ES Store ES Gaming ES Stories About the Eylau Sequence Go to ES Home Page


the eylau sequence.war

Apollo 11 National Park is a crown jewel of the California Parks system. It is one of the few places left in the solar system where people can visit a site untouched since man's earliest attempts to leave Earth. Nearly all of the old landing zones explored by humans during man’s early space programs were obliterated by commercial development, collectors and explorers who came afterward. At the Apollo 11 site however, everything remains as it was left hundreds of years ago by the two men who originally walked on that spot. Their footprints are still easily seen in the lunar dust around the fragile and shiny descent stage upon which they rode to the surface.

Sonya Ortiz stood on the visitor’s center platform, looking out at the ancient landing site and the panorama beyond. There were numerous primitive tools and sensors which had been left behind by the visiting American astronauts. Some items were so close she could have reached over the rail and grabbed them were it not for the clear wall in between. She marveled at the delicacy and size of the main vehicle, built by people long since dead and by a nation long since gone. She shook her head quietly.

‘Americans.’ she thought to herself. It was not very often she heard that word anymore. Most people never thought about the fact that California used to belong to a larger country – two countries actually – with populations in the hundreds of millions. The mind boggled at the sheer scale of pre-glacial human activity.

Walking along and taking in the view, she looked up into the blackness of space above the sharp grey horizon. There were no stars visible, not with the sun shining brightly. She ran her slender hands along the smooth wooden railing and pondered last night’s dream, but her eyes watered up and she self-consciously moved away from a nearby cluster of tourists. She sniffed a couple of times, cleared her throat and resumed a slow walk across the enormous hall.

The center she was walking through was the fourth building to occupy the old Apollo site, it was fairly new, very large, modern and quite beautiful. It offered panoramic vistas in every direction and was connected underground to a nearby observatory complex. In fact, it was at the observatory that Ortiz had her next appointment, so she made her way back to the elevators and down to the subway – humanity had gotten much better at tunneling underground since the days of Apollo. This particular day was busy, school was in session and there were over a hundred students bustling around the shopping area beneath the visitor’s hall. Ortiz enjoyed seeing so many very young people all in one place, none of them could have been over 25 years old. “Babies.” she thought to herself.

Fifteen minutes later she walked into the Aldrin Lunar Observatory reception area. Its titanium and beryllium exterior was gracefully sculpted into a steep, open topped arch beneath which observatory staff worked at their stations and offices. Even in these times when humans did not really need offices anymore, they still had them. They needed their own little places to hide. At least on the moon you could build on the surface and enjoy the view, albeit a very different view people on Earth would see.

Ortiz walked the long way around to the main entry of the observatory research center. The entry plaza was spacious and modern, flanked by copper-sheathed columns that caught the filtered sunlight and reflected it onto an atrium that dominated the core. She immediately caught sight of Doctor Joao Dumont, the space sciences director. The tall, slender scientist was a naturalized Californian of Brasilian descent, and not accidentally part Japanese, which he spoke fluently. He was engrossed in something and only looked up as Ortiz approached.

“Sonya, it is good to see you again.” he exclaimed as he strode forward on his long legs with his hand held up in greeting. “I was starting to think you would never come to visit us, or is it possible you are here to see someone else?" he asked with a sly look in his eyes.

“Well Joao.” said Ortiz purposely looking past him and around the room as if he were not there. “If I thought you were important enough, I would come to see you more often.” she added, accompanied by her trademark smirk. With that she smiled at him and Joao nodded his head seriously, “Oh so it’s like that is it?” He punched her lightly on the arm and asked; “All right Miss Big, would you like to see the show?” She nodded enthusiastically and so he motioned down the main hall, where they proceeded past the numerous work centers and offices. And what beautiful, spacious offices they were. Up here on the moon, people were compensated for the grey view by having lots of personal space.

At the end of the hallway they passed through another entry which confirmed their identity as they entered. This was a secure area and not everyone who worked at the observatory was allowed there. It was not so much what was inside; rather it was what people discussed that mattered – there was still plenty of information in the solar system that needed to be kept from prying ears. Turning left Joao entered a sparsely furnished room surrounded on three sides by a dark vanishing horizon reflection pool and giant floor to ceiling windows. Outside was the ongoing panorama of the moon’s surface, the effect was breathtaking.

He sat down across from her as they both relaxed into the comfortable dark sofas. He was the first to speak. “How are you?” he asked clinically. “You seem rather, sad if I could be so presumptuous.” He was more than just an astronomer, and the observatory’s sensors had a few things to tell him about his visitor. She nodded slowly, thinking for a few seconds. “It was a dream I had last night, about my friend Sarah – she died many years ago and last night, out of nowhere, I dreamt about her.”

“Anything I can hear?” Joao’s tone was sympathetic and accommodating.

She paused and thought for a moment, turned and looked out beyond the pool to the undulating grey horizon. Without looking back at Joao, she began to speak in an even tone; “In the dream, I was in a small room talking to some people. Sarah walked past the doorway, you know, as if it were a perfectly normal day and she was on the way to do some mundane thing in the next room. I called out to her ‘Hey Sarah.’ She stopped and turned in the doorway, looking patiently at me to continue. With an impish, sentimental grin I said, ‘It’s good to see you.’ in friendly earnestness. It was the only thing I could think to say. Even within the dream I knew she had been gone a very long time. She smiled and tottered her head in the friendly, casual way of someone who knew they would see me again… and then she walked off.”

Sonya was staring down at the shiny, hard floor.

“Well.” Joao said. “It’s good to have dreams like that, it’s good for you.”

“Yes it was. We were childhood friends you know. I don’t mean like teens or twenties childhood, I mean we knew each other when we were five. For each of us, the other person had always been around. Anyway, it’s good to know that she is still in there.” Sonya said, tapping lightly at her temple. With a crisp clearing of her throat, she looked back at Joao.

“So.” she paused. “Now it’s your turn Joao, but I’ll apologize that I don’t want to hear what you dreamed about last night.”

“Or the night before?” he asked with a questioning smile.

“Or the night before.” she affirmed.

“Well, we do have a bit of information.” he added, watching the surface of the couch change slightly as he ran his hands over it, he was an eternal experimenter. Without looking back at her, he opened a data thread and popped open a large viewer between them. As it floated in the air just beyond reach, a breathtaking new view appeared. She hissed slightly as her breath drew in. “Wow.”

“Yes, wow.” Joao smiled. The image stream was from the fifth of the Cook interstellar probes, a series of missions sent many decades previously. Cook 5 had successfully entered orbit last night, at least according to signals it had sent 43 years ago. It was as live as anyone near Earth would get for now.

The important thing that the large visual feed from Cook 5 revealed as it orbited hundreds of miles above the surface of the planet dozens of light years away was water, nothing but water actually. That was what they were counting on. Decades of planning were culminating in just a few days of action. The Cook 5 probe carried several sets of smaller modules that would investigate the planet's atmosphere, ocean and core. The view panned downward, below Cook Five was indeed one of the modules that had launched and was already speeding quickly away from the parent vehicle. As it lost altitude and headed down into the atmosphere, the front shields began to glow.

Ortiz looked over at the doctor with a smile on her face, “Spectacular Joao, congratulations.” Her eyes panned across the view in front of her one more time. Of course this had been done before, but not so often that it was not an awesome sight.

“Yes.” Joao replied. “And thanks to the people who built it also.” They both nodded in quiet reflection of the enormous complexities of the mission.

Joao continued. “The Japanese are far ahead of us, but we are not so backwards that they show no interest when we visit someplace new.” His last words were accompanied by a caustic smile. He liked the Japanese and he spoke their language, but he was the competitive type and not always comfortable with them holding all the cards. He did not mind at all handing this data over to them, maybe they would not be so insufferable for a while.

Ortiz smiled, she sympathized. “I will tell them about this, but they will not expect anything yet, they will wait until we have more information. Anyway, I don’t think that’s why Mr. Yamazaki is visiting us, this is earlier than he would normally ask to meet.” She looked back up at Dumont with a tight smile, he knew she was here to meet with the Japanese and not him, and that it was probably about the war.

“Well.” he said. “I think you are up to it, let me know if your dreams change.” was his last request.

“Yes doctor.” she replied in mock politeness.


|||||   |||||


Noshi Yamazaki was a Japanese diplomat permanently assigned to Earth. Because of this he was unusual among Japanese in that he was still physically fit to visit the surface. A vast majority of Japan’s citizens living at L5 were adapted to weightlessness and could no longer visit Earth. Most of the stations out there that jointly made up ‘Japan’ did not even employ artificial gravity, at least not at the levels seen on the home planet. However, the Japanese government maintained a small population on Earth who could work as liaisons and diplomats in their original earthbound environment. Nobody was quite sure where on the planet they stayed, but they had their own typically Japanese ways of maintaining obligations.

As Ortiz walked in to the restaurant she saw Mister Yamazaki and walked over to him, bowing low; “Yamazaki-san, it is good to see you again, I understand you requested my company, I am honored by your consideration.”

Yamazaki bowed to the same level as Ortiz; “Thank you Miss Ortiz, I hope your health has been excellent.” he replied. He briefly paused and looked at her searchingly. She hoped he did not perceive the same weakness that Joao had seen. They had an unnerving sense for that sort of thing.

“With your permission Miss Ortiz, I would like to present a technology packet to California, in honor of your ancestors who shared all they knew to help Japan in its time of greatest need. We will long remember their efforts.”

“I thank you, in the name of all the people of California, for the benefit of the many who still claim descent.” This small ceremony used to be conducted with great fanfare between heads of state. For the last couple of hundred years it was mostly handled at middle diplomatic levels and typically when there was something else to discuss. In this case, that something else was probably war.

After Yamazaki handed Ortiz the small, delicately folded paper envelope that represented the technology transfer – the actual transfer would take place on Earth at exactly midnight – he invited her to lunch; “Please Miss Ortiz, have a seat and we will relax in trying times.”

‘Yes,’ Ortiz thought, ‘they have something to say about the war.’

The food was served as they sat down in the private area of the restaurant. It had an excellent view of the observatory where Sonya had just been, except this perspective had a clear view of the giant surface collectors that radiated out from the observatory core. The restaurant was full of customers, but the Japanese never seemed to worry about that. They had their own ways of making sure nobody else was listening, and they always preferred personal conversations. Whether that was a cultural or technological decision nobody was sure. Ortiz believed it was both.

The food was light, mostly raw fish snacks and rice with seaweed, followed by delicately fried shrimps and vegetables dipped in thin sauces. It was delicious but not filling; easier to eat whilst hearing bad news.

“The Japanese government is concerned Miss Ortiz, as I’m sure your government already understands.” Ortiz confirmed his statement with a barely detectable nod. She was alarmed however, she had been hoping the Japanese would not use such a strong word as ‘concerned,’ this could be bad.

He continued; “The Selangor offensive has caused disruption. Commercial activity is down; key materials production on Mars and numerous asteroids is no longer shipping on time. Orbital debris above Earth has quadrupled and above Mars has tripled. There are reports of task forces for both sides still on deep space trajectories; these reports have all the hallmarks of a protracted conflict.”

He paused and looked at her with that spooky neutral expression, not quite a smile, not quite a leer. “We trust California not to take sides on this matter, but we also understand who the current aggressor is.”

‘Okay that’s good.’ thought Ortiz. ‘They understand why we rescued those two Australians.’

“This is a time when friends need to be able to trust and advise one another, both our friends and your friends, do you understand Miss Ortiz?”

“Yes.” She replied with another barely detectable nod. This was bad. The Japanese were going to do something. But there was something else, what was it?

She continued; “We understand, and we thank you for your generous advice.”

“Thank you Miss Ortiz, you are a kind host and I look forward to seeing you again. I trust that next time we meet, you will have a better opportunity to enjoy the meal.”

With that he almost smiled, stood and bowed. Ortiz stood and bowed in return and watched him walk out through the restaurant.

She looked around the room, at the many people ironically enjoying their Japanese food. Her fears were confirmed, what she had hinted at to Williams was true – and more. But what did Yamazaki mean by 'our friends and your friends?’ Who were their friends? California? Was there a hint buried in there that it was okay to improve relations with Australia?

‘Well,’ she thought, ‘back to San Diego to see how everyone parses the conversation. The Japanese always mean more than they say, I just hope we figure out what exactly they meant before they do whatever it is Yamazaki just hinted at.’

One thing Ortiz felt she could be sure about, Selangor had better duck. But they were not going to get that little piece of information from California. They were on their own with this one.

She looked back down at the table and picked up a piece of batter fried shrimp, held it up for brief scrutiny and then bit it in half. She tossed the remnant back onto the plate, looked unhappily at the now empty doorway and walked out.

Next: 09. Bali Leave

  Copyright © 2012 by WTJ. All rights reserved.