Nobody said my job was easy. Planetary technicians often did the grunt work for the empyreal engineers. And our boss was not going be pleased with our progress, especially considering the walk-through was scheduled for next week.
The folks over in Andromeda weren’t having any luck either, but no one really gave a rip about Andromeda. It was all about the Earth. And the moon.
“Did you at least get the oceans right?”
“Uh, yeah, I think so. You wanted ‘em all over, right? I dug out some trenches like you said, and topped it off with some volcanoes for variety.”
I was particularly proud of the volcanoes. We used to do mock-ups in school, but to finally have them full-size and functional was quite something.
“Well, we’ve gotta get that moon straightened out.”
We quickly collected the debris and put it all into the big dipper.
“Are you sure we HAVE to have a moon? Why can’t we just pull Mars in a little closer?”
“Boss-man wants to add another planet and use Mars for its moon, so no. We can’t use Mars, idiot.”
“Fine. We’ll fix the damn moon then. I don’t understand the big deal, anyway. This would work so much easier if we just used a couple smaller moons instead of one big one. The physics involved would be far simpler.”
“You were supposed to be the best planetary technician in your class. This moon should be an easy challenge for you.”
Yeah, but the moons I’m used to dealing with weren’t quite this big, proportionally anyway. This one was like, one-fourth the size of the planet.
Well, I helped the engineer piece it all back together, and then came up with an idea.
“Why don’t we smack it down with some asteroids? Cratering will help stabilize it and keep it more intact.”
The engineer considered this for a moment, studying the contours of the lunar surface with his hands.
“Okay, go grab some asteroids. While you’re doing that, I need to check on some of your mountain ranges. I think you got a little carried away on some of them.”
I’d forgotten how much fun it could be, smashing the moon with space debris. The explosions and intermittent shockwaves were brilliant! Once I was finished, I polished it off by sticking it in the sun for a few minutes, and it was ready to go! No way it was going to blow this time around!
A week later the walk-through went on schedule, and we got pretty good marks for our work. Nothing perfect, but as they say, it was good enough for now. I mean, it was for the humans, after all. How perfect did it have to be?
He waited, trembling, for them to call his name. He didn’t want Princess Poodypop to make fun of him.
And, of course, laughter ensued. Hahahaha. “John!” Seriously, what kind of name is that?? Stupid parents!
“Here!” He slumped his head in shame. “Frap! Every single time!!!”
What he did not notice, however, was Princess Poodypop’s delightful gaze as she snookered over and sat next to him.
“I like your name. It’s sooo… cute!” She placed her hand on his shoulder, causing his heart to leap wildly from his chest.
First day at the Atlantian Underwater Moon Academy, and he had already made his mark!
“Um, I like your name too, Princess Poppycock.” He turned ghastly white and winced as if shot by five harpoons. “Poodypop! I meant Poodypop!”
She laughed so forcefully her perfectly tailored red locks flopped over her radiant face. “You are soooo cute!!!”
Confidence restored, he wiped the sweat from his face and relaxed.
After classes, John accompanied the Princess along the Lunar Mare Tunnel, which ran the length of the sea floor, offering picturesque views of moonfish and the dreaded dragonfish of Tranquility Bay.
“So, how long have you been living here underwater on the moon?” Whew, he did it. An ENTIRE sentence! No gaffes! “Smooth, John, smooth!” he thought.
“Um, only a year or so, underwater. But I’ve lived on the moon for several years.”
“I’m originally from Mars,” he shrugged apologetically.
“Don’t worry,” she assured him, “I’m not one of those anti-Mars girls!”
Whew. Good. “Mars is too red,” he paused, and smacked himself in the head. “Frap. Not that there’s anything wrong with red, ‘cause your hair is red…”
“You are SO SILLY!” And with that, Princess Poodypop kissed him right on the lips. Overwhelmed with emotions surging through his body uncontrollably, he fainted.
When he awoke minutes later, her blurry face morphed into the picture of pristine beauty. His heart pounded as though it would smack her in the face any moment.
“I love you, Poppycock,” were the words that escaped his lips, and his brain, before he could do anything to stop them.
She blushed and laughed hysterically. “You are SOOOO SILLY!!!” And once again, a peck on the lips.
At that moment, he realized… he FINALLY had his first Atlantian girlfriend! He instantly conjured up visions of sailing the lunar mares together and deep-mare diving; riding the moonfish side-by-side and holding on tightly as they bucked twenty feet into the air and crashed back into the waves. Why, they could grab a sail barge and circumnavigate the moon, serenaded by a Jovian Chorus, solar wind in their hair….
Nothing else from that moment on mattered anymore. Not the Moon Wars. Not the scary dragonfish or moon dragons which hid in the craters. All he could think about was that SMILE and those lovely locks of red! Oh, and dimples!
John Pickypuss and Pricess Poodypop. Prince and Princess of the Moon. Forever and ever and ever!
An upwelling of energy surged along the red terrain. Lightning flashed across the sky, unleashing voluminous bursts of thunder echoing endlessly, wave after wave of rumble and reverberation. The ground swayed and quaked in rhythm to the rumble.
Particles of dust funneled into clouds of electrostatic matter, whipping charged streams of plasma into bolts of lightning. The roar was deafening. Hundreds of men huddled in the safety of cargo pods and waited for it to end.
Vagaries of weather entreated them to draconian examples of Martian nature. Though endlessly hostile, Mars was a better fate than death; than being imprisoned after losing the Moon Wars.
They still had weapons, men willing to fight, fuel, and the most advanced spaceships ever built. And they vowed revenge.
“Atlantians, prepare for battle! Future generations will long remember us, the Princes of Mars, and carry our fight beyond the stars! Atlantians! To your ships!”
At the center there are monsters, invisible, beyond the reach of everything, where light becomes dark. Hypocycloidal shapes surround the surface, along the edges of a chase that never ends. The pursuit pays a price, but a price at what cost, and to what possible end? How much is this one worth? Or that one?
“The hate of men will pass when dictators die and we possess their power.”
The power of the masses, flowing into form, a single power-mass far flung into the center where the monsters roam in shadow.
“Relax. Let it flow. You are the creator.”
“Is this real? Or just a ride?”
“Whatever you think it is, you can change it anytime. Don‘t be afraid.”
I hold my finger to the moon. I fix my gaze until the finger disappears. The ground begins to quake. Vertical potential surpasses downward pull, and I begin to fly.