It’s been a while since I’ve presented the work-in-progress. Here you go!
This chapter takes place midway through act 2b, when the Boardroom Group is on the run from PK sleeper cells who have popped up inside Aristillus and are attempting to capture the leadership of the rebellion.
Mike, the fire-breathing radical of the group, has been captured…so when the group meets, the pragmatists and the small-l libertarians outweigh the more extreme members.
This will have consequences later…
== 6 Sep 2064: Boardroom Group Headquarters in Tunnel 1,288, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside
Three of the gray-shirted guards stood with weapons, guarding against a hopefully non-existent threat, while the rest were up in the catwalks, clamping improvised construction lights to the brackets in the absence of legitimate light panels.
Javier looked around the dusty tunnel. The puddle of illumination from the construction lights revealed the ADF guards, two dozen vehicles, and a handful of modular construction offices amidst an otherwise stunningly empty, dark tunnel. Someone dropped a wrench from the catwalk and the sound of it hitting the floor echoed at first, then disappeared down the long long tube. There were blast-proof construction locks connecting this tunnel with other unfinished construction tunnels two kilometers back the way they’d come, but the rest of city felt light years away.
Eating sushi in a restaurant, watching an MMA bout in a crowded stadium, or walking in a park, it was easy to forget that this, all of this – Aristillus – was just a tiny bubble of light and warmth in the middle of a vast cold inhospitable rock in the middle of space. …but looking down the length of a desolate construction tunnel, looking out of the small pool of light into the deep cold blackness in either direction? It was a metaphor that made a point.
Javier heard a disdainful sniff next to him and turned to see Albert Lai. Albert didn’t look amused. Javier smiled and clapped him on the back. “Good news, Albert – you don’t have to put up with the mustiness and old furniture in the Northern Logistics squat any more!”
Albert looked at Javier, his lips pinched and his eyes lidded. Javier raised his eyebrows. Wow. NOT in a good mood. “Shall we go inside and get this meeting started?”
As they entered the cargo container construction office Javier saw that Wam Okeke occupied Mike’s seat at the table. Javier nodded. Mike hadn’t had a formal succession plan, but no one knew Morlock’s business better than his right-hand man. The leap from running Morlock Engineering in Mike’s absence to standing in for Mike in the revolutionary cabal was a bit odd, but it made sense.
Javier grabbed a chair and listened as Wam spoke. “Matthew, you’ve got an update on tracking down Mike… and the others that the snatch team grabbed?”
Javier looked to Dewitt, who sat at the other end of the table, wearing the same gray shirt and uniform patches that the troops outside wore. Javier looked at the patches. Where had those come from? The unified lunar army had only been formed a few days ago. Was there some CNC patch company in Aristillus?
Dewitt stood. “The short version is that we’re at a dead end. The slightly longer version is that we’ve got video of the snatch teams from hundreds of different cameras and we can dial the time-line back and see where they came from, but when we dial it forward we see them disappearing into a service tunnel that has no video.” To illustrate his report he pointed to a wall screen behind him that played the video forward and back.
Mark Soldner leaned forward. “Speaking of video – do the snatch teams have access to this resource?”
Dewitt nodded. “We have to assume so. We purchased it from a video brokerage house…but they sell to anyone. And the dial-time-forward, dial-time-back UI here was hacked up for us by Kurt Balcom, but ViewSpace is planning on releasing a similar feature soon.”
Karina Roth frowned. “I’m hearing is that the same data that led the PKs to snatch Mike and others is out there, available for anyone to buy, and it can be used to track us – all of us in this room.”
Mark Soldner spoke “I think we need to talk about the availability of this data – we need to stop ViewSpace from selling this!”
Dewitt answered Karina’s point first “Even if the threat model is that the snatch teams have all the video, it can’t be used to track us to this location. You recall that when we abandoned the Northern Logistics site, we all suited up and went out on the surface, then came back in through another airlock -“
“That doesn’t help us if there is video -“
“Wait. Listen to me. There’s video of us going into the airlock, but there are no cameras in the TBM re-racking yard outside, and no cameras in any of the dozens of under development tunnels. Not only that, but we made sure to coordinate and send dozens of cargo skids with covered pallets in through locks which ARE covered by cameras – the snatch teams, even if they think to buy the footage – can’t know where we are.”
Karina seemed satisfied by Mark raised one finger. “Even if we’re safe here, we have to stop ViewSpace from selling any more footage.”
Dewitt nodded. “I hear you, but that’s a legislative issue so you members of the Boardroom Group need to discuss that. As far as military issues go -”
Mark pressed on. “I think it IS a military issue. The fact is that some of these markets are TOO open and free, and that’s going to hurt us militarily. We’re all agree that we need less regulation and less government – that’s why we’re around this table – but it’s impossible to have a civilization where people can buy and sell anything to anyone. Especially in a wartime situation -“
Javier held up a hand to interrupt Mark “I too disagree with Mike from time to time on how little government we can get away with. We’ve had many conversations where he has called me a ‘wishy-washy-libertarian, afraid of where my beliefs really lead'” Javier smiled. “…but I have three points. First, we have already concluded that the video data is incapable of helping the PK forces if we take reasonable precautions -“
Mark clearly wanted to interject, but was polite enough to wait.
“Second, of all the rights that Mike was passionate about, he was most ferocious about three: the right to trade, the right to speak, and the right to own guns. Now, this current issue does not address firearms, but it does speak to the other two. We can not put controls in place to stop information from being shared or sold with out impacting both the right to communicate and the right to trade. Mike and I might argue about this – we WILL argue about it again, when he’s freed – but as long as Mike is being held by enemy forces, I’m not going to turn my back on his principles. I owe him that.
“…and, finally: any regulation we might propose would be ineffective. We can not wave a wand and stop the data from being sold. All we can do is issue a proclamation – if you do this thing, we will do this other thing: boycott you, or send our security forces to your door and arrest you, or -“
Javier was finally done, and Mark leaned forward. “Javier, with all due respect, you assert that these rules can’t work, and you assert that the population doesn’t want laws, but I say that these laws can work, and that the population doesn’t hate all laws – people hate bad laws and bad leaders, but they cry out for just laws and good leadership. I think that the Revolution is the perfect time to establish precedents for -“
Rob Wehrmann cleared his throat and bellowed “Jesus Fuck, you people are killing me with all this philosophy. Can we just vote, or something?”
Javier blinked. “I think we’ve agreed that legislation is beyond the scope of the Boardroom Group – we’re a military organization; the populace hasn’t given us the right to vote on legislation or -“
Mark raised his hand “Seconded.”
Wam shook his head. “I’m sitting in for Mike, and Mike wouldn’t allow -“
Rob Wehrmann cut him off “Why are we still talking? We’ve got a call for a vote. I say yes – shut down ViewSpace.”
Mark nodded. “Shut them down.”
Karin Roth spoke “Agreed – shut them down.”
Javier started to speak but Albert interrupted “Too militarily risky. Shut them down.”
The vote was 14 to 3 – only Wam, Javier and Hector objected.
At the head of the table Dewitt nodded. “I’ll instruct troops to shut down the company under the orders of the Board.”