covering up and that he was assassinated.”
“Thank you Ryoko,” Natsuki said sadly. There was a long pause while her normal stoic appearance gave way to pain and anger and sadness and fear, all in the space of a moment, then her emotionless mask returned. She continued in a cold voice, “please inform our friends that I would take it as a personal favor if they would look into this and deal with those responsible.”
Hull admired his wife's strength but was more than a little frightened at the ease with which she’d just ordered God knew how many murders.
After another long pause, Natsuki said, “Now leave us I wish to discuss this with my husband.” Ryoko bowed and left the room, sliding the door shut.
When she was sure Ryoko had moved away from the door, Natsuki threw herself into Hull's arms and the great wracking sobs and hot, salty tears came, and would not go. She cried as only a daughter could cry at the loss of her father.
After the death of Daichi Nakamura, everyone working on project Spartacus redoubled their efforts. People openly spoke as if Earth had declared war on them. Natsuki rammed through a measure for a constitutional convention to be held with representatives from every group in the consortium.
Hull worked with the different companies that handled launch and spaceflight services. In every country where the consortium had spaceports, things started happening that slowed their schedule. Nothing was officially announced, of course, but it seemed clear the various earth governments were trying to slow them down as much as possible. Hull also met regularly with the pilots’ union, but he wouldn’t tell anyone - especially Netsuke - what they where planning.
On Earth things were heating up. Protesters were actively trying to block the entrances of the Texas, New Mexico and California launch facilities. Consortium personnel were being harassed, and the EPA filed suit to shutdown Orbital Dynamics claiming it was violating the Clean Air Act. Congressmen and Senators were going on talk shows claiming that the habitat and lunar colonists were committing all manner of ridiculous crimes. There were even doctors claiming that the consortium was covering up how spaceborn children were all deformed and unhealthy.
Hull ordered all the reusable launch vehicles that could be readied to go to orbit and to wait at the orbital transfer stations. Since all the personnel that wanted to go to New Eden or the newly-renamed renamed Clarke City were already in space, they could use throwaway launchers to finish lifting what little equipment that remained. By the end of December, 2042 the colonies and the earth seemed to be on the brink of a showdown that neither side could afford to avoid.
Andre Zarkoff couldn’t believe his luck. He’d come to Macau after completing his Tokyo mission. For the last few weeks since then, he simply could not seem to lose at the gaming tables, and he’d even made more money than the CIA had paid him for silencing that troublesome old man.
He was having a quiet drink at the hotel bar when the most stunning Eurasian women he’d ever seen walked in. It was a little before dawn, so the bar was mostly empty. He decided his luck was still holding when she sat next to him and asked for a light. Faster than seemed possible, he was back in his room, sitting on his bed watching as the woman slowly undressed.
Her back was to him, and he saw that she had a tattoo of a dragon running down her spine in the Japanese fashion. She turned and walked toward him, and he saw that the tail of the dragon continued up from her legs to end just below her near-perfect breasts. She leaned over him as he lay in bed, and gave him the most passionate and sexual kiss he’d ever had ever had. She stood and smiled down at him.
Andre Zarkoff tried to smile but his lips wouldn’t move. In a panic he tried to sit up, and found he could barely move. Waves of pain hit him, starting in his mouth, and radiating downward. The woman stood there, smiling and staring at him for a bit, then she leaned in again.
“Have you ever heard of a poisoned kiss?” The women whispered into his left ear, while giving it a little nibble. She moved to his right ear: “It’s a special neural toxin. You have five minutes to live. A gift from the Nakamura clan.”