The author takes you into the anguished heart of a utopian community on Europa and the developing chaos of a devolving America. The chances of murder, conspiracy, and outright destruction of Summerset seem as impossible as the President of the United States ever being kidnapped back on earth. A spell-binding story of how two extraordinary heroes-Sam Windsor of Europa and Ryan Silone of Earth-courageously struggle for human rights, freedom and risk everything to fight for their ideals.
July 12, 2105 - Inner Summerset
The ringing reached into Enjo's sleep and pulled her awake. She rose from the couch, yawned and glanced at the time. Only three hours had passed. Still, the brief rest had done her good; her headache was gone. She paused in front of the mirror, pushed long, dark fingers through her black curls, and curved her lips into a sultry smile before she touched the control panel of her communication station.
"Hello," she said, pushing the word out low and vibrant toward the blank screen. An unfamiliar male voice answered, "Hello, Enjo." The voice was medium-
pitched and rather flat; not distinctive, except for the hint of an accent she didn't recognize. "I'm not at a console; pick up a hand phone."
"Of course," she said. She let go of the smile, but continued in the same seductive voice. "I don't think I know you, do I?"
She heard a transmission crackle and realized the voice was digitally altered - that explained what she had thought was an accent.
"Are you free now?"
"Yes, sure." Enjo answered with a shrug. Her voice had lost some of its seductiveness.
"I will meet you in The Hold, Outer Summerset. The safe underground. You'll hear the music." The expressionless voice paused. "I have a surprise for you."
"That's terrific," she said. "I'll-" The phone went dead. She put it down on the console and went back to the mirror. She was dissatisfied with her reflection, but there was no time for a major makeover. At least, she could change. She looked at the clothes scattered around her and shook her head.
"What a mess!" She retrieved a blanket from the floor and threw it over the unmade bed.
She showered, then explored the room until she found high heels and a clinging red dress. She threw on a long, black coat and left her quarters as always without bothering to lock the door. Soon she was walking alone through an area protected from the elements that posed a permanent threat to habitation on this icy moon.
Cathy Neolar was her official name; it had been a favorite alias on Earth, but most of her clients here knew her as Enjo. Even without the heels she was a tall woman, slender, with long, smooth muscles and silky black skin. In about ten minutes she reached the Underground. The area was well lit but she was cold. Her dress was almost transparent and the coat wasn't heavy enough to keep out the chill. The outer walls of Summerset formed an immense translucent shroud that veiled the inner city from the icecap-ridges, and the endless glacier-crust, in places over ten kilometers thick - as for instance just beyond its borders - above a hundred kilometer deep ocean of slushy ice.
Inside the walls, the main housing areas and the scientific complex comprised Inner Summerset. Sections of newly-broken ice-crust of the moon's mantle appeared here and there, but otherwise it was like a fortress with a subterranean labyrinth of storage areas, arenas, workplaces and vehicle parking, carved out of the ice and connected by a maze of heated tunnels that served as hallways. The Underground was the twilight area between Outer and Inner Summerset, and Enjo descended into its tunnels.
She heard music at a distance and walked toward it. It wasn't unusual that the caller's voice had been changed for one reason or another. Arrangements for a spragge meeting were often made in secret and the encounter was by definition quick, anonymous sex. Sometimes the client would be disguised or even wear a mask. In spite of the unrecognizable voice, Enjo had a feeling this was one of her regular clients. She could usually guess who it was. Sometimes they even paid with their chip cards - name, picture and all. She was approaching a storage area for mining and exploration vehicles. The pungent smell of cement and grout met her nostrils, but the place was clean. More important, there were no monitors here. The music was clearer now. A sad, resentful voice was singing a doleful lyric. The volume was muted and it was closer than she'd first thought.
"Hello," she called. "Is someone there?"
The song ended and was replaced by a more cheerful tune.
"That's better," she called. She slowed, smiling, adjusting her walk to the tempo.
This was more like a spragge should be; fun and lighthearted.
Enjo was delighted with her freedom here and her ability to control her own life, but not all of her past had been left behind on Earth. Part of that past had been transformed to the status of simple business transactions that, on Summerset, were making her rich. She stopped at the edge of a pool of light and listened. Her shadow rested half way between two cement pillars behind her. A sign on the wall read, Keep Roadways Clear - All Vehicles Must be Parked in the Correct Spot - No Exceptions! She moved ahead tentatively and tried to guess who it might be. It could be Kevin, her favorite client. She smiled at the thought. As she entered the storage area, she saw the source of the music. The song was coming from a low-profile ice-cruiser sitting near the far wall, one of the small hailles used by the maintenance crews. On its side was printed, Talmouth Euro-American Inc.
Enjo's client was nowhere in sight. The most likely place for him to be waiting was inside the haille, where it was warmer. "Hello," she called again, but there was no reply. "It's dark over there," she complained in a pleasant tone.
A cold draft made her shiver. Her steps faltered and she fastened her coat collar. It was no longer the right atmosphere and she was no longer smiling. There was no sign of an autobar, or of other spragges or waiting clients. The music faded and stopped. The silence and gloom made her nervous. She was starting to feel closed in. Her eyes stayed fixed on the haille while she fumbled in her bag until her hand closed around the little
gun she'd smuggled in with her from Earth. Guns were forbidden here, but it had saved her from a beating or worse more than once, back home. She wasn't about to go out alone at night without it, not even here on Europa.
She felt like turning and running, but if it was Kevin, just playing a game . . . .
She gripped the gun and slid it into the front of her coat, out of sight. The metal was cold. Now she sensed someone or something there in the dark, watching her; something dangerous. She began to walk cautiously in a wide circle around the haille. Oil was dripping down from the bottom of the vehicle. For a moment or two, she watched each new drop make a shiny black ripple in the pool collecting on the pavement. She moved closer to the cruiser and peered through a window. There was a figure lying along the front seat. She couldn't make out who it was, but it was a bigger man than Kevin. He didn't move, even when she called again. He looked too rigid to be sleeping.
"He's dead," she whispered. "Oh, damn it!"