"Bookreader: Alwahiduddin on the Moon sounds interesting. What's that about?"
reQuest 2019: the reTurn
I don't know if it's that interesting. This particular nodeshell is a deleted node from my Above Earth series that I was writing serially on E2 in 2012. I deleted all the writeups in that series because the story wasn't working at all for me and unlike later stories (Carcinoma, the Song of Ceber), I hadn't written it all before I began posting. Most of the serial fiction I do here is already written out before I post it, because I've found that it is infinitely easier that way.
The plot and general outline of Above Earth runs as follows: Set in a colony on the moon, an adult woman (Jennifer Hemp) is having an affair with one of her students (David Yee). After an incident where a insane moon cult tries to land on the moon and the Lunar Government blasts their spaceship out of the sky, Jennifer Hemp's husband, Lucas Hemp is dismissed for the night by his supervisor for refusing to fire on the spaceship. He comes home early to find his wife and her student engaged in "extracurricular studies". There is a confrontation and Lucas Hemp is murdered.
Both Jennifer and David are arrested pending trial and kicking off something of a crisis. There has never been a murder on the moon before and nobody knows how to deal with it. Everybody is a bit shocked and flounders about. At the same time, the government of the American Empire has taken exception that the Lunar Government killed Americans, no matter how crazy they were. (The moon is a former colony of the Empire, but free after September 11th, 2001 when the Islamic Caliphate started a war with the Empire, and the then-on-going Lunar Rebellion became too expensive to squash. Relations have been icy ever since.)
The Americans demand retribution and the protagonist of the story, Sarah Yelm, the moon's public relations officer, has to work overtime to keep them satisfied. Her friend, Essica, is about to take over the position of Lunar Treasury Officer from her dying grandfather, and has a previous relationship with David Yee, and promises to get him out of custody. She thinks she can smuggle him to either Earth or get him banished rather than any other punishment. She asks Sarah for help on this, but is turned down due to Sarah being too busy to help.
Essica is a genius with numbers and has a scary amount of unauthorized access to the Lunar mainframe due to backdoors an ancestor of hers built into the system during the founding of the colony.
Meanwhile, the moon's physician, Dr. Atsuko, recuses himself from examining the body of Mr. Hemp on grounds that he isn't trained enough with forensic pathology to do a proper autopsy. The Lunar Government doesn't believe him with Michaelson, the head of Daily Operations, going so far to call for his dismissal (before being silenced by Sarah). Michaelson is able to convince Sarah in private conversation that they need a new doctor for this purpose. She finds Dr. Alwahiduddin, a stateless individual whose country had been absorbed by the Caliphate. He fled to the European Union, but wasn't granted amnesty outside of Schönefeld Spaceport, so he has been living in the departure bay for several months.
Sarah is able to recruit him and that's where the chapter "Alwahiduddin on the Moon" begins. Michaelson is furious with Sarah for bringing a religious man, a Muslim to the moon. The Americans demand he be turned over to them because they think he represents a shift in the moon's Western-ness toward the Caliphate.
Dr. Alwahiduddin, himself, is a quiet man, fascinated by the moon and all kinds of phenomena there such as the day-night cycles and how the colony manages moon dust. He greets Dr. Atsuko who tells him that he'd serve the moon best by not revealing his autopsy results. Atsuko is worried that an outright murder trial might destabilize the community and seeding doubt is probably better than anyone knowing the truth. Alwahiduddin disagrees and concludes that Mr. Hemp was killed by being hit by a super-ceramic plate that broken in a very, very particular way lodging a piece deep within Hemp's head. Any other material would be fine, but this "unbreakable plate" broke in just the right way.
And that's where the chapter ends. The rest of the story would have gone as follows:
The government can't agree on whether to hold a trial or make a judgement by fiat. Michaelson is in favor of sending both suspects to the prison colony on Ceres and being done with the whole thing. Sarah notes that they do not know if David was defending himself from the enraged Mr. Hemp. Finally, Essica, who has by now taken up the roll as Treasurer, is able to cast a deciding vote for a trial.
Sarah decides, mostly to spite Michaelson, to be the defense lawyer, and Michaelson the prosecutor. The trial is buttressed by concerned citizens starting a commotion and the chief and only security officer Aileas Jonson almost having a nervous breakdown because of it.
Essica talks to both David and Jennifer Hemp both held in a makeshift prison in two different storage rooms and it is revealed that she lost her virginity to David and is-not-over-him-at-all. She then goes to Jennifer and convinces her to lie to Sarah saying that if she tells the truth the public will crucify her for sleeping with a kid whose 18th birthday is a month away (incidentally, Essica herself is two years older than David).
Sarah interviews both suspects to prepare their defense and gets contradicting information. She can't get either of them to resolve their stories even when face to face.
Essica meanwhile runs a few tests on the computer systems including one that shuts down a corridor due to "moon dust detection". She also receives a visitor, by way of a European spaceship delivering supplies. The computer tests allow the guest to deliver Essica a bottle of rum, something not allowed on the moon, without being detected.
Sometime later, the trial starts, jury is selected, and Essica begins laying her plot to get David off the moon if need be. I didn't have the trial blocked out as clearly, but it would have been a courtroom drama with both sides stumbling a lot because they have no idea what they're doing, and reading through legal documents uplinked from Earth as a way to proceed.
Eventually, however, Michaelson would win and the two suspects would have been sentenced to banishment to Ceres.
The Americans at this point would get belligerent and park a spaceship in Lunar Orbit. At this point, systems start acting up in the colony. The biggest one is an ethanol leak in the computer core. Fearing fire and American sabotage, the colony is mobilized.
Essica, her plan now in motion, heads to the storage units where the prisoners are being stored until the ship from Ceres can get past the Americans. She talks to Jennifer Hemp first and convinces her that she can rig a self-vacuum sealing container to not suck all the air out, so that Jennifer can be smuggled out in the next European ship. Jennifer climbs into the container, and Essica seals it.
She has a moment where she contemplates opening it again, but eventually decides it is probably too late already, and Jennifer likely would have brain damage if rescued anyway. Essica counts to thirty, and moves on to the other room.
She tells David that she's secured an emergency medical shuttle and they can make it out on that. David asks how she'll avoid all the people and cameras. She tells him the cameras are down and everybody else will be at their crisis stations. They go toward the medical lab without trouble.
However, both Sarah and Alwahiduddin are there trying to fix the medical station's hi-fi antenna so they can still contact the American ship and see if the Americans are really going to attack. Essica had forgotten about the antenna, but she has brought a homemade electrolaser which she uses on Alwahiduddin to the objections from both Sarah and David. Sarah tries to talk her down, but Essica says she can't let David go to prison and zaps Sarah too.
Essica and David then get into the shuttle and head for the American ship. Essica contacts the ship, and when David realizes that she promised the Americans vital intel on the Lunar computer systems and defenses in order to escape, he confronts her. There is a scuffle and the shuttle crashes into the Lunar surface.
With the shuttle destroyed, the American ship moves out of orbit and heads back to Earth.
Sarah and Alwahiduddin wake up with minor injuries, and Jennifer is eventually found. The story would end with Sarah having a conversation with Michaelson, with both observing despite the Lunar Public thinking they're above Earth both intellectually and morally, they really aren't. The two make amends.
That's a bit more information than you probably wanted mystery reQuester, and while I like the story, it will probably never get written. There was too much broken stuff, and the serial format wasn't helping it. It might make a good novel, maybe. It's not dead, dead, but it isn't alive either.