by Mary E. Lowd
In the hidden base on Europa, the minutes passed like hours, but back on Earth the hours passed like minutes. Trudith’s apartment had become the spontaneous headquarters for her scramball team’s efforts. Dahlia and several of the other dogs, at Trudith’s request, had brought laptop computers with them. Now they crouched around the different computer screens haphazardly arranged on the coffee table. Clips of Kipper played on all the screens.
Trudith had opened up the entire video history of conversations she’d had with Kipper to the team, and they combed through them, scene by scene, looking for snatches of conversations, brief phrases, that could be used in their campaign.
Of course, the crowning jewel of all the clips would still be the clip where Kipper told everyone to “vote for Brighton.” Dahlia believed Kipper’s word would carry more weight if they came at the end of a longer campaign. Dahlia meant to release a series of short videos to increasingly prominent news sources. The first ones would be leaked to the public, as if they were meant to be kept underground. By the end, top news channels would be clamoring for exclusive first access.
Each video in the series would close on a black screen that read, “Kipper Brighton: The Hero of Europa,” and would feature short snatches of Kipper and Trudith’s conversations together. Mere moments. The briefest moments, chosen carefully to leave the viewers wanting more of Kipper, just the way that Trudith always did.
Dahlia meant to make the disenfranchised cats and underdogs of Earth love Kipper. Then, in the last video, Kipper would tell them how to vote, and the final black screen would read,
“Kipper Brighton: The Hero of Europa
Alistair Brighton: The Hero of Earth?“
Trudith didn’t know if Dahlia’s advertising campaign would work, but it gave her chills to hear Kipper’s voice repeating lines of their conversations over and over again from each of the computers. She also noticed as the afternoon progressed into evening, more and more of her teammates asked her questions about Kipper. They wanted to hear the stories about the Hero of Europa.
The most important story about her hadn’t ended yet. Trudith began to realize that Kipper wasn’t carrying only her own burdens on her shoulders but also the weight of Alistair’s election. If Kipper could save all those cats on Europa, she really would be a hero, and Alistair could easily ride the wave of her success into office.
If she didn’t…
Trudith shuddered. She couldn’t think about her friend not coming home.
Continue on to Chapter 30…