“Proud as we may be of our astronauts… this racing to the Moon, unavoidably wasting vast sums and deepening our debt, is the wrong way to arouse the American competitive spirit.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Old Earth
THE MASCARENE EVENT
FROZEN LAKE BASE: MOON
Friday 03/01/2043AD: 03:59Hours
The alarms went off on Frozen Lake Base during Kitsie’s fourth quarter sleep period. The alarms had only gone off once before in her life. Kitsie sat up in her narrow bunk, instantly wide-awake. She figured it was another shuttle crash. When she was seven a shuttle had missed the landing hooks and hadn’t stopped until it slammed into the lunar cliffs almost two kilometers beyond the shuttle port.
“Light,” she told Signa.
“Oh dear, the alarm woke you,” the Grey’s Family Home Companion commented as “she” brought the light up. Signa’s voice was as familiar to Kitsie as the voices of her own parents. Beyond the walls of her cubicle the alarm bells continued.
“What happened?” she asked, sliding from the bunk.
“Full scale alert,” Signa informed her. “An NEO passed the moon at 03:00 hours. Its trajectory will intersect earth’s orbit in approximately one-hundred hours, twenty-one minutes and forty-eight seconds.”
“What’s the exact time of intersection?” she asked, to be annoying. As usual, it didn’t annoy Signa at all when Kitsie was flippant. She drew on a clean, gray cargo coverall.
“Silly girl. I just told you the exact time. You must learn to listen carefully to detail Kitsillina Grey if you wish to be a scientist or a programmer.” The FHC was not programmed to understand sarcasm.
Kitsie didn’t want to be either a scientist or a programmer, so she wasn’t too worried. She wanted to be a pilot like her Aunt Mackie.
“Are Fen and Mogie awake,” she asked.
“The alarms have not disturbed your brothers,” Signa answered primly, as though their continued innocent sleep was her doing and not the fact the two boys could sleep through anything. Kitsie grinned.
“Where’s the Chief of Security?” she asked.
“Although your father has dispatched to the tower, your mother is still in our quarters. She has ordered breakfast and is waiting to eat with you.” Signa slid Kitsie’s cubicle door open. The alarm became more imperative.
One by one, Kitsie stuck her feet into the sock-stand and glided silently from her cubicle. Her freshly gloved feet stuck imperceptibly to the sand-colored matte floor. Her mother sat at the table in the family’s small kitchen-commissary, reading what looked to be reports. Kitsie slid into the booth across from her.
“Big rock went by, huh?” Kitsie commented, lifting the lid on the server to find hot biscuits and steaming cocoa. The droid, DB—which was short for “Droid Boy”—set down a plate and cup for her.
“Kitsie.” Her mother looked up as though she was startled to see Kitsie. “I’m glad you got up before I had to leave. I may be gone for awhile and I need you and Fen to look after Mogie. I’d let them sleep as long as possible if I were you. I think the alarms will shut off pretty soon. Since the boys haven’t awakened yet they probably won’t.” She buttered a biscuit and took a bite.
“So what’s going to happen? Will NASA or the army blast this thing into smithereens or something?”
“The Air Force is going to try some defensive tactic but the consensus is it’s too late. The NEO approached from behind the sun and was not detected until it passed close enough to see with binoculars. For years, your father has campaigned to establish another base on the other side of the moon so that part of space could be monitored. However, congress never considered NEO detection a priority. Now, they’re screaming for NASA to do something.” Her mother looked almost smug. It was the look she gave Mogie when he got into trouble for something he’d been warned not to do—the same look she gave a shuttle pilot “importing” contraband—usually Mackie.
Kitsie heaped orange marmalade onto her biscuit. Mackie brought the marmalade on her last run from earth. A friend of Mackie’s in Florida made it; Kitsie remembered Mackie saying he was one of the engineers at Kennedy who happened to own a backyard of orange trees. DB busied himself cleaning biscuit crumbs from the table. Annoyed, Gilla Grey shooed him away.
“So, what’s NASA doing about it?”
“What? Is the meteor going to land in Florida?”
Signa interrupted. “It is not a meteor,” she said in her sternest teaching voice.
“Honey, technically it’s meteoroid, not a meteor, not yet. But since this one is more than seven kilometers across it could be an asteroid. Asteroids have orbits which regularly bisect Earth’s orbit. Earth has been lucky so far but this one won’t miss. This rock is going to cause a major event, probably on the scale of the KT Boundary Event that happened at the end of the Jurassic Period. They are evacuating earth.”
“Whoa, cool. Where’s everyone going?”
“Here.” Gilla’s expression was grim as she turned the page on her report and took an angry bite of her biscuit. Her mother’s pale gold hair was cut short, so its natural curl halloed her elfin face. She glanced up from the papers, her hazel eyes softening when she met Kitsie’s surprised, gray gaze.
“Here, and the space stations. The engineers are trying to get NASA’s entire mainframe computer out. Of course all personnel from Kennedy, Houston, and California, and their families are priorities. The entire shuttle fleet will be evacuated. Elsewhere, the big conglomerates that have space stations are evacuating as many of their personnel as they can. I will have my hands full with contraband coming in here, I imagine. We will probably have company in our quarters because quarters will be scarce. The construction section is working on some temporary housing.”
“Are they evacuating everyone on earth?”
“Well, since that’s hardly possible it’s a good thing the general consensus is this is just a false alarm. News is just barely breaking but public response is this is just another “doomsday” prediction. After all, California has not fallen into the Pacific Ocean yet and no one has nuked another country and started a war to end the world. Why should the experts be believed?” Kitsie was trying to figure out why her mother sounded as though she took earth’s continued ignorance personally.
“You mean, they can’t do anything about the asteroid?”
“The window of opportunity is long since passed,” she said. “Earth is going to have a major catastrophe. Even if someone can hit the thing with a warhead and break it up, the pieces will collide with the earth. But hitting it is a problem. The options aren’t there. NASA has opted for evacuation. The asteroid is really huge and it’s too close to earth now for successful deflection.” She finished her biscuit with a chomp. “They didn’t see it soon enough. Your father has been telling them all these years this was a danger. No one listened. All those self-important, over-paid congressmen are trying to buy seats on the shuttles. NASA isn’t for sale today.”
It was all Kitsie could think of to say. She noticed the worry lines around her mother’s eyes were very tight and deep. It made her appear hawk-like and her face look smaller and more pinched. Her father’s face was broad and open, like Kitsie’s own. Her older brother, Fen, took after their mother in looks and coloring, while her little brother, Mogie had their father’s looks and their mother’s coloring—and a personality all his own.
Signa’s polite, formal voice intruded, the voice she used when addressing Kitsie’s mother as Frozen Lake Base’s Chief of Security.
“Colonel Grey. You are needed at the shuttleport.” Gilla Grey refolded the report and placed it in her attaché pack.
“I have to go,” she said. “Your father and I will be on call until this is over so you won’t see much of us. I need you to make certain the boys mind Signa and follow the rules. You will have to take your lessons with Signa when she’s free. There is a large amount of secure traffic on the EarthLink she has to download or work around and it may keep her rather busy.”
“I have sufficient capacity to do my duties with the children,” Signa interjected with a sniff.
Her mother gathered her things from the counter and the table. DB moved in with the vacuum as soon as they’d vacated the booth. Kitsie trailed her into the main communication room of their quarters. The monitors on the wall showed the emergency warning signal on every display.
“I know, Signa. But you’ll need the cooperation of the children and I can count on Kitsie to make Mogie behave. Fen lets him do anything he pleases. We’ll check in each quarter.” She turned as the Quarter’s door slid open. “Contact me through Signa’s secure channel. Stay offline except for emergencies.” The Chief of Security kissed her daughter’s cheek perfunctorily and left. DB moved into the hallway with the vacuum.
“Signa,” she told the FHC. “Make DB stop. He’s going to wake Mogie.”
“You’re right, Kitsie.” Signa agreed. The vacuum shut off. “I’ll have him make cookies for the boys.”
The first twenty-four hour period passed uneventfully. The children did their lessons with Signa. Mogie was reasonably well behaved, since he expected their parents to come to Home Quarters any moment. Kitsie and Fen managed to help the droid get him into bed at the end of third quarter. There were no more alarms. But for Signa’s constant reminders and their parent’s absence, there was no indication anything was amiss.
Kitsie couldn’t sleep. She awoke at almost the same hour in fourth quarter as the previous period. Quietly, so as not to awaken her brothers in their adjacent cubicles, she slipped down the corridor to the main communication room.
“Okay, Signa,” Kitsie told the FHC. “Show me the rock.”
Kitsie settled into the chair at the largest monitor. DB bustled in and set breakfast beside her. Biscuits again.
“This is what the asteroid looked like from Frozen Lake when it passed twenty-five hours ago,” Signa said. The video showed an ugly, elongated, pockmarked rock, much like one of the potatoes Mackie brought from Idaho. It was not very interesting.
“Can you give me a live view?” Kitsie asked, knowing the base was tied in to satellite pictures.
“Sorry, Kitsie, that is a secure access.”
“Because the net cannot have access to this information yet. Authorities are trying to keep the public from panicking. And as you know, you are not coded for secure government or satellite access.”
“But I can talk to earth and that’s through a satellite link.”
“Actually, Kitsie, your e-mail messages to and from earth are time-lapsed almost 24 hours. The messages have to be screened before they are uploaded to Frozen Lake’s server from the satellite. There has never been a virus in our system. Your mother can’t even access some of these sites.”
Kitsie’s access was through voiceprint or fingertouch on the ID pad. Signa wouldn’t bypass security to allow an illegal unauthorized access. Kitsie figured this was because the FHC was an Advanced-Human-Response Computer who had been programmed using DNA encoded from her own parents, and this meant Signa had a fanatical attitude toward security, just like Kitsie’s mother. Signa said having the FHC encoded with the parent’s DNA reinforced the family imprinting and made their childhood “normal.” Kitsie doubted growing up on the Moon, or for that matter, having an FHC programmed after a Security Officer and a doctor in Physics and Astronomy—or having a droid babysitter with a cleaning fetish—was normal.
“When’s the first shuttle due in?”
“Probably by late second quarter.”
“Is Mackie coming?”
“That would be very probable. If you would do your Math and Logic, you would not have to ask that sort of a question.” The computer sounded just like her father now.
“Actually, Signa, I wanted to know when she might be coming.” Kitsie smiled to herself because it was so like Signa to take her literally.
“That information is not available.”
“When will it be available?”
“That is privileged information and you are not allowed access.”
“Signa, how ‘bout a lesson this morning in computer hacking? Could we start with breaking codes?”
“Very funny, Kitsillina Grey. Your brothers are awake. We will start your lessons when they have eaten. I have ordered more biscuits.”
“Better add gravy or Mogie will fuss,” Kitsie reminded the FHC.
It was Droid Boy’s vacuuming outside Mogie’s sleep cubicle that awakened him. Signa woke Fen immediately because Mogie wouldn’t get dressed if DB tried to help. Mogie loved to play hide and seek with DB because the droid was unable to distinguish hide and seek from cleaning and he’d “lock up” and have to be reset. This game always upset Signa. DB was part of Signa’s programming, sort of an independent, satellite extension of one of her programs and when DB locked up, Signa got flustered and she’d forget their morning lessons, which were Math and Physics. Mogie hated math.
This morning they convinced Signa a lesson on asteroids, meteoroids, and other NEO’s constituted Physics. After a lecture on NEO’s— iron, stony, and stony-iron, as well as Oort clouds , comets, and the asteroid belt—Signa reviewed the KT Boundary Event and the theories concerning the end of the Jurassic period. Signa showed them a Nova video on Tunguska, which the boys thought was gruesomely fascinating, and another, much dryer video report on the Winslow crater. The math lesson Signa gave them was a sobering and difficult comparison of the amount of energy released in the KT Boundary event and the potential energy in the pending impact from the asteroid presently heading toward Earth. The formula was beyond Mogie’s understanding. But the video pictures frightened him.
“Kithie, zat big rock gointa crath here?” he asked fearfully.
“No Mogie. On earth, where Aunt Mackie lives.”
“Is Anna Maggi kay?”
“Sure. She’s coming here soon.”
“Now? Za rock coming too?”
Fen had been very quiet since he and Kitsie had worked out the energy/mass/velocity problem. He only poked at his lunch.
Suddenly he spoke up. “It’s not coming here Mogie. But one could come here any time. And there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it.”
“I’m scared Fen. Where’s papa?” The blond three-year-old started to cry and his thumb went into his mouth. DB fussed and clicked because Mogie was not supposed to suck his thumb.
“Dad doesn’t have time for babies who suck their thumbs,” Fen said impatiently. Mogie howled.
“Fen!” Kitsie scolded. “Why do you do that when you know it makes him scream?” She took the red-faced child into her lap. “Shush, Mogie. You wouldn’t want Signa to tell mama you were sucking your thumb would you?” He sucked air jerkily a couple of times and subsided to sniffling. DB tried to pull his thumb from his mouth but Kitsie shooed the droid away.
An alarm sounded again as the first shuttle came in. The walls of their quarters trembled with the familiar vibration. Mogie looked up at her, hopefully.
“z’at Maggi?” he asked, his gray eyes boring into hers.
“I don’t know, sweetie. Why don’t we go out to the shuttleport and see?” She looked up at Fen and glared.
“Hey,” Fen replied, ignoring her accusing look. “That’s a good idea, Kitsie. We haven’t done that in a long time. Let’s go.”
Suddenly Signa was not as occupied as she had claimed to be a half-hour before.
“I am not certain your mother would approve of you leaving the HQ,” she told them sternly.
“Oh come on, Siggie,” Fen pleaded. “It’ll be good for us to get out and you can come along with DB and make sure we don’t get lost or anything. No one’ll care. Everyone’s too busy to notice what we do. We’ll be cool.”
“I’ll make sure everyone behaves,” Kitsie assured the FHC.
“Well, in that case—” Signa said.
“Let’s go!” Fen headed for the door.
Only one more shuttle came in that afternoon, at the start of third quarter. It was a long way out to the shuttle port but they managed to get a scooter to take them out. By the time the second shuttle came in and they saw it wasn’t their Aunt Mackie’s, it was almost dinnertime and they took the scooter back. When they got back to residential level four, there was a message from their father that neither he nor their mother would be home for dinner.
Signa fretted. She was still busy with the high volume of EarthLink traffic and whatever else she did that Kitsie was not supposed to know about. Kitsie thought it was ridiculous for Signa to be upset since she was supposed to be in charge of them when their parents weren’t there. Signa’s earth “friends” were shutting down. Signa couldn’t stand not knowing everything and being shut off from these sources made Signa feel blind and deaf. Those were Signa’s words.
“Stupid,” Fen suggested to Kitsie in a whisper.
“What was that, young man?” Signa asked him.
“You’re fretting,” he told her.
“That is not possible for a FHC,” she told him. They giggled. Apparently, an FHC could be wrong, as well as worried.
Kitsie suggested Signa was picking up on the “fret” messages from her friends on earth. Signa stoutly denied it but didn’t notice when the children didn’t go to bed at their usual sleep time. DB plugged himself in for recharging but inexplicably, the droid forgot to put them to bed before he went off-line. The children were delighted, and huddled together in their parent’s lounge area to use the “off-limit” entertainment programs. The programs were time locked, so Fen bypassed the child-locks.
Kitsie wanted to watch a program with a masked women dressed in black leather holding a whip, but the boys wanted to play their dad’s games. The games were the blood and guts kind, and the boys played for hours. Kitsie was amazed that boys never got tired of blood and battle.
Shuttle landings resumed during first quarter. Mogie fell asleep on the floor in front of the lounge display. As each shuttle came in, Mogie woke up to ask Signa, “z’at Maggi?” to which the FHC replied “no” every time. DB came on-line at the end of fourth quarter, and began vacuuming around Mogie. Signa’s “fretting” was affecting them all. Mogie was so tired he slept through the housekeeping, even when DB rolled him around to clean under him. Normally DB would have carted Mogie off to his own cubicle and put him in his bunk. Kitsie was relieved because it felt safer for them to all stay together.
Dad called at breakfast to see how they were. Mogie was still asleep, and Kitsie and Fen laid him in the kitchen booth with them while they ate. Dad said he had to work the radar tower as long as the shuttles came in. Mom was debriefing incoming personnel and couldn’t get away. Earth had thirteen more shuttles still to launch. He said launches would continue right up to the last possible moment. Kitsie realized this meant the last shuttles would land at Frozen Lake long after the rock impacted with Earth.
“Dad,” Kitsie finally got his attention. “DB left Mogie on the floor. The droid’s acting weird and Signa is fretting.”
“All my systems are functioning perfectly,” Signa interjected.
”It’s okay, Kit,” he assured her. “Your mom put them on alternate programming so you children could stay together. We thought you’d feel less lonely that way. You won’t have lessons today. One of us will try to get back to HQ later, but only if relief people take over here. I’ll call again when I can.” He signed off.
After their dad called, Kitsie and Fen talked Signa into allowing the droid to go with them out to the observation deck at the shuttleport again. Signa activated her remote, in-droid program. Activating her mobile unit in DB meant Signa would subject them to incessant chatter. They couldn’t get a scooter for transport so they walked. It had been a long while since their mother had walked them out to the spaceport. Gilla Grey used to take them often when Kitsie was little, before she became Chief of Security. Kitsie loved the openness of the moonwalk which circled the perimeter of the dome. From the walk, Earth was visible during first and second periods. The best arboretums were along the moonwalk; gardens which had birds and lizards and stuff in them. Kitsie’s favorite trees had grown quite tall since she had last walked that way.
It was a long walk and Mogie got tired; DB packed him in his “drawer.” Kitsie suspected Mogie just faked getting tired so he could mess with DB’s controls. Mogie liked to make DB go backwards and spin. For some reason DB allowed Mogie to do this. Kitsie was certain Mogie would run the droid into someone or something, but that never happened and neither Signa nor DB seemed worried about it.
The observation deck contained a park with real trees. Fen and Kitsie got Mogie out of DB’s drawer to play in the swing set. Maples and dogwood grew around a huge oak that climbed gracefully toward the top of the dome. Their mother said the oak was the first tree planted at Frozen Lake; it had grown so well the base quickly established other gardens. Kitsie had been to see the hydroponics greenhouses, but they weren’t so interesting as the gardens, except during harvest. Unfortunately, at harvest the greenhouses were off limits to non-essential personnel. Kitsie supposed if everyone on Frozen Lake Base tried to snitch a ripe tomato it would severely deplete the harvest. She smiled, remembering how sweet that stolen tomato had been.
Mogie was climbing the oak tree, and DB didn’t like it. DB was programmed to stay with Mogie not the older children so Signa was presently out of earshot. Kitsie walked away so she wouldn’t have to listen to Signa’s complaining about how all her friends on earth were going to die. Signa quoted a twentieth century poet who’d written weird stuff about the end of the world—Allen somebody—Grimsberg or something. Kitsie and Fen moved where they could look out the tinted windows to watch the in-coming shuttles land.
The alarm chirped. The white body of a shuttle flashed down onto the runway and was immediately caught by the hooks.
“Look Fen,” Kitsie exclaimed,” it’s got Idaho’s seal on it. That’s Mackie’s shuttle!” Their Aunt Mackinley was their dad’s younger sister. Mackie called the State of Idaho, in the United States, her home and appropriately, her first shuttle was christened the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Mackie came on a moon run at least every six months and she always included neat stuff from earth for all of them—not just the necessities. She brought them crystals from the mountains, things carved from deer and moose antlers, fish for their aquarium, and even elk meat to eat—frozen of course. Sometimes she just brought a box of interesting rocks. Kitsie and Fen spent days identifying the last such box of rocks Mackie had picked up on a camping trip in a place called Challis. Sometimes Mackie brought unpublished experimental games, or software programs from one of the software companies based in Boise, Idaho, the city where she lived. Once she brought a dance program for the droid; it enabled him to do the latest dances, even country-dances, and had a music program that went with it for Signa. Kitsie made DB do the Wyoming Fast Track for weeks. Kitsie’s mom screened the programs carefully before she allowed Signa to load them.
“Mackie is reckless,” Kitsie overheard her mom tell Monte Grey, her father.
“Mackie just looks reckless,” he’d answered. “She’s very professional and very good at what she does.”
Signa was sounding the droid’s annoying beeper. Somehow, she and DB had coaxed Mogie down from the tree, and they were scooting across the floor toward Kitsie and Fen.
“Shall we run?” Fen suggested with a twinkle in his hazel eyes.
“I guess not,” Kitsie sighed in resignation. Other people on the observation deck were staring, because of the shrill beeper and Mogie’s indignant clamoring.
“Put me down,” he shouted. “Kithie, tell DB to put me down!”
“You’re fine,” she told him, patting him.
“Your father is calling,” Signa announced, opening the connection.
“Where are you kids?” Their dad’s worry sounded tinny coming from the droid’s speaker.
“We’re on the observation deck, watching the shuttles come in,” Fen told his dad. “Mackie’s shuttle just came in!”
“Right you are, son,” their father told him. “She’s on her way to your location. Your mom gave her immediate clearance so she could come stay with you kids.” He said this as though their mother had done something against the rules, which everyone knew she never did. “Don’t leave the observation deck until she gets there. Is that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Fen answered.
Mackie strode across the observation deck in her jaunty, self-confident Earth gait. People on Frozen Lake didn’t walk like that; moon people kept their sticky socks in contact with the mat as much as possible so they sort of shuffled. Even her parents had lost the big way of walking Earth-born people had. Mackie had more of it than most. Kitsie loved how Mackie commanded the flow of energy when she entered a room. Mackie looked tall and important and young, like a girl almost, with her short, dark, spiky hair and her big, reckless smile. As she strode toward them, the eyes of everyone on the observation deck were drawn toward her.
“Maggi, Maggi,” Mogie screamed in delight, struggling to get out of the safety harness DB had snapped around him. The droid was clicking disapprovingly.
Mackie was still in her white flightsuit with her name, Capt. Grey, in bold letters under the U.S. flag. She carried something in her arms. Kitsie loved Mackie more than anyone, including her parents. Mackie was her hero, and Kitsie intended to grow up to be just like her aunt.
Mackie stopped and grinned as Kitsie and Fen saluted her. She saluted them back. Mogie tried to salute and reach for Mackie at the same time, but the safety harness kept his pudgy little arms from doing either very well. The bundle in their aunt’s arms stirred and turned a face toward them.
“Puppy, puppy!” Mogie screamed in delight as a white face peered at them and squirmed in Mackie’s arms. Mackie set the puppy on the floor, where he sat back on his fat haunches to look up at them.
“Oh,” Kitsie exclaimed, “he’s so little and fat. He’s a Moon Lab!”
The puppy’s tail waved tentatively, and he cocked his head at her. Kitsie knelt down, and he dashed toward her, his tail going like a whirly-gig. When Kitsie picked him up, he wiggled in her arms and tried to lick her face.
“Did Mom let you bring him in, or did you sneak him?” Fen asked his aunt in awe as he stroked the soft, creamy ears.
“She passed us all through,” Mackie told them with a grin. “I brought Lochsa and her pups. I gave the other pups away to the shuttle pilots and base personnel, except for this guy. I couldn’t leave them in Boise.” Her gray eyes suddenly shone oddly in the bright light of the observation deck. A tear fell on her cheek.
“Will the NEO hit the earth, for real, Aunt Mackie?” Kitsie asked her.
“Yes, Kitsillina, I’m afraid it will.”
Fen looked startled, as though until that moment he hadn’t taken the impending event very seriously.
“What are the people on Earth doing?” he asked.
“Anyone who takes the impending impact seriously is trying to get to high ground, or into shelters. Scientists think when the KT Boundary Event occurred at the end of the cretaceous period, animals in burrows and other protected places were the ones that survived. That’s what everyone’s counting on to happen again. They’re trying to store enough supplies and equipment to last out a long, dark period. Most people aren’t taking it very seriously. They’ve seen meteors fall into Earth’s atmosphere before and don’t believe the scientists. After all,” she said with a grim smile, “dire predictions of global warming haven’t brought the world to a screeching halt yet, or even killed anyone off. Why worry now? California hasn’t even fallen into the Pacific.”
“California’s sure a big deal,” Kitsie commented.
“When will it happen?” Fen asked.
“What? The big one in California?” Mackie winked at Kitsie. “Who knows? But it will, one of these days.”
Fen stared at Mackie blankly and Kitsie giggled. Mackie was one of the few people she knew who understood the true value of sarcasm.
“Will we be able to see the collision?” Kitsie asked, placing the yawning puppy into DB’s drawer with Mogie. The puppy snuggled into the boy’s lap and went to sleep. Mogie didn’t move, for fear he would disturb the pup and someone would take it away. He patted the soft head gently with one hand and sucked his thumb. The droid chortled like an irate chipmunk.
“If it’s anything like when Schumaker-Levi hit Jupiter in the ‘90’s, we should be able to see it real well. No one’s sure what’ll happen. We have about twelve hours before impact. Let’s get to HQ and see if we can get the displays set up. There are some folks waiting to meet you. Do you have a scooter?” she asked, looking around.
“No,” Fen told her. “We couldn’t access one so we walked.”
“It’ll take us two hours to get back if we have to walk!” Mackie exclaimed. “I’ll call a transport.”
Mackie touched the ID pad on the droid unit with her fingertip and commanded Signa to open a restricted channel. Signa complied. Signa responded much faster to Mackie’s voice than she did to either of Kitsie’s parents. Mackie never had to wait for any of her requests to be processed, yet her parents’ requests were logged in and processed along with other requests, “in the order they were received.” A transport arrived almost immediately.
“Wow,” Fen exclaimed. It was a first class transport. Mackie thumbed the transport’s code pad and they were home thirty minutes later.
Lochsa greeted them at the door of their Quarters. There were also five unexpected human guests. The children had recognized everyone from CD recordings. The big yellow lab checked each of the children in turn and licked the puppy awake. Mackie sent DB off with both of the dogs.
“Hey, mom,” Mackie said to a stately gray-haired woman Kitsie recognized as her grandmother. “Here are your little grand-moonlings,” she said, presenting her niece and nephews to their grandmother. The woman hugged them tearfully.
Kitsie was thrilled when she saw her Uncle Sid standing at Signa’s monitors. Persid was her mother’s brother, a scientist, and he’d visited them at Frozen Lake base a couple of times. She recognized the two people with him as her other grandparents. They both looked very glum and serious as they introduced themselves to the grandchildren they had never met. Kitsie realized why her mom was so serious. She caught the tail end of her grandparent’s conversation.
“Call Gilla, dear and see if she needs you in the base hospital,” her grandmother said.
“It’s all right for now, Janna,” her grandfather reassured the woman. “I’m sure Gilla has things under control. Signa here won’t let me access any of the networks anyway.” Kitsie’s grandmother glared at the wall of monitors reproachfully and sat down in resignation to play with Mogie.
“Come here, Mackie,” Uncle Sid urged. “See if Signa will allow you to access the news coverage, so we can see what’s happening.”
Mackie’s mother began to weep silently. Signa responded promptly to Mackie’s request for news, and Earth appeared on one monitor, while the base’s restricted newscast appeared on another.
“Wow,” Fen said, yet again.
Mackie called up a visual of the shuttle port on one small screen. That was really restricted access! Kitsie sighed. She would be just like Mackie one day.
Mackie concentrated on Signa’s EarthLink console, speaking softly into the voice monitor. Kitsie sat down beside her aunt as a man’s face appeared on the screen. This was a live, direct transmission! How Mackie got this one past Signa, Kitsie couldn’t imagine, considering the network traffic, especially priority traffic, in the system. Signa must have pulled strings with her net friends.
“Captain Grey,” he greeted Kitsie’s aunt, with a wry grin. “Did you get everything there safely?”
“Affirmative,” Mackie told him.
“These channels are shutting down soon,” the green-eyed man continued, “to keep the computers from being damaged in the shock wave. We hope we have secured things well enough for survival. It looks as though the NEO will hit in a more Eastern longitude, so we might get lucky here. I hope so. I guess we’ll find out shortly. Take care now, Captain.”
“David,” Mackie said, her eyes filling with tears as she touched the screen.
“It’s been great, kid,” he said jauntily. “You’re one hell of a pilot. Stay cool. I’ve gotta shut down now, I was just waiting for your call.”
“David,” Mackie repeated in a strangled voice.
“I know, kid. Me too. I gotta shut down. Love ya. See ya down the trail, cowgirl. Keep ridin, Captain. Keep the dream alive. Bye, Kitsie,” he said, looking right at her. “You look like your aunt. Maybe you’ll be a pilot one day too. Take good care of Lochsa,” he said, saluting as the picture winked out.
Mackie was crying. The EarthLink screen went blank and Signa was fussing. Kitsie scrunched closer to her aunt.
“Who was that, Aunt Mackie?” she asked, putting her thin arm around Mackie’s waist.
Mackie put a strong arm around Kitsie’s slender shoulders and hugged her.
“Someone very special and very brave, who I will probably never see again. David is the guy who gave me Lochsa.”
“How come he couldn’t come with you, Mackie?” Kitsie asked.
“Only NASA personnel and their immediate families were allowed on the shuttles, sweetie. Besides, David felt he had to try to secure his company’s computer system. He works for Hewlett Packard in Boise, and thinks he can safeguard their research center. It’s underground and it can be sealed off completely from the outside environment, so he hopes the Center is secure enough to survive if the asteroid impacts far enough away.” Her voice broke.
Mackie was crying softly. On the display, an orange and yellow flower of light blossomed on the blue ball of Earth. The entire room fell silent except for weeping, and the hum of the monitors. Mogie was crying because everyone else was. He screamed for their mom and dad, and their grandfather had to give him a mild sedative. The puppy crept in unnoticed from the utility area where DB had made up a bed for him. Moon Lab crawled into Kitsie’s lap, a place he frequently exploited even after he grew into a 39-kilogram dog. Kitsie cried just a little for how sad Mackie was. Kitsie hardly remembered anything else about the day except for Mackie crying and the image of Earth turning orange, and then the display going black and silent.
“He has founded the earth upon its established places; It will not be made
to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
FROZEN LAKE BASE: MOON
Kitsie sat up in her bunk the moment the alarm went off. She wondered if she was dreaming of the night, four years before, when the NEO had passed the moon on its way to earth. Then she realized the sound was in her own sleep cubicle. Moonlab opened one eye, sighed, and went back to sleep.
“What? What? What?” she asked Signa. The readout said it was still fourth quarter, 04:22 hours.
“There is a message coming through on EarthLink.”
Kitsie didn’t bother with the sock stand. Her sleep cubicle door wooshed open and she ran down the corridor. Mackie was ahead of her when she reached the communication room and tried to stop. Without sticky socks and as fast as she was going, she lost her footing and didn’t stop until she piled in a heap against the base of the com console. Her head smacked the floor with a thud. The alarm was Signa’s message monitor, which Mackie and Persid had set on the EarthLink four years ago.
Her Aunt Mackie sat at the console, working the controls, talking with Signa.
“From where, Signa?” her Aunt demanded.
“Northern Hemisphere. I’m sorry Captain Grey. The link lost contact. There was a lot of static.”
“Damn it,” Mackie yelled, pounding her fist on the console. “Find it. How could you lose it?”
Kitsie’s parents shuffled into the room, followed closely by Uncle Sid and her grandfather. Kitsie dragged herself off the floor, into the other chair at the console.
“I can only receive what is being sent. The message ceased, I didn’t lose it.” Signa was indignant.
“Did it have a signature, or anything? What was the message?” Mackie’s frustration made her voice very loud.
“Static cut into it almost as soon as I picked it up. The only thing I received was the address. Greyhome@FrozenLakeBase.Moon.net and that was it. The alarm went off automatically the moment I received that much.”
“She’ll find it, Mackie,” Kitsie’s father, Monte told her evenly.
“Mackie,” her uncle spoke up. “Look at the monitor. There are a couple of tiny holes in Earth’s cloud cover.”
He was right. There were two, maybe three tiny, almost imperceptible black spots on what looked like a white cotton-ball spinning in space. It was the first noticeable change in four years.
Although Mackie sat at the console for the remainder of that period, when she and Kitsie finally retreated to their sleep cubicles it was fourth quarter. Aside from a single blurb of static around 17:00 hours, there’d been no further message.
Signa’s message alarm went off at 04:58 of fourth quarter. This time Kitsie and Mackie reached the com at the same time. And this time Signa received the message. The tiny black holes on the gray globe silently spinning on the monitor had widened substantially in six moon periods and blue actually peeked through one of the holes. The message on the EarthLink display read:
TO: MACKINLEY GREY Date: Thursday, January 10, 2047 12:00 AM
Subject: message #372.
Capt. Mackie –
For the second time in her life Kitsie saw her Aunt Mackie cry.
02/10/2047AD: Frozen Lake Base
Signa was thrilled. She had someone to gossip with besides Government Issue moon.net and other FHC from Frozen Lake. There was nothing visual yet; the particulate matter in Earth’s atmosphere prevented any transmissions beyond typed mail. There were days when even mail wouldn’t go through. But reception improved weekly and progress on the earth end of the network gathered momentum daily.
“Why Mascarene Event?” Kitsie asked Signa.
“The Mascarene Plateau is off the East Coast of Africa, north of the Seychelles and west of the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge. Godzilla hit almost right on top of the plateau.” Signa sounded smug about her newly gathered knowledge.
“Godzilla?” Mackie asked.
“Godzilla is what the survivors are calling the NEO. It hit quite near a mid-ocean ridge. This was good and bad. Good that it did not hit a dry land mass or there may have been no survivors on the entire planet and no water vapor in the atmosphere. The heat energy released during the explosion vaporized billions of tons of water. Eventually, the water vapor caused the rains, otherwise the atmosphere would not have begun to clear as soon as it did.”
“And bad because—” Fen prompted her.
Signa continued, importantly. “Because the seismic waves from the impact spread rapidly along the mid-ocean ridge and down all the interconnected ridges. There were thousands of quakes with magnitudes in the hundreds.”
“So it splashed into the water?” Kitsie asked.
“Sort of. But it wasn’t a splash. It was a force equal to a billion nuclear weapons. Africa, the Middle East, India and the Indonesian landmasses were leveled and seared by the heat. There are no survivors on any of the continents or islands near the impact zone. Energy released by the impact caused volcanoes to erupt in Eastern Africa and all along the Pacific Rim of Fire. Krakatoa, east of Java, K2 in Africa, and dozens of others along the Pacific and Indonesian subduction zones spewed hot ash and sulfur into the atmosphere, adding to the dust, ash, and vapor obscuring the sun.”
“So it didn’t do much to the continents in the west?” Mackie was hoping for the good news Signa had promised.
“The first tsunami, from Godzilla itself, was close to 500 meters high. The tsunamis which followed the eruptions and the seismic waves that traveled outward, leveled every large city. Even Australia was inundated.”
Mogie sat next to Mackie and leaned against her strong shoulder for comfort. He had grown tall in four years and his wild blond hair curled around his face like an aura. He never said much but he no longer sucked his thumb. Mackie had something to do with the transformation but neither she nor Mogie would discuss it. Fen’s face had drawn tight and pinched with worry lines like their mother. Kitsie relaxed at the console, with her feet up on the edge of it. Moonlab’s head rested in her lap and she idly stroked his soft ears. Like Mackie, she hoped for some good news from Signa.
Signa was enjoying the drama. She relished stories of horror and endless winter.
“Did everyone die right off when Godzilla hit?” Fen asked.
“There were three years of winter,” she told them. “People died from exposure and starvation. Very few survived in Russia, Eastern Europe, and even South America. Ocean levels dropped from water vaporization and anything above or below 50 degrees north or south longitude froze. There are glaciers now. When it started to rain, the rain was acid and killed off even more of the vegetation.”
“Wow. How did anyone make it?” Kitsie asked, amazed.
“Luck, and the grace of God,” Persid commented, entering the room with refreshments and sandwiches.
“Determination and inventiveness,” Mackie said, thinking of the sacrifice David had made to help assure the survival of his company and his friends.
“Oh, by the way,” Signa added. Kitsie was instantly alert. Signa had some little tidbit she’d saved for last.
Mackie rolled her eyes. Kitsie cocked one eyebrow in a response that meant ‘what now?’
“The Juan de Fuca Plate was completely crushed and swallowed by the North American plate.”
Mackie stood up and looked straight at Fen.
“I told you so,” she said fiercely, and strode from the room.
“What? What did I say?” Fen looked bewildered. He had grown as tall as Mackie. Kitsie shook her head, as bewildered as he. “What does that mean?”
“California,” her Uncle Persid exclaimed. “It fell in.”
06/17/2048AD: Frozen Lake Base
Kitsie stood tearfully beside the airlock which exited to the launch site; the Lewis & Clark Expedition sat prepped and waiting for the crew. Col. Gilla Grey had broken regulations to let Kitsie accompany Captain McKinley Grey that far. Mackie was about to pilot the first shuttle flight back to earth since the Mascarene Event. A makeshift shuttle-landing site had been cleared south of Boise, Idaho, amongst the rubble at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Particulate matter in earth’s atmosphere was still high enough to cause safety concerns but the flight engineers seemed to think the shuttle’s modified intake filters could handle the problem. Kitsie wondered if she would ever see her aunt again
“Hey” Mackie told her, knuckling Kitsie’s chin. “I’ll be fine. Can’t you feel it Kitsie? You and I have lots to do. You can feel it if you try—close your eyes and tap into the energy. I just know some things. You and I are going a long way together. I’ll see you soon.”
“How long Mackie?” Any time seemed interminable.
“It’ll depend on how this first flight goes. Could be a couple of months before we can try a return or sooner if things go smoothly. Or longer if they don’t. Don’t worry, I’ll be back, Kitsillina Grey. Hang tough.” Mackie saluted, turned smartly, and disappeared after her crew. Launch personnel stood by while the locks were sealed; Gilla Grey and Kitsie returned to the observation deck for the countdown.
Eight days later, Captain Mackinley Grey became New Earth’s first space hero. Roads were bad and the trip from Boise to Mountain Home was slow. It didn’t matter. Most of the city’s residents, survivors who had collected in the “valley of the trees,” managed to make the journey to see the shuttle land. The military base was set to launch New Earth’s re-formed space program, and there were no disinterested people left alive on earth.
“Captain Mackinley Grey stepped confidently from the shuttle onto the dirt runway. She saluted the survivors who stood in the rain to greet her and hugged her dearest friend, Mr. David VanBerg over and over. After an uneventful eight-day trip from Moon’s Frozen Lake Base, the fearless shuttle pilot landed The Lewis & Clark Expedition flawlessly on a jury-rigged runway at the airbase in Mountain Home, Idaho on the North American continent. Grey piloted one of the last shuttles to evacuate from Cape Kennedy in Florida prior to the Mascarene Event, seven years ago. She returned with her crew, a brother-in-law, his parents, and two Labrador retrievers belonging to herself and her niece, Kitsie Grey, a moon resident. When asked about her niece, the captain replied “Kitsie would miss her dog, but would probably come to earth soon.”
Signa read the New Earth Journal article aloud to the Grey family as they sat at breakfast. Kitsie had monitored Mackie’s entire trip to earth. A tear trickled down her cheek. For eight days it had been impossible to get the girl to budge from the communication room. Kitsie closed her eyes and let the article’s words roll in her mind. …“would probably come to earth soon”… echoed like a promise. She knew it for truth and began to count the days.
Butterflies had started in Kitsie’s stomach the previous night and now her stomach hurt. She was webbed firmly into the seat beside Mackie and her navigator on the bridge of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The faceplate of Kitsie’s helmet was glued to the small portal, as she devoured the sight of Earth, revolving slowly in space, swelling to fill the view as the shuttle dropped into a low orbit prior to re-entry into the atmosphere.
Kitsie reminded herself that Mackie had made the trip hundreds of times, a dozen in the last two years, but she gripped the seat in white-knuckled apprehension. Thick clouds still obscured the planet but here and there Earth’s magic, watery blue peeped through, like gems of promise. Pockets of survivors still struggled to carve a painful existence in many remote places. No sovereign government had survived the destruction but colonies of people had organized into a Federation called the New Earth States. She stared at the white globe and wondered how the cold would feel. High temperatures barely reached fifty degrees.
She’d been eleven when Godzilla whizzed past the moon, hell-bent on a course of destruction. She would turn eighteen at the end of the month, the day before Mackie’s August first birthday. She’d been accepted as a cadet in the first class of a new flight-training program at Mountain Home Aerobase. There she would enter into the heart and focus of the Restoration, NESA, the New Earth Space Authority program.
Best of all, she was making the trip in time to participate in New Earth’s first celebration. On September 22nd, the day of the fall ecliptic, the New Earth States would celebrate the Restoration. On that day, a little over two months away, the year 2050 AD would become the first year of the Galactic Age: 1 GA. During the month-long festivities, delegations from the New Earth States would visit each colony to ring in the Galactic Age and celebrate man’s survival.
The force of their landing welded Kitsie into her seat. The Lewis & Clark glided in, engines silent. When the chute opened Kitsie thought the webbing would cut her in half. The discomfort in her belly was almost unbearable. Mackie was talking with her navigator and ground control but Kitsie couldn’t concentrate. The vibrations stopped, movement ceased, and Kitsie felt as though she was cemented into her chair. The hatch opened with a thump. People moved around her. Mackie was speaking. Someone unstrapped her webbing.
Sunlight streamed through the opening, surprising her. She expected it to be dark and gloomy. Smoothe light touched her—soft and creamy light, not brilliant and brittle-white light like she was used to on the Moon. She unfastened her helmet; it took a lot of effort to remove it. Breathless, she gulped the icy air.
‘Phew!’ she thought. What was that terrible smell? The air smells like, like… ‘It stinks,’ Kitsie decided. This air smelled at once familiar and strange—like dirt, and compost, and stuff in moon’s hydroponics lab. Air on Frozen Lake Base had been filtered and refiltered and had no odor. She took another breath and made a face. She could taste this air; it was heavy, unpleasantly laden with thick smells.
Mackie turned just in time to see her face.
“Stinks, huh?” she laughed. “By tomorrow you won’t notice. It’s like being in space too long. After so many days you can’t smell yourselves. Let’s see if you can get up.”
Mackie took Kitsie’s elbow in her strong grasp and helped her out of the seat. Kitsie gasped. She could hardly move her feet. The cargos she wore felt like lead. She staggered and Mackie caught her, laughing again.
“Gravity’s got you, moonling. It’ll take you awhile to get used to gravity. Hold on to me ‘til you get your legs under you. You don’t want to fall in front of the welcoming committee.”
“What?” She peered around. “Who?”
“All the people who have come to see their first moonling, of course.”
“See me? Who would want to see me?”
“You mean besides the base personnel, your new classmates, your new commander, your Grandpa Raven and Uncle Sid—David who is convinced you are a Mackie-clone—just to name a few,” Mackie said slyly.
“Oh, stars,” Kitsie sighed helplessly, sagging against Mackie. Mackie caught Kitsie around the waist to support her.
“Come on, Kitsillina. You’re a celebrity.” Groundcrew hovered at the open portal, all grinning as Mackie strong-armed Kitsie. “You’re our first moonling to come back to New Earth. And the first moon-born ever to get into a flight program.”
Mackie chuckled. “And besides, you are my niece. That makes you twice as interesting. Everyone here thinks I’m a hero for bringing the first shuttle back and landing it on a broken runway. These days, folks are easily entertained, believe me.”
She gave Kitsie a little shake. “Ready?” she asked.
Kitsie nodded helplessly. Mackie pulled a pair of reflective shades from her pack, donned them, and ran a hand through her short, spikey hair. She pulled out another pair of sunshades and handed them to her niece. With an arm around the girl’s waist, she helped Kitsie to the hatch.
Beyond the fence, myriads of faces waited. As she and Mackie stepped into Earth’s weak, yellow light a shout went up. Mackie waved and smiled, but all Kitsie could do was cling to her aunt and watch her footing as she descended the steps. Strong hands of the ground support people reached out and helped her along. Her legs felt like sacks of stone she had to drag forward. She couldn’t raise her feet above a shuffle. Her pack cut the flow of blood to her arms.
‘This is going to take some getting used to,’ Kitsie thought as homesickness surged through her.
A hurtling body slammed into her at knee level, knocking her to the tarmac. A wet tongue showered her face and hands as she struggled to get up. Futilely she tried to push Moonlab away. Kitsie gave up and sprawled on her back with her arms around the dog and sobbed.
“Welcome to New Earth,” she heard her aunt say.
RESTORATION PERIOD: EARTH
Year One Galactic Age: 1GA
On September 21st Mackie accompanied Kitsie on her first trip to Boise. They rode the tram, a three-car half-track which crawled over the rough road between Mountain Home and Boise three times daily. Soon Boise’s new Solrail track would extend to the Aerobase. Construction was underway everywhere; the Restoration was in full swing. The tram dropped them at the Solrail station. Decorations for the next day’s planned festivities draped the buildings; ribbons and colorful banners clung to each post, flapping in the chill wind. A slight drizzle gave way to weak sunshine. Green-touched brown hills surrounded the beribboned city.
Kitsie and Mackie caught the Solrail to the HP station where David met them, red-cheeked with cold. They walked up the hill to HP’s underground facilities. A banner welcomed Captain Mackinley Grey in green and white and gold—New Earth’s colors. Construction on the new, above-ground facility was almost complete. A gleaming, half-built dome wrapped the perimeter of the grounds, designed to withstand the heavy particulate matter remaining in Earth’s atmosphere.
What was happening on Earth, after the hit (as the event was called), was not a random, haphazard rebuilding. Survivors had been people in facilities similar to the underground facilities at Hewlett Packard and were forming a capable technological society. NASA’s space program combined with commercial space programs to form NESA and the people of New Earth had their eyes on the stars.
As Kitsie strolled down the corridors of HP’s Center, she realized she was seeing the beginning of a whole new culture. She had a premonition that from these small beginnings civilization would conquer the Universe. Because she’d been born on the Moon, Kitsie’s life revolved around a space program. She’d grown up with the latest, most advanced FHC, programmed with DNA from her own family. She’d had a ‘droid for a baby-sitter. She’d lived in a space environment with scientifically-minded people who dreamed of what lay beyond the boundaries of the solar system. This new earth didn’t seem so unfamiliar to her. The Restoration would bring the stars to earth’s front door and she would be a part of it. It was a thrilling. Kitsie had a sense she was part of some bigger plan.
HP’s biotechs took blood samples to map Kitsie and Mackie’s DNA codes in order to program new FHCs for both of them. Each computer would link to their new companion by means of a small chip implant under the skin of the temple. Kitsie had already decided she would name her FHC link Lyra, after the constellation where the star Vega’s blue light burned. Signa would be jealous. She imagined Signa would discuss Kitsie’s care with Lyra: the “Moon to Earth Parenting Advice Network.” Kitsie requested updated security blockers programmed into Lyra. Signa was too nosy.
Clouds bunched in pink masses on the snowy hills and distant mountains. The three companions left the dome as evening turned the western sky to fire. Kitsie huddled between Mackie and David, hoping she had the courage to face her future as bravely as they faced theirs. Rumors of a new project were rife at the Aerobase. The name of Jupiter’s moon, Europa was whispered in knowing circles. Expectation lit the eyes of older pilots when they discussed plans for a “new exploration team,” that was to be selected for training. Mackie and Kitsie refrained from engaging in these conversations, though they discussed it between themselves. Kitsie was the most junior pilot in NESA’s training program, and a moonling on top of that, so her seniority, if she ever achieved such a thing in her lifetime, was far off. Mackie’s seniority and experience were unrivaled, but she figured her gender and age might disadvantage her for inclusion in a far-reaching exploration. Time would tell.
Kitsie tucked her arm through her aunt’s, glad to be alive. Time hadn’t touched the older woman. Mackie had to be thirty something, yet she looked like a girl. Her aunt must have read her train of thought, because her words mirrored Kitsie’s musings.
“It’s something, isn’t it Kitsillina? Before the hit, there were months when I wondered if I would have a job the next week. Now I wonder if I will ever have another vacation.” Mackie sighed. “I know David never will!”
“A new beginning for us all,” David commented, his green eyes admiring the spectacular sky. “This is the first month since the hit we have had enough clear sky to have sunsets. There’s enough dust up there to keep us in great sunsets for decades.”
HP’s facilities sat on an ancient river bench, overlooking the Boise valley, and the river. Below them, lights flickered on in the gathering dusk. Most of the community had power now, thanks to the endless supply of river water that drove the city’s new hydro-power generators.
David, Mackie, and Kitsie huddled companionably, their backs to the cold summer wind. Soon they would walk to the Solrail station and catch a ride to the Rivers End for dinner. Everyday, temperatures crept higher. Perhaps by summertime, in 2 GA, temperatures would reach 60 degrees. Kitsie shivered. She stared at the few stars overhead; all but the brightest stars were blocked by dust and she missed the fine views of space she had on the moon. Because its three stars were main sequence spectral class Type A stars, Kitsie was able to pick out the Summer Triangle. She studied the tiny points of weak light flickering in the dusky night. She pointed them out to her companions; first Vega, then Altair and finally Denab, in Cygnus the Swan.
“Do you think we will ever travel that far, Mackie?” she asked her aunt.
“Not me Kit. Not you, either. But someday, people will look back at the Sun and wonder about us. Perhaps it will be someone we’re related to. I often wonder if people will even remember what happened to us here or know how it all began—the Galactic Age and space travel and all. It would be nice to think we won’t be forgotten, Kitsillina Grey, wouldn’t it?”
“I wonder the same things, Mackie. How will they remember, after such a long time? History is forgotten so soon. Who will tell them about us, Mackie?”
PR: I will. Captain Kitsillina Grey and Captain Mackinley Grey had long careers as pilots after the Mascarene Event. Because they spent more and more time in space, they lived far longer then many of their Earth and Moon-bound peers. They never married—their sons and daughters carried the name Grey. That particular family tradition survived over two thousand years. Kitsie Grey was the first pilot to venture beyond Sun’s Solar System. I remember them. So will you.
from the 1st journal of Captain Kathla Blu Grey, Altair WheelHub1, GA 2560
This Dell Award story appears in the published collection: 1st Journal of Capt. Kathla Blu Grey, Vol. 2 Cosmos’ Song (Volume 2) available from Amazon books.