Peach blossoms drifted through the ivy covered gazebo to form a pink blanket on the wooden floor where the guest of honor paced. A pink petal drifted onto the shoulder of her iridescent white evening gown and she picked it up and crushed it without thinking. Like the petals, the gazebo’s isolation-blanket let music drift through, music from her first formal party since escaping the sanctuary her husband had arranged for them on Calliope to avoid prosecution in the Haven affair. She had been called from dinner to take an important phone call and brought a small porcelain dish of canapes with her. Her thousands of guests would wait and she took another drag on her cigarette.
Leaning against the portal where the structure would still mask her voice, she looked out from the roof-top garden of the Septimus Hotel on Mars-6. The hotel had been built at enormous expense from natural woods, marbles, and plants smuggled from Earth to cover the concrete and steel made from natural Martian sources. It was hers, or rather a piece of it was hers, the rest owned by her silent partners: BioLuna and the ArchTrope of Calliope. She looked past the ivy and the reflecting pool that stretched to the edge of the dome, out onto the sinuous ridges of the Medusae Fossae on the Aeroeolis Plain. Imagining the pulsing capillaries of a heart, she reached out her hand and placed one of the capillaries between her thumb and forefinger and pinched it envisioning the agonizing death of a rival.
She took another drag on her cigarette. When her necklace link buzzed, she tapped the pendant and dropped the cigarette onto the pink blossoms leaving the cigarette to burn a scar in the priceless hardwood floor.
“Speak freely,” she said.
“I tell you they will form a compact unless we intervene,” a man’s voice said.
“How do you know this?”
“Who’s at the heart of it?”
“Enterprise Station and the Station Masters,” he said. “They suspect Earth will lock all the big hubs into the UNE by force using some pretext.”
Ellen shook her head. “Do we have a leak?”
“We don’t think so. No. We suspect a minimax theory prediction of the UNE’s moves, the least—”
“Spare me,” she said and rolled her eyes, not happy to hear her hard work and maneuvering reduced to a statistical probability.
“Sorry. The stations want to anchor their hubs to Haven and screw earth.”
“That’s bad,” she said knowing that fully on quarter of Earth’s raw materials come from the far stations. She lit another cigarette and crushed the peach petals under her feet. A sneer came across her face. “If they are afraid of a pretext, then we cannot wait any longer. Let’s see what that little bitch does with this. Initiate operation Sarajevo.”
“Ahhh… The repercussions of this will be enormous. Please confirm before—”
“Confirming.” She tapped her pendant again and strode back to the dining room. The orchestra began the fanfare as she passed and Ellen Biadez entered the room with a big smile and arms flung wide.
...to be continued ...
(c) 2015 B. R. Strong, Jr.