Utopia? I wouldn't call it that. It's Someplace Else I dream about, A real planet. . .
|Image 1, see credits
Noises drifted into the corridor from one of the lab units. Loud voices. Aperture doors cycled open and closed with only a slight click. Then, silence. A woman stepped into the corridor, paused for a moment as the door cycled close. She turned and headed for the marked surface exit. Two seconds later, a head popped out of the door which just cycled open again and a young man said, "Citizen Leta, excuse me Citizen Leta Buk!"
Leta tried to relax her shoulders and hands. Tension did that to her. Made her want to bite something hard.
Keep walking. Ignore. Keep walking. Focus. That man can't tell me what I can do. My job is to study the surface, and I'm prepared this time in case the lurker I saw before is dangerous, human or something unknown. As prepared as a human can be.
After a few minutes, the head belonging to the young man in an officer's uniform disappeared and the door cycled shut again. His name tag identified him as Citizen Dako Jon, Special Assignment Officer.
|Image 2, see credits
Leta put on the custom surface suit she had bought for exploring the outer layer of the asteroid. One of the tailors in the colony made these for special request at a likewise special price. It was puncture resistant, had a longer airtime for its oxygen breathing tanks which were made with a lightweight composite, and included a built in deflector vest. No one asked the tailor how he managed to acquire the materials; they didn't want to know.
After cycling the airlock compartment closed, she left the re-purposed starship which served as the main administration centre. It was built into the highest level of the colony, stripped from the mother ship. Once she was out, where no one could live without life support, away from the claustrophobic areas and recycled air, she felt more calm. She checked the spot where the heat signature had appeared on her last outing. It was innocuous. There was nothing to indicate anything had been there.
She pulled out her constellation map copies to compare those to the multitudes of stars above and around her. She wanted to map the constellations she could observe from this colony, and soon was absorbed in her study. With a special tool designed for her spacesuit -a little extra installed by the maker of the suit-she started to plot her own star chart. The flexible fingers and small manipulations she could do made the cost of the suit reasonable.
It's an investment. And it hides a very capable weapon capable of stunning or killing. I hope I can find out what was shadowing me last time.
|Image 3, see Credits
The feeling of being watched suddenly came back and she turned quickly. There! She saw a flash of what looked to be a humanoid figure dart in the shadows in a different location than before. She activated the suit's weapon array and the transmitter inside her helmet.
"Attention, intruder. This is Citizen Leta Buk. Show yourself. Identify your name and your purpose. My weapon is armed and ready."
"I acknowledge, Citizen Buk. I mean no harm. I have been shadowing you to see why you come up here, and I wanted to learn who you were. Not many ever come to the outside, not unless they have to. My name is Killian Max, I'm a historian."
He's no assassin. . .or I'd be dead. She disarmed her weapons. "Accepted. I don't remember seeing you before, did you transfer in from another part of the colony?"
"Yes, I'm from Level 8, transferred in a few weeks ago, but I'm a nobody really," he said. "But one day, that could change. I invent things, I create something new out of a bit of this and that. Like this suit I'm wearing."
"Your surface suit? You made it yourself? I couldn't get a heat signature from your suit the first time you stalked me."
"I don't know why I'm telling you that I make things, but it's my secret. I could get into more trouble if word gets out. And, I wasn't stalking. I was observing."
"It's illegal to create new technology? That doesn't make sense. But don't worry, I can keep a secret."
"The council members fear that it was technology that derailed a lot of old civilizations, fear that it will subvert the human goals. Fear of the new. It's a way of controlling growth and it allows the council to monitor what it calls rogue citizens. . ."
"You don't seem like a crazy inventor. . ."
"I consider myself like those greats from Antiquity - Tesla, Edison, and others. I honour their memory from the age when inventions were heralded, not hidden. I like to dream about other places, planets rather than chunks of rock. Places where inventions are welcome. I want to see things. I don't want to stay here all my life."
"So, you're a dreamer like me."
"If that means dreaming of other places and better times, yes. In the meantime, I work on my inventions, test them covertly, and study our ancestors. Could I ask you something about your work?"
"Sure. I'm a mapper for the surface of this colony. I have begun to map the constellations in our system for my own interest."
"Is that what you doing with those sheets of film I saw you drawing on?"
"Yes. Mapping. This suit has been adapted for my work. It's what I do. Making star charts is like mapping the universe, or at least a part of it."
"I'll remember that if I run across any ancient maps in my work. There is so much of our history that has been suppressed here in the colony. For instance, have you ever heard of Christmas? It's an ancient Terran holiday that seems to have been lost from our collective memory."
"I've never heard anything about it. Why was it a holiday?"
"It celebrated peace, and was entangled with several religious traditions that seem like legends to us. People would sing, give gifts and try to help those less fortunate. There was a feast using some type of avian species which was unique to Terra."
"Interesting. So many things died or were lost when Old Sol, the Terran sun went nova. Will we ever find the remnants of the human race, scattered as it is? That would be a good reason to bring back some of the old ways. I'm ready."
"I've been ready for some time. I'm glad we have met. It gives me hope that there's more out there. . ."
"Yes, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Killian."
"That sounds like something I read somewhere before. Well met, Leta."
And so, another link in the chain is formed. A chain which will eventually pull these two scientists in training away from their birthplace and toward other colonies and planets. As the circle turns and twists, what was old becomes new again.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND BEST WISHES FOR 2017!
WEP, aka Write, Edit, and Publish
Thanks to Yolanda and Denise, co-hosts of Write, Edit, Publish for once again stirring our minds to create! We all have dreams, the fleeting kind that can end up being nightmares or the ones about what we would like to achieve, but for the Utopian Dreams Challenge, we want to know about that secret desire, the something you spend time daydreaming about, talking about and maybe even secretly planning for. It can be anything that will make your life seem perfect, or utopian. However, reality is rarely ideal. Let's talk about as we end the year 2016, and look forward to perhaps getting a little closer to that dream.
The challenge: Create an interpretation of your own choosing: a poem, a flash fiction piece, a non-fiction piece detailing an experience, or write a script, draw your dream, or find photographs to show us the essence of the dream and enhance the story. It's up to you. Have fun and don't forget to visit all the participants on the list who are sharing their ideas.
Can you imagine how it might be to live underground on an asteroid? Do you think traditions can fade away as centuries pass?
Thanks for visiting, and please leave a comment to let me know you were here. I'll respond. I also want to thank everyone who has been a regular visitor here or just occasionally drops by. I will try to get back into my own posting routine after the holidays.
NOTE: this story continues as Part 2 of Asteroid Stories
Previous WEP story: If I Wish Upon a Constellation, Part I
https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/ Write Edit Publish
1st Image via Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
2nd Image via Pixabay
Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI