Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any people, real or fictional, is entirely a coincidence. In addition this story involves homosexual thoughts, feelings and actions. If this is not what you want to read, please visit another website. In addition if reading this story is illegal in your area you need to go to another webpage now. If you want to contact me my e-mail address is below.

Love From the Printing Press

By David Cross

Chapter 2

Randy's father, Kadwin, had been the unfortunate recipient of a naming tradition that had, for a generation, been focussed on "avant-garde" names for babies, and in general reflected a society which had been more permissive about a lot of things. Since then there had been a backlash in many areas, and one of them had been a return to more "conventional" names. Another artifact of the backlash had been more conservative ideas about sexual relationships. Not as bad as pre-spaceflight times, but this was one of those eras when it was at the very least considered "odd" to not have a spouse of the opposite sex and the desired two children.

Since attaining the powerful post of Minister of War (Kadwin still thought of himself as a War minister, since a victor in a battle should have a strong military), everybody called him the Honorable Minister Anderson, and the slightly embarrassing first name slid slowly into oblivion. When people had to call him by a "personal" name, his middle name of Randall sufficed, and he rather insisted on it. The diminutive naturally suggested itself when his son had been born.

After Randall had finished grinning for the cameras and in general behaving as a master politician should, he spoke briefly to the school's headmaster. After that, he and his son Randy left to take lunch at one of the fine restaurants near the school. The headmaster, although only a headmaster, could still throw sand in the wheels of the academic plans of those who groomed their children to one day enter the upper crust of Adrel society, and it made sense to follow his rules. One of them was that since the school, whose name was the Sefren Vadil Preparatory Academy (extant for two hundred years), was a boarding school, the headmaster had to be notified if a parent wanted to take his or her child off the school grounds for any reason. As for the school being a boarding school, few exceptions were ever granted as regards the requirement of herding boys and girls into nearby dormitories. Comfortably furnished, indeed, and with ample room for all, but nonetheless, alien environments for children who normally are accustomed to being near their parents at least fourteen hours out of twenty-six.

Randy, for his part, was happy to see his father. He didn't get many chances, considering he was in prep school and his father was a busy man indeed. So he eagerly boarded the luxurious aircar that had been detailed to carry father and son to their destination. The seats were comfortable, the windows could be opacified or cleared at a touch of a dial, and there was virtually no noise inside the well-soundproofed passenger chamber. The driver was in front of a partition, and he knew his job well.

Randall spoke first. "How are you, son? I've been wanting to see you for some time, but it just seems like I can never get away. Thankfully there was this event going on, and now we can talk."

Randy enthusiastically replied, "Oh, it's great, Dad! You should see what we're doing these days! Just last week, we learned about the plant biology of the Sedric tree, you know, where the wood's from that's on the front doors of Vadil Prep. Fascinating. Completely different from the Earth trees we studied."

Randy volubly went on and on, and happily discussed the computer-holographic simulation of atomic bonding using hybridized orbitals (which he had been required to program into the computer, using his recently discovered skill at linear algebra - the objective, obviously, was to see if students could work out for themselves what the computer gave for an answer when they asked a chemical bonding simulator how to draw organic molecules), and the study of mid-twentieth-century Earth literature.

Randall, for his part, was happy to let his son talk for a while. He was proud to see the boy absorbing and making use of the knowledge he'd gained. Too many of his fellow captains of industry and government officials had children who took prep school as a licence to goof off, thinking personal connections alone would get them where they wanted. Maybe that was true, but lack of mental soundness often translated into poor decision-making, and that usually spelled disaster for a would-be captain of industry.

Randall also, frankly, had to do a lot of talking in his job, and sometimes deliberately cultivating the skill of listening was a good exercise for someone who talked a lot. His attention on his son's words was momentarily broken when the driver discreetly paged. He pushed the button near the speaker grille and said, "Yes, Martin?"

"I thought you should know we are about to land near the Windermere, sir."

"Excellent, Martin. Drop us off, and I'll page you when we're ready to leave."

Not a minute later, father and son stepped out of the aircar and stood in front of a low one-story structure that had been cleverly built out of stone and non-glare glass, with the appropriate selection of plants and vines, which created the overall impression of a structure in harmony with nature, rather than clashing with it. For several hundred meters in either direction there was lush green grass with the occasional shrub. Dotted over the landscape were various small buildings, and only when one looked westward towards the nearest city did one see tall structures several kilometers away. The road, such as it was, was decently paved and could accommodate groundcars going in either direction, but it was rarely used for that purpose, aircars being more versatile, and with excellent public transportation taking care of many travel needs. It was, however, a mark of status to have an aircar one did not have to drive.

Randall and Randy walked inside the glass front door, and were greeted with the subtle sounds of murmured conversation, the occasional clink of cutlery against plate, and the bustling of efficient waiters and waitresses. The murmured conversation came from people who had chosen to sit at open tables rather than booths, which could have privacy shields activated. Randall, whenever he ate out, routinely used such privacy shields. It would be no different on this occasion.

Randy was a bit overawed by what he saw. The luxury and comfort of the interior of the Windermere Restaurant was on a level he wasn't quite used to, for all that he ate fancy dinners at home on the few vacations permitted him by the school, or when he ate in the communal dining rooms at school. He had dressed in a neutral medium blue tunic, with pants that glittered a dark metallic blue. His father was in his conventional dark grey suit, a fashion affected by those who were imitating late twentieth-century clothing styles on Earth. It wore well on him, the three-piece suit, and this had undoubtedly aided the popularity of such an outfit among government officials. Randy, however, followed the more-or-less faddish styles that afflicted teenagers all over the planet, and so did not wear such suits.

They were quickly ushered to their booth, which was not visible from the road. After Randall ordered a coffee, Earth brew, while Randy asked for water to drink, followed by what they wanted to eat for a late lunch, the two were left to talk further behind absolute privacy. The restaurant took great care to ensure no spies could pierce the privacy shields often employed by those who needed, or wanted, them.

Randall spoke. "Randy, your mother and I were thinking of taking you on a trip with us to the moon resort on Delisle. How would you like that?"

Randy thought, No way! This is awesome! He'd wanted to go ever since his low-grav gymnasium classes the year before, when Vadil Prep had gone to the expense of installing a gravity neutralizer in the gymnasium. The exhilaration of being able to do so many different things in low gravity had stayed with him for a long time past the one-month session, and he missed the lightness of foot and the strangeness of leaping high into the air, only to fall so slowly back to the ground. He remembered with amusement the first few times his fellow students had tried to adjust to the gravity change, even though they had been warned of the possible adverse effects. He had gotten his "gravity legs" almost right away, and since then had looked forward to the next time he could do low-gravity sports.

"How soon, Dad? How long?"

Randall grinned. "One question at a time, son. As you know, our moon, Delisle, has had that resort on it now for about fifty years and they've got it expanded to the point now where it's really quite comfortable for us older folks, while you could bring some friends and safely take part in the activities and sports they have up there.

"As to when, your school breaks for the summer in two months, doesn't it?"

"Yep, Dad. Month of Divart. Fifth month of the year."

"Now, don't tease your old man. I'm still perfectly capable of remembering the calendar, you imp." Randall grinned. "We thought we'd go for... well, the whole month, but with the option of returning sooner. That way if you ever get tired, we can come back earlier and not worry about all the hassle that comes with cutting a trip short. We also might not be able to take it for that long; your mother and I are getting on a bit in years, you know. The only danger is staying too long and getting too used to the low gravity and having a bad episode when we go back to normal grav.

"Also, since your school lets out for two months it gives you a month to get readjusted to normal gravity before school starts. So, how about it, son?"

"Absolutely awesome, Dad! I can't wait to tell the guys!"

At that moment, the signal briefly flashed, indicating the food was being served. A few seconds later, a waiter came by and soundlessly placed the meals on the table, and then vanished as rapidly as he'd arrived.

Derek was thankful it had been an off-school day when the media and politicians decided to come down and make a spectacle out of him and his fellow scholarship students. He didn't think he could have stomached going back to his studies once he'd gotten over his awe at the sight of several powerful planetary officials all cascading down on the otherwise-semi-obscure Vadil Prep. For once the meeting had broken up and the media people were leaving, he'd come back down from the clouds with a sudden bump, and had been sick at the way he'd let himself be manipulated into being someone else's showpiece.

What made it worse was that he'd seen a guy about his own age staring at him in the getup the school officials had made him wear. It was bad enough having to wear a uniform that didn't really belong to him. Now he had to wear an emerald green tunic with metallic-green pants and, while he admitted the overall effect on his appearance was pretty good, he resented the fact that they would take it away from him and come up with a reason nobody actually believed was the truth.

The man who had shaken all their hands, Derek included, had worn a strange outfit that looked like a sort of coat, with a vest of the same grey color underneath, and equally grey pants. His shirt had been white and he wore a device that someone called a "tie". Derek had looked it up later and been puzzled at the archaic invention. The instructions for applying this device, this "tie", had been incomprehensible.

The man had turned out to be the all-powerful Minister of Defence. You just didn't get any higher than that except for the Prime Minister. Derek had seen him walk to the headmaster, speak briefly, and then walk towards the boy that had been staring at him earlier, who then went with him in the direction of a late-model aircar. That must have been his son, thought Derek. It made sense, given that he was in the most prestigious preparatory school in the hemisphere, if not the planet. Where else would the Minister of Defence send his son?

Derek had to admit to himself that he hadn't been repulsed by the guy's appearance; he'd just been uncomfortable that he'd gotten noticed by one of the richest kids in the world. Getting noticed by anyone besides teachers for academic effort was not a good thing, to his way of thinking.

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