Earth Seven and the History Department at The University of Centrum Kath

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Koven Modi, field historian. Trained, armed and scared.

The next adventure is going to be Mortuis Luna and the History Department at The University of Centrum Kath*.


(*the largest repository of knowledge and learning in the universe)



Meeting Chuck

I took the shuttle from the moon back to Earth. Two years of lunar farming was not my idea of a vacation. But I got caught with Emprion and my judge was a total dick.
“You should respect yourself more. Filling your body with that poison will cost you your life if you keep this up” he told me before he handed down his sentence. Lying son of a bitch. Sitting up there drinking his Cali Cola acting like god.
And all this for something that can’t hurt me.

Emprion has no side effects. It’s not habit forming. You can’t OD on it. And it is one of those rare substances that actually heals without having to go through all of the chemical manipulation that other medicines go through. And that is a problem.

The shuttle station was crowded with weekend sight seers. Yeah, they go to the moon on the weekends and marvel at the domes and the fruit and veg growing in them. I got there Monday thru Friday and tend to their wonder on my hands and knees. They ooh and ah over the long pristine rows. They didn’t have to put on respirators because fertilizer drones were flying over their heads misting smelly shit everywhere.

The commercial problem with Emprion is that it heals and gets you high in its natural state. And that means that pharma doesn’t get to perform their magic. And without their magic, they can’t charge the kind of prices they are accustomed to getting.

In fact, a long time ago pharma got together and agreed that since they couldn’t make any money from Emprion, it should be banned. Something that used to grow wild everywhere became subject to the largest eradication effort in history. If it hadn’t been for the Bunt Brothers, Emprion would have been lost forever.

A small child that wasn’t watching where she was walking marched straight into my left leg and knocked herself down. I looked down to see the small hands yearning to hold security stretched upwards. I pick the child up for a moment. Then her mother swooped in like a bird guarding a nest. She quickly pulled her daughter from my arms and moved away. But not before she threatened me.
“I’ll report you” she said as she turned her back to me.

It wasn’t the first time. The Bureau of Prisons blue jumpsuit is the most recognizable piece of clothing on Earth. It comes with a big front chest patch and large letters across the back. Below the patch was my name and prisoner number and the quick scan code for anyone that needs to report me. The comms in their pocket will use it to identify me and hold the record until they delete it. Just BOP people within a 15 meter radius are kept in perm memory, the rest fade after 30 days.

My only consolation is that on a Friday night, at this shuttle station, their comms are capturing thousands of records as we make our way back for the weekend. It is my prayer that it will be just enough records to disrupt the constant video as the mindless dolts stream past me, their ear canal speakers set to a moderate volume, their noise canceling set to high, vid pros displaying images one meter in front of them. Visible to them but not others.

They all walk around not quite paying attention to reality. Prisoners of constant content. Add the circles app to the mix and the four quadrants projected in front of them can get confusing. Used to be able to have more than four. As many as you like. But for public safety reasons four became the limit. Things are like that a lot now, everything for public safety.

Holister Bridges. He’s the reason.

Mean son of a bitch started a movement called ‘Personal Power’. He wrote a book explaining how to find every possible instance where you have power over another, and on how to use it in order to control the other person. And in order for you to be completely successful they are required to acknowledge your superiority in the moment.

Holister Bridges also said that selfishness was a good thing, a righteous thing. And a lot of people agreed.

I read his book. Then I threw it away.

Sounded more like personal fascism than personal power to me. And I’d seen it at the RETURNS in a large store last weekend. One of his disciples.

“Excuse me, I said hello to you, how are you doing. And you think its acceptable behavior to ignore me? Yet you want something from me? Hello. Don’t be stupid, OK?”

Wanted to slug the jerk clerk when he said that. But two years is enough time eating strawberries on my knees.

Yeah strawberries. Luckiest thing ever happened in my life, I pull strawberries. I love strawberries. If you put a bowl of every fruit in front of me, I would choose strawberries.

Still, there are a lot of mean son of a bitches thanks to Holister Bridges. And our leaders consider him some sort of genius. So all over the world you can see his disciples berating, yelling at, admonishing, putting the screws to, demanding compliance from other poor slobs. Bridges was behind almost every public loud mouth you ever hear.

‘Optimizing Your Existence’ was his billion seller followup. In it he argued that some people (like him) were above the limits of societal laws and norms. These uber beings should exercise their right to be as mean and selfish as pleases them. The control and the pain they wield should be limited only by their ability to use them. And if you think that was bad, it got worse.

Then they started Tax-free Rewards. Once it became obvious to even the stupid that you could make a bundle by ratting out your friends for anything they do wrong, well there are points of no return for a society and this was clearly one of them.
It’s also how I got busted. Two days after we broke up I got busted for Emprion that was technically hers because I didn’t have any money when Tiny D came by with it. Now I know why she didn’t take it with her.

But enjoy it while you can, all of you assholes.

Speaking of assholes.
Yeah, I shoved them up my butt. Two each Sunday night before the shuttle back. They were controllers. Electronics. Wrapped up in a shit load of plastic wrap.  Shit load, get it?
Gonna be rich for doing it. Well maybe not rich, but at least not poor. That will be good enough for a change. I’d like to take some of the money and go back to college.

I think they are planning something for Sunday, after the last tourist shuttle, before the first set of chains arrive. Can’t do it like last time. That was a mess. Anyway, she told me that we can see it from Earth if the air isn’t too bad.

Yeah, it’s spoiled me up there. All the fresh air. No damned breather on my face all the time.
I signed the petition. Sure I did. Because its true, clean air is a right. We shouldn’t have to buy it from a damned beverage company. It’s air.

The judge brought up my signature during sentencing. I watched him drinking a California Cola without the slightest hint of irony that he was drinking a beverage from the large supplier of air to consumers. And when I pointed it out? That’s when one year became two.

Holister Bridges would have been proud of him.

My mouth has always been my downfall. Pointing out the things that no one wants to be reminded of. But its also been the thing that has got me the farthest, gotten me out of more fights, and into more panties that you can imagine. Its a double ended dildo.

But Chuck has my back. He’ll set me up with some finest. Get the long daze going for the weekend, right after I unplug.

Unplug ain’t quite the right word for it, but its the one everyone uses.
How does it really work?
I run the previous four hour results back into the monitor chip again. Its that simple. Gets me four hours to chill and BOP never even gets a whiff.

You know the real problem with Emprion, don’t you?
It makes people disrespectful.

Normally we would sit there, politely and quietly, while someone with perfect hair and personal power is being an asshole. But when you’re high on Emprior, or maybe just a person that contains a healthy amount of self-respect, you are likely inclined to say ‘fuck this, I’m outta here’.
To which hairspray will reply “You can’t. You must do as I say.”

Back and forth and back and forth, until it’s obvious that the only way happy follicles can get you to comply is to use force. And they do.

Split ends has an entire army of them just waiting for their chance to force you to comply.
My apologies. I am bald and I hate their hair. I could burn it off their heads with my envy.

Chuck will set me up.

She was the only person I had contact with. Told me her name was Bethany, but I didn’t believe her. Kind of cute. A little over weight. But imagine that, a guard that wants to blow up the prison. Pretty different don’t you think? But hey, she was pretty different, in a hot, slutty, sort of way. It didn’t take a lot for me to get into those panties, if you know what I mean. She sort of took the lead in that dimension of our relationship.

Haven’t seen her in the last month or so. Hope she didn’t get snitched out. Emprion is one thing, but they will execute us if they find out what we’re doing. I’m a good looking guy. But I look a lot better if I’m not swinging from the end of a rope on the news.

OK. Time to find Chuck. Supposed to meet me here. Gotta get used to seeing everyone in a breather again.

Hey, there he is. Smart dresser. Nice clothes that blend in.

Shit. Who are those men over there?
Fuck, its the cops.

Article Five

Article Five

by Steve M

Yeah, I wrote this. Blame no one else.


The commanders quarters on board the starship Lincoln were elegant. More art on the walls than furniture in the room. Captain Colfax stood at attention waiting for commander Han. Captain Hampton moved around the room admiring the pictures. The door at the other end of the narrow room opened and commander Han entered. He had been eating birthday cake in his private quarters on a video relay with his wife. It was his sixty fourth birthday. One more year then pension and golf.

“What is it this time?” Asked the tall slender commander in the dark blue uniform with three rows of insignia on the chest above the heart. He motioned for them to sit. Colfax sat down on the sofa legs together feet pointed straight ahead, his spine as straight as possible.

“Lima team” replied Hampton.

“It’s always Lima team. What did they do this time?” The look on the commanders face showed the annoyance of the eight other incidents escalated to him about Lima team.

“Let’s start at the top, what’s the body count?” Commander Han sat down at the sofa opposite the two captains.

“43” replied Colfax.

“This is a known rebel area, what’s the problem?” Asked commander Han.

“There was an incident” said Colfax sheepishly.

“I know that or else you wouldn’t be here. Don’t waste my time Colfax… Or yours.”

Commander Han reached forward and straighten some of the flowers in the vase on the table between them. Han didn’t like Colfax, didn’t trust him and as a result the commander was mean to him. Even on a large starship if you talk shit about someone behind their back they will eventually hear it. Han preferred Hampton, more laid-back and brutally honest to his face.

“What happened Ham?” The commander asked.

“It was Kessler again” replied Hampton.

“No it wasn’t” replied Colfax. “It was the rookie, the girl, the governor’s daughter.”

“Shit” replied the commander.

He may be a second rate provincial governor in the far spiral arm of the galaxy, but Deuce Whitlam had a big mouth, a clever media team and as a result everyone in the galaxy knew who he was. It was rumored that his daughter joined the service just to get away from the sanctimonious son of a bitch. Oxygen is not a fundamental right no matter how many signatures the good governor gets on his petition.

“If Kessler hadn’t started his dark Lord shit, she wouldn’t have acted.”

“She had no authority to act at all. She’s a damned shuttle pilot that’s all. She can’t even flush the waste tanks on her shuttle without permission” replied Colfax.

“Legend my ass” said the commander.

Kevin Kessler was a war hero.
He was also a psychopath addicted to the gore of battle, the thrill of the kill. But he had single-handedly stopped the rebel fleet at the asteroid belt for two days, playing hide and seek and destroying eight rebel ships. Then our fleet arrived and delivered a crushing defeat that the rebels still haven’t recovered from. Everyone owed Kessler. Every man, woman and child. Commander Han knew there would be trouble from the moment he was notified that Capt. Kessler was being transferred to his command.

“Tell me what happened from atmosphere on down” said the commander.

Hampton look at Colfax nodded for him to begin.

“She brought all 28 down from the clouds and dropped them two clicks away from the village. Hoverbikes. Full audio and visual on everybody. Then she climbed to theater overview at 200 m. Keesler and his team were on a mineral mission. They were authorized to search for Nomium 14 only.”

Nomium 14 is vital in the manufacture of all spacecraft or other vehicles that travel at high speeds. A hoverbike is a cross between a motorcycle and a sled, if they both had significant weaponry built in and floated off the ground.

“And Keesler did find some” added Colfax like a lawyer making a point of law that requires a stretch of logic.

Nomium 14 exist in three places in this galaxy. This planet, Chelong, had the lowest cost of extraction by over 50%. Seams of Nomium 14 started on the surface of the planet. Everywhere else it was dirty dangerous underground work. It is a source of money for the rebellion. There is a black market in Nomium 14 and other strategic molecules.

“Sure he found Nomium 14, take a look.” The space between them popped up with an image of a very scared woman being yelled at as she took off her wedding ring and handed it to the man with the gun. The woman’s husband yelled something in his native language that showed up and subtitled as ‘don’t hurt her, leave us alone’.

Kessler turned towards the man shot him twice with his R17. When the woman ran to her dying husband Kessler shot her too. Then he reached down and picked up the wedding ring off the floor that he had dropped. He put it into his pocket.

Capt. Hampton made a motion with his index finger in the video they were watching disappeared.

“I’m just going to skip forward a few minutes.”

The image between them reappeared in the right-hand corner the name Kessler indicated it was his video feed. He moved cautiously through the village shooting anyone not wearing a green military uniform.

“He’s gone off again” said a voice female over comms. In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen it indicated that Lieut. Hicks was speaking.

Another voice came over the comms. Her voice sounded concerned.

“This is Lieut. Whitman. I got a birds eye view of what’s going on down there. That sure doesn’t look like a mineral search to me. Please explain.”

“Were engaging hostiles” came the annoyed reply from Capt. Keesler.

“Weapon scan comes back negative for everybody not wearing a green uniform captain. Please advise.”

“They have weapons” Keesler yelled back angrily.

“Sir are you saying my scanning equipment is malfunctioning?” Asked the young woman floating 200 m above the ground in her shuttlecraft. A new voice came over the comms.

“Capt. we got about 200 people making an exit to the southwest on foot. There are about 300 m from dense jungle. Please advise.” The name on the bottom right-hand corner of the display indicated the speaker was Cpl. Pu.

“Posse up” yelled Keesler. They all ran back to their bikes.

“Level of engagement?” asked Cpl Pu.

“Lethal” came the loud voice of Keesler. He knelt down to take aim with his R17 before adding another kill to his count.

Commander Han and Captains Colfax and Hampton watch the video.

“It’s her first mission, sir” said Captain Hampton.

“Sir, that doesn’t count one damned bit. First mission, one hundredths, it doesn’t matter” said Colfax.

They watched as the soldiers mounted their bikes and began to move towards the open fields. A couple of them shot their weapons into the tiny wooden and corrugated metal shacks as they drove past.

“Please advise sir, these look to be women and children fleeing. Sir, I’ve got perfect visuals on the fleeing people you are starting to pursue. Please advise sir, they are women and children. Can you please confirm your lethal order sir. Scanners indicate…”

“I don’t give a damned what your scanners indicate, they are armed” replied Keesler.

“I’m sorry sir, my scanner indicate differently, sir. Use of lethal force against the unarmed civilians is a war crime, sir. I can look up the exact language and distribute it to all. Please advise.”

“They are not civilians” barked Keesler. “They are Polisario.”

“Please advise sir. What is the evidence?”

“Damn it, Whitlam. Shut up. That’s an order.”

“I’m sorry sir, could you repeat. Didn’t copy, sir, please repeat.”

“Shut your damned mouth.”

“Sorry sir, that’s not possible. Article Five is clear. I’ve just distributed the exact language of Article Five to everyone in the company.”

“You insolent bitch. Get that damned thing off our visuals.”

“But sir, to proceed will be a war crime.”

“I’ll have you shot for insubordination you little shit” yelled Keesler.

“Cameras down” Keesler yelled. Then his camera stopped. Then the camera of 19 others stopped also.

“Let me switch to Whitlam’s view” said Hampton.

“That’s causes prejudice in her favor” argued Colfax.

“I’m old enough to make allowances for this” said Han to Colfax coldly.

The image shifted to the ship hovering over the battle scene.

“I’m sorry sir” said the young woman.

She then executed a maneuver that was fluid and almost beautiful as the craft spun smoothly as it dropped from the sky. As it rotated eighteen muzzle barrels became exposed when the shiny metal covering them moved up. In less than three seconds, Lt. Whitlam had brought her craft down between the fleeing villagers and the her own advancing troops.

Lt. Whitlam flipped the perimiter button on the guns. They fired into the ground ahead of them forming the defensive line that would not be breached. Lt. Whitlam unbuckled from her pilot seat and got up. She checked her side arm, the Jirb 35 wasn’t that powerful but Whitlam was accurate with it. She went out the back of the ship and jumped down to the ground. She walked around to the front of her ship.

At a point less than a meter from the line set for her guns was a line of her fellow soldiers hoving off the ground on their bikes.

“Whitlam, you either turn your guns off or so help me I will make sure you die here today. Do I make myself clear” said Keesler.

“Regrettably you do” said Whitlam.

“Turn them off, that’s a damned order, bitch.”

“They are unarmed, sir.”

“Keesler raised his weapon. Whitlam drew hers.

“They are armed” he yelled at her.

“With what, sir?”

“An idea” he screamed at her. “They believe their minerals are their own. They’re not. We need them. We’ll take them.”

The bullet hit the Hero of the Asteroid Belt in the forehead. The top of his head went sailing like a Kennedy. He was dead before he ever aimed his gun and his final muscle contraction fired it wildly into the air as he fell.

Commmander Han never got to finish his cake. His birthday was ruined.

After a detailed inquiry and fifty eight days later Han was relieved of command and assigned to desk duty at Station Ilios for his final year. At least his wife was able to join him for most of the time.

Captain Colfax is now Colonel Colfax and is being fast tracked for further advancement.

Captain Hampton resigned from the service. All records of him stopped his last day in the service. When he walked out of the Fort Geelong he became a ghost.

Lt. Whitlam is serving a life sentence for murder in the maximum security military prison on Adlo Outer. She is held separate from the other prisoners, many of whom would kill the woman that killed a hero.

Her father’s petition now has over 100 billion signatures. But the directorship will not consider the Oxygen Amendment. Governor Whitlam threatened insurrection. He too is now in custody.