13B was a bit crowded to say the least. There were both cheap trap tube and foldo seat tickets. Joseph Culkathadreil was not in one of those. He was in the economy seating and had a window seat. His Pilot Guild ID was worth a 40% discount on the shuttle, 25% off of his days fees at the station and would have been worth 17% off of the big ticket which was the EarthupShuttle. However, a friend who ran travel arrangements for the secretive Culkathadreil Consolidated Capital Corporation had pulled some strings to get him a temp job piloting the hop. So he had actually earned enough to pay for the other 75% of his Station fees. In the pilots bar there he had met a man who knew the best ways to get work at the Lunapolis Pilots Clearinghouse. In return for the information he had bought him a few beers. But the old pilot told him not to be too optimistic. He had exhausted his own willingness to use any influence or favors that involved Culkathadreil interests. The company was too secretive to be known to most people and too small to be well known to those with the resources to know most things. The name gave him just a bit of panache and set off his web of small scars, his years spent in hard and unglamorous positions with a bit of class. He also got a small dividend each quarter on a few shares of preferred stock in his designated portion of a protected trust. Togher with his severance packet from his last real job he planned to live on that till he found work.

Beside him was a tall man with the badges and pocket instruments of a Crater Cap Engineer. Joseph asked him how he was and what he was planning to do on the Moon. “If it is not too personal?”

“Not personal at all. We are putting together a team in Lunapolis and then heading off to finish the basic cap on a new colony they are opening in a crater on the far side of the Moon. You planning to fly for someone out of Lunapolis?”

“Yes, but I do not have a regular job yet — no job at all, really.”

“Well don’t forget to call the Wang Crater Cap Corporation once you are registered. We always need a few pilots it seems like.”

“I will do that. I am embarassed to say that I have worked in the space industry in general and colonization in particular a good part of my life and yet I know so little about the caps really. What makes that even more embarassing is that I grew up on an artificial island. And the plans fo those owe alot to some of the people who devloped the caps. ”

“Those wouldn’t be the islands in the Gulf of Mexico would they I thought I heard a little of South Louisiana in your voice.  We still buy cap components there you know.”

“You are a pretty good detective. I am indeed from the Culkathadreil Archipelago in the South Louisiana Super Archipelago of artificial islands. My name is Joseph Culkathadreil”. 

“Pleased to meet you you can read my name on my badge of course”. There was an awkward sort od gesture here that was niether a bow nor a handshake and yet was more than an inclination of the head, both men stumbled though it in the way that men not used to stumbling socially can when they must — the seats were not spacious for one thing.The engineer continued speaking relatively seemlessly now.  “About the caps they are simple enough: First they keep out cosmic and solar radiation but you can put solar panel up on top to gather the power. Second, you start channeling that power into heat and light it starts to warm up or if it is a blazing hot place to cool but iluminate as you block the sun. On the mooon many craters are below 45 degrees Kelvin on the floor — that is super cold. You put a cap on the place and nowadays we send out coldbots to scoop up methane and hydrogen and burn it that adds to the build up from solar powered heaters and lights. Third, in most spots we choose water ice starts to melt and gathers in ponds and streams. You see Pilot Culkathadreil, even though we pump or mine for more later we have water on the Moon and on Mars at that stage. Fourth. we start with all airlocks and pressure suits but we put in a base of miners and start planting domed gardens and keep burning the methane and heating the mines, spoils and floor. Fifth. the miners were masks but atmospheric pressure is fine and the climate is chilly but not brutal on the floor. Sixth, the miners crap and urinate and sometimes die and we recycle all their waste properly into compost or bury them to decay into the soil. Seventh, we can bring in a few real farmers. When this goes on the right way long enough you can get a place like Lunapolis”.

“And what do you do mostly in that process”? Joseph had listened carefully and although he had probably seen much of the process on TV he felt he understood it better than before.”I mean, do you specialize somehow — I see you are high grade CCC engineer”?

“Yes and while I was talking I checked on your name and see Joseph Culkathadreil is in the Inventor’s Guild as well. That’s impressive”!

“Well it is a little bit of income honestly but directly sent to previous commitments. I patented two form of shooter dart and a bullet for shooting through and between spaceships”.

“You are a scary man then. But I hold about ten patents. Two are for quicker heaters one is nuclear and one purely solar. I hold three for first roof projectors which put something upa as a scaffold and shield. I also have patents on inflatable column building components which help to support the early caps. So while I do it all Culkathadreil I spend a lot of time supporting my own stuff nowadays”.

“I am seated next to a legend here in economy. I am surprised but honored”.

“I am not quite a legend. I fly in space a great deal and I am a small man. I find economy comfortable and the difference in cost pays fro my duaghter’s tuition in medical school and my son’s tuition in Nuclear engineering by the end of the year. By the way, I have a tutorial on caps for investors shall I give it to you”?

“Thank you I would love to have it”. The men touched e-tabs and the addresses, nonconfidential biographies and other data were exchanged as well as Joseph receiving the three minute depiction of the first six months of amodern capping project.   He scanned a bit of it on the synopsis feature of his miniscreen.”That is pretty amazing Engineer. I have seen films and TV  shows made on Lunapolis and it is hard to imagine it starting like that”. 

“Films and TV, huh…  Pilot Culkathadreil, have you ever been to the Moon before?”

 “No, I have flown to space a good bit but this stay on the station was my longest in Space in the Earth Gravity Well. I mean off planet of course.”

 “”But you have shuttled from a station to a planetary ship to pilot I am guessing. Otherwise it would not take so long for you to say all of this. You would just say longest time off planet ever.”

 “Yep, I made just one trip as a subpilot actually but it was a big trip.”

 “Well one thing you should know about the Moon is that most people say the sex is better than anywhere else. One sixth gee is much better than the gees on the Earth or Mars and bodies work much better than in zero gees. Women usually bed a new pilot first-timer pretty quick I hear.”

 “Well, that is something to look forward to then. I am gloriously unattached certainly.”

 ‘Well, they are airing a sneak preview of the new Lu movie right now. I think I will put on my earpieces.”

 “I may join you then.”

As though to fulfill the prophecy of their conversation the Lu film was In the Cold and was the story of a Chinese American family who moved to Lunapolis on the Moon from San Francisco on Earth. One of the sons died in the rush of melting ice in a new crater cap colony on the Far Side. Joseph thought it was a pretty good film.  

The landing was not at any the colonies but at Grand Central Spaceport. Joseph went thought the AutoDoc scanners and presented his ticket to the luggage claim. He looked a walls of stone carved with maps labeled with features and with metal markers showing human settlements. He saw boards showing arrivals and departures. He walked to the display globe in the huge holoshow cube. The diversity of people and costumes in the great lobby was amazing. He also saw the vast dome above him like a great mosque he thought in which nearby anti-meteor battery towers were the minarets. This dome was red glass, steel webbing and siligel. Two large tunnels went to the blue dome and the white dome and another two tunnels went to two crater cap colonis of very modest sized craters that were part of the complex. However at various view points he could see the large network of train tracks the came to the red dome and then branched out more and more. He could see the surface tubeways that ran from the blue dome to the catapults that launched most of the outgoing shuttles and freight tenders. The white dome connected to  a web of surface and emergncy vehicles and the very few roads there were on almost road free Moon. His ticket to Lunapolis said Quadrant E and as he left the lobby and entered the Quadrant E  wing he saw the sign over the entry said Quagrant E–Equatorial Region. Then the ticket said Concourse MT and when he reached this it was the Councourse for all colonies in the Mare Tranquilitatis or Sea of Tranquility. Here he got on a moving walkway in the most crowded walkway or route and all wre headed to the Lunapolis Colony. US customs operated a scan gate as everyone entered the Lunapolis lobby and he went through without event.  The Lobby had a large ceiling mosaic depicting the founding of the colony and a good diner he had no time for at the moment. In several places the same phrase was written or carved “Lunapolis, Capital City Of USA Lunar Colonies built in the Tauruntius Crater on the Sea of Tranquility”. He heard nobody around him mentioning Tauruntius Crater however, everyone said Lunapolis. He saw that some people had rental cards and people helped them into nice travel suits other had their own rental lockers, suit check desks or their luggage. However he got the silly looking proteinate suits issued by the trainline.They looked like condoms even though they were very tough. The helmets and fingertips stayed open until there was a sudden decreas in air pressure. The suit would seal up and allow one to get from an armored train car that had been breached and into another car that was still sound. He noticed that well over half the passengers had these suits that were included in the price. Nobody was allowed into the train without somekind of pressure suit. He tried to tighten the belt and two straps. Meanwhile he shuffled along with others headed for the Lunapolis Express.

Minutes later he was on the train to Lunapolis. Almost nothing but raw moonscape and train tracks were visible for most of the thirty minute trip. He saw the big cater rim approaching his window as they banked on a turn fo the final approach. Getting out of the Train after it had slowed to a stop on the great white crater cap sheet he saw dozens of huge solar collectors until the train entered the airlocks of the large green pyramid in the center of the cap. He reported to colny customs and checked his luggage into a delivery crate locker so it would follow him to any hotel or apartment he found. Important people and rich people were being met by well dressed footmen from fine hotels. Robots were cleaning floors, serving coffee and helping people with their luggage. Colony craftspeople were selling souvenirs mostly to those who were leaving.

He hustled on to the discount elevator with many others. He watched windows pull out below the bottom layers of the cap. No picture or holoshow aproximated the real experience. On distant crater walls two wispy water falls fell well over a thousand feet each had two great hotels on the wall each at the place the water circulated through the hidden pipes and spilled out of caves and rocky ponds. He saw them from above straigh on and below very quickly. He saw feilds, swamps and forests as well as orchards rushing towards the bottom elvator. For a few moments they reached freefall and were held in place by their straps. Then they began to slow and sink back to the floor. He wore a newcomer’s magnetic shoe tape and made his way from the landing strip to the floor transit hub. He found a bus marked “Navigation Park — Elevator prime”. When he said Lunapolis Pilots Clearinghouse he was given a chit which had the words “Nav.Park stp2 J.Lovell fount/LPC” printed on the unfamiliar gray material.

When Culkathadreil got to the Pilots Clearinghouse he was tired. He was very weary and his mind was focused on whether or not he would get any work at all. He was not looking for any great or unusual to happen. From our point of view writing or reading about his life in an era that we all call the New Dawn we know that Joseph Culkathadreil is one of the most famous names of that era. He did not anticipate that and was closer to hanging on to what hope and dignity he could when everything in him cried out to just crawl away and lick quite few wounds fom a hard life thus far.

He did not notice a rather obvious plastic screen out of place or the top of a toy balloon sticking out above its upper edge. In the past he had noticed far more subtle things when his life depended upon it. He had suffered the fatigue that comes from noticing too many little things when nothing depended upon it. However, on that day he noticed nothing. Not untill the artificial sky of Lunapolis changed from its normal colors as he filled out his name on the registration screen. Birds and animals across the vast canyon floor responded as the sky flashed red, white blue and showed images of night stars and a vast ship. The screen he’d overlooked earlier showed large letters spelling “Joseph Culkathadreil is Our Winner!”Pipes and drums of various kinds sounded through the sound system all around him. About a dozen people in dresses, suits and overalls that he could see all belonged to something called the Colony Contest Committee were swarming around him. Some held balloons, some let balloons go and some held up flashing e-signs.

Another dozen of the same group seemed to be appraoching on glidecycles. He turned to the clerk looking to connect all this noise to the action he had just performed. “You won! Are you excited?”

He looked at the winning smile kindly. She was a cute short girl who he guessed might have been born with dwarfism and sent to grow up on the Moon as a child wherre medicine and low gravity made miracles commonplace for that disease. “I don’t know what I won, but maybe so…”

“I am so happy to be the one on duty, I get to go to the launch party now!”

“Launch party?”

“Yes, oh how can you not know — you won a duty post on the “Neil Armstrong”‘s Mothball Cruise.”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely this is a huge contest.”

Joseph pulled out the Philip Morris Pilot’s Pleasure cigarette that lighted itself automaticaly as it left the pack and gave off no smoke. He drew once on it and breathed out a tiny puff of smoke which was only a warnable matter here but on a planetary ship would draw a real and sizable fine. The lights of the Channel Nine News ‘copter and of two of it flybots were now lighting him up. The lights made it harder to see exactly how the Contest Committee was forming up around him. But he saw the the pretty red haired woman wearing a reporter’ red vest reading “MEDIA” in block lettters. She angled up beside the square jawed man with a neat hair cut who held out an e-tablet as he stood before Joseph but also smiled and cheated his position to be in view of the flybots and thir built-in cameras.

“Captain Third Class Joseph Samuel Culkathadreil, you are the certified winner of the Colonial Commission Contest for a duty post on the Neil Armstrong’s final cruise.”

Joseph was more intensely aware of the sound of the machinery in the flybots as they bobbed around recording everything. He smiled and said, “This is great! I am thrilled.”

He reached out and took the e-tablet. The man smiled as he handed it to him bigger and tootheir than before. ” We at the Contest Committee want to thank Lunapolis, the Colonial Commission and the Armstrong Agency for another great contest with another great result.”

The reporter waved her link glove and said “Pilot Culkathadreil and Chariman Wylies can we get a good handshake for the viewers?”

Both men obliged. Joseph smoking with the cigarette now in the side of his teeth. Almost as soon as the handshake was done the Contest committee retreated from him to a nearby set of cart with champagne and appetizers. He was alone with the lovely reporter. ” Well here we are on May 23, 2264 with someone I believe is an experienced spacer but quite new to Lunapolis. He signs up on a form that says he will take any space piloting job almost and wins the sweetest berth around. How does it feel to have won a ride on the Neil Armstrong and the pay of a Super Cruiser Pilot?”

Joseph looked at the elements of the prize listed on the screen of his e-tablet and he was stunned at the unexpected change in his fortune. “It feels pretty fantastic actually;” is what he said. “I can hardly believe it.”

“Well, that sounds pretty calm and reasonable. Can you tell our audience what is the biggest ship you ever flew before this?”

“I was Junior Captain on the New Orleans ISS72 run for eight years. We carried fitfy people and five tons of cargo before the catapults picked up the traffic. Then on my way up on this trip I was temp co-pilot on CapultCat76 we were 130 people and five tons of supplies. The Cat also pun off two sattelites. Between those trips I did a run on a planetary but I was not a pilot I was onloy a listed sub pilot. ”

“So Having a full online duty post on a mile long supercruiser will be a change I would imagine. Isn’t this a great story. I am sure much of my audience and viewership will agree that you look to youbg to have ever been a hopper skipper before the cats.”

“I can address both of those issues at once. It will be a change even if I had flown the planetary it would have been a change. The one I was on was stasis rig and I look about twelve years younger than I am because of it. I was never any where near Mars where we are going on the Armstrong. We went the slip route to Jupiter, the Mars New Array will be very different indeed.”

“Sounds like an adventure and an adventurer have found eachother then.”

“I am finding the adventure on Lunapolis pretty enjoyable right now.”

The reporter had obviously gotten his implications and inferences. She moved her glove and in between edits gave him a knowing wink. She then gave a bout a minute of closing remoarks while he picked up a couple of champagne flutes. When he turned back towards her the lights were growing dark and the flybots were reattaching to the cases built for them on the quiet electric copter. The pilot waved and smiled noticeably in the reporter’s direction and then veered off to join a flow of air traffic over the park. The amount of lying in these lunar colonies was hard to take in. High air pressure and low gravity made it easy to fly.

Joseph held one of the champagne flutes out to the woman. ” I hear most Lunarians are pretty fond of drink, are you one of them?”

“I have been to Earth twice for high school and once for a world tour. But I hve lived the rest of ,my life on the Moon. Earth is all about gravity drugs, sleeptrainer beds and braces for me. Lunarians drink more because most colonies have a 70% oxygen atmosphere with many times the sea level air pressure on Earth. The low gravity make ishard for blood to fall to your feet, the oxygen makes it hard to get intoxicated. So we have to work to get a buzz here. So thanksfor the champagne.”

“Well, I don’t suppose you’d like to keep drinking and maybe owrk on background for a feature story on me? We could have dinner in my hotel.”

“You move pretty fast.”

“Slow pilots are dead pilots. But look I do not even know your name and I won two weeks at a nice hotel with dinner for two included. I have never been to the Moon before and you are someone I seem to be able to talk with, so how about it.”

“Well, it is not impossible. I do want to do a feature. I also eat. How did you get here?”

“I have luggage in the trains locker at Port Clearnace. But I just came on a bus from Elevator Tower. I also had planned to try to find a distant cousin who had a postal box in the Elevator Tower and a an old physical address in the dock dorms. That pretty much sums up all the connections I have in Lunapolis.”

“Well then at least let me give you a ride to your hotel and then we’ll see. If you can make out that parking lot over there beyond the pond that comes up to the veranda of the Registry Offfice then you know where we are going. I am parked there.”

Joseph took a long stride off the magnetized pavement and thenleaped up about ten feet and got a good view of the parking lot. Then He bent down and removed his newcomer’s shoe nets. There was a depository for them at the registry and he dropped them into it as they walked past. He walked beside his semi-date with a pilot’s skill in adjustment. Nonetheless he was very aware of his clumsiness as he tried to match the long and loping strides used by colonists on the Moon. The path alongside the Registry led among fruit trees first in a statuary park and then continued along the pond with fruit trees on one side and benches facing the pond on the other side. An aplle fell from one of the trees with impossible slowness.

Joseph was amazed to see the speed, grace and dexterity with which the young woman moved from his die to rush airborne to the apple.Her arm and fingers moved like a beautiful fleshly serpent and siezed the apple just as her foot found a small stone in the grass and pushed hard enough to send her up and in a parbola to land beside the spot where his last stride was landing him.

“How about a snack between champagne and dinner?”

“Sounds good”

The reporter smiled and dropped the apple towards his open palm as she looked at his nodding and smiling face. He used this as a chance to display his own speed and skill. She barely saw his other hand flick his cigarette into a trash bin, reah down and grab his knife from his pocket and open it as his right hand seized and positioned the apple. She did see him split the apple and then skewer half of it and offer it to her while he brought the other half to his mouth with his left hand.

“Bravo, you are an impressive man.” Her voice held bothe teasing laughter and real admiration.

“Then we are mutually impressed. In all thais getting impressed I have never caught your name.”

“Right, you are new here and you were getting the champagne when I did the sign off. My name is Roberta Dupuis and I will definitely follow up my half apple with a real meal with you.”

“I am very pleased.”

“Well, I think you might be.”

This is just a drawing of what any Lunar Crater Cap Colony might be like. For the key go to the group “Crater Cap Concept Colony Group” in my list of groups.

 

Drawing of the view of a proprietary crater cap colony from above