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Lunacy: The Pride of Nations
Ken hated the Chinese. Not because he was a racist- well, okay, he was maybe also a little racist. But he hated them because he spent twice as much time on the phone with them as he did his own government.
“I don’t care what nation he’s from, the consulate can kiss the curly hairs on the underside of my balls if they think I’m sending a physically unfit person sailing through the universe on the Mars mission. There’ll be other missions. But don’t you dare bitch at me because none of your other astronauts made the A team. You don’t have anybody on the B team that can replace Anguó- that’s the sloppy fact of it. You spent too many years coasting- the Japanese were outspending you on space until a decade ago - and you’re still playing catch-up. And let me remind you that’s the same Japanese who don’t have a slot on this mission, either.”
“By my count there are three Americans on this ‘international’ mission.”
“Yeah, and when your country’s footing half the bill- which we both know you could damn easily afford these days- you can fill out half the seats, if you so choose. But we didn’t rig it, if that’s your beef. You want to send somebody down here I can show you all of our data on crew compositions.”
“Why don’t you send it to me?”
“Send you demographics on over a thousand astronaut candidates from dozens of programs, citizens from a hundred countries? Taste my ass. I wouldn’t let your people have a photocopy of a single file, let alone all of them. But if you want someone to verify that we only had one seat reserved for an American, like we maintained from the get-go, and you care enough to buy one of your people the plane ticket, I’d be more than happy to show them through the thought process myself.”
“Perhaps your President will see things differently.”
“The President doesn’t dictate policy, and I will have a shuttle suppository before I let him politick over this. Because these astronauts’ lives depend on us not putting the pride of nations before their safety. And if I have to fly to Beijing on my own dime I will show you the true meaning of a fucking shuttlecock if you try and shoehorn Anguo back onto this mission.”
“It’s diabetes,” he complained.
“Yeah, and if this were a normal dink around the universe, that wouldn’t be an issue. And from what I understand, they’ll have insulin synthesizing facilities on the Moon, so he’s still a viable candidate for some time on the Station, but there is just no room at this inn for his recently diagnosed little fanny. I’m sorry about that- honest and truly. I like Ang, and we’ll take a hit on mission unity for losing him. But there’s no guarantee he can be ‘fixed,’ and any treatment is going to push us out of this window for Mars. And he ain’t worth an 18 month layaway.”
“Perhaps the Chinese government will stop funding your little space adventure.”
“Ooh, the Chinese are going to pull 3% of the funding out of our budget. I’ll have to stop springing for the extra half in the half and halfs. Until the Middle Kingdom nuts up with its wallet, you’re always going to be standing there with your dick in your hand, proud of your cornholing exploits, while the rest of us stand with spread cheeks aquiver, wondering if it’s in yet, or if it’s already time to fake it.”
The line went dead, and Ken got himself another drink. Then his phone rang, from the State Department.
“You been talking to the Chinese again?”
“You use any racial slurs?”
“Not as I recall.”