It's strange how a single image can gestate into a short story...
I was looking up when I saw my favorite star, my Gaian Star, flare brilliantly. I often will take a moment in the depths of the night to look up at the quiet sky. It gives me sense of peace to know that wherever I am stationed I can look up and see the wonder and beauty of the thousands of visible motes that are suns and even galaxies. On some days I even find Sol and offer our lost home a silent prayer.
When I saw my Gaian Star flare I almost felt it die. I was watching it cross the late evening sky, regular as clockwork. It was a dark moonless night except for a mostly eclipsed Pholus, and Gaian Star was by far the brightest star in the heavens. The flare actually startled me. It was a pulse of yellow light that overwhelmed the calm white light of the Gaian Star. The flash died and the white light winked out. I knew what had happened and some time later a line of pure white streaked across the horizon toward Chiron, shooting stars that were the last testament of the Gaian Star.
At last one of the great powers had decided that the great and beautiful Gaian hydroponics satellite was a threat and that it must be destroyed. I read about it in school and saw many holovids of it, and it was a wonder. At almost kilometers long it dwarfed all other space construction, and it harnessed the power of the suns in its endless hydroponics gardens to provide food for the Gaians. I thought of it as manna from the heavens, which is not too far away from the truth. The crystalline marvel seemed to go on forever in the vids, and within the chrysalis was a protected sea of green and red.
Now all that beauty is gone. I can imagine the moment of horror as the Gaians felt their home exploding into space, wrenching itself apart as the projectiles or raw energy ripped the fragile skin of silksteel, monofiber, and optical thermopane that kept it whole. Perhaps some even survived its tumble into the atmosphere of Chiron, but I hope not. Burning to death during an uncontrolled atmospheric reentry is not a pleasant fate. Far better for them to die quickly during the explosion Ė less suffering and more merciful, if such an act can include an act of mercy.
Who would do such a thing? Certainly not the Believers. We never had orbital satellites of any sort, as the crater that is New Jerusalem will attest. I will not pretend to understand why some military leader would see the Gaian Star as a threat. Even though they are Godless, the Gaians are the least threatening of the factions on Chiron and, with a few notable exceptions, mind their own business. Maybe Yang issued an order for a first strike against a potential enemy? Or maybe even the Peacekeepers made a cold hearted decision to ensure it didnít fall into enemy hands, and that it therefore must be destroyed. I am sure Iíll never know, but what I do know is that Chiron has lost a thing of beauty and a symbol of hope. My Gaian Star is now only a memory, a shattered dream. I will remember it in the days to come.
Datalinks: From the journal from Joshua Markheim, deceased.
Died in the second assault on Laborerís Throng, MY 2242