Tuesday, January 22, 2008

5. Kill Mirror

The zodiac is roughly deposited in a storage hangar and the unconscious Mangels is removed by two enormous, prognathous women. The liferaft is immediately forgotten. It comprises little salvage. In the future, perhaps, it may be happened across, dismembered, and its components woven into the ugly bricolage habitat of New Harmony.

But for now, Bolex lies unnoticed.

She reviews the Lloyd’s data, supplementing it with media files, legal lists and credit reference information. An intuitive overview of the society and their habitat forms in the peripheral’s mind.


Alice Finkel’s parents work as protein engineers in an Orbipharm pharmaceutical plant. Alice is the eldest of five children living in the cramped, hygienic facility. They are the first humans to be born in space.

Before Orbipharm, none of the new orbital societies have risked producing children - there is too little known of the effects of the space environment. However well-shielded the habitat, there is still an influx of cosmic radiation, and the disciplined regimens necessary to prevent muscular atrophy and decalcification in adults cannot be expected of babes-in-arms. Orbipharm fields a great deal of media criticism for their decision to allow the births. Suggestions it is part of an illicit experimental programme are swiftly quashed in court. It had to come sooner or later, it is argued, and most tacitly agree.

Aside from the peculiarity of their all being female, the brood develops normally in the physical sense - a coddled superstar elite with freefall corridors their playgrounds and V their principal source of mental and emotional fodder. They show a remarkable adaptive ability and enrich their barren, cloistered environment with fantasy world-constructs and arbitrary societal structures that increase in complexity and ingenuity as they enter their teens.

Thirteen years after the births, the media, ever-hungry for sensational copy, return for another look. What they find - and shamelessly distort into a searing exposé - creates a groundswell of opprobrium. Strident demands are made for the children to return to Earth, ‘to live the normal healthy lives they deserve as human beings’.

But the brood will have nothing of it.

When Orbipharm ready a dropship for the transport of the children, a pact is made among a clique of five girls - Syringe, Cassette, Ester, Syrette and Vaccine, née Alice Finkel. They will commandeer the craft, reprogramme it and run away from home.

For them, life on that heavy, vast, open blue bubble is the stuff of nightmares.

Under Vaccine’s leadership, the youthful band identifies a mothballed Kill Mirror - an installation originally designed to reflect and amplify the pulse from a space-borne chemical excimer. They barnacle the dropship to its hull, power it up and refresh the atmosphere. Their disappearance is doctored into an unfortunate accident and the media obligingly forget the children. Within a decade, the birth of a child in space no longer warrants even a ten-second human interest bite on sub-prime V.

The satellite responds to the girls’ care. Amenities aboard are few but progressively, as materials are salvaged or stolen from local orbits, a large patchwork habitat accretes like coral around the Kill Mirror.

They name their home New Harmony. Over the years, a rigidly structured, strongly bonded tribal society develops within its confines. Vaccine cements her place as the semi-divine leader of a growing band of warrior women - consisting for the most part of criminal evictees from commercial and state orbital. The community is highly misandrous and hostile to anyone coming within a demarked volume. Through the sale of illicit psychotropics, molecular weaponry and the products of their crystal farms, they generate more than enough capital to survive.

Their deep agenda, however, is opaque to outsiders.

Until the loss of the Miss Semipalatinsk, Mangels had been attempting to shed light on the elusive truth of New Harmony for his Orbital Safari series. The episode in question was to be titled “Warrior-Women of The Kill Mirror”.

Rumour is rife about the goings on inside: their reproductive customs, their lawless genetic tinkering, and - most notoriously - their treatment of male offspring. There is talk of chemical castration, gender reassignment, and the exploitation of young men as food animals; electrically decorticated and milked daily for their germ plasm.


Bolex generates a plan of the habitat.

This is no sketchy impression. Bolex, in effect, holds within herself a miniaturisation of the orbital; drawn in light.

With Mangels in jeopardy, she has no greater priority.

Now, subtly, daintily, with patient care she enters the electronic environment of New Harmony.


Ann O'Dyne said...

keep it up.

Anonymous said...

what a work of imagination, sam...when's your book coming out...