Episode One: Not a Good Day to Die #2

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"Peeta?" Lannister said. He stood in the center of his enormous living room and waited for his servant? Page? To turn and give him his full attention. "I will be in my study, reading reports. Please let Walsh and Fox know to find me there." Peeta bowed in acknowledgement. "And set up some coffee and light snacks for them, please." Again Peeta gave a quick bow and then turned back to his dishes.

Lannister turned back to the living room. He loved his family. He really did. He even missed them, until they were here. He smiled ruefully.

His father was still at the breakfast table, reading the news on his iPad. Frank, his brother in law, was still in his lounge pants, in front of the viewscreen with his feet up. He'd found some sports show. He made comments or yelled at the screen from time to time.

"Uncle," Frank junior was in front of him, dressed now in jeans and T shirt. "You said you'd show me your lower office. Down the chute. Please, sir."

Lannister smiled. Frank junior was the loudest of the bunch, and yet, the least offensive. There were times when his enthusiasm for everything almost made Lannister wish he'd had a son of his own.

"I did," Lannister replied. "Have you ever been in a zero gravity lift?" Frank shook his head no. Lannister led him to the edge of the room, where two lifts stood side by side. "There's nothing to it, you just have to be careful not to go to fast and crash at the bottom." Truthfully Lannister had avoided the zero g lifts on the Corelean and was a novice as well. "Look, you see these rungs?" he showed his nephew the rungs carved into the back of the lift. "They put these lifts in the captain's quarters and all the ranking officers because if there's ever a catastrophic power outage, we can still get up and down. Though I'm told that rarely happens, if ever."

Lannister stepped into the lift and used his hands to turn himself around and then push himself gently down. He hit the bottom with a small bump and stepped out. Frank junior crashed. It did nothing to dampen his enthusiasms for the lift. He rolled clumsily to his feet. "That was so cool!"

The lift opened onto Lannister's private conference room. It was a good twenty feet long, longer than the conference room back on the Corelean. It was ringed with low seats. The right wall was rimward and had windows that looked down on the planet below. Now that the sun had risen above the array, he could see the eastern half of the United States sprawled out beneath them.

The left wall had small recessed alcoves between each seat. Inside were models of ships. "Look," he said to Frank junior. "There's one for each of the common type of ship our station sees. Hoppers, short range orbital ships, OLs — Orbital Landers, cruisers that head into space, you name it."

He left Frank there, inspecting each model and listening intently to recorded descriptions. The doorway from the conference led down a short hallway that was all Lannister's offices. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with so much space, but perhaps in time he would figure it out.

The door at the far end of the hall made a bing and he heard Walsh's voice on the far side. "Come in," he called and the door slid open.

Walsh had accepted the apparent demotion from second in command to aide with good grace. Acting captain Manika would officially concede control of the station in a short service later today, but he would remain a strong second in command, almost a co-captain until Lannister found his legs. "Besides," Walsh had said. "Aide to the captain on a space station has to outrank my old position by a long stretch."

Lannister turned the viewscreen to the base ship news. He'd seen enough earthside news this morning, and besides he needed to know what was going on out there as well.

Peeta walked by the hall and disappeared into the small concession room, where coffee, tea and snacks were kept. Lannister could have easily made coffee for himself, he thought, if I only knew how to run the machine. He sighed. Truthfully he wanted Peeta down here for another reason, to keep the poor boy out of mom's reach. She would be happy to order his new servant around all morning.

"Thank you, Peeta," he said as the young man brought them both coffee. "If you wish to busy yourself down here," Lannister said. "I know my mother..."

Peeta laughed. "Never fear, sir. You have the saying... I have the numbers of her? A courtesan will be arriving shortly. I've arranged both your mother and sister to have a spa morning, mud bath, masseuse, the works. She will feel every bit the queen, I'm sure. Your father expressed his amazement yesterday at your healing, so I arranged a healer to give him a tour of the nearest facility. The man's knees are stiff, though pride won't let him admit the pain. But if he's offered a demonstration, he can't hardly refuse treatment. The big Frank is happy with his show and the little Frank..."

"Is no bother," Lannister finished. "Let him be."

Peeta nodded and then disappeared.

"He's quite apt," Walsh commented.

"Indeed. I'm not sure how to feel about having a man servant, but he's very bright and capable."

"A courtesan for your mother," Walsh laughed. "God, I keep forgetting it doesn't mean a prostitute, like on Earth."

"Sometimes it does mean that, though," Lannister replied. "And they have true prostitution as well. That's on our rather long list of issues we will need to figure out, do we let them continue to operate on the station according to their laws or impose American law?"

"It's an American station now, isn't it? Don't our laws trump theirs here?"

"In theory. We will see how the practice goes once we are in command. Luckily that one is low on the list. I am sure it will prove thorny."

Fox joined them as the men talked. They watched the news for awhile.

"You know," Lannister commented after some time. "You just start to think you understand these newcomers and then they start protesting eggs."

Fox snorted.

The news was discussing some protest going on somewhere back in the consortium proper, though Lannister had no clue where. It was clearly a station, not unlike the one they were on. A large crowd had gathered to listen to a man speak. He was short, with bluish skin. His head was covered in bluish tentacles, like thick dreadlocks. He was shouting and gesticulating. The slogan plastered on signs and on the walls around them, "no eggs is genocide" meant nothing to the earthsiders watching the report.

Jack, their state department liaison arrived as the report ended. "So what immediate issue do we need to discuss upon our take over?" Lannister asked him as he settled into a seat.

"Shouldn't be too bad, as transitions go. The biggest hassle we are facing is visa and travel requirements. We still haven't fully hammered out a treaty with these people. My boss left me with very vague instructions. We have no real guidelines. Barry and I are going to have approve or deny requests individually. I thought you, Fox and I could meet and figure out what that means." Lannister nodded his approval. "But that means the average citizen can't just come up, even if they want to."

"Do they want to?" Lannister asked.

"Yes, there is a great deal of curiosity. Plus, well, the economy isn't so good down below. But neither tourists or those wanting day jobs up here are intending to immigrate. The lack of a consistent monetary exchange is another huge barrier."

"So what does that mean for us?" Fox asked.

"Well we have about seven thousand Natives, more filtering in every day. They are immigrating and technically they are immigrating from their reservation into the consortium..."

"A nifty loophole that gets the state department from having to be involved," Walsh commented.

"Exactly. Don't expect to see many regular American citizens in next few weeks, months even. But the bright side is that allows us to work out the kinks before we are faced with large numbers of citizens coming up."

"Good, I could use a quiet few weeks to get my legs," Lannister said. 

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