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I smell Dad. This has his fingerprints all over it. He’s got influence with the craftsmen in town. Either he directly asked them to talk to me, or they’re just doing it because employing Ammar Bashara’s daughter would mean a strong business relationship with him.

I turned them all down. I don’t hate Dad or anything. I’m just trying to make my own way, you know? Also, to be blunt: Those professions are a lot of hard work.

I got a job as a porter. It’s just a temporary gig to have some spending money. Sean pays the rent, but I don’t want to rely on him for everything, you know? Anyway, I like it because I can work as much or as little as I want. There’s no structure or boss or anything. I get paid per pickup or delivery.

In other news, Sean is banging other women. We never declared exclusivity. I moved in because I had nowhere else to go. So I guess that’s a weird situation, but it’s okay. We worked out some rules. The main one is: Neither of us can bring anyone back to Sean’s place. Go bang somewhere else. For me it’s largely academic. I’m not interested in juggling men. One’s plenty.

No, I don’t like it. But Sean was very up front about all this from day one, so I can’t complain. We’ll just see how it goes.

The next morning, I lay in my coffin and screwed around with the HIB remote.

Hibby came to life right when I told him to. His charge was at 92 percent. No solar panels for my little Hibby, unfortunately. Why would the designers put those in? HIBs are supposed to be used a couple of hours at a time, then come back inside.

I had him climb down the arc of the Visitor Center dome to just above the train airlock. Then, I had to wait. I dicked around on my Gizmo for a bit, mostly reading the Arabic gossip site. The queen actually sided with the wives against her own son! Can you believe that?! You know you’re a fuckup when your own mother tells you so.

Finally, the first train of tourists arrived at the Visitor Center. Hibby climbed down off the dome and onto the train car itself. The train ran perfectly on time. After ten minutes it departed for Artemis with my little stowaway aboard.

HIBs have a nice battery life, but they sure as hell can’t walk forty kilometers across lunar terrain. So Hibby was riding back to town in style. Nothing but the best for my little buddy!

I killed more time on my favorite gossip site while I waited for the train to get back to Artemis.

Oh my God! I could not believe the shit the prince’s second wife was saying about him in the press. That’s just mean! Still, I can empathize with any woman who’s been cheated on. I’ve been that woman. And honey, it sucks.

The train made it back to town and I had Hibby scamper onto Aldrin Bubble. Things got easy from there. Now I was using Hibby to do exactly what he was designed to do.

He crawled along the outer hull of Aldrin, then across the top of the Aldrin–Conrad Connector tunnel, and then onto Conrad. I had him take up position at the apex of Conrad.

Then it was back to low-power mode for Hibby and back to trashy royal family gossip for me.





I waved my Gizmo across the reader and the booth door opened. Free entry for me, of course. Who says there’s no such thing as an Artemisian citizen?

I stepped into the booth and waited for the outer door to seal. Once it did, the inner door opened, letting me into the park. I stepped into the sunlight. Yes, sunlight.

Aldrin Park occupies the top four floors of the bubble. Instead of the everything-proof walls found around the rest of the city, this area was protected by enormous panes of glass—the same kind the Apollo 11 Visitor Center used. Proudly manufactured right here on the moon.

It was three p.m. Nairobi time (and therefore three p.m. Artemis time), but physically it was lunar “morning.” The sun hovered at the horizon and cast its light onto the park. The glass protected park-goers from the harsh radiation and UV that would otherwise have roasted us alive.

I still had time before my meeting with Svoboda. I took a walk.

The park’s design was simple and elegant. The circular grounds met with glass walls. The terrain was mostly flat with a few artificial hills here and there, all covered in grass. Real, honest-to-God grass. That was no small achievement.

I moseyed along the perimeter, looking out at the moon. I’ve never seen the appeal of lunar landscape. It’s just…nothing. I guess people like that? Some sort of Zen shit? Not me, though. To me, the most beautiful thing out there was the rest of Artemis.

The city shined in the sunlight like a bunch of metallic boobs. What? I’m not a poet. They look like boobs.

To the west, Conrad Bubble dominated the view. It might be grungy and impoverished on the inside, but the outside was just as pretty as its sisters.

Southwest, the smaller Armstrong Bubble sat like a spider in the middle of a web. Farther along that line, Shepard Bubble sat there full of richfucks. I didn’t think it was possible for a half-sphere to look arrogant, but it did. Bean Bubble sat between Conrad and Shepard, both symbolically and geographically. It’d be my future home if all this scheming worked out. It was farthest from me.

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