Hammersmith. Chapter Nine. (James)

“What is going on?” James had entered into Cavern Base.
Sirens wailed and lights flashed. The radiation alarm was going off. The whole place was in a uproar.
“Huh? Anyone?”
A woman in a Space Force uniform ran past him and said “The field generator is down. The whole solar farm has been taken out by some really heavy particles. The kind of stuff that kills in minutes.”
She stopped. “Hey have you had a DEA shower yet?”
“No, shit! I will go do it now.”
“Thanks. Get to the rec room and the base commander will debrief there. Everyone going to be given things to do. We are lucky we have the backup plant here.”
James walked to the decontamination and emergency action showers. If he had been irradiated, it would be too late. But the shower would help stop him spreading any radiation around. It took a matter of seconds and felt like being tickled and then licked by the biggest, hairiest dog you’d ever hope to encounter. It wasn’t so much unpleasant as odd.
He then walked to the tissue tester. It would tell him if he had been given a dose of radiation big enough to kill him. He would have copped some of it, just how much this machine would say.
The reading was lower than he thought, only enough to take a few years off the end of his life. Hmmm. Must have spent more time getting out of the suit and so on than I thought. Or the radiation cloud was just so randomly disperse. Who knows? A space climatologist would be able to tell him, but James wasn’t sure he was that keen to know. He was going to live for now, that is was what mattered.

James started to walk toward the rec room. Every small base had one. Only the actual colonies had more than the usual facilities. It was much easier that way. Anyone could work their way round a base in the dark, or emergency, or whatever and know exactly where every button, every switch, every bit that let humans live for a bit longer when something big happened. Not that it happened often. It was actually happening now.
The procedure was pretty simple. Everyone was automatically considered Space Force Recruits. Anyone who went into non colony space had to pass the training. From then on even civilians like James had rights as a junior in the force, but they also had to follow orders from the nearest commander of the Space Force. The base commander in this case.

As James walked toward the recreation room he thought about this base.
Cavern bade had been built near the old Apollo 15 landing site, near the Mountains into the side of a cliff face. It would be joined with the Apenninus Space Force Bass, Copernicus City, Apollo Base and Archimedes City to the Lunar Tram whenever they finished building the dammed thing. The Tram also joined to Lambert City in the Lambert creator that then went on to Selene Space Port. Apenninus Space Force Base was were all his stuff would be as that was were he was based, building the military and exploration shelters. The Space Force was a mixture of both roles. It worked in the same way a clock with two opposing gears work, half as well as it should.

James laughed at himself for that little joke, knowing that thankfully his lover Andre would still be at the Apenninus Base. This made this less complex for the moment. No need to deal with Andre wanting something longer term than James did, or him hooking up with Andre just for fun.

The Recreation Room was full of mostly Space Force Science Corp people. It was the main population in Cavern base. The minerals here were interesting and had been keeping teams of geologists happy as pigs in regolith for years. There was also the view from the tower on the left side of the base. Every Space Force base had a quirk, and at Caverns, it was the view. The cliff face was on Mons Hadley and the base built into the mountain. This was a fairly effective way of keeping the radiation out, but it kept the heat in. One of your biggest issues in space wasn’t the cold, it was the hot. Lots of people and machines in cooped up spaces generated plenty of heat. Some you could recycle in generators, but most you had to radiate away, or in an emergency heat situation vent. So all bases and lunar colonies had a vent tower, or towers. The upshot of this was that some got a nice big view of the moons surroundings from the top. In most bases and lunar colonies this was a perk of just the technicians who got to maintain it. In Cavern base though just below tower was a big area above the area they would eventually turn into a colony, if enough people wanted to move to the moon. That meant you could see the view from the recreation room screens. Even though it wasn’t on the tower itself. The tower was a good kilometer above the main base and other than access tunnels, lifts and stair, they were separated by tones of Lunar rock ready to be carved into a colony if this place was needed as one. In the lunar world, the deeper you are the more expensive it is. Of course the whole place was safe from radiation. The tower itself was shut off except for the cameras and monitors and communications systems.

James looked through the biggest of the display screens from here. Mare Imbirum was below him from this screen. A small crack that looked like a river (actually a old lava flow), then a few smaller hills near the Apenninus Base, to the left vast Mare Imbruim, to the right more of the same then just visible the service booths and tiny unmanned service stations above the lunar tram line before more the Apenninus range. On the other side Mare Vaporum, and Marco Polo, and the streaked white areas of Sinus Aestuum with the Rays of Copernicus near, finally peaks near the Eratosthenes creator were just visible.

“Beautiful.” James muttered t himself. “Even with just a billion types of grey or white or black you can be such a lovely goddess.”

Hammersmith. Chapter 8. (Darren) (Viss)

“I am Viss. The psychologist. You are Darren Verne?”
“Yeah. I suppose you could come in.”
Darren watched as Viss walked into the house and sat down on a nearby seat and Arline got them both cups of tea. The first session seemed to be over in a matter of minutes. He just described to Viss his love for his wife. The loss he felt. And Viss said some really strange things.
“It’s ok to feel bad.”
“I understand how you can feel it’s your fault.”
“I’m sure you would have made the same decision.”
“It’s ok to feel angry. You don’t need to justify yourself to me. Your wanting to know why fate decided to choose you to live.”
It was at that point that Darren felt weirdest. “How can you know how this feels? Knowing one thing or another might make it so your wife was alive today?”
“I can’t.”
Darren just blinked at Viss. She wasn’t that unattractive but at the same time she wore a black woman’s suit and high heels. They made her seem formal but still approachable. He knew she would have a military background. People with his clearance didn’t get the civilian shrinks. She had dark hair and her skin was the color of slightly melted chocolate. She spoke with a slight Australian accent and seemed the sort of person who has had a life which some may called tough and others call wizened.
“You lost someone?”
“Of course.” She said plainly. “Let me show you what we often do when we grieve.”
This was the fist time Darren had seen her pick up a pen. Her had was suddenly blue. Like the blue of someone’s eyes. It was robotic. That was different. Though he had seen cyber wear before, it had never been so seamlessly integrated. It always seemed clunky or somehow not quite the same shade as the the skin of the wearer. This was different. Darren found himself wondering how expensive it was, and what else it could do.
She drew a small diagram on the tech pad with the pen. It was a series of triangles.
“This is our usual life. We have these things that we use to make it work. Some people have more energy, the units of energy we will call spoons for now.”
She drew some circles on the other side of the epic of paper.
“These are the spoons. If your like most people you have one spoon per feeling and one spoon per action you can take every day. Say you use five spoons by lunch. You then have five more to get through the day. So you take a longer lunch and get a bit of a spoon back. Then by the end of the day your at home and you use the last of you spoon just before you sleep.”
Darren wasn’t sure where this was going but he noticed the hand was now red. Weird. It changes color for some things.
“Ok now we suddenly loose someone or something or something changes in our lives. We loose spoons. Zap.”
Her hand glowed and then three of the spoons just disappeared.
“Also it costs you more to do every task. Zap.”
Her hand glowed again. Each of the triangles got bigger, the spoons got smaller.
“You go through a big change and you suddenly realize none of what you did before works. Your trying to do all of these things. You spend your spoons before you know what you need them for.”
“Right?”
Darren blinked. She was right. He’d been spending all his spoons trying vainly to do a whole bunch of things. The thing he needed to spend spoons on… Mourning for his wife. Just seemed like all those things that led to it, and afterwards were just as important. He’d spend all his spoons trying to deal with all of them. All of the time.
“So I should just focus on one emotion? One task? Not the whole thing?”
“Yes. You can’t deal with it all at once. It’s like trying to tackle the big test tomorrow on a single fact you’ve memorized. You can’t be expected to pass or even have the energy to get to the first question!”
Darren was suddenly saying goodbye and thinking about going to bed and waking up tomorrow and trying to just deal with one thing. Then maybe these others might start getting smaller.
He also thought that robot hand was pretty cool. And the tech pad.

Hammersmith chapter 7. (Egy, Crow)

Panel 0: Red Clan Base, Jupiter Asteroid Belt
Panel 1: Red Clan Case, Jupiter Asteroid Belt
Panel 2:
Egy: (off panel) Crow, Wait!
Crow: (annoyed, carrying a book and hot drink) WHAT
Panel 3:
Egy: The Captain *ahem* (nervous)
The captain sent me?
Crow: For what reason? Or just to annoy me?
Egy: Initiation?
Crow: Oh. You have been with us that long now? Well then. I have the book.
Panel 4:
Egy: The book? The captain didn’t mention any reading…. wheres the catch, I suppose.
Crow: Shhh. This is the history of the clans. You know their are 6 pirate clans? Well this book tells you the history of the all.
Panel 5:
Crow (off panel): It also contains what you will have to endure for the initiation ceremony
Panel 6:
Symbols of the clans: Left to right, top to bottom: Red Clan, Black Clan, Magus Clan, Blue Clan, Tooth Clan, Éon clan.
Panel 7:
Crow (off panel): The 7th Clan is a special thing a bit of a mystery. So its part of the ceremony and ritual.

Hammersmith. Chapter 6. (Thea)

Thea wasn’t dead.

Little girl. Little girl. You need to wake up now

What was going on?

Come on little girl. You can wake up. Take us out of the danger.

Who was that? Who are you?

It doesn’t matter right now. You need to move. Or we will both die.

Thea opened her eyes.

Funny. The damage didn’t look so bad now. The black lights were not a death knell it seemed. The trolls and other monsters of the noisy world has stopped. How am I alive?

Or maybe my hearing has gone?

Thea started to move her arms and legs. Zero G. The gravity had gone. The escape pod was two meters away. It may as well have been a whole kilometer or two.

But she got to the pod. She wasn’t sure exactly how. It just happened. The craft launched and for a brief few seconds she saw the damage. The entire craft looked like it had melted in a oven like a plastic toy. Except it wasn’t a toy. It was real. That was 50 odd to tones of metal and space cement with a lead coating. The lead was black as the ace of spades. The radiation shield. Nothing was left.

How is this EVA pod going to do better? It hasn’t got a snots chance in hell if the shielding on the mother shield is gone?


Call out. They will rescue you.

How? There isn’t a craft anywhere near here.

Don’t argue

Thea found herself using the radio beacon.

“This is Thea of the explorer craft the Gold Lantern. I was hit by a radiation flare. Craft down. I am in a EVA pod. Location is 342, 4563, 56. EVA will last another..”

That can’t be right…

“2 minutes…”

The radiation was clearly massive still. Sol was meant to be in her dormant phase. That’s why I was here.

They are coming. We will survive. Good job Thea.

“Who are you?” She said aloud.

We are who you are

“That makes no…”

There was a ship approaching. It had a huge lead coating. It shined dully. It wasn’t until it was close that she noticed the markings of the Magus Clan. Pirates. Oh gods. Out of the frypan and into the frier.

Hammersmith. Chapter 5.

‘In 2137 December 23 at 13:45 the Incident happened.

The clarity of the history of the events is lost even to historians like me. ‘

Bela drank another cup of sweet chai. The stuff was addictive. They had rebuilt the ancient recipe from the ruins of a library. The incident had taken so much. Now we all tried to work together with each other, as everyone knows what will happen if we don’t. Most only have to drive a few kilometers to find out.

‘I have researched the incident events now for 10 years and am still no closer to an exact cause. It’s almost as if those years all of humanity lost its senses. Nuclear war often trumps itself as thesis of those who are uneducated in the analysis of the ruins of major Asian cities such as Deli, Mumbai, and Islamabad. No radioactive isotopes that would indicate such an event are present. The only traces from the older wars. It also doesn’t explain why major 21st and 22nd Century military bases have mostly been left unscathed, if completely abandoned counts as unscathed. The archaeology is also baffling to those whom have undertaken the time and money to research it. Bodies are buried evenly in traditional manners in some cities yet were left to rot in others. One suggests an organized governmental cleanup, the other a natural or man made disaster. Evidence points both ways, often in the same ruin or city. There are other places only kilometers from a site that are left unscathed. Yet no one seems to have a generational knowledge of the exact events. Some talk of a war. Others of climate change. A few with religious folktales of confusing origins. ‘

Bela signed. Her thesis had continued to get her nowhere. This was her absolutely last attempt. She couldn’t remember the first attempt anymore. The fact it was now year 13, that was what was calling to her to quit. Go spend time at home, or in the jungle regrowth of Mumbai. Where the Tigers stay majestic in the morning sun before hunting the monkeys and the rodents whose lives in the ruined city was to good ever to give it back to the scattered remains of humanity. We didn’t really need the space these days anymore. With birth control a major policy of the world governing councils people could only have children with a license. Not that Bela cared. Children were never on her mind.

‘It’s clear that the Incident as it is now known was a muti-classic event which occurred over a short time period of a few years. It is also clear that it caused the deaths of some 5 billion people in its totality.’

Then again maybe this is futile? I’m lost in a sea of papers from libraries around the world. The research people from all the branches now all know me on sight. Most have attempted to help, some even tried unsuccessfully to get a romantic engagement. Why do I care so much about this?

“Burning the midnight candle at both ends again?”
Bela almost jumped out of her skin.
“Bloody hell Mario. Don’t do that.”
“Hey! Call me M. Sweet cheeks” Mario came in for a hug.
“Don’t. We’ve discussed this. Ok?” Bela shouted at the advancing Mario.
“Awe. I’m sad now.” Mario took up a perch on the desk next to her and combed his hair with his hands. Then in his ill fitting suit said. “I’m just happy to help you with your work, you know? A quick compliment wouldn’t go astray.”
“I haven’t asked you to help this late. So you can go home if your going to take that attitude. ” Bela paused. “You know your the most useful research assistant I’ve had in years, but you are so god dammed annoying.”
“Oh I have found another lead. One that I think you might like.”
Bela sat staring at him, he was very hansom but had utterly the worst personality.  Mario was a horrible womanizer and serial heart breaker. Bela had no interest in anything but the company of other humans. She had never understood the reason to reproduce or form any sort of romantic engagement with anyone. Asexuality had suited her fine for some time now. However she had agreed to dinners as talking with other people was still a need. Enjoying the aesthetics of the human form had been something she found utterly enjoyable. Mario wasn’t a bad example when you dealt with his fashion sense and his horrible personality flaws.
Bela wondered why she was thinking of this whist she looked at Marios new lead.
“This is a pirate book. It just lists the Pirates clans and how they formed before the incident. It’s woefully inaccurate and pretty useless to my research these days. Though the pirates had something to do with the incident….” She trailed off.
“Did you notice the name of the clan that marked this one?” Mario twirled his hair in delight. He loved knowing things someone else doesn’t and then revealing how they missed it. It was raver perverse.
“Well it’s the…”
It said clear as day.

Libro de tribu malleis

Belas head quickly translated. “Book of the … Hammer clan?” She looked at Mario who had the smuggest look on his face she had ever seen. “I’ve never heard of this clan… It’s a dead clan?”
Mario shrugged. “Hammersmith, I think, no, I have no idea.”
Bela thought for a second then said “Where?”
Mario look at her on that way that a tiger might at its prey. “It was sent to me in the mail from a contact. I was researching the Pirates again. I think they are pretty fascinating. The fanatical nature of the Red Clan and the contrast with the Black Clan who are deeply atheist. I was wondering why the discrepancy between them and when that had occurred. What’s caused clans choose to live in so many different places? I mean clearly they all came out of whatever organized crime syndicates existed in the early 22nd Century. They got into space somehow after or before the incident. How? How are they able to use their resources so effectively against the Sol Space Force? What is it that keeps the clans together, and also apart? So many questions seem tied into our research.”
Bela simply nodded. Becoming a expert in the incident meant becoming a expert in the Pirate Clans as well it often seemed.
“You got this on the black market?”
“Oh hell no! This was from a fellow researcher. She was quite a agreeable. Had little totem things on her bedstead.”
Mario loves to boast about his ability to win over a girl. Though it made Bela glad to know it wasn’t from some seedy black market place.
“I really am not sure about this. You stole it?”
“I call it payment for services rendered.”
Bela felt a little bile come up.
“You’re more horrible than I thought. But I suppose I should be somewhat thankful. Just return it to her when you have made me a copy ok?”
“Of course I have already done that. This is our copy.”
Ah so hes not as stupid as I thought, Bela thought. Thank the gods for that.
“Good. Now go home. I’ve clearly got some reading to do.”
Bela looked at the clock. It was only 10 o’clock she could read a book this small in a hour and be home in time for the last bats to come home at ear out of her hand. It would be a good evening for her. She hope Marios latest victim was ok though. He didn’t really realize what a sociopath he was. Not like me. I know how horrible I am.

Hammersmith. Chapter 4.

The sun set on the city. It gathered the last tendrils of golden red light and stole away behind the new taller buildings and the small ancient ones alike.

“Seems like we are always watching sunsets together. ”
“Arline, your always have a way to make me feel better. Even when we were kids.”
“Darren.” I swished my brown hair from my face as Darren, my older brother looked at me on the outdoor couch. “We always watch sunsets, as we are both night owls. I barely ever get up before mid day. After all in my job I mostly work at night.”
“I’ve learned to wake in the mornings. Sleep when I need. I can take a nap or sleep for days. I am really good at it. Used to drive her up the wall though.”
“Yes well she was a nurse!” I laughed.
“She just got her doctorate in Nursing actually. She was planning on doing a big lecture circuit with some of the other big wig medical types when I got my posting. She didn’t have to come. She was right though. We needed all the help we could get.”
Darren’s wife was a awesome nurse. She had helped everyone she could. It was her selflessness that meant she had given up her life so everyone else could survive the pirate attack.
“They came so fast. Hit us so expertly. It’s was like every weakness we had was exploited. I saw… They had weapons I have never seen before. Ones that shoot this paralyzing light. It’s worse than being hit with a Class 3” .

The pirates in the belt were the Solar forces biggest bugbear. Too well resourced to take out as a group and too easily scattered. They attacked automatic mining and construction stations stealing all the resources and reprogramming the bots to send the shots of metals to pick up points they chose. By the time you got to one station and undid the work, they could hit five more. They had hit some poor manned miner freighters lately. One managed to kill them and take the freighter back but his co-pilot had died in the attack.
Darren had been sent to try and take their base of operations in the belt with a Warbird class fighter carrier. One of the clans of pirate had herd the military was on its way. Taken up a defensive position and knocked out the military ships. Killed Darren’s wife when she had set the self destruct and shut the bridge doors. Darren and a scant few others survived. It was still being investigated by the military police. Someone leaked info. God help them if they are found. Penalties ranged from painful death to even more painful death.

So I was now re-tasked with military intelligence on the Pirates. It had been my job to look into internal affairs but I asked for a transfer when I heard of the disaster. However when Darren had got back to Earth I had to look after him. Taken my long service leave. My CO told me if I hadn’t asked for it he would have ordered me too. “I can’t really afford to loose two Captains, get him better Arline.” My CO was fleet commander for the Sols Space Force, what was left of it with all the pirates.

Darren had a unkempt face and tracksuit pants on. A large band shirt which said “Mountain Killers” in colorful flowers and skulls. He looked a mess. Military families like ours really don’t know what to do with time off. My dad had always been training for the next mission. God only knew who Darren’s dad did. His birth certificate didn’t even has his name in it. Just had “not disclosed to Canadian Register”. Mum was a Canadian resident who emigrated from Russia, so his birth was her new nations responsibility, not his fathers. Now in my house Darren’s recovery was my duty. We needed good men like him. Especially after the incident. That mess was still at hart after 50 years. You can expect that with so many people dying,

“The counselor is coming at 1500. A MP from the 2nd division an hour after that. You going to be in those clothes when they come?”
I was certain this tactic wouldn’t work, but anything was worth a shot.
“I almost feel overdressed. I’m mourning my wife. She’s dead. I left her. It’s my fault.”
“Captain Darren. You are a officer in the military. Death is your job. You can’t blame it on yourself. She died because the Pirates had a exact knowledge of the ships and time you were going to be their. It was her quick thinking that saved those who did survive.”
“She’s still dead. If it’s not my fault whose is it? I was in charge of the ship. As ranking CO I should have been the one to do what she did. I didn’t. I just ordered the evacuation and got as many off the shop as it was about to blow. Trying to hope that the Pirates didn’t take out the EVA modules as they thrusted out.”
“That was your job. Her job was to look after the crews health and safety. She was the head of the medical section on the ship. She shut herself on the bride while you were getting the crewmen onto the EVAs. You didn’t even know till you was off the ship.”
“I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!”
His anger filled the space in the room like liquid fire in space. It was full of self hate, rage, feelings of uselessness and lastly doubt. He wept quietly. We sat in this wet silence for about 30 minutes before I finally felt he could hear me again.
“We do what we need to.”
It was the militaries unofficial moto.
“we do.”
He agreed.
At that point the doorbell chimed.

Hammersmith. Chapter two.

Red lights. Little diodes making little light glowing on my face and telling me little tales. Urgent beeping as well. Shrill noise tinctured against low calls, like howler monkeys in mating season. All wanting attention. None really managing the feat.

‘Come on get up’
My brain said.

My body refused it’s commands. Long shrill banshee lights. Low trolls beating a bridge.

‘Your going to die if you can’t move. You need to move’

Nothing. Banshees and trolls were joined by a voice from the computer.

Oxygen level low. Power level low. Emergancy action needed. Voice command offline.

It had told me this many times now. I couldn’t believe the voice command had died. ‘The system has what? 6? 7? Backups? That means it’s got to the computer memory. It’s starting to erode mine. I need to move. ‘

I start to move slowly. The pain is immense. Oxygen. The drug of several millennia my teacher had said. One breath and your hooked for life. So dependent. What was his name? Dr Bova. My Memory is going too. Just like the computers. Did I just think that? Probably.

The shrill noise and trolls relentlessly continued as I made my way slowly to the cockpit.

“Come on Thea. You can do it. Your a fighter.”
I reached the offending display.
Finally.

The computer shouted out my commands.

Computer offline. Force restart.

Oh bloody hell.

A new voice called out.

Radiation levels high

Oh shut up. I know!

The computer took microseconds to restart. They felt like decades. My life flashed before my eyes.

The red lights came back. I went through them one by one. Getting each system in the orange.
The computer kept up with it but was clearly slowing as I gave it more to do.
“Alright. Radiation shield is up. Oxcygen stabilized. Distress call now.”

Communication systems offline. Force restart.

Oh damm. I had given it to much.

I clicked the Emergancy beacon on.

“Ok happy?”

Carbon monoxide detected in cabin, level 3. Fire systems offline.

Oh sh….

Pure Oxygen and fire. The rosette of flame. Seconds left, maybe.

Hull breach level 3. Fire on level 3.

I watched as my systems went from a angry red to a solum black. Each one by one. No way was I going to get out of this.

****************

The sun rose indifferently to the desolated plain. White and grey and a little red started to show on the buildings.

“Beautiful desolation”. James said to no one in particular.

Morning moonwalks were the best. The fact you only got to do them one day out of a month was the only issue. The robots James was monitoring buzzed for his attention.

“Oh. Sorry Hal. We need a new wall on the ridge. Thanks heaps.”
Hal beeped a register and started to print out new wall from the lunar regolith.

James liked working with Ro. They had a way with being easy to deal with. They didn’t get emotional very often, which also helped. They did get upset if they encountered a issue with tasks that were impossible though. They would beep at you and the one who could talk expressed concern or even annoyance. A few even got upset when you were upset. But on the whole, easier than humans. Especially other men. James had real issues dealing with them. Despite being gay, he couldn’t find a way of dealing with long term relationships. One night stands made him feel cheep, but they didn’t have any strings. Strings were hard to deal with. Men would want things he wouldn’t know how to deal with. Marriage. Children. An apartment. It was so hard to know how to deal with these things with someone else their. All the time. James liked being alone. Even though many Ro had the same rights as Humans, Ro never generally cared about what apartment they had. They wanted a nice cupboard with a charging station. And their pay. God knows what they spent credits on. Video games maybe?

Lost in thought he realized the wall was half finished. Hal worked fast. Regolith printers always did. It would be a few more minutes, but this ridge would be ready soon. It was time to get the electronics done.

“Durundal, get over here. Door print needs doing.” James got ready to help get the door and roof done. It would be another shelter done then. There were only two more after this one. Then back to base.

James realized what going back to base meant. It meant he had to deal with his last lover. A Space Force guy with a taste for geeks like him. It would be a few fantastic moments of sex, then a mention of possible strings.
“I hope Andre understands”.
James said to no one in particular.

Then one of the border Ro’s beeped.
“Radiation warning? Must be a flare. Ok everyone time to call it quits, get on the buggy now.”
Hmm that warning came from a moon based satellite.
That means the radiation is coming in straight at us. We have minutes. Shit. “Everyone take what shelter you can. Those who can get to the buggy, do. Otherwise hope your hardness lets you survive.

Running in a suit wasn’t easy, but James started to go as fast as possible. The truck had shielding. Not enough though. His best move would be the Cavern Base which was maybe 45 Km from here. Not far. The truck can do it at top speed in thirty minutes or so. Half my robots will die out here. Not much choice, they are expensive but expendable.

Regolith churned out the end of the truck tires as James hit the accelerator. Good thing about the Cavern Base is no Andre. And the radiation will stop all surface travel. Cavern Base isn’t connected to the Luna Tram yet. Hence the need for shelters nearby. If your truck broke down Cavern base was a good 3 day hike from anywhere else on foot. If your air lasts.
The white grey cliff near Cavern Base rose suddenly to meet him.

“Forgot how fast this thing is at full pelt.” James parked the tuck and got into the Cavern Base and was met with chaos.

Hammersmith. Chapter one.

The sky was as blue as a litmus test in an alkaline bath. Little wispy clouds glimmered across like rakes in a bonsai garden freshly prepared. I watched as a glimmer of light started to scar it.
Lying on the grass in the park it come be a wondrous feeling to see the ships coming in. Flying down in big circles like birds and landing at the spaceport. They were relaxing to me. Waxing and waining in the litmus sky as it slowly turned a slight red and the clouds turned a golden orange.
These are moments we want to capture. Preserve forever in the pinky archive of our mind.

“Tell me what’s on your mind.”
My older brother gave me a bit of a start. I relaxed again as soon as I realized it was his voice. Comforting like warm milk and as fresh as the twilight forming above me.
“It’s like watching geese back home. They come into land so like them on a frosty spring morning, or like just after the great migration. Tired but finally home and able to again think of things that do not have anything to do with being in the air or travel or currents or storms.”
My brother watched a class 7 slowly decent like a airborn goose laden with far from the summer land and coming to a springy frost filled land.
“Yes. I see what you mean. It’s good. Though I wasn’t born their like you it does comfort me.”
“Hey do you think of this land as your home? Or is space your home? I’m never sure.”
“Arline.” My bother rarely used my full name unless he was telling me something that needed paying attention to. “Our mother was born in the icy clutches of Canada. So I think of it as home. Even though I have lived here and in space more that I ever lived in that place.”
“It’s nice to think of home.”
I started to stretch and get ready to get up.
“I do it all the time. I admit. Even in darkest space. I suppose home is really were the heart is.”
I got up and started to do some lunges and yoga moves.
“Hey. Your starting to kid me.”
“No really. That’s what I think my dear sister.”

My older brother had been born a few years before me, in space. It was something mum had been not so happy to talk about. Even though we were only utarinal siblings we were close. Mum had been sure to make sure we had a good solid idea of being their for each other and sharing our memories and moments. It was something I cherished. She had been so wise and had always been a fantastic inspiration to me.
After a long pause my brother started to talk again. “It’s been such a long time since I thought of her.”
I knew who he was talking about.
“So like our mother. Sacrificing herself like that. ”
“Mmmm”. I did a final peacock stretch and then turned to face him.

My brother wore a thick brown leather jacket that almost stretched to his ankles. His hair black but short and almost ready for the military hairdresser to take their razor to it. The marks of his rank on the sleeve and his shoes where standard issue brown leather, shiny as a does eyes. I looked at his face. His nose still slightly crooked. I remembered that little incident. His cheeks our mothers rose tinted and full but his lips and forehead were like his fathers stern and long. He was hansom but oddly boyish really.

He stood a clear foot taller than me and up the hill I had been lying on. I walked up to him and sternly looked at him.
“I don’t really know. I suppose that’s what you saw in her. Mothers wisdom. Mothers ideals. She was also so beautiful. Such a lovely person to me. I respected her, and miss her. I cannot really fathom her passing. You seem like a empty vase, a solid and hansom structure but without the flowers and greenery. They have been removed. Before they even begun to show their fullness. Your loss is so utterly complete.”
My brother looked beyond me, towards the lake and mountain beyond. Long purposeful moments past like the bells of a church saying farewell to the new recruits off to a loosing war. Chilled but trying, trying so painfully to let go.
“I’m going to be in the city a while. I would appreciate if I could stay with you.”
His face blank but I knew it was full of sorrow for his wife. I simply nodded.
“Of course. As long as you need. ”

I watched him walk to his car. It took a long time and it was getting cold. I got on my motorbike and started to leed him home. I felt like a tugboat bringing in the only ship left in the fleet after a hard navel battle. It was damaged and sad looking but so full of pride at having survived the long battle.