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Chapter One

“We’re finished here,” Adam said sternly.  “You may use the washroom to compose yourself.”


“Yes, sir,” the woman tearfully replied as she straightened her skirt over a painfully punished bottom. 


Adam hung the belt back on a hook behind the sturdy desk in the treatment room.  He waited until she exited before rubbing his shoulder muscles.  It had been an unusually long day, with more level threes than he could ever remember giving at one time.  Was there something in the air? 


He took a deep breath of the filtered atmosphere and gave a wry smile.  Lunaheim, the moon’s first enviro city, was entirely dependent upon the manufactured gases for its very survival.  Air quality was checked constantly, with multiple fail-safes and redundancies to prohibit contamination.  He didn’t know yet why seven wives had failed so miserably in their contracts, but he was certain that the air had nothing to do with it.


He dropped his hand the moment he heard the door open and turned to face his client with an unrelenting expression.  “I trust that you’ll not forget this rule again, Mrs. Rozak.”


“No, sir,” she said in a tremulous voice.  “I’m sorry, Mr. Masters.”


He offered a slight nod of his head.  “It is your husband whose forgiveness you must seek.  You should speak with him tonight.”


“Oh, I will!”  Her eyes, still a little red and puffy, lit up and she smiled.  “I hate it when I have to report here, but he’s coming home tonight and now we can jump right to the ‘kiss-and-make-up’ part.  Thank you, Mr. Masters.  God bless you!”


Impulsively she flung her arms around Adam and gave him a peck on the cheek.  Then she turned and fled from the Lunaheim franchise of The Michaelson Agency for Domestic Discipline. 


The transport was returning tonight!  Adam groaned as he acknowledged at least part of the cause for his busy day.  Often husbands wanted whatever discipline their wives had earned dealt with just prior to their arrival, thinking their wives were more passionate following a spanking.  Adam massaged his aching shoulder once more.  There wouldn’t be time to go to the gym now.


The transport would be bringing more than just a handful of returning husbands.  It carried a shipment of tomatoes newly bioengineered for the lunar habitat, medicines, supplies, and probably a few dozen immigrants.  It wasn’t really necessary for all the local businessmen to greet them, but the mayor would be there, and since Mayor Cade Masters was his adopted father, Adam would be expected to show up as well. 


Adam grimaced.  He would do anything for the elderly man who had given him a home when no one else wanted him, but he hated how these gatherings always made him feel.  He was the local freak.  Everyone would stare at him, would talk about him, or whisper when they didn’t think he could hear, but no one would really talk with him.


“Damn,” he grumbled.  But duty was duty.  He went to the desk in his office and brought up the transport schedule on his computer monitor.  He had just over an hour before he had to be on display.  Taking one last look around, he turned off the lights, closed and locked the door. 


The Michaelson Agency was located on the second level, directly beneath Yuri Gagarin Park.  It was a perfect location, for he could sprint up the access tunnels between appointments whenever he felt he needed a little space. 


The park was small by earth standards, but lunar land was a premium.  It cost untold billions to construct the enormous domes that protected the surface from solar radiation and meteor showers, and fill the enclosed area with breathable atmosphere.   Then it took years of working the rocky surface to terraform it into living topsoil and every inch of that soil was needed to grow the produce to support the inhabitants.  No one was allowed to live on the surface, their dwellings were carved deep in the moon’s crust.  But some wise bureaucrat all those years ago had argued that the park was necessary for a healthy community.  Adam never ceased to be amazed that the park had gone through.  He had no respect for bureaucracy, but for Yuri Gagarin Park, he was grateful.


Diffuse light radiated from the permaglass dome, which was over four feet thick and eight stories up.  During lunar day, the light would shine for two weeks straight, but it was night now.  For twelve hours light was artificially delivered from solar sails, then gradually it lowered to simulate twilight but it was never completely dark.   


Since the climate inside the dome was temperate, it was always growing season.  They had three plantings and harvests a year.  The astrobiologists continually worked to perfect hybrids specifically designed to do well here.  Lunar corn was far taller than the Kansas varieties, he’d been told, sprouting between eight and ten ears per stalk.  Soybeans would be planted after the corn harvest to revitalize the soil, followed by a mixed planting of fresh vegetables.  Adam knew that they grew almost double what they required, but they were supporting the entire work crew for Starport, a second lunar habitat still under construction.


He had walked past the park, past the fields, and around the small freshwater lake where they aquafarmed a dozen varieties of fish.  A few workers waved at him as he passed, but mostly they ignored him.  At least it was better than being stared at, he mused.  Damn, how he hated the transports!


“I thought I’d find you here,” a friendly voice called.


Adam buried his feelings deep and plastered a smile on his face.  “Hello, sir,” he said. 


Cade Masters leaned on a cane, the only apparent sign of his age, as he walked towards his adopted son.  “So how was your day?  You look tired.”


Adam shrugged.  “A little busier than normal.  So, who’s coming this time?  Is it a half-hour, no one-important-speech night, or a two-hour, impress-the-visiting-dignitaries speech?”


The older man growled, swatting Adam’s arm with a playful snap.  “No respect!  Kids these days.”


Adam chuckled.  At thirty-two he was hardly a kid, even by the conservative Family Act of 2122 which proclaimed that young people were legally considered children until their twenty-fifth birthday. 


“Walk with me, son.  Tell me what weighs so heavily on your spirit on this lovely lunar evening.”  Cade turned off the path to wander through the orchards.  Timing in Lunaheim was everything.  When the crops were harvested, the temperature of the dome would drop to simulate frost, which sweetened the apples.  Cade plucked one off the tree, not quite ripe, and bit into it.  Adam felt his stomach twist hungrily.  He had worked through lunch again.  Cade picked another apple and handed it to him.


“How do you always know?” Adam wondered aloud.


“You couldn’t be more a son to me than if my DNA flowed through your veins.  I love you, Adam.”


Adam swallowed.  He should say something, but the words never seemed to come.  He had never said “I love you” to anyone.   It was as though he felt unworthy, since his own mother had abandoned him.  The adult he had become knew that was foolishness, but the wounded child inside refused believe otherwise.  He bit into the apple, sparing the need to comment.


“Do you know yet who will be leaving?” Cade asked.


“Reverend Breakwater, Doctor Fike and his wife, three biologists and an engineer.  I don’t remember their names.”


Cade shook his head sadly.  “Fike, huh?  I thought he’d stick around.  He seemed so enthusiastic when he first came.  It’s only been, what?  Six months?”


“A year, sir.  And he doesn’t want to leave, but his wife is expecting.”


“Ah, yes.”


They walked in companionable silence.  When they reached the edge of the orchard, they turned and walked back until they were once again on the path.  Cade glanced at his watch.  “I guess it’s time.  Damned transport better not be late.”


At the end of the path was a solid durosteel door set with multiple alarms.  Cade pressed his hand to the ident pad. “Mayor Cade Masters,” a flat computer voice intoned.  “Access approved.”


The door hissed softly as it opened.  Cade drew a deep breath, which was entirely unnecessary, before he stepped into the corridor in the thick glass wall of the dome.  Although he’d lived on Lunaheim for many years, he still couldn’t get used to the closed-in tomb-like feel.  Adam followed him, blessedly ignorant of any other way to live.


The door shut firmly behind them.  It was yet another part of the security measures built into the enviro. In the event of a breach in one section of the domed city, the entire population would not suffocate.  At least some would survive.


The corridor went on for half a kilometer before they came to second door, this one letting them in to a lobby in the massive hangar.  The transport Constitution had already landed and was slowly entering the hangar.  It could take another hour for the transport to stop and the passengers to disembark. Adam pulled a chair out.  “We might as well get comfortable.  We’ll be here a while.”


The lobby started to fill; the informal welcoming committee consisted of three ministers, a teacher, a doctor, and several company heads, besides Mayor Masters.  Adam noted that the manager of Biochem was there.  That could only mean that at least one person on the transport was about to begin working for him.  Draden Mining and United Fish Hatcheries were also represented.  Their faces looked tight with plastic smiles.  No one wanted to be transferred to Lunaheim.  It was a city of outcasts, home to the failures, the mediocre, the less than brilliant, and those who had fallen from favor or merely posed a political threat to someone higher up.  Oh, the passengers would be warmly greeted tonight.  They would attend a banquet in their honor, with speeches and handshakes, but beneath it all flowed quiet desperation.  Each would wonder how long until they were rescued from this cursed ground.


That was what bothered Adam the most.  Not that they came and went while he lived in permanent exile, but that they despised the only home he had ever known.  


Cade started coughing.  Adam tried to conceal his alarm, but the older man shook with each racking cough.  Adam patted his back and pushed a glass of water towards him.  “Sir?  Are you all right?  What’s your med scan say?”


Cade took the glass and sipped at the cool liquid.  “Nothing new, son.  Just a virus.”


“You’re not wearing the gravity inserts, are you,” Adam accused.  “You of all people should know that extended periods in low gravity increases the risk of lung infections and respiratory disease!”


“Don’t patronize me!  I’ll wear the blasted things when I damned well feel like it.  They make my legs ache so I can hardly walk.”


Adam shut his mouth.  Cade had given him everything, sacrificing his own health.  It was a debt he could never hope to repay.  “I’m sorry, sir,” he said yet again.


Cade patted his hand paternally.  “Don’t fret, Adam.  I’ll wear the inserts all day tomorrow.  I promise.”


The siren beeped musically, alerting them that the hatch door was about to open.  Adam glanced quickly at the emergency button, which would drop oxygen masks into the room in an instant in case of a breach, but he knew it was a fairly useless idea.  If something happened to the hangar, he was more likely to be blown out into space than to suffocate for lack of air.  The trouble with having lived in Lunaheim all his life was that Adam knew too much about it. He knew all its flaws.


Pastor Makepeace rose and shook the hands of the newcomers.  His broad flat face and jovial laugh helped to put them at ease.  Adam studied them dispassionately.  Some were obviously married.  Eventually they would come to him.  Life in Lunaheim was fragile, with numerous rules and the penalties for breaking them could be harsh.  It had become almost a game for him, guessing how long before each newcomer became a client. 


Cade rose, muffling a groan as he shifted his weight onto his spindly legs.  Living in low gravity for decades had caused him to lose considerable bone density. It was yet another reason why few stayed any longer than they absolutely had to. 


“May I introduce Mayor Masters, and his son Adam,” Pastor Makepeace said, concluding his welcoming remarks.  “Adam owns the Michaelson Agency franchise here.”


“Oh, he’s Adam Masters- look, Bryan!  The moonbaby I  told you about,” one blonde quipped, pointing a long, florescent fingernail at him.  Adam winced. 


“Ignore the bimbo,” Cade whispered.  “Hello, ma’am,” he said then, looping his arm through the bimbo’s and steering her away.  “Tell me, what brings you here with your father?”


“Bryan is my husband, you old flirt,” the bimbo cooed, batting unnaturally enhanced eyelashes at him.  “He’s only here until the new enviro is completed.  He’s an agri-techno something.  What is it you do, Bry-Bry?  I can never remember.”


Cade needn’t have bothered, Adam thought angrily.  More whispers followed on the heels of her tactlessness, more fingers were pointed in his direction.  Sometimes he thought he should give them a real show and appear naked.  Then they could gawk their fill.  He had a nice physique anyway, but he didn’t think the spiritual leaders in the group would find that very amusing. 


Thirty-five passengers disembarked.  A few were only here for a visit and would leave with the transport in three days.  That left thirty-two newcomers, and only six were leaving.  Adam mentally calculated the added strain to their meager supplies and cursed the idiot earthside bureaucrats who’d sent them. 


Slowly they moved through the corridor leading to the curving ramps that would bring them down into the bowels of the lunar crust.  Adam waited dispassionately, counting to himself until each question was asked by this round of ignorant passengers.  Why Cade didn’t just publish a list of the answers and have them distributed to every seat on the transport, Adam didn’t understand, but then, maybe he did and people just didn’t read them. 


“Why aren’t there any elevators?”


“Because exercise is even more important in a low-gravity enviro than anywhere else.  Without regular, strenuous exercise, you could lose so much bone density that when you return to earth you would be unable to stand.”


“Why is it so cold here?”


“Because the energy required to raise the internal temperature is too great.  Everyone in Lunaheim wears a thinsulate layer beneath their regular clothing.  You’ll find them quite comfortable.”


“How long is a day?”


That one always made Adam laugh.  How some poor earth bastard could think that just because the lunar day was two weeks long, he would have to work a two-week shift before he could go to bed!  It was absurd.  Besides, everyone lived below ground, where light and dark were artificially controlled.  The lunar work day was the same as earth’s.  He tuned them out, ignoring the whispered comments about him as he followed the crowds to the banquet hall on the nineteenth level. 


The tables were set with fine white china on crimson cloths, with white metal candles flickering mechanically in polished brass holders.  Recorded music filtered softly over the speakers.  The guests and dignitaries took their seats amid applause and more welcoming speeches.  Adam had heard all the speeches before.  He’d even written a few, but he refused to stand up and give one. 


The blonde Bimbo was seated at the other end of the table, he noted thankfully.  Her husband seemed like a spineless little man overawed by his trophy wife.  Still, if Bimbo didn’t open her rule book and memorize it, she could be sent to him by the courts.  Adam felt a surge of anticipation... it wasn’t that he sought to get even with her for her cutting remarks, but every time a thoughtless earther bent over his lap he was able to prove her preconceptions false. 


“Mr. Masters?”


Adam jolted out of his preoccupation, turning to face the man who had spoken.  He gave no response, but lifted his eyebrows lazily, recognizing the Bimbo’s husband  as he slid into the empty seat opposite him.


“Mr. Masters, sir?  Hello.  I’m Bryan Rune.  I’d like to apologize for my wife.  She doesn’t mean to be so rude.  It just comes naturally to her.”


Adam felt the corner of his lips twitch.  Maybe he had misjudged the man.  “How long have you two been married?” he asked, keeping his tone professional.


Bryan heaved a heartfelt sigh.  “Forever.”


A chuckle escaped from Adam’s tight control. “I’m sorry, Mr. Rune.  I didn’t mean to belittle your situation,” he said, trying to sound appropriately apologetic.


“I married her because her father wanted me to,” Bryan explained.  “I guess that sounds pathetic.  But you don’t know how competitive it is down there.  If you don’t know somebody who knows somebody, you end up, well...”


“Here,” Adam finished for him. 


Bryan stammered, heat flushing his face.  “Yes.”


“So what happened?” Adam carefully studied the other man.  Listening to him pour out his miseries could be more entertaining than the treasurer’s report or the recent crop statistics. 


Bryan Rune was probably about his age, although like all earthers, he appeared older.  Having never seen unfiltered, natural sunlight, Adam had the face of a choirboy.  Bryan’s hair was cut a little longer, with red-brown waves that curled over his collar.  His eyes were hazel-green and clearly revealed his unhappiness.  A splash of freckles on his tanned cheeks and nose told Adam that he must be a field worker, and the calluses on his hands confirmed it. 


“Rissy’s dad worked for Blackwell Industries.  He recruited me my senior year in college.  I married his daughter, and he put in a good word for me.  I got hired.  I’m a crop engineer.  But we had some major problems last season.  Droughts, sand storms, then a tornado destroyed hundreds of acres.  Finally a new strain of locust resistant to our insecticides wiped out everything in its path from North Dakota to Kansas. They needed a fall guy.  My wife had been rude to Mrs. Blackwell at the company Christmas party, so I guess my name was at the top of the list.”


They married his senior year in college, Adam thought to himself.  Bryan would have been around twenty-five then, the age of legal maturity.  So they’d been married roughly seven years.  “We have no undesirable insects here,” he said.


Bryan gave a mirthless smile.  “Thank God for small blessings.”


Three uniformed waitstaff served plates of the evening’s main course.  Adam inhaled the aroma of baked lemon rabbit and curried rice, feeling his hunger reassert itself.  He waited politely until all had been served, and then for Reverend Makepeace to speak over the meal.  Finally, he took his knife and fork in hand.


“I didn’t realize you had meat down here,” Bryan said, spearing a piece with his fork.


“Only rabbit and chicken, and of course, there’s lake trout.”


“I guess it would be rather impractical to bring a cow to the moon.  But don’t your rabbits launch themselves into orbit when they hop?  I mean, the gravity is so much lower.”


More ignorance, Adam acknowledged, but at least it wasn’t about him.  “We have magnetic plates in the floors to increase the gravity to about a third of earth’s.  Then everyone in your group should have been issued shoe inserts, which simulate an even higher gravimetric pull.  No one will fly off if they jump too high while inside the dome.  And you can’t step outside on the surface without a 300 pound enviro suit.  The rabbits are kept in cages near the crops so their droppings can be composted into the soil.  They too have magnetic plates beneath their cages to counter the adverse side effects of a low-gravity enviro.”


Bryan nodded as he listened.  Adam could see the questions in his eyes, but thankfully, Bryan was too polite to voice them. 


“Can you help me, Mr. Masters?” he asked then.


“That depends.  What do you have in mind?”


“Well, Rissy and I have talked about Domestic Discipline since before we got married.  We believe in it, but we’ve never known just how to get started.  I spanked her a few times... she didn’t cry.  It didn’t seem to make her change, either.  I know that we married foolishly, but, I think I really love her.  I mean, I’d love to love her, if she’d let me.  She’s like this selfish, spoiled little girl sometimes, but I think she’s really very lonely.”


“Give me a call after you get settled.  You and your wife will need to come in for a consultation.  We’ll discuss how you’d like things to change and draw up a contract.  Also, you can read the list of courses I offer, and see if any interest you.  Then we’ll take it from there.”


Bryan smiled, and for the first time Adam caught a glimpse of the bright, hopeful boy he must have been.  “Thank you!  Thanks, Mr. Masters.”


“So, what did you think of my speech?” Cade asked quietly as he returned to his seat beside him.


Adam felt a faint blush creep up his neck.  “I’m sorry, sir.  I wasn’t listening,” he confessed.


Cade smiled.  “That’s fine, son.  Glad you found someone to visit with.  It’s the same-old-same-old, anyway.  Will you drop by after we finish here?”


Adam hesitated.  He should visit the aging man more often.  They would play cards or chess, or just sit in the den and read, companionable in their silence, as Cade was getting too old for anything more strenuous.  His weakened bones were easily fractured.  But Adam felt the restlessness bottling up inside.  He would need to spend at least an hour in the gym if he hoped to sleep at all tonight.  “Another time?” he asked politely.


Cade looked at him.  Adam tried not to squirm under his penetrating stare.  The older man shrugged then.  “Fine.  Just remember, I’m here when you want to talk about it.”


Finally the dinner ended.  Someone else would escort the immigrants to their new home and the overnight guests to the motel. Bryan Rune shook Adam’s hand warmly before he went in search of his wife.  “See you tomorrow, sir,” he said.


Adam accompanied Cade as far as his apartment.  “Will you be all right?” he asked, feeling a twinge of guilt that he didn’t step inside to see for himself.


“Don’t fuss over me.  I’m in a lot better shape than most men my age.  Good night, son.”


Adam watched as the door closed, then he stood alone in the dark corridor for a moment.  “Take care, sir,” he whispered. 


The gym was a good distance away, but jogging there was part of his workout routine.  The roads and ramps beneath the surface were wide and spacious in the designers’ attempts to create a more earth-friendly enviro, but they were often filled with people.  Adam preferred to slip unnoticed up to the first level.  No one lived there, for it was where the pipes and wires for the subterranean city were located, water was  recycled, and the air purified and filtered there.  It was for maintenance personnel only.


Adam had cracked the security codes years ago, adding his ident to the list of personnel.  Once on the first level, he could run freely and not have to worry about being seen by gawking strangers. 


It was difficult to get a good workout on the moon, and Adam couldn’t wear the gravitron shoe inserts required for everyone else.  With each step he took, his light body would soar six meters before returning gently to the ground.  As a boy he’d perfected the strange shuffle-run that kept him from banging his head on the high ceilings.    Although the gym was a kilometer away and twenty levels down, Adam arrived there in minutes without even breaking a sweat.


“Good evening, Adam,” the night-shift coach greeted him as he entered. 


Adam glanced around quickly.  The gym was mostly empty, which was why he liked to come at this time.  The day-shift should be preparing for bed by now, and the night shift was at work.  Since they lived beneath the surface where day and night were merely abstract terms anyway, the community was divided evenly in two shifts.  They had tried a three-shift schedule years ago, but later voted it down.  They felt they needed an overlap, when people from both shifts could interact, or Lunaheim could become two completely segregated populations sharing the same space. 


He jogged a few miles on the treadmill, then went to work with the free weights.  His arms and chest were well developed and his abdomen a solid washboard of muscles.  He had a figure to compete with the body builders on earth, if he could have ever gone there.  Doug Barker, the owner and founder of Michaelson Agencies, encouraged all men who trained under him to work out.  He felt that just the image of strong muscles could be intimidating and might encourage clients towards better behavior without a spanking.  But Adam took his workouts more personally.  Because he was a moonbaby, everyone assumed he was also a weakling. 


Exercise equipment hadn’t changed much in the last two hundred years.  Although technology had exploded in the twenty-first and twenty-second centuries as people had colonized space, Mars, three asteroids, and the moon, there was still no substitute to achieve a healthy body than good, hard exercise.  On Lunaheim, the chief technological advance was that the gravity under the weights could be increased to give a tougher workout.  Only, Adam had to stay away from that.  As the only surviving moonbaby, he had been formed in the low-gravity enviro and no treatment would ever give him the bone density to survive anywhere else.


“You work too hard,” the night coach called.  “Slow and even gets the job done.”


“Depends on the job,” Adam replied.  Tonight he needed the exercise to burn off his anger. 


The coach wandered over and leaned into Adam’s space.  “Med check,” he said firmly.


“I’m fine,” Adam huffed, doing two more reps.  “Would you add ten pounds for me?”


“No!  Med check now, then you may continue.”


“I know how-” Adam started to object, but the coach cut him off.


“This is my gym.  I’m in charge here.  You don’t like it, tough, and don’t give me none of your moonbaby crap.  I been here long enough to know.”


Adam slammed the weights down.  He winced, hoping he hadn’t broken them.  Angrily he rose from the bench and went to the console in the center of the gym.  Slapping his palm down on the screen, he waited while the computer processed his stats.  In a bland voice, the computer recited his heart rate, pulse, and other readings.  The coach seemed satisfied.  He grinned at Adam, showing all his teeth.


“Now that wasn’t so bad?  Slow down a little.  You’re rate is high enough for one work out.”


Adam returned to the free weights, but his concentration was blown.  The workout wasn’t doing anything to improve his mood.  He grimaced, trying to stop a yawn from escaping.  Maybe he’d better just take a shower and call it quits.


“See you next time,” he called to the coach.  He forced a smile he didn’t feel.  He knew the coach was only doing his job.


Two teenage girls entered the gym as he was leaving.  Ignoring them was impossible.  They just stood there gawking at him.   “Excuse me, ladies,” he grunted, stepping around them. 


A twitter of giggles, and they whispered to each other.


“Isn’t he gorgeous?”


“Yes, but maybe he can’t keep it up.  You know what they say about him.”


“Ah.  That must be why he’s still single.”


And another wave of giggles. 


Adam felt his anger burn out of control.  The only thing that kept him from returning inside the gym and blistering their skinny bottoms was the fear that in his current state he might really hurt them.  Maybe he should have chosen to play cards with Cade?


As he had lived in Lunaheim all of his life, Adam had managed to procure the apartment of his choice.  It was furthest from everything, on the bottom level, sandwiched between massive storage chambers and far from the main stream of society.  Cade had objected strenuously, claiming that he didn’t need to live like a hermit, but Adam knew he had to be alone.  On his twenty-fifth birthday he had moved out.  He still saw his adopted father daily, sometimes spending the evening with him, but he always returned to his private sanctuary.  Being mayor, Cade’s home was seldom private.  Uninvited guests could drop in, and then Adam would be forced to endure their company.  This way he was free to come and go as he pleased. 


Something blocked his front door.  Adam paused, staring at the lump of clothes.  Then it moved and Adam realized it was a child.  His black mood deepened, the rage threatened to consume him.  Not again!  How could anyone do that to a child?  To someone they should have loved with all their heart?  Someone they should protect with their life? Resentment for the mother who’d abandoned him nearly blinded him.


“Who are you!” he demanded.  What are you doing here?”



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