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 Outside - The Crime of Naomi

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PostSubject: Outside - The Crime of Naomi   January 15th 2010, 8:14 am

Outside - Story Three
The Crime of Naomi

Part 1

My name is Naomi Williams, and I am so scared of being alone. I was never one to trust my elders, but I miss them now that I am no longer under their thumb. Not only am I far removed from those I grew up around, they are unwilling to speak to me. I had hopes that I would be able to restart my life, and make a name for myself that would restore my relationship with my family, but I now feel that I will never again be happy.

I don't belong here, but I was going to make this my life. They claimed to have accepted me, but that was before my latest display. I am aboard the Menlo Park, but they cannot simply leave me alone in the vastness of space. I suspect that the military will call for a transport, or Clover might himself take me to Earth. Right now I can only cry as I feel like one doomed and waiting for her execution.

I felt that way once before. Life on Neosalem is not like it was on Earth, and my people were having to re-examine a number of our principles. Our home has forced us to accept a number of modern devices to assure our survival. My people spoke of feeling more at ease about this equipment than those devices they were forced to use on Earth, because what they have here are considered things they would not have to go into the future accepting. The technology was necessary at the moment, but would one day be cast aside and our people able to return to the life we thought proper. I remember the day that I became one of those things to be cast aside.

We had been on Neosalem for almost a decade, yet it was still not habitable. For a planet with a mass slightly smaller than Earth and a magnetosphere that was barely able to move a compass, it had an atmospheric pressure so great that it was uncomfortable to go outside. The thick carbon-dioxide clouds attempted to turn Neosalem into another Venus, but the weak sun did not give it enough fuel in the proper wavelengths for the fire. Our colony began with only certain plants able to survive, but we were now able to grow a variety of produce, and all spoke of an eventual blue sky providing pleasant days of work. The elders knew they would not see it, and our generation might not as well, but I grew up with a belief that God would make our world into something that would keep us close to him. I remember many prayers to God about speeding up the process even as we accepted the machines that kept us alive.

My people had always considered it beneficial to find projects that would fit into our lifestyle and provide a service to those beyond our community. Our new planet had its own problems, and assets, so some old occupations were being determined to be no longer worthwhile and others were being considered as acceptable. I felt that I was justified in making my own decision about what might be a beneficial endeavor. The community however did not appreciate my methane reclamation system. They found my device, and claimed it was a still for making alcohol. That was not my intention at all, but my words were ignored as it was proven that I was making a strong rum. With facts overshadowing my own beliefs, I remember going with the elders of Neosalem feeling that my life was coming to an end.

It was not the still that sealed my fate. It was my need to justify it. I had done too much research, spent too much time checking my facts, and had my arguments too well rehearsed. I probably should not have depended on the remaining sugar in the cane trailings, but I did not like the smell of the non-yeast bacteria necessary to process animal feces. I probably should have explained my research to the elders before I started to work, but I did not see a reason to get my idea overruled. I probably should not have attempted to debate the assets of my activities once I was discovered, but I wanted to prove that I was right. The lecture I received in return I know lasted over an hour, and at its conclusion I knew that whatever punishment would come was meant to be worse than simply having to sit through another sermon.

I started crying as soon as I was brought back into the council chamber, because all the elders were present. There was not simply someone to read some scripture and assign an extra chore, but the punishment was something that the entire assembly felt a need to witness. I wanted to berate the elders for going to such lengths over a small still, but I knew better than to encourage a certain elder to again go into his sermon on who our people were and why we had come to a planet all our own.

It was my mother that recognized that I was not crying with joy. Yes, I did have an infatuation with the founder of our planet, but I never really considered marrying him. I had never thought of leaving my home. I also knew that Clover traveled among the stars, so probably would not be anywhere to get a message of me. I cried truly believing that I would be forced to be alone.

I was born on Earth, but was barely seven when I left it. I remember when Clover was with us. All say that he was still a boy then, but he was years older than me. He was considered a man when he left, and that was years ago. There was no reason he would remember me, or want to marry me. I felt that I was returning to Earth as an unwanted outcast. I heard the sentence thinking that I would be in misery for the rest of my life.

The elders were not as cruel as I thought. While they did not seek the quarters of the U.I.W. officers for entertainment, there were things in the universe that they felt a need to use the tachyon radio to gain information about. They knew Clover was back from a mission through space. Something about the journey was requiring him to return to space, but the elders knew that if they acted fast that things could go well for me. They thus worked to speed their justice.

Everything about Clover surprised me even as it proclaimed the change that had come over my life. He was there when I disembarked from Captain Nathan's supply ship. The clothes were made of the light fabrics of the modern world that caused a person to appear as a mass produced toy. Our society still raised animals for their wool, and we hoped to one day again grow flax for linen. I looked into his blue eyes, but then dropped my gaze understanding that his ways would need to become my own. He remembered who I was. He spoke of electronically stored messages, and I now record my words with something other than pen and paper. He had already taken steps to assure my passage with him. It was in those first few moments with him that I understood that he accomplished nothing with luck, or hoped for miracles by God, but planned so carefully that slight irregularities were not able to ruin his schemes.

I was very drunk at the close of the celebration for my arrival, but I heard the agreement between Clover and Captain Thor. The two were close enough to the same size that they could look each other directly in the eyes when standing, but that was the only similarity. Clover had a lean active appearance with a bright countenance that I found comforting. Thor had a thick powerful body with a thick beard that had been carefully shaved from his cheeks, although was not so neatly removed from his neck. Clover had blue eyes that radiated his intelligence while the dark brown eyes of Thor made one believe he could be really mean. They did not certify my place aboard the Menlo Park, but they also were not going to directly send me to Earth as an unwanted outcast. I understood that a chance to prove myself was being given to me, and I made it a point to earn my place next to Clover. While my research, knowledge of facts, and rehearsed defense had doomed me, I recognized the man that discovered Neosalem also put his faith in such skills.

What started as just an attempt to show me around Earth Control became a full tour of life in space. I was still drunk, but was forced to ignore the depressing affects of alcohol as events did not slow down. Earth Control was a wonderful space station, and Thor's boat was a very elegant craft for moving through the cosmos. I only got to see a couple of net covered walls of the ship I would possibly have spent the next few years inside before moving into Clover's boat. He had to turn off the internal gravity plates of his boat in order to easily move some equipment that was filling the section next to his, but soon I got to check the sheep-skin seats for comfort. He told me that I could sleep if I wanted to, but everything was too new for my mind to give in to the narcotics.

Flying through space did not have the exciting feeling that was shown in the movies and shows. I had certainly gone to the quarters of the U.I.W., they say it as YOU, officers to learn what I could. I was not the only one who did so, but there were a number of evenings when I was the only child present. Officer Ammons knew his Bible, he was Baptist and agreed with my people that God would judge us separately on our own works and not on the quality of one's priest or church, and would discuss the holy book as we would watch the shows. I thought what they were showing was the truth, but I am now learning that life among the stars is a lot different.

I felt good working with Clover. There was some pleasure being on a real space adventure. The sensation of speed was normally not present, but I only gained a feeling of movement as Clover had his boat move through the asteroids to the observatory. I did have a sense of fear in putting on a spacesuit. We have to wear habitat suits to move about on our planet, but they are bulkier than the plastic covering that forced me to remove my dress. There was a sense of embarrassment being only in my underwear around a man, but I had to giggle when Clover mentioned his own need to remove some of his clothes. He did not have to take off as much however, as the material of his outfit was made to work with the outer garment. While my clothes were made of more substantial stuff, I still felt the chill of space when the hatch that attached to Clover's boat was blown away. I felt fear in being basically unprotected while surrounded by vacuum, but everyone that I talked to since has also said that they would have been frightened, and, truthfully, staying put holding onto a secure projection was the wisest move for someone in my situation.

I have now spoken to a number of people. Leaving the asteroid, those of the Menlo Park went to a military space station. It did not have the luxuriousness of Earth Control, but Clover and his companions felt more at home. They did not walk around speaking insults about what they saw as they did when in Earth Control. Those that we met were also much nicer.

The military personnel took each of us separately and had us tell the story of recent events. The major that met with me was a very polite man. He did have to work to get me to remember some details, because he started off using terminology that I did not know so he had to learn how to get me to relate to things I had seen. Some questions I thought odd, but then the major realized that I had looked out what small windows Clover had in his boat, and not at the monitors. He let me know that the monitors normally provided a better view, and supplied vital information about what was being viewed.

When I was brought back to Clover, he, his fellow crewmen, and the military personnel were watching a large monitor that stepped through events of the latest activity. The collective discussion of the movements of the vessels allowed for some reprimands and compliments to be handed out, although all seemed pleased with their chance to actually have been involved with a real mission. While I was complimented for my looks, all accepted me into their assembly as one who handled themselves well on their first actual job.

I had not noticed that Thor was not present. He and his wife, Rachel, were there with Clover when he met me, but I had not had a chance to notice who was or was not present in this room. Not only did a number of military personnel introduce themselves to me, but I met Diamond who was the pilot of the other ship that flew with Clover. I had not been able to meet Diamond earlier, as he was left on board the Menlo Park, but after working with me he was quick to introduce himself. His blue eyes were the only part of him that appeared young. The stubble growing from his bare head was all gray. He stood a little taller than Clover, and carried more weight that could not all be attributed to muscle. While his voice during the recent mission sounded assured and controlled, when I met him he sounded more like the elders of my home. I was still talking to people I had just met as Thor walked into the room and toward me.

"Naomi, you did well, but I cannot allow you to relax yet. I need to put certain claimed skills of yours to the test. Clover said that you could take on the duty of my ship's medic." Thor looked around to fix his eyes on another to which he barked, "Terry, you need to listen to this as well."

A dark-headed skinny man with a goatee responded, "Ah, Thor, she can have the job."

"Listen, Terry, we almost lost finding that oxygen scrubber creature because of your lack of concern about what was going on planet-side. If it wasn't for Clover and his attention to details, we would have not gained our most money-making claim from the last mission. I thus not only want you to go with Naomi because you were our medic and might need to back this little girl up if things get desperate, but also just to hopefully get more facts into that head of yours that might make you pay more attention to what is going around you."

Clover spoke before the other man could, "Thor, I don't know what you are going to involve them in, but I would like to be with them. I consider spending time with Naomi a priority."

"Your help would probably be appreciated, Clover. You might not be placed with Naomi, but at least you will be where you can smile at her across the room."

A military officer that had walked in with Thor asked, "Clover, can you stand the sight of blood?"

"My own, or someone else's?"

"I take that to be a ‘yes.’"

When Clover nodded, the officer asked the question of me to which I answered honestly, "I worked with animals, but they have blood too."

Terry however did not wait for the question to be asked of him, "I don't need to see any blood."

Thor returned, "It might be you going home at Stanley's."

Terry and I glanced at each other. Clover did not allow any inner understanding of the situation however, because I quickly felt his arm move around my waist. The military office showed no sign of wanting to wait, but quickly turned as Clover and I moved to him. I did not look back to see if Terry followed.

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PostSubject: Part Two   January 20th 2010, 8:47 am

Outside - Story Three
The Crime of Naomi

Part 2

We moved through a door that opened into another docking berth. This one was not filled with military personnel watching a large monitor, but it was set up as a medical facility. I don't know how I recognized those people who were inside the observatory Clover and I had visited. I do know that my words looking at them now were the same as what I said then.

"There are people, lots of them."

The military officer escorting Clover, me, and Terry, who was the chemist of the Menlo Park, said, "You helped stop a rather big slavery ring, young lady. The spacecraft that was stolen, was actually considered by the crooks to be a repossession due to failure to pay. The fact that the boat, and all others captured in this operation, had illegal modifications was not something they worried about. They knew that the slavery operation carried the serious punishment. When they realized that we were seriously tracking the situation, they attempted to get us to consider that it was only a little rebellious activity. It was because of the aid of those of the Menlo Park that we were able to consider all aspects of the situation and discover the real underlying syndicate."

I still had a problem with the size of the crowd before me. "All of these people were slaves?"

"Yes, and because they are innocent, at least less felonious, deserving of our best attention. However, legalities are forcing us to give wonderful treatment to the crooks. That is not to say that we don't have a couple of our best medics here, but that they are not sufficient for the task at hand. That is where you people can help."

"What do you want us to do?"

"Determine the needs of each. These people have been malnourished, and basically denied anything but essential care. The thought was to make them eager to get bought by someone who would hopefully treat them better. Depending upon your versatility to diagnose and make treatments will depend upon what rating we give you as a ship medical officer."

Terry was quick to say, "I handled the duty on the last mission without being certified."

"Yes, and I believe Thor learned his lesson. His log shows general health being a problem on the last voyage. He is hoping to improve living conditions on this trip."

Terry did not say anything further, but asked where he needed to start. Clover did not ask anyone what to do, but escorted me over to where a group of people were attempting to fill out some forms. He had me listen as he went over a form with one person. As we learned the form, Clover pointed out military personnel distributing food. He thus indicated that malnutrition should not be a concern we would need to care about. He taught me which allergies were important concerns for those in space, and I showed him which bruises, sores, and such on people were actually serious matters. As we waited for our first patients to finish their forms while discovering the location and type of supplies, I asked Clover about Terry.

Thor's second voyage in the Menlo Park was his first one with a full crew. Rachel, his wife, had already made her fortune when she discovered a strange gas giant with a moon that actually fit a request for a major chemical company. The couple did not have any luck on their first excursion in the Menlo Park, but did prove that their relationship was going to last. Rachel thus spent her money satisfying the investors and establishing securities to get people to join them on their next expedition.

Terry was actually a nephew of one of the stockholders in the chemical company that bought Rachel's world. She did not consider it wise to hire a recently graduated planet-side person, but Thor liked the idea of freeing another poor soul from the manacles of Inside domination. Rachel thus ended up accepting Terry.

Clover would admit that Terry was knowledgeable in chemistry, but he did not have a love of the subject. He would work his shift and perform whatever assignments were assigned, but he did not actively seek out recent science articles to advance his abilities. Terry was mostly found listening to music or watching media presentations, and it was those topics that he was most interested in discussing. The crew of the Menlo Park came to feel that he would have been better off being left planet-side.

The tale of the discovery of life on a large moon of a planet was something that Clover felt should have been done by Terry. The strange globs of what appeared to be reddish mud were covering the clothes of those that went to do the assessment, but Terry, even though one of those working on the planet, did not even consider the 'dirt' that covered his spacesuit to be important. Clover gained the credit because he was interested in the results of the assessment, and in checking on the exploratory crew he recognized that nothing about the soil composition would account for the 'dirty' clothes.

The military did not bother Clover or me. We did not move fast. We made sure that the paperwork was handled for each person we took care of. While we certainly spoke to every patient, I mostly talked with Clover. I have to admit that every person that I cared for heard his or her diagnosis as I explained myself to the man who was to have been my husband, although a few had me restate the words personally to them. I however thought nothing of the military personnel who were to certify my qualifications until they challenged one of my conclusions.

I knew how to use a stethoscope. Animals cannot tell you what is wrong with them, so one has to learn several methods of detecting certain symptoms. You can also tell a person to take deep breaths to help you hear certain noises, but must rely on your natural listening skills when working with animals. I thus was more than certain of what I heard in the lungs of a few patients.

I know about certain fungal problems. Neosalem is a very uncomfortable world for people, but plants would love it if the sun was brighter or the cloud cover less thick. Fungi don’t require sunlight to thrive, although do have their own requirements for growth. As the land around our habitat started acquiring biomass, a number of fungi revealed that they had hitchhiked into space. This was considered a blessing of God by us, because a natural method of breaking down dead plants was desired. Some lessons of fungi were however learned by those of us on Neosalem, and the sicknesses did not only infect the people so I learned certain symptoms in my care for the animals.

I could not myself treat the patients. While the general treatment of sores and such was considered a normal process of diagnosing a patient, any internal medicine or more serious treatment could only be suggested in the paperwork. I actually expected to be called over to be given certain lessons. I have set bones and stitched up some wounds, but never on a person. When the military came to me however, they were not intending to instruct me on developing skills.

I was actually glad to see some military people approach. Clover did suggest that once the doctors tending to the criminals were finished, they would probably show up and be the ones to go over my work. I had no idea about how much time had truly passed, but I figured that more than enough time had gone by to reasonably be seeing the additional doctors. I thus smiled when one officer in a white coat came to me after looking over a couple of my patients.

"Miss Williams, what is the meaning of prescribing Joranthil?"

"I do not know what medicines you have available. Joranthil was what was sent to Neosalem after we had outbreaks of fungal infection. I gave it to animals, but I know that it was given to our people as well."

"We are in space, Miss Williams. These people cannot have fungal infections. You see those air ducts?" Before I could turn my head to look, the officer went back to talking, "They move the air through some filters so fine that viruses, much less fungal spores, cannot pass. Such is old technology, at least it is for most communities outside the Amish settlements that you grew up in. Mankind had such filters before we started building settlements on other planets. Now I know that these people were all cooped together in an observatory on some asteroids, but there has been no complaint stated about their air filtering system being out of commission. There is thus no way that these people can have fungal infections."

Clover was quiet. He actually even backed away. I first felt alone right then.

I am here in space because I felt a need to justify what I had done. The same evil tendency showed itself at that time. I pray that I will learn to control my inner spirit, but I feel that it is now too late.

I took the officer over to one of the patients and went over the findings. The sound of the lungs was still as I heard it. The look to the throat was still as I had described. I thus ended the re-examination stating the same conclusions that I had Clover write earlier.

The officer did not challenge any of my evidence, just harped on the fact that the patient could not be infected with a fungal infection because the air purification system would not allow the passing of any fungal spores. As he made me agree to the quality of the modern air systems, I started getting mad. As he continued to lecture on the exacting specifications of certain equipment brought into space, I became livid.

I would argue with those of my own people that lectured me. Their repeated sermons did not seem to solve the problems, or answer the questions, that I had. There was however a knowledge that those statements had sufficed my parents, and their parents before them, so there was some fear that what I was being told was correct. I had no loyalty to the military, and knew nothing of the person who was speaking to me. I thus threw the first punch of my life.

"This man is going to die if you don't treat him! I hope you are happy with that, but I suspect you will just use his corpse as another reason to condemn the people that you have locked up!"

I turned and fled. There was nowhere however to flee to. I was going to spend the rest of my life alone where I had no family, no friends, no one. I could only cry.

Rachel caught me and brought me here. I am now inside the Menlo Park. I am actually in Clover's apartment. It is a nice place. Rachel stated that they could not afford much private room in a spaceship, but it is really about the size of most apartments inside the dome of Neosalem. I grew up hearing of the homes that all wanted to build once our planet is fully terraformed, but outside the dome is presently not habitable. Rachel fixed me some tea, but I continued to cry and she has left me alone.

I am glad that I am Clover's apartment. It means that I will be able to tell him good-bye. I know now that I won't become his wife. I will spend the rest of my life alone.

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Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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PostSubject: Part 3   January 25th 2010, 8:01 am

Outside - Story Three
The Crime of Naomi

Part 3

I was still crying on Clover's bed when he entered his apartment. I was so glad that he moved slowly from the front door to that of his back room. It gave me time to wipe my tears.

"Naomi, are you okay?"

"No, but I will do all right."

"It is not much of a bathroom, so have you found it?"

We do not have private bathrooms in Neosalem. Our apartments do have compact fully functional kitchens, and we are trained in what might need to be done should disaster befall our dome. We ladies however were pleased with our common facilities, and the men with theirs, even as we waited for the day that things would be better. I thus had not checked the narrow hardened plastic doors seeking a bathroom.

"No. I thought these were closet doors."

"Storage compartments are only half height. The door that is full height is the bathroom."

I again wiped my eyes with a cloth as I said, "I guess that I should clean up."

"Yes, because you need to go back and face the military."

That got me angry. "Why? I will not admit to being wrong."

"You were right."

"What?"

Clover sat on the bed next to me as he said, "You cannot trust the military. Their tests get psychological, and not just practical." Clover had been keeping his features even, but his mouth suddenly revealed a grin. "You correctly diagnosed a problem that they would have missed. They were watching you on the monitors, and your conclusion surprised them. I have been told that they had to check again with their men still at the observatory, and were informed that some contraband stored in a chamber beneath the observatory had indeed gone bad. The air system in the observatory was stressed with so many people present, and with the slaves treated so badly their bodies were unable to resist what spores they breathed in. The military thus decided to test your confidence level."

"I guess that I failed that one."

"Oh, no. You were definitely confident. You will probably get a lecture about needing to control your temper, but you knew what you were doing."

I had that lecture before, so I knew that I could deal with it. I however also knew that it would not help to appear as someone that had been crying. I quickly identified the full-height panel, then rushed over to open it. The bathroom was not much, barely a shower stall and a commode. I was scared that the toilet would have to also be used as the sink, but thought to ask Clover. He removed the shower head to set it in a lower holder while dropping a bowl-like shelf from where it set into a recess in the wall. I did not complain, as it was more than I had seen before.

After I wiped my face, I asked, "So, I will be fully certified?"

"Well, we are dealing with the military. I had to deal with them in my early days when I was fleeing from the boarding school where I was put after my parents died. I also know some problems that Terry had on the last mission. So, if you do not mind, let me give you some pointers."

I did listen to Clover. He did not lecture to me, but simply told me some suggestions. I did ask some questions. Clover however accepted that his words might not have been sufficient, and patiently added the details I requested. Once again it was obvious that Clover was not unprepared. I am not certain how he knew some things, but I know if he asked anyone for advice, it was not the military.

I had to go into a room that looked like a conference room redecorated to act as a court room. At a table across the room sat five military officers. These did introduce themselves, and I learned that three were real doctors with two merely high-ranking officers. There were chairs placed to the left and right of the door, but no one used them. The crew of the Menlo Park stood as I walked up to stand before the committee.

It was Admiral Orleans that spoke to me, "Naomi Williams. You were brought before us to gain certification as the medical officer of the Menlo Park."

"Yes, sir."

"What is your appraisal of your performance?"

"Forgive me, sirs. I believe that you were misinformed of my training. I was taught to work with animals. Our situation on Neosalem is as desperate as any in space, so my lessons were strong on realistic solutions to some very trying situations. I worked with actual animals, and have seen a variety of actual problems. I did pay attention to those instructions. Animals however cannot speak. They could not tell me that I was doing something wrong. Even if I was, often they did not show any complaint."

It was one of the doctors that now spoke. "Naomi, your ability to discern problems is very good. I do not know if you were informed, but the people you diagnosed as having fungal infections did indeed have that problem."

"Yes, thank you. Clover did tell me. There was a need, and I am grateful to have been of service. However, I doubt that I could have done more."

"Why is that, Naomi?"

"I have not been trained in working with people. I have set bones, but only those of animals. I have given injections, and taken blood, but only that of animals."

A look of confusion crossed the faces of those before me as the doctor that had spoken said, "There is not much difference."

"Maybe, but instead of testing me, some instruction would be appreciated."

That is when I knew that the military did not know of the things that Clover had told me. The five before me suddenly drew together. I heard them whispering, but could not make out any words. In turning to look at Clover, I saw him and the others of the Menlo Park smiling at me. I turned back around as I heard the military officers make soft coughs letting me know that they had ended their private conversation.

Another of the doctors now spoke, although not to me. "Captain Thor Hawkins, just how well equipped is your vessel?"

"Rachel and I went out in the Menlo Park alone on its maiden voyage. To gain the proper clearance, we needed certain training material to use as references in case of emergencies. Just because they have never been used," eyes turned to Terry, "does not mean that they are unavailable to be used."

"So, if Naomi was taken from you for a day, she could make use of the material to reinforce the training she will receive?"

"Yes. I am still in need of supplies, so presently able to afford the time."

"I would hope so, considering the quality of your last medical officer was not found to be sufficient."

Thor did not turn to Terry, but kept his focus on the military officers. "Naomi has been stressed. Could you give her time to rest?"

"Certainly." The doctor now focused his eyes on me. "Naomi, I understand that you have recently been introduced to this life. Get some rest, then return to the Reagan. You will be required to serve some more time tending to our civilian guests, but you will also receive the training you requested. Once that is completed to our satisfaction, you will be certified as the medical officer of the Menlo Park."

I know that I was smiling as I said, "Thank you."

I then rushed back to Clover and the others of the Menlo Park. They all congratulated me, although Thor quickly hushed them. He reminded me that he already paid for a party welcoming me, so now it was time for everyone, including me, to get to work. I did not argue.

Clover and I are not yet married, so I was put in the room with Harley. Besides her and Rachel, there are three other women aboard the Menlo Park. I do not understand the comments about living arrangements, but agree that it is not proper for me to yet move in with Clover. Harley's room is however close to Clover's, and she seemed to want me with her.

In moving my limited stuff to her room, I did ask about Terry. I was told that he completely trusted computer programs to do his work for him. The military was impressed that Clover and I worked without depending upon the medical computer, and that I was so confident of my own decisions. I replied that I was lucky to have only encountered problems that I knew, to which I was told to just keep studying.

Those were basically the same words that the military doctors told me. They gave me pointers on having a proper bedside manner as we visited a number of the people who were still very ill. I was then taken to a room that had a medical dummy, and they had the robot simulate a number of situations. I believe that I am now better able to handle what duties will be required of me. I hope so, as word has just come that the military rerouted our supply shipments. The Menlo Park will thus soon be ready to start its journey into space.

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Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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