Elisha Smit sat dejected in the San Frangeles unemployment office. It was July first 2091. It had been four years since he lost his transport rider job due to gravity pollution in the big metro cities, and he was sick of the quiet desperation and the smell of unwashed bodies. 
Four years earlier, almost to the month, ten million men had been put out of work in three days.

By the northern summer of 2087 gravity pollution had emerged as the dominant problem facing mankind on planet earth.
Gravity propulsion was banned, almost simultaneously, in all the larger metro cities–those with a population of fifty million or more.

In the early 2040’s a research team had discovered the gravity particle, predictably they had called it the graviton. The next seven years had seen the technology applied to traffic safety, then shipping, and finally propulsion.
Any mass, large or small, could be safely, cheaply, and quickly transported anywhere in the globe within a graviton encapsulation.

The basic principle of gravity propulsion is the displacement of gravitons within an encapsulation making the mass lighter. If enough gravitons are displaced the mass begins to hover. Displacing gravitons strategically and unevenly throughout the encapsulation causes horizontal and vertical movement, great distances and speeds are easily achieved. Replacement of gravitons at the destination slows the encapsulated mass down. With sophisticated algorithms, and a transport neural network to avoid collision, gravity propulsion was born.

It was touted as “clean energy” because so little power was required to either displace or replace gravitons; but it was not clean. In typical Heisenberg fashion engineers and physicists could select where to take gravitons from and where to put them back with exact precision; but the technology was not at all precise about where they were displaced to, or where they were taken from on the other end.
It turns out indiscriminate graviton displacement creates “heavy zones” about fifty miles in any direction. Over time gravitons were being displaced out of city centers making them “light zones” and into “heavy zone” ring spheres, between seventy and one hundred and thirty miles diameter with the metro cities’ industrial sectors at the center.

By 2060 scientists began to raise concern about a general lack of gravity in the more densely populated regions of the planet, the big cities. Some also warned of heavy zones outside of the cities. Most people ignored these warnings; life was busy, global suburbia was booming. More than seventy percent of the fourteen and a half billion global population lived inside metro-cities. There was a general “cry wolf” attitude toward dire scientific warnings.
A disturbing status quo was reached until big shipments began crashing into smaller ones passing through “heavy zones”. Cracks began appearing in the mantle where heavy zones created localized pressure. Oxygen depletion began affecting metro city centers with denser gasses settling lower in light zones.

The final straw was the complete annihilation of Honshu city island as the whole land mass broke through the mantle and was swallowed in a catastrophe of steam and lava, with its one hundred million residents. The “Honshu Heaviness”, as it was called, was the largest man made natural disaster to date.

Three days later all gravity propulsion was banned in every metro city putting ten million transport riders out of work overnight. Some riders had taken rural jobs where laws didn’t really seem to matter and national boundaries had long been forgotten; but that work was scarce, dangerous, and poor paying. The vast majority, like Elisha, were destitute and despised.

Elisha was a big man, although gaunt from stress and a lack of food, he still towered over most people in a room. His jet black hair and beard were speckled with white. He wore a grey jump suit with reflective orange bands, typical of workers in his profession. His boots were old and worn but spoke of a time when he could afford expensive things. He sat slumped forward with his head in his oversized hands.
A voice snapped Elisha out of his dejection, “you looking for work?”
He looked up surprised to see a girl, he guessed she was about fourteen years old. She was dressed casually; long jeans, sneakers, and a nano T-shirt flashing out the soundless music video of the latest punk-fusion band. Her hair was short, tied into two neat and practical pony tails, her headset in standby mode hovered above her head. She carried a leather shoulder strap bag across her chest. He looked at her quizzically.
“I’m a good judge of character,” she said abruptly, “I think you will do nicely.”
“That headset uses gravity tech,” he scolded, pointing at the device above her head, “you shouldn’t be using it in the city.”
“It’s not that tech,” she said quickly, “it’s my own design that doesn’t use graviton displacement.” Elisha got the feeling that she knew a lot more than him about the technology, and he was not in the mood to be embarrassed by a kid.
He looked around. Though the office was busy no one paid them any attention, the despondent faces seemed trapped inside their own woes.
Elisha gave a short snort of laughter and looked back at the girl as she gazed at him impetuously. She crossed her arms and began tapping her foot impatiently.
“Well?” she asked.
He leaned back in the plastic chair, his strong frame overflowing it. He folded his arms mildly mimicking her and smiled, he was probably going to be there all day either way; why not have a little fun?
He slowly opened his arms wide, “sure,” he said, “what you got? You need help manning a second lemonade stand?”
She rolled her sharp green eyes, “Don’t patronize me,” she barked in a sharp, commanding tone; “what I am offering you is real!”
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” he asked.
She sighed irritably and whipped two worn folded papers out of her back pocket and held them in front of his face, “this is your last chance,” she threatened, “before I find someone else.”
He took the papers slowly from her hand and unfolded them. The first was a high school diploma and associates degree with exemption in the sciences. The next was a court order granting someone by the name of Donna Tree full autonomy as an adult. Her birth date was October 2080.
“Is this you?” he asked pointing at the papers, “are you 11 years old?”
"I will be,” she said, “in October.”
“Wait,” he stammered, “and… and you have a high school diploma and associates degree?… in the sciences?”
“Yes,” she said simply.
“So you’re some sort of…”
“Genius? Yes, and I am now embarrassed as well as short of time. Do you want a job or not?” she repeated, “if not I can find someone else… That guy for instance.” She motioned toward a small man sitting bolt upright in his chair and staring straight ahead, hair a mess, pupils dilated, with a creepy open mouthed grin on his filthy face; he was clearly high on some untraceable substance.
“Yea? Good luck with that.” Elisha said softly, then turning back to her, “Um… no… I mean, yes, I do want a job,” he said, “… please.”
“OK,” she said, “well let’s go then.”

Elisha stood, “wait,” he said, “it’s Donna, right?”
“Yes,” she answered, “I’m Donna.”
“Is this anything illegal, or unethical?”
“No, quite the contrary,” said Donna, “I’m going to save what’s left of the planet.”
He looked at her for a while, comprehending the absurdity of her claim, and shrugged his shoulders, “OK then," he said, “how can I help?”

They walked quickly along the busy sidewalk. Elisha thought of his own kids, about her age, his wife had divorced him a year and a half after he lost his job, she was living in the California hills now, not that state lines, or national borders for that matter, meant much any more. Politics and civil service focused on the big cities, the people outside them had to fend for themselves. Donna was leading and he felt awkward, as he had many times since he lost his job.
“So why aren’t you at some special university?” He asked, “if you can save the world, clearly you’d…”
“Couldn’t afford it, at first,” she cut him off, “didn’t need it afterwards.”
“What’s your name?” she asked wanting to change the subject. She hated talking about her past, her delinquent parents, her street survival, her long and bitter battle with Child Protection.
“Elisha,” he said, “Elisha Smit”
“Were you a transport rider?” she asked confidently as she strode down the sidewalk.
“Yes,” he said with his eyes down. This was usually the time when the interview went wrong; “we’ll get back to you,” he’d heard a thousand times, the few that did informed him that there was no opening for him at present; but he knew what that meant; they couldn’t handle the bad press they would get for hiring a transport rider.
“Well,” she said, “it was hardly your fault, those to blame still have their money and their comforts.”
She turned quickly into a car dealership.
“Ahh, Miss Tree,” greeted a salesman with a practiced plastic smile, “you’re back. Did you want to take the vehicle now?”
“Yes,” replied Donna, “I take it my payment is all in order?”
“It sure is.” he answered handing her a key ring, “and your insurance called and confirmed the vehicle is insured in your name. I hope my questions didn’t put you in any difficulty…” his voice trailed off as she glared at him.
“Actually,” she said, “I found your questions demeaning, and disrespectful. You put me at considerable difficulty and you embarrassed me, but, thankfully, not as much as you embarrassed yourself,” she said as he wilted before her. “ Please give it to my associate,” she commanded, and then turned to Elisha; “I take it you can drive?”
He took the key ring and slipped it onto his finger, “yea, sure I can drive.” The ring adjusted for his finger size and took a bio reading.
“Well,” she said, swinging herself into the passenger seat of a hydrogen powered utility vehicle, “let’s go then.”
He made his way round the truck to the driver’s side looking at the salesman who shrugged and smiled weakly.

“Elisha Smit, you are cleared to operate this vehicle in the city of San Frangeles,” the voice from the console said as Donna entered the address manually into the GPS, “Your destination is about fifteen miles South East,” the vehicle said as Elisha backed out of the dealership.
The vehicle was a stock-standard, hydrogen powered half ton pickup. Production of hydrogen, electric, and virtually every other type of powered transport had ground to a halt with the advent of gravity propulsion. The gravity drive was far cheaper, quicker, simpler, and safer than anything else; and it had the advantage of being airborne without the messy complications of traditional aviation. Today though Elisha was glad he had kept his old drivers license. He wondered, as he had so many times before, if they would ever use gravity propulsion again. They could use it, sparingly perhaps, to travel in space. Acceleration could be limited for human use, or extremely rapid for drones. Or maybe someone would develop some form of inertia dampeners.
Donna snapped him out of his daydream, “all I need you to do,” she said, “is help me lift a machine into the back of this truck.”
He thought about that for a bit. He had begun hoping against all hope that this was a real job, but the old despondency set in, his face became grim as he drove.
“Oh,” she said, sensing his mood change, “that’s actually not true… I’m going to change your life.” she corrected herself with a smile.

As soon as they began to feel the effects of the heavy zone they were entering they pulled into a modest home in the old suburbs. The corners of the roof sagging a bit under the extra gravity.

“Could you back up to the garage?” Donna asked. She smiled to herself, she was always amused the way older people’s faces sagged a bit in heavier zones.
Elisha did as she asked, “so,” he asked, “what is the pay like in this job? it sounds like a once off gig.”

“Well,” said Donna. “I am offering you thirty percent share in my company. She flipped open the flap of her shoulder bag and reached inside and pulled out a document. This is a signed offer from the Department of Defense for my proof of concept machine. It equalizes graviton count within a sixty mile radius. This afternoon I need to get my machine down to the offices of the Department in downtown San Frangeles where my legal team and theirs are waiting for us; we will exchange the machine for full payment.”
“And all you need me to do is put it in the truck and drive it there?”
“Yes, pretty much,” she answered, “and stay on board at the Tree Corporation afterwards; if you want.”
“And they’re waiting there now?” Asked Elisha, incredulous.
“Yes!” said Donna, “which is why we need to hurry.”

After loading the machine into the back of the truck, Elisha climbed into the driver’s seat again, breathing heavily.
“That was heavier than it looks,” he said, “though we’re in a heavy zone I guess.”
He drove off as she entered the address for the Department of Defense, San Frangeles.
They had hardly left the driveway before Elisha started firing questions:
“So there are a bunch of lawyer dudes waiting for us right now? and… and you have a contract with the United Cities of America, Department of Defense?” He asked.
“Dudes, and dudettes,” she corrected, “they can wait, they have more than enough incentive to. Yes, I guess it’s a contract, it’s a purchase contract. I don’t work for them and I own all my own patents and tech. They know better than to try steal from me.”
“It seems like a pretty big deal,” he said, “are you saying you can fix the gravity problem? Aren’t they monitoring you, or following you?” He asked.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” she said, “it’ll take about two years but my machine will fix the gravity problem. They tried following me,” she smiled, “we blocked them, legally, but they did it anyway, so I stopped them… let’s say technologically.”
“I’m really glad you said yes,” Donna smiled at him changing the subject, “you were the twelfth man I asked.”
“Really!” He exclaimed. “So, how much are you selling this wonder machine for?”
“Twenty seven point two trillion,” she answered slowly.
Each syllable of the answer hit him with increased weightiness. “What?!?” He exclaimed as he struggled to control the truck in his shock. The tires screeched briefly as he hit the brakes. He exhaled slowly through clenched teeth as he began to comprehend the fullness of the implications of her proposal.
“Careful,” she said calmly, “we don’t want to get into an accident; not today.”
They drove in silence for a while as Donna Tree let her new business partner, and trillionaire, Elisha Smit comprehend what had just happened to him.
“Besides,” she said eventually, “I need to begin work on an idea I have for inertia dampeners.”