We were walking down the stairs, out of the Community Center, and he turned to me and said, “So for now, we spacers have NO representation on the Town Council.”
I replied instantly to Captain Travis, “Of course you do!”
I said, “I told you that things would work out.”
As we reached the landing, Travis took out his father’s silver cigarette case, withdrew one of our Mayflower Select and lit up. Other colonists filed past us, heading towards Hanna’s “Hash House” tent. Glenda had left the meeting early to lend a hand there. I took his case from him and helped myself to one of the hand-rolled cigarettes.
He said, “Well, I was hoping you’d be the Council Moderator.”
I said, “God no! This is the most difficult period of time for all of us. Everyone came here with a dream and while this planet looks splendid, there are dangers around every corner and the living ain’t easy.” I paused as I took a puff and then said, “It’s early and difficult days. Better that Reye should bear the brunt of complaints and dissatisfaction as his ego and inadequacy become apparent to all.”
“Look,” I said, “I have nothing against Les, per se, but he wants to rule the world in his own way. Or maybe, someone he’s connected with does. I’ve dealt with his type all my life. Nobody is going to control such a mixed, unruly crowd on this planet, this colony, for a long time to come. We’ll be too busy surviving for a while. I’m optimistic as always but things will be rough for many days–”
I stopped abruptly as Les Reye and his wife passed by us, as well as Buchanan and some of their friends.
When they were beyond earshot, I continued, “You now have the best of all worlds; you and the rest of your crew are on your own, totally independent from the capricious whims of the colonists. I, we are all depending on you to protect us from outside forces and Stuart seems like a perfect compliment here — planetside — for the ground forces. Reye wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to deal with a real problem if it were to arise, and we both know that, based on what we knew when we left, within a couple years, it probably will, in the form of the god-damn goonies.”
Travis flicked his cigarette butt away and said, “I figure three and a half years, Earth time. One year Alchibah time. They had nothing capable of real interstellar travel — well, they did, but not anything of size that could transport any sizable compliment of troops. They’ll have to design it, finance it, build it, and then send it. My contacts, friends in the mining colony, were doing the same. I hope!”
“Exactly,” I said, “So we have time, you and Andy and Connor and the rest of us, to prepare. And we will. In the meantime, you and The Mad Doctor–”
“–You know,” Travis broke in, “Hibbes actually likes being called that, now.”
I chuckled and replied, “He’s a nut, but a really smart nut. Chandler will be a big help to him and all of us as well. Anyway, Reye hasn’t a clue of what we’ll soon be facing. We do. I suspect that Stuart does, too. In the intervening time, Reye will probably stumble along with his kabala. We’ll all do fine regardless of that. And, in two hundred days, Reye will be gone or demoted. Like I said, ‘Things will work out.’”
Heading towards Hanna’s, he said, “I need a drink.”
I said, “And we need to mingle and keep our ears open. . . .”