Pride and Prejudice in Space



Elizabeth Bennett turned off the satellite screen with an angry grunt. Not with the remote. She had actually stood and walked across the room and turned it off by hand to emphasize her distain, as if the persons on the other side of that screen could see her. As if she had more of an audience then Janie, who, from the couch, offered with a conciliatory tone, "At least we're on the public consciousness."

"It's bullshit," Elizabeth said. "The entire news media is trying to make this sound like some kind of heroic gesture. Like we're doing such important work here that William Darcy needs to send twenty thousand heavily armed soldiers to a planet inhabited solely by three scientist merely to defend and preserve us."

"Technically," Janie interjected, "Char isn't a scientist."

Elizabeth shrugged. She crossed the room again and fell onto the couch beside Janie. Her body crumpled beneath her. She had fought this for weeks, she had lost, and she was tired.

It had been an ambush. They had only been informed a month ago that troops were being sent to their world, a desert planet on edge of the Outer Colonies. Maia was a wasteland, a virtually uninhabitable place, except that they had spent the past five years developing technologies to make it, and other planets like it, inhabitable. They had been sent by the current Earth administration, and then it seemed they had been forgotten. But Elizabeth realized that things had not been as they'd seemed. The administration had been monitoring their progress more closely than they'd realized. They had been waiting.

Elizabeth said, "The point is, they should just own it. Maia is a strategic military position. We're right on the edge of the war zone. They sent us here to prepare the way for their gunmen. That's the only reason they care about our work."

She punctuated the word "work" with a heavy dose of satire, as she was apt to do lately. The truth was—she hadn't told this to Janie or Char—but the truth was she had lost faith in their work. Elizabeth had been proud of what they were doing on Maia. It was the work of a lifetime, making an unlivable planet livable. But she wasn't proud of it anymore. She felt duped. And there was nothing she hated more than feeling stupid.

Behind Janie and Elizabeth, a door opened and Char entered. "Tomorrow's the day," he announced in his booming voice, a voice that always filled up a room, no matter how large or how small. It was 9:30, and he had just finished locking down their small space-station home for the night. It wasn't that there was anything out their trying to get in. At first, alone on the planet, the locks had made them feel more secure. Now it was force of habit really, as many of their protocols were.

Part engineer, part bodyguard, Char had been part of their three-person team since year one. Elizabeth had known Janie by reputation before the Maia project, but Char she had not heard of or met until they day the three of them set off for the unknown planet. Not once since the moment she had met him had she doubted his value as a team-member or as a friend.

"Tomorrow is the day," Janie repeated. There was a sigh in her voice. Even her glass-half-full optimism could not completely combat the defeat and apprehension they were all feeling.

Tomorrow was not the day the troops arrived, but it was the day that William Darcy arrived with his entourage. William Darcy, who had, with his grass-roots charm and his hands-on approach, transformed the nebulous position of Secretary of Colonial Administration into a very public and well-respected office. William Darcy, the galaxy golden boy. The man who would be king. He was coming himself to oversee the military incursion, even though Maia was not really a colony planet.

"How was our news coverage tonight?" Char asked, taking a seat across from the ladies. Elizabeth scowled and he added. "I'm judging from the fact that the satellite is off, not good. Well, look on the bright side—"

Elizabeth interrupted. "Let me guess. On the bright side we're on the public consciousness."

Char stretched his armed behind his head and leaned back against them. A lazy grin spread across his face. "That we are. But I was going to say, look on the bright side, at least your parents didn't name you Charlemagne."

Despite her mood, Elizabeth smiled. Char's humor, often self-directed, always made Elizabeth smile. It was part of why she loved him.

He continued, "Also on the bright side, they are sending us twenty thousand soldiers. Twenty thousand hot, athletic, uniformed soldiers. Think of how long it's been since you've had sex."

"Five years," Janie said wistfully.

They were joking still, but Elizabeth was too generally irritable for jokes to hold up for long. "Who's side are you on?" she snapped. "For heaven's sake, have sex with each other!"

She stood abruptly and made an equally abrupt exit of the room. It wasn't that she wanted to make a scene, and she new that Char and Janie new her well enough to understand that. It was just that she was irritable, and she thought she would be better off on her on and that the other two would be better off without her. So she went to her room and settled in for a long Maia night.

In the morning she would wake, and it would all begin.

A/N: So. I am posting this short prologue for the sake of seeing if anyone is interested. What do you think? Too bizarre? This idea just randomly came to me and it's been rattling around in my head for a while. Give me some feedback and I will give you a proper chapter!