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Today in Alternate History
Day in Alternate History Blog
The Lunar Dream
by Douglas McDonald
Extracts from a speech by Eugene Walker, 13
People are greedy. Let's take that as an assumption and work from there, OK?
Now, I know there's a lot of people in this room who'd disagree with me on this.
And that's a good thing, because the people I want here today are idealists.
Today, we've got engineers, economists, bureaucrats, investors, and even a
psychologist. You know the one thing that unites us? A single ideal. The idea
that mankind has a destiny in space and we'd better damn well get to work on it.
We share this belief for different reasons: greed, hope, patriotism, or even
overdosing on Star Trek. And that's OK; some might say I've dipped too far into
Spock's well myself.
But, like I said, we're all here because we share a dream of humanity amongst
the stars. I've called you all here today to make that happen.
See, America wasn't colonized by the Pilgrims, boldly striving forth to make a
new home free from religious persecution. Hell, even that's not right; they were
seeking to do a bit of religious persecution themselves once they got here. But
America, or at least the America we know, was founded by businessmen. The
Virginia Company, with government sanction, which set up the first colony in
America. Not governments. Individuals. Now that's the American way.
Next week America will be returning to the moon in exactly the wrong way: with a
NASA effort sending a whole bunch of space jocks to go kick rocks. That's not
the American way. Hell, that's the French way!
If we want humanity amongst the stars, we need to do it ourselves. So today I'm
here to announce the founding of the American Lunar Company, set up to create an
American colony on the moon, for civilians and by civilians. We'd be happy to
take government backing, but if we do we do and if we don't we don't. And I
swear this: if there aren't 5000 American men, women and hell, even children on
the moon by 2030, then I'll just have to go out and move to the goddamn Islamic
Iraqi Republic, because the faith I hold in my country and its way of life will
have finally failed.
We'll be opening in Wall Street tomorrow. I trust I'll see you all there. Well,
ladies and gentlemen, who's up for a few bucks worth of the moon?
Extracts from an article on The Space Review,
15 July, 2018
For the past two days, two questions have been on people's lips all across the
Net: who is Eugene Walker, and more importantly, who the hell does he think he
Well, let's start with the facts. Walker is the head of SphereComm, a
communications company based in, of all places, Peoria, Illinois. I mean,
really. It makes President Spitzer's speeches look comparatively subtle as far
as 'homegrown' goes.
SphereComm have, in recent years, built up quite a monopoly for themselves; they
produce everything from mobile phones to webcams, ensuring that Walker is, at
least, quite a wealthy man. Curiously, he seems to have no real understanding of
technology himself; as he said in an interview, 'I'm not an engineer, they just
work for me.' A space company seems, to put it mildly, somewhat out of his
For starters, physics themselves are working against him. To put a man on the
moon is, no pun intended, an astronomical feat. NASA have been working for 14
years to do it (again), and they'll only manage it next week. And yet Walker, a
man with no prior space experience and with, as far as we can see, nothing but
an unhealthy fixation with Star Trek on his side, wants to put 5000 PEOPLE on
the moon by 2030. Aside from perhaps shooting them up en masse without
spacesuits and blasting them into craters, that's clearly impossible.
Maybe Mr Walker has spent a little too much time around cellphones. Who says
they don't cause brain cancer?
Excerpts from an article by SpaceDaily, 15 July, 2018
'There's been a hell of a lot of nay saying over the last two days about Eugene
Walker's American Lunar Company, and I'm sick of it. To coin a phrase, I'm mad
as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!
So what if he doesn't have experience? That's precisely the problem with every
space agency these days. Remember how optimistic we were about the CEV? Of
course you don't; that's because we always knew they'd screw it up some way or
another. Why? Because NASA, over the last 60 years, have proven themselves world
experts at screwing things up. So now we're back on the moon in a wannabe
Apollo, of all things, using technology that's already killed 14 astronauts.
When people say 'experience', they mean 'inertia'. A tried and true track record
All these naysayers have been proven wrong by one thing: Walker's stock has gone
through the roof. You know why? Because mom and pop investors want to believe in
him. They grew up on Star Wars and Stargate and even Star Trek, god rest its
sorry soul. They're willing to take a gamble if it means they can touch that
glowing beach above our heads just once in their lifetime.
As for the technical argument, that's just silly. There are loads of ways for
large-scale transport to the moon. NERVA, orbital assembly (we might finally get
to use that silly white elephant they mockingly called the 'International' Space
Station), even the great unspeakable: Orion, the one engine that can bootstrap
us not just off this planet, but out of this solar system. All it'll take is a
little drive and imagination, which so far as I've seen no one else in this
business, not even the great white hope Elon Musk (before he sold out and
started taking toilet paper to the cosmonauts in that spinning tin can up
there), have hope. But Walker does.
Fly on, Mr Walker.
Excerpts from The Return: The Official NASA Guide, 2018
As Charles Rogers stepped out of the lunar module Armstrong, the eyes of the
world were upon him. At this moment, all our conflicts, all the myriad problems
of the earth, ceased to exist. In Iraq, in the Congo, in Palestine, all eyes
were glued to the screen.
Rogers stepped down into the lunar dust of the Mare Serenitatas, and gazed
across the magnificent desolation. He turned his eyes to the heavens, and spoke.
His words were heard around the world, uniting the peoples of the Earth in hope
for the future.
Nigel Durschmied clicked off his TV as he heard Walker approaching. He knew his
boss hated watching the moon landing-something about 'big government at its
worst' was all Nigel could make out from the muttering-but to Nigel, it was
like...like...well, Nigel couldn't describe it. You would need poets, or
artists, and Nigel was mostly definitely not a poet. But still the same, seeing
those scenes and hearing those words touched something deep within his soul.
Which was odd, as Nigel was fond of denying, rather vehemously, that he didn't
have a soul worth noting.
Nigel span around from the TV, and sighed inwardly as Walker approached his
desk. It wasn't that he disliked Walker; he was a good boss, and generally
tolerant of his staff's eccentricities. It was just that he was so...well, the
closest word was 'idealistic', but that didn't quite convey how Nigel viewed
Eugene Walker, a man who saw Star Trek as something akin to a science textbook.
To all true scientists, men with such views were seen as mildly dangerous. In
short, he was a good businessman and a canny investor, but had all the
technological skill of a Luddite.
Walker was smiling. 'So, Nigel, how goes the work? I don't suppose you've got
some form of miracle drive you haven't told me about?'
Nigel sighed, outwardly this time. 'No, sir. In fact, I have even less good news
than I did when we started out. Look, did you really HAVE to say 5000? 500 might
have been a bit more tolerable. For starters.'
'500 doesn't excite people, 5000 does. That extra 0 puts a tingle up your spine,
'More a shudder down my back, sir. Excuse my bluntness, but do you understand
what you're asking of me?'
'Well, I expect you to put 5000 people on the moon in 12 years. Alive,
hopefully, but I'm open to compromise. So, how do we go about that?'
'Alien Space Bats, sir. Internet slang. Came about in 2012 after that shooting
in Denmark, sir. You know, the man who said they were out to get him?'
'Look, sir, my point is that it's impossible. For starters, landing on the moon
is incredibly difficult. You have to bring enough fuel to put you into orbit,
send you towards the moon, stop you once you get there, start off towards the
surface, stop once you get THERE, and then reverse the whole process to get
back. It's...complicated, sir.'
Walker looked puzzled. Nigel hated it when he looked puzzled; it either meant he
hadn't listened or he hadn't understood. Or both, usually. 'But we don't want to
bring them BACK. That saves fuel, doesn't it?'
'Yes, sir, but when you consider we're sending 5000 people to a planet-'
Nigel sighed. 'Yes, sir.'
'Got to get your terminology right, you know.'
Nigel refrained from mentioning that Walker often referred to iPods as 'mini
Discmen'. He bit his tongue, and continued, 'But, sir, the fact still remains
that it is enormously difficult.'
'What but, sir?'
'But you've come up with some answers, haven't you?'
'Only very, very sketchy plans, sir. Most of them illegal, impossible,
hopelessly optimistic or, usually, all three.'
Nigel turned towards his computer, and sorted through his folders. He opened up
a GIF file, and showed it to Walker. He waited for a response, or, more likely,
a request for detailed clarification, possibly using hand gestures.
Instead, Walker was transfixed. 'Are my eyes deceiving me, Nigel?'
'I...wouldn't know, sir.'
'That's a nuclear rocket.'
'You're proposing to use a nuclear rocket.'
'NASA experimented with it in their NERVA tests in the 1970s, sir. Of course,
this model is highly speculative and most likely highly illegal. We'd need
government backing, and that would be...problematic, sir. Sir?'
Walker wasn't listening. He grinned as he leant in towards the screen.
'Get to work, Nigel.'
'On this. I'll deal with the government if you deal with the specs.'
'Sir, I don't think you understand. This is...'
'Oh, shut up, Nigel. We're going to the MOON.'
Excerpts from a feature by the Wall Street
Journal, 23 August, 2018
In the past few weeks, three words have dominated the lips and time of
investors: American Lunar Company. Deliberately modeled on the Virginia Company,
in both its name and what they hope to be its eventual format, the ALC has
effectively monopolized business talks, not least because it has been taken so
seriously. Why? To find out, the Wall Street Journal has interviewed five
John Updike, laborer, Buffalo, NY: Well, I guess it's for my kids.
Everyone's talking about global warming and war with China and all that stuff;
personally, it sounds like a bunch of whining sissies to me, but I think it's
best to invest in the future anyway. If we don't do this now, then we'll never
get to do it, will we? I mean, that's the way America used to do things:
investing in the future, not blowing stuff on madcap schemes. Besides, I don't
want the Chinese to get it, just like they got every other thing that made
Robert Bernstein, company executive, Chicago, IL: Well, ordinarily I
wouldn't, but Walker's stock has been some of the most reliable around. The
Moon's resources, particularly Helium-3, have been vouched for by very reliable
experts; the way I see it, to the victors go the spoils. We need to ensure those
resources for future generations.
Alaa al-Tamimi, small business owner, San Diego, CA: I came to this
country from Iraq to build a better life for myself and my family. Of course,
after what happened to Iraq, it would have been near-impossible to be worse. But
that is why I am investing in this project: because I wish that one day I can
take my family there, to build them a home safe from the troubles of the world.
I wish to build a better life, not just for myself, but for my children and
their children to come.
Jolene Brown, doctor, Phoenix, AZ: Well, I find the whole concept
fascinating, personally. An entirely new planet, with entirely new challenges to
conquer! Think of what we could build there. Think of how humanity will evolve
on another planet, not just physiologically but mentally. It's just such a
wonderful vision. How could we refuse?
John Masterson, schoolteacher, Sacramento, CA: Well, we screwed up this
planet and this nation, so we deserve a better shot. Every day I walk down the
street and what do I see? More to the point, what DON'T I see? That's right,
Americans. Just Asians and Hispanics and all the rest of the ethnics. Now, I'm
not racist. But I like the idea of a new planet where America can maintain the
things that made us great, without getting bogged down in wishy-washy
multiculturalism. I want to see a New America, like the one where I used to
live, and Walker seems to have the best way of going about it.
There you have it. People from all across America, from all walks of life.
Motivated by all sorts of things, from pragmatism to nationalism to idealism,
but all hoping for the future Walker says he can provide.
The White House is yet to comment on the ALC.
Luke Farmer, Secretary of State, fifth in line to the presidential succession
and self-described 'kingbreaker', slammed the paper down on his desk.
Nicholas Hedge, his aide, looked in through the door. 'Is everything alright,
'Of course not. What, you think I'm damning good interest rates and a booming
'Well, actually, sir...'
'Oh, shut up, I know all about the economy. Spitzer's been at me for days, you
know. And now goddamn Walker!'
'Well, it's not exactly new news, sir.'
'No, but the Wall Street Journal just makes it worse. Walker's
practically been nominated for sainthood over the last few weeks; why can't
people just see he's a goddamn snakeoil salesman?'
'Well, sir, he's certainly idealistic. He tells people what they want.'
'You can satisfy some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some
of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. That's exactly what
Walker's trying to do, and that's exactly why I know he's a goddamn liar.'
'What about in an election year, sir?'
'Oh, shut up, Hedge, I don't need sarcasm on top of everything else. We
discussed Walker in cabinet yesterday; general consensus is 'wait and see'. We
don't want to get caught with our pants down when it gets revealed that he's got
a baby-powered spaceship or something, but...'
'But what, sir?'
'What if he's right, Hedge?'
'But you just said...'
'I know what I just said, Hedge, I'm not entirely dependent upon goddamn
conehead public servants to run my mind. But think about it. A base on the moon.
Think of helium-3 mines, tourism, hell, maybe even manufacturing. Can't you see
the possibilities of that?'
'It would be inordinately expensive, sir.'
'Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a little money.'
'Unless, of course, you don't make any money at all.'
'If it happens, it happens.'
Farmer relaxed back in his chair, wincing slightly. Ever since some goddamn
towelhead, Sunni or Shi'a, had caught him in a roadside bomb in the Iraqi Civil
War, he couldn't even relax anymore without a stab of pain. In 20 years of
service, in Iraq, Afghanistan, the State of Palestine, and even a memorable stay
in Iran during the Beige Revolution, he'd seen some terrible things, which
generally confirmed his impression that humans were by and large apes who'd just
gotten bigger sticks to hit each other with. But deep in his heart, he knew that
on some deep, unrealistic level, he'd like to see Walker, or someone like him,
win. Just this once.
'We'll just wait and see, Hedge. Who knows. Maybe he'll get hit by a truck and
spare us the trouble.'
'We're government, Hedge. The unlikely is what we DO.'
Nigel sighed as the laptop crashed, again. Ever
since the Revelation virus had hit in 2012, internet access had been somewhat
akin to swimming in a shark-infested sea with gaping flesh wounds. He finally
gave up with the blank-screened computer, and stood up to address the room.
Here they were. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The ones who had
been so nerdy at school that even the other nerds picked on them, and who had to
give themselves their own wedgies because even bullies wouldn't touch them. All
of them, by now, working for the American Lunar Company.
As it turned out, so was Nigel. Walker had offered him a pay rise and a nice
office to jump ship; even though he realised the company, once people discovered
it was built on Lost in Space-level science, would go belly-up pretty quickly, a
pay rise was still a pay rise.
He cleared his throat. The quiet hum of conversation, which had mostly concerned
Kirk vs. Picard fights, stopped.
'Well, gentlemen, have we come up with any solutions to Mr Walker's
There was an embarrassed silence. Mitchell Stevens, an engineer whose demeanor
suggested a small, easily frightened rabbit addressing a Mack truck, raised his
'Umm...Mr Durschmeid? Mr Walker wasn't REALLY serious, was he? I mean, it's all
a publicity stunt, right?'
Nigel sighed. (He was doing that quite frequently, he noticed, and immediately
realised why). Of all the problems with their project, that was one of the major
ones: the attitude that all this was a joke, and that pretty soon Walker would
reveal he'd just been making it up to promote some new space-themed cellphone.
Well, they might as well nip it in the bud.
'No, Mr Stevens, this is not a joke. Everyone got this? Mr Walker has full
confidence that mankind, or at least those specimens of it working for him, will
be able to build a sustainable colony of 5000 people on the moon within 12
The renewed silence was broken by stifled laughter from the end of the table.
Nigel turned to face Keith LaMonte, former NASA engineer, theorist and
all-around scientist stereotype.
'Is something funny, Mr LaMonte?'
'You can't be serious. 5000 people? I mean, what are they going to do up there,
twiddle their thumbs in one-sixth gravity while their bones waste away? I mean,
I could understand it if he said Mars, because people love Mars. And I could
sorta understand it if he said the asteroids, because there's a hell of a lot of
stuff we could use to supply Earth orbit. But the Moon's just sad. I mean, the slag
from asteroids is about as rich as the moon gets.'
Nigel readjusted his glasses. He'd rehearsed his speech that morning, which was
good, because he had to do it so often. 'Each one is the worst of both worlds,
no pun intended, Mr LaMonte. Mars is glamorous but has nothing anyone wants, and
the asteroids are full of minerals but have no glamour. Plus the moon's nearby,
everyone can see it, and, more importantly, we know it has both helium-3 and
water. So the moon it is. Now, how do we get there?'
A serious-minded scientist in the corner of the table, who Nigel vaguely
remembered from some past encounter, spoke up. 'Well, the only way you can get
5000 people there is through nuclear means. I mean, chemical rockets are OK to
set up the base, and even put the first few colonists there, but for real
large-scale transport you need a NERVA or Orion.'
LaMonte scoffed. 'Yeah. Orion. I'm sure LOTS of people will be happy about a
rocket that involves blowing up nuclear weapons under the craft. Tell me, did
you want these 5000 people to go there willingly, or will the Men in Black be
Nigel interrupted. 'Guys, cut it out. Continue, Mr...what's your name, again?'
'Alex Nguyen, Mr Durschmeid. Anyway, setting up the first few buildings will be
easy; we can even use the Bigelow habitats cheaply, seeing as they've quickly
realised people are a bit edgy about an inflatable space station. We can use
orbital assembly to build the first few ships, send over a few professionals. If
we can get NASA onboard, this would be the perfect time to send over a few
photogenic space jocks.'
'Ah...NASA. That's going to be difficult.'
Stevens spoke up again. 'But, Mr Durschmeid, if they're NOT involved, where's
the money coming from?'
Ah. That. Admittedly, Eugene Walker was a very wealthy man; Durschmeid had heard
estimates ranging from tens of millions to tens of billions, with almost every
variation in-between. But even so, one man couldn't take America to the moon. In
the end, it all came down to the investors. The American Lunar Company could
only do this so long as Mr and Mrs. American Citizen stayed hopeful. Which,
considering that they were the ones who'd come up with reality TV, wasn't a good
'America, Mr Stevens. The real America.'
God, he hated saying that. It made it sound like anyone who'd ever got a degree
or voted Democrat was a Martian or something.
Nguyen continued. 'Anyway, if we build the colony at the poles, we'll have a
reasonable supply of water, and if we build near one of the Peaks of Eternal
Light that's energy done. So we can get a reasonable colony started. 5000
people, though, is a somewhat different matter.'
LaMonte spoke up. 'For starters, why? Why would anyone want to go live on the
moon? Sure, tourism'll be nice, but uprooting your whole life to go live on a
barren rock with no air, no food, and perhaps most importantly no money? In
short, where's the bottom line?'
Durschmeid smiled. He had them. Time for the coup de grace. He wished Walker was
here, but he was off talking to the President or getting his hair done; Walker
assessed both of equal importance. So Durschmeid just had to improvise.
'You know, Mr LaMonte, you're exactly right. Where IS the bottom line? But you
know, people said the same about Jamestown, 400 years ago. But then they
discovered a miracle crop. THE miracle crop. Refreshing, energizing, and best of
all, highly addictive. They brought tobacco to the world. We're going to bring
them something better.'
Durschmeid slammed down on his laptop, which finally responded. It projected a
slide onto the back wall. A medical report, highly technical but unmistakable in
Nguyen was taken aback. 'Is that legit?'
Durschmeid wandered up to the wall. 'Oh, it's more than legit, Mr Nguyen. Our
top doctors have come up with this. The evidence is unmistakable: in elderly
populations, lower gravity is a boon. Less muscular effort, less stress on the
bones, hell, even the skin suffers less stress, so wrinkles might clear up.
Plus, of course, this is the Star Trek generation, so the Moon's practically
sold to them already.
Durschmeid spun around to face the group. He'd rehearsed this all in his head.
It was finally clicking. 'The Baby Boomers, gentlemen, turn anywhere from 60 to
70 this year. Mortality is finally settling in with them. And makes them mad as
hell. These were the people who liberated women. Who ended apartheid. Who've
spent a fortune over the last 30 years trying desperately to stay as young as
possible, or at least to appear it. The moon is a godsend to these
people. Sure, Virginia exported tobacco. But we have something far more
precious. We are going to sell these people LIFE, gentlemen.'
Excerpts from an interview on Sunrise, October
Cosh: Hello, and welcome back to Sunrise. Today, we've got a very special guest;
the man who says he can take mankind to the moon: forever, this time! Ladies and
gentlemen, put your hands together for Eugene Walker!
Walker: Thanks, Daniel.
Cosh: Now, Eugene, first up I'm sure we're all dying to know how you're
responding to NASA's newly announced Armstrong Base proposal.
Walker: (Shrugs) It's just an Antarctic station that's gotten a long way from
home. Of course, we'd love to use it as a logistics point, but that's not really
what the ALC's about.
Cosh: Well, Mr Walker, the one thing you haven't told us is what the ALC really
Walker: Simple, really. We plan to transport 5000 willing people to the moon,
build accomodation for them, and begin the construction of a colony on the moon.
I'm sure NASA would love to cooperate with us; after all, aren't we doing their
job for them?
Cosh: But, Mr Walker, I have a letter here from a Mr Laws who says, and I quote,
'putting 5000 people on the moon would only be possible if Mr Walker has some
form of unicorn-driven engine.' I hope he's being sarcastic, but the point
remains that it would be rather difficult.
Walker: (Laughs) Not at all, David. Sure, that's what NASA say, but they WOULD
say that, wouldn't they? But the thing you've got to understand is that NASA
function not to facilitate space travel, but rather to prevent it; to keep
contracts in the same hands for decades on end. And so, new ideas, ones that
could actually get us into space en masse, get stifled.
Cosh: Yes, but you haven't ACTUALLY said what those ideas are...
Walker: Well, we're still working on the details, and you must understand these
things take time, David. But I still stick by my promise that by 2030, there
will be 5000 American citizens on the moon.
Cosh: Well, how do you respond to your critics' claims that you're a charlatan?
Walker: Well, when I'm on the moon and they're not, I think we can take that as
a pretty good refutation.
Cosh: That's about all we've got time for, I'm afraid, but just one final
question: why do you expect people to go to the moon, Mr. Walker?
Walker: I thought you'd never ask. (Turns to camera) Age. It's a problem that
grips us all. Hell, I would know, I'm going to be a grandfather next year. I
know the havoc the years wreak upon our bodies. But the ALC has an answer.
Picture it. The moon has lower gravity, to reduce stress. A controlled
environment, to eradicate disease. And I guarantee it is completely, utterly
safe. Hell, you'd have to TRY to die there.
So I offer this to you, America: twenty more years of blissful, unstressed life,
above the national life expectancy. Are you really going to turn down the one
thing that can delay the Grim Reaper? Because, in the end, it all comes down to
a simple choice. Life...or death?
Cosh: Thank you for joining us, Mr Walker.
Walker: My pleasure.
-Man returns to the moon in the Orion 6 mission.
-Eugene Walker, formerly of SphereComm, launches the American Lunar Company,
designed to set up commercial exploitation of lunar resources.
-NASA announce their plan for Armstrong Station, a permanent scientific
establishment of two to four people on the moon by 2025.
-After months of study, the ALC release their plans for lunar exploitation. They
plan to buy US Ares V rockets to extract helium-3 from the moon. They announce
their plans for their first unmanned launch by 2020, and their first manned
launch by 2021. Their claims are met with wild enthusiasm from the public, and
general skepticism from experts.
-Orion 7 and Orion 8 land on the moon. NASA begin further planning for Armstrong
-The first 'lunar tickets' are sold by the ALC to willing colonists.
-War breaks out between the Islamic Republic of Iraq, an Islamic fundamentalist
Shi'a state, and Najd, the former Saudi Arabia. This creates an immediate crisis
on already strained oil supplies, prompting further interest in the ALC's plans
for helium-3 extraction.
-The People's Republic of China announces its plans to land men on the moon
-Lewis and Clark, two unmanned ALC craft, land on the moon, launched by American
Delta VI rockets. The craft are complicated rovers, with soil sampling
capabilities. A site in Oceanus Procellarum is identified as the site for the
planned New Jamestown City.
-The US government comes under increasing pressure to endorse the ALC. They
finally relent, giving Eugene Walker license 'to further the interests of the
United States in colonising the moon.' This gives Walker access to NASA training
facilities, and discount use of Ares V rockets. This effectively brings the ALC
under the wing of the US government. Orion spacecraft are planned to land the
first people in New Jamestown, and Armstrong Station is quietly scrapped.
-In response to US backing of Najd, the Islamic Republic of Iraq launches an oil
embargo against the US. This further inflames international tensions. However,
far from curtailing space expansion, public enthusiasm for new sources of energy
merely advances it.
-On December 25, chosen deliberately to echo the orbit of Apollo 8, the first
habitation module, codenamed Townhall, lands on the moon, launched by an Ares V.
The inflatable module is based on the mooted Skywalker-class spacestations of
Bigelow Aerospace, and is capable of holding 4 people, as well as containing
-Eliot Spitzer is defeated in the presidential election by David Vitter, a
-An Ares V launch lands the first helium-3 extraction facility.
-China launches the Zheng Ho, a rocket capable of placing 100 tons in
lower Earth orbit, and sending men to the moon.
-On July 4, 2021, the first four ALC astronauts land in the New Jamestown
settlement in the Mayflower, a modified Orion. Robotic extraction and
refinement facilities are activated. Although the US does not claim sovereingty
over the areas it plans to mine, it faces criticism for its exploitation of the
moon. Although the colony is not self-sufficient, it recycles most of its
-The ALC, in conjunction with NASA, announces plans to build the Enterprise, a
fusion-powered craft in orbit capable of taking 50 people to and from the moon
on repeated trips, built using lunar materials.
-The first Chinese taikonauts orbit the moon, with plans to land next year.
'Hey, guv, any idea what's taking them so long?'
Lang sighed. As nominal 'governor' of New Jamestown (in practice, he was
effectively first amongst equals; Walker had only chosen the title because, in
his words, 'it sounds so much more permanent, doesn't it?') he was in theory
responsible for communications, and a lot more besides. In practice, though, all
four 'colonists' were just spam in a can; wee little puppet men, in the hands of
the controllers back in Houston, and to the company bosses. It annoyed the hell
out of him, but what could he do? He was just a cubicle worker; the fact that
his cubicle was on the moon had very little to do with it.
'No idea. It'll only be a few minutes, don't worry.'
Station Science Officer (another one of Walker's quirks; the fact that they were
all scientists had apparently slipped his mind) Ben Simons grinned at him. Early
on in their stay, Lang had liked Simons' grin; it kept them cheery and reminded
them not to take things too seriously. By now, though, he longed for a shotgun.
They'd been told this would happen; the psychologists called it 'moon madness'.
They lived in an environment of almost solid grey; grey walls, grey landscapes,
even the most grey people you could hope to find. It was only logical that
sooner or later they'd start to get on each other's nerves. Still, all the
scientific justification in the world couldn't change the fact that Lang
couldn't wait to get off this goddamn rock.
The first team were just trailblazers; they would set up the equipment, get the
lifesupport systems running, keep the flag flying, and most importantly, start
the helium-3 extraction. Still, Lang was counting down the days until he could
see blue skies again.
Finally, he heard the blessed static in his ears that meant a call from Earth.
Communications were generally sketchy at best, so these few minutes every
day-particularly today-were important.
'Governor Edward Lang, this is Houston...repeat, this is Houston. Come in.'
'This is Governor Lang, we hear you loud and clear.'
'OK, we've got a lock. Safety check?'
Lang tapped a few buttons on his console. They were in Townhall's operations
centre; theoretically, the control base for the moon. By now, however, Lang had
spent far too long on the moon to harbour any notions of autonomy. They were
just pawns, after all; nothing he did here couldn't be done back on Earth. But,
after all, symbolism was important; they needed to maintain the 'pioneer' myth.
Back on Earth, they didn't see a bunch of middle-aged guys getting angry at each
other in a tin on a barren rock; they saw Lewis and Clark, boldly striding into
the frontier. And, of course, the cameras loved the operations centre.
'OK, Houston, we have a safety check. We're good to go.'
'Roger that. You have a go for liftoff.'
'Lifting off in three, two, one...'
Simons turned to the window, still grinning. Outside, there was a flash of
light. Lang turned to look at it; even after a lifetime of space, nothing could
beat a rocket launch.
This was the first helium-3 launch; they weren't up to using fusion rockets yet,
but the entire rocket, minus the fuel, was made right here, by the robotic
factories. About 50 kilos of precious helium-3 would plummet through Earth's
atmosphere; trivial now, but enough to build an industry that would one day
light up the moon. The resources of an entire planet, plundered to light a
million hungry air conditioners.
But then, Lang wasn't here for moral judgments. He was just a cubicle worker;
cows don't have a say on vegetarianism.
-The first Chinese lunar landing mission. At the time, there is increasing
internal unrest in China, due to secessionist terrorism, disillusionment with
the regime, and tension over Taiwan; the increasingly creaky PRC government use
the landing as a PR coup, and pledge to form lunar colonies.
-The first helium-3 capsule lands on Earth. At this point, the project is
nowhere near cost-effective, but the symbolism is what matters.
-The first commercial fusion reactor is built in France. Due to the world oil
shortage, fusion is rapidly adopted across the world over the next decade.
-Millennium Developments, Inc, is created; a multinational corporation of
several commercial space businesses, it aims to increase commercial development
of the moon. The ALC pointedly refuse to join.
-Robots begin moving south from New Jamestown (which, incidently, is at 5
degrees South, 33 degrees West) towards the South Pole, to begin planning for a
railway to transport water.
-A new habitation centre lands in New Jamestown. New crew arrivals increase the
permanent population to 12.
-The fusion boom causes economic chaos throughout the Middle East, as oil prices
rapidly fluctuate. The tenuous government of Afghanistan collapses. The civilian
government of Pakistan is overthrown by a military coup, in response to the
situation of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
-The first greenhouse lands on the moon. Although it is still not
self-sustaining, this is trumpeted as a 'great step towards the colonisation of
the stars' by Eugene Walker. In a mood of increasing international turmoil, few
notice. The ALC's inability to return a profit from the lunar enterprise is
increasingly noted, and share prices fall.
-Millennium Developments, Inc, launch their first unmanned test of their lunar
-The New Jamestown manufacturing plant begins processing lunar ore for the
construction of the Enterprise. However, funds for further launches come
under increasing strain, due to the worsening financial climate.
-The first components of the Chinese moon colony Mao Zedong begin landing
on the moon. This fails to ignite much public enthusiasm in America; the
worsening economic climate creates greater strain on the ALC, who are
increasingly unable to maintain New Jamestown.
-A second greenhouse is launched to New Jamestown, making it reasonably
self-sustaining. However, construction of the Enterprise still moves
slowly. Despite Walker's repeated appeals to 'just wait a while and the cash
will just roll in', he is sacked in a boardroom coup. Walker retires, a
bitter, defeated man.
-In the Islamic Republic of Iraq (the Shi'a south of the former Republic of
Iraq), the United Iraqi Alliance finally loses power, after 20 years of
dominant-party rule, to an alliance of Islamist parties after the oil crash. Oil
prices immediately rise in the US.
-The ALC declare bankruptcy, and are bought out by the US government. New
Jamestown becomes a US government possession. Behind in the polls for the
upcoming election, Vitter declares his intention to continue the construction of
the Enterprise, and to make helium-3 mining viable. He is re-elected in a
-Using a SpaceX Dragon vehicle, previously only used for deliveries to the
increasingly ramshackle ISS (now a solely Russian-commercial venture),
Millennium Developments, Inc, launch two men on a circumlunar trip.
-The first colonists arrive in the Mao Zedong colony.
-Robots begin laying the foundations for the South Pole-New Jamestown railway.
-The final components of the Enterprise are assembled in lunar orbit. It
is designed to stay in space permanently, although it requires extensive
fuelling from Earth. It can only carry 20 people, although with extra modules it
could theoretically carry up to 50. It arrives in Earth orbit for the first time
on April 26. The government begins applying for colonists. About half the
applicants are professionals being hired for their skills, but the other half
are paying customers. Tickets cost several million dollars apiece, but in a
worsening international climate the idea of a 'refuge' appeals to tens of
thousands of people. The prospective 'colonists' begin arriving in orbit,
ironically on SpaceX craft. The Lunar Boom begins...
October 23, 2025
Dr. Herbert Marshall stepped onto the moon for the first time. The dream of
generations, a beacon to the hopeless. All around him stretched the endless
beach of eternity.
'What a dump.'
Which, admittedly, it was. The last four years had not been kind to New
Jamestown; four landings a year had created a 'town' that resembled the unwanted
lovechild of a decrepit mining town and the apocalypse. But, then again, Herbert
had not come to the moon for aesthetics.
A space-suited figure approached. As part of NASA's desperate attempt to 'bring
a splash of life to the moon', the suits were brightly decorated; the figure
approaching now was in some ungodly shade of green. Far from brightening up the
place, it looked like the suit was covered in a horrible fungus.
A voice spoke over the headset radio. 'Welcome to the moon, ladies and
gentlemen. I'm Governor Edward Lang, pleased to meet you, I'm sure we'll be
friends, sorry about the suit. If you'd just come this way...'
Lang walked off, followed by most of the other passengers. Herbert, though, took
the time to look around.
Like most of the early colonists, he had no living family; NASA called the
recruits 'bright young men and women, out to build a future for themselves on
the new frontier', presumably because it sounded better than 'disposable saps'.
Which, admittedly, most of them were; during Herbert's three days in the spamcan
they called the Enterprise, he'd seen enough Star Trek to give him
convulsions at the sight of a pair of pointy ears. But even so, he had to admit
a frission of excitement. They were the second set of colonists to arrive on the
moon; the MOON, for gods sakes! Of course, even that only added up to 50 people,
it still made some small part of his spirit...well, soar. Only a small part,
though. Dreams of 'the new frontier' were only minor distractions; Herbert was
following in the much more AMERICAN tradition of dreaming of having so much
money he could build a guest house out of dollar bills.
He hurried off after Lang, who was giving the New Jamestown equivalent of a
'guided tour'. Admittedly, there wasn't much to see; four crude dormitories had
been constructed on the moon by the factories, which looked, to put it mildly,
somewhat ramshackle. The rest of the base was factories and refinement plants.
Even so, he had to admit they were impressive. The first of the foundries had
been tiny by comparison, only weighing a few tons, but the robots had been busy.
They'd been fed regolith, tons of it, and they hadn't stopped building yet. A
crude automated mine stood outside town; inside, the factories pumped out
endless streams of rocket parts and walls and engines and, most precious of all,
Herbert suspected it looked even more impressive to the other people in the
audience. Wannabe space cadets were in short supply; what NASA wanted now were
workers. Robots were expensive, finnicky, and hard to maintain; so, with typical
government logic, NASA had decided to import engineers and miners, who were even
more expensive, finnicky, and hard to maintain. And, of course, Herbert, who
would have to do the maintenance.
Why was he here? In truth, he wasn't so sure himself. Sure, the money would be
great, and he would become famous to pasty-faced nerds across the world, but he
sensed it was something more than that. Herbert, a man whose previous experience
with adventure had been ordering a Vanilla Pepsicoke, was experiencing
his first frission of excitement. The Lunar Dream had another victim.
After four years on the goddamn moon, Edward Lang was finally fed up.
He'd been a company man; a cubicle worker, who just happened to be a scientist.
When he'd been 'sidesized' from SphereComm to the ALC, he accepted it, no
problems; with the economy the way it was, you took the jobs you got. He even
accepted this ridiculous moon mission; sure, it'd play hell with his nether
regions and it'd take a few years from his life, but he did what he was told.
Hell, he even got to be the 'governor' of the colony, although mostly so that he
could yell at people for the ALC, rather than having the ALC yell directly at
But then the ALC had gone bust. The only thing Lang was surprised at was how
long it'd taken; the government had been taking it over bit by bit for years,
and it had consistently failed to turn a profit. People weren't willing to take
'next year, we'll have basketball courts on the moon. NEXT year' forever, and
they finally hadn't.
But Lang had liked the ALC. He'd always been a history buff, and even if Walker
hadn't quite got some of the lessons (for example, the Virginia Company was
about as independent from the government as the Department of Defence), he
appreciated what he was doing. But now he was a government employee, and things
were beginning to get deeply seedy.
They'd kept him on as governor, if only because he knew the place inside out by
now, but the new crewmembers worried him. They weren't career scientists, like
Lang; they were former fighter pilots, every one of them, and they meant
business. Sure, they took orders, but generally interpreted them more as 'gentle
Still, he was going back to Earth on the Enterprise; this long, four-year
stay in the world's furthest-out airport lounge would be over. Who said there
were no happy endings anymore?
Walker watched the screen woozily. He wasn't
sure how many he'd had; truth be told, if you asked him what the date what, he
might get it on his third try if lucky. Even so, he knew that he was deeply,
deeply angry, and had been for quite some time.
He waved his hand through the air. 'I promised them immortality, you know,
Nigel. Immortality. What kind of a world is it where a company promising eternal
life goes bust?'
'Umm...the kind where the company can't actually GIVE immortal life to people?'
'But we were so CLOSE, Nigel! The Enterprise was just a year from completion!'
'We were several million dollars in the red, sir. Remember, sir? The bank
repossessed two of your houses?'
'But it wouldn't have mattered, Nigel. Millions of people were going to fly with
us. BILLIONS. What are a few houses compared to that?'
'When it still costs untold millions to put material into space, sir, you'd be
surprised how much.'
Even so, Nigel Durschmeid still didn't accept that as an explanation. Sure, he'd
known that sooner or later, the ALC would go bust, but this soon? Walker may
have been a dreamer, but he wasn't stupid; he knew what people wanted.
No, this was a setup. The government had first affected calculated disdain
towards the company, then, once they started getting boots on the ground, had
leapt at it with claws out. And now New Jamestown was theirs.
Nigel had jumped ship before the ALC crashed, and had been quickly offered a job
at Millennium Developments. Even so, he had enough friends working at the
government-owned ALC to know that things were going rapidly downhill. The
Chinese in Mao Zedong had started scouting out the South Pole; New Jamestown had
sped up construction of the polar railway and had started dispatching scouts.
Sooner or later, it was clear one side or another was going to shoot the other
in the eye, and THEN the moon would get pulled apart like a jigsaw.
The whole thing depressed him immensely. They'd gone out there to make a profit;
ignoble, yes, but motivated by a desire to enrich their country. But this was
just a pissing competition in space; rampant nationalism on a stage ill-suited
for it. And the moon would pay the price.
Nigel became aware Walker had been talking for a while. Generally, most of what
Walker said these days was of limited relation to reality, but Nigel heard an
unusual clarity in his ex-boss's voice.
'What was that, sir?'
'I said, Nigel, think pilgrims. New Jamestown is just like the old Jamestown;
business and government, hand in hand, out to make a profit. But we could be the
pilgrims, Nigel. Free thinkers, out to set up a new society. A BETTER society.'
'Well, with truth, sir, puritans weren't exactly free thinkers.'
'Pah. Then we'll just do better than the Jacobeans, won't be hard. Tell me,
Nigel, do you have any jobs running at that Centenary...thing of yours?'
'Millennium Developments, sir.'
'Oh, it doesn't matter. When I run the company, that name is RIGHT out.'
'You're going to do WHAT?'
Lang stared at the screen, stunned. On Earth, NASA Administrator Keith Reynolds
stared back impassively.
'We're claiming the south pole, Lang. I'm sorry, but it's them or us.'
'No it's not! The Outer Space Treaty-'
'-says squat, Lang. Sources of ours in the Chinese government say that they're
becoming...concerned about the fact we might claim the caps, so they're moving
their own annexation. We're simply cutting them off. At the same time, we're
going to claim all land within 200 kilometres of New Jamestown.'
'So you're claiming the poles because they might, and they're claiming the poles
because you might?'
'Exactly. The next Enterprise colonists have been postponed; we're
sending 20 marines instead. We need to set up an outpost at the moon to pursue
our claim. Oh, and your replacement.'
'Yes. I'm sorry you had to hear it this way, Governor Lang, but you're fired.
The next governor of the American Lunar Territories will be a military official.
The line went blank. Lang leant back, stunned.
So that was it. To hell with the rest of the world, gimme gimme gimme. And it
would be like this all over the moon; we set up a base and claim land, they set
up a base and claim land, and soon everything gets chewed up.
God, he hated this goddamn grey rock. But over the last four years, it'd been
home. A stuffy, boring, industrial home, but home.
When they say 'you can't go home again', they generally don't mean 'because soon
enough it's going to get obliterated in a land war'.
May 16, 2026
The most important man in lunar history descended towards the surface, turned
green, and threw up.
Andrew Lawson was, on the face of it, an unlikely candidate to be the most
important man in lunar history. Brought up in Colorado, he'd quickly discovered
that most careers open to him involved being stuck down a deep hole whacking
rocks with large, heavy objects. He didn't mind, though; he liked mining. He was
good at it. He was, in fact, a dangerously decent person; he took those bits of
the Bible about 'love thy neighbour' more seriously than most priests, he was
entirely comfortable with anyone regardless of sex, orientation, race, or even
geekiness, and perhaps most importantly he had the knack.
It's hard to define the knack. Hitler had it. Lenin had it. Clinton had
it. On 9/11, even Bush had it. 'Charisma' only begins to cover it; it was the
gift of making other people see your point of view. In a world of staid
opinions, it was a rare and valuable gift.
Of course, at the moment, the knack was somewhat absent; it's hard to convince
people when a large portion of your guts are in a paper bag.
Andrew Lawson was one of the first of a new breed of lunar colonists. Before him
were the fighter jocks, the professionals, even a few tourists. But he was here
for something different.
'Honey? Are you OK?'
He was a family man, the first on the moon. His wife, Cindy, was also a miner;
their son, Jake, was 10, and had stayed awake for a week before liftoff. NASA
had gone through thousands of candidates for the 'first family of the Moon';
they had no idea what they were in for.
Lawson tried to grin and bear it.
'I'm fine, Cindy. Really, I'm fine.'
'Really? So what's that in the vomit bag, cough syrup?'
'It'll be over soon, honey.'
Cindy moved over to talk to Jake, who, if anything, was even worse off than
Andrew. They were in one of the new Armstrong-series landers;
manufactured on the Moon, they were capable of carrying ten people at a time,
although this came in conditions that would have made tinned salmon
claustrophobic. Still, that wasn't what worried Andrew; what worried him was the
experimental fusion engine beneath the craft. It was, effectively, a
mini-reactor blasting hydrogen to thousands of degrees and blasting it at the
surface; it was admittedly effective, but Andrew had never been comfortable with
balancing on a flame that was, when you got down to it, produced by a nuclear
He tried to concentrate on the view. Unfortunately, it wasn't much better from
that side, either; 8 years of inhabitation had ploughed the ground around New
Jamestown into a state more familiar to veterans of trench warfare. The base was
still effectively a huddle of shacks, surrounded by a ring of silo-looking
factories; around them, the landscape was dotted by automated mines, each one
connected to the factories by railway tracks. On the horizon, a silvery railway
stretched off into the horizon; that must be the South Pole railway, carrying
vital hydrogen from the frozen poles.
Man could make robots for a hell of a lot of things, but in the end it took a
man to do a man's job. When it came down to it, robots simply couldn't be made
cost-effective enough to extract minerals in the quantities needed. The moon
needed grunt labour, and that's why he was here.
The new colonists wearily trudged through the
'streets' of New Jamestown; technically, they were just places where buildings
weren't. But Lawson walked with a spring in his step. They were in a city, on
the MOON. Granted, a city of 100 people, and one that only existed because NASA
needed somewhere to keep lab rats, but that didn't take away from what they'd
done. It was extraordinary, it truly was. Of course, the buildings were
admittedly somewhat drab, but that would just take time. Soon enough, they'd
build a home to be proud of.
Jake walked next to him, in a specially NASA-made child space suit, covered in
corporate logos. Jake was already one of the most famous people in the history
of space flight; a hero to kids everywhere. Of course, all the 'interviews'
they'd had done were masterpieces of fabrication, but Lawson didn't have the
heart to tell Jake.
'Hey, Dad, what's that?'
'That's a factory, Jake.' They'd been given careful instructions on where
everything was, mostly because NASA didn't want commoners touching their
'That's another factory, Jake.'
'Wow. There's lots of factories, aren't there?'
'There sure are, Jake.'
Which was right; there WERE lots of factories, simply because as astonishingly
expensive producing stuff on the moon was, it was far more expensive to take it
there. There were rows of production compounds, constantly pumping out concrete,
steel, ceramics, rocket parts, shovels, tracks, train cars; the basis for an
entire industrial complex. There were plants for getting oxygen out of the
rockets. the polar railway had been completed earlier in the year, they'd been
shooting off rockets practically daily.
The secret lay in helium-3. It was damn hard to mine; for every few grams you
got, you got a a hell of a lot of waste with it. But Earth craved it. Vast
amounts of it. Ever since the Middle East had gone to hell in a handbasket and
the last oil reserves had begun looking suspiciously dry, people on Earth were
clinging to fusion like a glowing life preserver. And for the most efficient
fusion, helium-3 was the only way. Grams of the stuff were enough to make or
The new colonists reached a rough open area, in front of Townhall, the original
habitation module. New Jamestown was built on an X shape; the rough
prefabricated houses went along one street, the factories along the other.
A word or two about the new colonists. They weren't the space cadets of the
earlier years. These were 'men of the earth', or 'honest battlers', terms
generally used by academics to dismiss anyone less sophisticated than they were.
They were builders, manufacturers, miners, even a farmer or two. You can get all
the fighter pilots you want, but sooner or later every colony needs a plumber.
Outside Townhall they were met by Governor John Houston. Lawson had met his
predecessor, Edward Lang, a generally amiable, worried chap who seemed slightly
too tightly wound for this kind of job. Houston, on the other hand, positively
oozed confidence. A former Marine, he was every stereotype of the hard-nosed
military general there had ever been. He also liked violins, and cats.
Houston stepped forward. Even in a spacesuit, Lawson could tell the man was
heavily built; the type you wouldn't want to meet in an alley at night. Well,
that was fine. This was the new frontier, after all; limp-wristed poets
generally came later.
'Alright, ladies and gentlemen, listen up. My name is Governor John Houston, and
I'm going to make the rest of your lives hell.'
There was a nervous giggle or two; Lawson knew better.
'OK, to whoever just laughed; let me assure you I seldom, if ever, say anything
without meaning it to the bottom of my soul. Let me just dispel some illusions
you may have. This is not the Enterprise. Not the starship, not even the
salmon can you came here on. This is a mining town. You are here to work, and
you will work. The fact is that from no one you have no rights. What are you
going to do, leave? There's a few thousand kilometres of grey rock you're
welcome to. You have come here to do a job, and that job is to make this
enterprise profitable for the United States of America.
'If you don't know how important this base is to the United States, let me spell
it out for you. We're not the most important people in the world at the moment,
you understand? If 9/11 and 3/4 didn't make that absolutely clear, the 'Land
Grab', as some of the more liberal columnists have taken to calling it,
certainly did. I don't care about your opinion on whether we own this grey dust
under your feet; we say we do, and so we do. The Chinese say they own the ground
under that thing they call the Mao Zedong, and hell, maybe they do. When
the Russian-European Space Consortium finally get around to getting boots on the
ground, they're welcome to it too. The secret is getting it before they do.
'I will not wimp around the truth, ladies and gentlemen; we mean to possess the
moon, and everything on it. Once we get to Mars in a few years, a project that
will be a major preoccupation of your labours, we're getting it, too.
'Why? Because we have a responsibility. A responsibility to the United States to
ensure that we remain the strongest power in the world for as long as necessary.
I'm not a scientist. I couldn't tell you the first thing about helium-3, except
that it's enough to keep us on top for a bit longer, and that's good enough for
me. It should be enough for you, too.
'I will not lie to you: I will run this colony with an iron fist for as long as
I am here, and I mean to be here for a while. You're here to do a job, and I
intend that you do it. If you can cooperate with me, that's good, and we should
get along fine. If not, then remove your helmet now, because it'll be a hell of
a lot less painful than what'll come next.'
'Godspeed, ladies and gentlemen, and good luck.'
Extracts from The Space Review, April 4, 2026
Sure, the Americans have taken a lot of flack for the Land Grab. And sure, on
the surface, it may seem somewhat unorthodox; after all, claiming 500 square
kilometres as your lunar territory may not be exactly looked kindly upon by
international law. But the left-liberal obsession with the issue is entirely
over the top, and motivated by wimpy idealism that pays no regard to the facts
of the issue.
Tell me, liberals; if what America did was 'naked imperial aggression', then
what was China's land grab a week later, pacifism? The fact is that the Moon is
the new frontier, and everyone wants a piece of it. I suppose the ESA (the
left's favourite poster child)'s decision to start launching components for
their lunar base in coalition with Russia was an attempt to peacefully share the
moon with humanity, right? Completely wrong. The age of the 'neutral moon' was
always a fabrication, and now has been thankfully relegated to the dustbin of
history. From now on, we will see the increasing commercial and national
exploitation of the moon, and it's about damn time.
The UN's condemnation of the land grab just shows how blind and feeble they
really are, and will hopefully speed their disintegration.
Extracts from an article by the Sydney Morning Herald, May 20, 2026
New Millennium Developments CEO Pledges Mars Mission By 2030
The new CEO of Millennium Developments, ex-American Lunar Company chairman
Eugene Walker, has pledged to send colonists to Mars within the next 4 years.
At a press conference yesterday, Walker said, 'What really killed the ALC was a
lack of vision. Sure, lunar mining can be done, but it doesn't inspire anyone;
it's just grey, mechanical, lifeless. The new goal of Millennium Developments is
a truly millennial development; we aim to establish a self-supporting colony on
Mars, as a second home for humanity'
NASA were not available for comment.
Mining on the moon, despite appearances, bore little or no resemblance to ACTUAL
For starters, it was a lot more automated. Despite what the eggheads in JPL were
still saying, they couldn't make the whole process automated; in an ironic
paradox, robots had become so sophisticated that in some cases they were
actually more expensive than humans. Less expendable, too. But they still played
an important role in the process; thanks to them, 20 miners could do the work of
And, of course, it was a lot more dangerous. In a mine, you didn't have to worry
about slight scratches; on the moon, it caused a frantic struggle for patches
and for emergency oxygen supplies. It was a miracle no one had died yet, and one
that no one expected to last for long.
But even then, soon no one would even care. Ever since Mao Zedong had
begun sending helium-3 back to Earth and since the Russians had sent their first
men into lunar orbit, the US were becoming increasingly desperate to maintain
their monopoly over lunar resources. The American Lunar Territories were
extended to 300 kilometres around the base; mining quotas increasingly went up;
and the US finally opened up the floodgates to immigration. The old Enterprise
was turned into a lunar space station to handle the new arrivals; tons and
tons of lunar ore were turned into components for the new fleet of transport
The new immigrants were overwhelmingly working class; people seeking new lives
for themselves and their families. They were builders, miners, drivers; the
poor, the tired, those yearning to breathe free. New suburbs sprang up around
New Jamestown. Entirely new colonies were established, including Eagle City
around the original Apollo 11 site. The moon was caught in a massive feeding
frenzy. Every week, the factories pumped out more rockets, desperate to feed the
Lawson thought the whole thing was profoundly ill-advised. Peak oil had caused
the collapse of regimes across Central Asia; all the 'stans were in anarchy, and
India wasn't much better. Africa, of course, was a mess; Nigeria had finally
burst into successor states by the dozen, each one run by ethnic warlords. In
China, there were rumours of massive protests; the PRC had begun a new crackdown
on press freedom, so no one could be sure.
In this environment, the US became desperate to maintain the precious flow of
helium-3. Mining quotas went up, and pay went down; the new migrants had
low-quality housing and almost no medical care; after all, doctors couldn't
wield pickaxes. The new suburbs of New Jamestown came to look increasingly like
slums. Unions, needless to say, were out of the question; the lunar government
remained stubbornly autocratic, controlling all legislative, judicial, and
Of course, no one protested; with immigrants arriving every month, you could be
replaced with the click of a button. As a result, any criticism of the regime
was ruthlessly curtailed. But Lawson was aware that amongst the miners, he was
beginning to become a focus for discontent. It was just the knack; when
he talked, people listened. And he was beginning to talk back to the repressive,
profit-mad lunar government.
For two years, Lawson worked against the lunar government; he tried to get press
restrictions eased, to form unions, to set minimal standards for housing.
Nothing worked. The American Lunar Territories were OF America, but not IN
America; the governor effectively had license to do whatever he wanted. It was
glorious, unrestrained laissez faire. As long as helium-3 got back to Earth, who
cared what conditions on the Moon were like? The Russian landing in early 2028
just made things worse.
The final straw came when Jake made friends with a young Hispanic boy from
Eureka, one of New Jamestown's many new suburbs. When Lawson went out to pick
him up, he was stunned.
The original miners lived in comparative luxury; prefabricated metal houses,
personal communications, even windows. But the new suburbs were just...Soviet.
Concrete was cheap and easy on the moon, so some godawful architect had
obviously taken it to mind. There were rows of 3 and 4 story apartment blocks,
looking like the worst of Moscow, pitted with micrometeorites; the streets were
unpaved and heavily scuffed. There were no windows, needless to say; after all,
the view would just be of more poverty. Inside, conditions were far worse; the
air conditioner made the room freezing cold, the walls were covered with stains
and grime, and entire families lived in conditions that Lawson would have used
for a closet. It was clear that the Lunar Dream hadn't quite turned out as it
was meant to.
By 2028, there were nearly a thousand people in New Jamestown, and 1500 in the
lunar colonies as a whole. Rumours were that conditions in Mao Zedong were
even worse, now that the Chinese had begun the mass-manufacture of vast
transport craft. All the times man had looked up to the stars and wondered what
was out there, had become a lie; out there was only more men, living off the
squalor and decrepitude of those they forced to work for them. And it would only
get worse; there would be entire cities of this, vast rows of windowless
concrete blocks, in an endless scramble for profit, for all eternity. Who cares
if some people got caught in the wheels in the process?
And so finally, gloriously, Lawson snapped. He had supporters in the mines; more
than just him were fed up with Governor Houston. And so, early in the morning of
July 2, 2028, Lawson led a gang of his workers to the mines in New Jamestown,
and shut them down. Workers were ordered to go home. The factories were turned
off. By midday, the entire town was shut down.
It was clear there was going to be hell to pay.
Extracts from the Jamestown Revolt, by Nina Marshall, (C) 2047
Governor John Houston woke up to find he had a revolution on his hands.
Houston has often been misinterpreted by history. Many historians have seen him
as a Bligh or a Nicholas II. Although some of his behaviour may have been
similar, his motives could not have been more different. Houston was far from
the 'military hardnose' that many saw him as; he was genuinely a sincere, kind
man, who only wanted the best for his country. Unfortunately, he saw this as
being through autocratic leadership; he saw the provision of helium-3 as the
highest priority, and saw any capitulation as being a sellout of Earth. His
altruism was perhaps what drove him into his intense nationalism; he saw the US
as a 'beacon of light' in a dark world, and was prepared to do anything for
their interests. This, sadly, corrupted much of his original altruism.
Lawson and his supporters (dubbed 'Lawsonites' by the media) occupied the mines
and the poorer suburbs. Townhall, the governor's office, was in a richer
district, and as a result the Lawsonites gained no traction there. Houston
stayed in his office, and issued demands for the miners to go back to work;
needless to say, the Lawsonites refused, and even those sympathetic to Houston
proved unable to go back to work.
By the end of the day, much of the town was in the hands of Lawson and his
supporters, with the governor only finding support in a limited area around
Townhall. It was here that Houston made his critical mistake; at this point, he
could have negotiated a solution, perhaps through some concessions to the
miners' demands. Houston, however, continued to demand the miners go back to
work unconditionally, and that those responsible for the revolt surrender
themselves. While this was consistent with Houston's ideology, it proved
unacceptable to the miners, and thus ended any hope of a negotiated solution.
The next day, Lawson went to Houston's office, backed by a gang of his
supporters. Houston, perhaps understandably, refused to see him, and locked
himself inside Townhall. In response, Lawson posted a list of the miners'
demands on the door, the famous Seven Essential Liberties.
The Seven Essential Liberties
As written by Lawson and his supporters
1. The right to an elected legislature;
2. The right to form unions;
3. The right to free speech;
4. The right to a minimum standard of living consistent with human needs;
5. The right to man's trial by a jury of his peers;
6. The right to seek free employment;
7. The right to life without fear of accident.
After Lawson left, Houston examined the note, and found rights 1, 2, 4, and 6
unacceptable without causing a major infringement on meeting helium-3 quotas. He
communicated with Earth, and urged that 'in the circumstances, a negotiated
solution must prove impossible; this situation can only be resolved by force'.
After much debate, the American government agreed, and decided to send 50
marines on the next personnel flight, in order to break the strike.
Here, however, Houston's plan unraveled. His doctor, Herbert Marshall, had no
sympathies for Lawson or the rebels; however, while treating Houston for back
problems (a recurring problem due to the low gravity), Marshall heard of the
plan and was horrified. He leaked it to the Lawsonities, who were understandably
outraged. Armed with picks and axes, they marched on Townhall; Houston, fearing
for his safety, escaped, taking a carriage of his supporters to the South Pole
military base, which although loyal to him had not yet acted. The Lawsonities
seized Townhall, and thus were in control of New Jamestown. Similar revolts in
Fra Mauro and Flamsteed put them under rebel control, although Eagle City and
Copernicus remained loyal to Houston.
The moon on Earth was unmistakably hysterical; many predicted the rise of a
United States of Luna, and the end of helium-3 transportation. This was never
the rebels' intention; the mood amongst them was overwhelmingly in favour of
remaining part of America, despite the actions of a few radicals. Lawson had
always hoped for a negotiated settlement; matters simply span far out of his
control. As a result, it seems he reluctantly prepared for battle; the railways
to the South Pole, Eagle City and Copernicus were sabotaged, and the rebels
armed themselves for battle. The factories were put to work producing weapons.
It was clear, though, that the rebels could never win a pitched battle against
On July 6, a squadron of marines arrived in lunar orbit. The crew of Enterprise
Station had remained loyal to Houston, and thus the marines docked there in
preparation for landing. At the same time, Houston ordered military and militia
contingents in South Pole Station, Eagle City and Copernicus to surround New
Jamestown. Without the railway, this took weeks; in the meantime, Houston tried
to starve out the rebels by cutting off their water supplies. Although New
Jamestown was theoretically self-sufficient, with vast hydroponic farms, these
measures took their toll; rationing was introduced on July 10, and the use of
water was heavily restricted for all but drinking and farming. Many historians
have theorized that had Houston merely waited, discontent against Lawson could
have ended the situation peacefully.
Alas, it was not to be. On July 19, the South Polar forces took Fra Mauro; on
July 21, Flamsteed peacefully surrendered. Only New Jamestown remained in rebel
hands. Although there was some pressure within the government to seek a truce,
Houston refused; he saw the consequences of giving in to rebel demands as far
worse than the consequences of battle. As a result, on July 23, the marines
began landing in New Jamestown from orbit. Crude rockets destroyed 2 of the 4
landing craft, and the surviving crew of the surviving craft were trapped and
captured. At the same time, however, Houston's forces entered the city from the
north, south and east.
Extracts from Congressional testimonies for the
Inquiry Relating To The Events of July 23 in New Jamestown
My name is Cole Egan; I'm an Australian citizen working for JPL as a lunar
engineer. I arrived on the moon in 2025, on Enterprise Flight 4.
By the time the revolt came around, I had become increasingly disillusioned with
the authoritarian leadership of Governor Houston. My marriage broke up because
of the long working hours, and wage cuts forced me to seek lower quality
accomodation. I became friends with Andrew Lawson in 2027, and when the revolt
came around I became a loyal 'Lawsonite', as they're called on Earth. We didn't
have a name for ourselves.
During the Glorious Twenty Days, as we called them, I was one of the leaders in
drafting the new constitution we were going to implement. Of course, it was all
rather silly; I don't think anyone seriously imagined that we'd be able to win,
but we might be able to get some concessions. It was a glorious thing, that
constitution; equality of all people before the law, direct democracy, set
minimum wages and living conditions, state-sponsored education and health care,
a guarantee of civil liberties. I even designed us a flag to fight under; a grey
crescent moon on a black background. I may regret a hell of a lot of what
happened, but I'll never forget those twenty days.
But all good things must come to an end. I was stationed to protect the mines
once Houston's forces started landing. It was hopeless, but at least with the
mines we had a bargaining point. But we were too spread out; that was partly
Lawson's fault, since he was a miner, not a tactician, but I don't think we
could have done anything if we'd tried. The Eagle City Company cut us off from
New Jamestown, and the South Polars just mopped us up. A bunch of the more
radical miners managed to escape, but you all know about that already. I was
protecting Mine 7; we put up a fight, but once we knew it was over we
surrendered peacefully. And that was my war. As these things go, it could have
My name is Sergeant Neil Simons; I served with the South Polar Company as a
United States Marine. I arrived on the Moon in 2027, and was assigned to the
South Pole to protect American interests there.
Once the insurrection broke out, we at South Pole Station reacted slowly. Our
commanding officer, Colonel Richards, didn't want to send troops too quickly,
since using military force to put down strikes is generally frowned upon. Once
Houston got kicked out, though, we realised that the only solution to the
insurrection was a military solution. We started heading out on the Polar
Railway, but the rebels turned off the power to the mag-lev generator, leaving
us stuck. From there, we had to use primitive scout vehicles to get all the way
to New Jamestown; by the time we got there, they were effectively unusable.
Once we got to New Jamestown, we set up a perimeter 2 kilometres around the
town, and ordered Lawson to surrender. There was no reply. At that point, we
began scrambling the rebel communications and advancing on the town. A squadron
of marines came down from orbit, but suffered heavier-than-expected fire; two
craft were destroyed and the rest were forced to surrender. They provided enough
of a distraction, however, for the rest of us to take the mines, removing the
rebels' only real bargaining chip.
From there, we advanced into the town. We received contradictory reports about
whether Lawson ordered his forces to surrender; from what we can ascertain, he
attempted to communicate regarding a ceasefire, but the communications blackout
meant that he was effectively ignored. We suffered heavy fire in the suburbs of
Eureka and Lang, and experienced multiple casualties; in these circumstances, it
became necessary to utilise rockets. One of these inadvertently impacted an
apartment block, leading to multiple casualties; all I can say is that this was
not planned, and that we attempted to render aid to any civilians caught in the
While we engaged Lawsonite forces in the southern suburbs, Copernicus Company
advanced from the north; Lawson attempted to escape to the west, but was cut off
by our company. His bodyguard, travelling in converted mining vehicles,
attempted an escape, firing on us without provocation; we were forced to fire on
the craft, depressuring it and leading to the death of Lawson and his wife. His
son, Jake, was retrieved from another craft, unconscious but alive.
Governor Houston was escorted to Townhall, where he resumed his administration
of the territories. The final casualties were 23 military dead, 232 civilian
dead, with hundreds more casualties. These figures are clearly inappropriate,
and effort must be taken to avoid similar situations in future.
My name is Dr. Herbert Marshall, and I was with Andrew Lawson when he died.
I am not, by nature, a rebellious man; at the time of the revolt, I sympathised
with Governor John Houston, and objected to many of Lawson's Seven Rights for
their unrealistic nature. Despite this, I came to join the Lawsonite rebels upon
learning of Governor Houston's plans to use military forces to resolve the
crisis; my opposition to a revolt against government authority was only
outweighed by my opposition to actions which would lead to needless deaths.
During the period known to some as the Glorious Twenty Days, I treated cases of
dehydration and exhaustion; despite Lawsonite propaganda, these were far more
common than a sudden flowering of libertarian sentiment.
When military forces attacked the town, I was with Andrew Lawson, having been
cut off from rendering aid by the advance of enemy forces. I advocated surrender
and a ceasefire, but was overruled by Lawson, who had come under increasing
influence from radical elements in the movement. It was decided to retreat to
the west, and to then head south to set up a guerrilla movement in the Montes
Riphaeus. Needless to say, I objected to this plan, but was obliged to follow
Lawson; my future career prospects were already somewhat damaged by the past
twenty days, so nothing I could do now could make things much worse.
As Lawson and his bodyguard retreated to the west, we came under fire from South
Polar Company. I managed to persuade Lawson, with difficulty, to surrender;
however, without provocation, a mortar hit our craft, in a move I judged
excessive, unnecessary, and clearly motivated by a desire to disable Lawson as a
political factor. I was already wearing a pressure suit, and thus merely needed
to put on a helmet; Lawson, however, had been hit by shrapnel from the blast,
and was knocked unconscious. I attempted to revive him and give him oxygen, but
he rapidly asphyxiated. Time of death was approximately 2154 hours, Central
The vehicle was disabled by the mortar blast; I surrendered to the approaching
Extracts from the conclusion to the Inquiry Relating To The Events of July 23
in New Jamestown
The events of July 23 were largely due to the prior actions of the rebels
(henceforth referred to as 'Lawsonites'), in having taken the actions of July 2.
In doing so, they displayed their unwillingness to act within the constraints of
constitutional government. However, this inquiry condemns the unwillingness of
Governor Colonel John Houston to negotiate with the Lawsonites. The inquiry has
concluded that negotiations may have been possible, but were stymied by Governor
Houston's insistence on a military solution...
The inquiry has also investigated conditions in the American Lunar Territories
prior to the revolt, and found them to widely breach practices within the United
States. The fact that these conditions were ignored reflects what the inquiry
has concluded was undue influence by commercial influences over government
practices, and it is urged that these conditions should be remedied as soon as
In conclusion, while condemning the rebellion and finding that Lawson's actions
were largely illegal, this inquiry recommends a study of the document referred
to as the Seven Essential Liberties, as to the feasibility of their
implementation. It is also recommended that Governor Houston be reassigned.
Extracts from the New York Times, September 21, 2028
Lunar Legislature Planned
In a landmark decision today, NASA announced that citizens of the American Lunar
Territories will soon be granted a legislature, to assist the Governor. The
Lunar Senate will consist of 7 elected and 6 appointed representatives, and will
have its first elections on November , to coincide with the presidential
Former Governor John Houston slammed the move, saying, 'A legislature for a
territory with a population of 2000 is a waste of our and taxpayer's money.'
Houston, who is still resident on the Moon after his dismissal following the
July Uprising, announced his intention to contest the elections on a platform of
dissolving the legislature.
Extracts from an announcement by the self-proclaimed Republic of Lawsonia, on
September 29, 2028
They think they can buy us off with trinkets, and the pretense of
self-government. They, who shot us down on July 23 and who murdered children to
pursue their murderous lust for gold, want to prevent future rebellions with
this shameful mockery of a parliament. But we were there. We saw the blood into
space. We saw buildings fall and the stars weep. And we will never stop the
fight which Andrew Lawson begun.
We are the Republic of Lawsonia; an independent state dedicated to carrying on
Andrew Lawson's fight. Our territory is everywhere. Our sympathisers are all
around you. We will always be watching. And we will never stop.
Extracts from an article by the Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2028
The unrecognised Republic of Lawsonia announced their responsibility for the
October 1 terrorist attack on the Polar-New Jamestown Railway, which killed 13
people and injured 32. The attack, carried out on a military carriage taking
troops from New Jamestown to the South Polar Station, was previously believed to
have been an accident.
In a press release today, the CIA announced that the so-called Republic is made
up of around 60 former Lawsonites who have set up camp in the Montes Riphaeus,
100 kilometres south of New Jamestown. President Vitter today announced plans
for a further detachment of soldiers to the Moon, in a move widely seen as
attempting to revive flagging Republican polling prior to the presidential
Extracts from an article by the New York Times, November 10, 2028
The results of the elections for the Lunar Senate have been announced, after
counting was delayed by a computer crash. In the closely fought election for the
7 elected Senators, 3 candidates of the Progressive Party were elected, along
with four non-partisans. The party has been the subject of much controversy for
its public image as the Lawsonite party, with all its candidates noted for
having fought in the July Uprising for Andrew Lawson, the deceased strike
This result was widely seen as a defeat for the Progressive Party and Lawsonites
in general, who were expected to sweep the elected positions. Former Governor
John Houston, who won election as a Senator, attributed the result to the
terrorist attacks by the Republic of Lawsonia, saying, 'The public have come to
see Lawson's ideology for what it was: a naive, hateful ideology, based on
anti-Americanism and violence'...
Democrat President-elect Barbara Scutari has praised the result, saying that it
represents 'an important step on the road to reconciliation between the American
Lunar Territories and the rest of America'.
Extracts from a speech given by Eugene Walker
to the board of Millennium Developments, Inc, on July 2, 2026
Hi, I'm your new boss. My name is Eugene Walker, but you can call me 'Mr
Walker', or 'sir'. Anything with 'eminence' in it will go down a treat, too.
First up, I intend to absolutely revolutionise the way you guys do business. I
mean, seriously. Yes, you got the contract for the new lunar personnel
transporters, and we're all very proud of you. But that's it? You guys have the
best minds in the business, and all you can do is take a bunch of overpaid
sports jocks to the moon? There's a whole UNIVERSE out there, and you guys are
delivering toilet paper!
Folks, NASA has lost its way. They were meant to explore the cosmos for us. They
were meant to chart out the new frontier. And now look at them. Scratching in
the dirt for a few scraps of helium on the moon. We got nuclear rockets four
years ago; they are the KEY to going to Mars. And what does NASA do? They use
them to transport rocks to Earth.
Hell, it's not even the profiteering that bugs me; I love profit as much as the
next guy, maybe more. But the moon is just a ball of slag, people; sure, you can
get helium-3, but it's the equivalent of looking for dirt in a field full of
diamonds. Sure, you COULD do it, but why? There's so much richer stuff out
Now, I know many-hell, all-of you will be sceptical that I'll kill your company
the same way I killed the ALC. But what killed the ALC was a failure of vision.
It was just profit, profit, profit, and that turned the public off. It was grey,
it was business-like, it was...well, dull. This time, we're going to blow their
goddamn minds, and make a hell of a lot of money while we do it.
How, you ask? The answer's simple. Asteroids. Near Earth asteroids, to be
precise. A source of riches beyond your wildest dreams. Each one worth
Yes, I can tell you all know what they are. I know that if there's a single bit
of businessman in each of you then that bit of corporate greed just TINGLES when
you imagine the possibilities. But until now, we haven't had the will. 'Just
leave it', they say, 'there will always be time'.
But they're wrong. And we all know they're wrong. The planet is in deep trouble,
ladies and gentlemen. The Middle East is in anarchy. There are tens of millions
of refugees flooding out from Bangladesh, joining a wave of instability that
runs from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea. Border clashes between India
and Pakistan threaten to escalate into something much more dangerous very soon.
We will take the resources of the asteroids, and we will use them to fund our
colonisation of Mars. Think about it, ladies and gentlemen; a vast ring of mines
in the sky, each one copyright Millennium Developments, all centred on a Mars
base which, if used right, could grant us the resources of an entire world.
Doesn't that make something tingle inside?
We have the technology. We have nuclear rockets, we have closed life-support
systems, we have the capability to send our riches back to Earth. All we need is
And just something from later on:
Excerpt from an article by the New Jamestown Herald on November 14, 2028, the
Moon's first newspaper (circulation 2000, made entirely of recycled paper)
In the scramble to explain why the Lawsonites didn't win more seats, people seem
to be forgetting that it's amazing that they won seats at all.
The Democratic and Republican Parties expressed little interest in the Lunar
Senate elections, and no candidates from either side ran; this can be attributed
to the general lack of organized political involvement on the moon. Even so, we
should have seen the victory of candidates running on generally Republican or
Democratic lines, or else on personal appeal. Indeed, for four of the senatorial
slots, we did; few would deny that Bob Renny, Scott Davison, Joanna Carmichael
or Edward Brooks are some of the most popular people in New Jamestown. But for
three of the slots, we saw something totally new: candidates elected on a
platform totally alien to most prior American experience, based not upon
personal appeal (although this did play a role; no offence, senators) but upon
their political ideology, one that is radical to a degree seldom seen in US
We have observed the birth of a totally new ideology: Lawsonism, which can
extend in its mildest forms from egalitarianism to a radical form resembling
communism. The Progressive Party have tapped into a sentiment that is not
American, but uniquely Lunar; this is a clear step in the birth of a lunar
identity separate from the homes we have left behind. Even if Lawsonism is a
transient phenomenon (as many obviously wish), then it still marks something
quite extraordinary: the creation of a new ideology based upon the struggles and
hardships of those who live and work on the Moon, and one which promises to
totally revamp Lunar politics. The old Democrat-Republican divide may never come
'You are a long way from home, Mr. Rodriguez.'
Yang Liwei, first Chinese man in space and General People's Commissioner of Mao
Zedong, relaxed back in his chair. His guest shivered; Mao Zedong was
permanently kept at a closer temperature to that of the moon than New Jamestown
was. Seeing as it was night now and had been for six days, that made him a mite
uncomfortable; even though the temperatures were regulated to be liveable, it
certainly wasn't comfortable.
But then again, that pretty much summed up Mao Zedong City. You could see the
city from miles around, because of the dense clouds of smoke constantly hovering
over the factories and mines. Large-scale transportation to the city had only
begun two years ago in 2027, and already the population had exploded. If you
believed the rumours, this was because a sizeable amount of the population were
political prisoners; Michael Rodriguez, self-appointed Ambassador of the
Republic of Lawsonia to China, chose to ignore them. War made strange
bedfellows, after all.
'Yes. Yes I am.'
Liwei smiled. 'And yet you come here. A tiny outpost of China, 500 kilometres
from your...ahem...base in Montes Riphaeus. Why is that, Mr Rodriguez?'
Rodriguez lost patience. He had been hiding in the goddamn mountains in a
foul-smelling rover with breaking equipment and constant fear of discovery for
nine months now; the LEAST this unctuous jerk could do would be to take him
seriously and not waste his time.
'You know why I'm here, Commissar. We need help. Weapons. Fuel. If you can give
them to us, covertly, then we have a deal. If you can't, then don't waste my
time; we have a war to pursue.'
Liwei broke into a broad grin.
'Ah. I take it the Republic of Lawsonia's supplies are running rather short?
After all, it can't be EASY to maintain a guerrilla campaign when you have no
food, no fuel, not even a source of air...'
'We have supplies enough for that. All we need is military support...'
Rodriguez faded as he saw Liwei's continued grin. He knew. Well, that made THAT
tack of negotiation a waste of his time.
'OK. We admit it. Our supplies are running low. People have continued defecting
to us, even after the Progressive reforms; we've got nearly a hundred and fifty
people, and no way of feeding them. We don't need logistics support; we need
asylum. We cannot keep fighting the war.'
Liwei looked temporarily taken aback; honesty is generally the best policy
because no one expects it. He got up, and walked around to the window.
Admittedly, the view wasn't very good (Mao Zedong took after the 'grey concrete
block' school of architecture even more than New Jamestown did), but it was
important to make a point.
'You know, when your followers first took control of New Jamestown, there was
some consideration of sending in troops to aid you. It would have been the
perfect propaganda coup; China, friend of the workers, helping the desperate
struggle against the capitalist aggressor. Then, of course, we realised that we
were in fact capitalist aggressors, and went back to subduing our own workers.'
Liwei chuckled a little at his own joke. 'But the main reason we did not was
because of political expediency. And in a world as...shall we say...abnormal as
ours is at present, political expediency is the only thing keeping us from each
others' throats. The Americans gave you a Senate, even if it is effectively a
rubber stamp. The Europeans will give their Avalon City a full parliamentary
assembly, AND social benefits! Everyone is terrified of the slightest spark.
They saw what happened in New Jamestown. They will do anything to prevent the
same thing happening all over the Earth.
'So no, we cannot give you refuge. If we were found out, the consequences would
be disastrous, both for you and for us. But...'-he leaned forwards, his eyes
sparkling with mischief-'that does not mean we cannot ASSIST you...'
Rodriguez was wary. He was just a miner; this sort of complicated diplomatic
dance was, to put it mildly, unfamiliar to him.
'We can give you new transport craft. We can give you fuel. We can give you new
greenhouses. We will even give you weapons. But you must promise to carry on
'We can't do that! We don't have-'
'But you will. You are far more useful to us as an irritant to the Americans
than you could ever be as refugees. Under our direction, you will destroy
factories, mines, railways. Even apartment blocks, if need be.'
'We can't do that! Innocent people will die!'
'Of course they will. But you have long passed the point where you have any
other option. If you give yourselves in to the Americans, you will be imprisoned
or shot. If you give yourselves in to us, you will be able to continue your
struggle and perhaps survive. Isn't that worth it?'
'I'll have to consult the others. We are a democracy, after all.'
'Are you? How very sweet. Now I understand why you're losing.'
'Am I interrupting something?'
Gerald Matheson rubbed his forehead, and wished that this was all some terrible
nightmare. But no; John Houston was still in front of his desk, and in this
dream you didn't stop falling just before you woke up: it was downhill all the
He looked up from his paperwork. 'No, no; sorry, I've just got some work to do.
You know how it is with us socialist revolutionaries; busy busy busy'
He hid his smirk, because he knew how much that irritated Houston, then
instantly regretted it. On the Senate floor (which was just another floor; they
hadn't got the funds to build a Senate yet, so they'd just put a non-descript
wing on Townhall and filled it with chairs. At the moment, it looked like an AA
meeting), Houston had repeatedly blasted the Progressives with the 'socialist
revolutionaries' line whenever he got up to speak. It was practically at 'Cathage
delenda est' levels. Matheson was desperate to avoid another one of Houston's
patented fire and brimstone lectures on the Change of Name Bill.
This was because, to the Progressive Party, the bill was crucial. New Jamestown
was a silly name, based upon an even sillier name; no wonder the Virginians had
moved to Williamsburg as soon as they could. So far, the New Jamestown Herald
had taken dozens of submissions for names; they ranged from the impractical
(Lawson was a popular one) to the sublime (Mandela, Gandhi and King) to the
ridiculous (Libertaria, Egalitaria, and any number of submissions along the
lines of Kirk, Spock, or Roddenberry). From such an admittedly unpromising list,
the Progressive Party had picked Apollo, simply because no one had any deep
ideological resentments towards the name; in the current environment, that was
about as good as things got.
Now, though, Matheson had to negotiate with Houston for his support, a process
somewhat akin to dunking one's head in warm mud for several hours. Ever since
his dismissal, Houston's earlier optimism for the 'divine mission for the US'
had simply degenerated into contempt for those he viewed as its enemies;
unfortunately, he viewed anyone who didn't like him in that category, which made
negotiations rather difficult.
Still, it had to be done. After affecting benign contempt for the first
senatorial elections, the Democrats and Republicans had realised the danger
posed by the Progressives, as the largest block of votes; congressmen (five at
last count) had swept down upon New Jamestown and begun avidly recruiting. The
appointed representatives were easy prey; they were generally grey bureaucrats
from Earth; even though they generally lacked ideologies (and personalities) of
their own, they were more than happy to let parties be their personalities
instead. The rest of the elected independents were rapidly picking sides;
Houston, after much prevarication, had become a Republican, to no one's
surprise, and had rapidly manouevered his way into the leadership of the
Republicans in the Senate. There were five Democrats and Republicans each, along
with the three Progressives; this meant a lot of wheeling and dealing generally
went on in order to do anything.
And so, Matheson had been delivered straight into Houston's waiting arms. To his
surprise, only the Republicans had been receptive to a name change; the
Democrats had blasted it as 'an affront to our noble tradition', a high call
when the settlement was only eight years old. Mostly, though, the whole thing
was simply partisan bickering; the Democrats saw the Progressives as wimpy
flower children, and the Progressives saw the Democrats in much the same way.
Houston hid his irritation and continued smiling. 'So, Mr Matheson, as I was
saying, I don't think we can support this bill in its current form.
Abandoning this name would seem like a rejection of the proud history we have
inherited from the original Jamestown settlement. Besides, when the Europeans
establish Avalon next month, the names may confuse people. Be reasonable.'
Matheson stared in shock. Houston had never been so...well, calm before; one of
the reasons the Jamestown Revolt had happened was because he had the temper of a
dyspepsic volcano. Something else was going on.
'Well, Mr Houston, I hope you understand there's a lot of community support for
this. We've got a lot of newcomers, more every day; they don't have
the...connection with the name New Jamestown as we do.'
Houston smirked. He was going in for the kill. 'Oh, I'm sure they will in time.
Some people are willing to die for names, you know.'
Ah. There it was. The elephant in the mousehole.
The fact was that the Progressive Party was enormously uncomfortable regarding
the Republic of Lawsonia; it was hard to ask people to 'remember the 23rd!' when
another group asked the same thing while blowing up railway carriages.
Outwardly, the Progressives denied any link with anyone associated with the
republic, and blasted them as betraying the true spirit of Lawson; in truth,
however, things were a good deal more complicated. A lot of the party's strength
came from their links with the new unions; unfortunately, a lot of the
republic's strength came from the fact that certain unions were more than
willing to turn a blind eye to theft of supplies. It was easy for the uninformed
to make a connection; Houston constantly invited the uniformed to do so.
Matheson, though, was a hard man to pin with such accusations. For starters, he
was just so...well...boring. He'd broken his leg in a mineshaft collapse just
prior to the revolt, which had left him hospitalised throughout all of July; the
collapse, which had killed five men and was often cited as a cause of the
revolt, gave him revolutionary cred without the actual revolution. As a result,
he'd been unanimously dubbed party leader, and now was left to do this sort of
wheeling and dealing. And he thought a broken leg was bad enough.
'Look, Mr Houston, the Progressive Party is committed to these reforms. Is there
any way we could gain your party's support?'
'Hmm...well, you could try making me governor again.'
Houston made no secrets of his belief that he had been 'robbed'; the fact no one
shared this belief was no obstacle. If God himself came down from the heavens
bearing a tablet saying, 'Thou Wert An Idiot And Thou Wast Rightly Sacked',
Houston would complain about the liberal bias in religion and its disrespect for
'OK. Is there any other way?'
'Let's see...ah. There is ONE way. You see, our troops in the Montes Riphaeus
have been suffering from certain...reverses recently.'
'I know. I read the Herald.' In an engagement in the mountains, Lawsonian
forces had managed to trap a squadron of marines in a valley, and started
lobbing mortars at them; only the quick thinking of the squadron's commander,
already picked out for advancement, had saved the day. No one knew how the
Lawsonians had managed to pin down the Marines for so long, given the general
belief that they used guns they'd made themselves out of rocks.
'Yes. Well, the governor wishes to order up more troops, but the Democrats are
opposed; they say that it would cost too much and use up vital facilities,
presumably because casualties are cheap and it would be easier to rebuild the
vital facilities the Lawsonians are bent on destroying. But we could pass a
request for more troops...with your assistance. Of course, such a measure would
cause heated debate amongst your constituency; some of the major unions, for
example, might be led to withdraw their assistance. But then again, I'm sure you
don't want to appear soft on terrorism...and Apollo is SUCH a nice name, after
The first European-Russian base on the moon,
Gagarin, was established on April 4, 2029. No one there noticed.
Gagarin was just a sideshow; a fully automated base, designed to secure
European-Russian helium-3 supplies in case of a catastrophe. The real focus of
the program was Avalon Station.
Avalon Station orbited 150 kilometres above the moon, almost exactly around the
equator. The station was classic 2001; only the modular design betrayed
that it was just an evolution of technology the Russians had been using for
nearly 60 years. Inside, Avalon was designed for comfort; there were hotel
rooms, shops, and even small craft for private accomodation away from the
At first, Avalon was derided for pandering to the lowest common denominator,
delivering services only commercial enterprises should even consider. Then the
crowds moved in. The new American liners began to stop there as a matter of
course; the Enterprise was left in a slowly decaying orbit, and
eventually fell to the Moon, abandoned. Almost no one noticed. Avalon rapidly
became the Singapore of the Moon; a free port for fuelling, transport, and
zero-g manufacturing. The establishment of the asteroid mines proved
particularly profitable; eager colonists from the moon were forced to stop for
refuelling stops on Avalon, which strangely enough always seemed to last longer
The crew began as a multinational team of 15; then, as the unmanned helium-3
shipments began to stop at Avalon for refueling, the population expanded. The
United States tried to establish stations of their own to cut in on the trade
route; they were generally seen as being shallow rip-offs, and avoided. By 2035,
Avalon handled nearly every craft heading to and from the moon, with stays from
a few hours to forever. New modules were added, free-flying 'companion' stations
for accomodation were established. The population hit 500, and showed no sign of
stopping. The station became a multinational, multicultural hive of activity.
The profits generated by the station more than paid for U.S. supplies of
helium-3, while providing funding for the creation of further robotic stations
across the lunar globe. Of course, none of the robotic stations had the
capability to produce workable exports, but that was scarcely the point; they
created a ceaseless flow of raw minerals, which were rocketed to orbit or to the
American manufacturing centres for the further construction of Avalon. Trade
networks began to develop on the moon; the Apollo-Gagarin railway was completed
in 2031, and soon hummed with activity.
In the Avalon Parliament, the Parti Libérale held a firm grip on power.
The station was governed by an agreement between the Russians, who provided the
rockets and modules, and the Europeans, who provided the technology and
robotics; the ESA had by now included most European countries, with many more
clamouring to join (including, oddly, Eritrea), and was integrated as an agency
of the European Union in 2031. The station was governed by a Premier, with two
Administrators representing both agencies holding veto power (which made the
whole process of parliamentary government a sham, but everyone knew and accepted
that). The EU and Russia both held joint sovereignty over the land surrounding
their bases and the space within Avalon, although in many cases the bases were
handed over to the administration of individual countries; 23 July, 2033, was a
proud day for Luxembourg with the inauguration of Charlotte, its first
(and only) lunar station. Even though it could only accomodate a semi-permanent
population of six and was largely just an automated mine and factory, Grand Duke
Guillaume himself turned up to inaugurate the base, which became a permanent commune
The smirks of critics rapidly faded when they realised that while they weren't
being outpopulated, they were being outclassed.
Extracts from an article by the Apollo Herald
(formerly New Jamestown Herald) on the 9th of April, 2029
Progressive Senator Attacks Military Funding
Senator Edward Brooks (P, Fra Mauro) openly denounced Senator John Houston (R,
Apollo)'s plans for a new detachment of troops to the troubled Montes Riphaeus
region yesterday, calling it 'an excuse for wanton murder'.
In a sensational speech on the Senate floor, Brooks stated, 'We came to the moon
to build a better life. I may not agree with the methods used by the Lawsonians,
but I do believe in their cause. To resort to murder and violence when
negotiation is still in order is not simply a crime; it is a sin, and a failure
Brooks was a leading figure in the Lawsonian insurgency last June, and has been
well-known for his controversial statements in the past. However, this is the
first time he has acted against his party. Senators Gerald Matheson (P, Apollo)
and Diane Smith (P, Flamsteed) voted for the act. The bill was passed 7-6.
Matheson declined to comment.
'What the hell did you think you were doing?'
Edward Brooks had never seen Matheson mad, or even emotional, before. Now,
though, it was a wonder the air wasn't catching fire upon contact with his skin.
By the looks of it, he'd been drinking; this was technically illegal, but on the
moon what wasn't?
Well, that was fine. Brooks could get mad, too.
'They will kill them, Gerry. Every last one of them. You know what those
troops are? Marines. Each one of 'em a stone cold killer. You don't get mercy
up here, you get shot, you decompress and you die. I will not let that happen!'
'As opposed to what, Ed? Those stone cold crazy friends of yours keep blowing up
railway carriages? And it won't just be railway carriages next time, either.
It'll be an apartment block, or a mine. Maybe a school. What the hell are we
going to do then, Ed?'
'Nothing. Because that's not going to happen.'
'Oh yes? And how would you know, Ed? I mean, we have no contact with
them, remember? I remember explicitly telling you and Diane that we are
to have no goddamn contact!'
Brooks sighed. Matheson didn't do angry very well. 'Oh, give it a break,
Gerry. I know you know I know the people behind the Lawsonians. And I know you
know I've had contact with them. Recently, too.'
'I've spoken to them, Gerry. Bob, Scott, Alaa, all the rest. They don't intend
any harm to civilians. They're simply doing what they think is right.'
'Oh yes? And do you agree with them, Ed?'
'I certainly think they stand to achieve more good than harm.'
Matheson buried his face in his hands. 'This is going to give us hell, Ed. The
goddamn secretary of the Builders' Union has already been in here; I've still
got spittle in my hair. That's about 200 votes we've permanently lost...but what
I'm really worried about is what everyone else will think. The ones who didn't
fight on the 23rd, or who've arrived since then. The grocers, the small business
owners, the chemists. I mean, Ed, put yourself in...oh, I don't know, Updike's
'Updike? You mean the grocery store owner?'
'Yeah. The British guy. Well, he doesn't care about conditions in the mines; I
mean, sure, they were bad, but that's all in the past now. And he doesn't care
that Eureka still looks like something Third World, because he owns his own plot
of land, he's got a three bedroom house, he's got a steady income; why should
he care? But what he does care about is his two-or three, how the hell
should I know how many he has?-kids. And when he reads the Herald and he sees
broken train carriages, smashed equipment, and whatever the hell it was they did
to the Riphaeus barracks...and then he sees a Progressive decrying moves to stop
this sort of thing happening...well, he'll make a connection in his mind. It
doesn't matter if it's right or wrong, because he just wants to keep his family
safe. So he abandons us.'
'There still aren't that many small business owners, you know. Most of the
town's builders, labourers, manufacturers, miners. They'll still support us.'
'No they won't. We don't have a consistent message. We vote for the bill,
angering the Democrats, and you vote against, angering the Republicans. Better
go with the devil you know than someone who's just trying to fake evil. So, Ed,
I'm giving you a choice. Either you vote with us on all occasions in future, no
matter what the bill, or we're withdrawing your endorsement.'
'You know I can't do that, Gerry.'
'Then it's settled. Get out of my office. I'll see you in the Senate tomorrow.'
Brooks, stunned, moved towards the airlock. Gerry got up, hesitantly. He said,
'We shall all have to live with this, you know.'
Brooks turned towards him. He smirked. 'You certainly will.'
He left without another word.
From little things big things grow.
Cole Egan hummed as he worked. After returning to Luna, he'd been adrift; there
was no purpose, no cause anymore, now that Lawson was dead. The
Lawsonians had saved him. Like so many before him, he had sought them out, and
they had given him purpose.
To outsiders, the whole insurgency seemed pointless; three years on the moon,
and already they launched an insurgency? They just didn't understand. The Moon
offered a chance at something new; something better, and brighter, than
the crummy old world they'd left behind. Even now, as he gazed up, Egan could
see the clouds of smoke over China; the rebellion that China denied was even
happening was sending brushfires all over the countryside. Most of Asia was
covered in a cloud of smoke and dust. With a world like that, who could blame
them for wanting something new?
But then they'd arrived, and everything was the same; the same old human foibles
of greed, of apathy, of cruelty. They had been treated like cogs in a machine;
just a means to an end for the US to sate its insatiable lust for helium-3.
Well, the cogs were fighting back. Lawson had given them a glimpse of a new
society; a world of equality, of freedom, of brotherhood. For twenty days. Then
the brutal machines got back to their work, and they'd been beaten and crushed.
But they couldn't go back. Not now they knew there was a chance at freedom.
They didn't think of themselves as murderers. They were patriots, loyal to an
idea that the capitalist system could never crush. The Montes Riphaeus were
extensive; they could hold out for years in here, decades, constantly moving
from one stronghold to the next. There were hundreds of them now, sick of the
long hours, the cramped conditions, the filthy rooms. And soon, with Chinese
help, they would take the fight to the enemy.
Cole didn't have any illusions that the Chinese saw them as any more than
mercenaries. It was just economic warfare to them; they blew up frieghters,
factories, railways, to stop helium-3 transportation. It was just capitalism by
other means. But Cole Egan didn't care. He had a dream.
The team finished construction. In the low lunar gravity, it was practically
harder to stop going into orbit than to go there; the Chinese had provided the
Lawsonians with a series of missiles. They intended to use them.
They retreated to a safe distance, and prepared for liftoff. They were planning
to target a shipment of helium-3, which they'd been informed was approaching
Avalon; unfortunately, the 'shipment of helium-3' was, in fact, docked with the Pathfinder,
Millennium Development's first asteroid colonisation ship. From little
things big things grow.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, things were even worse than they looked from the Moon.
A single blown fuse on Mao Zedong had reduced an entire shipment of helium-3 to
pretty rocks; the resulting power shortages had created riots across the
country. India launched their first man into space, with Japan hot on their
heels; with most of the Middle East effectively ungovernable, the pipeline of
helium-3 was vitally important to keep open. In Europe, the European Union was
extended into the European Confederation, and began to look like an actual
nation state. It was like continental drift on fast-forward; processes which
would previously have taken decades were being accomplished in years. There was
a sense of dancing in front of the inferno about the whole thing; as cities
burned and the land ran with blood, revelationary cults gained popularity. The
youth engaged in hedonistic, wildly dangerous sports; the old certainties seemed
Amidst all this, Eugene Walker began to feel the first signs of age. He turned
60 in 2029; his muscles were less certain, his bones seemed more fragile. He
began to delegate the running of SphereComm and Millennium Developments to
subordinates, even more so. He clung stubbornly to the hope of the Mars mission;
everything seemed so SIMPLE that way. They would set up an infrastructure of
asteroid stations, which would launch material back to Earth orbit, thus funding
the mission; they would then assemble the craft in situ and the landing would
progress. The whole thing could be done before the end of 2030. His unspoken
belief, which everyone guessed anyway, was that he would one day get to see
those red skies before he died.
Then, on the morning of May 1st, a revolutionary socialist insurgency blew up
the prize spacecraft and hope for the future of Eugene Walker, a committed
libertarian and increasing tetchy old man. It was said that the scream could be
heard for quite a way.
Afterwards, there was chaos. The Pathfinder had taken months of work,
billions of dollars; its destruction increasingly signalled to skeptical
executives that Walker's dreams were unsustainable. Morale fell; the contract
workers at Avalon went on strike, demanding safer conditions. They had, after
all, nearly been vaporised; if the ship had been finished, the explosion could
quite possibly have rendered Avalon mythical.
It seemed there was only one option to Walker. He would have to go to the Moon,
negotiate with the workers, and reinvigorate the effort. A stand would have to
be made. With cameras, if possible. The people needed to be told that Millennium
Developments would not surrender to terrorists, and that Mars was still only a
year away. Oh, and he would also need to personally quarter whoever blew up his
And so, dragging along his long-suffering underling Nigel Durschmeid, Walker
finally went to the Moon. It had no idea what hit it.
Going into space was much easier once you owned
a rocket company. Despite his rhetoric, Walker had never been into space before;
this was largely because, until now, he'd been able to leave the actual work to
his subordinates and concentrate on speech-making. Well, now his two interests
(money and space) were dovetailing nicely.
Nigel looked, and felt, profoundly worried about the whole endeavour. In the
eleven years since this whole series of insane adventures had begun, he'd gone
from pale and fleshy to paler and rake-thin. His hair was even turning grey! So
why did he keep doing it? Well, tradition, for one thing; when one crazy
entrepeneur has been bossing you around for a decade, you might as well let him
boss you around for another decade. But on another level, he knew it was deeper
than that; it was the same feeling he got watching the Orion 6 moonlanding. The
sense that great and wonderful things are going on, and that to miss them would
be a tragedy. Oh yes, and Walker paid well. That helped, too.
Walker was unable to secure a private flight, but this suited him fine. He said
he wanted to 'meet the people'; Nigel suspected that he just liked hearing the
awed hush as he entered the room. They were going up on a SpaceShipFour, a ship
built and owned by one of Millennium Development's subsidiaries; as he watched
the cabin shake and felt that horrible crushing weight upon his chest, Nigel
made a mental note to sack the designers. Walker, though, seemed the enjoy it;
he broke into brief snatches of the Star Trek theme at appropriate and
Finally, they broke into orbit. Walker, of course, hummed Thus Spoke
Zarathustra; it would have been scarcely excusable not to. He also did
assorted tricks with pens and bubbles of water. Nigel simply clung to the
armrests and tried not to throw up.
Their ship, the John Young (Nigel noticed that nearly every single thing
mankind had accomplished in space automatically had a name associated with the
Apollo program slapped on it), approached Space Station One (C), Millennium
Development's commercial refueling port for the lunar liners. Inside, it looked
essentially like what you would expect a petrol station in space to look like;
of course, no one actually used petrol anymore, but the principles were the
same. Luckily, they didn't stay for long. Walker seemed insanely curious in
everything; he should, seeing as it was his station, but there was something
faintly mid-life crisis about it all. Nigel found this depressing for two
reasons; for starters he was nearly fourty himself, and becoming increasingly
concerned about his own impending midlife, and secondly if sixty was going to be
the middle of Walker's life, then it was going to be a very gloomy sixty years
ahead for Nigel.
Their liner, the Argos, finished fueling. Despite the dreams of hopes of
past generations, it steadfastly refused to look anything like the Enterprise;
Walker had tried, interfering with the design team to make the engine pods look
like nacelles (and hugely complicating the process), but it was what it was; a
big fuel tank, strapped to a pair of engines, with a personnel carrier at the
front. It had all the romance and glamour of a Mack truck.
Inside, though, things were much nicer. NASA had privatised personnel transport;
Millennium Developments had been unable to get monopoly control of the contract,
which instead fell to a series of multinational consortiums. This meant things
were at least showing a modicum of niceness on the inside; their rooms were
well-furnished and reasonably spacious, and the food was at least marginably
edible. There were no pretentions towards luxury, however; despite an
increasingly desperate-looking introduction to the ship, everyone knew it was
the destination, not the journey, that mattered.
Finally, after a three day journey in which Walker managed to irritate Nigel
tremendously, they arrived in lunar orbit. It was nighttime, and would be for at
least the next week, so the moon rolled in darkness beneath them. The railways
(technically a misnomer, since 'rails' were a thing of the past with mag lev,
but no one bothered to correct it) were lit up, connecting settlements across
the planet with a fine net of glowing threads. In Sinus Medii, they saw the
glowing clouds rising over Mao Zedong, which rumour said had been partially
torched during the Chinese riots; in Mare Nectaris a team of European tourists
picked out Gagarin Station, which looked tiny and insignificant. The real star,
though, was Apollo; you could see the mines dotting the countryside all around,
with the actual station itself obscured by a cloud that must have stretched for
dozens of miles, and was even visible from Earth. This was no longer the staid,
dull moon of Nigel's childhood; it was a new home for humanity.
He looked up at Walker, and saw tears glistening in his eyes.
Avalon had only been online for a month; the Argus
was only the second American ship to stop there on the lunar route. Even so,
it seemed to Nigel the most wonderful place in the world, like Disneyland in
space. To Walker, of course, it was simply a symbol of government interfering
where it shouldn't and impeding the free market, but everything seemed like that
Avalon was composed of a central spire, made of Russian habitation modules,
surrounded by a spinning wheel. Admittedly, the gravity effect would take some
work; it got stronger at the outside and weaker on the inside, thus creating the
disconcerting effect of having multiple currents of air pulling at you at once,
a feeling not dissimilar to being ripped apart at the seams. Still, for
gravity-loving tourists like Nigel, it was infinitely preferable.
Inside were the beginnings of stalls and shops; a groceries, a souvenir shop and
even a McDonald's. Staffing them were a series of despondant-looking Russians
and Frenchmen, all of whom were engineers desperate to get back to work.
Still, despite its admittedly shabby fittings, Nigel found the whole place
enchanting. There was a cupola made entirely out of glass at the top of the
central spire, from which you could see the entire moon. There were small ships
for joyriding, which were both hugely expensive and hugely enjoyable; Walker
insisted on renting one, and spent several hours putting physics through their
But, of course, the real reason they were there was for work. Most of the
striking assembly crew were from Apollo (Nigel preferred that name to New
Jamestown, leading to several spirited arguments with Walker), and had returned
there after the destruction of Pathfinder. Representing them on Apollo
was Senator Ed Brooks, leader of the Workers Alliance (a party that seemed to
consist of him and his ego, which made it the largest party on the moon, or
indeed anywhere) and chairman of the Builders' Union, which included the
assembly crew. Brooks and Walker had a series of spirited meetings, with the
despairing Nigel caught in the middle. Most of what they actually said is
unprintable; the gist of it was that Brooks refused to end the strike until
Walker made conditions safer, and that Walker refused to make conditions safer
until Brooks ended the strike. It was a titanic clash of egos, and none could
As the negotiations wore on, Walker became steadily angrier. Alcohol was
technically forbidden on the moon, as were most things; in fact, an oft-cited
reason for the Lawsonian insurgency was out of sheer boredom and frustration
with the silly, repressive rules. Walker had managed to sneak on a sizeable
quantity of alcohol, and promptly preceded to drink himself silly. Of course,
this merely made the negotiations even more difficult. Finally, after a week of
pointless struggle, the negotiations broke down.
Over a reheated McDonald's dinner that night (another reason for the insurgency,
if one was needed, was that Apollo/New Jamestown had no restaurants worth a
damn, and yet had two McDonald's franchises), Nigel and Walker discussed
'Goddamn Brooks. What the hell does he think he's planning?'
'It said in the Apollo Herald that he's delaying the negotiations as a
political tactic. He wants to buy the support of the major unions in Apollo, and
through that break the Progressives.'
'So we're just pawns in someone else's political game. What the hell kind of
politics is that anyway? There's only twenty-five hundred people down there, why
do they need to go through all this nonsense?'
'Maybe it's just part of human nature.'
'He's just a goddamn miner. He's got no IDEA how to play political games. We'll
show him. Tomorrow, we're going to Apollo. Book me in an appointment with the
Governor, and with...you know, Dallas, or whoever he is.'
'John Houston? But he's not the Governor anymore. You do know that, right?'
'No, but he's sure as hell going to be.'
The next day, they flew down to Apollo. As they began their descent, Nigel
noticed the landscape was even more heavily scarred than the norm; mining had
taken off in a major way. Some of the more far-out mines were beginning to
develop into their own little towns; private companies had begun sending up
their own prospective colonists and dumping them by the sides of holes in the
ground with little more than a shovel and a few pieces of sheet metal. Well, you
couldn't say they weren't warned.
Upon landing at Apollo's spaceport (Nigel felt a frission of excitement when he
realised they were landing at a spaceport), they were greeted by Houston,
wearing a spacesuit of respectable dark blue, and Governor Simon Gregory, who'd
unfortunately been saddled with an orange-mauve mixture that was an affront to
the eye and to common sense.
Gregory was a nervous, pale man, rather like Lang but without the same worried
charm. He'd been a stopgap appointment, and he knew he was a stopgap
appointment; after Houston's reign had gone down in flames, the government had
rapidly cast around for someone, anyone, to replace him. Gregory, at the time a
minor functionary for the Department of Defence, was left holding the package.
He commanded no loyalty from any of the lunar residents, most of whom had no
idea who he was; he was content to merely serve as a referee to the disputes
between the moon's myriad political factions. Looking at him, Nigel's heart
sank; he'd tried to persuade Walker not to engage in impromptu regime change,
but he knew that Gregory would never accomplish Walker's aims. Regime change it
They drove up Armstrong Street from the spaceport to Townhall; along the way,
they passed through Eureka, a suburb of slum apartment blocks of concrete, many
of which bore disconcerting scars from the July uprising. Nigel had been told
poverty existed on the moon, but he had never really believed it; looking around
him, though, it became an easier concept to grasp. At least some of the
buildings had windows, now.
They then passed into the factory district; there was endless construction going
on, to the point where the Apollo skyline was dominated by cranes. Construction
was easier on the moon; with lower gravity, developers were convinced to go up
and up and up. So, logically, they had; nearly half the lunar population were
builders and laborers, which fuelled both a wave of construction and Edward
Brooks' already titanic ego.
Finally, though, they passed onto Jamestown Street, and it took Nigel's breath
away. This was clearly a light-year from the poverty they had left behind; the
street looked like a parody of a 'typical' American main street, of the type
that hadn't existed since the 1950s. There were glassed-over sidewalks, so
people could actually walk without helmets; he noticed, though, that all the
buildings still maintained airlocks and that children still wore pressure suits,
the clear signs of a system that wasn't entirely stable yet. The buildings were
mostly two-story houses, with small commercial businesses on the first floor and
with housing on the second floor; he could see chemists, grocers, shops, and of
course the ever-present McDonald's.
To Walker, it seemed a wonder; Nigel had never seen his breath taken away
before. Their bus docked with one of the sidewalks, and Walker dashed out like a
kid; he walked in a daze, admiring the shops and staring speechlessly at the
people, most of whom looked faintly disturbed. This was what he had always
wanted; a new America on the moon, a better America, all the dreams of his
childhood in one beautiful package. He looked back at Nigel, and visibly
struggled to maintain his composure. It was one single, beautiful moment that
reminded Nigel that despite how much he could sometimes hate his boss, he really
wasn't that bad a guy.
After that, of course, it was back to business. Walker and Nigel met with
Gregory in Townhall, where the governor blustered without making any firm
ideological commitment; Walker mentally disposed of him. They made an
appointment to meet Houston in his offices the next day. Regime change was on.
After cordial greetings, Houston and Walker got
down to business. Houston's office was dominated by a United States flag and a
map of the moon; the map, Nigel noticed, was marked with the zones of influence
of the major powers. The American and Chinese zones were becoming increasingly
'So, Mr. Houston, let's get one thing straight: I aim to get mankind, and
preferably me, to Mars. At the moment, that goal is being somewhat curtailed by
the strike and by the goddamn Lawsonians in the mountains. Governor Gregory is
showing no sign of dealing with either threat; therefore, he must be removed.
'Remarkably frank, Mr. Walker.'
'Please, call me Gene. I need someone who will end the strike, send the
Lawsonians to hell and give me the resources I need to get my program back on
track. Are you that man?'
'Well, yes. But I don't think you understand the nature of lunar politics, Gene.
There are factions within the community who are most opposed to my return to
power. The Democrats, the Progressives, whatever party Senator Brooks keeps
yammering about, and, of course, the Lawsonian rebels. How exactly do you plan
to accomplish this? Barring celestial intervention, of course.'
'I've got something better than God, Mr Houston. I've got the ear of the
'You? Mr. Walker...Gene, you have about as much support in the current
administration as I do. 'We will succeed without the help of government, or not
at all'? And even if you did manage to get me appointed, the population would
not be for it.'
'Uh-huh. So you have no support in government and no support amongst the
populace. If that's the case, why do you want to be governor at all, seeing as
it has about as much chance as Hitler becoming Pope?'
'Because I swore an oath to do what was good for my country, Mr. Walker. I swore
to defend her against external threats and to ensure her prosperity. The current
government is weak. A puppet, created by political weakness and anti-democratic
action. They give compromises to the Chinese, to the Lawsonians, to the goddamn
Europeans, for gods sakes! I aim to restore America's pride of place on the
moon. Space is the final frontier, after all, and I aim to ensure that it is
AMERICA'S final frontier. I am doing what is best for my country.'
Walker inwardly sighed. Until now, he'd just thought of Houston as a
stereotypical megalomaniac; now, though, he realised he was a stereotypical
megalomaniacal patriot, which was much more dangerous. Still, he was lightyears
better than Gregory, who didn't appear to have any personality at all.
'OK, then, Mr Houston. You have a dream, I have a dream, and I think it's best
for all of us if our dreams exist in mutual collaboration. Millennium
Developments will devote as much of our resources as possible to gaining you
popular support. We'll pay for ad campaigns, transport, even some of the
development programs you'll inevitably have to promise. You'll go on the
campaign trail, wear a khaki spacesuit out at Montes Riphaeus, wear a helmet in
Fra Mauro, and wear an 'I Went to the Moon and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt'
in Eagle City. You will make the people love you, Mr Houston. And in
return, when you become Governor, you will help put man on Mars.'
'It's still not an elected position, though. Even if I'm seen as a cross between
Jesus Christ and Pamela Anderson by the lunar population, that still won't buy
over NASA. How do you plan to do that?'
'I have the ultimate trump card, Mr Houston. In return for your
appointment...I'll promise to make the Mars mission a private-public endeavour.
NASA and Millennium Developments will go to Mars, hand in hand. I'm offering
NASA a world, Mr Houston; surely that's enough?'
After that, it was merely a matter of documents.
Upon returning to their rented lodging, Nigel couldn't resist a poke. ''We will
succeed without the help of government, or not at all', eh? What ever happened
to government as the ultimate evil?'
'Oh, shut up, Nigel, I don't need this.'
'You spent your entire career trying to block government out of space. The
ultimate in individual enterprise, you called it. And now you're going to give
them the triumph you worked towards your entire career?'
'Yeah, that's pretty much the size of it.' Walker threw himself down on the bed.
'NASA are a lot of things, but they're not stupid. We have the infrastructure,
we have the funds, we have the technology. They'll rip the hell out of the
plan-I'd be surprised if the asteroid mines survive intact-but there'll be
enough left to get to Mars.'
'We could still get there without Houston, you know.'
'No, we couldn't. Haven't you been paying attention? This community...'-Walker
swore at length, often using words Nigel hadn't even heard before-'is run by the
goddamn unions. Brooks has us in a stranglehold, and he knows it. And I swear, I
would rather let FDR take Mars then budge an inch for a goddamn'-Walker swore
for a few seconds more-'like Brooks.'
'What about the company?'
'Damn the goddamn company. Enough will survive to keep running toilet paper to
orbit. The mission'll be private-public, just like I said. Hell, they might even
let us put a few logos on the ship. But I'm sick of the goddamn company, sick of
this goddamn planet. I'm getting old, Nigel.'
'No you're...' Nigel stopped, realizing, for the first time, that it was true.
Walker no longer looked the dragon he had been before; Nigel now saw him as a
tired, frail old man, scared of dying, scared of the future. The whole thing was
uniquely depressing: Walker had overseen the collapse of a corporate empire and
had promptly reconstructed it. He had put man on the moon for real, and he had
built cities in the sky. If he could wither with age, who couldn't?
'I've spent my entire career working around cellphones and nuclear reactors,
Nigel, and here I am on the goddamn unshielded surface of the moon. If I'd ever
had kids, they sure as hell wouldn't get any extra siblings anymore. But I never
did. Space was always my kid. And now Mars is within reach, Nigel, Mars; red
deserts, red skies, seas of ice, and always the promise, just the faintest
promise, of life. Wouldn't that be something? I just want to see those skies,
just once, Nigel, through my own eyes. For that, I'd be prepared to do anything.
'Except compromise with Brooks, obviously.'
'Well, that's impossible, so it doesn't count.'
The next day, Nigel and Walker lifted off, back to Avalon, and home.
After Walker left, Houston met with his fellow
Republicans in the Senate. No real party structure existed for the Democrats or
Republicans on the Moon, beyond labels; they were effectively just a way of
getting people who thought, acted or in many cases just looked similar to vote
as a bloc. Unfortunately, this left them without much of the machinery needed to
run an election campaign, or even just a popularity booster. Luckily, Walker
would provide much of the logistics; all Houston needed was the support of his
Unfortunately, this was somewhat more difficult than it first appeared. The
other two elected senators, Bob Renny and Scott Davison, were respected
small-business owners; Bob Renny owned a grocery store in Apollo, and Scott
Davison made a killing on the tourist market in Eagle City. Both, in short, had
loyal constituencies, a reputation for honest dealings and fairness, and
widespread popularity; the very opposite of Houston. They were understandably
appalled at the notion of what was effectively using business pressure to
overthrow the appointed government of the colony. Houston had well-prepared for
this by cultivating support amongst the appointed senators; to Phil Madison he
promised the lieutenant-governorship, to Eustace Colfer he promised a cabinet
position and to stop laughing at his name. With their votes, he was able to
effectively force the issue in the Republican caucus. Renny and Davison, after a
brief quarrel, were effectively silenced. The campaign, despite being
unofficial, unannounced and somewhat treacherous, was on.
Houston's first official visit was to Copernicus, often dubbed 'the forgotten
settlement'. Copernicus was a small mining community, dominated by Hispanic
Catholics; the local pastor, Father Eduardo Ortiz, held effective control over a
community that shared simultaneously the second lowest levels of economic
inequality after Eagle City (due to both the charity of the Christian church and
because in Copernicus, everyone was equally dirt poor) and the highest level of
restrictions on free speech (the local paper had been shut down after two
issues, after opposing the censorship of radio broadcasts).
Copernicus' chief worry was the Chinese. The crater lay technically within the
Chinese zone of influence; or not, seeing as what the Chinese actually claimed
varied from document to document or even sentence to sentence depending on the
geopolitical realities of the day. Recently, mining expeditions had begun to
encounter their Chinese counterparts; although the situation had not yet broken
into violence, relations were tense on both sides. In particular, Stadius Crater
was proving to be a worry; the area contained high concentrations of helium-3,
and was claimed by both sides. Robotic probes had been stationed in the area
with flags from both countries, and were currently beeping angrily at each
other. The recent unrest in the Chinese lunar stations had caused clouds of
smoke to appear over the nearby Zheng He station; although they were currently
little more than marches, they caused considerable unrest amongst the Copernican
As a town that had stayed loyal to Houston during the uprising, Copernicus was a
natural first stop for Houston. In an address in the town square (technically a
dirt patch in front of the church, although he didn't mention that), Houston
promised that the Republican party would ensure the territorial sovereignty of
Copernicus, and would keep the flag flying over Stadius. Senator Colfer waved an
American flag patriotically behind him, while Houston attacked 'Chinese perfidy'
and their aims to 'destroy not only our homes and the land that is rightly ours,
but also our values.' How exactly the Chinese planned to do this was not
explained fully, but the crowd lapped it up. Father Ortiz blessed the contingent
before they left. Copernicus and Flamsteed were lumped together in a single
electorate, which was currently held by Democratic leader Joanna Carmichael; by
winning support amongst the local population, Houston hoped to kick out the legs
of her campaign from beneath her. It was classic wedge politics.
Houston's next stop, after a brief stopover in Apollo (there would be time for
that later), was Flamsteed, a small mining community to the west. As lunar
communities went, Flamsteed was an enigma; it lacked the solid Catholicism of
Copernicus, the radicalism of Fra Mauro, the size of Apollo or the bourgeois of
Eagle City; it was a small, quiet town, chiefly composed of 'poor but honest'
miners from the Midwest. It had declared for Lawson during the July Uprising,
but had quickly surrendered; it was like a tiny Des Moines a long way from home.
The population leaned Democratic, but seemed genuinely interested in what
Houston had to say; Flamsteed was a logistics point for the military serving in
the Montes Riphaeus, and had been hit hard by a car bombing that had killed
seven soldiers. There was widespread mistrust of the Lawsonians, even if they
were generally acknowledged to be working towards goals which were correct in
principle; Houston's strong law-and-order rhetoric resonated in a community that
had never had a reason to disobey the law. The high point of the tour came when
Houston visited a small memorial to the soldiers who had been lost in the
campaign in the Montes Riphaeus; it was a small, touching cairn, with a tablet
inscribed with the names of the fallen. Houston was seen to choke up as he knelt
by it. He promised to the assembled townsfolk that the Republicans would work to
ensure that no more names would ever need to be inscribed upon the monument.
Now, just a quick clarification about Houston. To outsiders, he seemed the
general stereotype of the war-mad general; this had some basis in truth, but was
in many ways entirely wrong. Houston did care deeply about human life; there is
no reason to believe that his sentimentality in Flamsteed was anything other
than authentic. His single flaw, if indeed it was, was an unwillingness to
compromise; he genuinely believed that only he could save the American people,
and that anyone working against him was working against America. This mindset,
which caused so much tragedy and probably helped escalate Lawson's revolt from
simple industrial action to a two-year guerrilla campaign, was motivated only by
the Christian faith and a genuine altruism.
After leaving Flamsteed, Houston traveled towards Fra Mauro. It was time for the
hard-nosed military general to take precedent. There would be no time for
sentiment in a community in which, according to polling by the Fra Mauro
Inquirer, 67% of the population supported the rebels in principle and 26%
supported the rebels in practice. It wasn't quite a wretched hive of scum and
villainy, but Houston certainly thought it was.
Australian Election 2025
Head of State: President Eddie McGuire (1)
Prime Minister: The Honourable Jack Sharpton (2)
Government: ALP, SDP
Party Name: Liberal Party of Australia (3)
Vote %: 40.2%
HoR Seats: 70
Party Name: Australian Labor Party (4)
Vote %: 37.8%
HoR Seats: 64
Party Name: Social Democratic Party (5)
Vote %: 12.3%
HoR Seats: 14
Party Name: Traditional Values Party (6)
Vote %: 6.0%
HoR Seats: 0
Party Name: Others and Independents
Vote %: 1.7%
HoR Seats: 2
(1) OK, pretty inconceivable, but he won’t be too old and as public figures go
you don’t get much bigger than Our Eddie. And besides, we’d get the first
ever referendums where you can become a millionaire just by voting right. Also,
I see us becoming a republic by about 2015.
(2) Completely made up, but it’s got a nice ring, don’t you think?
(3) The Coalition I figure to be pretty much ancient history by now; I see the
Coalition breaking around 2010, the Nats losing their last representation by
about 2016, and by now they’re long, long gone, with their vote more or less
splitting between the Liberals and the Traditional Values Party. Aside from
that, the Liberals are pretty much the same as today.
(4) Labor is also pretty much the same, but the left-wing element has been
marginalised to the point where any pretensions of social democracy are just
that, pretensions. (Gee, that sounds familiar) Aside from that, Labor is just a
centrist small-l liberal party, which isn’t too big a development from today.
(5) This is probably the biggest change on the political scheme. The Greens have
more or less absorbed parties like the Democrats and rebranded themselves as a
European-style social democratic party, now that Labor is pretty much centrist.
A split in the Labor Party around 2010 between the centrists and the die-hard
Left also gained them a lot of support. They hold a lot of inner-city ‘chardonnay
socialist’ seats, and thus hold the balance of power. I see them being in a
‘Barnaby Joyce Coalition’ with Labor; unstable and they can get into a lot
of arguments, but they manage to get along well enough, mostly.
(6) The Traditional Values Party is an outgrowth from the defunct National
Party, One Nation, the Christian Democrats and Family First. They stand for what
is essentially a right-wing religious platform, with an anti-immigration,
pro-American standpoint. Basically the religious right. Although they don’t
hold any seats because they’re too widely spread, their vote is very eagerly
sought by the Libs.
Fra Mauro was set up in 2023 by a 3-man NASA
team; by 2029, the standard consensus was that the team had in fact been
motivated by a desire to make vast amounts of money, and had created a
settlement designed to honour that aim. (They weren't far wrong, either).
Nestled at the base of the Fra Mauro mountain range, the town had quickly gained
repute as a manufacturing centre; Apollo was built on a strong seam of helium-3
but lacked useful metals, whereas Fra Mauro lacked a major source of helium-3
but was overflowing in metals. It was an arrangement that ensured that while
Apollo would always remain rich, Fra Mauro was destined to grow.
By 2029, it had a population of 800, second
only to Apollo on 1100. At its current rate of expansion, it would overtake
Apollo in a matter of years. However, while Apollo had strived for a genteel,
small-town air, and was partially successful in parts, Fra Mauro was pure city
slum. The population was largely composed of poor African-Americans and Mexicans
fleeing the civil war; they were recruited as a source of cheap labour, as the
factory industries took off. Conditions were desperate and living standards
sub-par; in some of the more desperate apartment blocks, an investigation by the
Apollo Herald had revealed the presence of leprosy, of all things. It
was a pure testament to corporate greed and incompetence; and now Houston, the
man who had done so much to make Fra Mauro what it was, was riding straight into
the lion's mouth.
Houston and Fra Mauro had a long history. During the July Uprising, it had taken
three days to subdue; the official military casualty count was 11, but it had in
fact run into the dozens. No use in encouraging the rebels, after all. Much of
the city centre had been heavily damaged by mortar fire, and it looked it; in
many cases hasty reconstruction had begun, but the scars and pits of bombing
were still evident in the city's many apartment blocks. Fra Mauro was a city of
the sky; no one lived on ground level if they could help it. After the war, Fra
Mauro had elected Edward Brooks, a fiery African-American miner who preached 'a
new doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man', which curiously always seemed
to involve placing Houston's head on a pike.
Brooks largely ran the city, through his
dominance of the unions; his sole rival for power was Simon Tollard, a Baptist
pastor who commanded the respect of much of the city's population. In the
ongoing factional power struggle that dominated life in Fra Mauro, he had become
Houston's sole ally; after all, if Brooks said the lunar sky was black, Tollard
would issue strong sermons about the undeniable whiteness of the sky, and about
the heresy of trying to deny such a fact.
Tollard met Houston's party at the railway station. Wisely, Houston had chosen
to take a military escort; he would most likely have been otherwise torn to
pieces. Outside, protestors were already gathering between Houston and his
assigned tour bus. It was clearly going to be a struggle; the glass sidewalks of
Apollo and Eagle City seemed a long way away from the streets of Fra Mauro.
The soldiers escorting Houston began to push a
path through the crowd. Several of the protestors were carrying placards;
'Lawson Was Right' and 'Death To The Baby-Killer' seemed pretty
self-explanatory, but one puzzled him.
'What does 'Shoot 'n' Pop' mean?', he asked an
'Well, sir, the old spacesuit designs were
mostly built on the assumption that we would be facing a completely static
environment. Unfortunately, upon being punctured, they reacted rather...badly,
'Ah. They popped?'
'Well, not so much they popped as the
people wearing them, sir.'
'So we've corrected this, right?'
Houston began to push his way through the
assembled crowds. There would be time for speeches later. A bottle clanged off
his helmet, followed by a wave of rocks; it was a telling sign of these people’s
poverty that they couldn’t even afford tomatoes.
Houston wasn't in Fra Mauro to talk to the
workers, who even he recognised had a snowflake's chance in hell of supporting
him. To be appointed Governor again, he needed the support of the Oligarchs.
Oligarchs was an unofficial term; there were
about fifty of them, landlords and businessmen and the heads of the powerful
unions. Each one held vastly more wealth than the mass of the urban population,
and held almost all corporate and political power within the city.
He organised a meeting with many of them in the
local Baptist church; it was the only space big enough to hold all of them.
Houston set himself up behind the pulpit, mostly to annoy Brooks, who came in
late, and sat up the back.
Houston cleared his throat, and began.
'My fellow Americans. I call you this because
no matter where you are, you are Americans, and always will be. To be American
is not simply a statement of place, or of ethnicity; it is a state of mind. To
be American is to worship and to love God with all your heart, to respect
and to honour democracy and the Constitution on which it stands, and to follow
the teachings of God Almighty, upon whom our way of life and our notions of what
is right and wrong are based.
'But to be American requires one more sacred
duty: to defend her people and her sacred soil, and if necessary to die in the
course of that duty. My fellow Americans, I must tell you; America has been in
need of no more defence than it is today. We are caught in a world collapsing
into instability; the socialist rebels march on Mexico City, Russia burns and
splinters under the pressures of a thousand region conflicts, and China is
threatened by an uprising which would drastically determine the fate of a
quarter of the world's population. In addition to this, we face an exponential
population that is currently at 7.5 billion, and shows no sign of slowing. Our
nation, and the planet on which it resides, is in dire threat.
'In such an environment, lunar resources are
pivotal. But even here, we face continued threats to our survival. Strikes and
industrial action'-he glared at Brooks-'cause massive economic damage, and
threaten our supplies of helium-3, the nation's lifeblood, back to Earth. We
face treachery and threats all around us; in the Senate, on the streets'-
'In the pulpit!' Brooks roared out, to general
'In our pews', Houston said pointedly. 'But our
greatest threat comes from the military insurgency known falsely as the Republic
of Lawsonia, but known more properly as 'terrorists'. I am not blind; I make no
illusions about the sympathy many of your citizens have expressed for the
terrorists. But make no mistake: this insurgency threatens our lives, our
economy, and perhaps most importantly the values we hold dear. We are at WAR; a
war not just of weapons and of battles, but a war of values.
'For example, imagine if we gave in. Imagine if
Governor Gregory went into the Montes Riphaeus, waving the white flag and with
his tail between his legs. Assuming they did not shoot him on sight, they would
then be free to enforce their demands, which I'm sure you all agree would not be
open to compromise.
'Picture Fra Mauro, then, in 10 years time. The
city is burnt and blackened by the actions of the Clean Up Mitchell Street
Front; after all, if violence worked for one cause, then it will become accepted
as a means of resolving disputes and achieving one's aims for other courses. As
a result, democracy is stifled and strangled; what's the point of voting if the
man with the largest gun always wins? The poverty, far from being alleviated,
has grown worse; the provision of an impossible safety net has destroyed
manufacturing and mining, because who wants to employ lazy, overpaid workers? As
a result, we have a near-total unemployment rate. Gangs of poor, bored youths
roam the streets, armed and dangerous, prepared to do anything to relieve the
crushing poverty and ennui they face every day of their lives. Capitalism,
democracy, the safety of our lives and of our property; these are the things we
are fighting for.
'The Republican Party will not fail you. We
understand the struggle. We know what is at stake. We will never surrender, we
will never forget what we are fighting for. We will win this war!'
The reaction was surprisingly positive; Tollard
seemed to appreciate the speech, and that was worth more than a thousand
illiterate black workers. Brooks, though, looked thunderous; he slipped out
without a word.
Later on, the official party drove up into the Fra Mauro highlands, now dotted
and scarred with the relics of six years of intensive mining. For a few miles,
however, the land was almost pristine. The reason became clear as they
approached; the Apollo 14 lander.
The Descent Modules of the Apollo landers were
as close as you could get to sacred sites on the Moon. Houston had instituted a
policy of keeping the modules in the open lunar vacuum, less out of reverence
than from a desire to not to see them shrivel on contact with air. Eagle City
was built around Apollo 11, and had created a vast tourist and commercial empire
around the mission, the remnants of which were inside a small 'park' of open
lunar dust. Apollo 12 was near Apollo City (another sign of the vast esteem in
which they were held), and was inside a small enclosure, upon which the suburbs
were rapidly closing. They had failed to keep several out of the Surveyors out
of Chinese hands, but the one thing every person on the moon could agree about
was that the Apollo craft had to be kept sacred and American.
Houston's official contingent was accompanied
by soldiers; the Fra Mauro highlands were notorious for Lawsonian activity.
Sometimes they spied the crashed remains of rovers, both military and insurgent;
already, they had failed to keep the site clean. They were also accompanied by
an irritating photographer for the Apollo Herald, who constantly clicked photos
of Houston in mundane poses; he said it was 'to create a sense of humanity about
him', but Houston, who had already instantly forgotten the man's name, suspected
he simply wanted to be irritating.
Once they reached the site, Houston disembarked
from the craft. He had visited the three craft in American custody before; every
time, though, he felt the same feeling of nostalgia and respect. He gave a
cursory speech about the importance of exploration and discovery, but it seemed
small and insignificant compared to the craft, elderly and outdated though it
was. It seemed like a relic from a previous age; an age of wonder and of heroes,
an age to which their scrabbling in the dirt for rocks could never compare.
He put a shaking hand just above the craft; he knew he could never touch it, and
yet it seemed wrong to come so far and to just leave. Luckily, his wish was
granted; he felt two sharp shoves on his backplate and went sprawling into the
craft, smashing one of its now-frail legs. He rolled away, but was caught on his
back like a turtle. In his earpiece, he could hear shouting; he saw one soldier
raise his rifle, then get blown to the ground.
Two of the soldiers helped Houston up. They provided cover fire while Houston
scrambled to take cover behind the stricken craft; it seemed wrong to take cover
behind an Apollo craft from enemy fire, but not nearly as wrong as the notion of
being shot at the site of an Apollo craft. The Lawsonians were advancing over a
nearby ridge; Houston's escort exchanged fire with them, while the team's
engineer examined Houston's backpack.
'How is it?' he enquired.
'Not bad. This happens a lot, so we've installed a metal plate; you took a hell
of a ding, but I don't think there's been any impairment of suit functions.'
'Well, that's good. Now give me a gun.'
'Sir, I don't think you understand. This seems deliberately designed as an
assassination attempt on you. We're reasonably sure allowing a senator to get
shot would be looked upon somewhat askance.'
'I may be a Senator, but I'm also a goddamn Lieutenant-Colonel, and right now a
Lieutenant-Colonel with Marines training is a hell of a lot more useful to you
than a Senator. Now give me a goddamn gun!'
The engineer acquiesced. The photographer, excited, started taking pictures of
the battle, often in positions that made him perilously vulnerable to enemy
fire. (To some, this wasn't seen as a bad thing) Houston yanked him down.
'What the hell are you doing? This is a war zone, not a fashion shoot!'
'We're behind Apollo 14, sir. Even the Lawsonians wouldn't hit Apollo 14.'
It suddenly occurred to Houston, in a moment of great clarity, that while the
soldiers THOUGHT they wouldn't, the Lawsonians would know the soldiers thought
they wouldn't, and would seek to take advantage of that fact. He stood up.
'OK, everyone withdraw! WITHDRAW!'
'Sir, we don't take orders from-'
Houston ran. Some of the soldiers, and the photographer, followed him. Some
didn't. Houston's party dived behind a nearby ridge.
The mortar flew over the hill. By the standards of these things, it was
impeccably aimed; of course, noting the good aim of a missile that destroys a
sacred artefact is somewhat superfluous. There was no sound; the explosion
ripped the craft to pieces. From what Houston could see, there were no
He stood up, angrier than he'd ever been before. (And he'd been pretty damn
angry in the past). He pointed his gun.
'You blew up goddamn Apollo 14, you goddamn sons of-'
'Now THAT'S a good shot!'
The photographer took the picture. The soldiers charged.
Michael Rodriguez, Ambassador of the Republic of Lawsonia to the People's
Republic of China, thought Mao Zedong had definitely seen better days. For
starters, the streets were effectively blockaded by soldiers; his rover was
searched five times, with three strip-searches. The paranoia was understandable
once you saw the buildings; Rodriguez had not been allowed into Mao Zedong for
nearly a month, and it was obvious why. Space-suited construction workers
battled mightily to fix what were obviously gaping structural flaws. The
Lawsonians had been listening in to coded Chinese transmissions (and why not?
After all, the Chinese had been listening in on American and Lawsonian
communications for years), and it was obvious that the population of Mao Zedong
were becoming a mite unhappy about the corrupt and repressive rule of the
People's Commissioners. The protests had been growing for some time; in previous
visits, shipments had been held up or 'delayed' due to what was denied to be,
yet obviously, strike action. It seemed that the top had finally blown.
It sounded depressingly familiar to Rodriguez; in any other situation, he would
have sympathised deeply with the Chinese workers, and maybe even tried to help
them. But 'they were too deeply steeped in blood...to go back would be as
tedious as go o'er'. The Chinese had them by the throat; the conflict had
escalated to the point where without a constant flow of logistics and weapons,
they would soon be reduced to red smears on the rock. Sometimes, Rodriguez idly
wondered if this had been their plan all along, in order to stop the Lawsonians
from seeding dissent amongst the workers; but, of course, the more simple
explanation was that they were simply pawns. Just another form of diplomacy and
economic warfare. Even in trying to escape the capitalist system, they had
simply become more deeply enmeshed in it. Needless to say, Rodriguez didn't
sleep well at night anymore.
They passed through the black and ruined streets to the People's Administrative
Centre (Rodriguez found it blackly humourous that the 'People's Centre' was
obviously missing several rooms, presumably because of an attack by the
'people'). Inside, Rodriguez found another shock. Yang Liwei was gone, replaced
by a stone-faced military general who made Houston look limp-wristed and wimpy.
Rodriguez had never made any pretensions to being Yang Liwei's friend; after
all, both were simply using the other, and freely admitted it. But he had come
to respect him; by seeing between the lines he could see Liwei was fed up with
the hypocrisy of the system he served, and increasingly disillusioned with the
growing protests. So, logically, he'd been sacked, and recalled to Earth. George
Santayana was rolling in his grave; they took a respected Chinese hero, and
replaced him with a military idiot. They'd even seen where this led before; it
was a fallacy on 'invading Russia' levels.
The general didn't even introduce himself. Obviously, this wasn't going to be a
friendly meeting. He slammed a paper that Rodriguez recognised as the Apollo
Herald, Avalon Edition (just like the normal edition, except hugely expensive)
down on the table.
On the front page, Rodriguez saw a picture of Houston (it had to be Houston; no
one else in the colony would be...well, Houston enough to wear a khaki spacesuit
on a planet of grey and black) shooting at unseen opponents. With the lunar dawn
reflecting off his helmet, it was quite a shot. The story, though, was another
The general's face was blooming red; he was either embarrassed or deeply, deeply
angry. He spoke good English, but occasionally broke into Chinese when the
language simply wasn't good enough to enunciate certain concepts. 'He
chusheng zajiao de zanghuo! You blew up the Apollo 14 craft! What were you
This came as a surprise to Rodriguez. 'What do you mean, we blew it up? We
'This paper is from four days ago. Lawsonians in Fra Mauro highlands attacked
Senator Houston and his soldiers, blowing up Apollo 14. Now you have entire moon
'Look, I don't know what you're talking about. The Assembly NEVER authorised an
'Then you have rebels, or the like. More so than you already are. Houston's
popularity has gone massively up. He is talking about the use of orbital
bombardment on the mountains!'
Well, truth be told, Houston had been talking about it for months. The fact that
a respectable paper had actually AIRED his claims, though, was something new,
and far more dangerous.
'Look. We didn't do this. The Apollo craft are even more precious to us than
they are to the other settlers.' It was true. They represented the Lunar Dream
incarnate; a triumph of spirit and technology, the creation of an endeavour
wonderful and strange. They were like legends incarnate; symbols of drive and
will. Even now, Rodriguez began to feel a deep pain in his stomach at the idea
that such a beautiful craft had been so defiled.
'They will step up their attacks on you. Houston has become a hero from this
battle. It is a miracle no one died.'
It was a miracle, in truth; apparently, three soldiers had been right
next to the blast, but had only been injured. Rodriguez didn't make the
connection; after all, he may have been an ideologue, but who would be so damn
FANATICAL as to destroy a symbol of human history? And why?
The general relaxed in his chair. He had obviously vented his rage. 'From now
on, you do NO attacks without consulting with us first. If we tell you do
something, you do it. If we tell you to NOT do something, you don't. Is that
'Yes, Mr...I'm sorry, you didn't-'
'I am sir. You will call me sir. You are a tool, Rodriguez. You are a means by
which we control the supply and demand of helium-3, nothing more. We indulge
your fantasies of guerrilla warfare because it pleases us. Do not displease us.
Now get out of my office.'
Walker had no problem selling the concept of
the public-private Mars mission to the board of Millennium Developments; in
fact, his main problem for years had been blocking the very same concept. After
he had bought out the company in 2026, he'd stacked the board with his own
appointees, thus ensuring no opposition; even so, his engineers (who he always
saw as a rather irritating part of the company) were heavily lobbying for
government funding. By giving in to their demands, he not only gave himself a
lobbying card with the government, but was able to gain greater support from
within the company, which sometimes resented the fact he had first taken over
and then gutted it. Of course, in private he still vehemently resented the
notion of letting government intervene in his spaceflight, but
compromises had to be made.
The main problem with a private-public mission, however, was the fact that the
government weren't all that interested in getting involved. Within NASA, there
was much opposition to the concept of a Mars mission; the agency had effectively
settled into a happy little rut it was in no hurry to get out of, and anyone who
disturbed the rut was rapidly moved to a less troubling department. It seemed to
Walker, after many long, irritating meetings, that NASA was simply trying to
replay the 1980s to 2000s all over again, but on the moon; they had bases, they
had transport, what more did they need? Walker's ambitious, costly program
proved simply too visionary for the cautious, staid NASA of the 2020s.
So, painfully, the cuts began. The asteroids were, of course, right out;
Millennium Developments simply didn't have the money for the exploitation of the
asteroids and a Mars mission. The multiple landings Walker had proposed
were scaled down to a single flight; the establishment of Mars Direct stations
were abandoned. Any long-term infrastructure, any establishment of a legacy for
the future, was right out. Instead, there would simply be Ares (75 years
of speculative Mars missions had made no other name possible); 200 days to
travel there, 40 days on the surface, 200 days back. Glorious, extravagant, and
completely, utterly worthless. It would simply be the first grand gesture; it
would establish the technology needed for the future colonisation of Mars, which
would unequivocally be 'the future'.
To Walker, this was more platable than it had seemed previously. The future was
rapidly receding from view; he had been suffering frequent headaches, and a fall
left him hospitalised for two weeks in May. While he was there, doctors found a
cancerous tumour on his lung; it seemed a matter for debate whether it was
operable or not. Any hope of Walker actually going to Mars died a swift death;
now, the goal was simply to go, never mind if 40 days wasn't enough time
for science, never mind if just a little more money would yield a
sustained human presence and a new home for mankind, the cost was everything.
And so, to this travesty of a parody of a farce of a Mars mission, NASA
gradually began to turn around.
Meanwhile, Walker spearheaded Houston's popularity boosting program. He financed
the moon's first TV station, Luna 1, which spat out a solid diet of American
sitcoms and ads for the Republican Party. He got in touch with influential
financiers in Eagle City, the financial capital of the moon, and got them to
publicly vouch support for Houston. He even...no. He didn't like to think about
it. As May and June wore on, he gradually became thinner; his hair turned from
grey to white, he worked solid 18-hour days, and he became reclusive. Nigel
found him abrasive and difficult, even more so than usual. Admittedly, there
were financial dividends. Walker may not have been an engineer, but he was a
financial genius; his renewed devotion to his work led to increasing
second-quarter profits. And yet even this was still part of the scheme that came
to dominate his life.
Finally, in June, NASA agreed, tenatively, to the proposal. On the Moon,
Houston's popularity soared; he was photographed addressing rallies in Apollo in
his khaki uniform, the destruction of Apollo 14 led to many lunar citizens
howling for blood, and a scathing new revisionist account of the uprising (ghostwritten
by Walker, of course) led to a re-evaluation of Houston's role. Gregory would be
reassigned, Houston would be appointed, Montes Riphaeus would be bombed into
glass, the builders' strike would be broken, and all would be well. Walker had
played the government like a game of chess; unfortunately, in chess the kings
generally don't complain about their treatment and call for a rematch.
During all this, Gregory was oblivious; it was decided that it would be best if
people didn't know the government of the moon was largely being decided by an
unelected, eccentric billionaire. On June 6, though, he received an anonymous
email, asking him to look into his career security. Gregory initially
disregarded it; however, it later occured to him that NASA were no longer
scheduling in events for him, or returning his calls. A few cursory calls to old
work colleagues in the Department of Defence confirmed this; on June 20, he was
going to be sacked.
Gregory's initial reaction was to take this lying down; he was just a department
worker, after all, and they were the ones who had the power to decide these
things. If they thought Houston would be a better governor, who was he to argue?
Later, he realised the only person who thought Houston would be a better
governor would be Houston himself; even Walker recognised that Houston's
obsession with regaining the crown had left him a trifle unbalanced. As Gregory
continued his investigation, he numbly realised a terrible wrong had occured;
NASA had been swayed by a charlatan, a swanky con man with a Mars obsession and
delusions of grandeur, who had let his own dreams of Star Trek-type missions to
the stars overrule the objection he or any sensible person would have had with
putting a trigger-happy marine as Governor of a colony riven by deep-seated
inequality and social tensions. The result seemed clear to Gregory; if Houston
was given the means to come into contact with Brooks, there would be war. And it
wouldn't be over in a matter of days or weeks like the July Uprising, or a
small-scale insurgency like the Lawsonians; there would be deaths, hundreds or
thousands of deaths, and the moon would be laid waste. It was not to be borne.
Gregory organised a meeting on June 9 with Joanna Carmichael, leader of the
Democrats, Gerald Matheson, leader of the Progressives, and Ed Brooks, who
generally led himself. He told them of the plot to replace him with Houston.
Their reactions were predictable. Carmichael, a doctor who had served as a medic
to both sides in the uprising, condemned Gregory for leaking official secrets,
but quickly changed tack to planning for life under the Houston regime. Matheson
reacted with horror, and ordered Gregory to do something. Brooks was somewhat
'We've got to kill him.'
With disdain, Carmichael said, 'Oh, that's a great plan. Not only do we reduce
the level of public debate to violence, but we make Houston a martyr. Do
you think before you talk, or do you just combine syllables that sound nice?'
'Oh yes? And what's the alternative? Governor Gregory, do you intend to do
anything about this?'
'Well, obviously we'll have to-'
'It's a yes or no question.'
'Well, what can I do? I'm an appointed official. If I do anything, they'll
simply sack me earlier.'
'See? Governor Gregory possesses all executive authority. If anyone could do
anything about it, it's him.'
Matheson interjected. 'Well, we have a majority of senators. Surely we could-'
Brooks glared at him. 'Oh, wake up, Gerry. The Senate is a sideshow. A puppet.
The appointed officials would break party lines in a second if we did anything
truly drastic. Besides, what are we going to do? Pass the Houston's A Jerk Act
2029 and make it illegal for him to become Governor? They'd simply shut us down.
Hell, as soon as Houston becomes Governor, he'll stack the Senate with his
appointees and shut us down anyway.'
Carmichael spoke tentatively. 'Well, we do have the power to pass legislation
regarding elections. That's one of our powers.'
'Yes, but the Governor isn't an elected position. He's a representative of the
US government', said Gregory, who well knew that 'representative' was simply a
euphemism for 'puppet'.
'Well, why don't we make him one?'
Brooks snorted. 'Oh yes? How exactly do we do that? The appointees would just-'
'We have five of the elected senators. We just need to get two of the
appointees, and I bet I could probably do that. The government would go nuts,
sure, but it's in the Lunar Legislature Act.'
Matheson smiled. 'How do you know that?'
'Well, we are the Democrats, after all; it'd be nice to get some
democracy around here. So we make it an elected position-'
'-and I get smashed out of office by Houston', said Gregory. 'You've seen the
surveys; the public think he could turn water into wine.'
It was admittedly true, but not so much because of any inherent popularity for
Houston but because Gregory was The Invisible Man. He'd been forced on an
unwilling lunar population to resolve a crisis; now the crisis was over, there
was a feeling he had long outstayed his welcome. Everyone in the room knew it.
Carmichael was first to broach the issue. 'Then the three parties agree on a
single compromise candidate. Someone popular, respected, charismatic. Someone
who can beat Houston.'
'Someone, in short, who doesn't exist', said Brooks. 'The Workers' Alliance is
devoted to solving the problems of workers; we will not accept any candidate who
is not willing to fight for their rights.'
Matheson sighed. He knew where this was going, and he hated it. 'So, in
short, you want us to run you.'
Carmichael snorted. 'That's not going to happen. The Democrats-'
Brooks exploded. '-are cowards and traitors to the cause of ordinary people.
There is leprosy in some areas of Fra Mauro, ladies and gentlemen, leprosy;
if you do not fight with me then you will fight against me. We require a radical
re-evaluation of the capitalist system as the only way-'
'There will be no re-evaluation of capitalism, or the Democrats will not
participate!' shouted Carmichael.
Brooks got up. 'Well then. Gerry, what do you think? Will you side with the
workers or with the toffs?'
'Workers, Ed. But the only way to do that is to stop Houston. And you can't do
that unless you work with us.'
Brooks moved towards the door. 'Well then. I shall vote with you in the Senate,
but I shall run alone. Let the people decide.'
He entered the airlock, and left. There was an uncomfortable silence.
'Well, there goes Fra Mauro', said Gregory gloomily.
'Damn Fra Mauro, and damn him', responded Matheson. 'Joanna, you were talking
about a compromise candidate?'
Carmichael smiled. 'I think I know just the man.'
Houston walked into the Senate on June 11,
2029, to find that he had an ambush on his hands. The debate was meant to be on
the Sewerage and Utilities Bill for Copernicus (in the absence of local
government, the Senate found most of its time occupied with mundane matters),
and Houston had spent most of the previous night reading through the profoundly
dull matter, which was being opposed by the Republicans for its sheer
At the beginning of the debate, though, Carmichael initiated a private member's
bill, the Electoral Act 2029. It had clearly been hastily written and was
covered in coffee stains, but the result was clear: they were going to make the
governor elected, and they were going to eliminate the appointed
representatives, resizing the Lunar Senate to nine elected senators. The
representative of the US government, the moon's link to America, would be
subject to demagoguery and quasi-independence! And there Gregory was, grinning
his head off, presiding over the session. He must have known. This wasn't just
treason; this was a conspiracy.
Lunar Senate procedure was designed to get
things done quickly. There would be a single reading of the bill over one day,
then voting the next day. If it passed, it was signed into law by the Governor.
While reading over the bill, it was glaringly obvious to Houston that the whole
thing had been designed to derail his campaign for governor. The election would
be held concurrently with Senate elections, making it due next year; Walker may
have been rich, but he would never put up with waiting until 2030 to wipe out
Houston called Walker on his office videophone. When Walker appeared, he blurred
slightly; there was a two-second communications gap between the Moon and Earth,
so conversations were mostly awkward pauses.
'Mr Walker, we have a problem.'
'Yes. I know you think we have a problem.'
'Well, I certainly hope I do. This is
about the Electoral Act, correct?'
'The whole thing is a conspiracy!'
'Yes, I'm quite proud of it, myself.'
Houston stopped, confused. You could only
untangle a few layers of plot and counter-plot before the whole thing started
'Well, only peripherally. I told Gregory,
anonymously of course, that you would replace him. There was enough truth to it
at the time that he quickly decided to take action. And so we get this.'
'But it's treason!'
'No it's not. United States laws will still
apply to the Moon. It's in the Lunar Legislature Act that they have control over
electoral laws; this is all perfectly legal.'
'So then what happens to me?'
Walker sighed. Houston may have had some skills as a demagogue, but when you
came down to it, he wasn't all that smart.
'You listen carefully to me. I have promised
all three of the appointed Democrats positions in Millennium Developments if
they vote against the bill. That means that you have a majority. It's not the
most ethical majority, but it certainly exists'
'So we beat it? Then what's the-'
'Shut up, Houston, and keep listening. You
negotiate with Carmichael to give the support of your senators to the bill, on
the condition the election is held every four years, starting this year.
I'd be willing to wait until November this year, but not next year. Got that?'
'So then what happens?'
'You win, Houston. The people are
turning against the Lawsonians. The liberal vote is split between the Democrats,
the Progressives and Brooks. And, of course, you have the full support of
'And what about NASA? Does the public-private
deal go through?'
'Screw NASA. No way am I letting them get their
claws into my program. They would have butchered it, Houston. I simply
let them get close enough to get the scent, which was all I needed to get
Gregory fired up.'
Houston stared, stony-faced, at the screen. 'So
that's it, is it? I get in bed with the Democrats and win the election?'
'Well, yes. Is there anything wrong with that?'
'Honour. Principles. Decency.'
'You're right. I should have taken them out. I
should have known they'd be unflattering to a man like you.'
'And if I refuse?'
'Then the deal's off, Gregory stays Governor,
and when the bill gets passed, eventually, you will not have my support.
I'm offering you the moon, Houston; just don't screw this up.'
And it was so. Sadly, no one recorded what was
said between Houston, Carmichael and Matheson, but it can be well imagined.
Scott Davison, an Eagle City businessman and elected Republican, agreed to
support Houston in return for the lieutenant-governorship; Phil Madison, to
whom it had been promised before, was effectively sidelined. The bill was passed
9-6 into law. That evening, both Houston and Brooks announced their campaigns.
Carmichael and Matheson held a brief meeting
with the other members of their parties. It was agreed, at least for the
purposes of this election, that the Progressives and Democrats would run on an
Alliance ticket, with the sole purpose of beating Houston (which was usually
preferential to any short-term political gain). That night, Carmichael and
Matheson left on the mag lev for Eagle City, to meet their candidate. He just
didn't know it yet.
Eagle City was...indescribable. But for the best bet, look at any pulp sci fi
cover written between 1950 and 1970.
Alone of all the lunar settlements, Eagle City didn't make a living from mining
or manufacturing. To a large extent, the rest of the moon resembled the Falkland
Islands; small population, territorially contested, largely dependent on a
single primary industry. Eagle City, though, was the Bahamas, rendered in glass.
On the moon, in the absence of water, glass could be made as strong as concrete
or steel; as a result, developers had taken the opportunity to make the entire
city out of tinted glass.
It was built in a series of concentric circles around Eagle Park, an open space
containing the hallowed Apollo 11, an arrangement compared by the city's
detractors (of whom there were many) to the nine circles of Hel. Hundrds
came to stare at the ancient relic, almost singularly funding the city and
providing its markets. The entire city was oriented around service industries;
Fra Mauro and Apollo were viewed with a sort of heightened disdain, which was
returned with interest. There were only a few hundred people living there
full-time (350 at the last election), but the constantly floating population of
tourists was enough to keep everyone living there rich beyond the wildest dreams
of any other lunar city. When tourist brochures advertised the moon, they didn't
show the mines of Apollo or the slums of Fra Mauro, but the glass towers of
Eagle City. Every street had its own glass sidewalk; some streets were entirely
glassed over. After all, no one needed to go anywhere fast.
The city's other major industry was old people.
One of the reasons Walker's ALC, with its dreams of lunar immortality, had never
taken off was because old people could never be convinced to go live in a mining
settlement; given the choice between death and life in a grey replica of the
Falkland Islands, many gladly embraced the reaper. Now, though, developers had
seized on the idea. The outer rings of Eagle City were largely devoted to
retirement villages; the city positively teemed with doctors, aged care
specialists, and artificial hip manufacturers. The moon was becoming grey in
more than one way.
The city, with its material comforts and
relative lack of pollution, was regarded as the scientific capital of the Moon;
as a result, it was here, in a small office in Ring 5, that Edward Lang, founder
of Apollo, worked, forgotten by most of the lunar population.
After having been sacked in 2025, Lang had
watched sourly as poverty and inequality had spiralled under his successor, to
whom he still felt a barely disguised hatred. He had returned to science, and
currently ran a robotics construction firm, which was mostly employed for
staking out American territory. During the July Uprising, he had been one of the
few in Eagle City to side with the rebels, but had taken no action; the city had
been convulsed with jingoistic fervor, and any statements to the contrary would
probably have earned him a lynching. He had largely given up on politics, and
was completely absorbed in the question of whether small robots could sort tiny
screws. (They could)
On the morning of the 11th, while working in
his office, his secretary informed him that a Mrs Carmichael and a Mr Matheson
were asking to see him, without an appointment. He buzzed them in, and got up to
'Ah, Senator Carmichael, Senator Matheson, it's
a pleasure to meet you, please sit down, sorry about the mess.' Lang's desk was
buried in metal cogs and wheels; even touching it induced a queasy feeling.
'It's an honour, Mr Lang,' said Carmichael.
'Please, call me Edward. So, what can I do for
Matheson was first to broach the topic. 'We
want you to run for Governor.'
Lang smirked. 'No, I don't do that any more. I
just sort tiny screws.'
Carmichael leaned forward. 'You still have a
very good profile, Mr Lang. After all, you pretty much built this
'No, I didn't. Since I left, 600 people have
arrived every year; of them, I'd wager about 50, all up, would know who I am.
Like I said, I just design robots.'
'We could fix that. A publicity campaign would
do wonders for your image. You could win this, you know.'
'Oh yes? And which party would I run for? I do
recall you two being on opposite sides.'
'Not opposite, Mr Lang, just divided. Mr
Matheson and I formed an alliance for the election. We would run a joint
candidate, and if he won-which you will-we'd form Cabinet together. You'd be
acceptable to both parties.'
Lang was still smiling, but there was a
strained edge to it. 'You know, you can't win. You're tarred with the same brush
as the Lawsonians, and they're murderers. Houston needs merely wave Apollo 14,
and they'll follow him wherever he wants to go.'
'He wants to take us to hell, Mr Lang',
Matheson responded. 'You know he does. We need to beat him. And you're the only
one with enough credit-'
'What, you mean I haven't made any life
'Exactly. On a moon this fragmented, that
counts for a lot.'
Lang hunched over his desk, deep in thought. He
looked up, and grinned. 'I'd go against Houston, right?'
'Oh yes. He's very determined. In
fact'-Carmichael leaned forward, smiling-'if you were to beat him, he'd be
Lang smirked. 'Then who am I to refuse? Let the
American Lunar Territories
Nation: United States of America
Demographics: c.2700 (Apollo 1100, Fra Mauro 800, Eagle City 300, Copernicus
150, Flamsteed 150, Sodor 100, South Pole 100). 81% white, 13% African-American,
6% other (mostly Asian-American). 27% Hispanic of all races. 26% Catholic, 24%
non-affiliated or atheist, 21% Methodist, 17% Baptist, 9% other Protestant, 3%
Politics and government: The ALT is an unincorporated territory of the United
States. The governor is appointed by NASA (currently Simon Gregory), exercises
executive powers. Legislative functions held by Lunar Senate, composed of 7
elected and 6 appointed representatives. Judicial functions held by Lunar
District Court, with major criminal offenders sent back to Earth.
Province of Luna
Nation: People's Republic of China
Capital: Mao Zedong
Demographics: c.2500 (Mao Zedong 1000, Zheng He 700, Deng Xiaoping 500, South
Pole 300) Ethnic makeup uncertain; it is widely believed that China has sent
large numbers of dissidents to the province as cheap labour, although this is
denied. The Province is officially atheist.
Politics and government: The province is divided into four prefectures based
around the large cities, each led by a head of office appointed by the governor.
Power is shared between the Communist Party Luna Committee Secretary and the
Governor (currently Long Lihao and General Wu Haisheng), who exercise executive,
legislative and judicial powers.
Nation: European Confederation/Russian Federation
Demographics: 70 (Avalon 70). 40% Russian, 10% ethnic Russian, 20% French, 10%
German, 10% English, 10% other. 30% Orthodox Christian, 25% Catholic, 25%
non-affiliated or atheist, 12.8% Protestant, 7.1% Muslim.
Stations: 3 (two unmanned)
Politics and government: Sovereignty within Avalon is exercised by the European
Confederation and the Russian Federation. Two administrators, both with veto
power, represent both powers (currently Wilhelm Langendörfer and Valery Laptev).
The Avalon Assembly of 4 elected and 3 appointed representatives elects a
Premier (currently Gerard Domenech), and exercises legislative functions. The
Administrators exercise judicial functions.
-Lang announces his candidacy at a rally in Apollo.
-Brooks releases a policy document, Building the Future. It promises a
comprehensive social security net, wage rises, the nationalisation of the mag
lev railways, a peace agreement to end the Lawsonian Insurgency and state-funded
health and education. It is ridiculed in the Senate by Houston, but attracts
widespread support amongst the lunar population.
-Lang's first campaign video is released. He points to his record of lunar
service, and talks of the need for a 'united future Luna working for the
betterment of all, not just a single interest group'. Until this point, Lang has
been relatively unknown; the ad creates public interest.
-In response to Lang's ad, a new ad for Houston, funded by Walker, is released.
It points to Houston's record, and refers to Houston's dream of 'a calmer
future, unfettered by the dreams of extremists, where we can all work together
to build a brighter future.' The ad is ridiculed for echoing Lang too much;
Walker fires his PR executive.
-The Apollo Herald releases its first polling, from a sample of 500
people across the Moon. It shows Houston on 48%, with Lang on 40% and Brooks on
12%. In lieu of the polls, the Alliance attempt to form a united front with
Brooks, but are rebuffed.
-On the same day, inflation causes a rise in value of the Chinese yuan, due to
-The Republicans release their policy document, Protecting Our Citizens. It
advocates tax cuts, the sale of Mines 6 and 9 (the last remaining Apollo mines
under US ownership), more military forces to deal with the Lawsonians, and
greater assertion of American territorial claims. It proves popular in Eagle
City and Apollo, but is condemned by Archbishop Ortiz (recently promoted) for
its neoliberal economics.
-A Lawsonian attack in Apollo kills three soldiers.
-The Alliance begin advertising on a low scale.
-Pre-empting the Alliance policy announcement, Walker begins a blitz of
advertising for Houston on Luna 1, the lunar TV channel. For the first time, the
ads directly attack Lawson, citing him as an example of a 'dangerous extremist'.
-The Alliance policy document, A Brighter Future, is announced. It calls
for greater social spending, a strong policy against the Lawsonians, and closer
links with the Europeans and Chinese. It is effectively a cobbled-together mix
of Brooks' and Houston's policies, and it is largely ignored.
-Construction begins on a Houston billboard in Apollo, which is widely ridiculed
yet widely noticed.
-Inflation in China continues rising. Bread prices soar, prompting widespread
-The Alliance launch a new campaign ad, featuring war footage from the July
Uprising. It is condemned for being 'too alarming'. The airwaves are saturated
with Houston advertising, and it is little noticed.
-A Lawsonian attack in Sodor damages the mag lev, mere hours before Houston is
due to travel to Apollo from Eagle City, in what is widely regarded as an
-Lang leads an expedition to Apollo 17, which is not under American control, and
claims it for America. This gains him publicity and support.
-The Chinese media make references to 'disturbances' in Shanghai; in reality, a
bread riot broke out before being disrupted by police.
-To counter Lang's mission, Houston announces that America will claim the sites
of all lunar missions, past and present, as 'an important and sacred part of our
national heritage'. Stuck at Taurus-Littrow, Lang is unable to effectively
counter the policy, and loses support.
-New polling indicates that Houston's support has gone up, to 51%, whereas Lang
has sunk to 34%, with Brooks increased to 15% (almost all of them in Fra Mauro).
Voters cite his indecisiveness as compared to the more fiery Houston and Brooks.
The prospects for the Alliance look dire...
Lang slumped in his hotelroom in Sodor, and
watched the TV numbly. He didn't want to be here; not just in this tiny pitstop
of a town, but as the candidate for a political alliance conceived in hatred and
spite, with all the internal stability and logic of a volcano and with about the
same prospects of being elected.
The programming on Luna 1 was bilge; it was owned by Fox Universal, so pretty
much all it ran was Simpsons repeats, a decade after the show had finally given
up the ghost. (Literally; in the final episode, aliens invaded Springfield,
killing the entire cast. It was generally considered a good way to go down).
Between the repeats, viewers were subjected to a constant diet of Houston ads,
with the occasional Brooks ad for variety. The Alliance were being completely
swamped. Their main problem wasn't so much that no one knew about their
policies; it was that no one knew who they were at all. The race had effectively
turned into 'John Houston, And His Wacky Offsider Edward Brooks'.
The ads came in all shapes and sizes. There were ads showing Houston's army
record, ads showing Lang's comparative lack of an army record (he'd undergone
air force training, but had done comparatively badly at it; he wasn't the type
of person who liked to move much), ads showing Houston's good econoimic record,
and of course a barrage of ads about the Lawsonians. They were simultaneously
communists, fascists, radicals, reactionaries, martyrs and cowards. The one
thing that was clear was that they were terrorists, and only Houston
could stop them. How exactly he planned to do this was never laid out; Houston's
campaign was one in a line of campaigns over the years where the candidate and
his party were almost completely removed. It was all about the marketing, and
the public lapped it up.
The latest ad in Houston's extravaganza was a 30-minute special that was as
shocking as it was nauseating. It was filmed on Earth by a cast of ageing
character actors, but clearly serious money had been spent. It was titled What
If?, and detailed the consequences of a successful Lawsonian revolt.
Apparently, a bunch of disenchanted miners wanting better pay and the right not
to be crushed by rocks would have set up a United States of Luna, under the
Supreme Leader Andrew Lawson, and vigorously persecuted dissidents. How exactly
this would be possible, or even conceivable, was never quite spelled out. The
plucky main character, Jack Dallas (a more obvious allusion would have been hard
to cite), was captured by the Lunar Intelligence Agency after speaking out
against Lawson's policy of torturing dissidents (shown in graphic detail). He
was promptly tortured by a figure who looked and acted just like Gerald
Matheson, but was of course not named (Houston may have been a muckraker, but he
wasn't going to attempt slander or libel; that was for his 'anonymous' letters
to the editor). Finally, Dallas was rescued by the Houstonites, a band of
'freedom fighters' (who curiously seemed to use the same tactics as the
Lawsonians) who free the colonies from Lawson's oppressive rule. After a final
fight scene in a spacecraft orbiting the planet where Lawson was (of course)
blasted into space, Dallas planted the American flag in front of Townhall,
fluttering under a newly-built statue of Houston. It was sickening.
Houston turned off the TV, and decided to go to bed. As he went, he heard a
thump behind him, and span around. Something moved in a corner. He gradually got
up over the couch and moved towards the small kitchen. He leapt inside, only to
see...nothing. He turned on the lights, but the nothing steadfastly remained. He
sighed, and left. He felt a prickling on the back of his neck as he left the
kitchen. But that was impossible...
'You're right behind me', he said, not so much as a question but a statement of
'Actually, Mr Lang,'-a patch of shadows detached from near the TV and moved
towards him-'you couldn't be more wrong. Hi! I'm Bob! And I'm going to make you
The first thing you noticed about Xie Rongzhen, aka 'Bob', was that there was
nothing to notice about him. He was of average height, had carefully combed,
black, average-length hair, looked Chinese but not very Chinese, and he
was moderately built. The only real thing of note in his appearance was that his
smile was slightly wider than the norm, and made whoever was looking at him feel
distinctly uncomfortable. Of course, that was just his appearance; in fact, he
was a member of the Second Department of the Headquarters of the General Staff,
China's military intelligence, and had killed more people than Lang had fingers
and toes. Curiously enough, his disguise actually indicated that not all was
right with him; no real person can be that neat.
Lang shrank back, instinctively grabbing for a weapon, or at least a lightswitch.
'How did you get in here?' he finally managed.
'Oh, the security systems on these rooms are silly. Why, if I'd wanted to kill
you, I'd had have barely any trouble at all!'. 'Bob' giggled; it merely made him
even more frightening to Lang, as was in fact the intention.
'Why are you here?'
'Like I said, Mr Lang, I'm going to make you WIN!'
'I don't need your help!'
'Oh, but you do, Mr Lang.' 'Bob' switched on the TV. It was showing a
Houston ad; not coincidently, because most of the stuff on TV was Houston ads.
'You've hit a funding crisis. Houston was millions and millions of dollars at
his disposal; you've got a paperclip and three bottlecaps. But I can change
that. You want a swimming pool full of money? I can get you one of those. You
want a house built out of shiny golden coins? I'll get you three!' There was
that smile again; that slightly too-wide smile, that reminded Lang far too much
of a shark.
'Who do you represent?'
'Oh, people. Concerned citizens, who think that you're the right man to lead the
Moon into the future.'
'You mean they don't think Houston is the right man?'
'Well...more or less. They think he'd be an absolute disaster, whereas you would
be slightly less of a disaster. And so, they sent me, to give you anything you
'Then get out.'
'Bob' giggled again. 'Oh, you want me to leave so soon?' He pulled out a disc.
'You haven't even seen this yet!'
'Get away from my-' It was too late; 'Bob' put the disc into the TV, and hit
It was hypnotic. There were punchy slogans, jingles, spliced footage of Lang in
front of American flags, fantastic special effects. The next ad was just the
opposite; lighting, colour, sound and narration were used to make Houston into
an absolute devil. Even from a distance, Lang could feel his fists itch.
When it ended, he was speechless. 'Bob' grinned.
'You like that?'
'I...I...you know, I can't just take unsolicited donations.'
'Well, that's OK; my benefactors have set up a corporation for just this
kind of stuff. It all checks out, you know. We just need your say-so.'
'And it's all legit?'
'Oh, very legit. Houston won't know what hit him.'
Lang stared at 'Bob'. 'You still haven't told me who you work for.'
Grinning, 'Bob' walked closer. He whispered into Lang's ear. 'The future.'
'That's not an answer.'
'No, but it's all you're going to get. Well, in or out?'
In retrospect, he shouldn't have. But he was desperate to beat Houston. Not just
because he'd be a terrible Governor, not just because he'd led to Lang losing
his job in the first place, but because of something higher. He honestly
believed that the public should not be duped in the same way as What If? had
shown. He needed to save the memory of a dead man. If it meant going
below-the-belt, well, then he'd be prepared to dive down. The stakes were too
high. Unfortunately, Lang wasn't to learn until much later how high they really
'Very well. I'm in.'
'Bob' laughed delightedly. He doubled over, cackling. He finally pulled himself
up, wiping a tear from his eye. 'Very well. Mr Lang, you're going to be
-America's Independence Day is marked by the launch of Lang's new advertising
campaign, funded by Global Systems, Inc (a puppet company for the People's
Republic of China). The ads celebrate Lang's patriotism, and attack Houston's
war record (in the Beige Revolution in Iran, he served as a minor functionary
instead of acting as a peacekeeper, as claimed)
-Walker, upon hearing about Lang's infusion of money, breaks two windows.
-Houston responds to Walker's ad campaign by launching an ad attacking
Carmichael's record during the July Uprising, where she served as a medic to
both sides. The attack is widely condemned due to Carmichael's popularity.
-In Xinjiang, which has been occupied by Chinese troops since the beginning of
widespread unrest in January, 132 PLA soldiers are killed in an Al Qaeda
bombing. The organisation, which was largely destroyed during the Terror Wars of
the 2000s and 2010s, is beginning to make a comeback in the highly unstable
Islamic world. Rising inflation triggers further protests in Chinese cities,
which are put down by police.
-In a speech in Eagle City, a heckler throws a rock at Houston, causing a mild
concussion. Police lock down much of the city, fearing a terrorist threat.
-Brooks visits Copernicus, and gains much support through his appeal to Catholic
social teachings. He affirms a morally conservative stance, and promises
charitable economic policies.
-On the floor of the Senate, Matheson launches into a vicious attack on
Houston's actions during the Lawsonian strike, which is widely reported. During
the speech, he makes comments sympathetic to the Lawsonian cause, sparking much
-In response to Matheson's speech the previous day, Houston launches into a
wide-ranging attack on the Lawsonians. His lack of sympathy for those involved
in the strike is successfully cast by Lang's backers as 'uncaring'.
-The day before the first debate, the Apollo Herald releases new polling. Lang
and Houston are neck and neck on 38% each, with Brooks on a high of 24%, with a
majority in Fra Mauro and a plurality in Copernicus. This is largely attributed
to his populist policies, and the lack of a recent Lawsonian attack.
-60th anniversary of the Apollo landings. President Barbara Scutari visits Eagle
City, the first visit by an American President to the lunar territories. Lang,
Houston and Brooks make speeches regarding the occasion. Scutari promises
greater autonomy to the lunar territories, citing their decision to take on
gubernatorial elections as 'a brave, courageous step towards a lunar community'.
Her guarded words reflect the controversy over the elections back home.
-In the three-person debate, Brooks performs poorly, and is forced to commit to
a tax hike to fund his ambitious social programs. Lang is generally regarded as
winning the debate, with Houston landing no major attacks on him.
-Black Sunday. The continuing inflation causes the value of the yuan to plunge,
with the Chinese economy suffering a rapid downturn. Millions lose their savings
as the stock market crashes. The Politburo declare a state of emergency.
-Meanwhile, on the moon, Lang is photographed kissing a baby. The moon is as of
yet insulated from the turmoil that will ensue.
-Chaos erupts across worldwide financial markets as news of the Chinese economic
collapse sinks in. Internal turmoil, the energy crisis and poor economic
policies have all contributed to a widespread devaluation within China. Many
American companies suffer major financial reverses as a result.
-Anglo American, the owner of Mines 1 and 2 at Fra Mauro, decide to cut wages
due to the financial crisis, prompting a widespread strike. The Builders' Union,
who are now in the second month of their strike against Millennium Developments,
Inc, come under increasing pressure to end the strike, due to the scarcity of
-Anglo American announce that they will sack any worker who continues striking.
Houston declares his support for their action, which Brooks condemns. Lang
refuses to interfere in the internal affairs of a corporation, thus satisfying
-Riots break out in China's southern cities over rising bread prices. Many of
China's burgeoning middle classes begin to openly speak out against the
-Anglo American sack 40% of their staff. Brooks leads a protest march in Fra
Mauro. Houston gains support amongst small business owners for his anti-union
-A massive exodus from the unions begins, sparked by Anglo American's actions.
Within 3 weeks, union membership has declined by 60%.
-Helium-3 prices spike under what is rapidly developing beyond a recession into
a depression. Orders subsequently decline.
-Due to falling demand for helium-3 due to the raised prices, Millennium
Developments are forced to cancel several spaceflights. Walker comes under
increasing pressure from his acquiesent board to cancel the more ambitious
stages of the Ares project, the first asteroid-mining stage of which is set for
the end of September (delayed for two months by the strike)
-Many non-union workers go back to work on the Pathfinder in lunar orbit.
The strike is effectively broken.
-Brooks is forced to call off the strike, in what proves to be a major blow to
-Walker is forced to cancel several of his asteroid-mining missions under board
pressure. Instead, there will be only two missions; one to an asteroid, one to
Mars. Walker is becoming increasing unpopular amongst staff.
-In Shanghai, a peaceful protest against PRC management of the economy turns
into a riot, as military police fire on protestors. Within hours, much of the
city is lawless and aflame. It is a taste of things to come...
John Updike came to the moon for his kids. Back on Earth, his neighbourhood in
Buffalo had gone rapidly downmarket; it seemed there was nowhere else left to
build a future anymore.
But he'd come to the Moon, and found nothing but decay and warfare. He'd always
been opposed to socialism, and to restrictions on the freedom of the individual;
when Lawson and his gangs had taken over Updike's hometown of Apollo, all his
worst fears were confirmed. He'd fought against Lawson from inside the city on
the 23rd, and had copped two bullets in the shin for his trouble, giving him a
wheeze from the damage to his lungs and making him useless for everything but
Every day he opened the Herald, and every day he saw nothing but the
ruins Lawson's mad megalomaniac fantasies had brought about. Every day there was
a bombing, or a shooting, or a protest. All Updike had ever cared about was the
safety of his family; now, a bunch of fanatic terrorists were endangering their
lives. He didn't agree with Houston on economics, but he knew where he stood on
security, which was all that mattered. Only he would put up enough of a hard
line to protect Updike's wife and kids from the tender mercies of the Lawsonians.
So he supported Houston.
Jolene Brown had come to the moon for the vision. The idea of a new future, a
new way of doing things, an entirely new hope for humanity. When she got there,
she opened up a healthcare clinic in Fra Mauro, and saw how badly things had
turned out. She saw diseases that had no place in a first-world society, much
less one on an entirely different planet. She saw victims of shoddy construction
and safety standards that should never have been allowed to pass. And, most of
all, she saw hopelessness. Despite Walker's dreams, the rich had never become
the main population of the moon; it was always the poor, the destitute, the
untrained, who had no hope but to become slave labour for America's insatiable
hunger for the riches of the Moon.
When the Lawsonian revolt came, she became one of its leaders in Fra Mauro.
During the bloody two-day conquest of the city by military forces, she saw
horrible, unspeakable things; things which still kept her awake at night. But
then the Lawsonians had fled to Fra Mauro, and they had done the exact same
things. She'd moved to Apollo after the amnesty, and had seen the results of a
train bombing; there were mangled limbs and clouds of vapourised blood floating
in the vacuum, with tattered shards of metal, flesh and clothing drifting in the
escaping air. As she knelt in the ruins, knowing that there was nothing she
could do, she wept for the loss of her beautiful dream.
She could never countenance violence, no matter who it came from. The Alliance
seemed to be offering the only solution that would resolve the situation
peacefully. So she supported Lang.
Alaa al-Tamimi had been a small business owner back on Earth. When he came to
the moon, he expected to do the same thing, and maybe even prosper. But it had
been nothing like what he had expected. His business was forced to close, he was
forced to sell his house, and he and his family crowded into the one of the
apartment blocks of the suburb of Lang (named for the Governor, but having no
association otherwise with him)
There, Alaa struggled to fit himself, his wife, and his five children into a
space which would make a broom feel cramped. He worked long hours in a mine,
which had destroyed his health and his body. His children were sick, and they
never had enough to eat. The quotas were merciless; a certain amount of pay for
a certain amount of profit. There was no way to make enough money to pay for
decent living standards; so, with ruthless efficiency, the corporations and the
government had simply cut living standards.
Sure, the Progressives had made things slightly better. But three years of hell
had made Alaa lose faith in the system. Brooks was offering an alternative, a
way of life not built on the exploitation of others. He stood up to the bosses
and to the government, and argued that people like Alaa shouldn't have to live
in squalor just to line the pockets of fat cats back on Earth.
All Alaa wanted was a better future. So he supported Brooks.
Nigel was becoming concerned. Deeply concerned.
Not just about the economy, which was beyond his or anyone’s ability to fix,
but about the fact that Walker didn’t seem to be noticing.
Of course, he didn’t know what Walker thought about the issue, which was even
more worrying. Ever since he’d told NASA to, in his words, ‘shove it’, he
hadn’t gone outside. When Nigel went to see him, he was refused entrance, and
the locks on Walker’s house were changed. Walker’s maid, the fearsome Ms
Keyes (who didn’t seem to have a first name or a husband; the standard joke
was that she’d eaten him on her wedding night), had confided to Nigel that
Walker was looking somewhat ‘tired and emotional’; Nigel took this as a
signal that he’d been drinking like a fish.
Then again, he had more than enough reasons to
partake. The Ares mission was in deep trouble. The strike had ended a few
weeks ago, and the Pathfinder was due to be launched at the end of
August; it was still an open question of whether it’d be allowed to fly. The
collapse of the Chinese economy had hit Millennium Developments more than most;
helium-3 was still an incredibly expensive commodity, and rising prices had
forced the cancellation of several flights. In such an environment, a reclusive
CEO determined on launching his own Mars mission without government support was
not a good look.
The mission itself seemed like a relic of
earlier times; it was bold, it was ambitious, it was visionary. Had China
managed its economy even half-decently and not been consumed in internal
fighting, it may even have been slightly achievable. Now, though, Walker’s
ambitious program of asteroid exploitation, the establishment of bases on Mars
and eventual colonization began to look less like setting a path for the future
and more like delusions of grandeur. Admittedly, it had always looked like
delusions of grandeur, but at least they used to look halfway sane. Even Walker’s
puppet board were beginning to get nervous, to say nothing of the company; the
private-public model had been very popular, and Walker’s cancellation of it,
without reason, had provoked much bitterness within the company. The NASA
proposal, of a single, Apollo-type mission, was beginning to get far more credit
than it deserved.
Everything would have been OK, though, had Walker at least explained his plans
to anyone. From what Nigel could tell, his earlier plan was relatively
straightforward; offer NASA the mission, get Gregory to call an election, yank
back the mission, get Houston elected, wipe out the Lawsonians, smash the
unions, and use his puppet lunar government to go to Mars. It was, admittedly,
far more complicated than was necessary, but it followed a relatively logical
progression. Now, with Millennium Developments losing money every day as the
economy sky-dived, it began to appear somewhat less sensible.
So, reluctantly, Nigel was forced to turn to
other means to find out what Walker intended. Simply receiving contradictory,
mysterious orders from an ageing recluse wasn’t nearly enough. Walker
maintained a vast database of files, and never deleted documents; ‘after all’,
he said, ‘you never know when you might need to blackmail someone’. The
thought of being blackmailed himself never crossed his mind, thanks to an
extensive, unbreakable, near-perfect coding system on his computer, designed by
one of the world’s best engineers: Nigel. Of course, the notion of Nigel breaking
in had never occurred to him either, and thus it was relatively easy.
Over the next four days, Nigel explored the
sordid pathways of Walker’s financial affairs. He quickly discovered that Ares
was even more of a mess than it first appeared; in its current form, it
would quite thoroughly bankrupt the company, and probably make most of them
paupers. And yet he kept pursuing it. It made Captain Ahab look calm and
rational by comparison.
Walker had predictably kept a large database on
Houston’s election campaign. He was spending millions of his own money on ads,
posters, billboards, flights, and even the creation of TV programs. The whole
thing was a massive money black hole.
Then, under a dense layer of coding that even
Nigel was impressed by (Walker had obviously been taking lessons), he discovered
what really happened on May 23. He checked and double-checked, but it was still
there, undeniable, unequivocal. Something had to be done.
For a while there, Nigel had actually begun to
like Walker. He’d seen that beneath his cunning, ruthless multibillionaire
exterior there was a sensitive, visionary man. But beneath THAT there was an
even more cunning, ruthless multimillionaire, who made what Walker normally
acted like seem like Kris Kringle.
Despite his grandiose image as a jet-setting
multibillionaire (Nigel had discovered this was a lie, too; Walker was only
worth $100 million, maximum), Walker lived in a relatively modest two-story
house in Peoria, Illinois. Image was very important to Walker. He may be a
multibillionaire, he seemed to say, but look! I’m only a multimillionaire! The
fact he also owned houses in the Bahamas and Majorca played no role in this
Besides the door, there was a sophisticated
electronic system designed for visitors to talk to Walker. Nigel ignored it, and
simply knocked on the door. Ms Keyes, a fearsome matriarch of advanced age,
size, and menace, opened the door. She regarded Nigel with a look most people
reserve for telemarketers and panhandlers, but this was nothing. She regarded
everyone, even Walker, in much the same way.
‘Mr Durschmeid, Mr Walker does not wish to
see you at this time. Go away.’
‘Ms Keyes, it’s important. Can you-‘
‘So is Mr Walker’s privacy. If you do not
leave these premises, I shall be forced to take…actions’
Nigel doubted she would call the police; Walker
hated having more people near his house than was necessary. But, given their
comparative sizes, she could just as easily fold Nigel up and use him as a
parasol. It was rumoured it had been done before.
‘Look, tell him ‘May 23’. That’s it. If
he doesn’t want to see me, then I’ll leave.’
Ms Keyes regarded him with suspicion. ‘That’s
it? May 23?’
‘Yes. Then I’ll leave.’
‘Make sure you don’t touch anything.’
Ms Keyes swept off. Nigel amused himself in the
meantime by examining the electronic devices next to Walker’s door; they were
designed so that people could speak to Walker without him going outside. What
people didn’t know was that Walker had had Nigel disable the device and
install a small speaker, so that, using a simulation of Walker’s voice, it
would take any statement given to it and play it back as a question. You could
usually get better conversations out of it than from Walker himself…
Walker arrived in the hallway, and Nigel was
taken aback. His overall impression was that of Howard Hughes meets Methuselah.
For the first time, Walker looked old; he seemed to have aged decades in
the three months since Nigel had last seen him. He clearly hadn’t shaved or
bathed in quite some time, and his hair, formerly his pride and joy, was white
and straggly. He was wearing a cotton bathrobe that had clearly seen better
For a second, Nigel took pity on him. Then the
rage kicked in.
‘Ah, Nigel. Nice of you to visit.’
‘Come inside, won’t you? We don’t want to
disturb the neighbours.’
‘You don’t have neighbours. You
bought up all the damn houses on this goddamn street, you…’
Against his better instincts, Nigel followed
Walker inside. Toadying becomes instinctual after a while. Inside, the house was
scrupulously neat; Nigel suspected that Walker hadn’t even been downstairs in
quite a while. The kitchen was immaculately clean. They sat down in the living
room; Ms Keyes regarded Nigel with suspicion.
‘A drink, Mr Durschmeid?’
‘Ah, some water would be lovely, Ms Keyes.’
‘And for you, Mr Walker?’
‘Ice water. Served with an umbrella.’
Ms Keyes wandered off into the kitchen. Walker turned back to Nigel.
‘Now then, where were we? Ah, yes. Hacking.’
‘You blew up Apollo 14. You…’
‘And you hacked my files. Tit for tat, won’t
‘Tit for tat? TIT FOR TAT? You injured half a
dozen soldiers! You rigged a Lawsonian attack! You talk so much about ‘our
dreams of exploring the unknown’, but you blew up one the proudest things
mankind has ever done! You…HYPOCRITE!’
Admittedly, it wasn’t much of an insult; some
cursing might have seemed more appropriate. But it definitely did the job.
Walker had been called many things, but the one thing a man of his ideology and
his drive could never take was hypocrisy. He got up angrily, which merely
exposed how thin he’d gotten.
‘How dare you? HOW DARE YOU? I did what I did
because I love my country. I did it for the legacy of those brave men! Look
around you, Nigel. You live on a dying world, orbited by a moon that’s only a
bit far behind. China is burning. Russia is fragmenting. The world economy is
being dragged down a deep, dark pit, and I don’t think there’s any way it’ll
ever get out. Mars is our only hope, and Houston is the only way for us to ever
get there. Goddamn Brooks isn’t just a megalomaniac demagogue; he’s tying
men down to small dreams, small prizes. He can’t see the bigger picture for
‘People are greedy. Let's take that as an
assumption and work from there, OK?’
Walker snarled. ‘Don’t quote me, Nigel; I
know what I said, and I stick by that. I thought I could use that greed to fuel
man’s expansion into space. But instead it’s going to leave us stuck on the
ground, until there’s no ground to be stuck to anymore.’
‘Houston could win anyway.’
‘Oh, wake up, Nigel!’ Walker snapped. ‘Houston
is a useful idiot. He has been so blinded by his goddamn ambition for that damn
governorship that he couldn’t tell red from blue anymore. And the people know
that; that’s why he has all the charisma of a dead lettuce leaf. But the one
thing he can do is instill fear. I tried to make the people afraid; to show them
that the Lawsonians will work to take away the things they care about, that even
what is sacred to them is just a bunch of metal spikes to the enemy. Scared
people make conservative choices, and that’s exactly what Houston is. The safe
option. And once he’s in power, he’ll do exactly as I say.’
‘Does he know you did this?’
‘Of course not. I may be sick, but I’m
still alive, aren’t I?’
Nigel looked at him quizzically. ‘How sick
Walker chuckled. ‘Oh, use your head, Nigel. I’m
dying. Terminal cancer of the lungs. Hell, and I didn’t even smoke!’ He
coughed, because some conventions are expected.
The news hit Nigel in the chest like a punch. Sure, he was mad at Walker, but dying…Walker
wasn’t allowed to die! He was a universal constant, like light speed, hay
fever, or Star Trek! Ms Keyes bought them their drinks; Nigel held his
unsteadily, while Walker sipped contentedly.
‘About two, three years. We’ve got damn
good surgeons in this country, you know that? And sixty-two ain’t a bad age;
sure, it’s thirty years below average, but there’s a couple of billion
people who’d walk over their own mothers just to live close to that long.’
‘So that’s why Ares is such a…’
‘Kamikaze of a mission? Yeah. We set up two
or three asteroid bases, use them to fund the trip to Mars, then the government
buys it out. I skip the country, maybe take up an alias, and die in peace on a
sunny beach in Majorca. Sounds good, huh?’
Nigel stared at him. It was logical; everything Walker did was motivated by the
same cold, hard logic. Maybe he had dipped too far into Spock’s well, but not
in the way he meant.
‘So the lunar people get screwed, and a
tyrant like Houston starts a civil war. The people working for Millennium
Developments lose their jobs, and probably their savings. The Lawsonians get
nuked into glass. Hell, you’ll probably have to kill off the identity of
Eugene Walker, too, just to get away scot-free. All this just for Mars?’
Walker smiled, and leaned close. He looked…content.
‘Yes. And I tell you, Nigel, I’d do it all
Nigel threw the drink in his face, and stormed out.
For once in his life, he knew exactly what
to do. Sure, he wanted to go to Mars, but it wasn’t worth this. Nothing was
worth this. The only way to avert a lunar civil war, save his company, and bring
Walker to justice was to tell. If that meant betraying Walker, Nigel could live
At least, he thought he could live with it.
In his office in Eagle City, Lang went over the
documents in shock. They were legit; they were all legit. Everyone stamped,
dated, some even with Walker’s signature. Lang had known Durschmeid since
their days in the ALC; he knew that his friend would never lie about something
like this. These documents had the capability to blow Houston sky-high.
‘Good, aren’t they?’
Lang fell off his chair. (This is often talked
about, but seldom seen; it’s quite impressive). When he looked up, ‘Bob’
was standing behind his desk.
‘How the hell did you get here?’
‘Oh, I’m good at that sort of stuff. You
really need to put an extra five or six locks on your door, you know that?’
‘How do you know about them?’
‘Oh, we know everything. We were going to
tell you some time about October…but for now I think it’s best you leak them
‘Well, we’ve still got a long election
campaign to go. I’m sure…’
‘Trust me, Lang.’ ‘Bob’ leaned forward,
with his slightly too-wide smile; his face got way too close to Lang’s for his
comfort. ‘Things are developing fast. Very fast. I guarantee you that
September and October will be China’s months. If you don’t release these
now, they’ll get no airtime at all.’
Lang looked suspicious. ‘How do you know
‘Oh, use your head. Good luck, Mr Governor.’
‘I’m not Governor yet.’
‘With those documents, it’s only a matter
The next day, the papers were mysteriously and inexplicably leaked to the New
York Times and the Apollo Herald. Ms Keyes heard a loud crash in the
early hours of the morning; when she went up to Walker's room, she found three
broken windows and Walker, staring at the paper on the bed. There were tears in
his eyes. He looked up at her.
'I'll kill him. You know that? I'll goddamn rip his goddamn head off!'
'Mr Walker, calm down, you-'
She managed to escape the room before the plate hit the door. On his
most...unfortunate days, even Ms Keyes was scared of Eugene Walker.
Later, once he'd calmed down slightly, he had a bath and a shave. He got dressed
in his finest suit, and even let Ms Keyes cut his hair. By the end, he still
looked ill, but could pass for alive in a good light. He drove to work for the
first time in months. He decided to go to SphereComm, the company that had made
him rich; the others could just have flunkies address them.
Once there, he informed the board of SphereComm, before they'd had a chance to
say a word, that he would be resigning effective immediately. He had messages
sent to his other companies saying much the same thing. He'd been preparing for
this for years now; admittedly, it had come sooner and more unexpectedly than he
would have liked, but a parachute is a parachute no matter when you unfurl it.
He made a few select calls, which allowed for the sale of most of his assets and
his houses, and rerouted the money into a Swiss bank account. He then moved into
his adopted identity of 'Leonard Forrest', for which he'd been building up
documents and IDs for quite some time. 'Leonard Forrest' then flew out of
America for the last time. By the time the authorities acted, Eugene Walker, or
at least the legal conception of him, no longer existed.
By a curious stroke of luck (which had been carefully choreographed by Chinese
authorities for weeks, luck not being the sort of thing you want to leave to
chance), Houston was on the far side of the moon at the time of the document's
release, and thus almost totally out of contact. The far side of the moon still
remained an enigma to most people; it contained almost no reserves of helium-3,
could not be contacted from Earth without the use of costly satellites, was
scarcely mapped, and had no large permanent settlements. Astronomers, however,
loved it; a variety of automated radio telescopes constantly watched the skies,
with small communities of astronomers carefully observing each one. Altogether,
there were perhaps 200 people on the far side of the moon; an untapped
constituency, to be sure, but one hardly worth the trouble of getting there,
which required two spaceflights and several days out of contact.
Houston was watching what seemed to him to be a telescope just like the ten
thousand other telescopes he'd been forced to endure, but which was apparently
of great importance. One of his aids stumbled across the regolith towards him,
shouting incoherently and carrying a copy of the Apollo Herald.
Houston took the paper, and read it very quietly for a while. The resulting
scream could be heard on every radio wavelength on the far side of the moon, and
screwed up quite a lot of advanced astronomy. This was perhaps the only good
thing to come out of the entire affair.
-The Apollo 14 story hits the media. A flurry of scandal follows; the editorial
in the Apollo Herald urges Houston to withdraw from the race. Houston,
stranded on the far side of the moon, is unable to comment.
-Eugene Walker disappears. He does not contact Nigel Durschmeid.
-Houston returns to Apollo, and denies all allegations. He points to Walker's
disappearance as evidence of his guilt. Voters turn on him in droves. Scott
Davison, Houston's candidate for lieutenant-governor, resigns from the ticket in
protest at Houston's actions.
-Millennium Developments' new CEO, Nicholas Hedge, announces the dire state of
the company's finances, and begins negotiations with NASA for a public-private,
one-shot mission to Mars.
-New polling shows that Lang would win any election held in a landslide, with
52% of the vote. Brooks' vote has also gone up due to the lack of recent
Lawsonian attacks and due to their clearing with regards to the Apollo 14
destruction, on 26% of the vote. Embarrassingly, Houston is coming third, on 22%
of the vote. He comes under increasing pressure to withdraw from the race, but
refuses, appointing Phil Madison as his lieutenant-governor candidate.
-A wave of Al Qaeda bombings hit Beijing, killing over 200 people. They are
linked to Turkestani separatists in Xinjiang. The Politburo declare martial law
in Beijing, and begin a sweep of arrests.
-Brooks makes a surprise announcement pledging a new, world-class healthcare
facility in Apollo upon his election. This earns him new middle-class support.
The Alliance begin to see him as a serious contender for the governorship.
-A wave of Chinese-funded ads hit screens, papers and walls, tarring Brooks as a
collaborator with the Lawsonians. Brooks tries to fight back, but lacks the PR
-Riots break out in Lhasa over rising commodity prices. The 15th Dalai Lama, a
17-year-old Chinese puppet, pleads for calm, but is ignored by contemptuous
Tibetans, who desire the accession of a pretender to the title, who lives in
-A Lawsonian attack, the first in months, destroys part of a military barracks
in Apollo. Brooks' popularity drops sharply.
-In Beijing, a peaceful protest against the continuing military occupation of
Beijing is met with overwhelming force, leading to the deaths of dozens of
protestors. Riots break out in many Chinese cities as a result.
-New polling shows Houston's support has risen, with his share of the vote on
33%, while Brooks has plunged to 19%. Lang is still clearly ahead on 48%.
-Riots once again sweep Lhasa; Chinese officials are forced out of the city, and
the Chinese Dalai Lama is captured. By the end of the day, much of the city is
under Tibetan control. A State of Tibet is declared.
-The military respond quickly to the Tibetan situation, air-lifting soldiers
into Lhasa. However, they encounter fierce resistance.
-The Chinese military retake Lhasa, but lack support in regional areas.
-The distraction of the Chinese military in Tibet encourages a fellow uprising
in Xinjiang, with Chinese troops losing control of Urumqi. Al Qaeda fighters
from across the Muslim world cross into China to help the Turkestani rebels.
-Facing a rapidly unravelling situation, martial law is declared across China.
Military curfews and crackdowns are put in place, triggering even further
-Continuing guerrilla attacks in Tibet threaten Chinese control of Lhasa,
leading to widespread street fighting.
-Urumqi is retaken.
-A large gathering at a marketplace in Shanghai turns to panic when a bomb
threat is announced. Even as soldiers close off the area, people struggle to
escape. Finally, soldiers are forced to use force to contain the situation,
which escalates further. The ensuing riot leads to the deaths of hundreds of
-The dam bursts. An uprising begins against military control in Hong Kong. The
soldiers are outnumbered and rapidly overpowered. By the end of the day, the
city is under rebel control.
-More soldiers arrive in Hong Kong to contain the situation, but fellow
uprisings have already begun in Shanghai and Guangzhou. The Politburo's failure
to control the economy has created a revolutionary fervor. Tensions bottled up
for decades are rapidly and disastrously released.
-Soldiers once again lose control of Lhasa. The Chinese Dalai Lama is murdered
in captivity. The historical flag of Tibet, long taboo, is unfurled above the
-A revolt in Urumqi forces the diversion of more soldiers, further weakening the
situation in the cities. In Beijing, the city creaks under martial law; any
public gatherings are banned, and most commerce is restricted as a result.
-Shanghai once again returns to tentative military control, but Guangzhou puts
up stiff resistance.
-Beijing rises against military control. Soldiers crack down on the growing
riots fiercely, causing hundreds of casualties. The riots blaze throughout the
-The rebel forces finally triumph after mass defections of army forces, forcing
the Politburo to flee the city with the troops that remain loyal to them. They
finally settle in Wuhan.
-The collapse of Politburo authority encourages further uprisings. Shanghai and
Hong Kong manage to once again force a general military retreat, with rebels
controlling both cities.
-Taiwan declare independence as the Republic of Taiwan under the Democratic
Progressive Party, abandoning the old 'Republic of China' label. The Politburo
are divided; to accept the declaration would be a violation of Chinese
sovereignty, and yet the country is already falling apart. It is finally decided
to order an invasion.
-Many senior generals revolt against the order, and refuse to obey. A central
cabal of senior PLA officials form the Council for Reform of the Chinese State,
and declare the Politburo to be acting illegally; effectively, a military coup.
The rebelling cities declare their loyalty to the new regime, putting it in
control of much of southern and eastern China. Troops in Tibet declare their
loyalty to the new regime and accept orders to withdraw, although the forces in
Xinjiang remain loyal to the Politburo.
-The Politburo declare the new military regime illegal, and order their arrest.
Almost half the army remain loyal to the communist regime, and they have the
support of many Chinese citizens. The Second Chinese Civil War, which will make
the previous civil war look like a walk in the park.
-An uprising of civilians in the Chinese lunar colonies overthrows communist
authority, with the help of the military detachment stationed there. Hundreds of
people associated with the previous regime are forced to flee into the lunar
desert. The civilians are mostly political prisoners or members of minority
groups; they feel no loyalty towards either the communists or the military
regime. Therefore, they declare total independence, and claim an area the size
of Italy surrounding all three major cities.
Archbishop Eduardo Ortiz (his archdiocese only covered, at most, 1000 people,
but it was an archdiocese and that was all that mattered) addressed his flock on
the values of tolerance. Simultaneously, woven throughout the homily was an
attack on the secularity of the current gubernatorial campaign. Put together,
the whole thing didn't make much sense, but his audience were rapt by it. At his
best, Ortiz could be somewhat hypnotic.
The homily was interrupted by the arrival of Carl Smithson, the town's resident
atheist and the only one who worked on a Sunday. Several of the more excitable
parish members gripped their crucifixes whenever they saw him. Smithson appeared
excited and out of breath. He grabbed onto a pew for support, and removed his
'Chinese! Coming over Stadius! Dozens of them!'
After that, there was obviously no way the mass could continue. The highly
aggrieved Ortiz managed to organise an expedition, which eventually included
much of the town. He swept across the lunar regolith in his specially-made
crimson spacesuit, which ensured he stood out in any crowd.
Once they reached the lip of Stadius, they could see the entire crater below. It
became clear there were not dozens of invading Chinese vehicles.
There were hundreds.
Ortiz ran down onto the plain, into the path of the oncoming vehicles. It is
unclear what he planned to do if the vehicles decided not to stop; one field of
thought is that he just liked the idea of being a martyr. The leading vehicle,
however, stopped, and a figure tumbled out. His suit had been burned in multiple
places, and had clearly been inexpertly sewed up.
The figure pulled himself up, and scrambled towards Ortiz, who drew back. Behind
his tinted faceplate, the visitor was obviously agitated; he spoke in rapid
Chinese, which the crowd was at a loss to understand. Finally, the figure spoke
clearly, in English.
'My name is Xie Rongzhen,' he said, kneeling on the ground, 'and I wish to apply
The Chinese refugees, 350 in all, formed a primitive shanty town from their
rovers surrounding Copernicus, more than twice the size of the town to begin
with. The reluctant Ortiz ordered the citizens to go about ministering to the
needs of the refugees, many of whom were wounded, starving or dehydrated. Many
of the vehicles were heavily scarred, or broken from the long drive. The
refugees obviously couldn't go anywhere any time soon.
Xie Rongzhen rode south on the mag lev to Apollo. A hasty session of the Lunar
Senate was called to hear his claims. Lang was not invited.
Xie Rongzhen addressed the Senate. His face was bruised and battered, and there
was a nasty cut running along his arm. Despite this, he had managed to retain
some of his essential ordinary neatness; he looked like an accountant who,
despite having fallen out a window, continued to conduct business.
'Good morning, senators'-technically untrue, since they were in the 14-day lunar
night, but some conventions were stronger than the truth-'and thank you for
coming here to listen to my plea.
'Two days ago, on the 18th, our military detachment down at South Pole Station-'
'So you do have a detachment there!', interjected Houston. Both of the lunar
powers denied placing any troops at the South Pole; of course, it was blatantly
obvious to anyone with even a modest telescope, but appearances had to be
Rongzhen, though, was too tired to keep playing games. 'Quite so. Two days ago,
our military forces revolted against us, in response to a recent pay dispute.
The lessening of our control allowed many of the civilians-'
'You mean prisoners', interjected Houston again.
'Mr Houston, you will keep quiet or you will be ejected!', snapped Gregory.
Houston took his seat.
'The civilians revolted against us. Forces loyal to us in all three colonies
were expelled within a matter of hours. The Governor and the local secretary of
the Communist Party were...well, I'll spare you the details, since they're quite
unpleasant. The rebels forced anyone with any links to the prior regime to leave
the city. We have no homes, no food, no water. We desperately need your asylum.'
Matheson got up. 'May I have leave to speak, Governor?' Gregory nodded. Matheson
turned to Rongzhen. 'If we did grant you asylum, what would your people do?'
Rongzhen smiled, slightly too widely. 'We would buy housing, the same as any
citizens, and gain jobs.' The unspoken thought, shared by everyone, was that it
was exceedingly unlikely anyone with any links to the Communist Party in Mao
Zedong was suddenly going to take up pick and shovel and become a miner. That
was for the serfs, after all. 'We would remain here only a matter of
months, until the PLA send forces to regain their lost bases.'
Houston glared at Gregory. 'May I speak, sir?' Gregory ignored the
obvious contempt and nodded. Houston turned back to Rongzhen. 'Why should we?'
'You've given us no reason to help you, and a hell of a lot of reasons not to.
Those rebels pose no threat; why not just let them starve, since no one on God's
green earth would ever think of trading with them? Why the hell should we let
our cities become de facto bases for the goddamn PLA? This is our soil, Mister,
our territory; we decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they
come, as a wise man once put it. You have shown up uninvited, unwanted, and we
are incapable of providing for you; to make matters worse, you wouldn't be in
this goddamn situation if you hadn't been so goddamn STUPID as to turn your
colony into a forced labour camp. You've made your bed, now go lie in it.'
Chaos erupted in the chamber. Carmichael stood up to angrily denounce Houston,
but was verbally attacked by Bob Renny. Gregory attempted to call for order, but
to no avail. Rongzhen stood in the middle of the arguments and
counter-arguments, a dark look upon his face. He glared at Houston, who returned
the look with undisguised hatred.
Finally, things returned to half-way normal, mostly because people had used up
all the convenient swear words. Gregory cleared his throat. 'Would you like to
make a response to that, Mr Rongzhen?'
'Certainly. Mr Houston, we have civilians here, sick and dying civilians. We
have no desire to impede upon your territorial integrity, or at least what you
claim to be your territorial integrity; remember that no other nation on Earth-'
'Except Palau and Micronesia,' interjected Brooks cheekily, more to irritate
Houston than for any legitimate point.
Rongzhen forced a strained smile. 'Quite so. If you were to reject us, then what
kind of a nation are you? 'As you do to the least of my brothers, so you do unto
me?' You are a Christian man, aren't you, Mr Houston?'
Houston's earlier hatred now seemed nothing, compared to the look undisguised
loathing on his face.
Regaining some of his earlier smugness, Rongzhen continued. 'This is, of course,
rejecting more practical qualifications. We have nowhere else to go. Avalon is a
fine station, but it cannot accomodate 350 people. You can. The notion of
returning to our earlier homes is, of course, absurd. If you turn us out, we
would be doomed to wander in the wilderness, as our engines run down and our
supplies run out. You would be committing murder on an epic scale.'
Houston got up. 'I don't care. You have invaded our territory, Mr Rongzhen,
armed and dangerous. You represent a nation which barely even exists anymore. I
do not make this choice lightly. I have no desire to see your people suffer. But
neither do I have a desire to make the borders of the US a revolving door!'
Rongzhen said acidly, 'That's absurd. You are ignoring geopolitical realities.
Despite our current status, the People's Republic of China is still the most
populous and most economically prosperous nation on Earth; you would cause harm
to their citizens at your peril.'
'Is that a threat?', shouted Houston. The chamber once again descended into
finger-waggling and shouted epithets. Rongzhen remained calm.
'No. Merely an observation. And, of course, you ignore the profound consequences
of letting our stations remain independent. These people are not merely
rebelling, or siding with the military back on Earth; they wish to form an
independent state, and in doing so are claiming area of nearly 300000 square
kilometres. Do you wish to have an independent state on your doorstep,
answerable to no one, with a small population of peasants and soldiers? It would
be your North Korea, ladies and gentlemen; the consequences would be too dire to
avoid. Thus, I beg you. Give us sanctuary. Not just for us, but for yourselves.'
Rongzhen sat down. Brooks got up.
'I believe Mr Rongzhen has set out the position of the Workers' Alliance. In the
interests of charity, of empathy, and of pure ethics, we cannot reject their
plea. We therefore shall side with their plea for asylum, and shall say no
more.' Brooks sat down, unusually for him.
'Yeah, because you're a Chinese puppet!' shouted Houston.
'Mr Houston, restrain yourself!' replied Gregory, angrier than anyone had ever
seen him before. 'This is a legislature, not a school playground. If you cannot
see fit to obey the rules of this building, then I shall be forced to expel
Houston sat down, conscious of his victory. Everyone knew Gregory should have
kicked him out; hell, that was what Houston wanted. Gregory was a lame duck, and
he knew it.
Carmichael got up, after several minutes of hushed caucus with the other
Alliance representatives. She looked even more tired than the rest of the
chamber. She turned to Rongzhen, and began to speak hesitantly.
'Mr Rongzhen, we believe and understand your plea. We wish to accord fully in
accordance with the values and morals that have made the United States a great
nation, and in doing so we believe that charity is of the utmost importance.
However, you must understand that Mr Houston has made some relevant points. You
have violated our territory, and we do believe that you have brought much of
your current situation upon yourself. We would be perfectly within our rights,
if not our morality, to expel you.
'However, in this case, we believe that our senses of morality and empathy
cannot be compromised in the interests of realpolitik, as Mr Houston seems to be
advocating. It is our duty to care for the sick, the wounded, the dispossessed;
not just as liberals, not just as upholders of the legacy of Andrew Lawson, but
as human beings. In this regard, we shall vote to give you asylum. However, we
stress strongly that our soil should not be used for military maneuvers against
the rebels in your colonies.'
Carmichael sat down. Houston grinned in triumph. It was a good speech, but it
would be impossible to sell to the population at large. All they would see would
be the yellow peril fears of millennia; fears of the invading horde, the Huns,
the Mongols, the Japanese. He would sell them paranoia, and they would lap it
'Well, if there are no further speeches, then we shall put this to vote. Shall
this Senate give asylum to the 350 displaced people, formerly of Mao Zedong,
Zheng He and Deng Xiaoping colonies?'
The vote was 8-5. After accepting the loss, Houston stood up. He stared directly
'When I am elected governor, I will kick you and everyone who came here with you
out of this colony.'
After that, it was all over bar the shouting.
At the time of the Senate session, Lang was
sitting in Eagle City's Episcopalian Church. He wasn't actually religious, but
it was important to cultivate the church vote. He discovered, with horror, that
he was beginning to think like a politician.
Halfway through the service, one of Lang's aides came in and whispered in his
ear. He ran out, causing quite a stir, and losing him five or six votes.
Once Lang got to his office, he saw the telecast of Houston's Senate speech, and
sank into his chair. Then he saw the camera click to Xie Rongzhen, aka 'Bob',
and identify him as a Colonel in the People's Liberation Army. By the time his
aide got back in the room with a cup of coffee, Lang had fainted dead away.
After that, the entire campaign was completely reshaped. There were no issues of
labour reform, or service provisions, or any of the normal issues of the day;
every newspaper, every speech, every watercooler was dominated by the issue of
what to do with the refugees. Houston had tapped into an astonishing groundswell
of support; polling showed that 73% of the population opposed keeping the
refugees in Apollo indefinitely, and 43% wanted them removed 'as soon as
possible.' The Fra Mauro Investigator's satirical column did a poll on
whether constituents considered the Pope Catholic; only 67% said yes.
The astonishing hostility to the refugees came from a number of factors. The
primary one was working conditions; the economic recession had forced employers
to lower wages and sack more employees, so everyone was more jittery than usual
about their job security. In such an environment, the infusion of hundreds of
workers guaranteed to work for less than Americans was enough to provoke
hostility amongst the blue-collar workers.
Amongst the middle classes, hostility primarily came from conservatism.
America's borders needed to be kept secure; these unkempt, scruffy, socialist
Chinese had come sweeping across the border in a parody of the Mongol hordes,
and had demanded shelter as if it were their right. Why couldn't they work like
everyone else? Why couldn't they wait their turn, like we did? And so on, and so
forth. Fear of the unknown was, paradoxically, even greater on the moon than on
Earth; many people had seen the havoc wrought by Lawson's radicalism, and so
they clung tight to tradition as a safety blanket.
To make matters worse, Brooks and the Lawsonians had seen this as a heaven-sent
chance to regroup. The Lawsonians, who'd previously been lying low, took the
Chinese as their cause celebre; they began an ambitious plan of bombing military
installations and economic infrastructure. One bombing in Fra Mauro destroyed a
major factory; Houston was photographed in the ruins within hours, demanding a
total revamp of security. In an electoral environment with unlimited trump
cards, Houston became a demagogue for the ages; he addressed mass rallies in
Flamsteed and Apollo and Eagle City and even Fra Mauro, which had formerly been
the one constant in their opposition to him. Houston attacked the unions, the
Lawsonians, the Alliance, but most of all the Chinese. It was dispiriting to see
an entire electoral campaign based on hatred, and fear of the unknown. Houston
didn't have Walker's money anymore, but then again Lang didn't have any
financial support left either; they were both bankrupt, in so many ways.
For a month, Lang crisscrossed the moon, trying to appeal to people's innate
senses of morality and decency, only to rapidly discover they didn't have one.
So then he just badmouthed Houston. The Alliance constantly tried to invent new
policies, each more far-fetched than the last, in an attempt to stop the Houston
juggernaut, but it was no use. In early October, polling showed Houston on 59%
support; Lang was on 35%, with Brooks on 16%. With a twenty-point lead, Houston
seemed unstoppable. Lang's campaign took on increasing desperation; he addressed
smaller and smaller crowds, until finally, in a campaign meeting in Flamsteed,
only one person showed up. The people had decided.
In Apollo, Michael Rodriguez sat on a bed he'd rented for the night. He stared
at the wall, and yet he saw nothing.
He'd come to the city under a fake idea, on the orders of Xie Rongzhen, who
Rodriguez despised. Yang Liwei could be agreeable, and even the general was too
stupid to be malevolent for long, but Rongzhen was just...evil. He'd taken over
relations with the Lawsonians, and was promising increasingly smaller dividends.
It was clear that soon the relationship would be called off.
He'd met Rongzhen, who'd given him his mission. His last mission. Sure, he'd
refused, even tried to leave, but in the end he knew he had no choice. The
Lawsonians had so much at stake.
He tried to justify it to himself; Houston was an evil man, a fearmongerer, a
racist, an authoritarian. He'd caused the whole movement in the first place.
When put that way, what Rodriguez had come here to do didn't sound half bad.
But even as he tried to block it out, he knew he'd come here to kill a man
simply because the Chinese didn't like him. He would make Lang the Manchurian
On October 12, Lang and Houston were both called to give speeches to the Senate.
Brooks, who by now was regarded as having no chance of winning, was not invited
to speak; he interjected constantly in place.
Houston spoke of the need for strong borders, for the entrepreneurial spirit,
for freedom, for patriotism. Lang spoke of the need for better services, for
empathy, for tolerance, for justice. It was the same speech each had given a
thousand times; they both knew none of this mattered. The election had already
been decided, a month before polling. They were both given ovations anyway.
Later on, as the senators filed out of the lobby, Houston met with Lang.
'Do you remember', Houston said, 'what I said to you when I first replaced you?'
Lang replied, 'You said that times had changed. America needed someone strong, a
leader. Someone who could keep its people safe.'
'That's right. It was as true then as it is now.'
Lang snorted. '300 starving Chinese aren't a threat. You know that.'
'It's what they represent, Mr. Lang. I am not heartless. My heart goes out to
every single creature in God's creation.'
'Obviously you didn't have enough to spare for yourself.'
Houston avoided the jibe; it wasn't very well thought-out, anyway. 'I have a
duty, Mr Lang. I must keep my nation safe, whatever it costs. I will do
anything, say anything, be anything to protect her borders. I love my country
too much to do anything else.'
'Are you justifying yourself to me, Mr Houston?'
'No, Mr Lang. I'm telling you why I'm going to win. The people understand what
I'm trying to do.'
'The election isn't over yet.'
'It's merely a matter of time. I just wanted you to know that everything I do I
do for my country.'
'Goodbye, Mr Houston.'
'Goodbye, Mr Lang. Godspeed.'
Houston walked out of Townhall into the glass sidewalk outside. He was instantly
confronted with a barrage of reporters from Fra Mauro, Apollo, and Eagle City.
He pushed himself through them good-naturedly.
Michael Rodriguez pushed his way through the crowd. He drew his gun and fired
four times. Three times for Houston, once for himself. He didn't miss once.
Lang was leaving at the time of the shots. He ran towards Houston. He couldn't
hear anything. Everything seemed so far away...
Once he got to him, he realised it was hopeless. He'd been hit twice in the
chest, and once in the shoulder. He was coughing blood. He looked up at Lang,
'For my country.'
Lang screamed for an ambulance, for medics, for anything. He desperately tried
to remember what he could of CPR. But all he could see was Houston's dead, grey
eyes, staring at him. Mocking what his dream had become.
Blood ran into the lunar regolith.
After Houston's assassination, the whole
campaign passed in a blur for Lang. Houston's lieutenant-governor-candidate,
Phil Madison, was efficient but had none of Houston's appeal; he lacked
Houston's...well, anticharisma might be the best word; Houston was appealing
precisely because he was so unappealing. He spoke to people's base instincts,
and they responded. Madison, by comparison, was dry and businesslike; he'd only
ever been a compromise candidate after Houston's last deputy, Scott Davison, had
quit in a huff over the Apollo 14 scandal. But in the current environment, you
could probably run a lettuce leaf and that would suffice. The public, even those
who hated Houston, went mad over the assassination. Predictably, many blamed it
on the Chinese; a letter found in the assassin's pocket said that he was doing
it 'as vengeance for the deaths of hundreds of good men', but simple, easy
explanations were never enough for the true nutters who seemed to pop up
whenever an event like this occurred. Madison would ride into office on a wave
of pure jingoistic fervor.
Lang kept going, if only because to stop would force him to think about the
events of that terrible day. Every time he closed his eyes, he would see
Houston's cold, dead face. So he kept campaigning. It was a ceaseless trek
between the six lunar settlements; he began to memorize streets, signs, even
faces. Everything turned into a blur to him.
Slowly, the polling began to turn around. The Democratic National Convention,
who'd previously denied funding on the grounds that the 'Alliance' wasn't part
of the Democratic Party, finally freed up enough funds for a last-minute ad
blitz. Celebrities on Earth spoke out for the refugees; of course, no one
listened to bloated, 60-something hacks like Brad Pitt anymore, but it was
enough to get people thinking about the issue. At the same time, the Republican
campaign began to run out of steam; people began to meet the refugees, and to
realise they weren't as bad as the propaganda put it. Continuing war footage
from China, which was rapidly turning into the bloodbath of the century,
increased public empathy for the refugees. To top it off, Madison was turning
out to be an unwise choice; it was already far too late to replace him with a
more saleable candidate like Bob Renny, but his awkward mannerisms, sudden
malapropisms and stiff manner began to take their toll.
Lang's final stroke of luck, however, came from God, or at least his chosen
representative. On October 29, just weeks before the election, Ortiz finally
ended a string of equivocal, say-nothing comments with a strong demand for
justice for the refugees. 'God', he said, 'does not distinguish on the basis of
race, or age, or what one has done; what matters is that he loves us all, and
instructs us to love one another. These refugees have come to us poor, sick,
tired, and weak; it is our duty to care for them as God's children, just as God
cares for us.' In a territory with a large Catholic community, his words were
almost literally manna from heaven.
Still, it was clear it was going to be close. Polling showed that Madison and
Lang were in a dead heat; Brooks' support was static on 16%, now that the media
were almost entirely focusing on the two main candidates. Whoever won, they were
certain not to gain a majority; they would inherit a win more of luck than of
skill, and a divided, warring lunar community. It would be an election for the
ages. They even picked up the front page of the New York Times, despite the fact
most people saw lunar politics on the same level of importance as Newfoundland
On Election Day, all three candidates were photographed voting at their
respective booths; many media commentators noticed that Lang looked tired and
wan. The campaign had exhausted him, mentally and physically. He decided not to
attend the polling room (which was technically just a neutral house that had
been chosen for the occasion), and sat watching Luna 1 in his apartment.
The results were close. Very close. Brooks won a slim majority in Fra Mauro;
everywhere else, he didn't come close. Lang managed to win Apollo with a
majority (since voters there disliked both other candidates more than they
disliked him), but Madison sailed through in Eagle City and South Pole; after a
close vote, Lang came ahead on a slim plurality in Flamsteed, but was still
behind. The vote came down to Copernicus, a tiny settlement with only 100 voting
residents. In the end, Lang won 63 of them; a clear majority, and one which won
him the election by 37 votes.
The Alliance celebratory party was subdued. Everyone there knew they had won
office based on religious interference in politics, and because of the death of
a man who should have been elected governor. It wasn't anywhere near a
legitimate victory. Carmichael made the victory speech. She apologized for Lang
not being there, saying he was 'ill', a polite way of saying he hadn't been
responding to her calls. She spoke of the need to 'reunify the lunar population
after what has been a difficult and divisive campaign'. She didn't mention the
celestial intervention this would obviously require.
While watching the celebration on television, Lang became aware of a presence
behind him. He didn't have to ask.
'You killed him, didn't you?'
Rongzhen smiled. 'Yes. Me, and the PRC as a whole.'
'Do you interfere in American politics as a matter of course, or is it just a
'Not just me, you understand. The Indians provided some of the funding; Avalon
served as the communications satellite for some of your ads; and, oh yes, it was
a Mexican agent, of all people, who forced an end to the builders' strike. He
seemed to think that Brooks was destabilizing your campaign. I must say, I
disagreed; having a loony like Brooks offside got rid of a lot of voters you
clearly didn't need.'
'So I'm everyone's candidate except America's. Is that it?'
'What's good for the world, Governor Lang-I think I can call you that now-is
good for America. Houston would have destroyed us. His mad policies of
isolationism and authoritarianism would have left the moon a stage for the
rantings of governments, a Great Game that would have turned into a war that
would leave the Earth, not to mention the moon, glowing green. Lieutenant
Governor Carmichael is right; you can unite the people. Not just yours, but all
the peoples of the Earth.'
Lang snorted derisively. 'So I'm meant to be the Moon Jesus, is that it?'
Rongzhen smiled. 'If that's the way you want to put it.'
'So, since I'm the Manchurian Candidate, what do you want me to do? Kill the
President? Sign over the Lunar Territories to China?'
Rongzhen laughed. 'Governor Lang, I don't think you could find two people who
would agree on what counts as China at the moment. But in answer to your
question: we will give no orders. We simply want you to act as you see fit. Oh,
and you mustn’t be Houston. That's very important.'
Lang buried his face in his hands. There seemed nothing more to say. Rongzhen
touched Lang's shoulder. 'Mr Lang, hopefully we will never have to see each
other again. You have served both our countries well. I wish you good luck on
After Rongzhen had left, Lang dreamt. He was back on the sidewalk; Houston's
blood no longer merely seeped into the soil, but spread across it. A red tide
slowly ebbed out across the moon, sweeping up towns and factories in its wake.
Lang felt its clammy touch on his hands, on his arms, on his face. The moon
turned red with a martyr's blood.
His dream, the Lunar Dream, of a society where everyone could be free and equal,
was forever tainted. The moon, the past, present and future moon, could never be
clean again; Houston's blood was an indelible stain that would never wash away.
March 3, 2033
Nigel Durschmeid stepped off the lander hesitantly. It'd been four years since
he'd last been on the moon, but he still hated the lower gravity just as much.
The ships were admittedly better; the new liners could carry hundreds of people
at a time, and had thus upgraded their conditions. After all, if you're going to
be a sardine you might as well be comfortable.
Since he had last been here, Apollo had been radically transformed. For a start,
it was bigger. Much bigger. Even before the advent of the new liners, the Moon
had become a haven for Chinese refugees fleeing the radioactive, poisonous ruins
of what was technically China. Since the new 'Democratic' Republic of China (in
the same way that the People's Republic had been communist for the last 50 years
or so) had only managed to retain Deng Xiaoping City in a peace agreement with
the Chinese Lunar Republic, many of the refugees had instead settled in the
American colonies. It had taken a few more years than expected, but Walker's
dream of 5000 American citizens on the moon had at last been fulfilled.
As he walked down Armstrong Street (now fitted out with a glass sidewalk and
potted plants), he noticed that the widespread poverty and war damage of a few
years before had now been completely removed. For starters, it was because there
wasn't a war anymore; the Americans and the Lawsonians had finally come to peace
in 2031 with the signing of the Apollo Accords, which allowed for the creation
of a Lawsonian Commonwealth in the Montes Riphaeus. They still had to respect
the President as their head of state, but as long as no one pointed that out
they were functionally independent-or at least as independent as a state
dependent on the Americans for water and immigrants could ever be. Far from
their terrorist roots, the Lawsonian Commonwealth had become a haven for
libertarians, socialists, and fellow-travellers from the United States,
attracted by its direct democracy, liberal laws, and of course the possibility
of hooking up with free-thinking hippies. In return, the Lawsonians promised to
stop killing people. It was an arrangement that suited everyone.
But then, of course, the poverty that had fuelled the Lawsonian insurrection had
by now been almost entirely erased. This was largely due to the work of Edward
Lang, who had made poverty alleviation a top priority of his administration.
Sure, less helium-3 got to Earth, which made air conditioner salesmen across
America angry, but in the current Depression it was thought more important that
people got enough to eat. Even after his ramshackle 'Alliance' had collapsed
after the 2030 Senate elections, he had run as a Progressive in 2031 and had
still won. He was planning to retire at the end of his term this year; already
the more excitable commentators were calling his brief reign a Golden Age.
Nigel finally reached the intersection of Armstrong Street and Jamestown Road.
In a small traffic island in the middle of the busy intersection, there was a
statue of Houston and Lawson, both with an arm outstretched towards the future.
Even in death, they were both stuck together on the same podium; Nigel briefly
amused himself by imagining how they would react if they knew they were stuck
this way. The old Townhall was now a museum; the new Senate House was a building
of stunning ugliness in Fra Mauro, now the largest city in the colony.
He walked along Jamestown Road, which more than ever seemed a quixotic slice of
Americana. There was a plaque where Houston had been shot; he noticed there were
flowers, hugely expensive on the moon, laid next to it. They ('they' being
everyone) said Lang had set up a fund expressly for the purpose of refreshing
the flowers; Nigel, who had been Lang's friend years ago, believed it instantly.
He finally reached St Vincent de Paul Hospital on Conrad Drive. It was a small
hospital, yet kitted out with the best medical care on the moon; it was a rich
fugitive's fantasy. Nigel wasn't surpised; after all, Walker had set it up years
Upon entering, he found most of the staff fixed to their screen, watching the
beginning of Challenger's descent into the Martian atmosphere. As it
turned out, even without Walker's suicidal economics, the private-public venture
was doomed to failure; even after stripping away everything but the single-shot
mission, Millennium Developments had gone bankrupt in 2031, just after the
communists had used nukes in the Chinese Civil War. Curiously, NASA continued
the mission alone; admittedly, this was largely an effort by President Scutari
to have a Mars mission in flight by 2032, in order to save her hopes of
re-election (which were comprehensively and decisively dashed), but it was still
an unusual gesture by what was, after all, these days a profit-driven agency.
Nigel went to the front desk. The receptionist smiled at him.
'Is there something I can do for you, sir?'
'Hi. I'm looking for a Mr Leonard Forrest.'
'Ah. He's in Room 33. Are you a friend of his?'
'...yes. Yes I am.'
Nigel walked off. The receptionist turned to her TV.
Nigel waited outside the door. This was silly. He'd been searching for Walker
for three and a half years; the mad old bugger had led him on a chase across
Europe, South America, and even a memorable stay in Beijing just as it fell for
the third and last time to the military. But then he'd been forced, by his
declining health, to stop running; Nigel had finally tracked him down. There was
no point hesitating. He pushed inside.
The room was, of course, luxurious; Walker may of course be wanted for
destroying a near-sacred relic, but that was no reason to scamp on comfort.
Walker was lying in bed, half-asleep. The plastic surgeons had done a good job;
he was barely recognisable. Still, there was traces of Walker on his face. A
true toady always knows. A TV was on, showing the descent of the Challenger.
Nigel waited expectantly. Walker woke up, and turned towards him slowly. There
was no expression on his face.
'Ah. You're here.'
'You were expecting me?'
'You're too stubborn to give up just because I left your goddamn planet. But-'
Walker sighed. 'In a few hours, you won't follow me no more.'
Nigel waited uncomfortably. Three years, and he had no idea what to say.
'So.' He managed. 'How have you been?'
Walker turned on him acidly. 'I'm dying of cancer, you idiot, how the hell do
you think I am?'
Walker sighed. 'Nigel, why are you really here?'
Nigel squeezed his eyes shut. He'd been dreading this for so long.
'I just want to tell you that...I'm sorry, sir. That I wrecked your dream.'
A smile crossed Walker's face.
'Wrecked it? You think you wrecked it?'
'Well, I forced you to go on the run, sir, and I nearly ruined Houston's
'No, some mad psycho ruined Houston's election chances. You may be mad, but
you're not a bad man, Nigel. Look out the window.'
Nigel pulled the curtain aside. Outside, children were playing in the sidewalks;
trucks full of cargo drove through the streets. A rocket took off from the
spaceport into the sky, where Nigel could see Avalon glittering.
'What Houston wanted was never my dream. The poverty, the war, the injustice; I
never wanted that. I only wanted a new America. A better America. And it looks
like Lang managed that. Nigel, you were damn stupid, and I hope you never do
something so foolish again.' Walker smiled. 'But I forgive you.'
Tears welled up in Nigel's eyes.
On the screen, the Challenger had landed. The hatch opened. An
astronaut-some dumb fighter jock named Charles Weston, but they all start out
like that-climbed down the ladder, and dropped into the Martian terrain. All
voices fell silent.
Weston looked around him. He knelt down into the dust, and said, 'This shall be
a home for all Earth's children.'
Nigel grinned, so wide that he could feel the edges of his mouth hurting. He
turned around to Walker.
There was a small smile on Walker's face. 'Well,' he said. 'I guess people
aren't so bad after all.'
Walker closed his eyes for the last time. To sleep, perchance to dream...
To Part 2