I can’t believe it; this is three times this week!
Sorry, if you missed the first part of the week, I’ve managed to convince Adam to allow me to post multiple chapters three times since Tuesday!
This time, the reason is he included a news story as one of the chapters. And not a local news story with lots of color; no, he used a dry, boring AP story about me and my questionable background.
Then there’s a quickie back on Luna. Anf finally the next chapter was – is? will be? I hate trying to figure out verb tenses as a time traveler! – about Cass’s attempt to get Mya and the UE to come in on our side.As always, if you want to skip past the “waiting for another chapter” thing you can click on any image to buy the book; you can get it in any format you want! Or just click the button below. Either works.
Houston, Republic of Texas
November 2, 2119 (AP) – The controversy surrounding Kendra Marissa Foster-Briggs, sometimes known as Kendra Cassidy, the well-known heiress, retired sensie star, pioneer behind the world’s first faster-than-light starship, and previously unrevealed Enhanced Human, continues to build.
Archibald Leach, representative for Aiyana Cassidy, the partner to Ms. Foster-Briggs, has petitioned the United Earth government for immediate injunctive relief as the case against Ms. Foster-Briggs is adjudicated. “My client should never have been put in this position,” he stated upon returning from Geneva where he appeared in person before the Court of Justice. “Through no fault of her own the documentation which would have – should have – provided her with all the rights of any other citizen of this globe was not completed in a timely manner. We are actively pursuing the matter through all available legal means and expect a judgement in our favor imminently. In the meantime, relief at the hands of the Court of Justice is necessary to prevent the destruction of my client’s interests.”
Ms. Foster-Briggs has remained in extra-Terrestrial territory aboard the habitat Njord, outside the jurisdiction of any court, while the cases for and against her and the D.D. Harriman Trust proceed. Elizabeth Ashleigh Dowling, representing a so-far anonymous group of plaintiffs, has decried this strategy.
“This creature is hiding from the just, equitable, and fair laws of the planet of its birth, laws which demand it be examined for violation of the many and various statutes regarding Enhanced Humans who masquerade as humans.”
Public opinion in the matter is mixed. In the latest Axos/Ipswich poll, 36% believe Ms. Foster-Briggs to be in the wrong, 33% believe her an innocent victim, and 31% have no opinion. In adults over age 50, a large majority (71%-24%-5%) believe her in the wrong, while adults under 30 believe her to be innocent by nearly the same margin (68%-28%-4%). The poll has a margin of ±3.6% and was conducted with 2,108 respondents.
Artemis City, Ministry of War
“You know how stupid this is?”
“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!”
“Dammit, Jake, we just got the bugs worked out of the Averroes! And the El-Baz and Al-Battani are finally ready for their trials, and now we’re told to bring them all back into the yards?”
Jake had known Nicole for years, long before her unexpected promotion to Minister of War. She’d expressed her share of frustrations and irritations, but he’d never seen her quite this enraged.
“What choice do you have? The order came from the Primus, even if it was worded as a request from Kreitzer.” In the ten months that she’d been in charge she’d developed a close professional relationship with the Minister of Technology. It helped that they were both relatively apolitical, at least as far as a Newling could be, and that MinTech had been working closely with her Ministry in improving the warships of the Artemesian Navy.
“We were finally on the brink, Jake! Once we had all three deployed, we’d be on much more even terms! Right now, the only reason the Federation hasn’t cleaned our clock is because Dent’s orders are to keep them at the negotiating table at all costs.”
“Really? I hadn’t heard that.”
“Colin was telling me about it after the last Council meeting,” she said. The Minister of Intelligence was another surprising ally she’d discovered in the snakepit which was the Council of Ministers. He made no bones that he was interested in an alliance only so long as his interests were served, but he’d proven reliable to date. “Arthur’s been aboard the Blue Sky habitat for so long they’re about to offer him an honorary citizenship, or so he says.”
“Part of the burden of being the Foreign Affairs Minister?”
“Maybe, but it’s a good point. Nine months, Jake. He’s been talking in circles for nine months! Both sides know that they’re never going to reach an agreement, not fundamentally. The Primus will never allow Artemis to admit fault for the deaths in Los Alamos, and the Federation’s never going to disband. Then there’s this other thing,” and she trailed off.
“What other thing? Don’t leave me hanging!”
“It was just a little bit at the last Council meeting. The Primus was talking, and she asked the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister if he’d heard anything about their delivery. He said yes, it was on the way, and that was the end of that.” She looked at him quizzically. “I’ve no idea what it means, except trouble for someone. Hopefully not me!”
“What about the legal problems that their Admiral’s having? I haven’t followed it too closely, but it sounds serious.”
“I don’t know much about Earth laws, but it sounds bad, yeah,” agreed Crozier. “Colin hinted that he had something to do with it. I don’t know if that means his Ministry dug it up, made it up, or something else, but it’s definitely not a good look.”
“Of course, she can just avoid it by staying on their habitat,” Jake added. “If we can’t touch her, what chance have any Earth governments have?”
“There’s something about contracts being affected,” Crozier said. “Even if she can stay away from the planet, if the deals she made aren’t valid then her Federation’s going to have problems. Which is even more reason that this timing is idiotic!” she finished at a yell.
“Hey, again, don’t shoot the messenger!”
Crozier covered her face with her hands for a solid minute. “Sorry. It’s just – you know, I’ve actually figured out how to do this job? Not only that, but I’m pretty damn good at it! And to have some, some, some outsider tell me how to run it is really infuriating!”
Jake glanced around her office nervously. It was an open secret that the Ministry of Security routinely monitored offices in the other Ministries, as well as the citizenry and any other avenue they could manage. Crozier caught his look.
“Don’t worry so much,” she said, an actual smile coming to her lips. “Colin keeps this office clean. The taps are still there, but all I have to do is type a quick sentence into my terminal and the feed is cut off. How do you think he and I manage to have real conversations?”
“You trust MinInt? And won’t they get suspicious if the feed keeps going dead?”
“More than MinSec? Absolutely. And it doesn’t go dead, it just gets a random selection of recordings. Some are of me working, some are of me having routine conversations, carefully edited to remove anything that’ll date it or draw attention.”
She looked at him. “So relax, at least a little bit. Tell me why this delay is a good thing.”
“Well, if it works, and this expert they brought up from Earth is convinced that it will, then we’ll have warp-capable ships without having to build a system of our own from scratch. You know how that was going.” He paused, then added, “Did you hear what she did to her daughter?”
“I guess the daughter got herself brought along, and the scientist objected, so she somehow arranged for your buddy to have her stashed with the political prisoners.”
“Not the prisoners who are waiting to be executed. She’s in with the ones who might be useful so MinSec doesn’t kill them right away.”
“What did the daughter do?”
“From what my sources tell me, she managed to irritate her mother by being brought along.”
“That’s not fair!”
“You want to tell the Pittbull that?” The Minister of Security, Kim Yvette Pitt, was a short, vicious, intense woman who had advanced to her position over more qualified but less determined competitors. She didn’t tend to leave bodies behind, like the Primus had, but that was a mixed blessing for those she surpassed as their careers were universally flatlined.
“I brought it up merely as a point of interest: this Earth expert won’t let anyone get in her way.”
“Then we’re not going to get in her way. In fact, put the word out quietly to grease the wheels for her wherever we can.”
“Good! Just between you and me, the ship that Whitmore had ordered the start on?”
“Junk it. The idiot in charge won’t listen to me, won’t listen to Kreitzer, won’t listen to any of our Admirals regarding a proper military design. His current brainstorm is to build a sphere! A bloody damn sphere, Jake! When I asked him where the engines were, he insisted that it wouldn’t need conventional engines, it would be capable of sub-warp flight using the warp drive!”
“That doesn’t sound right.” Jake rubbed his forehead. “I’m not any kind of expert, but I listened to Carnahan when she was trying to explain to Admiral Meadows. The drive works by warping reality around the vessel, and it only functions above light speed, not below.”
“That’s what I got too. Write up the order for my signature and deliver it to Prescott. Get him off the project and out of my hair. Then get the reclamation yards ready to start breaking down anything he’s actually managed to get welded together, but don’t start it just yet. I’d love to be there to see his face, but you’ve had to deal with more of his shit than me. Thanks for that, by the way.”
“No problem.” He rose. “I’ll get right on it. I assume that you’re available for a meeting next Lunar at the earliest?”
“About right. Drinks later?”
“The usual joint?”
“I’m sorry, Cass. The UE government has no intention of getting involved in a matter which was adjudicated and settled over forty years ago.”
Cass allowed her face to slump into disbelief for a moment before she replied. “After all we’ve done for the UE, this is how we’re thanked?”
“The General Secretary himself informed me that he would not instruct our Justice Department to intervene or intercede in this affair. He stated that since neither Big Sky, the Northern Imperium, the Sonoran Republic, nor the Republic of Texas are signatories to the UE charter and thus are not properly under our jurisdiction that our hands are tied. The Court of Justice will be directed to refuse your attorney’s case.”
“He also told me that any further intervention on my part would be viewed with great displeasure.”
“Mya, that’s simply unfair to Kendra!”
“I won’t stand for – wait, what?”
“I said, I agree. It is totally unfair to Kendra. And to you. And to me, and the entire Earth if it comes down to it.” Hartman shook her head wryly over the hololink. “I didn’t say I was going to stop working the angles for you, Cass. But you ought to know the official UE position is somewhat, hmm, rigid.”
Cass was somewhat mollified. “What can you do, if you can’t ‘intervene’?”
“I’m not without influence outside of the UE; the Distribution Directorate has connections in most of the nations, affiliated or not, for this commodity or that. A word here, a word there, and you’d be surprised at the accommodations that can be reached.”
“We don’t want to do anything shady or illegal; we just want this problem to go away and for Kendra’s status be recognized.”
“Have you considered a different approach?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve done some research into this since you contacted me a couple weeks ago. What I found is that the primary argument for these antiquated laws was that Enhanced Humans were somehow less than human.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. All the genes were Homo sapiens, just tweaked, right?”
“Exactly right. It went back to old, old prejudices. I even found one jurist arguing that altering human DNA was a ‘violation of God’s Will and an abomination upon the Earth.’ They even used historical precedents to bolster their case.”
“Historical? How? Surely Enhanced Humans didn’t exist before the 21st Century?”
“No, not in the sense you’re thinking. There weren’t any deliberate attempts to create superhumans on the level of direct alteration of the genome. However, the premise of breeding for certain traits had been known for centuries; there was even a quasi-science called ‘eugenics’ which, I gather, argued for the superiority of certain races and the desirability to reinforce those traits.”
Cass nodded emphatically. “Yes! That’s the kind of thing we need!”
Hartman’s headshake was just as emphatic. “No, it isn’t. The primary proponents of eugenics were the German National Socialists in the mid-twentieth century. The Nazis. They used eugenics as an excuse to execute over eleven million people they considered sub-human.”
“I hadn’t realized, no, of course we don’t want to associate with that.”
“I wouldn’t think so. But last century, when the question of Enhanced Humans first arose, that was one pillar they used to bolster their case, that a belief that a ‘perfect’ human could be created would lead to monstrous consequences. Not from the enhanced, but from their creators.”
“I can see that.”
“The other pillar was the fact that, at certain times, some nations had legally defined some groups of humans as less than human for certain purposes, or not counted them at all. The former United States, for example, originally counted slaves as 3/5s of a person, and didn’t count indigenous people at all. The Canadian government, too, looked upon indigenes as a group to be disregarded and assimilated, as did the Australian government with their Aborigines. There are countless other examples, but all of them were used to support the thought that a law could have proper legal standing that would remove the basic humanity from a particular group.”
Cass frowned. “This is all despicable, and I’m glad we’re past it, but what does that have to do with a different approach?”
“We aren’t past it. It’s lessened, but still present, as you’ve learned these past weeks.”
“True.” Seemingly overnight the previous nearly-universal support for the Terran Federation had neatly evaporated. It wasn’t to the point that there were pickets, or effigies being burned, but the enthusiasm which had carried them for the past year had hugely diminished. Already facing a personnel crunch, the drop in recruits posed a creditable threat to their continued growth.
“What I propose is not that Kendra pursue her status as an official Enhanced Person, but rather she attack the laws themselves, the laws distinguishing EP’s from other humans. After all, the genes in an EP are all human, so how can the result not be human?”
Cass thought about this. “That’s logical, but when did logic ever have anything to do with laws? Especially bad ones?”
“That’s where my influence and your money come together. You’re going to need a different lawyer, as well.”
“Why? Archie’s done well by us.”
“No argument, but you need one whose expertise is somewhat more specialized. Theoretical and constitutional law, I think, or perhaps genetic law. Archie can stay on, of course, as the local counsel for the Republic.”
“He’s already listed with the other cases we have moving forward in the Imperium and in Big Sky,” Cass added. “He’s used to being co-counsel.”
“And he has the advantage of having known you, and specifically known Kendra, for how long?”
“Going on seven years.”
“Right. I think that will help.”
Cass’s face turned worried. “Are you use the UE will accept the court judgements?”
Hartman nodded. “While the Secretary said we can’t officially advocate for her cause, I have every confidence that he’ll accept whatever decision eventually is reached.”
“That means we just have to make sure they arrive at the decision we want.”
“Precisely. Tell me, how do you feel about lobbyists?”
“I don’t really have much use for lobbyists. I know that we’ve employed them on occasion, but most of our businesses are well-established and don’t need that kind of regulatory help.”
“Find some good ones, along with the best public relations firm you can buy.”
“Don’t you mean hire?”
“I mean buy, because you’re going to want all of their attention and efforts. The only way you’re going to get that is if you have full control.”
Cass, furiously accessing the planetary net, said, “Why a whole company of PR flacks?”
“This is big, Aiyana. Not only do you have to fight against the bias in the laws, but you need to fight against public opinion. The Enhanced were the last great boogeymen when it came to racial division, and that’s not something that washes away in a single generation, or even two. And when you have someone actively stoking the fires, well, it’s easy for a spark to flare back to life.”
“I guess so,” said Cass. “What’s the plan?”
“Three-pronged attack,” began Hartman. “First…”