Mid Twenty-Third Century
Later, when they could think of the boat trip dispassionately, it would be clear to both of them that the whole vacation had been set up as R&R before the task ahead.
They looked over the side into the startlingly deep water, depth upon depth, shading to turquoise or jade depending on how far the river bed had been burned.
They easily caught a nearly tame trout and cooked it whole in the sand box, leaving the sand to produce something edible out of the fish.
Before they could eat, however, they were summoned by 3Council4Dome for reassignment.
The boat stopped pretending to sail and the pretty blue tiller rattled loosely as they pulled alongside a narrow pier. It was Johns’ turn to be chivalrous so he got out first and helped Sarah onto the fake limestone slab.
They were met by a small wheeled drone that called itself 4HumanCompliant1028Drone3Council4dome.
“And for short?” asked Sarah.
“No,” said the drone, leading them up the slope towards the edge of 4Dome,
Each time a new dome was raised it would be sculpted with the river as the lowest point with, on either side, rising terraces of clean white houses. A parody of a Mediterranean fishing village, those houses closest to the half mile wide, slow moving river were the most sought after.
Every attempt to suggest a different template was slapped down by the ever expanding managerial classes who coveted those villages with intensity just this side of sanity.
The rest of the population, who lived more interesting lives underground, let them get away with it, as long as the managers supported the artistic endeavors of their children.
4Dome differed from the standard template in several ways, the most obvious being the blank white cubes along the dome line. These were the various council buildings, headquarters of the scientific meritocracy that ran Luna.
John and Sarah usually worked for 1Council (internal affairs) or 2Council (system wide affairs). They were poorly suited to 4Council (deep/interstellar affairs) or 5Council (scary Configuration research).
3Council was ‘Holes and engines’ which included in-system Hole construction and maintenance, interstellar wisp Holes and spying on the two local, Tessellation built, Holes captured by the crazed democracies in the Jovian cylinders.
John wore below the knee shorts embroidered with assorted nerve gas formulae and a T-shirt bearing the slogan ‘arriving somewhere but not here’. His fake beach-bum ensemble was completed by very expensive, genuine truck tire sandals.
Sara’s dress was conservative to a degree that irritated John. White sandals, white socks, pleated white skirt and a plain white T-shirt.
While they waited at the door to the 3Council cube John passed the time by trying to persuade Sarah to upgrade her shirt.
“Sound of Muzak? Ignition Threshold? The Veil, the Blindfold of Thorns?”
“Wait, where did that last one come from? The one about the Veil?”
“No idea, just a thought. Too long probably.”
Just then, the door opened and the drone rushed in on a clattering of chain-link wheels.
After a short walk following a guide light they were deposited in front of a non-descript door on a balcony in the central atrium. A place filled with the standard Lunar water sculptures and towering green plants.
The door opened and a nasal voice with an unplaceable accent called them in.
Their first reaction was one of astonishment at the age of the man propped up behind the desk. Their second was of unthinking rage at what was on the walls to their right. A large picture of an orange kite over a small wood on an otherwise desolate hill.