"Talks are off, then. Thank you."
"It's not that-" The Ambassador from Phobos stopped short
at the sight of the gun pointed through his peripheral vision at
his right temple. "Gentlemen, please. This isn't-"
He also stopped short at the bang. He slumped out of his chair
and fell to the floor, a red puddle haloing out, the color of the
night time skies of his home.
Jameson Crenna sighed. "Tell the Office." An underling
jogged to and out the door. "Every single time-"
"Don't blame yourself." Artis Hind leaned back into his chair,
wiping one dot of mooner blood from his briefcase top. "If
they don't want to play with the big boys, we'll play with them."
"Sometimes, Art," Crenna walked to the water cooler, withdrew enough
to taunt the paper cone's brim, "I think they want this war."
"They do... They do. Like a bunch of kids. They
want the action. To say nothing of the associated tax breaks."
"Taxes." Crenna let the word hang and drop along with his
crushed cone into the recycling bin. "If I never hear another
mention of taxes, I'll die a happy man."
"What about 'spending'?"
Crenna sat back down, shut his glasstic folder. "If they want
a war, we'll give it to them. No matter what the grubs in
"They might want a war a little more after the bodies get back to
"Good." Crenna smiled. He had little teeth, big gums,
the kind of oral arrangement that makes a person look dishonest
and primordial. Jameson Crenna was both. "Let's start
* * *
Phobos, Deimos, Callirrhoe, Themisto, Megaclite, Taygete, Chaldene,
Harpalyke, Kalyke, Iocaste, Erinome, Isonoe, Praxidike, Autonoe,
Thyone, Hermippe, Aitne, Eurydome, Euanthe, Euporie, Orthosie, Sponde,
Kale, Pasithee, Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea, Thebe, Io, Europa, Ganymede,
Callisto, Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphae,
Sinope, Pan, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Janus, Mimas,
Enceladus, Tethys, Telesto, Calypso, Dione, Helene, Rhea, Titan,
Hyperion, Iapetus, Phoebe, Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Cressida,
Desdemona, Juliet, Portia, Rosalind, Belinda, Puck, Miranda, Ariel,
Umbriel, Titania, Oberon, Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano,
Trinculo, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus, Triton,
Nereid, and Charon. Let's not forget The Moon. Et cetera.
Any port in a storm.
Not all were inhabited, of course. Some were nothing more
than little lumps of spinning rock, not even stable enough to drill
an unmanned listening post into. Some were bigger than planets,
Pluto's twin babies Lethe and Styx, for example. Most had
nomad populations, sad stragglers left behind from the outward wagon
trains to nowhere. Phobos was little more than a refugee center,
the millions going out to safer waters, the millions heading back
to the homeland. It was a place of fright and war. Resources
were limited, and the provisional government had collapsed upon
the initial breakdown in peace talks between the Worlds and the
Moons. The exponential population increase had been too much.
Sometimes, parents need to beat their children. Sometimes,
that beating includes explosions.
The land war had lasted all of three hours, the air war, seventy-two
until the atmosphere was gone. The greatest evacuation effort
in human history had taken just over three hundred hours, an effort
complicated by surface temperatures that weren't really temperatures
at all, bunker gates frozen shut, residual resistance from insurgents
lighting up the rescue boats, the buses in the sky. Those
that made it past the resistance blockade took three minutes to
reach the nearest safe harbor, The Moon. It had once briefly
been named Kennedy, but the name hadn't stuck. The Moon it
was. They'd named the capital city Kennedy instead.
For all intents and purposes, the Earth, like the God, was dead,
save a few pirate broadcasts from the deepest mine shafts, the polar
You'd think the mooners would have been satisfied with all the rocks
between the sun and the outside, all the resources available to
them. The World governments had only imposed a slight usage
tax on the asteroid belts, and they'd been generous enough to surrender
several hundred smaller moons for commercial consumption.
That wasn't enough. You see, the people from the Sol system's
three hundred major moons tore through most of the available resources
voraciously, sweeping away most of the belts, putting a serious
dent in the gas planets (whose governments were governments in name
only, mostly just puppets governing from orbital platforms, talented
businesspeople appointed by the Unified Worlds organization), and
eagerly looking inward to the untapped potentials of the inner circle
when the outside distances got too cold. Alpha and Proxima
Centauri were too cold a trip.
The situation reached a boiling point, heated a little beyond, once
the mooners got religion.
It wasn't religion so much as a bastardized manifest destiny, the
deification of the human animal, the urgent desire to use every
rock and gas and fire available to construct light engines that
would propel the species outward. Sure, it would be another
twenty million years before Sol went nova, but the mooners were
visionaries, narcissists, children bored with all the available
toys in the toybox. They wanted more, and in a caustic mixture
of new age humanism and ambition obfuscating good old-fashioned
greed, certain individuals were able to unite the disenfranchised
hundred billion across the fifty astronomical units defining the
outside edge of the solar system and convince enough people that
the Worlds were Bad.
When it comes down to it, most people are followers, and most people
are more turned on by the taste of blood than a boring, peaceful,
economically-viable status quo. Intellectually, most people
never blossom beyond a naive, stimulus-driven, childlike innocense.
Innocense isn't a morally-objective concept; far too many times
in the five thousand years of organized human culture, the innocents
have been just as complicit to war and suffering than those who
lead them to evince such action. People are swayed by the
prospect of revolution as easily as trees are convinced to sway
by hurricanes. People are stupid animals. Once they
realized there were no higher powers watching from subjective above
or below, no gods or demons, no little green men with heat rays,
nary a humble bacterium winking up from a crack in a Martian rock,
they turned that stupidity into bloodlust.
Worlds are at an innate disadvantage in system-wide warfare, bounded
by atmospheres, easily blockaded, cut off, resorting to cannibalism
of resources and populations. The moons are the true warriors;
their number, their great turnover in populations, their capability
of self-sacrifice for the larger good. Mooners are people
bred for tight spaces and sacrifice, never knowing sunrises or breezes
or high noon sunburns, living and dying beneath pressure domes,
people-sized ant farms filled with resentful populations who would
still give everything for their sand, the constricting plastic walls,
the food pellets dropped every two or three weeks by the forgetful
child in charge of the whole thing. Ants don't know enough
to fight the forgetful child. People do.
What I'm trying to say, from the point of a resistant narrator in
an uncertain future, is that the population who cared when Earth
died was just a fraction of one percentage of the total human population
of the galaxy. Most of that fraction cared for only an instant,
an odd collection of hours or days before they died.
Earth was passé.