Well, we're one election down and one to go. The sham of a federal election barely concealing the attempted power grab was an expensive failure on the part of the Liberals to gain a majority seating in parliament. Thank goodness it failed. I unfortunately am one of the many Canadians who live in the majority of Canada which is not southern Ontario, and therefore is obviously not the federal "favorite child" who controls election results in our current voting system.
Ahem: <Steps onto soapbox to rant>.
As for the other election, advance polls for our city's mayorship start this coming Monday. I don't even know where to begin to look for those who are not blatantly corrupt or self-serving at these small polls. Our Premier is watching in surprise as our health care system collapses, after jumping gleefully onto every opportunity he was able to create to reach this point, and cities and townships are trapped in the nightmare of trying to keep the peace as constituents die and protest. And the main question I hear on the radio that Edmonton politicians seem to be focusing on during the past couple of weeks is: "How can we revitalize the downtown core?"
Seriously? That's their Big Question?
Bit of back story for you, friends. As warned by every city who tried to influence the decision, a downtown stadium and/or arena deters people from an area due to the crime they attract. The arena our city's politicians at the time demanded was "in the interest of revitalizing the downtown community and businesses" was voted down by constituents three times before being pushed through in a backdoor deal. It has since been a financial drain on the city and – surprise, surprise – a draw for crime activity within the downtown core, ensuring accelerated small business closures and less people visiting the remaining businesses and downtown events (and that was before Covid showed up and geared the decline to an even faster pace).
Sorry, Useless Folks Making Selfish Decisions, you killed downtown Edmonton when you lined your pockets with the money skimmed on the backdoor arena deal. Now we all have to live with that failure.
How about, instead of flogging that long-dead horse of "revitalizing downtown", you start acknowledging the growing numbers of Covid deaths and Long Covid survivors and enact useful aide and support for our community's families and victims? How about some city-wide contact tracing, and support for Edmonton Districts' schools and teachers to re-implement 2-week isolations after close contacts? What about ensuring safe access to opioids and addiction recovery support for those growing numbers of people with addictions whom our provincial government has denied by closing safe dosing locations? What steps is Edmonton taking – aside from lip service – toward meaningful Truth and Reconciliation with our local Indigenous populations, inclusive of city policing reform? And, as our federal government chokes any chance of economic recovery for the main industries Edmonton supports, how will the city ensure housing security and affordable access to retraining for skilled workers and their families?
The city is in crisis, which is doubled due to your own actions and those of the politicians before and above you, and your talking point is to "revitalize downtown" while holding an election in the middle of a pandemic. Awesome.
Just. Freakin'. Awesome.
Sigh: <Climbs off soapbox>.
“Looks like the handle for a manual hand crank,” Lissa said, not impressed.
“Well, yeah, this is,” Leo agreed. “But,” he said, drawing out the word as he gave the handle a shove and started rotating the circle in the floor. Heavy decking scissored closed across the top of the tunnel gap, covering the small pit completely and interlocking in the same pattern as emergency doors. Leo kept cranking and a smooth, third, thinner section of decking slid across the top and then lifted to be level with the floor under the current flooring. It hissed as the mechanical autoseal inflated.
“So, rather than escape the same way you got in, we’re both now stuck in here?” Lissa asked.
“The lifeboats already deployed.” Leo gestured at the integrity screens which were now flashing that all bay doors had been manually released and all bays were empty. “Which is exactly what we need, or the emergency system for this lifeboat won’t initiate,” he said, pointing at the floor he was standing on.
Dockland’s hull groaned and screamed under the gravitational pull yanking both ships toward the planet. Leo dropped into his seat at NavCom and set a course for projected, safe atmospheric entry in between clicking himself into the seat’s safety harness.
“You’re going to want to buckle in, too.”
“Dockland doesn’t have engine control from here!” Lissa yelled.
“No, Dockland doesn’t,” Leo said, nodding agreement as Lissa clicked into the safety harness where Mollin usually sat. “But this lifeboat was designed to save Dockland’s command crew and has its own engine with enough solid fuel for a single atmospheric descent,” he added. “Wow,” he said with a chuckle as command entry points he’d read about appeared on the antique screen.
Leo couldn’t help but smile at the flashing confirmation message. His eyes were shining with nervous excitement as he punched in the final command and handed over timing control to NavCom’s automatic systems. External temperature warnings flashed on all the screens applicable to that monitoring, and incorrect atmospheric entry warnings flashed on every other screen. Exactly as they needed to.
“Come on come on come on,” he murmured once all the panels went black.
Shiner’s thin hull was never meant for atmospheric entry. It began ripping open into a ballooning, shower of shrapnel, creating so much drag it ripped open Dockland’s heavy outer hull around each dock lock. From the lifeboats in high orbit, the two big ships combined into a single, extinction event meteorite burning down through the outer atmosphere. Unlike the component transporters, the speed of approach wasn’t slowed by the engines and the flare of entry never dimmed as the wreckage plummeted.
As designed into the hull, Dockland’s forgotten sensors tied to the active life support system detected the gravitational increase and presence of external atmosphere. Component pieces separated as the ship fell. Antique, automatic methods, created by builders paranoid enough to believe such war-required crash measures were necessary to limit damage to a planet, deployed and ripped apart Shiner in the process. Dockland’s half-burnt parachutes and anti-inertial explosions spread the crash site across a narrow swath of land and ocean stretching a third of the width of the planet’s largest continent.
The measures also reduced the crash severity to locally devastating. A marked improvement from the single, life eradicating impact everyone in orbit had expected.
Far above Daion Central World, blanketing around all sides of the lifeboats and assembly yard, Dockland’s dumped ordinance formed a drifting minefield clouding any attempt of evacuation. Or, in the case of Shiner’s lifeboats, secure containment against any attempt to escape.
Captain ignored her injuries and settled at the bridge controls of Lifeboat Three. She entered the needed codes with her one good hand and smiled as the upgraded console supports shifted color from the familiar white to the same muted blue as Dockland’s bridge. Then the displays of the actual controls of this particular lifeboat activated, replacing the previous displays and filling what nobody had ever noticed were empty areas.
“Mollin?” she asked. “Confirm ordinance is linked.”
He tentatively approached the holoscreen now covering what had been a blank wall and watched all of Dockland’s discharged weapons shift in what could only be a pattern of priority from red to blue.
“I think so, Captain?” he said, turning the statement into a question.
“They’re all blue?” she asked, her hand busy at the controls.
“Yes, Captain,” he answered.
“Then they’re linked. These controls are typical to Dockland’s upgrades, and to the panels you trained on while working in the below decks control room. Create an ordinance net around Shiner’s lifeboats and ensure that, even if they sacrifice one boat, they won’t be able to get through in any direction. Ensure Dockland’s lifeboats and Daion’s evacuation fleet are outside the net.”
“Yes, Captain,” Mollin replied, sitting at the console supports Captain pointed him to.
“Dods?” she called. After a moment, her lead shift Chief Navigator stepped into the small bridge. “Mollin is ensuring Shiner’s crew remain in orbit so they can be collected for their trial. Establish communication with all Dockland lifeboats and Daion fleet ships and coordinate orbits and in-event evacuation routing. Mollin, you have the bridge. Dods, I’ll be in medic.”
“Yes, Captain,” Dods and Mollin replied together.
“Captain?” Mollin called when she was only a few steps out the door. What looked like an old generation of scanner ship with external, antique similarities to Dockland was approaching into visual range as it decelerated from over distance speeds. Lifeboat Three’s transglass window provided a view of it moving to pace along at a higher orbit above all the lifeboats, ordinance, and assembly yard.
Captain’s smart chimed for a vid request. She huffed, almost a growl, and unsnapped her smart as she limped determinedly back into the bridge. The device paired automatically on InterStel’s console support.
“What,” Captain said flatly in greeting to her oldest friend a moment after Public Face appeared on a transglass wall screen.
“What. Did you do. To my favorite ship,” Public Face demanded. Behind her, a bridge nearly identical to the one on Dockland was in a bustle of activity.
“Annise, this is Dods. Chief Navigator, meet Public Face,” Captain said, making the introduction as if she was already annoyed at the conversation. “When Dods is finished with his existing orders, he will provide you with a complete reporting of his personal observations from the cycle and time you request until you arrived here. After Dods, Mollin – this Analyst right here controlling ordinance – will provide you with the same level of detailed reporting from his personal observations. I’m going to Medic. Mollin has command.”
“You look awful, Tallishen,” Public Face stated, her voice nearly gentle. “Do you need assisting Medics from Lockhead?”
“No. My crew is fully capable.”
“That wasn’t my question.”
“That’s my answer,” Captain replied. “I’ll vid you once I’m out of Medic. Mollin can transfer all Dockland’s records and recordings you request. Probably more than I want him to have access to, considering the events of this cycle.” She added the last sentence with a small grin in his direction.
“Didn’t you die fifteen minutes ago?” Dods blurted at Public Face, unable to keep the question in any longer.
“The tower complex housed the bureaucracy of Senior Coalition, not all members. The loss of life and damages will be investigated and appropriate charges for such acts of war will be pursued.”
“Annise, don’t practice your speeches on my crew,” Captain reprimanded her oldest friend.
“Why don’t you go get set and sewn already,” Annise snapped.
“She gets reports that are just as full as what you’d tell me,” Captain warned Dods and Mollin as she turned to leave the lifeboat bridge.
“She gets so rusty whenever she’s injured,” Public Face said, sighing. “Must be the space rot.”
Tallishen Os, Captain of Dockland, gestured rudely with her good hand over her shoulder as she limped out of the bridge. Annise Lillan, Public Face of Coalition and Captain of Lockhead, the last remaining pre InterStel gunship, laughed in reply.
Half way to Medic, Captain saw one of Trevor’s friends and requested for them to attempt contacting Leo’s smart. The vid request flashed as unable to connect. She asked them to keep trying for as long as they felt was required before continuing on her way.
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!