Destiny's Choice is an original work of fiction, a science fiction thriller
of novel length with über qualities. The plot is layered with romance, political
intrigue, sex, and violence. At times the drama can be intense. Enjoy. Once
completed, I hope to find a publisher. I appreciate comments good and bad, especially
if they are constructive. (For the academy, my email is lifetrekker@
Chapter 11: Congratulations
"So, you're up at last," Bruce joked as Christine came down the stairs.
"Oh, I've been up. Actually, I've been on the Net. Hope you don't mind. I used my ident, so you shouldn't have any charges."
"No—not at all. Can I get you anything to eat?"
"I'll just get some coffee." She walked over to the food processor and ordered a cup of a Martian-Colombian blend.
The computer responded, "That item is not available at this time. You may enjoy the generic substitute."
"Fine," Christine pooh-poohed.
"I'll have to reorder," Bruce apologized. "I don't think Delores has checked the supply lately."
"How's she feeling? Did I hear her throwing up this morning?"
"I'm afraid so. You know, before Delores discovered she was pregnant, she thought she had caught a strain of the Jovian flu. She wasn't pleased to learn she had a bad case of morning sickness."
"Don't the doctors have anything to help her?" Christine removed her mug of coffee from the food processor.
"She's been taking a new prescription. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. This morning it didn't. You got in late last night."
"I had a dinner meeting." Christine sat on the couch. "Then, I attended a play."
"A play? I don't remember you ever having an interest in drama."
"I did last night," she replied.
"Did you have a nice time?"
Christine set her mug on the armrest. "I had a very nice time—and the meeting went well, too," she replied almost too smugly.
Bruce knew that smirk. He had seen it countless numbers of time during their dorm days. Christine had worn it after particularly successful engagements, as she liked to call her dates. Bruce wondered which Martian lady had succumbed to his friend's devilish, beguiling charms. He was about to ask for details when he heard Delores.
"Good morning, Christine." Delores descended the stairway.
Even though attired casually in a pair of old, but immaculately kept sweats and a soft cozy shirt, a true indication of the severity of her nausea, Delores moved with cat-like elegance as she swept into the room.
"Good morning, Delores."
"Would you like something, Darling?" Bruce asked.
Delores nodded, sitting in a chair across from the couch. She propped her arm on the rest and placed her head in her hand. "Just a little toast and some herbal tea. I'm still a little queasy."
"Maybe you should call your doctor again?"
"No—I'm fine. I think the ham from last night's dinner bothered me. I've never been allergic to anything before, but since becoming pregnant, I keep finding foods that just don't set well. Those strawberries from Mom's party nearly killed me."
guess you should stick to oatmeal."
Delores frowned. "I hate oatmeal," she clipped her words haughtily.
Bruce and Christine laughed.
just stick with the toast for now; and, maybe a little pasta. After all, with
my Italian genes, I've got to be able to eat pasta . . . and pizza."
"I ate at your Mama Mia's last night," announced Christine triumphantly.
"Don't they just make an exquisite pizza?" Delores's eyes lit.
"It was good."
"What did you get?" she asked.
generic garbage with Feta cheese and artichoke hearts."
Delores took a mug of tea from Bruce and placed a small plate with two plain pieces of toast on her lap. She sipped the tea and closed her eyes relishing its soothing effect. "I love artichoke hearts on pizza. It's a Genetti tradition. Hayley loves the Feta cheese." Through squinting eyes, she caught Christine's quick smirk. Her eyes popped open. "Now Christine, you've been very mysterious this week." She pointed a finger accusingly.
"You've got me," Christine confessed, raising her hands in surrender.
"Hayley?" Delores frowned.
Surprised, Bruce almost didn't hide his at a boy sneer. Someone had finally caught the bookworm; a feat he had believed no one could accomplish. Leave it to Christine! He applauded silently.
"It was business—sort of," Christine replied in defense.
"What would you want with Hayley?" Delores's protective instincts surfaced.
"Except the obvious," Bruce added jokingly, trying to make a possibly tense situation less so.
Delores was not amused.
"I've been charged by DeBow to come up with ways to counter Light Horse's growing threat," she reminded her hosts. "I was sent to Mars to solicit support from the corporations based here and to shore up party loyalties. When you told me about Hayley's specialty, I had an idea. On the transport here, I read the book you lent me. You were right." She pointed her mug at Bruce, who sat on the armrest next to his wife. "It was very good. Then her lecture—I would have never believed that mousy, scrawny, gangly little sister of yours would grow into such a beguiling woman and have the gumption to stand up in an auditorium filled with relatives, friends, colleagues, students, and complete strangers from every influential walk of life here on Mars and give such a lucid, dynamic speech. You're lucky she's not in politics. She's definitely inherited the Genetti genes."
smart to be sure, but Hayley's no orator," Delores disagreed.
"She has a natural, untapped ability that I think she keeps well hidden. I know she's shy and unsure of herself, but with support and a little grooming," she said, "I believe she could provide the U.G.C. a great service."
Bruce leaned forward. "How? I can't see Hayley running for any political office."
Christine nodded in agreement. "You're probably right, but as DeBow's Director of Historical Education she would be marvelous."
"Director of Historical Education?"
"It's basically a promotional . . . a teaching position."
would she be teaching?"
"Man's manifest galactic history to start—history in general. She'll be Governor DeBow's personal historian."
"Have you told Hayley this yet?" Delores asked.
"I asked her a couple of days ago at lunch. She accepted the position last night."
Bruce slapped his knee. "I can't believe it!"
Delores shook her head. "Hayley? My little sister?"
"She's not so little."
"That's why you asked about Hayley's schedule at the university. I thought you were just going to stop by and say `hi' after you finished speaking with the chancellor," said Bruce.
"I did. Then I took her out to lunch at the Faculty Dining Room and propositioned her," she finished, emphasizing the intentional double entendre.
Christine and Bruce exchanged a laugh—Bruce a little hesitantly. Delores's frown grew.
"You really think she could do a good job?" Delores worried.
"Once she gets use to her duties," Christine said sincerely. "I spoke with the chancellor and a number of the deans at the university, plus some colleagues on Earth. Though she has not ventured much from Mars, her work is known and respected. While at lunch a dean from M.I.T. made an off-handed bid for her services. Your sister is one of the most promising academicians in Sol and this galactic history she writes about is seen as her brainchild. Many have put together studies that provide a basic synopsis of man's ventures into space and the establishment of colonies, but if you read Hayley's book or remember her law of mobility—that theory is her own invention. Your sister is a remarkably gifted historian."
Delores was not impressed. "Yes, she's a genius. We've all known that from the moment she could walk."
"What are you worried about? Are you afraid that Hayley could end up getting more votes than you and wind up as one of the most influential forces in our government?" Christine pressed argumentatively. "Or that with her rhetoric and oratory skills she could help the U.G.C. maintain its course in bringing progress to all mankind as we expand and exploit space?"
"No, and this is no petty jealousy." Delores remained stern. "I think I know my little sister better than you. I think you've filled her head with all kinds of grandiose schemes. I'm afraid that you're setting her up to fail and I don't want to see her hurt."
"Fail? I don't think she's ever failed at anything," Christine countered.
"Except interpersonal relationships. My sister is painfully shy. She spent the last few minutes before her book talk chucking up her guts and the only reason she didn't bolt her party the other night is because I held her hand."
"She told me that."
"Then how do you think she'll come out of her shell? As a minister she'll have to speak in front of large groups of people. She'll have to be present at large social functions."
grew up in your household?"
"Yes, and she would always make the prerequisite appearances and then conveniently slip upstairs and bury her nose in a book or stand off to the side like a frightened little rabbit. You can't change twenty-eight years of ingrained habits. My parents have tried. I've tried."
"In a way, Hayley's already begun doing that herself."
"What?" Delores did not believe her.
"She gave the book talk and went to her party."
"We talked her into it. You saw her at the party. She went to hide in the kitchen with the family's RMs. She preferred the company of non-sentient droids to a house filled with adoring guests. That's why I showed up. When I looked around and didn't see her, I guessed she had pulled one of her disappearing tricks. I had gone to the kitchen to find her and to bring her back. The only reason she didn't run away the rest of the night is because I held her arm."
"I think your sister is much more resilient than you give her credit. I think she'll learn to adapt and play the game. It's like being an actress."
"It's the way she gets through her classes. She told me that she pretends she's an actress on stage. When the class ends she returns to her more inherent persona. That's how she got through the book talk and that's how she'll get through her new assignments. I think she'll be very good. I also think she'll learn to love it."
"Because she really wants to serve. She knows the legacy of her family. I think she wants to be a part of that legacy—not just some little footnote on the bottom of the page." She jabbed at the air. "Dr. Hayley Michelle Karolek Genetti, little sister of Minister Delores Rose Genetti, sister-in-law of Governor General Bruce Sharpleton, daughter of—you get my drift? She may not aspire to your heights, but I believe she wants to leave an imprint and make a difference. She's beginning to realize that with her skills as a historian, she can do just that."
"I don't know." Delores shook her head.
"Delores." Bruce took her hand. "Apparently Hayley has accepted Christine's offer." Christine nodded. "She may be shy, but she is a Genetti and she has inherited other family traits."
Bruce answered, "She's strong-willed and never does something she really doesn't want to do."
"The book talk?" Delores challenged her husband's conclusions.
"Maybe she really wanted to do that," Christine theorized aloud. "She was just nervous."
she wanted to please the family and the university administrators.
Christine pressed, "Probably, but I also feel that she wants to grow. You know what she told me last night?" Delores shook her head. "She said that she's never been a risk-taker." Delores agreed. "But she also said that if she didn't accept my offer, she'd always wonder whether she could have done the job—whether she could have made a difference."
"She is an idealist," Delores confirmed, accepting Christine's account.
"She's a remarkable lady. With her smarts, the Genetti oratory skills and instincts, and her good looks, I think that she'll attract a strong following. She'll be a woman who can mold public opinion and mold it in the government's favor. I think she'll surprise you." Bruce could see Christine had won her debate. "I think she'll surprise all of us. Can I get you some more tea?" she asked, downing the last of her coffee. Extending her hand, she wore a quirky, almost cocky, grin.
"Hayl!" Carol called as she entered the quiet apartment. Dressed to go running and play some tennis, she set her racket on the couch. She looked around expecting to see Hayley emerge from the bedroom or to see Sparky come yapping. Neither appeared. "Hayley!" She walked across the living room to the small dining area and looked out the large glass door. In the small back landing, she spied the target of her search. Bending over, Hayley was removing the ever-present weeds that had migrated from Earth to infest her garden. Opening the door she stepped outside. Now, Sparky yapped and Hayley, standing up, greeted her.
"I thought you were going to leave the front door open. I buzzed twice. Luckily, my thumbprint disengages the lock," Carol complained.
Hayley apologized. "I forgot."
"Are you ready to go? Hayley, you look … lost . . . perplexed."
"Maybe—I think I've made a big mistake." Hayley walked back into her apartment. She asked the computer for water and then sat at the small wooden dining table in the eating area.
"What now? Another book talk?" Carol joked, hoping to counter the foreboding in Hayley's face.
"Worse," Hayley answered, taking a long drink of water.
"What is it?"
"I've accepted an offer to become Governor General DeBow's Director of Historical Education on Parliament. I'll be leaving Mars at the end of the term, at least for mid-break, but if everything works out, longer."
"How did this come—when?" Carol need to catch her breath as she spoke.
Hayley told Carol about how Christine had come to see her. About their date and of how she'd come to accept her offer.
"How wonderful, Hayley!" Carol wanted Hayley to see how truly excited she was by the news.
"But, we'll be split up." Hayley shed a tear.
"I told you that might happen anyway. Command might reassign my cadet squadron. If Tanner goes, I want to go with him. Hayley, you can't be upset. You knew this day might come. It's part of growing up."
"Damn growing up! I wish we could still be young. It was so much easier when we were kids. No one ever expected anything. No books, no book talks, no sorties, no transfers, no job offers. Grandma would still be here."
Carol placed a hand on Hayley's arm. "I know. Sometimes life's a bitch, but you know what I've always believed. Everything always happens in our lives for a reason. Look at us? With our divergent personalities, many have wondered how we could be best friends. Luckily, we are. You've always kept me grounded and I've always given you a connection with the rest of humanity. Besides, our lives aren't departing from one another, just detouring a little as our paths follow new directions. But you and I will always be best friends." Carol's eyes moistened.
"I love you so much. I'm betraying you."
"I know," Carol squeezed tighter. "No, you're finally breaking free. Finding who you were meant to be. No longer hiding."
"But … If things could be different."
Carol gave Hayley a hug. Hayley cried harder and Carol joined her as they said the first of many good-byes.
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