Zebulon Base, Mars; September 2107


Yoko gives her own rejection slip: "It sounds dumb, that's why."

Nkosi smiles. "Because?"

"It's so sentimental. Too sentimental. Too private."

"Has anyone said this to you?"

Yoko's eyes dart from his down to the desk.

"That's what I thought. "

"Thought what?" she looks head-on again.

"That no one's said anything bad."

Her lips almost curl to a smile but retract. "What of it?"

"Well then, who says it's too sentimental? Or too private, for that matter?"

"I say it."

"So then it's got to be so, huh?"

"You know, you can really be a pain. "

"Why thanks," he winks, then leans in a bit across the desk: "You've got to send it to the Free Press. They'll take it, I'm sure. It's a good story and they love getting off-world material."


"Maybe. But it's honest and that's what people like."

Looking to the ceiling: "You sure you have the cams off?"

"Counselor's privilege."

"They could be lying to you, telling you the cams shut down when you press that pad."

"I try not to feed into their arranged paranoia." He regrets using the word after it spills out, but plainly can't explain it to her at this moment, and moves on instead: "Besides, the cam's delta unit suddenly had an 'accident' last week, and the new component won't be in till next month with the supply shuttle." He opens the drawer, pulls out a little screwdriver, winks,
and adds, "Funny how these things happen."

The thought, that Dr. Jalla might be lying, interrupts Yoko's relief. It's too easy otherwise.

Nkosi jumps in: "So send the story; it's good, and it'll be another thorn for Stockwell."

"She'll send someone to 'fix' the problem," Yoko says, pointing to herself. "And kill me," and she immediately feels even dumber than before. She's the one who's paranoid.

"This isn't the Old West, Yoko. They're subtler than that. Remember, as hard as the Alliance has tried to tighten the screws back on the Earth, they've only been so successful, and they've never gotten 'rid' of anyone on any of the Mars Bases, ever. They know that too many other eyes are on us."

"So then, won't my story incite the Dissenters?"


"Because I call them terrorists in my story."

"Which they were, even though we can all understand why they did it. Maybe even sympathize with them."

"Which makes me guilty as hell."

"Yoko, most of us up here feel the same way. We're horrified at two hundred colonists dead, but we, of all people, understand their reasons. We may be 30 million miles away, but we still understand feeling under the thumb of the Alliance."

"That doesn't make it right. "

"Of course not, I didn't say that. I simply said that we all understand their anger at waking up one morning and finding half their Continent closed off from the rest of the world by a force field." He reaches his hand out to her. "So submit the story."

Yoko finally smiles and gets up to leave, "Jeremy's going to kill me, I think."

"You think wrong."

"How do you know that?"

"Yesterday, on our field expedition, he told me to push the issue."

"Really?" She laughs, "Jesus, I should have you hand in your Medical Practice Certificate."

"He loves you, Yoko. Little Robb, too. He doesn't want to see the world destroy itself. We can't do much about it from here, but maybe words from here might help." And he takes final aim with the thought, "Words from you to inspire them."

Her head shakes; her eyes roll up.

He urges, "Send it, Yoko."


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