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12.

Kilmar and Sarah waited patiently around the conference table. They both sipped on tea. It wasn’t good tea. It was insta-tea, a nasty NASA creation from the 1990s consisting of ground tea leaves mixed with an artificial dehydrator resin that bonded somehow to the tea grains making it immune to space and water. Indeed, the only way to “tea-ify” it was to zap it with electricity where it instantly became liquid. But not very good tasting liquid.

“I’m glad it was my left arm,” Sarah said, hefting her cup. It was a black mug with little cartoon stars.

Kilmar nodded. “If it had been your right…”

They continued on talking about nothing until a merry chirp came from the conference room’s large view screen.

The American ambassador wasn’t a caricature of Americana. He didn’t speak with a Texan accent, he wasn’t fat, he wasn’t blond. He was a square-jawed, hard-eyed nail. Thin but muscular with the kind of ropey, stringy muscles people who can’t put on weight get, he was dressed in a dapper suit with a little US pin on the lapel.

Kilmar who was dressed in the standard lunar jumpsuit said, “Dressed a little fancy there, eh, Jones?”

Jones’s square jaw dipped into a frown.

“I would think, Mr. Kilmar, you’d be taking this situation more seriously,” he said, eyes distastefully swinging between Kilmar and Sarah.

The two Selenites exchanged glances.

“If you’re referring to the destruction of the trespassing spaceship,” Sarah said. “Then following international law, we’re well within our rights to turn back craft entering our airspace. Or space-space. Or whatever.”

“What?” the ambassador said, looking at her like she was mad. “No. The tragic end of those lives is truly regrettable but that is not my concern. I want to know what you intend to do about this Dr. Alwahiduddin.”

Now Kilmar looked confused.

“Who?” he asked.

“Doctor Badr Alwahiduddin,” Sarah said. “He’s the forensic expert I got from Earth. I sent his biography to all senior staff.”

“-- Okay,” Kilmar said.

“As you no doubt know,” Jones said smirking, “Dr. Alwahiduddin was lately a citizen of the Islamic Confederation. Naturally we are concerned about his immigration to your colony.”

“Hold on. Wait just a second,” Kilmar said. He waved at the screen cutting the audio feed.

He turned to Sarah.

“Dr. Alwad-what-now?”

“Alwahiduddin,” Sarah said.

“He’s a citizen of the bloody Islamic Confederation? Why didn’t you just invite Bin Laden himself up here?”

“Calm down,” Sarah said. “he’s not a citizen. He voiced some opinions and had to flee. We didn’t even have to pay for his services. It’s a great deal. I did send you his biography. Didn’t you see it?”

“I saw that you sent it, but with everything going on-- How do you spell his name?”

Sarah shrugged.

“How do you pronounce it?” Kilmar asked.

“Al-wa-hi-dud-din.”

“Audio on,” Kilmar said. “Yes. We’re expecting the doctor to arrive in a few days.”

Jones smiled and spread his arms.

“The United States is interested in his connection to the Confederation and thus your connection to the Confederation.”

“What, are we in trouble?” Kilmar asked. “I will not be lectured on who we do or do not let into our city. Sarah, tell him about our ’connection’ to the Confederation.”

“Our connection?” Sarah said, picking at her cast idly, “About a month ago they called us up and told us that we’d better leave our homes and move to Earth or when end times come Jesus and Muhammad will hurl us down and kill us all with... ‘God-lasers’ I believe the exact phrase was. That’s the last time we heard from them.”

“So,” Jones said, eyes narrowing, “you have no connection.”

“Emphatically no,” Kilamr said.

“Then you won’t mind sending your guest to us once he arrives.”

“We need him,” Kilmar said. “I’m sure the news has--.”

“We try not to pay attention to internet rumors. Perhaps after you’re done with him you could send him our way. Shipping paid for by the United States Government, of course.” Kilmar considered for a moment. A very short moment, but his eyes rapidly moved back and forth as if reading an invisible document.

“I have to refuse,” Kilmar said, after a short space. “It would be a PR disaster with Europe and the Asian countries.”

“If you-- help us-- we might overlook your illegal occupation of US property.”

“Come again?” Kilmar asked. His eyes weren't moving now. They were intensely fixed on the screen.

“You are living in a 30 billion dollar installation built by the US Government, are you not?”

“I’m not,” Sarah said. “According to our treasurer, at this point very little of our city is part of the original US base. The rest was built by private corporations or lunar citizens.”

“You are in possession of US technical secrets. And this latest with the spaceship… You are aware that the militarization of space is strictly prohibited by international treaty?”

“I am aware that the US breaks that treaty by employing numerous spy and attack satellites and that it and that the other industrialized nations ignore it whenever convenient,” Kilmar said.

“The US seeks no official aggressive policy in space.”

“I know,” Sarah said. “We’ve heard the broadcasts.”

“I can see I’m getting nowhere,” the ambassador said. “I hope by our next talk that you’ll have changed your minds. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye,” Kilmar said turning the screen off with a contemptuous flick of his wrist.

Sarah drained her tea.

“Better than last time,” Sarah said.

“I don't think so,” Kilmar said. "They usually aren't that blatant with their threats. Gah. Can you brief the docking crew on the doctor's arrival? I'm feeling sick."

He raised his mug and looked sourly down into it.

Sarah noded, tried to get up with her bad arm, remembered before she hurt herself and then walked briskly out of the conference room.

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