The space station was locked into geosynchronous orbit above the planet Tarrione, where the first shift of promethium miners were transported by electro-barge. Carl Fitz was the foreman who oversaw the chemical testing of the mined substance before bringing the radioactive isotopes back to the space station. Since the promethium was used as a lanthanide, which forms salts when combined with other elements, Carl had to make sure everything was stable before transport.
Carl was with the American group, although he had married into the Plutonians. His understanding of the Republic was far superior to most of the Mawlawi, but their connections were growing rapidly. It wouldn’t be long before Carl’s knowledge would be common, reducing his value to monitoring the isotopes.
Natirya was Carl’s assistant and most likely working for the Mawlawi in order to gain insights before the elections. Her beauty was breathtaking with long black silky hair, which was always noticed before her deep brown eyes pierced a person’s soul. There were few men accustom to such beauty and most would fall into a trans like state and become susceptible to her every suggestion in hopes of an opportunity to press their lips against hers.
But Carl had gotten well past that state of what seemed for many to be a relentless charm. He was no longer enticed by her rosy cheeks or Neptunian skin. It may have been their first argument that dulled his senses, but something was amiss between them and he couldn’t let it go. It was like a Bears vs. Packers game from early in the previous century. No matter how much you respected the other team, you never let on – Always maintaining the lifelong rivalry.
Natirya activated the two-dimensional Newtonian gravitational transport canister. She was relieved that her work had ended for the day and was ready for Carl to check her work. The day was difficult and she could hardly wait to catch the next electro-barge. She headed into Carl’s temporary office and could hear a group of miners talking on the other side of the nylon walls.
“No worries mate.”
“I can’t believe the elections are actually rigged,” barked the gruff voice. “I thought it only happened in the stereoscopic 3D venues.”
“No mate,” the cheery voice added. “That’s why the Antwerp Party announced it would be fraud if the Vermillion Party won the election in the panning country.”
“Ah, now I’m tracking. They’d only know it because they were committing the act themselves.”
“You’ve got it mate.”
Natirya quietly stepped back from the nylon walls as the miners stepped further into the cavern. She couldn’t believe the possibilities of what she heard. She tried to quiet her pounding heart for fear of being caught eavesdropping on the overhead transmission cams. The only hope she had was the potential garbled audio transmission that occurs from organic spectrum bleed created by isotope stabilization. If they couldn’t hear the sound, then she was merely looking at the nylon wall.
“Are you okay?” questioned the voice behind her.
Natirya jumped and spun around. It was Carl. She couldn’t help but smile. After all, he was a strong and attractive looking man, and one of the few who still believed in chivalry regardless of ones origins. He felt everyone was innately equal, although many would choose aristocracy by design if given the chance, but most were involuntary placed into the labor force since the Antwerp Party gained control and deemed space exploration a resource emergency governed by martial law.
“Well?” asked Carl.
Carl couldn’t help but pick up on Natirya’s curt response. Something wasn’t right and he noticed her glancing up at the transmission cams. She was possibly in trouble and he decided to help her, but without the labor board’s eyes documenting his involvement in her mishap. Carl stepped over to the regulator and dialed in a +3-stabilizing element to guarantee a distorted audio feed.
Natirya became concerned and moved quickly to Carl. “What are you doing?”
Carl turned to Natirya and put his hands on her waist. He gently pulled her in until their faces were a few inches a part. Carl swallowed hard, wanting to help her, while not giving her the wrong idea.
He whispered, “I’m here for you.”
“It might be too late,” she responded.
Carl pulled her in tighter and brushed his cheek against hers. The warmth of her skin penetrated his soul. His pulse started to rise and he had to breath deeper to counter the effects, but he wasn’t able to slow his pounding heart. Unconsciously his hands slid up to her back and he pulled her in for a tight hug.
He took pause, then continued, “The law states that anyone’s on-camera relational activities will be immediately deleted from storage and replaced with an amendment 261 slug, to protect all specie reproductive rights.”
“You’re a genius,” sighed Natirya, knowing that the deletion included ten minutes prior to and after all encounters. But at what cost? Natirya didn’t know how much pleasure they would have to experience before the auto delete sequence would be activated. She also knew that Carl was an honorable man and was merely willing to sacrifice his honor for an associate.
Carl’s breathing shifted into a lite pant as he inhaled her exotic perfume made from the rings of Saturn. He could feel his will giving way to the seductive power of her unmatched beauty. His lips gently pressed against her neck, releasing just long enough to savor the essence of her vibrant spirit pulsating under his compassionate gesture.
Natirya’s hand pushed against Carl’s sternum, forcing him to step back away from her abrasive declaration of integrity. “I can’t ask you to lower yourself to spare me from a fate that had nothing to do with you.”
Carl was taken aback by her stance. He was proud of Natirya for doing what was right, regardless of the cost she might bear. He bowed to her and whispered, “I hope the original audio was garbled.” Turning towards the door, Carl stepped forward and exclaimed, “I’m proud of you my friend.”
Natirya grinned and went back to work. After converting another analysis table she glanced at the clock. Since the law hadn’t made an appearance, it was clear that the original audio was corrupt and she was spared. But to what end? She now knew there was some form of illegal tampering with the election and she would need Carl’s help to figure out who was behind it. Natirya started to pace. She knew that lives would be at stake and she didn’t want to involve Carl. She stopped dead in her tracks. Her mind raced to the days of old and the archeological dig that discovered an American history book that was published prior to the historical scrub of data in the late 1960s.
The one page she read suggested that a revolution was at hand and its members boarded an English ship that was delivering tea to the colonies. The Sons of Liberty broke open the barrels of tea and pitched it into the harbor as a statement against British taxation. Natirya wondered if that version of history was true.
Thinking back to her childhood textbooks, she remembered Britain sending a gift of tea to the colonies who celebrated heartily, to the point of putting the tea into the harbor in order to serve up thousands of glasses at a midnight party. But there was one thing that never fit her logic; the Boston harbor was composed of salt water, which would make the tea unbearable to drink.
Why had no one ever noticed that discrepancy? Or had they, but they were too afraid to say something. Natirya decided in that moment it was time to join the Sons of Liberty in her century and put a stop to the election tampering. She turned off the equipment, glared up at the transmission cams, then turned and headed out to find Carl.