An early evening orange-red haze fills the sky. The sun begins to set and I look past the crescent silhouette of the moon looking as usual, for Saturn. On days like this, there’s no need for my telescope. The evening sky is clear. On other evenings, no matter how hard I look, I fear Saturn is forever lost to me. I took for granted that I visit Saturn regularly. But no more. I haven’t been able to visit or barely talk to my father and my sister Sharmayne for almost a year.
When Earth jams transmission signals making it difficult for us to contact Enceladus Outpost, Saturn, a week or two will pass before I’m able to raise them to ask, through heavy static, how they’re doing. If the sky here on Earth is cloudy and filled with smoke from the explosions. Filled with smoke and fire from the burning buildings. Filled with smoke and fire from the burning spaceports, burning roadways, burning croplands, I desperately need to know, for I’m sure, there are those on Enceladus who have retaliated. Enceladus Outpost, Saturn. Are you still there?
The already heated conflict between Earth and Saturn exploded when a woman on the outpost was murdered, allegedly by her husband. She recently discovered they were two, maybe three weeks pregnant. The woman’s family requested that her body be flown back to Earth for autopsy. Her family also requested her husband be brought to Earth to stand trial, as well. Enceladus Outpost decided that since the crime or alleged murder occurred in Saturn’s jurisdiction, Saturn would be best to process the crime and administer justice.
The man pleaded innocent and he and his lawyer agreed that the best place for a fair trial, according to news reports, was Saturn. As quick as possible witnesses would need to be interviewed, evidence collected and cataloged and an autopsy done to determine how the woman truly died. By the time Earth officials arrived, the Outpost’s officials decided, the crime scene would be cold, and worst, contaminated. Some agreed with Enceladus Outpost.
The majority consensus on Earth became, and still is: “Who does Enceladus think they are? An outpost barely functioning with a hundred, or so, on staff and they’re dictating to us as if they’re a billion strong.” Enceladus refused to ship the wife’s body back to Earth until autopsy procedures were completed. The wick ran out at this point and things exploded... figuratively and literally.
Those for the self-governing of Enceladus Outpost began protesting. And those who felt the Outpost should know its place made their voices known in the nation’s capital cities alongside them. A handful of protests, enormous signs, call-and-response chanting in a spirited march were peaceful, but that escalated to heated arguments between protesters supporting opposite sides--or neither side. Protestors put hands on one another, bones were broken, bottle bombs were tossed under unoccupied private transports, then came the all-out rioting.
Riot police were brought in to draw the line between the supporters of Saturn and the supporters of Earth. In the following weeks, “Let Saturn Live!” in blue, orange and black spray paint defaced many government buildings and transport ships. Then in the overnight hours' explosions rocked the same buildings and transport stations The defacing, it’s believed, is the way of marking the locations to be further vandalized or set ablaze.
I was able to see Enceladus and the outline of the Outpost during numerous visits to the observatory while dad and Sharmayne have been gone, The giant telescope was damaged recently when the facility caught fire. Many believe it to be arson, angry supporters of Enceladus Outpost or the LSL (Let Saturn Live!) as some like to refer to them. No one has claimed responsibility. Mom and I are constantly questioned. At one time, in the least, respected, the government treats us as enemies of the state. Mom wanted to cooperate. She felt cooler heads would prevail. She believes the Outpost has the right to govern itself.
She stated as much in her blog and on the morning shows when the second wave of spouses of Enceladus outpost members was interviewed. “They were sent with an already established civilized system of government,” she said. Our government claimed before the chosen left that these were some of the best Earth had to offer,” she told them. Mom reiterated, “You told Enceladus on different occasions, much like Titan Outpost before them: “We can’t hold your hand through everything...Figure it out.”
Some agreed with her, some called her a traitor. The news shows, as well as law enforcement, asked her. “Is it true you visited Saturn’s Outpost moon location Enceladus more than twenty times in the year previous to this current year?” She told them she had. Not only because her husband and daughter were a part of the second outpost project after Titan but because she wanted to help in Enceladus' progression.
Usually, I’m able to talk to dad and sis’ for no more than thirty seconds. Lately, though static has been heavier I was able to talk to them for forty-five to sixty.
“DuBose? How’s it hanging?” Sharmayne asks.
“It’s hanging.” I reply, “I ain’t getting none but it’s there.”
“Getting none of what?” sis’ replies
“DuBose,” snaps dad.
“Well, she asked,” I reply. Sharmayne and I spend the rest of the transmission laughing at making DuBose Sr., that’s dad, uncomfortable.
“Others are listening to these transmissions DuBose,” he says. “And Sharmayne watch your mouth... just picking up too many bad habits.”
“Sorry pop. But I couldn’t pass it up,” I reply. I got no response though. They were gone again. Before we could say any goodbyes or, love you see you soon, the transmission went to complete static.
I used to take it all for granted. We’ll be on Saturn next week I’d explain to Charisse, that’s mom, by the way, when she would state how important it was to be able to point out the location of planets, constellations, moons, and stars in the night sky or on the way to Saturn, Mercury or Mars. Her explanation to me: You need to know what you’re looking at and which way you’re traveling in the galaxy. And don’t rely on machines to do everything for you all the time.
What’s the point in having the technology if we don’t allow it to do its job, I’d point out. Machines can calculate, differentiate, and locate light-years faster. But now with every passing moment of every day, our reliance on machines was crashing with every explosion. You have to be damn good with technology. I mean breaking down and rebuilding the tech to get any use out of it now.
Here it is just after the turn of the century, summer 3002. The galaxy has a space station orbiting Pluto looking into further exploration of the Andromeda galaxy and Earth could soon be plunged into the horse and buggy era. Mom refuses to believe it will ever come to that. She simply wants no part of the transition from flying a fighter jet, cargo jet, commercial jet faster than the speed of light and a three day trip to Saturn from Stone Mountain Air Force Base to a three-week trek on horseback to Mesa, Arizona to visit her parents.
Nothing works. Nothing. But it’s personal now. In more ways than one. Saturn wants more autonomy. Enceladus Outpost feels Earth doesn’t have it’s best interest at heart. The Outpost’s statement to Earth: If Earth cannot fulfill logistics or personnel promises then they shouldn’t have an issue with Saturn reaching out to Mars, Mercury or Venus.
Some on Earth want to monopolize the supply lines, the travel industry and control the economy. Others say that Earth, it’s outposts and other planets should be as efficient as possible. Many believe Enceladus Outpost has no business being at Saturn, so it serves them right if they’re left twisting in the wind. Humans were meant to be on Earth, their argument...not colonizing half the galaxy.
There is a myriad of points of view. The loyalists to Saturn are making their voices known on Earth, While loyalists to Earth were caught trying to abduct the man accused of murdering his wife. Rumor has it the couple were overjoyed that their child would be the first child born and raised on Enceladus Outpost. The first child of Saturn. The pregnant couple applied to be full-fledged Saturn citizens.
I don’t know how the war started. Or should I say who began carrying out the attacks? I don’t remember Earth claiming responsibility for the explosions on Saturn. We have no idea who is branding and bombing buildings. We have no idea who these members of Let Saturn Live! are. Nor has anyone from Saturn staked claim to the mysterious explosions rocking the infrastructure of Earth’s water treatment plants, power plants. Fires continue to flare up and burn thousands of crops, wilderness, and homes in the path of those wilderness fires.
Friends say I should be careful about expressing my opinion out loud until I can be sure; until someone takes responsibility. A journal entry to cope with not being able to see my father and sister is one thing, mom says. Continually accusing Earth of terrorism against its own outpost...will make me and my family more of a target than we already are.
Sharmayne turned fifteen today. I was hoping I could reach them, but the protests, the bombings...the planets from Mercury to Saturn are in a frenzy with their high rate of transmissions. The only ones sending messages are the military and the press. Mom is doing her best to fight off the hate and keep the peace between her side of the family and my father’s. They don’t like the fact that he, but especially, Sharmayne is on Enceladus.
Mom is feeling the pressure from military co-workers and close friends alike because of her stand. Many made up their mind that she is on the side of Saturn before she stated if she was or wasn’t and why. Dubose and Sharmayne have been there for over a year they remind mom. Why do you remain loyal to a man who left you and took your child, they asked?
For those who don’t know us, mom has to inform them and reiterate to those who do that she supports my father wholeheartedly and her daughter is on Saturn because we knew it would be a fun learning experience and she receives two years worth of university credits. Well, it’s been more than that. Members of Enceladus Outpost have not only been able to build a town, a government, grow food and trees in the facilities on the ice moon, dad and Sharmayne have also flown by the first four planets of the Andromeda galaxy, planets we’d only seen from satellite pictures.
They went to the Andromeda on one of their first excursions from Saturn. Sharmayne was just about to get into details when we got cut off. Even some media outlets had trouble reconnecting with the outpost after learning of the murder and making initial contact. Enceladus Outpost, Saturn wants their independence, their sovereignty and dad, Sharmayne and others are caught in the middle until either side relents.
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Cool story! It's science fiction, but it feels like something that actually happened (I was going to say, "that I read in a magazine or in a newspaper", but will there be any print media in 3002? probably not; at last not in the more advanced societies). If you've written a sequel to this, I want to read that, too. Thank you for writing this story.
True, Phillip. There likely won't be print media in 3002. In many sci-fi stories, things of the past some many centuries old seem to survive and are still in use by many. Is it nostalgia? Or poverty? May be a certain sickness with no cure that won't allow them to use present-day technology. I plan to revisit Saturn Enceladus and continue to develop it. Thanks for reading. And keep up the good work.
(Update: I just checked and I think you clicked on the blue REPLY button at least a dozen times. I can't delete your duplicate responses, but you can. Just delete the ones that don't have any reply to them. I had to do that myself the first time I ran into the problem. Unfortunately for me, I accidentally deleted all the duplicate copies I'd sent to another user, including the one that she replied to. Thankfully, she sent me her reply message again. I'm not sure why Tech Support hasn't found the problem yet, but they're aware of it.) ...
I thought I had deleted them. I'll check again.
You did. The duplicates are all gone. The only one remaining is the one I replied to. I wish I knew of a way to avoid creating duplicate responses, but my only solution (so far) has been to just click on the blue REPLY button once (even if it doesn't seem to do anything). Maybe Tech Support will have a better solution in the near future.