An Incident at the Mars Debates
by Kat Beyer
Captain Daneham met his wife in the following way.
He was at the House of Commons, watching the Mars debates; he’d gone alone, and the Shadow Minister for Space was wittering away about fuel sources, as if all that hadn't been sorted ages ago.
Two girls in moonsuits were standing nearby, and, unable to pay attention to the old windbag any longer, he watched them instead. They were whispering and laughing softly. The tall one was what he would call Junoesque, a regular Amazon, who wore her stars and bars as if born in a rocket, while her friend had close-cropped red curls, a naughty pixie face, and a shockingly careless way of wearing her uniform—sleeves rolled up and unpolished boots. When she turned his way he saw the Mechanics’ 101st patch on her chest pocket and understood. Posy bunch of know-it-alls, they were, but too good at their job by half.
He watched them, and they watched him, while down among the green leather seats of Parliament history was made.
Then came the quick, sturdy tap of boot heels, and a flash of brown leather, followed by the flick of a blue-black ponytail.
"Sorry we’re late—got held up," said the girl with the ponytail. "Miss anything?"
"Only old al-Rashid going on and on," said Juno, and the redhead laughed. "Where’s Sarah?"
"In the loo, she’ll be along in a minute. Literally, we got held up. Four lads and two guns in an alley."
"No!" Juno stared.
"Good heavens. Are they all right?" Asked the redhead.
Ponytail laughed; he could hear the adrenalin draining from her.
"One won't walk again, I'm afraid. The others are probably still up the station explaining things. You know what she's like."
Captain Daneham couldn't help but stare himself. And then she came around the corner, brown hair with a touch of red in it, checking her purse, looking up at her friends with the clearest blue eyes he had ever seen, as if she wondered what all the fuss was about.
He couldn't help himself. He stepped forward, saying, "I beg your pardon, but I couldn't help overhearing..."
The rest of his stumbling speech was drowned in the sound of shouts and roars from the benches below, the noise of history—but he did manage to get out for a drink with them afterwards, once colonization was decided upon.