union city blues

6 March 2010 00:24:00 AEDT

Berethon III, 2512

In the people of Earth we have found a great ally - SEALING OF THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE, 2055My name is Athol Hitchiba. I am a Grade 4 Mobile Mine Operator currently stationed on Berethon III and my Psych Officer has ordered me to keep this diary.

I have never seen her, only ever talked to her on the comm link. This makes me suspect that she isn't a primate species, probably an insect or a lizard and the human voice synth has been designed to give me something to jerk off to during the next six months on remote station.

I am a failure.

I broke my fathers heart when I washed out of the military aptitude course three years ago on my eighteenth birthday. He had tried to teach me himself every spare moment he had. My mother held back her tears when she looked into my eyes but she knew then and there that I was only ever going to be a miner...like everyone in my family for the last five generations. I tried to tell her I could rise through the ranks and some day run my own mining colony world but the sadness never left her eyes.

I know the history of our race. I know we paid our fee to join the Union in the sum of 100,000 men for the war in 2055 and that none of them ever came back. It's time like this though, sunset on a clear night when I pull the rig up on an endless beach set on a jade ocean that my mind wanders. The ARC 53J is a fully mobile mining platform, capacity - 950,000 cubic tonnes of refined ore. Crew - 1...me.

We do 6-month field rotations remote from the main base of Union City. UC is a typical outer colony shithole. There are no free settlers here - only sand and ocean and nothing to spend your credits on but whores, drugs and dice cards. I was in no hurry to get back to it. The only thing going for Berethon III was its surf. It must have been incredible to the fathers when they discovered that surfing was unique to Earth. It took no time at all to spread throughout the galaxy and it's discovery took Earth from a minor world to a full member of Legion. Waves far more advanced than many on Earth were soon discovered but Earth never lost its status as the cradle. There was a great story from just after contact when a Silusiam visited Eath, saw people surfing and said to a human "what could make your people think of this?"

Then the human visited his planet, saw the massive network of tidal and kinetic energy capture devices along the entire coastline and said, "what could make your people think of this?"

It didn't matter, only a few years after contact, surfing became an official recreation within The Triumvirate and a major hyperlane directly from Junction was pathed to Earth. Earth achieved major world status and her oceans, the home of surfing - became a treasure.

I kept my own board in my cabin on the rig. I would surf at morning or dusk usually. Berethon was a sad world. Like so many we found during the crossing it was once home to a sentient race but they were long gone. It was probably only a stepping stone world for some long forgotten species swept aside by the cosmic wind. At some stage it had become sterile -massive solar flare event probably. It was a sand and ocean world. It had been classified as lacking any current sentient species or species likely to re-evolve such capacity and hence was classified a candidate for 'resource collection' over a hundred years ago; we had been strip mining the surface for rare mineral ever since.

I had found a few pieces of civilization over the past months and kept them in my cabin like a miniature museam, things from the deep sand, stone tablets caught in the teeth of the cutters on my evening rounds...strange symbols on metal disks...markings on obsidian cylinders.

Night was the easiest, when I shut down the rig and sat on the beach under the stars. Waking was harder, alone. I thought of my mother a lot lately. I couldn't wait for the dawn, that and the surfing that went along with it. A massive, shallow grey / green ocean… never flat but never over 3 feet. The lithium content gave the waves a soft focus, metallic glow. Whenever I came off I would hang underwater - no sound from the rig, the graters and the cutters. Nothing from the furnaces or the glaives, only the sad whisper of an ancient sea.

Another day comes and goes, I am sure my Psych Officer is an insect now. She asks me when I plan to start a family and sometimes there is a pause and a click before the translator overlaps the word 'hive'. I have a weird vision of me trying to ‘fertilise’ her clutch of eggs. Her face is beautiful with wet black spider eyes but as I touch her lips it becomes clear that they are just hardened pieces of exoskeleton shell. I kiss her passionately now, placing my hand behind her head – it sinks into a patch of sticky, alien fur, insect ganglia and intelligence pulsing beneath her skull.

I walk out mid counseling interview, lines of silver waves ratchet across an extinct bank. Something massive stirs the water at the bottom of the ocean...

-AJJ Waldie-

(Story 2 of 365....363 days left, 363 stories left)

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