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Eris Space Elevator Station, Year 322 After Colonization
She stood at the edge of the void, the great red disk of Mars turning slowly at her feet. Deep within the rusty haze of the planet's atmosphere a silver thread glimmeredthe elevator cable, a giant cylinder of diamond filaments spinning itself thousands of kilometers up into space to its dock on the Eris space station. All around her the huge black wheel of the orbiting city sparkled with viewport lights and bristled with com arrays and docking locks.
But the woman at the viewport window wasn't interested in the splendid view. She scanned her eye camera out across the stars instead, looking for a larger silvery glint among them.
Ah, there it is. The corpse of her former personal assistant. A hint of his face was still visible, blackened and gaping in a frozen scream. She smiled slightly, watching her ex-PA drift away until he disappeared into the universe, one dust mote among trillions.
A discrete chime sounded. The video she had been expecting was finally coming in. Taking off her eye camera, she turned away from the viewport window to regard the blurry images on her video screen. The picture resolved slowly as her spy robot maneuvered closer to its targets; an older man and a young woman, talking quietly as they stood on the upper deck of the space elevator terminal.
It seemed her husband and his daughter were saying their goodbyes. A touching scene, she supposed, and an excellent opportunity for eavesdropping. She arranged herself comfortably in her chair to watch.
"How much time..." Bianca let her question trail off. Her father wasn't paying attention. He was scanning the cuff pad on his wrist, intent on some new data suddenly chiming through.
Probably an important com. They usually are. And when Max Ross is scanning important numbers, not even a herd of little green men line dancing under his nose could make him tear his eyes away from his cuff. Bianca stifled a sigh and waited, idly watching a maintenance bot making its way toward them as it cleaned the floors.
After a few moments, Max lowered his cuff, his bright blue gaze settling on her distractedly. "Sorry. More calculations from the Earthers."
"How long do you think it will take your team to get the Earth elevator running Da? Still estimating about three years?"
Max shrugged. "The elevator cable and space station are almost complete. It's all a matter of operational protocols and precision engineering now. Finishing it should take less than three years if they do what I tell them."
Of course the Earthers would do what he told them. Max Ross was the creator and visionary behind the original Mars space elevator, and the president of StarLine, the space elevator company. Aside from being one of the richest and most powerful men in the Solar system, he was a true genius, and therefore an invaluable part of the Earthers' project.
The new space elevator they were building was the largest and most important construction venture ever attempted by humanity. When it was complete, Earth's twelve billion people would come swarming up the giant cable, making the jump into space more cheaply and easily than they ever could with rockets alone. Instead of the occasional, expensive ship launching directly from Earth, whole fleets of ships could begin launching from the elevator station.