I'm presenting here Chapter 2 of my unfinished novel, "The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars." It's a fictionalized biography of Capt. Robbin Nikalishin, the starship Captain who made the first contact with extraterrestrials in the 28th century (some 2.5 centuries before the time of "The Termite Queen"). I already posted the Prologue to that book, which you can read here, and Chapter 1, available here. At that latter link, you can see my drawing of Capt. Nikalishin.
Chapter 2: How Robbin Nikalishin Got His Name
Barsilia Section, South Ammerik)
His mother bore the name of Sterling Nikalishin. Her ancestors had come from Russa, migrating into Western Uropia during the time of the Techno-Warlords, then fleeing to Britan when the bombs that had wiped out the Franco-Jerman Federation began to fall. That had been over 300 years ago and the Nikalishin lineage had become stoutly British, although the family had resisted the pressure to “anglify” its name during the 27th century’s Campaign of Cultural Unification.
Upon completing prep, Sterling attended a tech school, studying Spainish and information technology with the intent of becoming an interpreter and transcriptionist. She hungered for an adventure in a far-away place and hoped to get a posting in an overseas installation. The Earth Unification Charter was less than forty years old at that time, and the implementation of a Pan-Global government remained a work in progress. Segments of the Earth such as Britan and Midammerik that prided themselves on possessing an unusually enlightened heritage had not quite lost their distrust for the less homogenized lands in other sectors of the Earth and still maintained delegations in those parts to keep an eye on their interests there. Sterling had gazed in fascination at the llamas and scarlet macaws in the Lunden Zoological Park and became infatuated with the prospect of visiting them on their home turf.
When she received her assignment, however, she found herself nowhere near llamas and parrots, but in Bunair in Arentina Section, the capital of the Southwest Quadrisphere, a cosmopolitan city with a decent climate. She ventured on a couple of excursions to the Andean West and the tropical North and quickly became disillusioned and quite relieved to return to a comfortable city life. She was put to work as a translator in QuadGov’s Agribusiness Division and planned to return to Britan in a year when her contract expired. Then she met Manual Vargas.
He was a rough-talking, sexy outdoorsman, quite different from any man she had ever known, and before she could fully understand what was happening, she was pregnant. She made a fuss and Manual gave in and signed a nuptial contract with her. He had family living in Mount Vid and so, when the baby was born, they were waiting in that precinct for Manual’s next assignment to come through.
And so Sterling found herself transplanted to that tropical North that she found disagreeable, dwelling in a village complex prosaically called Plantação das Palmas, número dois, or simply Dois Palmas, some two hours by rail from Bell Horizon. Fortunately, Vargas was a supervisor and so the young family was allocated a cottage to themselves and was spared the need to live in the communal barracks with the native field workers and overseers.
The plantation had been purposely located at no great distance from the Devastation Zone of Regioneiro so as to study the effects of slightly contaminated soil and water on the crops. During the Apocalyptical the city of Regioneiro itself had been pelted by so many radiant bombs that 350 years later it still remained too “hot” for rehabilitation. All the food and water necessary for human consumption was transported into Dois Palmas; the surrounding environment had been certified safe for habitation, but a good deal of controversy still lingered about that. Half the population of Bell Horizon had died during the Wars even though the city itself had escaped a direct attack, and the entire surrounding Prefecture continued to suffer a cancer rate three times higher than normal. The local population was impoverished and poorly educated, speaking little Inge and only the pidgin dialect of Spainish native to Barsilia, which Sterling could hardly understand. Hatred for the situation in which she had trapped herself soon began to smolder within her.