Destiny's Choice is an original work of fiction, a science fiction thriller of novel length with uber 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.
Chapter 16: Doing What Comes Naturally
Hayley pumped her fist jubilantly. "Yes!"
"End game," announced a monotone nondescript computer voice.
"Six kills and ten permanently disabled! A resounding victory!" Hayley jumped over a large redwood stump.
"Very good, buddy" Carol rose from where she had fallen in mock death. The rest of her vanquished "army" vanished.
"Long live Hayley the Horrible!" Laughing loudly, she tossed her pistol into the air and caught it.
"You're such a kick." Carol chortled and took a seat on a faux-log. She wiped the perspiration dripping down her nose with the bottom of her tunic.
"It's so good having you here." Hayley plopped next to her friend and took her into an embrace. She kissed the ebony hair cascading to Carol's shoulder.
"I've missed you, too. I'm missing everyone."
"Hey, I'm sorry." Hayley looked into her friend's almond-slivered eyes. They were tinged with a rare dampness. Instinctively, she tightened her hug. "It won't be long. You'll be done with your dissertation, and then you and Tanner will be together out exploring the universe."
"Growing up's just such a bitch."
Hayley couldn't help smiling. She loved it when Carol parroted one of her frequently expressed feelings. Still, "Yeah, bud. It is." She gave another squeeze and kiss. For several long moments they remained in their poignant tableau. "Yeah!" Hayley jumped up and pulled Carol to her feet. "Don't know about you, but I could use a shower." She feigned smelling her armpits and wrinkling her nose in disgust. Then she sniffed Carol, who gave her stomach a playful swat. The offended organ grumbled.
"Your garbage disposal speaks," Carol teased as they left the VR suite.
"Then let's get back to the apartment and I'll fix you my killer lasagna."
"No," Carol walked at Hayley's shoulder. "I take you out buddy."
"You've been doing that all week," Hayley protested. She pushed the door for her shorter friend to enter the locker area.
"No. You've made breakfast every morning and met me for lunch. Besides, I like treating my best girl."
"So do I," Hayley grinned and punched in her access code, springing open the door to her locker. "You'll be gone soon enough."
"No more mush," Carol removed a towel and began pulling her clothes off, tossing them quickly into her a small gym case.
Hayley did the same, and wrapped her towel modestly around her lanky frame. Closing her locker, she walked with Carol to the showers.
"You know, I can't remember the last time you beat me."
"Luck," Hayley rolled her shoulders.
"Skill, partner. You've got it. You gotta think better of yourself." Carol slung her towel over the shower stall door. "If you weren't so keen about following in your grandmother's footsteps I'd recruit you for my squad."
"Yeah, could you see me racing around in one of your fighters?"
"Yeah, I can."
Hayley could almost hear the familiar admonition sitting on Carol's lips. Confidence, Hayl'. Confidence.
Hayley snickered, her shy grin letting Carol know she understood. "I," she began, her smile morphing into one of playful Devil-may-care, "I think you let me win." Hayley swatted Carol's backside with a flip of her towel. Laughing loudly, Carol retrieved her weapon and the battle was on.
Hayley froze. She quickly mummified herself in modesty.
Elise Newcastle. Dressed in a tight skirt and top that made her look like a human donut, she held a small pink gym bag with the name of a perfume company in white and navy emblazoned on its side. Her hair looked as if it had been recently coifed. Reaching into the third stall on the left, she removed a small bottle of peach-colored stylizing shampoo.
A second woman, no one Hayley recognized, stood in entrance to the showers. Mediterranean in look, she had long, shiny black, blue, and orange hair that fell loosely to her butt. A nose ring with a small emerald decorated the left nostril of her nose.
"Wha--?" Hayley wanted to know her problem, but felt exposed˜like she had somehow been caught with her hand in the proverbial mousetrap.
"Ana, let me introduce you to our newest staff member."
The one Elise had addressed as Ana turned her gaze from Carol, whose body posture had remained loose and relaxed, her towel hanging over her left shoulder, and looked at her.
"This is Dr. Hayley Genetti. And who might your little friend be?"
Carol squared her shoulders. Hayley swallowed. "Carol ... ah˜My best friend from home, Carol Chang.
"Ah hah," A grin twisted the corners of Elise's mouth.
"Look at that!" Barstow Goree pointed at the monstrous mountains of poisonous waste and the vast kilometer-wide scars left by the century-long mining operations of the Cavendar and Hyundai Ore and Metals Corporation. They, and several dozen other conglomerates, had made deals with the Lunar Colonies' government, an assembly and President dominated by the larger cities of Armstrong and Tranquility Base City, and the U.G.C. to expand mining operations and hazardous waste burial. After all, the metals and gases trapped in the lunar crust were in high demand. So was the need to find sites to create storage facilities for storing the by-products of refining the resources and for the nuclear resources needed to generate power. Solar power only went so far, especially as humans expanded their homes and operations to the dark side of the moon. Why the fuss? The congloms and government agencies promised to keep all operations away from the major metropolitan areas. The new mining, storage, and manufacturing would provide a wealth of jobs, which would be done by the cheap laborers emigrating from the depths of Africa, Aboriginal Australia, New Guinea, those areas of Earth still classified third world. Cheap labor, coolie-like working conditions, and the hazardous mining waste and scarring that made living in the outer, smaller colonial communities dangerous and psychologically depressing. The new ecologists worried, advocating for a movement that would require the congloms and local industries to leave the lunarscape naturally pristine and healthy.
"Look at that!" Barstow pointed again. "The filth of the congloms who destroy our home! Our way of life! And only one person has had the guts to stand up and say, "No more! Only one with the guts to take on the U.G.C. and DeBow! The only one who hasn't been swayed by the money and the power and has will do what she has promised!"
Light Horse looked out at the audience gathered in the park. She was in a domed suburb on the outskirts of Tranquility Base City, in Touchdown Park, the place where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Collins had left humankind's first lunar footprints; footprints carefully preserved by the fore-parents who had laid out and built Tranquility Base, an independent colony until it joined with the larger Armstrong and several smaller communities into the United Lunar Colonies.
The park was packed with Lunars, her preferred designation, of every race, age, creed, and economic level. Many held up placards promoting one cause or another.
End Worker Importation!
Down with Company Towns! Company-town Mentality!
Keep the Moon Beautiful!
Welcome Dr. Kaliska Light Horse!
No one was paying any attention to the reminders of the first human lunar explorers. Several dozen children of various ages and races and ethnic backgrounds, played on the playground equipment or bladed and boarded in the skate center, but every adult, and even some of the youngsters had stopped with their games to look up at the podium to listen to the newest, most vocal of the rabble rousers, a recent emigrant, an aborigine from Australia, Barstow Goree.
"Nervous?" he asked.
Light Horse looked down and met the soft brown eyes of her escort, Marie Menchu. "Un poco," she replied, her voice soft.
"I've never seen such a crowd. Everyone's for you."
"Not everyone," she grinned, "but perhaps I shall win a few converts to our cause."
Larry Yelp clapped Light Horse on the shoulder with his bony grip. "I still can't believe that Cavendar's actually going to bring in another hundred workers. Damned Coolies!"
Light Horse's smile tightened into a line. Slowly, so as not to cause insult, she shrugged off his grip.
"You mean braceros," countered Menchu, reverting to the dominant language.
"Call it what you like," growled Yelp. "I see your friend," he continued, referring to McClurg, who was speaking with a group of Light Horse's political colleagues, "has found some allies. That's one thing we can all use. Allies. Right, Light Horse!" He clapped her shoulder again.
"Riiiiggghhht," Light Horse nodded.
"Let her know how much you appreciate her hard work and dedication to you and your families! Tell her how you appreciate her many sacrifices! The abuse!" Barstow cried out to the crowd. "Let her hear! Yell like the warrior she is! Like the warriors we are! For the right of Lunars! Here she is, our current minister, Kaliska Light Horse!"
"That's you," Marie nodded.
"Here goes," the grin morphed between welcoming and business-like. Light Horse mounted the steps and took Goree's dark, long, but meaty hand. "Thank you," she said, her tone quiet. Goree's, head bobbed causing graying Rastafarian styled dreads to swing. Her grin broadened as she traded places with her host and turned to the audience. "Hot damn! It's good to be home!"
With that a great roar swept up from the crowd. Light Horse raised her hands and clapped. "And thank you for all your support" She continued to pound her own hands together. "This is for the greatest supporters and friends anyone could have. This is for you!"
Again more cheers engulfed the park capturing everyone's attention.
"It has been too long," she began when the chanting and cheers had subsided. "Is this working?" she asked as she paced across the stage. She tapped the small microphone fastened to her buckskin jacket. The fringe on the outside seam swayed. Thank the spirits for the excellent climatic controls. The jacket was a bit much, but it, the long sleeve linen blouse, three-quarter length black pants, and knee-high leather boots, were her trademark dress; that and her long dark hair, left loose, except for the two braided strands on the side that she wore fastened back in a silver and turquoise clip. She also wore the two eagle feathers that had been part of her regalia at the powwow.
"Yea!" A group of kids, about ten or twelve, which was hard to tell from her position, yelled from the playground.
"Thanks guys," she yelled back. "Looks like you guys are having fun."
"Want to play?" asked a taller, hunkier kid. He held a pseudo-laser in his hand.
"Sure looks like fun. Wish I could, but these folks expect me to make a speech," she replied with a mischievous grin. "You know, I remember when I was a little girl," she continued her conversation with the kids in the park. "Yes, just like you," her smile broadened as she brought in a group of young girls and boys. "My parents would bring me to this very park and I would play with them. Swinging and sliding˜climbing all over the jungle gyms and monkey bars. I was quite the dare devil then, you know. My parents would tease me and say I was the absolute proof of mankind's connection to the great apes and other anthropoids. Of course, they were just as bad, so I often had to tease them in return." The crowd chuckled at these points, obviously picturing Light Horse as a kid or remembering their own youths. Some had turned to look at the kids, some standing on tiptoe. Some on swiveled heads looked back and forth between the stage, which was a raised cement and marble construction whose back wall was painted with murals that told the story of humankind's quest for the moon.
"Boy did we have a good time. But you know why I really loved this park? Do you?"
"The space stuff!" Shouted another adventuresome kid, this one with long matted brown hair and dark, almost black, skin. He was Harsa Gorsee, Barstow's oldest son.
"Absolutely! Yes!" Now she turned and motioned to the mural surrounding her. "What a grand adventure! What grand ideals!" She turned back to the crowd. "Adventurers and pioneers. The absolute best that science had to offer! The spirit of independence! And it's that independence I represent. We are free! We are the United Lunar Colonies! The Lunar Colonies!"
A cheer went up, and then a chant. "Colonies! Colonies!"
"Colonies! Colonies! Colonies!"
"Not Armstrong! Not Tranquility Base City!"
"Colonies! Colonies! Colonies!"
"Not Cavendar! Not Hundai!"
"Colonies! Colonies! Colonies!"
"Not the United Lunar Colonies of the U.G.C.!"
"Colonies! Colonies! Colonies!"
"We are free!"
"We are in-de-pen-dent!"
"We belong to no one, but ourselves!"
Now a great cacophony rose up and Light Horse smiled, and when the chorus settled, Light Horse let her words flow like a revival tent preacher.
"That's right! And we won't be dictated to by anyone! Not by Armstrong or Tranquility Base City! Not by the Congloms or their stockholders! And definitely not by the U.G.C.! We will not be the refuse pile for Earth, for the orbiting colonies of Parliamentary, New Earth, Hundai-Toyota, Cavendar and Hyundai Ore and Metals Corporation, United Mining Consortium, Waste Managers Disposal Corp or any of the others! We have a right to decide who will mine our ores! We have a right to decide where and when our ores will be mined! We have a right to decide who, where, and when the poisonous filth of outsiders will be buried here! It is our decision and no one else's!"
Shouts and cheers punctuated their counterpoint. But when Light Horse spoke these last words, the din was such that for ten minutes Light Horse found she couldn't say another word. So instead, she simply joined in and led the cheers. Chorus after chorus of cheers.
Light Horse's image flickered on the vid.
"Damn look at that response!" Cursed Lunar President Chang Tse Mao.
"I know what our critics will say," Light Horse had begun speaking again. "They will say that we need to mine. We need to mine the oxygen trapped in the moon's crust or die. And they will laugh as they remind us of our illogic. And you know what we will answer?"
"Fuck you!" yelled someone from the crowd.
Again the audience exploded in a round of cheers and applause.
What had that been˜the twentieth, or was it the thirtieth interruption? Groused Mao to himself. He looked across his desk at DeBow's Chief of Staff, her attention fixed on the screen on the wall. Damn! She'd better have a plan.
Light Horse laughed. "That would be a great response, too!"
More applause and cheers.
"But no." Light Horse spoke loudly, but calmly.
"What are you going to do about that damned witch?"
"Ssshhh!" Stone demanded sharply.
"No." Light Horse calmed her voice further. The cheering had subsided as she forced everyone to complete stillness to hear her.
"Fuck damn, she's good," murmured Mao's assistance. This earned him an immediate glare from Stone whose glaring gaze returned to fixate on the screen. Mao's gaze flicked between the thin, yet Amazonian-built, woman who had come to help solve his problems, and the panther-like menace dominating the vid-screen.
"No," Light Horse's face was stern. "We will answer, `Yes, of course we need the oxygen to survive, but we need." Her voice crescendoed. "Not Parliamentary, not the station-colonies! The oxygen belongs to us. It stays here! It stays here to support our home and families. To support our industries! It stays here!" Again the crowds thundered.
"Self-serving," mumbled Stone under her breath.
"What was that?" asked Mao.
"Nothing." Stone waved him off.
"Now our opponents might say that is self-serving. But if we don't protect our resources, it is the moon and the future generations, our descendents who will pay the cost. We are not some third world country to be exploited and imperialized. Besides, why strip us of our oxygen when scientists on the Interplanetary Station for Pure and Applied Research have developed a way to create the basic elements of matter, molecules and atoms. Key was oxygen and hydrogen. Last year news of this technology made all the vids. So eventually, mining for oxygen and water will no longer be necessary and the scars that ravage our glorious moonscape will be no more. I support this research. So do Menchu, Goree and Yelp, your representatives to the Lunar Assembly. I also support your desire to take back control of what is ours. Our homes. Our lives. I say `No!' to the dumping of Terran waste. This year, as I promised in my campaign, to move in concert with my assembly colleagues a place before Parliament a bill giving control of all resources on inhabited worlds, planetary, lunar, asteroid, or artificial to those inhabitants. I also promise to do my best and block all and any legislation that now gives the congloms and the U.G.C. this right, but like a lighthouse in a storm, I was but one voice˜one light of reason. That is why you must succeed here, and that success will only come if you make sure Marie Menchu, Barstow Goree, and Larry Yelp gets your support. And for those of you who do not live in this district, you must lobby your representatives, call on them, vid-mail, petition, gather in rallies, and do everything possible to make them see justice is right! Not corruption! The more voices are heard throughout Parliament and on the vids the more we have a chance to succeed. Light Horse motioned for Menchu, Yelp, and Goree to come up on stage. As they did so the yells, cheers, and whistles of those watching crescendoed into mad hysteria. "Rise up! Rise up!Support your representatives! Support their cause! Your cause! Your cause! For your family! For their security! For their health! For your liberty! For your very life! Tell DeBow, Stone, and Mao, no more operating as usual. The time has come. We are Lunars and we are free!"
There was nothing more to be said. Nothing more that could be said. And there she stood. Hand-in hand˜Light Horse, Menchu, Goree, and Yelp. There they were and when the commentators appeared in the lower right hand corner of the screen Moa ordered VAS to deactivate the vid. He eyed Stone, "So what are you going to do about it?"
Stone's gaze did not leave the screen. For an instant, her look was one of annoyance. Mao swallowed.
"I've got news for you, Mao," Stone's focus met his eyes, "she's a Loony. She's your problem."
"I don't think so. I tell you, Stone, her voice is the one Lunars want to hear. We have no one with even an ounce of her popularity. Menchu and Yelp, people listen to them. Thank Buddha, Goree is a new comer in that district or Lord help us. You and the congloms will fail here."
"And if that happens, so will you, Mao. I suggest you silence them. You should start by silencing those rallies."
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