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The Macedonian Hazard: Prologue

       Last updated: Wednesday, November 4, 2020 07:01 EST



The Macedonian Hazard

By Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, Paula Goodlett

Prologue: Build, Sell, or Die

Queen of the Sea, off the coast of Trinidad

November 28, 321 BCE

    Stella Matthews lay on the bed in her cabin on the Queen of the Sea and watched TV. Stella was fifty-two years old, a bit overweight, recently divorced, with two adult children left behind by The Event, and was on the Queen of the Sea to, as the movie said, “get her groove back”.

    Being dropped in the fourth century Before the Common Era was not helping Stella get her groove back. The fact that she was going to be dumped off the Queen of the Sea with nothing but her luggage and some so-called “money” that was sucked out of Eleanor Kinney’s thumb wasn’t doing anything for her groove either.

    So she wasn’t goofing off watching TV. She was studying. There were recorded programs that could be watched on demand. The one she was watching was a discussion including Allen Wiley, who was the president of New America, his assistant Amanda Miller, Eleanor Kinney and a few others.

    “As you all must know by now,” Kinney was saying, “there is no way that the Queen of the Sea can support the passengers indefinitely. That, as much as the oil, is why we’re here.”

    Allen Wiley nodded his politician’s head with his face a picture of grave concern. “We will need to build ourselves a new nation here in the past. Grow our own food . . .”

    “There is no way that the colony on Trinidad will be able to grow its own food this year and probably not next year either,” Kinney interrupted. “With all the hard work and good will in the world, it takes time for plants to grow. The colony. . . “

    “New America,” Wiley interrupted in turn.

    “New America,” Kinney agreed with a nod at Wiley, then looked back at the camera. “New America is going to have to buy all, or almost all, its food for at least the next year. Probably the next three to five years. Some of that will come from oil, but not all. There are only two ways that New America can support itself, manufacturing and trade. This is different from previous colonies because this is the largest initial colony that we have been able to find, not that we’ve looked that hard.” She smiled at the camera. “But the Mayflower carried one hundred and two passengers and about thirty crew to the new world. We will be more than two thousand . . .”

    They kept talking, but Stella, a legal secretary, didn’t have a clue what she might build or sell. There probably weren’t going to be a lot of lawsuits for her to type up and file. 

    They went on talking about who owned the oil well and, for that matter, the oil field. The oil field was owned by the colony, and the oil rig was owned by the investors, which included the Queen of the Sea, some of the crew from the Reliance,the colony, and the roughnecks working on it. There would be a dividend, but Stella could do math. Especially financial math. It was unlikely that she was going to be able to live off the annual dividend. I’m going to need a job.



    Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

    December 8, 321 BCE

    Stella looked at the lot marked by sticks in the grass-covered sandy soil and silently raged. She knew perfectly well that her rage was fueled by terror, but there was a lot of terror to fuel it. Her hunt for a job wasn’t going well. It wasn’t that there wasn’t work for secretaries. It was that there were a lot of secretaries on the Queen of the Sea when The Event happened. And several of them had better ins with the new government than Stella did. All Stella had was her buyout from her room on the Queen of the Sea.

    The money she got as the buy out of her share of the Queen of the Sea, along with a mortgage, was paying for this piece of land and the “townhouse” to be built on it here in Fort Plymouth. The deal was that fifty percent of the combined cost of the land and construction was covered by the buyout, and the rest was a loan at three percent annual interest. The total cost was forty thousand New America dollars, and she would pay out the other half over ten years, along with paying for her food and drink at the community center. She would be eating at the community center because her house wasn’t going to have a kitchen for the foreseeable future. Very few of the houses in Fort Plymouth were going to have kitchens. Having a kitchen of your own upped the cost of a townhouse by over ten grand.  She had no idea how she was going to get the money to make the payments on the basic townhouse. For the moment she had five grand in the bank from the sale of her cell phone to the ship, and that was going to go away in about ten months’ worth of payments. 

    That was what the stakes were for, marking out her part of the block of townhouses that were to be built together. It wasn’t much of a townhouse. Seven hundred and fifty square feet, one bedroom, one work room, a closet that was supposed to be a bathroom once they got running water, no kitchen.

    They claimed that it would have electricity and plumbing as soon as they could manage it. For now, it was to be built with a place for the wires and pipes.

    She looked over to her left to see an old white guy with a walker. He was looking at the lot next to hers. After a moment, she recognized him. He had been in the cabin next to hers on the Queen of the Sea. Two internal cabins with no windows translated into two apartments in Fort Plymouth.

    “You weren’t using a walker on the Queen.”

    He looked at her and started to bristle, which Stella welcomed. She could really use a yelling match right now. Someone, anyone, to have a fight with would help.

    But then the cowardly bastard deflated. Just looking sad and old. “The Queen had elevators and carpeted halls. Besides, I didn’t have to go very far at any given time. There was always some place to sit.”

    Stella nodded and introduced herself.

    He was Donald “call me Don” Carnegie. Seventy-seven years old and a retired plumber who smoked for fifty years and was about to take it up again because, with his diabetes, he was going to die soon anyway.

    The natives used tobacco in pipes, had for who knew how long. Don figured why the hell not. At least he’d die happy.



    Work Area, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

    December 15, 321 BCE

    The half tent–roof, no walls–was part of the gear from the Queen. Now it was filled with benches as Stella joined the work crew. A man waved her over and directed her to a chair.  The crude bench table in front of her had a rough wooden framework for slats with strips of thin wood crisscrossed between them. And a bucket of gray-brown looking goop. There was also a flat piece of wood with a handle sticking into the goop in the bucket.

    Once everyone was seated, the man held up one of the frameworks and said, “This is wattle. It’s just a thin framework of just about anything and its only purpose is to provide a place to put the daub.” He set down the wattle framework and picked up a bucket. “This is daub. It’s basically mud. A little more complicated than that, but not much. It’s pretty similar to the stuff you would use to make mud bricks. Your job is to use the trowel–” He held up a flat piece of wood with a handle like the one in Stella’s bucket of mud. “–and use it to spread the daub on the wattle in a smooth even coat. And have a care, folks. This is liable to be part of the wall of your house. And if it’s not yours, it will be one of your neighbors.”

    They got to work, and it was hard work. The daub was thick and spreading it evenly over the wattle took effort. You had to pick up the wattle and rotate it to reach the far end. It took ten to fifteen minutes to finish a panel. Then you would raise a hand and an inspector would come around with a cart, look at it, and either point to places where the daub was uneven or didn’t cover everything, or put it on the cart to be taken to the drying shed.



    It was hard work, but it paid fifteen bucks an hour in ship credit and Stella was going to need every dime of that.



214 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

December 28, 321BCE

    Stella climbed the short bamboo ladder to the ground floor that was four feet above the ground. President Wiley promised that they would get plumbing using bamboo as soon as possible, but for now there were composting toilets that amounted to honey buckets that would be picked up by carts that would come around daily. The flooring was rough planking with gaps. You wouldn’t fall through, but it was obvious that speed was the controlling factor in construction. No time was spent on fitting or finishing. 

    The names of the streets were, for now at least, based on a grid of numbers and letters, and your place in town was based on your room on the ship. 12th Street was populated with passengers from Deck 6 aft inboard. It wasn’t a law. If you had the money, you could buy any plot of land you wanted in Fort Plymouth or outside it. But there was a discount for taking what was offered, and Stella was not flush. 

    The “townhouses” were two-story post and daub buildings made of wood posts panels. The panels consisted of a network of twigs that were then filled in with daub, the same stuff used to making mud bricks. They were made in standard frames in a central location and then carted to the townhouses to be installed. The second story was more of a loft than an actual second story, six feet high at the back and ten at the front.

    The floors were wood, split logs. The locals–one of the native tribes–built their houses on stilts, so they had logs. The Queen of the Sea fabricated a bunch of log splitters to turn logs into rough planking. But the labor involved made that expensive, so they only used it for the flooring.  The walls were the mud daub. That was also the reason for townhouses. They were easier to build them in a batch than as individual houses. It also saved room, which the wall around Fort Plymouth put at a premium.

    Her townhouse now had a shape, but was still weeks away from livable. She went next door to look at Donald Carnegie’s place. He wasn’t up to making the visit himself, but he did know about plumbing, so he was working on the Queen with the five other plumbers who happened to be on the ship when The Event occurred. Not that she, or Don, were going to get indoor plumbing anytime soon.



January 17, 320 BCE

    Moving day. Stella walked behind Donald as he lifted the walker with each step. He was on a limited diet now, to try to help with the diabetes, but it wasn’t working, not really. He was shaky and had trouble walking. When they got to the stairs up to the ground floor, she took the walker and lifted it to the front walk, while he held the railing. Then she helped him up the four steps to the wooden sidewalk, or front porch, depending on how you thought of it. Once up, she helped him into his front room where there was a chair and a bed, both of which were pulled from the Queen as the interior rooms on the ship were converted to workshops rather than sleeping places. Stella, without the income from helping design the plumbing system for Fort Plymouth that Don earned, was making do with a locally made bed, reeds in a sack on rope supports in a wood frame.

    Stella wasn’t trained to be an old man’s helper. She’d been a legal secretary who had spent her entire working life in a lawyer’s office. She knew how to punctuate a tort, not how to take care of a sick old man.

    Once she got Don situated, she went back to her house, got her laptop, then headed to the computer center. The computer center was five blocks away on 7th Street, near the center of town, a larger building with a steam-powered generator to charge batteries and power computers.

    Stella used her ship ID card as her credit card to clock in. Use of the computers wasn’t free. Neither was use of the charging station and the network link that let her hook her laptop up to the larger computers and drives that held copies of Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, but it was cheaper than using one of the computers for rent. Still, even using the charging station to charge her computer’s batteries was another reason for making do with locally made furniture. She was researching glass making, because Lisa Hammonds from Deck 8, Cabin 8235, said that it was simple. Stella didn’t believe it, but she was going to find out.

    While her computer was downloading the Wikipedia and Britannica articles on glass making, Stella thought back a few days to the discussion.



Queen of the Sea, Lido Deck

January 14, 320 BCE

    “Isn’t glass making complicated?” Stella had asked.

    “Nope. Glass is sand, potash, and if you want clear glass, you flavor it with a little lead oxide. It’s also the first industry started in the New Plymouth colony in like 1620.”

    “And where are you going to get lead oxide and potash?” Stella didn’t mention sand, because she pretty much knew that Lisa would point at the beach if she did. But she was almost sure that just any sand wouldn’t do. You needed some special sort of sand.

    “They call it pot ash because it’s ashes that you mix with water in a pot to leach out the stuff you want. It comes from the ashes of plants, especially water plants. Seaweed.” She pointed at the beach where there was a line of seaweed at the high tide line. “As for the lead oxide, that might be harder, at least here. But it’s just lead ground into powder because lead rusts really fast. That’s why lead isn’t shiny.”

    “So why aren’t you planning on glass making?” Stella asked.

    “Because I’ve got a degree in electrical engineering. That’s not as good as a mechanical engineer in this time, but somebody needs to design the electrical systems for Fort Plymouth and figure out how to make radios for when the ones we have wear out. And, if I live long enough, build computers.” Lisa Hammonds was thirty-three, on vacation with her husband Richard, who taught English Lit at the University of Tennessee. They shared an outboard cabin with a balcony before The Event. Between that and what Lisa was making helping to design Fort Plymouth’s electrical grid and the larger payout for the bigger room, they would have over fifteen hundred square feet and be nearer the computer building and capitol building. Once those got built.



Computer Center, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

January 18, 320 BCE

    The download finished. Stella started reading the articles while her computer’s battery charged. Glass making was more complicated than Lisa implied. For one thing, you didn’t make glass in a crock pot or a smoker. You needed heat. The sort of heat you needed to make pottery, 2,450 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much less than the melting point of steel.  That, in turn, meant you needed a kiln. Then you needed a different kiln to anneal the glass after you made it, or it would shatter. At least, that was the impression that the mishmash of articles was giving her.

    As soon as her computer was fully charged, Stella put it carefully in its carrying case, and with the strap over her shoulder, headed home. It started to rain while she was in the computer center, so at the corner of every block she walked down steps onto a street that had turned to mud, slogged through the mud to the next block of townhouses, went back up four steps to the wooden walkway, then the same again for seven blocks. Fortunately, because of the way the townhouses were made, the walkway was covered by the second story balcony.

    “Little boxes, little boxes,” she half muttered. Then she couldn’t remember some of the song, and continued, “And they’re all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same.” She knew why that was. It was because standardization made for faster, cheaper construction. And building housing for three thousand people wasn’t cheap, no matter how you did it.



    Once Stella got home, she dried off using a dirty towel because laundry was expensive now too. Then, using the same towel, she dried her computer case and pulled out her computer. Then she knocked on Donald Carnegie’s door and tried to interest him in glass making as a business.




214 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

March 12, 320BCE

    The kiln design was mostly out of Wikipedia, but Donald had helped. It turned out that plumbing helps with preheating air to make the fire hotter. Something called reverse flow. The air came in right next to where the burned air went out, so the flue preheated the air. Stella was the one who wrote up the variance request that let them put the kiln behind the house in the fifty foot field that went between the houses and the town wall. Stella had never in her worst nightmare imagined that she would be living in a walled fort. The wall was going to be eighteen feet tall when it was finished. Now it was a bunch of logs in the fifty foot field.



April 14, 320 BCE

    Stella helped Donald up the stairs to the second floor, then out onto the balcony, so they could watch the Queen of the Sea sail out. The second floor was fourteen feet above the ground after adding the four foot crawl space below the first floor. That put Donald and her eyes a touch above the wall, so out in the bay she could see the Queen clearly. 

    She looked over at Donald and saw a tear leaking onto his cheek, and Stella wanted to cry too. Because she knew as well as Donald did that he would probably not live to see the Queen of the Sea return to Fort Plymouth.

    She helped him back inside and they sat for a while as she waited for him to get enough energy to make it down the stairs. The stairs were sort of actual stairs, though they were like the stairs on a warship. They had flat rungs, but the angle was closer to a ladder than what Stella thought of as stairs. They did have extra steps so Donald didn’t need to lift his feet that far to reach the next step.

    Once Stella got Donald situated, she went out to the “hardware” store near the center of town to buy tar. The “hardware” store did indeed have hardware. It had hammers, though it had more wooden hammers than steel hammers, and the wooden mallets were quite a bit cheaper. It had brushes and buckets, mostly handmade. The tar she was here to buy came in chunks. It was a waste product of the “oil refinery,” a still located near the oil well a few miles out of town. The tar was the crud that collected on the bottom of the still, and was mucked out by hand.

    It was also the best sealant for cracks in the roof, floor, and walls in the “townhouses” of Fort Plymouth. And Stella and Donald’s townhouses had a lot of cracks to be filled.

    One good thing was that Stella was losing weight. She was doing quite a bit of hard manual labor every day, between emptying the chamber pots, sweeping the floors, building the kiln, and, today, using a pot stove on the balcony to melt the tar. It stank, and would stink even after it cooled for days. It was a tar paper shack, without the paper. Once she had the tar melted, it went up onto the roof by buckets as local tribesmen painted the roof with it, to give her and Donald, for the first time since they moved in, roofs that didn’t leak.

    The back of Stella’s townhouse was up against the fifty foot field, a fifty foot stretch of open ground between the town and the town’s wall. The field was designed to let defenders move from one point on the wall to another easily, but Stella got a ten foot variance to build her kiln out back. The kiln was brick two layers thick, and it had a pre-heating chamber and was oil powered. Why not? She lived only a few miles from an oil well. It was also, after months of her work and the occasional labor of the locals, not quite completed yet.



Community Center, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

April 19, 320 BCE

    The Community Center was a combination restaurant, general grocery, half open air gaming area, and live theater. There was even a big screen TV from the Queen in one room that played movies from back in the world. At the moment, Stella was sitting at a table, eating cornbread and chili beans with enough super turkey meat to make it almost real chili. The peppers were as local as the super turkey. They grew all over this part of South America and the Tupky were selling them to the colony by the canoe load. Everything from fresh to smoked and dried. Chili was almost like home. Well, except for the people who insisted that chili wasn’t supposed to have beans in it.

    Next to Stella on the bench was Carol Knight Harvell. Carol was forty-five and worked as a domestic before The Event. The trip on the Queen was her second honeymoon, and her husband John Harvell was a truck driver in Chicago. They had three adult kids who had not made the trip, and were committed Christians before The Event. They were both working at other businesses now. John was working on one of the steam generators. His job was to watch the dials, control the crude oil that the steam engine burned for fuel, and make sure the steam engine ran at a consistent speed. The sole function of his steam engine generator was to charge a bank of lead acid batteries that were then used to power electrical devices. That system was in use because here in New America they lacked the control systems to avoid power spikes. 

    Carol, on the other hand, worked in the condom factory. “You have nothing to complain about,” Carol told Stella. “I spend my whole day with a wooden dildo in my hand, dipping it into a pot of hot latex, then sticking it under a blow dryer, then dipping it again until the condom is thick enough not to rip. Then I turn it over to Tess Panay while I grab another dildo and do it all again. I’ve handled more woodies since we got here than in my whole family for generations back.”

    Stella didn’t want to talk about the utter and complete lack of woodies of any sort in her life since The Event, so she changed the subject and they talked about some of the new industries that were starting up in Fort Plymouth. They were all kitchen industries, wood shops and leather workers, manufacturers of latex water bottles and some guy trying to make a sewing machine. Another guy was trying to get a jacquard loom built, and someone actually had a pedal-powered carding machine up and running.

    After lunch, Stella went back to the counter and got a salad to go for Donald, which she carried back.



    Donald Carnegie was sitting on the wooden sidewalk in front of his “townhouse.” His head was lolling to the side and his mouth was open. There was some drool leaking and Stella tried to wake him. He wouldn’t wake up. She checked his heartbeat. It was still beating, but he was barely breathing at all. She shouted to William McIan, their next door neighbor on the other side. “Donald is unconscious! Run get the medics.”

    The medics arrived about fifteen minutes later, and took him away in a two-wheeled cart pulled by two men.



Fort Plymouth Hospital, Trinidad

April 21, 320 BCE

    President Allen Wiley stepped into the ward and looked around. This was the experimental ward. There were twelve cots, six on each side of the room and about half the beds were filled. These patients were the ones with terminal illnesses that would have been merely chronic back in the world. The beds emptied and were refilled on a regular basis as the healers tried to do what they could, and in the process did human experiments.

    Al went over to the doctor, Ronald Kemper, who had been a registered nurse back before The Event.

    Ronald looked up from the patient he was injecting. “It’s fish-derived insulin, Mr. President, and not nearly as pure as I would like. But this guy is in a diabetic coma and headed to the grave if we don’t do something.”

    “Did you have his permission?” Al asked.

    Ronald nodded. “It’s on the chart. We can try anything we want.” It was a standard question that all the citizens of New America were asked to fill out even before they moved off the ship.

    Donald’s eyes flickered. The insulin was working.




May 15, 320 BCE

    Ronald Kemper pulled the sheet up over Donald Carnegie’s head. The allergic reaction to the insulin contributed to a chest infection, which in Donald’s weakened state proved fatal. Other patients were doing fine, at least for now, on the fish-derived insulin that was only purified by centrifuge. But there were too damned many who died from allergy to the non-insulin element that the poor purification methods left in the juice, and even for those it did work for, there were often side effects. Gradual damage to the fatty tissue around the injection points. Other things.

    He got up and scratched his head. He was a nurse, a surgical nurse, and a good one. Not a doctor, much less an expert in experimental medicine, which was what they needed.



214 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

May 16, 320BCE

    Stella looked around Donald’s room in the double townhouse that was now hers. Donald’s will left her everything he had. She lived upstairs in her side, and there was another room just like hers in Donald’s side that he never occupied. She would move the bed and the chair up to her room and happily get rid of the sack full of reeds.

    This floor, the ground floor, was designed to be a workshop. She spent two hours cleaning and packing everything Donald had. It wasn’t much. Some clothes and a book reader. Donald spent most of his time reading after The Event. He told her that he was never much of a reader before, but he was so weak after that he couldn’t do much else, and the nearest TV was in the community center.

    Once she was done with his room, Stella went next door to look at her latest failure to make glass. She used a pry bar to break open the mold and looked at the roughly lens-shaped piece of flint.

    The glass kiln in the back was up and operational, although the fire bricks weren’t of the quality she wanted. But as the dark gray object indicated, the real problem was that in spite of having all the equipment and reading up on it, she had no clue how to make glass. She needed an expert, and though there was one guy who blew glass as a hobby for a while when he was younger, he used pre-made glass ingots for his glass blowing. Besides, he wasn’t interested in “helping the competition.” The asshole. 

    She had to find someone who could make glass.



Community Center, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

May 17, 320 BCE

    Stella plugged her computer into the ethernet port. There was a row of them with bench seats and little wooden half walls between them. It was where Stella did all her research, and after much consideration she called up not Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica, but instead the post-Event news feed and did a search for glass making. What came up first on the search was glass baubles made in Carthage and Alexandria, and there bought by the Queen and available for sale on their next landing at Fort Plymouth. Apparently, the Carthaginians were competent glass makers. One thing that Stella knew from her reading was that glass making was easier if at least part of your mix was already made glass. She put in an order, but then she had a thought. She needed someone who knew how to make glass. Why not try to hire someone from Carthage or, for that matter, anywhere in Europe where they made glass? She sat at her computer and wrote out an ad to hire a glassmaker. Then she called up the translation app for Phoenician.

    Wanted: Skilled glass maker to move to Fort Plymouth, Trinidad, New America.

    Then she added her name and how to get in touch with her. After translating it into Phoenician, she translated it into Greek, Egyptian, and Latin. Then she checked the price for sending a message to the Queen and cursed for two minutes straight. The price, even for text, was twenty bucks.



Queen of the Sea, Port of Izmir

May 17, 320 BCE

    Joshua Varner pulled the next message from the queue. It was an ad for a glass maker. It wasn’t the first of that sort of message. Over the last month since they left Trinidad, they’d gotten several requests for skilled craftsmen of one sort or another. This one, though, wasn’t from the government. It was a private individual. Joshua forwarded it to Eleanor Kinney.



    Eleanor Kinney sat in her office, checking her email. They were going to be shipping craftsmen to the new world if they could find them. The “Indians”–everyone knew the term was inappropriate but it was still the one they wound up using because it was handy–mostly lacked the skills that they needed in Fort Plymouth, and the ship people certainly lacked them, skill being a completely different thing than knowledge.

    The question was how to get the people they needed. In the here and now, a lot of the skilled craftspeople were slaves. Not all of them, but the majority. Eleanor would have liked to start up an underground railroad, but that wasn’t practical. A thought rose up in her mind and she slapped the disgusting thing back down to the evils of her subconscious where it belonged. But it wouldn’t stay slapped down.

    We might have to buy slaves.



May 18, 320 BCE

    Lars Floden listened to Eleanor’s proposal and turned to Marie Easley. First, because this really wasn’t his thing. And second, because it wasn’t really a proposal so much as a plea for him to tell her it was all a bad dream and she didn’t actually have to consider paying the bastards who kept slaves so that they could profit even more from their barbarity. He couldn’t tell her that, and he couldn’t quite bring himself to say “Yes, pay the bastards.”

    Marie looked at Eleanor. “I think that we may have to do so, but first we need to talk to Roxane. And, for that matter, Eumenes. And if she is available, Cleopatra. They, especially Cleopatra, will be more conversant with the local laws and customs.” 



Queen of the Sea, en route to Amphipolis

May 17, 320 BCE

    Roxane looked around the private conference room where Cleopatra, Marie Easley, Lars Floden, Eleanor Kinney, and Dag Jakobsen sat. There was wine on the table and Cleopatra was sipping hers, clearly to buy time. Of course she was confused. She didn’t have Roxane’s time with the ship people. She didn’t understand how anyone could be as rabidly anti-slavery as they were.

    Cleopatra put down her wine glass and said, “Well, certainly you can buy slaves. I had understood that you forbade slavery on the Queen and in New America.”

    “They do,” Roxane said. “They will be freeing the slaves once they buy them.”

    “Then why buy them?” Cleopatra asked. “Wait. Do you imagine that slaves will be so grateful that they will work for you after being freed? Slaves are the most ungrateful people in the world. It’s well known.”

    “Gee.” Eleanor’s voice dripped sarcasm. “Why wouldn’t they work for free just because they didn’t have to?”

    Cleopatra looked at Eleanor, and Roxane decided she should interrupt before things got heated.

    “I told you, my friend–” She waved at the ship people. “–on this they are fanatics beyond reason.”

    “And apparently beyond courtesy as well,” Cleopatra agreed, but her tone was more observant than harsh. She turned back to Eleanor and continued. “However good you feel their reasons are, once freed they will run off to their own endeavors. Buying a slave to ship to New America to work in one of your shops will get you no work if you free the slave. In fact, if you free the slave the moment it boards your ship, it will turn around and walk right back off.”

    “What about contracts?” Dag asked. “I know I may be being corrupted by the locals, but crew on the Queen of the Sea signed on for at least a full voyage. They couldn’t get to Port au Prince and quit their job without being in breach of their contract.”



    “A contract made under duress is invalid. And anyone signing a contract while a slave is, by definition, under duress. But you do bring up an interesting point, Dag. There were contracts of indenture. They were outlawed by the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, at least as the Supreme Court has interpreted it. And the UN also had rules against it. But there are still binding employment contracts. It could be done. A person could, as part of the deal to gain their freedom, sign an employment contract, with some part of their wages garnished to pay off the debt they incurred in borrowing the money to buy their freedom. But I guarantee it’s going to end up in front of New America’s Supreme Court, all three of the judges. And I can’t guarantee that it will pass their muster.”

    “I doubt it will pass mine,” Lars Floden said.

    “I hate to say it,” Eleanor Kinney said, “but you may have to reconsider if you want Fort Plymouth to survive, and even more if you want us to have any real role in the emancipation of slaves. Absent at least some acceptance–” She paused, clearly trying to find words that didn’t make her feel like Nathan Bedford Forrest. “–of a right to recompense, there is no motive for the people in New America to buy the freedom of slaves. It’s wrong. I know it’s wrong. But is it as wrong as just leaving them in slavery?”



    Over the next few weeks, the radio was full of back and forth discussions, some public and some private, between the Queen of the Sea, the Reliance, and Fort Plymouth It also included the personnel at the newly placed radio stations that the Queen was installing from Carthage to Babylon. And so, indirectly, involved the governments of the lands around the Med.



Fort Plymouth, New America

June 20, 320 BCE

    Another bad batch. Stella Matthews was getting closer, though. The broken glass shards she had added to the mix lowered the heat needed and got her something that was almost glass. It was gray and cloudy, but almost translucent. It was even smooth on one surface. But it was also full of bubbles. Just knowing the theory wasn’t cutting it. She needed a professional, and so far as she knew the only real glassmaking professionals in the world were in Europe and North Africa. She put her stuff away and dressed in her clothes from the cruise that were by now approaching the status of rags, and headed for the Community Center.



    Stella plugged in her computer and logged on to the email server. She had responses to her ad, but they weren’t applicants. They were slaves–slave owners, rather–offering to sell her qualified craftsman for Queen of the Sea dollars. For now, Queen of the Sea dollars and New American dollars were effectively the same thing. They were worth exactly the same amount of silver.  There were several offers. Two Carthaginians, three Egyptians, and a Phoenician from Tyre. For just a moment she wanted to get ready to stage a march on Al Wiley’s office, and not a Martin Luther King Junior-style peaceful protest. No. She was going to start the revolution.

    It wasn’t news exactly. The New America congress had passed a law saying that for the next twenty years contracts of employment made with the express purpose of buying a slave out of bondage would be enforceable. And the three Justices of the New America Supreme Court had approved the law by a two to one majority, and one of the guys voting yes was black, Justice Keith Robertsson. The practice of buying and freeing slaves with “Advance on Wages Contracts” was legal.

    The advance on wages weren’t paid to the slave, but the slave owner. The Advance on Wages contracts were way too close to a contract of indenture to survive any American court back in the world. That type of deal was all over the news last week, including the fact that the slave had to agree for the sale to take place. Surprisingly, not all of them did. The thing she hadn’t known about–or at least hadn’t realized–was that the radio stations being installed all around the Mediterranean were used by the locals to buy and sell in advance. Everything from linen to slaves, back and forth between city states and nations, whether the trades involved ship people or not.

    There were also Advance on Wages contracts where the “contract employee” was just getting the transport cost to Trinidad paid.

    Transportees could become citizens just like any other immigrant, if the person lived here for the two years needed and could recite the Bill of Rights in English and showed a basic knowledge of how the government worked through a standardized test.

    What Stella didn’t understand was why anyone would want to come live in a town that was mostly a housing project, where the plumbing was nonexistent and the only roads that were paved even with just tar-sand were 7th Street and Garnet Avenue. And that had been done only after two people died because the ambulance carts got stuck in the mud.

    She went back to the ads. One of the Carthaginians had agreed to a contract for a ten year period. The cost was high: 5,000 New American dollars, plus transport costs. The only way she would be able to afford it was to sell her laptop. She had already sold her cell phone to the Queen of the Sea. Donald Carnegie’s book reader was now owned by the community center and Stella’s mortgage on both townhouses was paid for the next year, along with the community dues that paid for her meals and the use of the community center.  



    Stella was a decisive woman when she had to be, and now she had to be. The truth was that the chickens hadn’t come home to roost yet, but they would if she didn’t do something. She checked the prices being offered by the Queen of the Sea, the government, and individuals for laptops, and pulled up the specs on her laptop to compare. She should be able to get around $11,300.00 for her computer.

    She unplugged her computer and headed up to the counter. Here in the computer center was a lock room, constantly manned, where items from back in the world and very expensive local items were stored for resale after being examined. Among the items was a two foot tall solid gold wall hanging in the shape of the sun. It weighed twenty-two pounds. And was worth rather less than any of the hundred fifty plus computers stored there.

    It took them two hours to check out her laptop and do the paperwork, but by the end of the day her account in the Bank of New America had an available balance of $10,200.98. That would change once the computer was put up for auction and actually sold.

    Then, using one of the publicly available computers, she bought the contract of indenture for Carthalo, a man owned by the Barca clan. The Reliance would pick him up on their way back. Carthalo was the cheapest on offer.



Radio Room, Carthage

June 20, 320 BCE

    Tina Johnson read the notice off the computer screen and shook her head in disgust. Part of the deal was that she had to transmit and receive messages.

    Even messages that involved human trafficking. It was disgusting enough when the locals did it, but ship people ought to know better. Even as she thought it, she knew that she wasn’t being completely fair, but she didn’t care. Sure, she walked the streets of Carthage every day among slaves and slave owners. She had dinner prepared by slaves at least three days a week, but that didn’t matter. She didn’t own slaves.

    Put whatever face you wanted on Stella’s advance on wages contract, it was buying a slave. And as agent for the station, Tina was going to have to go pay the present owner and pick up the slave.



    Carthalo woke up when the bucket of water was thrown onto him. No, not water. It was piss. He came up ready to fight and the overseer laughed. It wasn’t like he could reach the man. He was chained to the wall. The iron chain went from a bolt in the wall to a manacle around his ankle. He couldn’t go after the bastard anyway, because his ankle was rubbed raw and was infected, and none of it was his fault.

    What happened was an accident, pure and simple. Carthalo didn’t push his owner’s nephew into the furnace. The nephew bumped him. Carthalo was just trying to keep his balance.

    “You are a lucky bastard, Carthalo. You’ve been sold.”



    Ten minutes later, sluiced down, but still wet and limping, Carthalo was led into one of the master’s rooms. Not any slave quarters this. And a woman was seated on a chair at a table. There was another chair, and Carthalo was motioned to it. He sat cautiously, and the woman began to talk. She would say a few words, then the little box she carried would speak. It was not like anything he had ever heard of. He was to get his freedom, but not until he had worked for ten years. There was a provision for him to buy himself free early by paying back the money she was paying for him.



    Carthalo figured he could do that. Before Padus Boca fell into the furnace mouth, Carthalo had several dracmas stashed away for work he did on the side.

    Maybe he was lucky. Besides, the woman who was buying him was attractive. He might be able to seduce her. Then he learned that he wasn’t being bought by this woman. She was just acting as agent.

    He was going to sail on the Reliance. To New America.



214-216 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

June 30, 320BCE

    Stella woke to a siren that lasted for almost a minute before it was shut off. Then the public address system reported native attacks on the outlying farmsteads. It also warned everyone to stay inside the walls, and included a request for emergency housing.

    Stella got up, got dressed, and headed to the community center. She had extra room. In the community center, she was introduced to a farm family, Mrs. Banner, two kids, and four natives were assigned to her. They were especially worried about Brad Banner, who had stayed at the farm to try to protect their super turkeys.

    For the next two days the town of Fort Plymouth was cut off from its outlying territories and invested by a force of locals from the River Orinoco.



July 2, 320 BCE

    They couldn’t see the Indians, not even from the second floor balcony. But they could see the arrows that the Indians were shooting and they could see the troops on the parapet with their crossbows and occasional guns. Fort Plymouth was crowded now, not only with all the passengers, but with the allied tribes. That was most of the tribes that lived on Trinidad. All of them that were close enough to get here before the Tupky and their allies invested the fort.

    Stella was watching the battle as best she could when the public address system announced that the Reliance was in the Gulf of Paria. 



Reliance, Gulf of Paria

July 3, 320 BCE

    Carthalo limped over to the side of the barge portion of the Reliance and helped hand bullets up to the steam cannon crews. He wasn’t the only one. The Reliance had twenty passengers. About half of them were transportees like Carthalo. The others were immigrants who wanted to go to New America, but couldn’t afford passage on the Queen, often people who signed employment contracts to raise the fare.

    Still, Carthalo was worried what would happen to him if the ship person who owned his contract died in the battle. They said he was a free man now, just one with an employment contract. But Carthalo didn’t really believe that.



Trinidad Docks

July 4, 320 BCE

    Carthalo walked across the gangplank to the long wooden dock that the Reliance was tied up to and was met by a ship person. He thought he could tell ship people by now. This one was a man who said his name was George Grosskopf. For the rest of the day, the transportees were herded from here to there, dropping off the transportees, until a local dressed in a loincloth and body paint led him to a house.



    Stella looked up from an argument between the two Banner kids to see a man limping along with one of the Indians. He looks like a Tupky but apparently one of the Tupky on our side. In very broken English, the Tupky said, “Your slave.”

    “He’s not a slave,” Stella insisted, and the Tupky shrugged and turned away, leaving a man with short cropped hair and a beard that was just starting to grow out standing there.

    Stella introduced herself, and best she could tell, the only words he understood were her name. She called Mrs. Banner to take care of her kids, and using gestures, she led Carthalo through her townhouse to the kiln in back. It was better than walking around the block to get there. By now her house had some furnishing, mostly local work. A table, some camp chairs. A chest with gourd mugs and wooden plates. Even some wall hangings. All locally made. Stella wasn’t spending her dwindling cash supply on things like glass cups or plastic trays.

    She noticed that Carthalo was looking around curiously, and once they got out the back to the kiln and he was sure she didn’t object, he examined it carefully. 



214-216 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad

July 23, 320 BCE

    Carthalo turned the knob that increased the amount of heated oil that was fed to the burner. This was the third day of the melt. One of the big things that Stella didn’t know was how you could tell that you were melting the glass long enough and hot enough. You got them both by looking and seeing what it looked like. The trick Carthalo used for heat was one he had learned back in Carthage. You took a wooden plank with a small hole in it, then as the light of the melt shone through it onto another piece of whitewashed wood, you looked at the color. You needed to do that at night or you needed your kiln in a room, because daylight washed it out so you couldn’t tell the color well. For time, you stuck a rod into the glass and pulled out a blob. If there were unmelted bits or too many bubbles, you needed to keep it melting longer. He needed the glass to glow a yellow closer to white at this part of the melt, so that the bubbles would be able to escape.

    Another day at the increased heat should do it, he thought. The idea of using oil to control the flame struck him as brilliant. At least it did now. His first reaction was that they should be using wood like they did in Carthage. 

    He put the iron plate back over the opening in the kiln using tongs, then left the kiln and went back into the house. He had a room at the back of the house next to the back door. The whole place stank of tar.

    He thought of running away. He had thought of running away almost every day since he was sold into slavery at age six. But usually only a passing thought. There was nowhere to run. Now, well, there was still nowhere to run. No one spoke his language except a few other transportees and, as was amply demonstrated by the battle being fought as he arrived, the Indians were dangerous.

    Besides, he had his own space, even if it stank of tar. He had meals and access to the community center. He could move on his own. He wore no chains or any mark that he was a slave. And he got paid. Most of his pay went to the debt he owed Stella for buying him, but he got some money every week. Not a lot, but enough to buy an extra glass of wine when he wanted one, or new clothing if he saved up. 



July 25, 320 BCE

    Stella watched as Carthalo shoved the big spoon into the melt. The spoon was a brass bowl with a long wooden handle and must weigh twenty pounds empty. Full, it was closer to forty, and as he walked with it, Carthalo jiggled it, tossing the glass blob up out of the bowl with every step until he got to the stone table, where he plopped it down. It was glowing red-orange and still very flexible as he used a pair of shears to cut off a smaller blob, and put it in a ceramic mold. Then he pressed the other half of the mold onto it. If this worked, they would get a lens-shaped piece of clear glass.

    Carthalo then took a hand press made of iron and pressed the rest of the blob into a roughly flat sheet about two feet across. He used a knife to cut the glass into a square about a foot across.



    It didn’t work. The glass was Coke bottle green. The lens shape was rough and the lens had a dozen little bubbles in it. Carthalo was quite happy with it, though, insisting that with reheating and smoothing it would make a lovely ornament that would fetch a good price.

    They weren’t where they wanted to be, but they were in the glass making business.

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