October 30 2042
The New Eden Consortium board of directors had a meeting in the main conference room of the administrative building in the East Eden cylinder of the Habitat.
The speaker concluded his speech, “It is projected that the farming cylinder here and the farming domes at Clarke will provide all the food needed, with the new protein processors adding a meat substitute. The comet that’s passing within our range will provide water and other volatiles for years. Therefore, as of last week New Eden and Clarke base are totally self sufficient.”
“Thank you Doctor Walker; and now a report of our lobbing effort in Washington. Go ahead Mister Townsend.”
An older man stood and walked to the head of the table. “As you know, the US House of Representatives has passed the ‘Space Nationalization Act.’ Up ‘till now we’ve been able to keep it from closing in the Senate, but late last night the bill made it to the floor for a vote taking place two days from today. I can say with confidence that it will not pass this time; but after the elections in November we believe it will be reintroduced and it will pass then. We just won't have the votes to stop it.”
A question came from a speaker built in to the center of the conference table: “How long do we have Townsend?”
“Well, Chairman Nakamura,” Townsend replied, “the new congress meets in early January and we should be able to delay it until sometime in mid February of next year.” The radio message took some time to get to earth, the reply took some time to get back. After four seconds of silence, the voice from the speaker responded, “With this new development, I recommend to the board of directors that project Spartacus be activated.”
The old man used his left hand controller to turn off the display and close the connection to the New Eden habitat. He backed his powered wheelchair to the center of the room, then turned and looked out the open sliding door into his garden. Mount Fuji was in the distance, and the setting sun caused long shadows to be cast from the Cherry trees along the sides.
Nakamura felt sad it had come to this. Project Spartacus was intended as an emergency plan of last resort, but the politicians on Earth had soured on the idea of private companies in space. The UN had banned the new protein processors on Earth, and the environmental movement in the U.S. was protesting the solar satellites that were even now providing thirty percent of the western U.S.'s power. The movement had even won a victory in the courts that would stop the construction of fusion power stations using helium-3 fuel mined on the moon.
Nakamura felt angry: The fools actually believed that the processors were harmful even though they could produce any type of meat or protein substitute. The processors could help end world hunger all they needed was power and raw chemicals, both in abundance throughout the solar system. This latest assault was an attempt to appropriate the hard work of almost forty years. He had no choice. After a little time of meditation he called out.
“Daughter, attend me.” After a few moments a beautiful woman in her late twenties entered wearing a traditional kimono.
“Yes father, what is it?” she asked.
“Natsuki it is time to return to New Eden and for my daughter to take the rightful place as chairwoman of the board.”
“So soon? I have only been here a week and I do not see my father as much anymore,” She smiled at him. It was more a plea than a question.
The old man caused his wheelchair to back slightly and turn so he could move to a small Buddhist shine. On each side of it where framed photographs. On the left, his wife on their wedding day; on the right was his friend of over thirty years Larry Hull. Both had been killed in the same plane crash that had put him into this wheelchair. Reaching behind the photo of his friend, he retrieved an old style envelope sealed in wax. He gave it to his daughter.
“Give this to John. they are his fathers final orders to his son and my daughter. My final orders are included also.” He bowed to her as best he could manage in the chair.
“Is this necessary Father?”
“Obey me daughter for this one last time.” after a short, silent prayer he told her, “for Spartacus is coming.”
The plan evolved over time but it started out simply enough: In the mid 1990s, Larry Hull started a company called ‘Orbital Dynamics Unlimited.’ The company converted old ICBMs into satellite launch vehicles for the US government. Over time they developed an original design of their own and started to offer full commercial launch services.
Hull was a dreamer, a romantic, and highly technically skilled. This lead him to the goal of building an orbital Habitat. It was a long-term plan he thought his company he could slowly work toward as it grew.
The dream changed into a priority on September 11 2001 as he watched the emergency news coverate in horror. Hull realized that if mankind didn’t expand outward, it would be doomed to a cycle of war after war as the world fought over ever decreasing resources. He started looking for like-minded people in science and industry. Two years later he found the person that would become not only his partner in his dream but also his best friend. On a business trip to Japan Larry Hull meet Daichi Nakamura.
Before World War Two the Nakamura family where yakuza, Japanese Mafia. The one-two punch of American victory and occupation gave them the opportunity to become a legitimate business family. They cheaply bought factories ’liberated’ from those the US occupation judged to be militarists. The factories became the core of what would become ‘Nakamura Heavy Industries.’ Although they had long since ended all criminal activity, the family maintained their centuries-old connections with the underworld.
Hull and Nakamura met at one of the after-hours parties that seemed to be where most of the real business in Tokyo took place. Hull was never shy about talking about his dreams and ideas. Over several hours he explained his plans for a separate space habitat and moon base. He also explained why he thought it was important for mankind.
Nakamura listened while the Bar TV showed scenes of American tanks on their way to Baghdad. Hull’s words and his grandmother’s memories of the war years - his grandfather was killed by the first atomic bomb - and the daily news conspired to make him believe Hull was right. That night the New Eden Consortium was born.
The view out the window was Presidents favorite: idyllic woodland. She had always thought that the Camp David retreat one of the best perks of the job.
The Speaker of the House interrupted the Presidents reverie, “Madam President, I can assure you that the Space Nationalizion Act will pass after the new congress starts its session.” The voice of
“Thank you, Ted,” she replied, “Once we control the helium-3 production and the solar power satellites, the United States will once again be in control of our own future.” She flashed her crocodile smile, made famous on the campaign trail. She had promised to return America to its former greatness.
“And the question of the Habitat?” asked the Secretary of Defense.
“Yes, Bill, it’ll be turned over to the Air Force. We should be able to dominate near Earth space from there.” She answered absentmindedly. She was already thinking about the next item on the meetings agenda.
Diana Jaworski checked her daily influx of email. As one of the nuclear engineers working on new power systems for Orbital Dynamics, she received several dozen a day. She was working through the latest batch when as she skimmed through what she initially thought was a normal corporate announcement. Suddenly, she stopped cold staring at the words in the message.
To the casual reader it would appear as a random typo that slipped through a spell checker. But that was the point of covert messages, wan’t it? The ability to go unnoticed by uninitiated people reading the email? Jaworski - and thousands like her - were now faced with the most important Decision of her life.
She called her assistant, “Roger, I need you to clear my calendar for the next few weeks and book me a flight to New Eden.”
“Actually, I was about to call you. I’ve been asked to go to Luna for a meeting so I’ll arrange both our flights. Will you need a ticket for your husband?”
Jaworski immediately realized Roger was one of the people the covert message had been intended for. An ally right under her nose, and she never suspected.
“No, he won’ be making this trip.” Jaworski resigned herself to the knowledge that knew the words in the message would not only start her on a new journey, but that it would end her marriage.
On the New Eden colony, John Hull waited nervously for the tram from the zero g dock at the arrival terminal. He could have used his position on the board to meet her right at the airlock, of course, but he had always hated to see people abuse their status back on earth. He wasn’t going to set a bad example here.
The tram arrived after what seemed an eternity. He checked his impulse to run to it, stood still and waited. People from the tram started walking passed him. It was crowded and he couldn’t see Natsuki. Did he get the date wrong or the time? He started to doubt himself, then he caught sight of her.
Natsuki Nakamura wore a standard jumpsuit, but to Hull she looked as if she wore the finest outfit from Paris or Milan. She was with three other Japanese women, all around her own age. Two walked in front of her and one in back. Officially, they were her secretaries and assistantsm but in reality they where bodyguards trained in the latest hand to hand techniques. Natsuki stopped a few feet from Hull.
“John, I am pleased to see you again,” she said, and did a little half-bow. Damn, thought Hull, she's gonna’ be all proper and Japanese on me.
“Ryoko, Ayeka please see to the luggage,” Natsuki ordered. They didn’t move right away. “I am sure that I am safe with Mihoshi and Mister Hull,” she added in a stern voice.
“Yes, Lady Natsuki,” they both said. They bowed and left to do her bidding.
Although loyal to the whole Nakamura family, Ryoko and Ayeka where creatures of Natsuki's father, and she wanted some private time with Hull. Presenting her arm for hull to take she started to slowly walk toward the monorail station.
Arm in arm theymade small talk while the third girl, Mihoshi, followed a few steppes behind. Unlike the others, Mihoshi's loyalty was to Natsuki. This extended to Hull, and she would gladly give her life to protect both of them.
When both Natsuki and Hull were teenagers, they’d rescued Mihoshi from a life on the streets of Tokyo. She’d been owned by a local street gang. With their help, she was able to withdraw from the drugs that the gang used to force her into a life of prostitution. Calling upon family connections, Natsuki had Mihoshi sent to a Shinto shrine in northern Japan. There she was able to complete her high school education, and train in the martial arts. Eventually she decided that the life of a shrine maiden was not for her she asked to be placed in the service of Natsuki.
Although she’d left her streetlife behind, there was one thing she wouldn’t do: as was common in Japan's underworld, Mihoshi had tattoos. Her back and legs where covered with them and even though Natsuki had offered to have them removed, she wouldn’t get rid of them. Unlike American gang tattoos, Mihoshi's were of the highest quality and artistry, some of the best of Japan. When nude, she was a work of art.
The trio found themselves in a private car where Natsuki felt more comfortable and was able to show her true feeling.
“I missed you, John,” Natsuki said as she took his head in both hands and gave him a loving kiss. She snuggled with Hull, her head on his shoulder feeling content and safe with his arm around her.
“Look at the beautiful world we helped build,” she said as scenes of the habitat slipped by the car window. After a moment she added with venom, “It's a shame those damn looters from Washington are trying to steal it from us.”
“Been reading Ayn Rand again dear?” laughed Hull.
“Yes. But it's true anyway: they pissed away their space program, and now that we have New Eden up and running, they want it. To make it worse, that damn bill bans having children in space. They don't want a colony, they want a labor camp.” Hull could see she was working herself back to a serous mood. Though he agreed with her, he wasn’t in the mood. He changed the subject.
“I have a surprise for you, honey. We’re not going to the apartment.”
“You'll see.” was all he‘d say.
The fight had lasted all night and Diana Jaworski was at her wits end. Her husband Nikolaswas an environmental lawyer and had become active in the anti-solar power station movement.
“They are destroying the upper atmosphere and irradiating hundreds of square miles of the earth!” Nikolas yelled at his wife and wildly waved his arms to emphasize his point.
“That’s just stupid Nicky,” she responded, “It’s non-ionizing radiation, not harmful. All the studies - some of which I did myself - show none of the effects that your group claims.”
“I demand that you quit, and stop hanging around that bunch of perverts and whores in space!” Nikolas’s face was getting red as he became more agitated.
Diana Jaworski made her decision right then. After throwing some clothes into an overnight bag, she left her upscale home in Orange County never to return. She drove her electric two-seat smart car into Los Angles and arrived at her assistant’s apartment. Roger Edwards showed surprise when he opened the door and saw his boss in the hall.
“Can I crash on your couch? I don’t feel up to a hotel tonight.” Embarrassed, she smiled and stepped through the door before he could recover.
John and Natsuki walked down a path ten meters wide, holding hands like ordinary lovers. Mihoshi followed quietly behind. The path went through what could have been a well-to-do American suburb of the late twentieth century, before war and economic collapse changed everything. They came to a high hedge that blocked the view. Walking along it, they came to an arched gate.Hull led them through. Natsuki came to a stop and exclaimed,“It's beautiful John!”
Before her was a replica of her family's summer home near Mount Fuji.
There where fish ponds on each side of the slate walkway to the house. Natsuki ran in, went to the back room and opened the wall partition to find a small Japanese garden with a Cherry tree and a brook running through the far corner. In the distance, instead of Mount Fuji, she saw the towers of the urban strip that circled the equator of the cylindrical Habitat.
She changed to some jeans and a comfortable blouse, and sat on a bench with Hull in the garden.
“I wish our fathers were here to see this,” he said, a little sadness in his voice. At the mention of their fathers, Natsuki signaled Mihoshi who had been standing a discreet distance away. Stepping forward, she handed an envelope to Natsuki and returned to her protective station.
“My father wished for you to receive this,” Natsuki said as she handed it to Hull.
He broke the wax seal and withdrew two smaller envelopes, each one having their respective names written on them in a shaky scrawl. They both read in silence.
The first few pages of the letter to Hull were instructions from his dead father: the steps that he wished taken when the habitat became self-sufficient. The last page was from Natsuki's father.
Natsuki's letter was from her father with special instructions that were a little different than the ones Hull had gotten. The last part of the letter was recently written in her fathers fading hand. It read:
“Natsuki, soon I will no longer be the head of the Nakamura clan. I know my dearest daughter has the strength and knowledge to lead us into the future, But she must also tend to her own future and happiness. I ask her to marry John-san as she and he are fated to be together. I have known of my daughter’s love for him for some time and I know he loves her. Natsuki and John-san represent the future world we have tried to build at New Eden; it was done all for my daughter and the son of my friend. It had been a wish his father and I shared that our children should be together.”
“Did you just receive orders to get married?” asked Hull.
“In a loving way,” replied Natsuki. But it still was an order.
It may have been fate or simply a plan but either way it happened slowly over time: Natsuki and John were born the same year, and both fathers liked to have their children close. Both were home schooled. Over the years, Nakamura and Hull had many face to face meetings as their fathers slowly worked towards their goal. It seemed natural for the children of partners and friends to play together at such meetings.
John’s mother died of a misdiagnosed cancer when he was three, so Natsuki's mother took it upon herself to care for him when his own father whas traveling the world, setting up their consortium. Natsuki and John grew up together. The earliest memories Natsuki had of him being more than a friend where from when they were eight. They were visiting the Hull's ranch in southern California. It was a beautiful day. and she wanted to go outside to play. She found John in his room building a model.
“What's that?” Natsuki asked
“It's the Enterprise.” he said has he held the model out for Natsuki to look at.
“That does not look like a starship,” Natsuki was puzzled.
“It's an aircraft carrier, silly. I'll show you.” John put the model down and went to a book case to grab a disk he shoved in the player. It started with a brown tinted scene of ancient planes flying over water.
Since they were only eight, neither noticed the irony of a little Japanese girl and a little American boy watching “Midway” together. John was mostly interested in the scenes of the planes and ships and, he really loved when they showed the old cars. Being a girl, Natsuki was more interested in the people and their relationships and emotions.
Natsuki was shocked to learn that Japan had once attacked America! She had thought the had always been friends. Even after eighty years, Japan still glossed over what happened in those dark days. She liked the scenes when the American fighter pilot was talking about how much he loved his Japanese girlfriend. When they showed the pilot at the fence with his girl talking - and then kissing - Natsuki unconsciously took John’s hand. John just smiled. They watch the rest of the movie like that.
Natsuki became upset during the battle scene when the American torpedo planes attacked the Japanese ships.
“Why are the doing that? Why do they keeping going when they know they’re going to die?” said Natsuki with tears in her eyes.
“Because that's what men do when you have to defend the homeland,” said John, with the certainty of an eight year old.
Years Later, Natsuki was in Tokyo taking her final exams for her degree in business administration, so she couldn’t be there when John graduated from the US Naval Academy. On the phone he sounded so proud when he told her he had been accepted for flight training. Natsuki had a vision of doomed torpedo planes going in for their final attack. She told John that she loved him, andran to the Buddhist shrine her father had in all the family homes. She fell to her knees and prayed to every god she could think of to keep John safe.
Natsuki and John were having the same argument they’d been having since the morning after their wedding.
“John you should be the chairman,” Natsuki said one more time.
With a sigh Hull replied, “Honey look the board has already accepted you as chairwoman and it's what your father wants and my father wanted.”
“Do we always have to follow their wishes?”
“It's the price the prince and princess have to pay, Natsuki. Anyway you’re better at it than me. I’m a pilot and an engineer, not a CEO.”
“Bullshit! You run Orbital just fine!”
They went back and forth for like this for a few minutes until Hull changed the subject: “Are the contact lenses still bothering you?” As a wedding present, Hull had bought Natsuki one of the new personal computers, with contact lens screens and an ear piece for audio and neural control. The CPU itself was a little larger than a twentieth-century credit card, and fit easily in a pocket or a belt pouch. It could connect with the habitat systems by wireless network.
“A little, and don't change the subject!” said Natsuki; but she knew he was right: she would have to bear the responsibility of what was to come. Over Natsuki's objection, The board had created a subcommittee with full authority to take whatever actions necessary to win independence for the Habitat and the Moon. It was a small subcommittee with only two members: Natsuki Nakamura and John Hull.
Daichi Nakamura moved from the family summer home near Mount Fuji to his apartment in Tokyo, where he could more easily lobby the government. He had many friends in the various ministries and many favors he was now calling in. The meeting was informal, in the very formal way only fully understood by the Japanese. Nakamura smiled his thanks at the women dressed as a traditional geisha who poured tea for himself and an old college friend. The friend was now a member of the Diet, and part of the prime ministers’ own faction. After the geishas finished and left the room, the conversation continued.
“Old friend, I am sorry. The Prime Minister is receiving heavy pressure from the Americans to back the takeover of the consortium and the conservatives in the Diet are backing the move.”
“So. We are still the lap dogs to Washington’s wishes?” Nakamura replied with ironic venom.
“It is not so easy, Daichi san. The crises in China and India have made our ties to America all the more important. Besides, they have promised us control of the helium-3 production on the Moon,” the friend replied.
“And they hold the strings that the puppet government dances to!” There was some anger in Nakamura’s voice now. He had hoped to at the very lest that Tokyo would be neutral, but it seemed Washington was holding most of the cards. Again.
Weeks of cajoling, promising, and even bribing from Nakamura had slowed but not stopped the Japanese government. They would eventually back America’s stance. Nakamura had never taken ‘no’ for an answer, however, and he had one more card to play. He had friends in Tokyo that could help with this last, most dangerous plan. If need be, he would bring down the whole government to get his way.
The November elections had gone the way everyone had predicted, and resultantly the workload for the Independence Subcommittee increased across the board. Firstly there remained the standing question of how independence was going to come about. Natsuki argued - and won - that a plebiscite needed to be held. The number of questions on the ballot had to be set and a date found for the voting.
They settled on four possible options. First: full independence from Earth, with the formation of a nation called the Solar Federation. Second: independence from only Japan and America with membership in the United Nations. Third: No independence, and last: none of the above. The board was going to campaign for the first option.
The next question was of the date of the vote. Hull reported that Orbital Dynamics and the other launch companies would have all essential personnel and equipment in orbit by the first week of January. To give time for debate, January thirtieth was chosen. An added point: it was decided that all persons on Consortium property would have the right to vote if they were sixteen years old, or older. If this vote went as hoped, the Solar Federation would be declared January 31 2043.
Once the hows and whens of independence were decided on, it was time to work on the form of government they wanted. All agreed that it would be democratic, but the exact form and the distribution of powers were hotly debated. Some wanted a strong central government, some wanted a weak one. The debate went on for weeks with no real progress.
By the thanksgiving weekend, Natsuki and Hull where in great need of a rest. They where lounging in the back room of their home, with the partition open looking at the garden.
“Oh look a bunny,” said Natsuki, as a small white rabbit came into the garden. It was hopping around looking for food. Natsuki sat on the floor, Japanese style, dressed in a kimono. She looked beautiful and fragile to Hull. He had to remind himself that she was the de facto leader of a rebellion.
The couple’s respite was interrupted by Ryoko entering the room. She had a stiff look to her, as if she was exerting a great amount of control. She bowed low.
“Lady Natsuki, I have news from our friends in Tokyo,” she said nervously. ‘Friends in Tokyo’ was a polite euphemism for the family's yakuza connections. Sensing something was wrong, Natsuki sat up straight and assumed a formal look.
“Continue Ryoko,” she said.
“Master Daichi has been killed, he…” Ryoko said, then suddenly stopped and could not continue. Natsuki stiffened at the word, her eyes narrowed. Hull sat up sharply in shock, and didn’t know what to say or do. The last he’d heard was that Daichi was in Tokyo, meeting with government ministers and bureaucrats, trying to guide Japan's policy in favor of the habitat and Moon. It hadn’t sounded dangerous at all.
“What happend?” Natsuki asked, her voice as cold as interstellar space.
“The police are going to report that he surprised a burglar.” Ryoko said, sullenly.
“A man in a wheelchair surprising a burglar!?” Natsuki was incredulous, “That apartment is in a high security building. What else is in the message?” Hull could see anger rising in Natsuki.
Ryoko continued with her head down, staring at some nonexistent spot on the floor, “Our friends believe the police are covering up and that he was assassinated.”
“Thank you Ryoko,” Natsuki said sadly. There was a long pause while her normal stoic appearance gave way to pain and anger and sadness and fear, all in the space of a moment, then her emotionless mask returned. She continued in a cold voice, “please inform our friends that I would take it as a personal favor if they would look into this and deal with those responsible.”
Hull admired his wife's strength but was more than a little frightened at the ease with which she’d just ordered God knew how many murders.
After another long pause, Natsuki said, “Now leave us I wish to discuss this with my husband.” Ryoko bowed and left the room, sliding the door shut.
When she was sure Ryoko had moved away from the door, Natsuki threw herself into Hull's arms and the great wracking sobs and hot, salty tears came, and would not go. She cried as only a daughter could cry at the loss of her father.
After the death of Daichi Nakamura, everyone working on project Spartacus redoubled their efforts. People openly spoke as if Earth had declared war on them. Natsuki rammed through a measure for a constitutional convention to be held with representatives from every group in the consortium.
Hull worked with the different companies that handled launch and spaceflight services. In every country where the consortium had spaceports, things started happening that slowed their schedule. Nothing was officially announced, of course, but it seemed clear the various earth governments were trying to slow them down as much as possible. Hull also met regularly with the pilots’ union, but he wouldn’t tell anyone - especially Netsuke - what they where planning.
On Earth things were heating up. Protesters were actively trying to block the entrances of the Texas, New Mexico and California launch facilities. Consortium personnel were being harassed, and the EPA filed suit to shutdown Orbital Dynamics claiming it was violating the Clean Air Act. Congressmen and Senators were going on talk shows claiming that the habitat and lunar colonists were committing all manner of ridiculous crimes. There were even doctors claiming that the consortium was covering up how spaceborn children were all deformed and unhealthy.
Hull ordered all the reusable launch vehicles that could be readied to go to orbit and to wait at the orbital transfer stations. Since all the personnel that wanted to go to New Eden or the newly-renamed renamed Clarke City were already in space, they could use throwaway launchers to finish lifting what little equipment that remained. By the end of December, 2042 the colonies and the earth seemed to be on the brink of a showdown that neither side could afford to avoid.
Andre Zarkoff couldn’t believe his luck. He’d come to Macau after completing his Tokyo mission. For the last few weeks since then, he simply could not seem to lose at the gaming tables, and he’d even made more money than the CIA had paid him for silencing that troublesome old man.
He was having a quiet drink at the hotel bar when the most stunning Eurasian women he’d ever seen walked in. It was a little before dawn, so the bar was mostly empty. He decided his luck was still holding when she sat next to him and asked for a light. Faster than seemed possible, he was back in his room, sitting on his bed watching as the woman slowly undressed.
Her back was to him, and he saw that she had a tattoo of a dragon running down her spine in the Japanese fashion. She turned and walked toward him, and he saw that the tail of the dragon continued up from her legs to end just below her near-perfect breasts. She leaned over him as he lay in bed, and gave him the most passionate and sexual kiss he’d ever had ever had. She stood and smiled down at him.
Andre Zarkoff tried to smile but his lips wouldn’t move. In a panic he tried to sit up, and found he could barely move. Waves of pain hit him, starting in his mouth, and radiating downward. The woman stood there, smiling and staring at him for a bit, then she leaned in again.
“Have you ever heard of a poisoned kiss?” The women whispered into his left ear, while giving it a little nibble. She moved to his right ear: “It’s a special neural toxin. You have five minutes to live. A gift from the Nakamura clan.” She moved back over to the left ear, kissing Zarkoff on the lips on the way.
“If you tell me the name of the one who ordered the old man’s death I can ease your pain,” she offered. Zarkoff painfully struggled, croaking out a single name. His vision was getting dark. The women recognized the name, and smiled as she expertly slid a stiletto into his chest, piercing his heart ending his pain forever.
The New Year started with an air of tension. People were still moving from the orbital stations to either the Moon or the habitat. Those in the colonies who wanted to return to earth being transferred to the non-consortium stations like the Bigelow Orbital Hilton, and using Virgin Galactic to return to earth.
The first bill introduced to the new American congress was the Space Nationalization Act. After a week of debate in which most of the speakers ranted of the evils of the consortium, the bill passed and sent to the Senate. One of the most appalling parts of the bill was that only companies belonging to the consortium were to be nationalized. The bill also banned anyone below the age of twenty four from space.
With Natsuki's father dead, the independence subcommittee had ceased to rely on paid lobbyists and PR firms to make their case. All though some conservatives and libertarians argued in the consortium's favor, the tide was clearly running against them. The environmental lobby and some religious leaders were vocally against them, as were anti-big business groups, and still others that felt that man had no business in space. These lobbyied not only for the government to take control of New Eden and Clarke City, but they were demanding that they be shut down entirely.
With Natsuki in charge of the political and business matters and Hull dealing with the technical and spaceflight actions they had little time to be together. When by chance they met at home they where glad just to be able to lie together and sleep in exhaustion.
On Earth, the Nationalization Act moved with more speed than anticipated, and the Senate was set to vote on it the day before the colonies would be holding the plebiscite for independence.
On the night before the Senate vote, Natsuki arranged for Hull and her to spend the evening together. They had a quiet diner, with cocktails afterward in the garden. Their three helper/bodyguards made themselves scarce, giving them the illusion that the two of them were home alone. They chatted about music and books and things of no importance, allowing their minds and bodies to relax from the stress of careening events.
At the end of the evening, Natsuki took Hull by the hand and lead him into the bedroom. Undressing they both got into bed and embraced.
“Husband, please give me a child.” said Natsuki in a loving voice. They slowly made love like it would be their last time. Both were certain that it was.
Months before, When the word had gone out that it was time for earth folk to evacuate to the colonies, it created the biggest launch logjam in history. It had taken Diana Jaworski and her assist Roger Edwards until the last week of December to receive a flight. Things on Earth were becoming chaotic by the middle of November, with protests and near-riots at the spaceports. Jaworski’s own husband had joined in the anti-space movement that swept America.
It wasn’t her intention at first, but slowly, over the weeks of waiting and tensions she and Roger Edwards had become lovers. It was natural that two people with similar beliefs and similar ages, thrown together in an increasingly-dangerous crisis would become close, but it made Jaworski feel guilty. She wondered if she was taking advantage of Roger. Due to a shortage of ships, hundreds of people were still on the ten transfer stations in orbit, waiting for passage to the Moon or New Eden.
“No, Roger it’s your turn. I’ll get a flight soon enough.”
Edwards replied, “Diana, please don’t argue with me. They need you up on the Habitat, and anyway I’m working on modifications to some of the orbital ships so they can get to lunar orbit, and be picked up there. Far safer than leaving all those people tooling around in orbit, where any Green lunatic on the ground can pick ‘em off.” He shoved his ticket into his one-time boss’s hand. Edwards smiled as he continued, “Don’t worry. I’ll be on the Moon in no time. But you’re more important to the effort than I am. You need to get to New Eden so you can start working on my transfer back as your rusty trusty assistant.” Edwards kissed her before she could argue farther.
It was Election Day in space, and the citizens of New Eden and Clarke City used their home, work or school computers to vote. The computers used biometrics and DNA scans to verify there was only one vote per person. Hull was able to busy himself with the technical details of moving the last of the refugees in low earth orbit to the moon or New Eden. The crews of the transfer stations had volunteered - to a person - to stay on station for the duration, despite knowing they were at risk. They were the first, most obvious targets, should things get violent.
The only thing left for Natsuki to deal with was a message from the American President. The Senate had passed the Nationalization Act, sixty to thirty nine with one abstention. The President had been waiting for today's vote, and wanted the consortium's reply before signing or vetoing the bill.
The message declared that New Eden, all Solar Power satellites, and all Orbital Transfer Station, would be turned over to the US military. Clarke City and the helium mining stations on the near side of the moon would be turned over to Japan, since they where the primary user of the fusion fuel. The consortium would be reimbursed for these assets with US treasure bills at a rate to be negotiated later. The various member companies would be permitted to maintain their spaceports and to run satellite lift businesses separately; the consortium was to be dissolved. All nonessential personal would be transferred from the moon back to earth. Everyone on New Eden would have to move back to earth and the habitat would be shut down.
“Do these idiots really believe that we spent over thirty years building New Eden just to abandon it because a bunch of nutjobs don’t believe humanity belongs in space? Or that a ton of worthless paper will make it all better?” Natsuki said rhetorically to the board of directors.
As was her duty, Natsuki presented the offer to the board. One member joked that the earthfolk didn’t even have enough respect to offer real money, just bonds.
“I move that we reject the American offer!” The Mitsubishi board member with an energy that surprised the others at the table. The board agreed, and they voted with him unanimously to do so. A few members wanted to send a message to the President telling her ‘go screw yourself,’ but they left the reply to Natsuki.
She knew what her reply would be already, but she waited until midnight just to be sure she was doing what her people wanted. The voting on independence would have ended by then.
At 0100 hours, New Eden time, all the members of the board of directors of the New Eden consortium gathered behind Natsuki while she read a statement that was transmitted to every consortium property, as well as every news organization on Earth.
“As of Today, January 31st 2043, I am proud to announce the formation of the Solar Federation.”
The President immediately signed the space nationalization act, and ordered all the American assets of the consortium ito be seized. The Prime Minister of Japan followed with his own seizure order a few hours later. Some said he felt a bet reticent to do so.
After the seizure order, Natsuki ordered the solar power satellites to be shut down. They were beaming power to the Nevada desert. The effect was dramatic and immediate: Without power from the satellites, the western power grid started to suck electricity from the rest of the country. The system wasn’t designed for the simultaneous loss of thirty percent of the grid‘s overall power. The western United States went dark, from Los Angeles to Denver, and of course everyone panicked almost immediately.
Nikolas Jaworski was in his office. arranging transportation for protesters to the demonstrations at the Mojave spaceport when the power went off. This being southern California, someone pulled a hand cranked radio out of the closet and tuned to a station that had emergency power.
The newscaster said, “…And it seems the whole western half of the United States is in a blackout, the cause of which is unknown - wait - this just in: The President has announced that the power outage is the result of the New Eden consortium illegally shutting down the satellites that fed power to the western US. To repeat…”
Nikolas stopped listening and yelled “That bitch!” Most of the people that heard him believed he as talking about the consortium charwomen, but he was thinking of his soon-to-be ex-wife.
As Nikolas drove home, he had to detour around areas that the National Guard had already cordoned off. Looting and rioting had started a few hours after the power went off, and the governor had called up the guard. Nikolas felt a burning hatred for the colonists. ‘By what right do they disrupt the natural order of things?,’ he thought.
Natsuki ordered all shipments of helium 3 to Japan to be stopped. There where a few cargo modules on their way at the time, and no way to stop the automated modules after they’d been thrown into space by the linear accelerator. These just coasted to Earth and splashed down in the Sea of Japan where a ship would pick them up. Even with these last modules, it was estimated that Japan had less than twenty days of fuel for its fusion reactors. The Japanese had been building them as fast as they could, to replace the aging fission reactors constructed back in the twentieth century.
The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution stating that the colonist’s sovereignty violated both the Outer Space Treaty of 1968 and the Moon Treaty of 1979. It also authorized the use of force to bring New Eden and the moon bases back under control of their respective member states.
The consortium, meanwhile, announced the formation of the Republic of Luna to govern the Moon and to be the second nation - along with New Eden - within the Federation.
Things stood there for a week: The earth Sent a messages or made announcements, and the Federation would respond in kind, but no real action was taken by either side.
“John, how many people are still in near earth orbit?” asked Natsuki as her husband sat in her office in the administration building.
“A few hundred, give or take on the transfer stations. Why?”
“I just have a bad feeling about having people so close to Earth. They might try something.” Natsuki didn’t think that America and Japan were just going to roll over and let them go. Not after going to all the trouble of passing the nationalization bill and seizing colonial assets.
“If you want I can have them put the stations on standby and send some ships to pull them back here. It's going to take a week or so.”
“Do it, John, please. It would make me feel better.”
It might have been women's intuition or just logic but Natsuki was right: they were not going to just let them go. Even as Hull was sending ships to pick up the last of the refugees from Low Earth Orbit, America made its move.
The still Pacific morning was broken on Kwajalein Atoll as a modified anti-ballistic-missile missile was fired. Its solid fuel first stage burned bright as it sailed into the air while at the same moment its twin left the pad at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Both missiles were modified with a Centaur third stage to boost their kinetic kill vehicles into near earth orbit. The Centaur stage kicked in at 90 kilometers and boosted the 20 kilogram warhead to escape velocity.
Separating from their boosters the two warheads used their sensors to look for their respective targets. If either missed, its velocity would take it out of the earth-moon system entirely, and it would go into orbit around the sun. But neither was going to miss. Both were the product of fifty years of development and tests.
The one from Kwajalein locked on to transfer station number three. The twenty people on it had no chance, and were killed instantly as the warhead struck the station. The kinetic energy released had the force of a low yield nuclear warhead.
When the warhead from Vandenberg struck, Roger Edwards was on the observation deck taking a break from his work on the orbital shuttles. He was drinking coffee from a plastic bulb, looking out at the ungainly structure that was transfer station seven. He saw a bright flash at the far end of the station and stared dumfounded as he watched module after module of the station pitch up and away from the earth and crumple like so many soda cans. It was like a crack of a whip. Stunned, Edwards watched people being blown into space from the collapsing modules. As the wave of destruction reached the observation deck, his one thought was that he regretted not telling Diana that he loved her before she left.
Natsuki felt rage building in her as she read the report on the attacks. The United States had destroyed two unarmed and peaceful space stations, killing two hundred people. ‘No: two hundred citizens of the Federation, who have given their lives in the cause of freedom,’ thought Natsuki.
“Ayeka, where is my husband?” asked Natsuki as she ordered her desk computer to open a comm channel to Armstrong Base on the moon's near side.
“I do not know, Lady. Mihoshi is also missing.” Ayeka bowed as she answered.
“Find them. I need them here,” ordered Natsuki.
Thoughts of her husband left her as her desk screen came alive with the picture of an aged Afro American.
“Commander Jackson, can we respond?” Jackson was the consortium chief of security, now in command of Federation security and defense.
“Yes, Madam Chairwoman. We have two kinetic warheads ready.” answered Jackson.
“I want both of those launch sites destroyed.”
“Yes, Madam. We have a launch window in two hours, it will take five hours for the weapons to reach their targets after that.” answered Jackson.
“Do it.” ordered Natsuki, her rage overpowering her normal polite manner.
As Natsuki cut the connection to the moon, Ayeka came back into her office and handed her a computer tablet. Natsuki started to read the message on its screen and her heart sank. It read:
Announcement from John Hull CEO of Orbital Dynamics Unlimited and the President of the pilots union: Today we have been attacked by the forces opposed to our freedom. To answer this attack the pilots union and all the spaceflight companies of the Federation have formed the Guard. Volunteer space crews are now moving ships into positions to cover all possible trajectories from Earth to Luna and New Eden with the goal of intercepting any and all threats to the Federation. The men and women of the Guard pledge their lives and sacred honor in defense of our families our homes and our freedom.
It was signed ‘John Hull.’
Natsuki opened a private channel and called Hull. After a few minutes her desk screen came to life with a video feed. Hull was on a ship under acceleration, and smiled at the camera.
“Hi, honey.” He said.
“John, what do you think you are doing? you are needed here.” ‘with me’ she wanted to add.
“Natsuki, I am doing my duty. Would you have me do anything less?”
“No husband, I would not.” she admitted, and there was an awkward pause.
“Now, where is Mihoshi?” she asked just to change the subject. She wanted him here, relatively safe, and not out being a hero, but she knew she couldn’t say that.
The screen split and the image of Mihoshi appeared.
“I apologize, Lady Natsuki. I could not stop Master John from his course of action, so I will share his fate.” she said as she bowed her head. Natsuki unconsciously reached for the screen, her hand lightly touching the image of her husband.
“I love you John,” she said in a low voice. She held her hand to the image, then straightened her shoulders and took on the vestige of the proper master of a Japanese household.
“Mihoshi, make sure that on your return that both of you report to me so you can be punished accordingly.” She cut the connection. She couldn’t go on, and didn’t want to effect their morale. She knew the ships where unarmed, and the only way they could stop an incoming warhead was to ram it. Natsuki bowed her head and started to cry not caring if anyone saw her.
Jackson stood at the launch control panel, looking out at the linear accelerator. The weapons were called Arrows by the men who designed and built them. They were being readied for their first and last flight to Earth. The time counted down to when the colonists would strike back for the unprovoked attack on the stations.
Sixty minutes to go.
The accelerator was in Oceanus Procellarum - the Sea of Storms - on the moon’s nearside. It was called ‘Armstrong Base,’ and Jackson thought it a shame the name Armstrong would forever be linked to this action. Jackson himself didn’t have any doubts about what he was doing. As a young man, he’d been a marine officer. He’d served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He knew the face of war and was not afraid to look into it again.
Nor did he have doubts about attacking the country that he once severed. America had changed to the point that he did not feel it was his country any more. He thought back to '09, which started out with such promise, but then the country had become something else. The government had picked up a taste for control and for taking people’s property to an extent he would not have thought possible when he was growing up.
Five minutes to the launch window. Jackson took the fail-safe key and turned it from safe, passed auto, to manual.
“Sir, you’ll lose a little accuracy in a manual launch,” one of the technicians said.
“Son, I have never liked letting computers do my killing for Me,” Jackson replied.
He removed the protective covering over the manual launch button, and poised his finger over it. When the timer hit zero he pressed the button. It was a bit anticlimactic. One moment the Arrow package was sitting on the cradle of the accelerator, and the next it was shooting down the track almost too fast for the eye to follow. No noise or rumble. It disappointed Jackson. ‘At lest when you fired a rifle there was a crack and a kick,’ he thought.
The Arrow package shot down the accelerator track at over a hundred g's acceleration before it was thrown into space. At two hundred kilometers above the moon's surface, a solid fuel booster fired to correct its trajectory. Normally the accelerator was used to send capsules of helium-3 to earth. These were given just enough energy to escape the moon's gravity and then slowly spiraled towards the planet until they made a soft splashdown in the Sea of Japan.
This launch was differentL They used max power, placing the arrows on a high energy direct trajectory for an impact with Earth.
At the halfway point the package split into two warheads. Each had their own boosters to guide them to their separate targets. Five hours later both Arrows entered the upper atmosphere. Now they were simply unguided iron cores, sheathed in an ablative heat shield to keep them from melting on the way in, and to reduce any loss of velocity in the terminal phase.
Above the Kwajalein launch complex there appeared a brilliant fireball then the Arrow stuck. Almost a ton of iron moving at orbital velocity converted its kinetic energy into heat. It would be estimated later that the blast was equal to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Since most of the energy was directed into the island it simply ceased to exist. A new perfectly round lagoon would form from the impact crater. The dead were estimated at six hundred air force and civilian personal.
At Vandenberg the death toll would be much higher. The Arrow stuck right in the center of Space Launch Complex Six. The Air Force had actually readying another space station-busting missile at the time, so it was swarming with personnel. Six thousand were later Estimated dead. The impact had two side effects: first, it started a forest fire in the park that ringed the base. Second, it caused the San Andreas fault to slip, resulting in an earthquake that was felt from San Francisco to San Diego and as far east as Las Vegas.
Nikolas Jaworski was in bed with a twenty-something bubblehead he’d meet at one of the anti-spacer rallies when the quake hit. They both ran into the backyard nude and stayed there until the shaking had completely stopped.
Nikolas went inside and grabbed two robes and two pair of flip-flops, then returned to the frightened girl. After dressing they both went around to the front of the house and saw other neighborhood folk in the street. The damage looked light at first glance.
Nikolas heard some fool say that the spacers had just nuked LA, but since he couldn’t see any sign of that when he looked toward downtown, he put it out of his mind. There had been wild rumors ever since the blackout, and people were starting to gossip about the most outrageous things. Not even he could believe it all.
“What happens now?” said the girl clinging to him like a frightened child.
“Don’t know, but somehow I don’t think the spacers are going to come down without a fight.” he replied. He suddenly realized he’d never even told her his name.
The Prime Minister’s trip to a Shinto shrine in northern Japan would cause little comment in the press. Politicians did these things every day. After the photo opportunity with the head priest was over, he was led to a back room, allegedly for private meditation.
The well dressed older man waiting in the room gave the Prime Minister a little head-bow and motioned for him to sit. There was Saki on a traditional floor table. After pouring himself a drink, the Minister lit a cigarette and indicated it was time to begin.
“The polls show that support for government action against the consortium has dropped to a new low. Reactivating the old fission reactors to end the rolling blackouts have caused the green coalition to call for a vote of no confidence in the Diet,” the man said. He took a sip of Saki, and the Prime Minister caught a glimpse of tattoos on the man’s arm as his sleeve rustled with the motion of his arm.
“And that concerns the Yakuza how?”
“We supported the Prime Minister when he first ran for office, and we wish to support him still,” the man said to the prime minister, politely avoiding using the word ’you.’ He continued, “I have a message that might help the minister to decide the correct course to take in these perilous times.”
The Prime Minister took a drink, and a drag on his cigarette. He stared at the man for a long moment, then nodded his head.
“The message is from my niece, Lady Natsuki. She will guarantee helium-3 deliveries to Japan at no increase in price. All that is needed is to withdraw our nation’s claim on the Moon and the New Eden Habitat; the Minister can keep the assets his government has already taken”
The President was visibly unnerved. The attacks happened just hours after the Director of the CIA was found murdered in a motel room just outside of Washington.
“Was it nuclear?” she asked as she swept the situation room with her eyes. The Joint Chiefs, the Secretaries of Defense and State, all just stared back at her. The silence was broken by her science advisor, a grey haired old man that looked out of place in the room.
“No! Madam President, they were kinetic energy weapons. Most likely fired from one of the linear accelerators on the Moon.”
“And our response?” she asked, looking squarely at the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
“I am afraid there is none, Madam President,” he said, “if we would have attacked the Habitat and the main Moon base first, perhaps, but now any strike would easily be intercepted, and hitting another orbital station wouldn’t change that.” The General said this with a hint of accusation in his voice. He’d wanted to destroy the Habitat first thing.
“The whole point was to get the Habitat and Moon bases intact. Destroying them would have made this all pointless,“ she said with some heat. She didn’t like his tone, and she would remember it.
“I am afraid it is pointless, Madam President,” the science advisor abruptly offered, “I knew both Hull and Nakamura. they wouldn’t have set a plan like this in motion if they didn’t already know they could win. Unlike the Pentagon, I do believe they really are self sufficient. They don’t really need any commerce with Earth. They can survive and even flourish without us. Whether we live or die is immaterial to their survival.”
He paused for a moment to let that sink in, but before anyone could say a word he continued, “Even if by chance you could destroy the linear accelerators, the spacers could just move an asteroid to strike earth, and that’s the end of everything. Madam president, we can not win now.”
It has been a week since the counterstrike, and Natsuki and the board had continued to take action. First. she ordered ships from the guard fitted with railguns for interception of any incoming weapons to New Eden or Luna. She wanted no more martyrs. Second, she’d sent a crew to the solar power station in geosynchronous orbit over North America. She was having the station restarted and modified. The plan was - when ready - to use the the station to project high energy microwaves at American and Japanese satellites to shut them down. This, it was hoped, would continue the pressure on the US government with no additional loss of life.
From the news reports they overheard from Earth it appeared that the strikes against Kwajalein and Vandenberg had started a political firestorm. At first the government tried to claim they were unprovoked attacks, then Natsuki had a statement released stating that they were in retaliaiton for the attacks on civilian stations and the deaths of their crews. The statement went concluded with a warning that the Federation would only strike if attacked but if it was attacked, and that it claimed the right of self defense and would destroy the launch sites and any facilities that aided the attackers. This started a public debate that was ongoing. It seemed that most people in the US didn’t like the idea of spacers who could attack at any moment, and they demanded the government take actions to stop them.
All this was happening when Hull's ship came in with the last people from the orbital stations. Low earth orbit was now empty of any Federation personnel. To make sure that Hull didn’t leave without seeing her, Natsuki had Federation security arrest himand bring him to her office.
“Sorry husbandm but you seem to do things with no regard to my wishes,” she said Hull plopped down on the office couch. She was seated behind her desk, wearing a conservative blue business suit.
“Not true, Natsuki. It needed to be done and I had to be part of it.”
Natsuki sighed and said, “John, like all men, you sometimes think like a child.” He started to protest, but she held her hand, and continued, “You are a member of the governing counsel, and the CEO of a major corporation. You have pressing responsibilities here.” Natsuki stood and walked to where John sat and concluded, “Besides, your daughter may like to meet her father.”
Natsuki opened her jacket and placed Hulls hand on her belly.
“I was told this morning that you are going to be a father.”
That ended the conversation for some time.
Stalemate was the situation that the Federation and Earth found themselves in. The American government insisted that they now owned New Eden and Clarke City; and of course the Federation insisted that they were now an independent nation outside of even UN control. The Japanese had remained strangely quiet since the first weeks of the crisis. Nether side wanted to back down, but both realized that to fight it out would cause unwarranted destruction. It would be an uneven battle if it turned hot again: the nations of earth had years ago let the technology of spaceflight slip from them and into the hands of private companies. All but a few of these were part of the consortium. Most of the best personnel had left earth before the conflict began, and the few that remained had found that the Spartacus plan had somehow destroyed all relevant data and wiped their computer files.
Most of the advanced reusable vehicles had been moved to orbit, so there was only old expendable boosters available, and most didn’t have the power to lift heavy loads beyond low orbit. On the other hand, the Federation held the high ground. If worse came to worse they could just use more Arrows against ground targets, or hit the world with something vastly bigger.
As the politicians on Earth raged about the evil and insane people in space, the Federation started to make itself into something real. The constitutional convention convened in Clarke City. Representatives were elected from the rank and file employees of the consortium's member corporations. Natsuki moved heaven and earth to limit management’s involvement. She believed that for this to work the people needed to do it themselves, and that This might be the only time in history the populist idea could really work. The Federation was composed almost entirely of highly educated scientists, engineers and technicians. Most were of an independent mindset, which suited Natsuki. Even though she was no atheist, she was very influenced by Ayn Rand and other libertarian thinkers.
That isn’t to say Natsuki was going to leave her unborn child’s future world to chance: She was the Chairwoman of the governing broad the CEO of Nakamura Heavy Industries and the head of the Nakamura clan. She was, at this moment in time, the most powerful person in the Federation. Her father had taught her not to let something like that go to waste. She had agents in the convention that would surreptitiously help her guide it to an acceptable outcome.
“Ayeka, I wish this package taken to Clarke City and delivered it to the name written on it.” Natsuki said this as she handed her bodyguard a large old style manila envelope. In accordance with Japanese custom, she didn’t actually say she wanted Ayeka to do it, but this was implicit. “I also want you to stay and assist with the operation there.” Ayeka bowed and started to back out of the room.
“Ayeka, no killing. Use judgment on what is best, but no killing. Is that understood?”
“It will be as my lady wishes.” Ayeka gave a low formal bow and left the room.
While the convention continued, Natsuki set out to make sure that the the consortium’s member companies followed through with the final part of project Spartacus. At a meeting of the board, she had the High Frontier Foundation formed with the mission of exploring the solar system and developing new space technologies.
The big move came next: to give the Federation ninety percent of the consortium’s stock, and the rest would to go to the Foundation. Natsuki used threats, promises, and bribery to get it done, but in the end the board voted for it.
Hull walked into the back room and found Natsuki praying on her knees before the Buddhist shrine. Not wishing to disturb herm he went out into the garden and sat looking at the simulated night sky. The habitat was in its night cycle and holograms were projected with realistic space views. Hull did not pray much. Like his father, he believed that the best prayer was a persons actions. ‘God helps those that help themselves.’ the senior Hull would tell John when he was young.
Natsuki came walking out. She was starting to show, and it made Hull want to jump up and help her over.
“John, I need a very important favor,” she said while sitting next to him.
“Anything,” Hull said as he placed his hand on Natsuki's swollen belly.
“I need you to resign from the board before the constitution is ratified.” Hull sat straight at that.
“I need you as the director of the Foundation. It maybe the most important job in the Federation.” She went on to explain the true mission of the Foundation, and the final part of the plan that their fathers had for mankind, though that is a story for another day.
After the Federation constitution was ratified, it became politically impossible for the governments of Japan and the United States to keep insisting New Eden and Clarke City belonged to them. The public opinion in Japan was overwhelmingly in favor of just letting them go, and in the US it was almost an even divide. Several large nations - seeing an opportunity to weaken the United States - started to back the Federation in the UN general assembly. On May 20, 2043, the government of Japan renounced all claims to their space assets. That same week the American President asked congress to pass a bill turning the problem over to the UN. She felt that it was the best that could be done. Her political situation had become a no win one, and she knew it.
It would take until 2047 before the UN security counsel fully recognized the Federation, but for all intents and purposes the Federation was an independent nation in 2043.
On August 3 2043 Natsuki Nakamura became the first President of the Solar Federation.
Copyright 2010,2011 Richard Anderson
Originally web-published March, 2010