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“What do you think was going to happen Elizabeth?!” Dr. Gerald Miller took a deep breath and put his hands firmly on his bare hips. “I am not talking about the induction lab tests.” He flipped the pages of his notebook and held up a drawing of a coil surrounded by mathematical symbols and figures. “This is Slip Field Technology we’re talking about. The very technology that ended the rule of fossil fuels for all time.” “Yes, Gerald,” The soft steady clip of her British accent now a hard staccato. “ We’re not discussing the elimination of fossil fuels, but we’re postulating the possibility of using this technology for the first time in human history to explore deep space. To visit other planets. “ She let out an exasperated breath and slipped her favorite blue silk blouse over her head. “This is an opportunity of monumental proportions.” Her olive skinned face beautifully framed by her long auburn hair took on a seemingly empathetic expression as she cupped her hand to his cheek, “ I cannot pass up an opportunity to use what I’ve learned to develop cures for Milnans degenerative nerve disorder or Litners which is ten times worse than AIDS ever was.” She pushed her suitcase farther on the bed as the passion in her voice elevated to a crescendo. “Don’t you see Gerry? This is my opportunity to do something good for all of us and build a new future for humanity on a new world.” He recognized the pleading nature of her voice. She had already made her decision, so he made a last ditch effort to prevent it. “You can’t go. I forbid it!” He batted her suitcase onto the floor and stepped up to meet her, his nose mere inches from her face. His chest heaved with frustration and the smooth gentle lines in the curve of her mouth did nothing to assuage his ire as it normally would have. “Are you going to let me pass Gerry?” She whispered softly and stared at the slow swaying of the blood velvet curtains behind him. The communications beacon on the far wall beeped twice and the speaker queued, “Doctor Goshen, your home security bio-scan has detected elevated levels of aggressive behavior from your guest. Do you require assistance?” She flinched involuntarily, “umm, No,” Her eyes met his momentarily detecting Gerald’s reflexive reaction to the interloping security system. “I am well, thank you. That will be all.”

“Very well doctor.” Then as if the disembodied voice had a second thought. “Your homes communications system is on level two security. Please use the code word and we’ll dispatch a unit to your location within seconds.” She breathed a deep exasperated breath, “There now, perhaps we might discuss this another time.” She picked up the suitcase by the handle and placed it back on the bed stuffing the items that had fallen out neatly back into the cargo section. He felt the resignation as much as displayed it. His shoulders slumping and a defeated look upon his face that she thought seemed so alien on those bright features. “There won’t be another time. I love you Beth,” He whispered as she stepped around him to pick up a red high heel that had fallen around the bed. “I have loved you for a long time now. I know we agreed-“ She placed her finger against his lips, her voice firm and warm. “We agreed not to have this discussion.” He turned to the balcony that overlooked the city below. It had grown dark and luminous in the evening twilight as the tall spires and the high rises that now seemed like a forest in the midst of a black cloud of dark ominous death now loomed ahead of him. “We’ve managed to make it worse you know,” He said in the midst of the cacophony of signals, bells and whistles of the city far below. “The earth’s orbit is deteriorating at a faster rate than we’d expected.” He brushed the sweat off his hands onto his pants. “I’ve worked with Geizshan and Borokov for weeks now. We estimate the earth has less than nine hundred twenty days of stable orbital rotation left.” “You will find a way Gerry, and if you don’t,” She smiled encouragingly, the edges of her mouth and eyes turning up just slightly was comforting. “Well there is always Tantum Two and escaping before the earth breaks up.” Even the way her fingertips reached across the railing for his made his spirits rise for only a shadow of a moment. “Billions of people are going to die, Beth.” He turned to her with an incredulous look, his tone was stiff. “Don’t you care about that? Don’t you understand that billions of people will suffer a death we engineered?” “Gerry, “ She cupped her hand to his face again using the touch to subdue his aggressive nature, “It is not as if we expected this. It is not as if we planned for this. Everyone dies. Everyone meets the same fate, only some die in vehicle accidents and rail wrecks. We’re not talking about death being alien to the Human race.” Gerald looked straight into her eyes and realized the tender, loving, caring and sweet woman he knew was gone. This was the researcher, analyst, and Lab Tech, or Lab slaves, Lasla for short, as

they’d so affectionately taken to calling themselves. She was completely detached from the situation. As far as she was concerned, she was already gone. She smiled up at him affectionately. This time the smile didn’t reach her eyes. “I’m due at Earth dock in six hours Gerald, I have to go.” “We’re not going to find the answers Beth. You know it and I know it.” He called back to her as she reached for the suitcase on the bed. “It’s going to be murder.” “Get on the Tantum Two, Gerald. I’d like to see you on New Earth when you reach it.” She smiled and waved as she left him still standing on the balcony. He turned away staring out across the gloom and melancholy of the city. “I don’t think so,” he whispered. “I loved you Beth, I’m sorry.” She turned momentarily to stare at the now empty balcony. The slow movement of the curtains wafting in the wind drifting through the open doors. Her heart stopped. The homes alert system chimed twice and spoke in a warm male tone and inflection. “Doctor Goshen, Doctor Miller has departed your quarters through an unauthorized exit. Shall I notify emergency services?” She stared in disbelief. “I understand,” She jerked herself back to the moment. “No. Emergency services will not be necessary, Thank you.” The voice returned, “Very Well, emergency call systems disengaged.” The communications monitor chimed twice before the voice returned. “ Doctor, the front desk confirms your transportation has arrived. Have a wonderful evening.” “Thank you, Richard. Please confirm system wipe code alpha, four, echo, seven, seven, foxtrot, niner.” “Doctor, according to current technology systems standards I am not authorized to wipe system files involving unauthorized biological Term-“ She interrupted rather impatiently, “Richard, confirm voice authorization code priority zeta one,” “System wiped, voice authorization code priority zeta one authorized. Have a nice evening Doctor Goshen.” She smiled as she wheeled out her suitcase. “Good bye Gerald. Thank you Richard.” The door whisked softly shut behind her as the room illumination flipped to security systems monitoring.

New Earth