The View from Driftwise Spindle
by Stewart C Baker
November 2065- Gayatri
The plural for meeting, thought Gayatri Anwar, ought to be headache. And even for a
surface stint, where meetings always played a heavy role, she'd had a lot of headaches since the
Martian Disaster. The announcement that a rogue planetoid had struck their sister planet, and
that meteor-sized pieces of ejecta would crash into Earth in five months' time, had everyone
scrambling to get off-planet. Driftwise, as the only spindle with no ties or obligations to a
particular nation, seemed to be bearing the brunt of the attention.
Meetings with companies who used Driftwise as a launch pad; meetings with
governments who wanted their space programmes to be given special priority; meetings with the
mega-rich, who had pushed their way in to demand the privileges they thought they deserved.
Groups of refugees; religious groups; lobbyists. Con-screen meetings with the spindle
administrators from Chimborazo and Kenya, and the team that ran the extra-planetary shipyard
at EML-1. Then, too, there were the well-meaning UN attaches who spoke at length on nobility
and sacrifice and duty, and who didn't want to have to pay for anything.
Meetings, meetings, meetings.
The worst of them all were the ones with the stakeholders, who didn't seem to know what
they wanted, or why, or how to achieve it. Gayatri was in one of these meetings now, listening to
one board member after another rattle on about profits, overheads, the bottom line and how it
intersected with the ethical responsibilities of a successful corporation.
Across the table, Ang rolled his eyes at her. Privately, she agreed, but like it or not this
stuff was necessary. Her brother, with his daydreams and ideals, would never understand that. So
she ignored his attitude, getting through the rest of this latest headache on autopilot, nodding and
making appropriate noises when it was required, and staying silent otherwise, eager for the show
to be over so she could get on with her actual work.
The meeting finally rambled to an end, and the members of the board filed out the door.
Ang followed them without a word, heading no doubt for one of the crew lifts to the top, or out
onto the base of the spindle. Away from the never-ending grind of managerial responsibilities
they were supposed to share. But that was nothing new. He'd always left the hard work to her
while he ran around playing the benevolent manager.
Once she was alone, Gayatri leaned back in her chair, pressing her palms against her
temples. She couldn't remember the last time she'd had a full night's sleep, but it had surely been
nearly a month. Since before the news. Now every time she closed her eyes she saw tsunami and
firestorms, great clouds of ash and debris choking out the sunlight, and in the midst of it all great
surging masses of people calling out for her to save them.
She pursed her lips and blew out all the air in her lungs--a slow, steady hiss of
exhalation--then sat forward and flicked the table's con-screen on. She had emails over a day
old that hadn't been answered. While most top-level execs had assistants for all but the most
sensitive communications, Gayatri prided herself on the personal touch. She got most of them
out of the way, then flicked off the con-screen, and went to look for Ang. She found him just
outside the conference centre door, standing in the ethereal shadow of the spindle with his
elbows on a guardrail.
"So much for the 'ethical duty' they like to make so much of," he said as she came up
behind him. Down on the helipad, the board members were still dispersing, each in a hovercopter
that probably cost more than most people made in half a lifetime.
Gayatri snorted. "At least they even think about it," she said. "Nothing requires them to."