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Awakened By Fireflies

Copyright 2018 Kimberly Clifton

Published by Kimberly Clifton at Smashwords



Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.




Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

About The Author

Prologue

Setting



The year is 2059, 40 years after the Reign of Blood wars began, which had through ego and arrogance decimated the world’s population to a fraction of what it had previously been.

After the Global Community Force brought peace to what remained, a few generations have passed, knowing only the absence of war, technological advancement, and the prosperity among those in the new capitals of commerce and civilization. Global Force expansion has stretched outward from the planet and established lunar mining colonies, as well.

The people of Earth felt they had evolved past the destructive natures that had destroyed their planet’s past, and all records of pre-Global Force days had been destroyed to ensure they were not repeated. However, without studying their planet’s past, they might risk having to re-learn them.



Main Characters



Kate Meanders – daughter of two lunar scientists on the colony of Alphaz. Top of her engineering class, she has been elevated to work at the regional capital Diatria, where she has been working for a year.


Captain Richard Rowan – A playboy, project-manager at Kate’s location, responsible for the construction and repair of items tasked to Diatria, often too busy chasing women and partying to get anything done.


Mayor McKinsey – Longest running mayor in Diatria history, under whose reign economic success and glamour had abounded for his city.


Becca Lasiter – News Reporter at New Diatria Press, one of the leading newspapers in the region.


Rachael Meanders – Kate’s cousin living on Earth, away from the busy city of Diatria in Exliting Falls province.


Ben Jones – Rugged and grounded friend of Rachael’s with an inviting heart and surprising past.


Chapter 1

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you anticipated. Kate knew that. She did. There are always minor changes you have to do along the way to your dreams. But, what do you do when you get closer to your dreams and find them more like nightmares?

Kate grew up on the moon mining colony of Alphaz, where it was always dark and depressing. It was forever away from anything close to real civilization. If it weren’t for the industrial walls and lack of atmosphere, the culture could have been from 500 years ago. People just lived to exist, and Kate wanted so much more than that.

Then, there were her parents. Just like all the other parents of the town, they got up, went to work, came home to scraps of food, and went to sleep. They had imported the lifestyle of their parents on Earth to the moon. She never knew how anyone could live like that. All she knew was that she couldn’t.

That is what drove Kate to achieve. Some people sought achievement to get money or things or to satisfy their ego need for self recognition. She just wanted to escape … ANYWHERE. It didn’t help that, whenever she saw footage from outside the colony, she could see the bright shining rock of Earth staring at her and TAUNTING her with what she couldn’t have. Or, COULD she?

So, partially from this drive and partially from boredom, she joined every organization she could at her school, growing up, and won academic contests. Winning academic contests definitely didn’t help with friends, who through jealously would make her life hell with names, rumors, and more. However, THAT only served to drive her on to leave, even more.

After graduating, she got a scholarship to study Engineering at the Blane College Center on EARTH. YES! She had her ticket away from her valley of the dead…finally. A few years, later, that opportunity led her to be hired by the Global Community Force at the regional capital of Diatria, which she had only read about in books or seen on videos, growing up. She had made it to happiness. Or, had she?



Chapter 2

“Becky, has Captain Rowan returned my call, yet?.

“Not yet, Ms. Meanders.”

Kate scowled at this and muttered under her breath. This is one part of the job on which she WASN’T trained….how to get your clients to care about their own projects.

Captain Richard Rowan was in charge of the exploratory and research facility unit on Diatria. Among other things, it was tasked to come up with alternative power sources for the colonies. Their contract by the Global Community Force was “to empower production increases by increasing the quality of life of the colony inhabitants.” This was what drew Kate to apply for this position, recalling her own experience growing up in one of those communities.

“Well, see if you can get ahold of him, again.”

“Yes, Ms. Meanders,” Becky chimed.

Kate hated having to get onto Richard to get things done. She joined to be a professional, not a professional nag for someone like hounding a disobedient child. Richard was the same level of worker as she was. Indeed, he was OLDER than her. Shouldn’t he be the one mentoring her in her new relatively new job? However, in her first year since joining the Global force, the main thing she noticed was just how uninspired everyone was at doing their job.

RING

“Hello?”

“Hey beautiful,” came the husky voice of Michael, her canoodling buddy, as he put it once. They had been seeing each other for over a year, but he had the commitment phobia of a panicked squirrel. Every time she brought up getting more serious, he just changed the subject by way of physical pleasure. Who was going to say no to that?

“Hey”

“What’s wrong?”

Kate sighed loudly. “It’s the same thing, as always. God! I feel like I am a baby sitter around here. It’s like… someone is doing a favor to society to actually do their job.”

“You just need to relax. How about we go to that restaurant with the balcony, tonight? You can see the sunset. You know how much you love that. It would be very relaxing, especially with wine.”

“Mmm, you know how to sweet talk a girl. It’s a date.”

Hanging up, Kate didn’t know how she felt about the night. She liked the attention, and he always took her to the best spots. She did love sunsets. Of course the sun SET where she grew up, but, without atmosphere, it just wasn’t the same. On the other hand, it was becoming more and more clear that Michael was NEVER going to become her forever love, and she might be just wasting her time with him. But, wine is wine, and a sunset night might just take the edge off this day.

“Ok, Ms. Meanders. Mr. Rowan is on line 1.”

“Finally!” said Kate punching the button. She predicted in her mind exactly what she would hear.

“Richard…”

“Have you ever just had one of those days, when everything is sunshine, Kate?”

Kate exhaled and rolled her eyes. “What is her name?”

“Elena…can you believe that? What a pretty and elegant name,” Richard continued in a dazed tone.

“Oh, you know her name, this time. I’m impressed.”

“Yes…I know her name,” he retorted. “We talked and talked for hours.”

“Oh, you only talked?”

Richard paused and laughed. “Well, we didn’t ONLY talk.”

“Well, while you have been talking and talking, my proposal is sitting on your desk.”

“Oh, that…yeah, I read that last night. We’re going to pass on it.”

Kate didn’t know which more frustrated her. Was it that he had not felt like she needed an answer to a proposal with a handwritten “CALL ME WHEN YOU READ THIS” at the top? Or was it that she had spent so long working on something Richard felt was less important than the name of his most recent weekend fling. And, now, she was just trying to NOT imagine them doing it ON TOP of that proposal. That tramp probably had the written words tattooed on her back, now.

“Why? The sensors are indicating a fault in that air filter. Those residents are living a half mile from a huge exhaust pipe, and that filter is their only protection from..”

“Kate. I admire your passion, but the money is just not there, especially if we are going to focus our resources on power.”

“Ok. So, when are we going to talk about that,” Kate pressed. “I’ve been working here for a year, and all I have done is training videos and maintenance projects. I got involved in this organization for the power projects.”

She could hear his frustrated sign on the line. “How about next Tuesday? Does that work? We will go over the options we have in the pipe.”

THANK YOU for WORKING, Kate thought. “Ok, sounds good,” she said, but she wasn’t sure if he heard that, before he hung up the phone.

FUN, she thought. What a great job.

Chapter 3


Kate walked into her living area, dropping her devices at the door and scattering her things on the way to the shower. She needed to wash away the filth of not only the public transports and the mental clutter inflicted by her day.

At least she had the date, tonight. Mmm ... Sunset and wine. That will be nice. Then, she thought about her escort for the evening and wondered when she had to deal with that issue. Not tonight, she promised her self. Tonight, just enjoy a night being you.

Exiting the shower and towel around herself and her hair, she glanced at the clock. It was an hour and a half till the date. MAYBE, just maybe, she could have five minutes to just relax. As she thought laying back on the bed and closing her eyes, she consciously unclenched her muscles and stilled her mind. She massaged her shoulders and neck and felt that she could just fall asleep from the exhaustion. That is another thing they didn’t teach you in college…work is TIRING. Ugh. However, it’s what she wanted to do…right? A glance at the clock told her that her 5 minutes were up, and she started to get dressed and glamorized.

As she started moving, she wrestled with the thought that she would be spending the next hour getting ready for a man that wouldn’t ever know or notice all the effort that she would take over the next hour to prepare for seeing him. Ha, he would probably take 5 minutes and wear a t-shirt, she thought.

The crazy things women do for…love? Well… for wine, at least.


Chapter 4

“Someone is waiting for me,” Kate told the doorman at the restaurant, who gave her a once over and said, “I bet they are.”

That made Kate smile. Women have this twisted internal conflict, where we don’t like to be seen as a sexy object but like to get reactions like that. That said, Kate bet that Michael wouldn’t even notice.

“There he is,” she announced, pointing over at a table on the balcony. The doorman nodded and led her to the table.

“Sir, your guest has arrived.”

“Uh huh...” Michael was in the middle of a phone call and just nodded, staring out the window with a quick glance at Kate. Yep, she thought. Who knows if the ‘Uh Huh’ was even about her?

“Well, would the lady like anything to begin?”

“A white wine, please. Just bring whatever is the house wine.”

With that he wandered away, leaving her to feel embarrassed on the date, already.

The sun was just nearing setting just over the wall that surrounded Diatria. The wall was so high that you could see the sunset from only one of a few places near the city. Why did they need a wall, Kate thought, every time. However, no one ever seemed to know.

“Ok. That sounds like a good idea. I will try to make that happen,” Michael said into his phone as his call ended. Setting down his phone, he smiled and looked at it for a few seconds.. “Sorry. Just a call from work that I had to take. Did you order?”

“Just the wine. How about we not talk about work this evening? I have had enough of it for a day.”

Michael smiled and grabbed her hand. “That sounds perfect. It’s just you and me, then.”

For all his faults, that was just what she needed, tonight. Maybe, he’ll do. Maybe..

Dinner was amazing, as always. It was one of the things she liked about this restaurant. They never had meals like this back home, since the community was always so poor that food was given the faintest of spices and cheapest of courses.

Ha, Kate thought, as she considered what people would think of her fascination with the food. All around her were people in fancy clothes and 500 dollar nails, talking about their new patio…or pool boy, and she was thinking O.M.G., as she processed the million flavors of the crab or lobster mixing with the wine.

In another life, she would love to be a food critic. Instead, she was just a work critic, so much so that it took less than the length of a meal to be back on her frustration with Richard.

“And, it’s not like he really cares about the budget, either,” she vented as they ventured out on the patio after the meal. “He just spent God knows how much on Ms. Whos-her-name.”

“Maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t, but what can you do about it?”

“I can report him,” Kate snapped back.

“And, what is that going to accomplish…just branding you as the new girl that causes waves? You need to keep your career in mind.”

Michael had a point, but she just felt so helpless.

“Yeah … maybe. Sorry, I ended up turning the sunset into a dump-fest about work, again.”

“It’s ok. I just hope you put this behind you.”

“Ok.”

Turning to catch one more look at the fading light from the day, she saw a column of smoke rising from near where the air filter was malfunctioning in town, and she decided it was time to don the detective cap to explore it, even if present company was against it.

“If it’s ok, I think I want to clear my mind with the sunset and get a little rest, tonight. Thanks for the evening out, but I may just walk and think a little.”

“No problem, beautiful. Get a little rest. Clear your mind.”

With a quick peck on the cheek, he was on his way, and she was waiting long enough to see him turn the corner to set off in the direction of the smoke.


--


The night sky hung over the city like a thick fluffy blanket absorbing all the waste being pumped into the air, which was exactly what Kate wanted to prevent. However, Richard was too busy dating women that were as transparently simple as this problem SHOULD be to him.

On the way to the filter, she passed a man on the street with a face as wrinkled and rough as leather and coughing. With all the smoke wear on his body, it was hard to tell if he were 25 or 50 years old.

“Cough…hhhck,” Kate spattered, as she entered the pollution cloud as she neared the community filter. Much longer down here, and she would need to call in sick, herself. Why was it THIS bad? It should at least be…

Then, she noticed there WAS no filter, just an empty pipe leading out to where she saw the smoke rising just beyond the dirty glass wall.

“What the hell?”

Then, from behind her, she heard a rattle of a can on the ground as a woman in a trench coat stepped from the shadows, hand held recorder in hand.

“What the hell, indeed, Ms. Meanders,” said the woman, staring up at the same sight she had just seen.

“Who are you,” Kate pressed the new visitor to her surroundings.

“Becca Lasiter, New Diatria Press. I overheard you at the restaurant and decided to follow you. Can I assume you didn’t know about this environmental emergency?”

Oh, great…the press. New of the job, and she was already right in the middle of a public relations nightmare. Michael would be so proud…not.

“No. I didn’t, and I really don’t think that I should be talking about it, until I talk to some of my staff.”

“But, didn’t I overhear you saying that your staff had ALREADY been told about it, and they are unwilling to fix the issue?”

“No … I … I think you might have got some things wrong, and I will deny whatever you THINK you heard me say, until I have a chance to get some confirmations.”

With that, Becca clicked off her recorder and extended a card. “Very well…I anticipate your call, tonight, before I go forward with the story that what I HAVE heard would write.”

As the reporter walked away, Kate sighed deeply and glanced up at the missing filter.

“Awesome”

Chapter 5

Michael sat next to Kate on the front row, as Captain Rowan stood at the podium with a large man that stepped up to the mike, Mayor McKinsey of Diatria.

“Welcome … welcome … take a seat. So glad to have you come to witness event. We in Diatria pride ourselves on not only being the best but hiring the best for our staff and for our citizens. Today, we honor one of those best individuals in Kate Meanders. A few days ago, she brought it to our attention that the air filter sensors were detecting an anomaly, and we put it in her capable hands to determine the cause of the errors.

“As it turns out, a recent storm had severely injured the filter for sector 12…ripped it right off the hinges, as it were. We have discovered the filter a few miles down wind, but it is ONLY for the extraordinary efforts of Ms. Meanders that this problem was discovered. Since the health of our citizens is the HIGHEST priority, we have dispatched a new filter installation, this morning. It should be being installed, as we speak.”

Kate flashed a “this is all b.s.” expression to Michael and mouthed O.M.G. Michael squeezed her hand and continued his conversation from dinner with his eyes, reminding her to not make waves.

“Kate, why don’t you come up here?” the mayor said with a stern look and motion.

Richard waved her up, also. He stood there, looking like a boy caught by his father with his hand in the cookie jar. The mayor looked at Kate with an inviting but frustrated look on his face. However, He definitely didn’t seem happy to her to be there, today. Kate rose and went to the stage and stood next to Richard.

“So, today, I am delighted to award the Always Better award to Richard Rowan and Kate Meanders.”


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