From Torn’s Timeline of Events: Sins of the Sun

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Fabulae Lunae 2

Mask of the Joyful Moon

By Torn MacAlester

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Fabulae Lunae 1

Thunder Moon Tussle

The Well: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

“This man claims to have built a worm­hole,” said Mark Mason, point­ing to the paper, then glanc­ing back at the video camera.

“I seri­ous­ly doubt he has,” said Doc­tor Vogel­mann. “Such a thing would be high­ly unsta­ble and require mas­sive amounts of ener­gy to pro­duce. One does not pro­duce such a thing in one of the biggest lab­o­ra­to­ries on Earth, let alone in the basement.”

“He claims to have one and is will­ing to have me look at it.”

“Then, sir. I rec­om­mend you bring me along to eval­u­ate it.”

“That’s what I pre­fer,” said Mark, lean­ing clos­er to the camera.

“There is a how­ev­er com­ing. I sense it.”

“Very per­cep­tive, Doc­tor. There is a however.”

“I knew it,” she said.

“It’s a mat­ter of finan­cial secu­ri­ty, Doctor.”

“I get it. You won’t want investors or com­peti­tors to be aware of your activ­i­ties yet. You’re afraid that they’ll pull the rug out from under you if they get a hint of what you are doing.”

“That’s the gist of it,” said Mark.

“You real­ly need to give me an expla­na­tion some­day. With your mon­ey, I sus­pect suc­cess is enough to keep the mon­ey flowing.”

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the oppo­site is true. Suc­cess means that the investors become risk adverse.”

“True,” the Doc­tor said. “Your invest­ment with me will raise some eye­brows regard­ing risk. Few believe that FTL is possible.”

“You’ve already said that you know it is.”

“I do. In fact, it is a well-ground­ed the theory.”

“A fact you always bring to my atten­tion,” said Mark, feel­ing the irri­ta­tion cross his nerves. “Though you’ve yet to prove any of it.”

“You know, I’ve explained why that will take some time. You are per­sis­tent and I now have some tools we need to prove it avail­able now. It is only a mat­ter of time.”

“That’s good.”

“Yes, it is,” she agreed.

“In the mean­time. I need to know what to look for to eval­u­ate this man’s sup­posed wormhole.”

“Well, I expect to see a face star­ing back from the bot­tom of a well.”

“You’re jok­ing,” exclaimed Mark.

“Yes. If there is a face star­ing at you, I’m cer­tain it is a scam.”

“Why in the world would he do that?”

“He heard the rumor,” she said.

“What rumor?”

“The one about you see­ing a face in the mine when Yel­low­stone blew.”

“Doc­tor,” said Mark, sup­press­ing the urge to get angry. “I appre­ci­ate the attempt at humor, but you don’t know what you are talk­ing about.”

The Boardroom: A New Vignette by Torn Macalester

Mark Mason glanced at his phone. The mes­sages were still in the pos­i­tive despite the board tak­ing their time. The drag­ging of feet favored his father, Mor­ris Mason. If Mark was going to wrest con­trol of the com­pa­ny from him, now was the time. Mor­ris had out maneu­vered him sev­er­al times before, but this time Mark was sure that he held the upper hand. How­ev­er, the longer the meet­ing took, the more he wor­ried his father would find anoth­er trick to pre­vent it.

“My son seems to think I am going to cause trou­ble.” Mor­ris sneered, fold­ing his hands on the table. “He should find me very coop­er­a­tive if giv­en the prop­er motivation.”

“Just like you were coop­er­a­tive when you stole Lab 18 from me,” Mark countered.

Why are you full of such bull-shit old man?

“You mere­ly left your­self vulnerable.”

“The fam­i­ly and Mason Oil had no inter­est in that project. You stole it.”

“To teach you a lesson.”

“One that I have learned real­ly well,” Mark snarled. “Nev­er trust family.”

“Gen­tle­man,” Vin­ny Dil­lon, the lead Mason Oil coun­cil, inter­rupt­ed. “If we can get back to the busi­ness at hand.”

Mark glanced at him and noticed his father hold­ing up his hand.

“Just a minute, Vin. My son and I have a few more things to say to one another.”

“I have noth­ing more to say to you, old man.”

“Mark!” Mor­ris barked, “Even though we are clear­ly not busi­ness part­ners, I still expect cour­tesy when address­ing your father.”

“It’s a two-way street.”

“Fair enough.” Mor­ris slid his hands from the table into his lap. “I would like to exer­cise my options as CEO and sell out.”

“Sir.” Vin­ny set his pen down on the table in front of him. “Your options allow you to only sell out to a fam­i­ly member.”

“Pre­cise­ly.”

“What the hell?” Mark exclaimed.

“What do you think, son?” Mor­ris grinned. “Care to buy me out?”

“What’s your game?”

And why should I lis­ten to any more of your shit?

“No games.” Mor­ris said as he set his hands back on the table. “I will sim­ply step aside and let you take con­trol of the com­pa­ny. It is what you want?”

“Yes,” Mark seethed.

“I’ll even agree to thir­ty cents on the dollar.”

Mark nod­ded, keep­ing quiet.

“And one more thing,” Mor­ris smiled.

“What?” Mark snapped.

“I want your shares of Orbitdyne.”

“Why?” Mark felt con­fused but held his composure.

“Let’s just say that it is a bet, giv­en you acqui­si­tion of KG Aerospace.”

“Orbit­dyne is a long-shot man.” Mark dismissed.

Besides, you won’t have a con­trol­ling inter­est in Orbit­dyne, any­way. Ernie and Ava McDer­mott con­trol Orbit­dyne. Mark knew that his father and the McDer­mot­t’s had a his­to­ry of dis­agree­ment. It was not like­ly that Mor­ris could ever con­trol the com­pa­ny with them in charge.

Vignette: Clash of Titans by Torn MacAlester

Antares: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

After exam­in­ing his offices in the L5 sta­tion, Mark Mason ulti­mate­ly deter­mined that he was pleased. The O’Neil cylin­der was years away, so the tiny space made sense. At first zero G dis­agreed with him and he feared he would need to aban­don his quest. He built Selene Corp for the quest, but the Moon was not the goal. It was anoth­er dis­trac­tion among many. Most notably try­ing to keep his chief finan­cial offi­cer from sell­ing Mars as the next goal.

“I don’t under­stand why you are so obsessed that we don’t go to Mars,” said Gina Simon, the Selene Corp CFO. “It’s the next obvi­ous destination.”

“I agree it’s obvi­ous, Ms. Simon, but it also is a trap,” said Mark.

“Trap?”

“Let me explain.”

Mark adjust­ed the video cam­era so that his pic­ture was more cen­tered on the video screen.

“Mars is a nice des­ti­na­tion,” Mark con­tin­ued. “How­ev­er, it has sev­er­al draw­backs. It is not a source of mate­ri­als. Its bor­der­line for hab­it­abil­i­ty. The atmos­phere is far too thin. It has no mag­net­ic field. It will be a resource sink for lit­tle benefit.”

“Isn’t Mars as resource rich as the Moon?”

“Oh yes, it is. But some argue that it’s twice as hard to export those resources from Mars. They will be per­fect for build­ing on Mars. But those same resources will give us lit­tle ben­e­fit for the rest of the solar system.”

“But isn’t it the only hab­it­able des­ti­na­tion?” asked Gina.

“Not exact­ly. Mars is only bor­der­line hab­it­able. The atmos­phere is insuf­fi­cient and made of the wrong stuff. The habi­tats we’ve built for the Moon and the vac­u­um of space will almost be required for use on Mars.”

“What about terraforming?”

“Again pos­si­ble,” said Mark. “But the busi­ness is unap­peal­ing to me. It’s as big of a dead end as end­ing all space pro­grams and stay­ing on Earth.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stel­lar evolution.”

“Huh?”

“Stel­lar evo­lu­tion, Ms. Simon. Over the next fifty to hun­dred mil­lion years, the Sun will evolve and even­tu­al­ly swell into a red giant. That inevitabil­i­ty will con­sume both Mars and Earth. There is an uncer­tain­ty con­cern­ing Jupiter, so Sat­urn is the first place that we might con­sid­er safe.”

“So that’s the rea­son for all the plans for Saturn?”

“No, I have oth­er rea­sons for Sat­urn that are more imme­di­ate than sur­viv­ing the Sun’s life cycle.”

“Can you let me know what those are?” she asked.

“No, I’m not ready to open up the Sat­urn dis­cus­sion today.”

“Aren’t you push­ing Mars aside for the Sat­urn activity?”

“No,” said Mark. “I’m point­ing out that we have bet­ter des­ti­na­tions than Mars, such as Near-Earth Aster­oids. Even Pho­bos and Demos are bet­ter des­ti­na­tions than Mars itself. We have access to resources that aren’t at the bot­tom of a grav­i­ty well. That grav­i­ty well is the rea­son I call it a trap.”

“What’s our next goal?”

“I want to move an asteroid.”

“You’re kid­ding,” said Gina.

“We’ve got a cou­ple of years, but that is what I think is our best option.”

“Why the best?”

“We need mate­ri­als to build the O’Neil cylin­ders,” said Mark. “An aster­oid pro­vides a rub­ble pile of mate­r­i­al that we can spin up.”

“So, what in the meantime?”

“We’ll see if I can stir some things up when I go vis­it Nils Carmike and Deputy Miller.”

 

 

Vignette: Sins of the Son by Torn MacAlester

Clash of Titans: a Vignette by Torn MacAlester

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester