Jupiter’s Children, Part II
by Daniel C. Smith
forum: Jupiter's Children, Part II
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Jupiter’s Children, Part II


           Rashid al-Adsani considered the new sport dangerous, one more suited for adults, not for children.  Still, Lopez encouraged its development, it gave them ‘something to do’ he said.  Lopez seemed confident of the children’s ability to avoid accidents, too confident as far as Rashid was concerned. 

          On the upper polar cap of Ganymede, ammonia and methane winds blew across the icy plains. The children harnessed those winds with sails made of a new lightweight alloy from metals mined from the asteroid belt and raced sleds across the ice around strategically placed obstacles and skid traps, through dangerous twists and turns and around the edges of death.  Oh yes, several near-accidents, but no real collision with tragedy, not yet. 

          Advanced or not, they are still children, and Lopez is too eager to overlook their abilities, too encouraging of their independence, Rashid thought. 

          Even less than the danger the new sport represented, he did not like the way it seemed to affect Hamid, continually coming in second to Brannon.

           Today his son seemed especially bitter, and a strained silence marked the flight home.  As usual, Jennifer was with the Lopez family aboard their shuttle.  Once he asked Hamid if his sister and Brannon were dating, the two seemed inseparable. 

          Hamid looked disgusted for a moment, and then brusquely replied, “She is the second, he is the first.  That is all.”

           Rashid tried to push the subject, but Hamid gave him an icy stare and told him, “I should be the first.”

          He had not broached the subject with his son since.

           Most of the adults in the colony seemed content to pretend that there was nothing out of the ordinary with the children, especially since the orbs had seemingly disappeared.  But Rashid and his wife knew better; they witnessed Hamid with the orbs continually, thinking himself unobserved, skipping school even to spend time ‘exercising his mind’ as the children originally called it- afterwards he would be sullen and withdrawn, inattentive, even irritable.  Always growing more irritable and impatient.  Twice he got physically ill.  Rashid and his wife did not like it, but they had little luck in convincing anyone else that they were losing control of their children.

           Rashid had never been comfortable with the children and their advanced capabilities. He loved his children of course, but he held definite ideas about relationships between children and their parents, and he definitely felt that parents should be in control.  It wasn’t that the children were ‘bad’; it’s just that he and a few others felt that their children were beyond their sphere of influence.  The events surrounding his own sister’s death drove him and his wife to the point of attempting to form a clandestine parent group to somehow regain the control over their children that some felt like they were losing. 

           Of course the children’s strange behavior surrounding his sister’s pregnancy and subsequent death were never far from his mind. The children seemingly looked forward to the birth of Sara’s child like none other; it was all any of them could be heard talking about.  And then, when the child was stillborn, they seemed genuinely shocked.  It was not something they were expecting; of course the doctors stated repeatedly that there were no problems indicated, but, still, it happened.

           Why hadn’t the children, with all their capabilities, apparent and otherwise, seen or predicted that?  It remained the one incongruency in all their actions; and of course Sara’s even more tragic suicide–the children, none of them seemed able to even grasp the concept.  In retrospect, he decided that it was something that had never been properly analyzed or discussed.  He radioed the Lopez shuttle, “Rumi to Milagro, come in please.”

           Gregor Lopez answered, “This is Milagro.  What’s on your mind, Rashid?”

           “Mr. Administrator, I think there is something we need to discuss.” 

          Lopez hated it when people called him ‘Mister Administrator’, especially Rashid.  It usually meant he wanted to sound the alarm again.  But part of being a good administrator meant listening to everyone, whether you wanted to or not.

           “We’ll discuss it at our meeting tomorrow.  Milagro out.”

           Lopez switched to autopilot, then joined his son and Jennifer al-Adsani in the rear cabin.  Jennifer played her violin as Brannon handed the ship’s computer another defeat in a game of chess.

           “I need a new chess partner,” Brannon muttered.

           “Perhaps you should design a new chess program?” his father suggested.

           Jennifer stopped her playing, “I suggested that he find something more stimulating, more challenging...”

           “I did invent wind surfing,” he retorted.

           “You discovered it in some history tapes you mean,” came her reply.

           “But I have re-defined the sport, the rules that I designed...”

           “Hmmph,” she uttered in an exaggerated fashion, “there is something bigger than Jupiter, Mr. Lopez, your son’s ego...”

           Lopez listened to the two of them spar like a couple married for fifty years.  Yes, there was caring, love even, but he was satisfied that there was no romance. 

          Advanced or not, they were still just teenagers.

           Lopez interjected, “Some of the parents are complaining about the wind surfing.  I think that that is what your father wants to talk to me about, Jennifer.”

           Brannon said, “The near accident today would’ve been Hamid’s own fault; the rules that I designed promote safe competition, Hamid is always the one taking stupid risks.”

           Jennifer stated flatly, “He is not pleased with his role.”

           Brannon swung to face her, “Yes.”

           After a moment of silence Gregor said, “Sometimes you kids speak strangely.”

           Now they both swung around to face him, and Brannon said, “I’m not sure what you mean, father.”

           “Some of the parents feel you kids communicate on a level that we can’t understand.”

           Brannon laughed, “Dad, did your parents understand you?”

           Laughing, Jennifer said, “Maybe in some ways the Earthborn will never fully understand us.”


          For Lopez the word was like a slap in the face, and for a moment he panicked with the thought flashing through his mind that perhaps he was losing his son to something he could not understand.  He calmed himself with his belief that the ties that bind parent and child can stretch halfway across the solar system.  He would not lose his son.

           “Why do you say that, Jenn?”

           Brannon answered for her, “She’s just saying that we have a different perspective, not having been born on Earth.” 

           Born on Earth.  Again, there it was, the great divide, the gulf that separated he and the rest of the colonists from their children.  It was a gulf of millions of miles, worlds of difference.

           Still, he felt a connection to his children, even if other parents couldn’t (or wouldn’t).

           Gregor said, “I wish you would share your perspective with me sometime.  Parents like to feel included in their children’s lives.”

           “Of course you will be included, father,” Brannon said.

           Gregor smiled and made a silent exit.  Settling into the pilot’s chair he watched as the shuttle skimmed over the domes of Ganymede city, glowing like jewels in the icy blue surface of the moon.  The colony had grown so much, even in just the last year and a half, new structures constantly being raised spreading all the way out to the horizon.  There were over one hundred and fifty domes now, the three largest over one thousand meters across, all interconnected by a web of transparent tubes, most of which were equipped with tram cars, several of which he could see hurrying back and forth between the domes.  There were now two lakes, Galileo and Josem, several smaller aquacultures (fish farms) and acres of hydroponics farms, and even more crops engineered specifically to grow in blue algae instead of soil.  With ore production up in the last year (as well as the discovery of some very new and very useful metals from the belt) many new plans were being drawn for the future growth of the colony.  The colonists were ‘dreaming big’ as Lopez liked to call it.  They had grown to self-sufficiency and were actually on the verge of becoming an actual metropolis in the shadow of Jupiter, even beginning to develop a distinct culture. 

          A real society, alive and growing. 

          The end of its growth was, genetically speaking, only a matter of time–but still they plunged blindly ahead, faithful that somehow things would work out.  Nothing had stopped the colony from growing, not the death of West, not the deaths of the Governor and Mack last year on Mars, not anything.

           Immediately his thoughts were filled with the images of the governor and Mackenzie.  Why did they go on to Mars, anyway? He asked himself that question for the millionth time since taking over as Chief Administrator.  As the Milagro touched down in the bay of the civil service section, he told himself that he would not let anything stop the colony’s progress, either.   But the thought that whatever it was that the governor and Mack were doing on Mars was somehow important to the colony and its survival would not lay quietly in his mind. 

          He knew of the Martian conflict of course, and he knew that ships now on the moon would very probably be soon on their way to Mars. 

          But, more importantly, would they stop at Mars? 

          Certainly they knew of the thriving colony on Ganymede.  What were they going to do with that knowledge?  There was a definite feeling of imminent danger coursing through his veins; there were just too many questions that he did not have answers to, and Gregor Lopez hated that, almost as much as he hated being Chief Administrator. 


          The nurse called from the door, “Dr. Bowman, I’m going home.  Dr. Bowman?”

           “Mmm... yes Marsha... have a good evening.”

           Her aide left her alone, absorbed by the monitor and what it implied.  For the past nine months she had been growing increasingly agitated with Dr. Garcia; his reports seemed to be nothing but trivial gossip about the people living in the belt.   He sacrificed his life for the chance to unlock the secrets of the universe, but his correspondence spoke of no progress towards that end.  She was frustrated, and angry that after making the ultimate sacrifice to pursue those ultimate answers, he seemed to be frittering his time away on that asteroid doing very little research.

           A few days ago, acting on a hunch, she asked Garcia to settle a dispute between her and a colleague, a trivia question concerning ancient Babylon.  It was the type of opportunity that Garcia lived for, the chance to demonstrate his vast knowledge of societies almost forgotten by others.

           Garcia’s last two transmissions ignored the question completely, and when pushed for a reply, he dismissed it in a manner that was completely foreign to his character.  Suddenly it seemed obvious: for the last year, she hadn’t been corresponding with Dr. Garcia at all, but rather someone in the belt posing as him.  She wasn’t sure what this meant, but she knew that it couldn’t be good for Jerome. 
She would inform Lopez at tomorrow afternoon’s meeting, but the rest of the evening would be spent studying tissue samples from the increasing number of victim of the degenerative disease that struck almost two-dozen colonists (at least two dozen known diagnosed) with fatal results so far.  It seemed to her that death surrounded her; there was no escaping it.  After forty years of practicing medicine, she found herself growing wearisome of death.  Suddenly she was nauseous and her head threatened to explode, and she decided that the tissue analysis could wait.  She decided she needed some rest.


          The proof stared him in the face; he was dying.  That was a given the moment he took off his helmet in Hanson’s ship (actually it’s always been a given, everyone dies).  But, as far as someone else was concerned, Dr. Jerome Garcia wasn’t dying fast enough.  The test results before him were conclusive in proving that he had been poisoned over the last few months.  He wondered if any of his communications were getting through to Dr. Bowman, and then he cursed himself for ignoring the obvious.  It was the truths that he was uncovering here on this asteroid that the people in the belt, or at least a disturbing number of them, wanted to bury; they were behind his poisoning, his murder.  Over the last year he had tried to unlock the secrets of the universe, or at least the solar system, and in retrospect he realized that he had been growing less popular with each new discovery.

           The proof of extra-terrestrial existence had had an alarming effect on some of the refugees, a religious fervor began sweeping over them as they formed an almost cult, proclaiming themselves the ‘Guardians of The Past’, the true chosen few; to the unconverted they were a menacing group of thugs.  Hanson was even cowed by their tactics; Garcia had lived the last six months as a virtual hermit, sneaking into the cave to work on the time capsule.

           Yes, time capsule, for that is what he determined it was. 

          What secrets it contained he had dared not imagine, but he formed a theory as to the origin of the capsule and to the origin of the asteroids.  Extrapolation on these theories introduced interesting possibilities when applied to the development of life on Earth. 

          Somehow he must try to get this information to Bowman.

           But how?  Staring out the window of his cramped living quarters, he spied Jupiter and wondered how he could communicate with Dr. Bowman without interference, so many millions of kilometers away?

           As he pondered his situation a sling launched another coffin into the belt.  Whenever one of the chosen (as they referred to themselves) died, a ceremony was held and their coffin hurled into the belt, almost as if in an offering.  All of the concepts presented by the Guardians were repulsive to Garcia, but still an idea spawned somewhere deep in his mind.

           When in Rome... he thought.  He must make a connection with Bowman, communicate his findings to her, everything depended on it.

           Humanity’s very future was at stake, as well as its past.


           Once, a long time ago on a planet far away, he had been an English teacher.  Now he was Chief Administrator of the last fifty thousand people left in the solar system; it was beginning to take its toll.  Sitting across from him were the usual suspects: Dr. Bowman, Rashid, and of course Lariby (the new military liaison).

           Lopez spoke to Lariby first, “What’s the status of the ships that landed at Luna City recently?”

           Lariby shrugged her shoulders, “No activity detected as of yet, sir.”

           “What kind of activity do you expect?” 

           She was slow and careful in framing her answer, “As Mack believed, I too suspect they’ll head to Mars.  Our data on Mars shows that one faction has seized control, but we’re not sure which one, or what their defense capabilities would be should the ships from the moon move aggressively.”

           Lopez asked, “Would we be able to help them, if we wanted to?”

           “Mackenzie thought...”

           “Sharon?” he used her first name.

           “Yes sir?’

           “I respected Mr. Mackenzie tremendously, but it’s your opinion that I need.  If I didn’t respect your opinion, I wouldn’t ask for it.  You do not need to justify your opinions by invoking Mackenzie’s.  And you can call me Gregor- try not to be so formal.  So, what do you think?”

           “I think, given the nature of the units we’re dealing with, they won’t stop at Mars.  I say stand with the Martians, on Mars.  Together, that’s our best chance of defeating them.  And better to defeat them on Mars than here; even if their ships make it to the belt, they could hide in deep sleep coming out and whacking our mining crews for decades- it’d be rock to rock combat and we just don’t the type of people necessary to carry out something like that.  We beat ‘em on Mars, or not at all.  Gregor.”

           Lopez smiled, “Good enough.  Quietly make plans to do so.  Cynthia, any progress on the degenerative disease?”

           “As of this morning, I am now a patient.”

           The room was quiet for a while until Dr. Bowman spoke again, “Someone’s been posing as Dr. Garcia and responding in his stead to our personal communiqués.”

           Lopez said, “That would explain the lack of discovery on his part over the last fourteen months.”

           Bowman said, “I’m sure Jerome has made a great deal of progress, if he’s still alive.  Something’s going on in the belt...”

           Lariby interjected, “It’s true, sir.  A lot of the ore vessel crews report strange behavior among the belt people.  They say some sort of religion, a cult, has swept through the refugee camps... something about ‘guardians past’ or some such nonsense.”

           “Religion?”  Rashid asked.

           Bowman and Lopez locked eyes for a few moments, and then Lopez slowly said, “There is evidence of extraterrestrial life in the belt.  And at one point, on Mars as well.  At this time I think we should keep the knowledge of this evidence confined to those in this room.  Agreed?”  He scanned the room, his eyes immediately finding Rashid.

           “But this could be at the heart of the problem with our children!” Rashid protested.  “There could be some sort of outside influence...”

           Lopez slammed his fist down on his desk, “My son is under no outside influence!”

           “Gentlemen,” Dr. Bowman said, “we’re all on the same team, let’s shoot for the same goal.”

           Rashid spoke, “I’m sorry... my wife and I are worried.  More than that, we’re scared and we don’t even know why.”

           Lopez tried to sound reassuring, “I’m sure you’re not alone in your feelings and concerns, my old friend.  The children seem to be connected... I mean they can communicate on a level we don’t seem to be aware of.  My wife suspects they have telepathic abilities they just haven’t seen fit to tell us about.”

           Bowman said, “We ran tests for that, but all of the children tested poorly in that regard.”

           Lopez muttered, “They could perform poorly if they wanted to.”

           No one spoke for a while, and then Lariby finally decided to assert her new found confidence, “This evidence of alien life, is it technological?”

           Lopez shrugged, “I’ve only seen images the governor sent back before his journey to Mars.”  Lopez suddenly sat straight up, staring at Lariby, “Did Mackenzie tell you anything about why they went to Mars?”

           “No sir.”

           Bowman said, “Mack wouldn’t have went unless it was vital.”

           “Why do say that, doctor?” Lopez asked.

           She was slow to answer, “What I am about to say cannot leave this room.”

           Lopez spoke for everyone, “Agreed.”

           “Sara was pregnant with Mackenzie’s child.”

           This stunned everyone, especially Rashid.

           “She would never tell me who the father was... that’s another thing... the way the children looked forward to the birth of this particular child, they way they couldn’t seem to accept the fact that it was stillborn, or Sara’s suicide...” Rashid started to rant.

           Lopez interrupted, “We still know less about what’s going on.  For now, we need to set priorities.  The military force on the moon, I consider them a threat, and an immediate one.  We need to contact the winning faction on Mars, whoever they are, and make some diplomatic overtures...”

           Lariby interrupted, “Do you think they’ll be receptive after we bombed their cloning facility?”

           Lopez replied, “Perhaps, with a space fleet on the way that can rain destruction from above... who knows?  We have to try, like you said better to fight ‘em on Mars. Rashid, at some point we need to confront our children and learn the depth of their capabilities, but I do not consider them a threat.  And with our children is where our diplomatic skills must be at their best.  But we must never forget, they are our children.  Dr. Bowman, you know I will utilize all resources to help find a cure for this new disease.  Is there anything we can do immediately, anything I can do for you personally?”

           She smiled, “I know Gregor, I know.  Everyone we have is working on it, and I’ll be okay.  My main concern at this point is still Jerome.  Whatever he has learned, whoever is posing as him doesn’t want us to know it.”

           With that Bowman and Rashid made their exits, but Lariby lagged behind.

           “Something on your mind, Lariby?”

           “I was a sniper, not really a commander.  I’ve never seen my enemy except through a scope, and I’m almost seventy.  I was thirty years retired before...”

           “Your point?”

           “You need someone who can draw up a battle plan, lead an assault...”

           Lopez laughed, “I didn’t pick you for your current position.”

           “You didn’t?”

           “No, Mack did, in a message he left for me.  He said you were level headed... and honest.  Maybe not what I was looking for but what I needed.”

           “He did?”

           “He did indeed.  Now, I believe I gave you a mission, commander.  Go carry it out.”

           She snapped to attention for the first time in a long time, saluted, and went out to carry out her mission.

           Lopez hated being saluted, but he smiled anyway and returned her salute.


          “Four hundred and three days,” Mac whispered, etching another mark in the cell wall.

           Al-Adsani whispered, “I don’t think I can last much longer.”

           Silently Mac agreed.  “Is there anything you want to tell me?” he asked as he sat down.

           The governor glanced at his daughter, Colonel Moon Park, lying silently on the floor, catching what sleep she could (they slept in shifts). 

          The governor was near death, Mac was growing increasingly frustrated, and the woman had not spoken in all that time (at least not while he’d been awake).  The governor knew it was time to let Mackenzie know as much as he possibly could; he had not been exaggerating when he said that he could not last much longer.

           Over the last four hundred days the three of them had been tortured, drugged, and questioned in a relentless cycle of brutality.  Still, none of them cracked.   Of course only the governor could actually tell them anything they wanted to know, but somehow he had endured this endless hell for over a year.

           Mackenzie never would have bet on that.

           A week ago the tortures and interrogations had stopped, and their contact with their captors minimized, and for the last two days they hadn’t even been fed and now they were running out of water.  At times they thought they could hear shelling, and they knew it must be close in order to be heard in the thin Martian atmosphere.  Obviously there was a North American faction moving in, or at least attempting to.

           “She is indeed my daughter.  I never even knew about her until years after I’d been in the senate.  A youthful indiscretion as they called it on Capitol Hill.  The CIA approached me to join the national ticket, revealing her existence to me, and the fact that her mother had actually been a Korean agent... her government knew of my political activism, my standing at the university, my preparation for a political career must’ve seemed obvious... who knows who else on Capitol Hill had arranged encounters in their youth... to get me to say yes, to accept the vice presidency.  It wasn’t something I wanted, I liked it in the senate...”

           “To say yes?”  Mack was stunned.

           “It was already too late, but some of the leaders of some of the world’s governments, including ours, realized that the multinational conglomerates were making their final power play, deals were being made on levels you can’t even imagine, behind doors that had been locked for centuries.  The future leader of the United Korean Republic, linked by blood to the vice president of the United States.  Call it a royal arrangement; it was supposed to form a bond stronger than the economic differences.  We were trying to add Korea, Viet Nam, and Thailand into the North American fold...”

           Again Mack couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “We were making deals with the Koreans?  Nothing could erase that history... thirty-thousand troops in less than an hour...”

           After spitting up a little blood, the governor continued, “Governments are like anything else, Mack, almost-organic entities that just want to survive.  The governments, and those that governed, were simply trying to survive, trying to maintain their power over the economic monsters that they themselves had nurtured into existence.  The corporations bought our government one donation at a time and then they usurped its authority by assuming its functions, after that they pretty much disposed of the governments all together, except for the window dressing on the World Council.  It was the same everywhere, just a different method... capitalism... socialism.   It didn’t matter, from behind the scenes the corporations always controlled our destinies... the seeds were planted long ago in our own industrial revolution... we were so desperate we were even making deals with India in the end.  That’s why the president didn’t send back up at the Battle of Britain.  The deal was already cut.  I had nothing to do with that decision.  I wanted you to know that, although in the final analysis it probably doesn’t matter.”
 After a while Mack finally said, “Korea, India, as allies?  Now I’ve heard it all.”

           The governor laughed, coughing up a little more blood, “No Mack, you haven’t, not quite.  That ship, you must find it and destroy it.  That was my mission here, and now it is your mission.  You cannot allow anyone to gain control of it, it must to be destroyed.”

           “Why don’t we just take it for ourselves?” 

           “No... we have to advance at our own rate.  The ship represents our destruction, on many levels...”

           “We could destroy any enemy, meet any threat...”

           “We have to find a way to unite with our enemies, it’s the only way to increase the gene pool...”

           Mackenzie scoffed, “All of them combined would only give us another generation, besides, and the diseases and the differences are too great...”

           “The Qur’an teaches that people will have differences until the end of time, that our differences, our diversity, is a part of the divine wisdom of...”

           Mack was suddenly uncomfortable, irritated even, “I never read much of the Qur’an... I spent most of my life fighting people who do...”

           The governor spoke soothingly, “We’ve all spent too much time fighting, one way or another, sadly too often because we’ve been touched by a different face of God than our neighbor.   Humans, some of us anyway, can recognize and embrace diversity amongst ourselves, but we cannot seem to see it on a divine level.  But... in spite of the differences Mr. Mackenzie, we are all inextricably intertwined with one another, connected in ways perhaps no one will ever be able to fully explain or understand.  We cannot think of only ourselves, especially now as we stand on the brink of extinction.  I cannot believe that any God would want His people to behave so selfishly.”  More coughing, causing more bleeding inside, interrupted his soliloquy, and he weakly closed his eyes for a few minutes. 

           After a long silence, Mack asked expectantly, “Will we ever stop fighting?”

           “No, not soon anyway.  In many ways, the fight is just a beginning.”

           Mack couldn’t believe what he said next, but he said it, “I’m sick of fighting.”

           The governor told him, “Your mission, Marine, is to destroy that ship, at all costs.  There is a plasticine tube containing forty grams of C6 implanted just under my rib cage, here,” he pointed, “you’re going to have to cut it out, get the hell out of here, find that ship, and destroy it.  At all costs, do you understand, sergeant?”

           Mack stared deep into the governor’s sunken face; it had been a long time since someone had addressed him as Marine, or sergeant for that matter.  He knew he couldn’t let that ship fall into the wrong hands, but he wasn’t convinced that he should destroy it.  But he had been given a mission, and he knew how vital it was to the future of the colonists (and his family) and he was going to accept it.

           “Yes sir.”

           Suddenly they could hear weapons fire down the corridor, coming closer by the second.  Moon awoke, moving to protect her father.  Although she had only known him for a few years, the fact that he was her father resonated deeply within her soul, and she idolized him since their first meeting arranged by their respective governments.   She had been born out of an attempt by her own government to extort a potential future United States politician, and although her instructors and her superiors always singled her out for ridicule (there were no secrets in their government) she overcame many obstacles to become perched on the edge of leadership of her people, just as her father did in his own political arena.  There was an instant connection between them when they met that transcended all past circumstances.

           The reason she had been imprisoned in the first place was out of loyalty to him (she’d refused to reveal who she was contacting on Ganymede). They were alike in more ways than they would have time to realize.

           Mack followed her lead, starting to put himself between the governor and the cell bars when the governor reminded him, “You should be using me to shield you...”

           And then a deathly silence fell in the corridor, the three prisoners held captive in the absence of sound. 

           Then the martial sound of military boots slapping the pavement could be heard, growing louder until they each thought the noise would deafen them. 

           Then, a face appeared on the other side of the bars, and suddenly Mackenzie started laughing.  It’s a small solar system, he thought, and through the bars he found himself shaking hands with a former colleague that he thought he had seen alive for the last time over a quarter of a century ago; Daren Walker, formerly of the Royal Space Force, now of... well, who really knew anymore? 

          The two fought many campaigns together as England and the United States (with Mexico and Canada) made their last stands in the late twenty-first century.  Finally Mack backed away and Walker shot through the lock, opening the cell.  He immediately spotted Park (but apparently he didn’t recognize her by name or position) and then after another few seconds his eyes fell on the governor, whom he did recognize, instantly, his eyes swelling with hatred and rage as his mind replayed what was now ancient history.

           Leaning down in the governor’s face, he whispered, “I know you.  Mr. Vice President.  Mister doesn’t want to send the Brits their backup.  We heard you were the voice of reason in the administration that got half our forces killed.  You look like you need medical help.  Too bad.”

           The governor didn’t answer him, and then another soldier appeared at the cell door, “Sir, the base is secure.”

           Walker snapped, “Bring her!  Come on Mack, you’re with us now.  We’ll be leaving you behind sir.  With no help on the way.  I want you to die knowing what that’s like you filthy bastard.”

           Moon said nothing as more soldiers appeared, handcuffing her, dragging her from the cell without the chance to say anything to her father.  She wanted to cry, but she couldn’t, she couldn’t afford to let them know their true relationship.  Inside her heart was exploding; outside she was cold as space.

           They left the governor to die alone when Mack heard his words echoing in his head, “... at all costs, Marine...”

           He stopped, “Walker, I’ve got a score to settle with the governor.  I can’t leave him alive.  Lend me your knife.”

           Walker smiled, “What the hell.”  He handed Mackenzie his knife, “Make it hurt, you can catch back up with us.”

           Mack disappeared back down the corridor as Walker lead his troops to base headquarters to secure and announce their final victory over the Pan-Asian alliance.  The governor had made no attempt to get out of the cell in spite of the fact that the door had been left open. 

           In fact, he hadn’t moved at all; it would have been pointless.  He was slipping away fast.

           “I knew you’d be back,” he whispered.

           Mack stood silently in the doorway, the knife at his side.

           The governor told him, “I’m already dead, Mack.  Just think of it as part of your mission, just like any other... one more thing...”

          Mack moved in closer, his voice cracked as he asked, “Yes sir?”

          “There could be another ship on Earth... it’s so irradiated now it doesn’t matter... but someday...”

          “I’ll keep that in mind, sir.”

           “Make it quick,” the governor told him, spitting up even more blood.

           Kneeling down, Mackenzie saluted his commander in chief.  “Yes sir.”

           The governor closed his eyes for the last time, smiling slightly, prayers and blood dripping from his mouth. 

          As Mack walked quickly from the cell, he carried enough weight in explosives in his tunic to destroy a mountain, not really heavy in any real sense, but the weight on his shoulders was heavier than any he had ever known.  Mackenzie never really liked the governor, but in the last months and hours of the man’s life he had grown to respect him.  And then he killed him.

           “... at all costs... Marine...”

           He always thought of the governor as a soft politician, but he decided that somewhere under that velvet exterior had beat the heart of a lion, a heart worthy of a Marine even.

           Mac would carry out his mission.  At all costs. 


           They met each other in a dream, on the icy polar plains of Ganymede, Brannon standing defiant as Hamid’s sailcart cruised towards him at breakneck speed.

           Foolishness... immature bravado... we cannot harm one another in the Mindseye, thought Brannon.

           Still, Brannon felt his pulse quicken.  The Mindseye, an unexpected expansion of the children’s telepathic abilities, was still a new frontier to him, to all of them.  Only Hamid seemed confident within the hyperphysical construct of their combined mental energies. 

           No, that’s wrong, he thought, Jennifer is confident... she just seems content to take her time... and of course Hamid is not confident, just arrogant... 

           Hamid’s cart slid to halt centimeters from Brannon, pelting him with the ice pebbles stirred up from the cart’s blades.  Hamid hopped out of the cart and stood facing Brannon in a most adversarial stance, and then he removed his helmet. 

           Brannon hesitated, reminding himself, Nothing can hurt us in the Mindseye.

           Hamid laughed at Brannon’s hesitation, “You’re a fool.  Not only do you not realize your power, you’re afraid of it.”

           He snatched the helmet from his head, “You’re the fool!  Power carries great responsibility, you are reckless...”

           Hamid snapped, “You are not my First.”

           Silence hung between them for what could have been an eternity, and in the Mindseye, in might have been.

           “You will not succeed,” was all Brannon had left to say.

           But it was Hamid who got the last word, “I already have.  Simply by defying you.”  He put his helmet back on and strapped himself back into his sailcart.  A sudden gust of ammonia wind swept him away at a high speed.  Brannon could hear him laugh until he passed over the horizon disappearing from view, and he could still hear Hamid’s wicked laughter when he awoke in his room a few moments later.  Lying there staring up at the ceiling he realized that history does indeed repeat itself; the past and the future are irrevocably connected by the present.

          Brannon realized now that his destiny was inescapable, having been charted thousands of years before he was born.


           After a few months, they anointed him into their new priesthood, such the convincing power of his conversion.  He was no longer Dr. Jerome Garcia.

           He was Father Garcia.

           He emerged from the cave one day and renounced his research, falling to his knees, bowing in the direction of the time capsule.  He told the cultists that he had had a vision while in physical contact with the capsule.  They were religious fanatics, and over the next few months he fed the self-anointed priests a steady diet of the things that they wanted to hear about the large capsule hidden in the cave of ‘their’ asteroid.  His revelations and the obvious truths they contained (Garcia fed them exactly what they wanted to hear) eventually elevated the doctor in the eyes of the cultists, and eventually, when it was obvious that he had only a week or two to live, they made him a priest.

           The entire cult, now in the hundreds, came to the asteroid for his funeral; he had been given a coffin (made from old cryogenic pods) of grand design, and slung his holy carcass into the belt with deep reverence.

           In the tiny capsule that carried his body, there was enough air for three hours, yet after two, he awoke.

           Garcia had given himself a tranquilizer to simulate death, timing the drug so that he would awaken after launch.  A slight miscalculation, and all would have been lost.  But he was Dr. Jerome Garcia; he didn’t know how to miscalculate.  Once he was fully awake he pulled several tiny tubes from the linings of his robes.  Once connected, they sent a repeating signal to the hospital computer on Ganymede.  Bowman would know he was trying to contact her.

           From hidden pockets inside the robe he pulled several data discs, laying them at his side.  These discs contained all of his research, all of his theories on the time capsule.

           Bowman had to find him; everything depended on it.

           With less than ten minutes of air left, he activated a music recording (Miles Davis, what else?) and closed his eyes forever on this existence.


           The two of them stood on the precipice of the cliff that they climbed so many times before, watching Hamid’s ship disappear into the void.

           “He took two with him,” Jennifer said.

           “I know,” Brannon replied, then, “Does your father know?”

           “No.  Hamid left a message on his computer, timed for delivery in three days.”

           “Are you going to tell him?”

           “No, but I’ll be there when he gets the message.  I’m not sure he’ll be able to take it.  Mother is stronger, still, it’ll be hard.  Maybe too hard.  There is no escaping destiny, Brannon.”

           “I know.”

           They stared until they could no longer see the orange-white blast of the ship’s engines.

           Jennifer asked playfully, “Want to run of the cliff again, for old times sake?”

           “It’s risky.  What if our packs didn’t fire?”

           She laughed, “What if?  Let’s jump off... into the Mindseye...”

           He swallowed hard, “I’m afraid.”

           “I know.” 

           She took his hand, but still, he hesitated.  Deep inside he felt that if he took this step, something would be severed.  He looked at Jennifer, her smile radiating even through her helmet’s visor, and made his decision. 

          The two of them ran and jumped off of the edge of the cliff and started to tumble head over heels, still hand in hand for hundreds of meters, and then they... disappeared.

           Watching, spying, through his scope as he always did, Rashid blinked, readjusted the scope, and then desperately searched for the children.  But he did it in vain, for they could not be sighted anywhere along the long face of the cliff.  After what seemed forever, he decided that they must have jumped off the other side.  He must have been mistaken; the scope must have been off.

           That had to be it.

           Still, a sense of loss resonated within him.


           It shocked Miranda to hear the other children cry as they buried the soldiers in the soft dirt of Earth’s moon.  None of them cried when they buried their parents, she doubted any of them cried when they had murdered their parents, either.

           It had to be done, they were dying anyway, and the provisions were low, she still struggled with rationalizing it all.

           Perhaps these tears they shed today are for their parents, she offered in the silent conversation inside her head.

           At fourteen years of age, Miranda Carlisle experienced a vision.  Her vision led to the demise of all of the adult refugees in Luna City, which served as preparation for her to lead the children in a surprise assault on the soldiers that landed just a few days ago.  The men and women of the ships still resting on the lunar plain were over confident to begin with, but when they found only children their overconfidence gave in to cockiness, which gave way to tactical errors.  The looks on their faces as they met death showed even more surprise than the faces of their betrayed parents.  With the most primitive of booby traps (the design of which were revealed to Miranda in subsequent visions) the children virtually annihilated one of the most elite fighting groups the planet Earth had ever produced.

           Would my death stop my visions? Miranda asked herself. 

          She tried to tell herself that she missed the way things used to be, even though the memories seemed so distant, on Earth before her family came here to the moon.  It was her mother’s position with the Canadian government that granted them access to a private shuttle that allowed her family to escape the holocaust that was taking place.  The former lunar colonists, now safe and prospering amid the moons of Jupiter, left little in the way of supplies, the supplies that their parents had mistakenly counted on to be here.  Life among the refugees grew brutal before her first vision.

          In a way, the Jovians, as they now like to be called, are to blame for our current predicament, she told herself.  But she knew that there was no way that she could blame her visions on the Jovians or her actions against the adult refugees, not that she hadn’t tried.

           Over their heads, Earth, a swirling mélange of deadly gray and black clouds sweeping across the planet’s surface with the sad rhythms of Armageddon rose into the perpetual night sky–as the children finished their grisly task of burying the soldiers.  Ever since her parents first brought her here, she felt detached and isolated, and the deathly dull glow of a ravaged planet hanging in the sky above only reinforced her alienation.  Now, after her recent actions its presence in the dark heavens seemed only to send a chill through her bones, reminding her every second of what she, and the rest of the human race, had lost.

           Miranda noticed that Joshua, her little brother (only seven years old) had ripped a patch and some medals from the uniform of one of the soldiers and now wore them as proud trophies, smiling as he kicked moon dust over the graves of the soldiers. 

          The youngest child in the group, Mandy Melcher, cautiously approached Miranda.

           “Is someone going to come and save us?” Mandy asked.


           “Who, Miranda, who?”

           “His name is... Hamid.”

           Miranda knew nothing of Hamid, but his name had been revealed to her in a vision.  She did not necessarily think that the children needed saving, as Mandy put it, but she knew that that was what Hamid was coming for.

           Miranda hated the visions. 

          She hated the orb.

           Surely she would hate Hamid.

           When the visions had first started and the orb first appeared to her, she felt connected for the first time to something greater than herself since coming to the moon with her family.  But it seemed that the visions had consumed her, setting her on an irreversible path.  With the rising body count, Miranda began to wonder if that something that she had connected with would swallow her whole.


copyright 2005 Daniel C. Smith.

Daniel C. Smith:
In the arena of speculative fiction, I have over thirty short stories and poems either published or awaiting publication with various small press and semi-professional magazines, both print and web, including Bare Bone, Hadrosaur Tales, Not One of Us, Revelation, The Leading Edge, The Martian Wave and Scifakuest.  

In addition, I have published more 'mainstream' poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in such venues as Inscape, Liquid Ohio, MindFireRenewed, and The SiNK.

You may contact Daniel C. Smith at chstop1@netzero.com