On Venusian Cloud Colony Number Nine: Chapter 7 Scene 3

As the returning employees bustled off the space freighter and into the Venusian Orbit Station, there was a noticeable buzz in the massive hall.  The main hall was covered in lines of chairs, with many screens showing everything from Venusian mining statistics to the latest shows from Earth.  At the far end, wide corridors branched off in ten different directions to each Colony’s designated area.

Claudio saw his returning Colony Nine team walk through into their designated area, and quickly walked over to them with a broad smile.  He shook every man’s hand, and gave a hug to Carolina. His ice blue eyes focused on the dark skinned lady accompanying his team leader, wearing glasses and a headscarf.

“I do not believe we have met.  I am Claudio Grisogno.”

Barney made the uncomfortable introduction.  “Claudio, may I reintroduce Léana Stirling.”

The Swissman’s eyes narrowed as he gave the Australian a disbelieving look.  “I didn’t know you believed yourself a comedian, Barney.  Léana is the most Irish lady I’ve ever met, not this African lady.”

Léana removed her glasses and headscarf, showing her fiery red hair and eyes almost as blue as her observer.  The thick Irish accent widened Claudio’s eyes.  “It is me, Claudio.  Barney and I have something very important to tell you.”

“What on Earth happened?”

“Not on Earth, on Venus.  A form of life was in those Carbonado samples we found.  It is some sort of symbiote.”

Claudio shock remained apparent.  “But… how?”

“When I was fixing the AMRD unit of a Colony One surface worker, I handled a fragment of Carbonado without protective gloves.  The symbiote seeped through my skin, and worked its way into my system to do this.”

“Apart from your change in skin colour, you look fine.  There were no other effects?”

Léana shook her head.  “It is not a malicious form of life, like a virus or a cancer.  It seems to bond with its host in a way in a non-detrimental way.  And back on Earth, Barney and I found out something else possibly more startling.”

The Swissman turned to Barney, his glasses slightly fogged.  “What could possibly be more startling than Léana’s change?”

Barney spoke matter-of-factly.  “Léana and Azu’s wife were able to speak fluently in an unheard-of language.  It seems some of the symbiotes made their way to Earth far in the past, and bonded with the humans of the time.  In a manner of speaking, we are their descendants.”

Claudio sat down on the closest chair in the row.  “Azu’s wife could speak this language? But how?”

“It seems the symbiote affected human genes, and it carried strongly down some lines of the African population.  Shasa sensed something, thinking it a spirit initially.  Léana travelled to Bangui with me, and their being able to speak that language.”

The team manager sat for a time with a disbelieving look on his face.  “Well, doesn’t that just bend your brain?  It makes my news tame in comparison.”

Barney raised his hands apologetically.  “Sorry, Cheesy.  I didn’t mean to steal your thunder.  What’s your news?”

Claudio took off his glasses, cleaning them with a cloth he pulled from his shirt pocket.  “The company has had a shake-up of its board.  We have a new managing director, who has given the Venusian colonies new priorities.”

“Such as?”

“A supposedly vast hoard of Carbonado has been found on Venus, such that it dwarfs the stocks on Earth.  The first area of focus is Kali Mons.”

Léana gasped.  “Someone from the Colonies must have mentioned something.”

“It would not surprise me.  The Barnado family has close ties with new managing director.”

“Who is this new managing director?”

“His name is Lord Mayer Cullinan.  He is most notably the chief operating officer of DMC, the Diamond and Minerals Collective.  Azu would know of the company, as they have a strong presence in Central Africa.”

Barney’s eyes widened in shock.  “Azu said they were a ruthless bunch.”

Claudio nodded.  “That they are.  Wherever there is money to be made for themselves and the shareholders, they will be ther in full force.  The majority of their fortune has been made through diamonds, of all colours.”

“But we know now it’s not a matter of mining for minerals.  There is actually a form of life down there under the Venusian surface.  To go mining in these locations would be like destroying their homelands.”

Kumara spoke, a hard edge to his voice.  “There has been enough destruction of people’s homelands on Earth, let alone bringing the exercise here.  The life left here did not leave due to their connection with the land, and it must be preserved.”

Barney added his agreement, while Léana looked close to crying at the prospect of focused mining for Venusian Carbonado.  Juan, Carolina and Woody looked uncomfortable.

Claudio looked sad.  “I know how important the connection to the land is for you, Barney, but there is little I can do.  Even if I told the Board of Directors not to mine the planet’s Carbonado stores, I doubt that anything could stop them.”

Barney spoke angrily.  “I came here to make a good living, under the impression that there was no life on this planet.  To go and destroy the habitats of what we now know is there, only because there is money to be made…  I cannot do it.”

“As with me,” Kumara added.  “If the decision is made to follow through with this, I cannot work here.”

Léana looked torn.  “My grandfather may have designed the AMRD suit, allowing the possibility of mining Venus, but my link to the planet is now too strong to allow the destruction of any area where its life forms remain.”

Claudio looked at his team, regret and dread readily apparent.  “All three of you feel that strongly about this?”

Barney, Léana and Kumara all nodded.

“Very well.  I will have your separation of employment forms organised.  Jump back on the freighter and head home.  I am sad to see you go.”

– ♀ –

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3 responses

  1. Good, very good. This is a major step forward in the plot. I’ll naturally be interested to see what you come up with next.

    1. P.S. In the notice that came through my e-mail, this was called Scene 2, but when I got to your page, it was called Scene 3. Is something missing?

      1. No, nothing is missing. I copy/pasted the subject line, and then forgot to change the ‘Scene 2’ to ‘Scene 3’ before I clicked the publish button.

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