The last homebound Earth vessel gained altitude.
Across town, Ooloonoo blinked upwise and sideways twice. “Well, that’s that,” he hissed contentedly to his First Wife, Cuuccuuruunu. “The Flat-Foots are gone and we're free to live as we choose.”
Cuuccuuruunu’s true and nictitating lids snapped shut heavily once, contradicting Ooloonoo’s optimistic double blink. “And we are so wise, so well-developed a society that guucuurukind can survive so far from the home planet? Can a colony a mere fifty generations old live so far out here in the cold? Husband, it’s an Old-Year trip home if the power veins fail and there are only three transfer points in the entire Solar System through which Earth can send us the wattage we need. Three! That’s not the multiple redundancy the Connectionists insisted we must build before
: that’s not
even half of what they insisted on as a bare minimum!” Independence
Ooloonoo was a Possessivist Party male, born and bred. No tail-dragging, high-spending Conni’s argument would ever persuade him so much that Mars was red. He scratched behind an earhole with as single long claw. “My dear wife, the Transfer Asteroids are in the stablest orbits that guucuurukind’s science and engineering can attain. They’ll be receiving and rebroadcasting power to Phobos Station for seventy million years before we need to relocate them – rather long enough, I think, for your children and your sister-wives’ to live well and breed safely.” He whistled contentedly and nibbled on some crunchy snack or other, looking up as fireworks glittered and spun in the wake of the earthbound tugboats and the gigantic Population Vessel trailing behind them, high above the dome’s electron shield. His other wives, Allaadaadaa and Xiiniidiaa, were herding the nest’s younglings, who; sick with excitement and the finest carrion their mother’s claws could devise, were running and jumping giddily round and round the nursery paddock.
“What do you think, Littlest Sister?” asked Cuuccuuruunu of Xiiniidiaa, the most junior wife and bearer to date of only one clutch of eggs for the Nest of Ooloonoo.
“What do I think of what, Eldest Sister?” Xiiniidiaa replied, smiling toothily, and bowing to her senior.
“Of there being only three lanes by which power from Earth can be sent to our distribution stations here on Mars. Do you feel safe being 216 million to 1500 million Dhuuras from the only industrial civilisation big enough to generate sufficient power to keep the cold out and the air in?”
The young guucuuru paused to think, and, petting her smallest youngling - a runt provisionally named Skinny Rib, said “Well, the Council of the Wise has decreed that three satellites are enough to cope with our variable distance to the Mother Planet, and they should know. Besides, Middle Sister herself has produced the solution to your fears, has she not?”
They both looked across at Allaadaadaa, who was sprinkling some smoked fur-pouch eggs into a wide, low bowl of blood. Her tail switched cheerfully, as a nest’s ex-officio peacemaker’s must, and she trilled; “Cease to worry, Eldest Sister. Senior son Cluuthuuduulu will protect us all; his mother, her sisters, and our Great Lord and Husband, the mighty Assistant Records Storage Organiser of Dome Four’s Transport Hub Safety Board Ooloonoo, Pride Leader of the Nest of Ooloonoo.”
The three females twitched tails in the Calming Laughter; content that Ooloonoo had fought and bitten and scratched himself up to a position where he could support them and their offspring in some comfort, and with a little left over to send, for example, the bookish Cluuthuuduulu to Yucatan Peninsula University to study nuclear power systems and to return triumphantly to build a Mars-based generation plant…if a Connectionist government was in office when he returned in eight years, and if the arctic ice/thermal exchange project was producing a big enough power surplus to construct a post-independence atomic programme.
“So there you have it, Cuuccuuruunu my dear. All will be well because if those Conni nest-wetters get their way, guucuurukind will be saved by our brightest, softest-feathered male offspring when he returns in triumph: university degree in one claw and plans for a backup nuclear station here on Mars in the other. Besides, this is an election year and the leadership of the Possessivist Party might choose to steal the Conni’s thunder and announce plans to go ahead and build a thermal exchange system in the arctic and we’ll be have a domestic power source even sooner.”
“But in the meantime, our entire planet is dependent on a single - count it - a single power station in
. I do not feel
the nest is walled high enough.” Then Cuuccuuruunu smiled, not wanting to spoil
the party. “But perhaps you’re right, O Husband. Perhaps your old Possessivist
dinosaurs will make Cluuthuuduulu’s ambition redundant and build thermal
exchanges in the arctic. But if so, what is the poor boy to do in Yucatan ?” Mexico
Gulf of Mexico’s a nice place. The climate’s good and the
game’s plentiful and excellent sport. He could put away those silly books and
become a hunter or a drover; make a male of him at last. If the Party
short-stops the Connectionists on the way to the polls and builds thermal exchangers, then as soon as the Iridium Star is dragged into a
stable orbit he can shuttle down and enjoy a long, balmy summer that’s predicted
to last for another sixty-five million years. He can herd triceratops if he
likes. The Jurassic is a golden age for a young raptor to be alive. What could possibly