Capture the wind
“Take me out in to the black, tell ‘em I ain’t coming back…”
Ballad of Serenity – Joss Whedon
The mission to Mars was dashed. BSA astronauts were more than upset at the last minute changes to the mission profile. Instead of the crew of five humans going to the Mars colony, it would be ten highly advanced robots going to the mystery ship. Lost in a hundred fifty thousand years was the irony of the mission. The ship that was lost and forgotten by humans, found by robots.
BSA laboratories had been advancing their space propulsion systems all through the last 50 years. The early NASA designs for a theoretical FTL drive, based upon space field warping principals developed upon Einsteins theory of general relativity, were upscaled and tested on small probes. However this was the first time a truly large vehicle would test it.
The Mars Explorer, designed to house five humans, food, water, medical and other essentials, for a nearly year long trip, was gutted. Instead it was filled with the large multi-task robots and fuel containers for the worlds first test of a space warping drive. In fact, that was the cover story for why the mission was scrapped. The BSA claimed, instead, to be testing the drive. But in truth, they were trying to keep their knowledge of the alien ship from the publics knowledge. The fear of what would happen, should religious hysteria break out, made the decision paramount. Though religious belief was far less common than a mere forty years ago, it was still a powerful social and political tool.
Thornton Abercrombie was not a religious man. In fact, he was a man of science. Still, he found himself questioning all he believed in, realizing that not only did aliens exist, they had visited Earth, or at least appear to have. Of course, it never occurred to him that he was part alien.
As he finished checking the autonomy programming of the last of the robots, he assessed the overall likelihood that this was all for nothing. But a space race was underway. Russia had nothing that could actually leave orbit, but they did have control of what once was the International Space Station. It was now their primary space base. China had nothing that could carry a meaningful load, but did have the financial power to fund Russia’s development of a ship. Already they announced their intention to build a large ship, capable of traveling to Mars, or beyond. However, they would be depending on nuclear ion drives. Slow, weak and next to useless for short trips to a nearby planet, BSA scientists realized they were intending to try to get to the alien ship first, claiming it, and its technology. To prevent this, they threw all their technological might into a mission to not only secure the alien technology, but to prove that British Space was superior to anything else. Or, it would go down as the greatest flop of all time.
None of that mattered to Allison Keller. Space, rockets, aliens… none of it interested her in the least. She was only concerned with the Purity Officer that was following her.
It was a foolish gesture, just a momentary squeeze of the hand, with her “friend” Katerina. She was sure nobody saw it, and it could be easily explained as just an innocent gesture of friendly adoration. Surely the PP could understand that. But she knew it was far more. They had been lovers for seven months now. Unless the PP had caught them on in-house monitoring, since it was law that all places of human occupation be randomly monitored for impurity, they couldnt know different. Allison had been careful to place lamps and large plants in positions to partially obscure the most likely camera angles. It was illegal to fully block them, but there was some leeway allowed for accidental vision obfuscation.
She turned a corner, quickly backpedaling into a walk down apartment door. There she turned her back as if she was inspecting the flower box near the door of the old brownstone.
The PP officer turned the corner, quickly walking past her. Allison stepped up and onto the sidewalk, going back around the corner as the PP scanned the crowd ahead of her, looking for Allison farther down the street.
As she disappeared around the corner, she was already ringing Katerina, to warn her about the PP.
Meanwhile, the PP officer began to hurry into a crowd of citizens, angry at being ditched, and determined to capture a suspected morality offender, she pushed and shoved her way through, but she couldnt find the short, dark haired girl. At least, not this time.
Katerina, meanwhile, had already been visited, and had panicked, giving the PP a quick story about how Allison had come on to her, but she had been morally outraged and scorned her. Allison was now a wanted fugitive.
The call was monitored, and Katerina played the role of victim well enough to entrap Allison. After only a minute and some odd replies, Allison realized what was going on and hung up. Time was running out. She was now a state criminal, from this moment, she had no friends.
Knowing that if caught, she would be forced to fight in the Patriot Games, she left behind all she owned. To return to her flat would be suicide. The PP would be waiting there.
She had only one chance, the Rainbow Express. An underground group that was known for smuggling fugitives to Canada. If she could just escape the Theocracy, she might live to see her 19th birthday in six weeks.
Damn Katerina, that back stabbing bitch. She was angry at her, but reason reminded her that when the PP knock, its wise to give up anyone or anything they ask. They had no oversight, no laws bound them. They could do anything they chose to, in the name of morality enforcement.
She ducked under an awning, catching her breath. Where would she find the Rainbow Express? She looked up, wondering if the God the theocracy espoused was so hateful and hostile towards anyone impure, really existed. Maybe the only thing up there were stars. For the first time in her young life, Allison wondered what was out there, in the black…