Ceres had two domains: the outer and the inner. Almost no one lived on the outside. It was just a scattering of spaceports and solar farms and the excavated rubble of the asteroid’s now hollowed interior. The people lived inside.
Ceres inner also had two domains: the ceiling and the floor. The tubular cavern wrapped around the inside of the asteroid dozens of times in crisscrossing patterns like a three-kilometer mole got lost on its way home. The cities and structures of the two inner domains reached toward each other like stalactites and stalagmites, on occasion jutting into the other’s territory but never physically linking the two.
For all their politicking and rivalry they may as well have been on opposite sides of the sun. Spectra was trying to change that.
She exited the shuttle car and walked the streets of Chandelier, a city of the ceiling popular with tourists for its loose laws and gray markets. It was the only place in Ceres, ceiling or floor, that would tolerate her. And even in Chandelier that tolerance was inconsistent and begrudging.
But Spectra had a vision. As long as Ceres was focused on internal strife, they would never have equal representation in the system, would never think to strive for it. Ceres floor and ceiling each had a larger population than Luna, but still no seats on the Sol Council.
She walked through dense crowds, sometimes crossing the street, other times turning around and backtracking. She was being followed.
As much as the people of Ceres were dead set against unity, it was a natural outcome of practicality. Someone was stoking the fires. The Council worlds, of course. Ceres’ number one import was dirty money.
Spectra passed through glittering gambling halls and spotless art galleries intermingled with dim smokehouses and popup carts selling counterfeit anthroware. Somewhere in the shuffle she’d managed to lose her tail.
Then a black hood was pulled forcefully down over her head.
“So you think you speak for everyone on the ceiling, huh?”
She didn’t have time to answer before she felt the prick of a needle in the flesh of her neck. Good thing she had some of those illegal anthroware implants herself. She pretended to pass out.