Excerpt from New Work about a Colony Planet
Competition for a Ship
Outside the stadium, thick grey smog billowed between the towering skyscrapers, the residences of the elite in the overcrowded coastal megacity of Estusa. Inside, the audience waited, in avid silence, for the final round of the competition for the next colony ship.
Lily White prowled impatiently with feline grace while waiting for her team’s chance to exhibit their skills. A strikingly tall woman, she wore an orange striped leotard, which accentuated her lithe muscular body and reflected her nickname of Tiger Lily.
Her companion, the team leader, John Simmons grinned at her restless antics. “Our demo is next. You’ll be marvelous; you are the star of our act. The audience loves Tiger Lily!”
“I know,” she said, in complacent indifference to her dramatic impact. “But, will it be enough? I couldn’t bear to lose for a second time. We’ve been training for ten years. I hate living in the smelly underground rabbit warrens!” She shook her long hair and glared fiercely at him.
John was a sober counterpoint in their act, wearing black to highlight Lily’s exuberant gymnastics. He was accustomed to her impassioned outbreaks, and sympathized. They shared the same goal of exploring a new world. A natural leader, he exuded confidence.
“We’ll win this time,” he declared optimistically. “We’re all in peak physical condition, and you and Max have designed superb exhibitions showcasing our talents that will wow the spectators.”
Their number was called. Lily and John entered from opposite sides of the arena, ran to the center and clashed the shiny tips of their swords together. They had decided to demonstrate their low tech combat skills in the last stages of the competition, under the assumption that any surviving descendants of the first colonists had lost the ability to make advanced weapons. The spectators yelled their enthusiastic approval, reveling in the rare opportunity to shout aloud without violating rigid convention.
John and Lily were closely matched in height and skill. Their swords flashed against each other as they leaped through their energetic dance-like routine, protected by invisible individual force fields. The repeated clashes of their darting blades reverberated through the arena. Lily whirled around with feline agility, even vaulting right over the head of her opponent, in blatant disregard of the precautions needed for a real combat. She was an anachronism in the modern age, a throwback to a less polluted era with lower population and greater freedom. The audience loved her outrageous exhibitionism. They roared approval, waving orange and black striped flags in wild celebration of Tiger Lily’s flawless performance.