Serial Saturday #2.1: The Walkway
Sarah Hoavy had the best job in the solar system. Oh sure, there were some people- the trillionaires back on Terra or some panjandrums of Luna Corporations that might think they were better off than she was, but nothing could beat being the Assistant Director of the Malagasy Venusian Authority.
Her apartment had a sonic shower! And a verandah that overlooked the main avenue! Her commute was even better: a ten-minute walk to Antananarivo Tower, which served as a combination of control tower and administration building for the bustling city of New Toliara.
Baobab trees lined the avenue, their smooth-looking wide trunks towering above the city like massive organic pillars. In the strangest of environments, they were a comforting reminder of home and had adapted well.
Sarah stopped for a moment to take a sip of her coffee and a quick bite of her mofo gasy as she looked up at their branches almost touching the dome of the city far overhead. The colonization of Venus had seemed like a fool's errand- even though, scientifically, it had advantages that every other colony in the solar system outside of Terra did not. Thirty-one miles up, the atmospheric conditions were almost Earth-like, and with proper protection against sulfuric acid rain, a person could go outside without worrying about radiation levels.
The first stations had been mainly for scientific research and had been held up by gigantic balloons- a method some of the smaller homesteads still employed. But it wasn't until the most eccentric of Terra's trillionaires, H.N. Abernathy, announced his breakthrough anti-gravity generators that whole cities could be floated in the skies of Venus.
Her comm piece chirped in her ear and Sarah shifted the mofo gasy into the same hand as her coffee and reached up and touched her ear.
Sarah managed not to sigh. "Annika, what is it?"
"We've got big problems, Boss Lady. Power converter in Maromokotro went down."
"Again?" Sarah began to walk a little more briskly. "I thought maintenance said they had it fixed."
"I'm not sure they got to it yet," Annika replied. "Dome repairs over in Tsaratanana."
"Damn it, get them to expedite it. We need that power converter to run for a few more months until we can get a replacement budgeted out."
"Can do," Annika replied.
"Gendarmes are reporting more graffiti down near the docks."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Hardly surprising."
"Some pro-Consolidation stuff this time."
"Where by the docks?"
"Ger a cleaning crew down there, stat," Sarah grimaced. "There's a lot of veterans fresh from Terra in that neighborhood. Let's not have them upset."
"Already done, Boss Lady."
"How's our shipping traffic for this morning?" Sarah tried not to dwell too much on the graffiti. Madagascar had been the last country to fall to pro-Consolidation forces and the fighting had been bloody. A lot of veterans and people still nursed grudges and it would be a brave and foolhardy soul indeed who preached the alleged glories of Consolidation anywhere on Venus.
"...and then we've got the big liner coming in from Samundra City. And a cruise ship as well."
"How many cups of coffee has Dockmaster Andry had so far this morning?"
"He says two," Annika replied. "But one of them was a Turkish."
Sarah sighed. "It's going to be a day, isn't it?"
"Sure shaping up that way," Annika replied.
Sarah had reached the edge of the northern tip of the city and started out across the walkway that led to the administration tower. Long and transparent, new arrivals tended to rush across it as the sight of the endless, bile-colored fog of Venus below them was disconcerting, to say the least.
The doors to the tower hissed open at her approach and she kept walking-
The tower lurched to the left, throwing Sarah to the floor. She struggled to her feet as alarms began to blare and the atmospheric shields began to slam shut all around her. She ran down the corridor, and burst into the command center-
The tower lurched again, this time to the right.
"What the hell is going on?" Sarah shouted.
"Stabilizers activated," someone called out. "Tethers deployed."
"What happened?" Sarah shouted over the noise again.
A touch on her shoulder made her jump. It was Annika.
"Annika, thank goodness," Sarah said. "Do you know what happened?"
"There was some kind of an explosion. The walkway collapsed."