Jun. 17th, 2011

Hekatora fires the attitude jets one more time, and our roll corrects itself. Hekatora comes from Tantafel, home of Merxis the Prophet, so everybody else in the space program has their doubts about her. The queer Merxian religion that has so overtaken that quadrant of the Wheel basically says that only the knowledge set in stone by Merxis himself is given unto us by the Divine Spirit, and all else is heresy. Naturally, a member of the astronaut corps hailing from Tantafel is seen as having an anti-science bent. However, Hekatora and I have been training together for five years, and I know her to be a conscientious and dedicated engineer and scientist. I would, and do, trust her with my life.

Hekatora's voice crackles over the audio link. "I have the Oculus coming up fast," she says. "Intercept in two minutes. You better get ready with the Leash."

"It's too early to fire," I object. "I'll shoot it in a minute."

"Okay, but if you miss, we're up here another seven hours," says Hekatora. "Don't do that to a girl. You know I have big plans." Hekatora's getting married. Their ceremony will be held in the barren quadrant of Barratura. When Mateo the Murderer painted that quadrant's spire with a crude uranium matrix, he had no way of knowing that it's the spires that keep the Veils from blanketing the entire land. It was only two hundred years ago that Scuronauts penetrated the blackness that covered that quadrant and cleaned off the spire well enough for the disruptor effects to subside. Life has been steady returning, transplanted from other quadrants; there are a few communities but it's mostly wide open spaces – just the thing for a girl like Hekatora.

"All right, don’t rush a fellow," I say. I'm standing outside the capsule in my voidsuit, my boots hooked into cleats, holding the net-launcher. We're two hundred miles above the surface of Tulu – my home village is almost directly below us – in a slow counter-sun orbit. The Oculus, meanwhile, is a high-speed satellite whizzing by much faster than we're going. Our goal is to tether it, match velocities, and then reenter into Lake Llapala. Then we can reacquire the precious cargo of the Oculus – images taken of the Apocalypse – and figure out how to stop it.

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We have an open-bomb law in this town. It's the best law ever. Everybody is friendly. Everybody is respectful. There's no violent crime. I know my family is safe.

The other day I got in a fender-bender with Pauly. We were both upset and tempers flared. But there was no fighting, certainly no weapons. Pauly and I kept it cool. We had to.

It works when everybody has a bomb. It's wired to our medulla oblangatas. The second we die, the neutron bomb goes off. Goodbye town, families, everybody.

A mutually destructive society is a polite society.

Buckle up, everybody.

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September 2012

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