Free: One setting, two worlds. Needs stories.
Night was an obsidian hammerhead with a bladed edge. Around two minutes before sunset, one could begin to actually see the Terminator sweeping across the flat grey plains and ridges of the Lunar surface in a vengeful rush to eliminate the glare of the day. I stood and watched it come, trying and, as always, failing to spin fast enough to watch it go right by and over me.
I liked standing on the Moon. There was a cool precision in all of its glory that fascinated and obsessed me, and I spent as much time as possible in my silver skinsuit watching the blade of night traverse the Moon's surface. Standing on my tiptoes to see over the small hump that rose behind the liquid mirror of New Detroit's's dome. Just a glimpse, then, of the blade scything onward past the shuttleport and out past the E-scope dishes, before rushing over the hills near the horizon.
I wondered what it had been like when the Moon was still.
There had been no Blade, then. Just an edge, honed keen, that wandered rather than sliced, harmless, as humans always thought their own weapons should remain.
They hadn't, of course. And Humanity had crossed blades with nature, and the Mother had won. Mankind, furiously arrogant in his own fashion, had settled the Moon, crisscrossing her stark plains with threads of magrail lines and mass drivers, and blasting her mountains to make tunnels and caverns, where he lived and worked.
Of course, the weapons had come with. At first, there had been many who had them; The New Soviet Enclave, Provence Ariane, the State of Tranquility, U.S.A., The Dragon Republic, United Industrial Luna, Tokyo Highzone. In a way, it was a sort of cruel joke; the weapons that had for so many years threatened Mother Earth were controlled, only to allow mankind to reach a dead arena where they could be used without worrying about nuclear winter, or extended fallout, or other ecological damage-there was no ecology to damage. Thus it was that eighty-six years after the Eagle landed, the first nuclear weapon was launched against human beings since 1945.
Nobody is really sure now what started it; everyone is only certain that it was someone else. UIL launched the first ones; being more inured to accepting losses as businessmen are, they found it much easier to view the exchange as a risk/gain chart than governments who had dealt with the problem for so many years, worrying about their positions and people. UIL and Ariane had been involved in an economic blitz competition for several weeks, and both sides had gone to the negotiating table in a tried and true method of getting good press for their leaders.
Ariane, apparently, had explained to UIL that they did not intend to halt the price wars, and that, since Ariane was backed by a multinational cartel, they could afford to hold out longer than the Lunar based United Industries. UIL, considering their options, opted to launch five nuclear weapons at five commercial targets inside Ariane, including two warehouse caverns, two nuclear stockpiles, and a manufacturing complex.
While the missiles were in flight, they informed Ariane that if an end to the price wars was forthcoming, the missiles could be destroyed by coded signal. Ariane chose to respond instead with a salvo of its own, and most of the robotic facilities belonging to either side went up in masses of atomic flame. After what is believed to be the third exchange, Ariane finally stepped over an undrawn line and blew hell out of UIL's corporate executive base with thermonuclear weapons. At this point, all the other nations except Tranquility and the New Soviet Enclave joined in and annihilated all the targets inside Ariane that they could find, leaving much of Copernicus a blazing radioactive crater. They say you can see it from earth on clear nights-a sort of bluish-orange patch on the moon.
Ariane's final act was to lob its own missiles at everyone whom it could find attacking it before it went under, and all except the superpower nation-states were hard hit by the retaliation.
When the dust settled, the State of Tranquility and the New Soviet Enclave, or the Enclave, were left whole, and in an unenviable position. Survivors, defectors and refugees from the other nation/states on the moon swarmed across their borders.
On Earth, given the numbers involved, this would be no problem, as twenty or thirty thousand people hardly put a strain on any area the size of Texas. On the Moon, however, each one of those people required air, and energy, and food, all of which were planned carefully in advance for tightly controlled communities. The sudden influx of population threatened to overwhelm Tranquility and Enclave; desperate, they turned to the UN for help. The UN declared Tranquility and Enclave a Restricted Zone; all lunar shipping was rerouted to and from this zone, and contact with the rest of the Moon was cut to an absolute minimum. The only ships allowed to land on the Moon with any regularity did so within the Bright side - inside the borders of the superpowers.
Slowly, the rest of the Moon went to pieces.
Small, isolated outposts of civilization remained in various places, where enough smart people had found enough resources to form a community before being overwhelmed by the harsh reality of being cut off from Earthside supply. Most of the moon fell into a state of anarchy closely resembling parts of America's Old West.
And it began to spin, of course.
No-one is quite sure exactly how the nuclear exchange caused the spin, as the amount of energy released simply isn't enough to explain it. There are several theories, though. I don't know any of them.
Things weren't that great on Earth, either, for a while. Until the planet got used to a spinning satellite, and fell back into regular tides and the earthquakes subsided, it was pretty interesting. I hear it's pretty much back to normal now, though.
* * *
I wrote this one night after essentially having the scenario spring up into my head- the two areas of the Lunar surface, nicknamed 'Dark side' and 'Bright side' just to re-use the names that stopped making sense when the spin started up. I always wanted to write a story here, but none ever came to me. I hope somebody can use it. -tc