Short Story

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Three years after the Calypso incident.

The Honshu exited NC just outside the known orbit of Tamid C's single moon. As she passed the large rocky satellite Faust flipped her around and began rapid deceleration with the ship's main engines. The contract was a pedestrian one, delivering supplies to a fledgling colony of Antarian settlers. Thus only Faust, Fizril, and the captain were in the cockpit. It was 22:00 hours by the ship's chronometer and their arrival at the colony would be during night hours so Tarsik had given most of the crew the go-ahead to catch some shuteye.

The captain tapped his fingers impatiently against the surface of his console. The rumble of the engines always put him at peace so he couldn't wait to get surface-side and be able to tuck in for a quick nap like everyone else. Even Fizril yawned and brought up a hand to rub at his eyes. In a few moments the mighty blue rocket would illuminate the buildings of the colony below, probably even shake a few window shutters, before coming to a rest on the landing pad where she would sit, silent, for another 6 hours or so until dawn.

Normally Tarsik preferred to keep moving, but GalX's introduction onto the scene had put a dent into the number of available contracts for service ships. Their next job didn't even start for another three days and a half days, so there was no reason to wake the colonists up to unload in the middle of the night.

They'd likely remain dirtside for another day or so anyway, for a bit of R&R. Ansul had already taken the liberty of researching Tamid C and discovered a reportedly great fishing spot only a few klicks from the settlement. Tarsik was unsure what exactly it was that his martian first officer found so enthralling about the process, but he still looked forward to a relaxing afternoon with his closest friend, and a few beers out in the fresh air. Even a dyed-in-the-wool spacer like Tarsik could appreciate the loveliness of a lush world like Tamid, at least in small doses.

An incoming tele-wave alert from Fizril's operations console broke the silence and perked them all up a bit. The captain raised an eyebrow questioningly, then nodded for the big cat to put the call through. The officer tapped a few keys and the screen in front of him crackled to life. Tarsik noticed his ears go back as the image began to clarify.

The face on the screen triggered a memory for Fizril; sitting amongst the branches of the big old bodant tree on the south lawn of the lyceum he had attended in his young adulthood. There, with harsh rays of orange-red sunlight filtering through the leaves of the giant genetically engineered tree that had been grown as an outdoor classroom, and with the ultra-thin dark grey skyscrapers of the city rising up all around them, the students had listened to the lectures of the heavily graying and eminently portly Professor Hsursan.

Shant-Sur, that was his name. Fizril remembered him causing disturbances often, but one event stuck out in his mind. Shant-Sur had been part of a fringe movement on campus known as the "brotherhood" which asserted that the matriarchal domination of the Antarian people was unnatural and that a patriarchal system, like that of ancient times, should be reinstated. The "brothers" had liked to stand in the plaza and shout things at passers-by, railing hard against the tradition of shunning hyper-aggressive males, proclaiming the practice a creation of the "liberal female sciences" that offered no benefit to Antarians as a race.

Being one of the few male teachers Hsursan had been challenged by the brotherhood less than other professors on campus, but one afternoon, in particular, Fizril recalled Shant-Sur and one of his friends harassing the professor for bringing up the commonly accepted notion that Antarians had not evolved on Antares V, but had rather been placed there by a progenitor species. In fact he had been so vehement in his rejection of the entire notion that it had gotten him expelled from class and he'd nearly come to blows with old Hsursan.

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