Science Fiction

The Mars One Incident

By Kelly Curtis

This book will launch on Nov 30, 2019. Currently, only those with the link can see it.🔒

Loved it! 😍

This novel is intelligent and imaginative, and pursues a wide variety of currently relevant topics and science fiction subgenres.

Synopsis

The year is 2635, the people of Earth live in a tech-free utopia. Captain Alma Johnson is one of the few permitted to use technology as part of the human fleet. In a starship that has been rebuilt more than a dozen times, she faithfully protects humanity’s holdings in the solar system overpopulated with aggressive aliens and marauding pirates.

Now she finds herself on a doomed mission that she’s realizes that she has been set up for from the very beginning. She must decide quickly whether or not she is going to play along, possibly risking her future career or if she is going to risk everything and come out a hero.

The Mars One Incident by Kelly Curtis is an imaginative and entertaining work which stretches its fingers to play with several different subgenres of sci-fi. In this story, Alma Johnson of the military guild is promoted to the rank of captain and is charged with morally compelling missions which examine issues of society, technology, culture, law, and family. Her missions involve interspatial relations and affect human society and its collective of sanctioned individuals referred to as “the twelve”. The issues delved into in this short novel are imagined futures of contemporary problems, marking this as an interesting read which captures complexity and awareness.


The world in which this novel takes place is Earth over 600 years into the future, in what is taken to be a social and environmental utopia. Here, technology is banned, violence is rare, and humans have focused on nature and the arts after what is called the “Great Leap Backwards”, which is suggestive of a previous apocalyptic setting. Humans are ranked according to sociability with social credits or SCs, which serve as a kind of currency and is apparently equivalent to general happiness. This leaves space for a discontented minority of introverts which introduces the idea of a strong but underlying dystopia, and this is explored further through Alma’s missions and her interactions within the military guild. Technology is accepted as a catalyst for violence and secretive behaviour, and yet this is considerably challenged time and again and this in particular holds a strong value to today’s debates regarding social media, personal growth, and the many facets of the wormhole that is the Internet. Rather than take a particular side to arguments, this novel consistently explores all the faces of a debate and hashes into their consequences. 


The writing is simple and unpretentious, although it needs an additional round of editing and proofreading for grammar and typos. The climax of the book also fails to convey any enthusiasm, which is mostly true throughout the second half of the book. The importance conveyed on certain things later on fails to carry any gravity or weight, which is rather inconsistent. The worldbuilding is unequivocally interesting and thought out, but it requires much more explanation than is actually given. Presumably it is to be discussed further in following book segments, and this is related to the ending of the book not being an ending at all but an introduction to the following book. 


The main reason to read this story is for is its ideas rather than its writing. The discussion regarding technology is relevant, even though the specifics regarding the word itself is never delved upon. For instance, technology-free human society uses trams and transfers which is like a global metro, but this is not labelled as tech. The concept of “the twelve” is briefly explained but the interesting notion of life in “the Ethereal” (those outside “the twelve”) is never touched upon. Although the framework of the story is quite interesting, it could still be improved. The details which send this story down a utopian, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, space opera road, expands its breadth of ideas and adds depth to the story. Even though the worldbuilding needs further acknowledgement, the story provides plenty of space for discussing ongoing social problems and possible solutions. Hopefully, the intelligent discussion encountered in this novel will be continued in the sequel or sequels to The Mars One Incident

Reviewed by

A literature postgraduate. I'm very passionate about all kinds of literature and film. I enjoy editing, reading, and writing creative and informative content to the best of my abilities. Originality, vision, insight, and entertainment are priorities for me. #Scifi, #travelogues, and #earlymodern

Synopsis

The year is 2635, the people of Earth live in a tech-free utopia. Captain Alma Johnson is one of the few permitted to use technology as part of the human fleet. In a starship that has been rebuilt more than a dozen times, she faithfully protects humanity’s holdings in the solar system overpopulated with aggressive aliens and marauding pirates.

Now she finds herself on a doomed mission that she’s realizes that she has been set up for from the very beginning. She must decide quickly whether or not she is going to play along, possibly risking her future career or if she is going to risk everything and come out a hero.

Chapter One

April 24th 2635, The Joint Confederacy Military Headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia, North America

 

Alma Hattie Johnson took a deep breath, closed her eyes, turned the doorknob and hoped this meeting had nothing to do with her risky maneuvers with the starfighters last week. She had been in this office a handful of times since she graduated as the highest scoring cadet ever from the Atlanta Chapter of the Military Guild’s Fleet Academy four years before, but no one could make her jump like the Admiral of the Fleet.

Shana looked up as her protégé walked in.  Everything was falling into place perfectly. Thanks to a passing Shimbahn Unification of 5 starship and the mysterious disappearance of a captain and his first officer from the human starship Indianapolis, now she had the opportunity to propel Alma up to a real position of power and influence. 

It was no secret that Shana was expanding her personal power in the fleet. She felt that too many in the Military Guilds were beginning to blur the lines on where piracy began and ended. And some were even beginning to question whether or not the Great Leap Backwards, the foundation of the Joint Confederacy, JC, which stripped most of humanity of their technology, especially in daily life, was necessary.  

Shana had risen to the top of the fleet quickly, as she had been in her prime when the Trappists, humanity’s nearest galactic neighbors, had attacked more than a decade before. She had almost single-handedly planned and executed their defensive attacks, all while brushing off the rising support for Terra Nova, a small subset of influential humans, who at that time, demanded that humans use their ingenuity to begin making weapons and technology again solely for defensive purposes. Shana lived and breathed only for the JC. She believed if they began to produce weapons, other technologies would soon follow. She knew from her own experiences, the addiction to technology was always there, lurking in her subconscious. She believed in the edicts of the JC, a humanity without personal technology.  She needed a strong and young disciple who would reinforce her own beliefs in a sanctioned technology state and that was her Alma.

“Sit,” Shana said and then handed a tablet for Alma to look at. 

Alma took the tablet and recognized the Unification hieroglyphs on it, but she couldn’t read it. She didn’t have an embedded translator. She did however, recognize her name written in English amid all the Unification writing, “What is this? Am I being fined for flying too fast in our own space?” She asked sarcastically. The Unification, located in the constellation of Cygnus about 500 light years from Earth, was one of the most powerful civilizations in the galaxy. They were constantly patrolling, even as far out as humanity’s little corner of space and they never hesitated to hand out criticism as they passed lesser civilizations, and they definitely saw humanity as a lesser civilization.

“Far from it,” Shana said with a smile, “That’s a copy of the report the Unification sent back to their headquarters on Sa about not discrediting human resourcefulness just because we have chosen to give up the creation of new human technology.”

“Why is my name in it?” Alma felt uncomfortable having her name in a written report. News was only spoken in the JC, anything else was considered propaganda, unless it was kept in the permanent files at the Library. 

“The Unification diplomats and officers were duly impressed with your flying skills when you were practicing last week.” Shana, who had an embedded translator, impatiently indicated with her hand she wanted the tablet returned so that she could read it out loud.

 

Shim date 8270, Week 3, Day 3, Earth date 2635, Month 2, Day 11, As we left The Joint Confederacy, Earth, The Solar System, Orion Arm, The Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Cluster, Virgo Super-Cluster, our attention was briefly turned to scheduled maneuvers of pilots in ancient human single pilot starfighters used for defense on their ancient battleships. We were surprised to see one pilot stood out from the rest, Lieutenant Alma Johnson, female, age 20 Shim years, 26 Earth years, who managed to bring herself and another damaged starfighter back into the carrier by pushing the other craft with her physical ship into the carrier’s hangar bay. Before this feat, we were already impressed with her bravery and ingenuity while watching the maneuvers. I mark this to only state that we should not disregard humanity because they have chosen an existence without the creation of new technology. Signed Ambassador Iko House Loa, The Shimbahn Unification of 5.

 

“I had no idea I had an audience, but I’m glad that someone noticed. It’s not going to be translated is it?” Alma asked.

“No, I wouldn’t do that to you. But I’ve used it as leverage within our guild.” 

“For what?”

“Are you familiar with the starship Indianapolis?”

“Yes. Their captain and first officer are missing.”

“They’re either dead or have become pirates,” Shana looked directly into Alma’s brown eyes. “I want you to take command immediately. You can choose your own first officer.”

Alma was thunderstruck. She could hardly keep the excitement from her voice, “I hope you’re serious?”

“I’ve never been more serious, Lieutenant, or should I say, Captain Johnson?”

“But what about…”

Shana raised her hand, scarred palm up and stopped Alma before she could name anyone who might have been next in line for the promotion, “No, don’t begin like that. I’m the Admiral of the Fleet. Do you want this opportunity or not?”

“Of course. I’m honored. Thank you. I’ll ask Christopher Bates to be my first officer.”

“I had no doubt you would. I need you to take the Indy and go to Titan Station. Meet with the Station Master and find the pirate starship Dante. When you find them, no communication but to confirm their identity and then destroy them. I want that ship and crew gone.”

“Destroy them? The ship and the crew?” It was uncommon that JC ships would destroy any other vessels as all technology was precious. Usually they would take the enemy crew on board, arrest them and then salvage the enemy ship for anything that could be integrated into their own ship. 

“Destroy. You know what that means right?” Shana was looking at Alma trying to discern if she would blindly follow her now. She was purposely putting Alma to this task because she knew none of her other captains would do it without a lot of questioning.  

“I understand,” said Alma lying. She didn’t understand, but she wanted command. For that, she decided that she could trade the lives of a few pirates.

“Good. Also collect any information you can about Terra Nova when you are on Titan Station.”

“Terra Nova?”

“Yes, there has been a lot of irregular activity lately. They’ve changed their tactics and it’s rumored they have stronger financial support now.”

“What other tactics could they employ, other than providing people with illegal personal technology, to sway votes their way?” Terra Nova was always promising another referendum to reverse the Great Leap Backwards.

“I’ve heard they have a new leader who has some bold and violent ideas. I don’t know if it’s just all talk, but I want to be ready. I’m afraid of lives being lost just because this new Terra Nova leader wants to drastically shake things up, thinking that he can change people that way.”

“I can’t imagine how Terra Nova would think killing people would win them a referendum?”

“Can’t you? There are no real weapons here on Earth. It wouldn’t even be about getting to a referendum.”

“But, the Red and Trappists have strict bans on trading larger weapons to humanity. How would they ever gain so much power, I just don’t see it happening,” Alma said dismissing the Admiral’s concerns. “And all the starships nearby. I just couldn’t envisage Terra Nova ever having enough support to challenge the JC militarily.”

“Never underestimate the unthinkable, Alma.”

Alma looked into Shana’s dark brown eyes and wondered what was really going on. Earth had been without internal violence for centuries. The war with the Trappists had been fought near Saturn. Every human was content. Not true, most people were content. “I’ll keep it in mind when I’m on Titan. Is there anything else I should know?” Alma asked seriously.

“No. You have your orders. Now, I think it’s time you ask Christopher if he wants the position you are offering. Dismissed.”

“Yes, thank you Admiral,” Alma said rising. Titles in the JC were only used if you didn’t know someone, you didn’t like someone or if you wanted to offer them respect. It was all very contextual as were most interactions within the JC. Humans had lived without personal technology for so long that they had become experts on reading situations without too much reflection. Species that relied heavily on personal technology and embedded translators often complained that one had to be telepathic to trade with humans.

 

 

No one in the JC HQ looked up to see Alma grinning as she closed the Admiral’s door behind her. She was dumbstruck for a moment and in her head she just kept thinking, I’m a Captain, Captain! I’ve my own ship. She shooed away all the negative thoughts that kept trying to bring her back to reality and the immediate price she was going to have to pay for the privilege. 

Alma walked out into the busy main lobby and took out her instant communicator, IC, and sent a message, an ICe as they referred to it, to her best friend, Christopher.

 

You will never believe what has happened. Where are you? Meet me at

HQ.

 

Christopher ICed back instantly,

 

               I’ll meet you a Jeanne’s in five.

 

Alma walked out and began walking towards their favorite coffee shop just next to HQ. As she walked in, she was relieved to see that the place wasn’t crowded. She approached the counter and saw a sign advertising a strawberry smoothie and asked the older woman behind the counter, “Isn’t it too early for strawberries?”

The owner blushed, “My boyfriend brought some crates back for me from Florida when he was there visiting his mother. His whole year’s allowance of fruit. If you want a strawberry smoothie you better order it fast, I expect I’ll be sold out by the afternoon.”

Alma smiled, “I’m sure you will. I’ll order one for my friend and I’ll take a black coffee for myself.”

“Sure, any food today? We’ve a special on the griddled cornbread with devilled eggs and avocado.”

“Thanks, even with the special, avocado is a bit out of my price range. Coffee is the only luxury I allow myself,” Alma admitted. Everything in the JC was grown with respect to the environment and priced accordingly. Every area was almost self-sufficient and there were stringent restrictions on transporting goods from one place to another. Although transportation was free, most long distance trips needed to be applied for in advance.

“Sugar?”

“No, thank you,” sugar was another luxury Alma rarely allowed herself.

Jeanne smiled, “No problem. Coffee and a smoothie. How’d you like to pay? Social, Universal or Guild?” 

Alma thought, Definitely not Social Credits, SC, and replied, “Universal.”

Jeanne produced a small machine about the size of a matchbox and Alma put her fingerprint on the screen without being prompted. “Great, that’s all done. I’ll bring the drinks to your table. Sit anywhere you like, Lieutenant.”

Alma wanted to tell the owner, like a giddy child with a new toy, that she was no longer a lieutenant, but she resisted the urge to boast. She just took a seat in the back at a heavy and worn wooden table and waited for Christopher.

He arrived five minutes later, wearing his navy colored uniform, the same as hers, and gave her a big smile. His blue eyes curious, “What’s happened?”

Jeanne appeared then with their drinks and Alma waited for her to leave before answering him.

“Strawberries?” Christopher questioned with a big smile.

“Yes, her boyfriend brought her some from Florida, I know it’s your favorite and it was expensive so yes now you owe me, but that’s not what I wanted to tell you.”

Christopher had rarely seen Alma so excited, “Do you want me to guess or are you going to tell me?” He took a sip of the strawberry smoothie and savored the sweet taste he had not had since last summer.

Alma narrowed her eyes in annoyance, “Well, if you’re not going to take this seriously, never mind.”

“I’m kidding, you know I’m kidding. I’m serious now,” he stopped smiling.

“Admiral Jackson just gave me the Indy.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“I did hear you. I’m just shocked.”

“You don’t sound too excited.”

He took another long sip of the smoothie and then defended himself, “I’m just surprised. It’s so soon. You’re so young. You must be the youngest captain in the history of the JC and of course, I’m just a little jealous.”

“No, there were younger captains during the Trappist war.”

“I meant in peace time, not desperate times.”

“Are you implying the JC is desperate to make me a captain?”

“No, of course not.”

“Good, because I want you to be my first officer.”

“On the Indy?”

“Yes, don’t you want it?”

“The Indy really being ours,” he commented dreamily.

“Mine,” Alma corrected him.

“Ours. You must learn to share.”

“You and the rest of the crew are all my responsibility. It’s mine,” Alma knew that this would be the toughest for Christopher, even though she had always been better than him at everything, they had always had a similar rank, but now he needed to take the lower step. 

“You’re starting work early today, Captain,” Christopher gave her a look.

She gave him a hard look back.

“Yours. From now until forever, yours Captain Johnson,” Christopher said honestly, running a hand through his short blonde hair.

“Good. I need you Christopher. And now I need you to come to the Library and help me find out everything we can about the current crew.”

“I heard a rumor that the Indy’s former captain and first officer became pirates.”

“I’m concerned that would have been the best thing that happened to them.”

 

Alma and Christopher entered the Library and immediately had to prove their identities through retinal scans, voice recognition and finger prints. As they were members of the Military Guild, they had special access to the Library as it was required for their work, however, most JC citizens had to apply for appointments to access files. The Library Guild was one of the most difficult guilds to become a member, as all potential members were thoroughly vetted and had to swear lifelong oaths to keep information as unbiased as possible. The JC believed so fervently in keeping accurate printed and visual information safe, only the best candidates were chosen and financially compensated. Contrary to most guilds, if either of your parents had been a member of the Library Guild you could not apply. In this way, it was hoped to keep the Library Guild as neutral as possible.

Alma and Christopher spent hours in the Library.  They read all the files of the 236 crew members, including the missing captain and first officer. They also looked over the ship’s latest schematics, which had not been updated in years so all they could assume was that those were out of date. They concluded that the crew of the Indy and the ship itself was more than adequate. After several hours, there was nothing more to learn until they were able to see the crew in action and were physically on the ship.  

“We should go to the guild hall so we won’t be late,” Alma said as they returned the crew’s files to a librarian. After they returned the documents, they were both scanned by guards to be sure that they had not copied any information to take out on any devices.

“Are you nervous?” Christopher asked as they collected their ICs and other personal items from the guards at the door to the Library. Tonight was a guild night, meaning that the Atlanta Military Guild would all assemble to listen to the Crier’s recap of relevant news and people would be able to speak about things that concerned them. Assemblies were unpredictable and could last anywhere between five minutes or five hours. 

“Nervous that some of the Indy’s crew will speak out against me? No, I would only be worried if no one said anything. I expect people to be unsettled. Especially Afia Kamau. I’m only nervous it’ll take more than a couple hours and I won’t have time to get my new captain’s uniform made in time for tomorrow.”

Christopher gave her a smile, “Well, at least Afia isn’t longwinded and neither is Admiral Jackson. Are you going to defend yourself?”

“No, I didn’t discuss it with Shana, but I don’t think there is any reason I should. She gave me the position, I think she’s more than prepared to defend it.”

Christopher wanted to ask if Alma had asked why she had been chosen over some of the other more experienced officers, but he knew the question would irritate Alma, so he decided he would ask around rather than ask her directly.

They walked the short distance from the Library to the Atlanta Military Guild’s Assembly Hall. It was a large, nondescript building and inside was a large and plain auditorium. As the Military Guild never put on any theater or musical performances, it was only ever used for assemblies or the occasional speech.

Alma and Christopher were met by many familiar faces as they had joined the guild at the age of ten years old. As most JC children did, they left their family homes to live in the guild dormitories and apprenticed specifically for the occupations they currently held. Their guild was just as much their family as their own biological families.

Alma and Christopher found seats in the middle of the auditorium, as there was never assigned seating in the JC, and waited as everyone else filed in. After about ten minutes, the Military Guild Crier came out and began, “Welcome to this week’s assembly. I’ll begin with the news of the JC. First on Enceladus, the winner of this year’s solar sailing competition is a young man from the Enceladus Military Guild. What’s truly extraordinary was that his solar sailing ship was of his own design and allowed him to completely outstrip the rest of the competition. He finished hours before anyone from the Mechanical or Engineering Guilds. With confidence, I can say, we can expect great things from this young man in the future.”

Alma murmured to Christopher, “It’s too bad he’ll only be able to use those ship designing skills on slow and harmless solar wind sailing ships.”

Christopher smiled, “Yes, but they are beautiful and the competition is becoming kind of a thing to see in the galaxy.”

“And,” the Crier continued before Alma could scoff at Christopher, “This competition brought in more UCs than ever before and caught the attention of quite a few off-worlder race enthusiasts. It was even suggested that next year it might be worthy of being included in the Galactic Universal’s, GU, schedule of noteworthy events.” The GU was a galactic organization made up of the thousands of space-faring civilizations in the known galaxy. They released information about important events and tried to promote peaceful understandings between civilizations.

“See?” said Christopher with some humor to his voice.

Alma said nothing.

“Next, news from Mars Station Two, the oldest woman, Janet Kawlski, born on Mars died this week at the age of 202 years of age. She was surrounded by her family and at her request died in her favorite area of her botany lab. I mourn with you. We mourn together.”

“We mourn together,” everyone in the assembly repeated and then there was a moment of silence.

“On to the economy, our trade agreement with the Trappists now includes more potatoes and there is speculation that carrots may be added soon as well. I’ve no doubt a few of you will be seeing a lot more potatoes in your cargo. And from the Drama Guilds, underwater archaeologists in California have recently uncovered more archived video drama’s from the 21st century that will be made available to the public from next week and shown locally at public viewing areas. However, I’m advised to warn you all of the susceptibility of tech flu from watching humans use technology in their daily lives and that these dramas should be evidence of why we chose to live such rich tech free lives now.” Most of the view screen dramas and books from the late 20th century to the late 22nd century were banned or heavily censored by the government. 

There was a general smirk throughout the audience as the Military Guild’s Members were some of the only JC citizens allowed to use personal and general technology in their daily lives. It was very rare that anyone became infected with what was commonly known as ‘tech flu,’ an unhealthy addiction to technology that resulted in shorter sleeping hours, more fitful sleep, inability to concentrate, irritable and anti-social behavior and inability to switch from virtual to real experiences.

“Now local news, one of our own, Lieutenant Alma Johnson has been elevated to the rank of captain and will take command of the starship Indy. She’s the youngest captain in the peaceful history of the JC. Congratulations Captain.”

Everyone looked to Alma, mostly with surprise, some with smiles and a lot with frowns. A few hands went up to speak. 

The Crier announced, “We will have time for comments in a minute. Let me finish with the news.”

Alma and Christopher didn’t listen to the rest of the Crier’s report as they were whispering to each other. 

“Afia, Rups and then Shana,” Christopher whispered, speculating about the order of the people who would probably speak against Alma’s promotion and then Admiral Jackson who would have to defend her decision.

“No, I think it’ll be Afia, Dixon, then Shana,” Alma replied back softly. “I don’t think Rups minds,” he is the Chief Engineer on the Indy.

When the Crier opened the floor up to comments, Afia was the first to stand and say, “Crier, I’ve a comment of concern, may I speak to the guild?”

“Speak member,” the Crier replied.

Afia took the stage and began without preamble, “I don’t believe that Captain Alma Johnson is suited to be captain of the Indy. Sure, she’s intelligent, but she lacks experience and is often reckless. Just last week in training she almost destroyed two fighters trying to show off. Is this the kind of woman we want commanding one of our precious starships? Admiral Jackson, I ask you kindly to reconsider.”

Afia looked to the Crier and nodded, indicating she was finished.

“Noted,” the Crier said and Afia left the stage.

Then an older man raised his hand, and the Crier told him to come forward and speak.

“I’m the Chief Medical Officer on the Indy and I don’t think there’s any way this little spring chicken can run a starship with a crew complement of over 200 souls. So Admiral, I’m refusing to serve under her. You either find another position for her or me.”

“Is that all?” the Crier asked.

Dixon nodded and left the stage. 

Shana then walked onto the Military Guild’s Assembly Hall’s Stage. She waited for the crowd to become quiet and looked at them all meanly. It wasn’t difficult as she had a long, angry scar running down one of her perfect brown cheeks, from the bottom of her right eye to under her chin. And her frown was so callous, it had scared a lot of them into action throughout their entire lives. When she did begin, her words were stern, “I’ve evaluated all of the candidates for the position. Captain Alma Johnson is the best person to command the Indy at this time. Doctor Dixon, if you feel you’re too old to learn new tricks under a young captain, so be it. Consider yourself transferred. Afia, I know you’re not an old dog like Dixon and so, I’d ask you kindly to give Captain Johnson a chance,” she said the word ‘kindly’ as if it was a profanity and a knowing look passed between the two women that no one missed. Shana looked out onto the entire guild and addressed them, “Hard work matters, we need the best and the brightest in charge. I’m tired of watching middle aged people floundering lazily on our JC ships, only picking off pirates and smugglers when it’s convenient for them. That’s not good enough people. We need some real action now. New and young energy. Terra Nova grows stronger by the day and we don’t need to make their quest any easier by fighting amongst ourselves. So by all means, hold Alma Johnson accountable for her actions, I expect nothing less, but hold her accountable for anything else and you have me to answer to. Am I clear?”

“Yes Admiral,” they all replied loudly in unison.

Shana continued to look them all over angrily for a few moments longer in silence and then left the stage.

The Crier called the meeting to a close if there were no other queries or comments. There were not. No one would dare cross Admiral Jackson with her mood now.

Everyone quietly dispersed. 

Alma and Christopher gave each other knowing looks and then walked out silently together with the crowd. A few people congratulated Alma, but most said nothing. Outside on the street again, Alma asked, “Do you want to come to the Tailor’s Guild with me to hash that over?”

“I can’t. I’ve a date with Betsy.”

“Oh really?” Betsy was a new woman Christopher had begun seeing a few weeks ago and he was already smitten.

“But I thought she wouldn’t see you again after she found out you were a traditionalist?” Christopher’s parents practiced some ancient human traditions, such as marriage and observed older religious customs. According to the JC government, traditionalists, were not fundamentalists, so they were not sent to the Ethereal, a protected area of Earth where humans lived freely to practice whatever religion they wanted and outside the strict social order that regulated everything from procreation to community gatherings. Still, most people wanted nothing to do with traditionalists, as they felt marriage and observations of ancient religious holidays only held humanity back.

“I explained to her that I wasn’t really a traditionalist myself, just that my parents were.”

“And that changed her mind?” Alma asked disbelievingly.

“For the time being she’s satisfied. There’s no question, I’m on borrowed time though,” admitted Christopher. “I should go, I’d like to change out of my uniform before I meet her.”

“Where are you going for your date?”

Christopher looked embarrassed, “Farm work in Mexico. We’re going to learn how coffee beans are grown.”

“Farm work? What?”

“You know they’ve these trial hours in different guilds? Betsy wants to see what it would be like to be a coffee farmer in Mexico. These are special events organized through the Friendship Guilds. We don’t have to use our travel passes or anything, but it’s expensive and only SCs can be used as payment.”

Alma laughed, “Well, I can safely say, I’ll never use any of my precious SCs on checking out farming in Mexico or any other area of the world. You have fun though and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”  

 

 

Alma grabbed a local solar powered tram to Atlanta’s Tailor Guild. She sat down next to the window and there was an empty seat beside her. Alma hoped the seat would remain empty throughout her short journey so she wouldn’t have to make small talk. Unfortunately, it was taken by an old woman and Alma had to make conversation about small dogs for fifteen minutes. She didn’t know anything about dogs, but now was knowledgeable about Maltese dogs, in particular, how long they needed to be walked and the kinds of toys they preferred.  Alma was happy to say when she saw her stop approaching, “Oh sorry, this is my stop. It’s been very nice speaking to you,” as she fled off the tram.

After walking through the customer doors at the Atlanta Tailor’s Guild, a receptionist met her with a clipboard and pencil, “How may I help you, Lieutenant?” the Receptionist was already eyeing her navy colored uniform before Alma could reply.

“I need to be fitted for a new uniform.”

“What’s the matter with this one? Are you expecting a child?” she eyed Alma’s trim waistline.

“No, I’ve been promoted to Captain.”

“Oh,” she said without emotion. “I see. Follow me.”

Alma followed the Receptionist down a long glass hallway. As they walked she could see tailors working in each little glass room. Some had military customers like her being measured and others were working alone with fabric. Alma couldn’t help herself, she stopped when she saw a very young girl and an ancient woman working on a large midnight blue JC flag. The JC flag was rectangular with a large, black circle in the center and in the center of the black circle, in a straight line, were five differently sized circles in white, representing, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Europa and Enceladus.

The Receptionist turned back around when she realized Alma was no longer behind her, “Have you never seen a flag being embroidered before?”

Alma shook her head, “No. Do children always help with the flags?”

“Of course, it’s the easiest thing for them to do. Now, if you don’t mind, we do have a schedule here too.”

Alma followed the Receptionist into a glass room with an older woman in it. The Tailor slowly stood when Alma entered and the Receptionist explained what Alma required and then politely excused herself. The Tailor motioned for Alma to stand on an elevated box while she took her measurements, saying some of the numbers quietly out loud as she did so, “Height, 1.73,” then she expertly took Alma’s other measurements and murmured, “ Eighty-nine, sixty-two, ninety.”

“How do you like your uniforms to fit, Captain?”

“Like this one. Just right.”

The Tailor laughed, “Yes, okay. So a little bit loose. What about your formal uniforms? Tighter?”

“I don’t know,” said Alma honestly thinking out loud. She had always worn her uniforms a little bit on the loose side, but now, she was remembering Admiral Jackson’s formal uniform and said, “Make them more fitted.”

“Yes, you have a nice figure, it would be a shame to hide it all the time and you’re not a child any longer.”

“Thanks. I don’t really think about my figure like that.”

“Being in the Tailor’s Guild that is all I do. But you know even people with the most perfect measurements don’t, as a rule, have beautiful figures. The human body is like a piece of art. Sometimes beauty is unexplained by the math.”

Alma smiled, “Am I unexplained by the math then?”

The Tailor answered, “No, your measurements are almost as close to what we consider the perfect human woman. But some people can be perfect and still look awkward, like they were born into the wrong body.”

“Do you speak to all of your customers this way?” Alma asked amused.

“Oh yes, you know when you are over 150 years old, there’s little you keep to yourself anymore,” the Tailor smiled and Alma couldn’t help but smile back.

The woman brought out some purple fabric and held it up for Alma to touch, “This is the new fabric for the formal uniforms. It’s a wool and silk mix. Isn’t it divine?”

Alma touched the fabric and tried to be excited for her, “Yes.”

The woman frowned a little bit at Alma not being as excited as she should be and asked roughly, “When do you need these by?”

“I need one uniform by early tomorrow morning, please send it to my apartment by courier. Then the rest by the day after.”

“You military people are always pushing us last minute. Please remember that we must make these uniforms from hand. Go now. I’m assuming it’ll all be paid with Guild Credits, GC?” she asked rhetorically.

Alma nodded and then left as the Tailor was muttering to herself about last minute commanding officers.

 

 


About the author

I consider myself a global citizen and always include an array of international characters and languages in my stories. I like the idea of humanity moving toward a common goal, but maintaining our clever and unique identities view profile

Published on August 30, 2019

Published by

50000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Science fiction

Reviewed by

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