Near Future Science Fiction Moon Deputy

Who is the Sci­ence Fic­tion Moon Deputy?

Read Thun­der Moon Tus­sle and find out.

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Chapter 4



Nils drove toward his home habitat.

Hab 18?” Miller asked again, though Nils avoid­ed the sub­ject for the past half hour.

“Miller, how about I give you a big­ger cut with my job–”

“I’d always take a big­ger cut,” she grinned.

“–in exchange for you not going with me?”

“Out of the ques­tion,” Deputy Miller snapped back quick­ly. “I’ve got to look out for my investment.”

“What invest­ment?” Nils grumbled.

“The val­ue of my ten per­cent of the thir­ty-thou­sand, plus expens­es.” Miller stat­ed, then her voice soft­ened. “Plus, I think it will be a per­fect way to ask you for my favor.”

“What is it about, Miller?” Nils asked, his own voice soft­en­ing. “Can’t you give me a hint?”

“No,” she almost whis­pered. “Not yet.”

They sat silent­ly as the crawler nav­i­gat­ed the tracks, head­ing toward his habitat.

“We’re about three hours away from my hab,” Nils said, break­ing the awk­ward silence.

“Any sur­pris­es?” Deputy Miller asked.

“Like what?”

“Like let­ting me in on Hab 18?

“What will you give me for it?” Nils sparred, hop­ing to agi­tate her.

“Fine, keep your secret!” Miller snapped. She fur­rowed her brows.

“We’ll get to it,” Nils answered. He recon­sid­ered. Agi­tat­ing her seemed stu­pid. “I’ve got an idea.”

“What?” Miller asked.

“Let’s call a truce.” Nils suggested.

“What do you pro­pose?” Miller’s voice soft­ened again.

“We’ll set the dis­cus­sion about Hab 18 aside for a while. I’ll stop ask­ing you about the favor.”

“Fair enough,” she said.

“Thanks,” Nils smiled and checked the auto-dri­ve, ensur­ing that they were still on course.

“What should we talk about instead?”

“How about the Urubuan Marshal’s vis­it?” Nils asked, won­der­ing what they had been look­ing for.

“Most­ly infor­mal,” Deputy Miller answered. “They seemed con­cerned about how we orga­nized the Department.”

“How so? I mean, you han­dle things fair­ly well. We have no crime at Conrad.”

“Ha. Com­ing from one of its most upstand­ing citizens.”

“Yup, I’m plan­ning to run for Sta­tion Council.”

They both laughed at the joke.

“How so?” he said, ask­ing again.

“They want­ed to know how our juris­dic­tion fit with­in Amer­i­can law enforce­ment. It sur­prised him that we don’t.”


“You’re sur­prised?” She asked, Nils noticed her face betrayed astonishment.

“Well—I mean, yeah,” Nils fum­bled. “I didn’t real­ize that you don’t have connections.”

“It’s sim­ple,” Miller answered. “The depart­ment is part of Luna­dyne secu­ri­ty. If we have an actu­al crime to report, we need to con­tact the what­ev­er agency we care to. It’s usu­al­ly the U. S. Marshal’s office since it’s easier.”

“You’re not a cop?” Nils challenged.

“So, if you assume that,” Miller growled. “I’ll put you in a body cast for sure.”

“No,” Nils steered away from the chal­lenge. “I meant that I don’t under­stand how Luna­dyne secu­ri­ty fits.”

“Hon­est­ly, that is what the Mar­shal was asking.”

“What did you explain that made sense to him?”

“I can arrest who­ev­er they need arrest­ed,” she answered. “If a major crime occurs, I need to report it to what­ev­er author­i­ty is con­ve­nient. I can arrest any­one and hold them until the Earth side author­i­ty picks them up. Also, I can act to pro­tect the com­pa­ny assets from destruction.”

“What does that mean?”

“Exact­ly what I said. If some ass­hole were attempt­ing to break open a door direct­ly to vac­u­um, I would stop him. I’d take him down if needed.”

Nils thought as he mon­i­tored the progress of the auto-drive.

Why is she being so open about it? She got pissed at me and kept it up for going on three years now. What has changed? She is almost being nice.

She knew about the smug­gling. He had told her in so many words. Obvi­ous­ly, she could have arrest­ed him fre­quent­ly, but she did not.


“Yeah, prospec­tor?”

“What’s with the arrange­ment?” Nils asked.

“You mean the ten per­cent?” She grinned.

“Yup, that and the oth­er fees,” he said, won­der­ing about the cat-and-mouse game they played. She would find him about once a month and force him to pay some fee to have her look the oth­er way.

“So, you’re want­i­ng to rene­go­ti­ate our deal?”


“Let me remind you, Nils,” She smiled. “Our arrange­ment is that you need to pay a ten per­cent fee for you to con­tin­ue doing busi­ness at the bar.”

“–payable before I leave the sta­tion. We’ve been through that.”

“Then what do you want?”

“For­get it,” he said. Nils declined to dig any fur­ther. Pay­ing Miller had become a cost of doing busi­ness, and he lacked the mon­ey to pay more. But it had nev­er gone beyond the occa­sion­al has­sle. Miller had nev­er asked him to dri­ve any­where. She had nev­er insert­ed her­self into any of his oth­er business.

Why now? He won­dered. What had changed?

Upon their arrival at the habi­tat, Nils need­ed to dri­ve from the back of the crawler, peer­ing out the rear air­lock. As he moved to the rear to dri­ve, he felt Miller fol­low him. She seemed close as he steered the crawler to dock with his hab. As the air­locks con­nect­ed in a hard dock, he hit the brakes, caus­ing Miller to bump into him from behind.

“Excuse me,” she said after the col­li­sion. He won­dered if he felt one of her shoul­ders or if her breast had bounced off his back. The lat­ter cre­at­ed an image that took a few moments to shake.

He glanced at her, “No prob­lem.” Smil­ing, he thought past the moment, and cursed him­self for let­ting her dis­rupt him so much. Miller’s inten­tions, as three years of expe­ri­ence had shown, remained mys­te­ri­ous. Before she could break his con­cen­tra­tion again, he turned and worked the door.

“So, this is your hab?” She said as he opened the airlock.

“Yup,” he answered. “Any­thing ille­gal found will be acci­den­tal. I believe that every­thing is legal here.”

“Nils,” her voice took on a sooth­ing tenor. “Relax. If I want­ed to bust you, I would have showed up last week when you had your last ship­ment here.”

“Miller, I–”

How did she know? And why did she seem to let me off the hook?

“Nils, I’m jok­ing. What part of relax didn’t you understand?”


“I’m not here to bust you,” she glared. “Remem­ber, I need a favor. That is why you brought me here. Besides, I doubt I have juris­dic­tion here.”

“Huh?” Not under­stand­ing her state­ment about jurisdiction.

“Favor, remem­ber?”

“Oh, yes.” Nils set­tled him­self, feel­ing his guts shoved one direc­tion as his mind went anoth­er. “What is the favor?”

“All in time,” Miller looked at him. “Are we going to stand in the air­lock, or are you going to show me your place?”

“Oh,” Nils willed him­self to open the air­lock door and enter the habi­tat. “It’s small, but it’s home.”

“Very nice,” he saw her smile as they made eye con­tact when she entered the habitat.

“I hope it isn’t too much of a mess. I keep bro­ken equip­ment because I can use some parts for raw mate­ri­als.” He got into the habit of sort­ing them in the habi­tat before plac­ing them in the equip­ment lock­ers. He focused on those things impos­si­ble to build using a three-dimen­sion­al print­er. Some met­als and some fibers had remained out of reach of the tech­nol­o­gy. As a result, any­thing with a non-print­able part got his attention.

“It’s fine,” Miller smiled.

“The kitchen is over here,” he said as he walked across the com­pact habi­tat. “Water is here. Cof­fee is here—meals in the freezer—microwave.” He point­ed to the items as he named them, then stepped around the freez­er and point­ed. “I have a bed­room and bath back here. You’re more than wel­come to the show­er and any­thing you need.”

“A show­er sounds good.” Miller stepped toward the doorway.

“There is not much pri­va­cy.” He shrugged, try­ing to get the image of her in the show­er out of his head. “I’ve got some stuff to work on in the crawler.”

“Nils,” she said, plac­ing a hand on his sleeve, “It’s okay.”

“Thanks,” is all he could think to say. He turned toward the crawler.

He took his time, need­ing to be away from her. Regard­less of how he felt about her being in his busi­ness from time to time, he still found her way too attrac­tive to be in close con­fines with her for too long. Though he trust­ed him­self, he won­dered how long he could main­tain his restraint. Espe­cial­ly when he thought of her naked in his show­er. All he felt like he need­ed was a nod of approval and he would be upon her in an instant.

As he reor­ga­nized the crawler, he real­ized that his mind had been on her the entire time. He need­ed to spend some time on plan­ning the trip to Hab 18. It would be dif­fi­cult regard­less. With Deputy Miller along for the ride, dif­fi­cult could trans­late into impossible.

He need­ed a hop­per, a rock­et attach­ment, to car­ry the crawler from Con­rad sta­tion to Mare Frig­oris. From there, they would dri­ve up to Hab 18 along the road. Once col­lect­ing the pad, they would dri­ve back to the land­ing and take the hop­per back to Con­rad Sta­tion. It seemed easy, though there were a thou­sand things that could go wrong.

One thing remained sim­ple. Nils need­ed to con­vince Miller to aban­don her insis­tence upon going with him. The jour­ney was far too dangerous.

He entered the habi­tat after unload­ing the crawler. As he turned, he could see her in the kitchen, look­ing through his cab­i­nets. Wear­ing noth­ing but a long tee shirt that revealed her cheeks, she reached into an upper cabinet.

He smiled to him­self, mov­ing toward the kitchen. Glanc­ing over her shoul­der, she gave a slight smile. “Where the hell do you keep the coffee?”

“Sec­ond draw­er from the top,” he answered, “next to the cups and spoons.” He admired her as she opened the draw­er and pre­pared the beverage.

She smiled, retriev­ing the cups. “I thought we should talk.”

“Yeah,” Nils answered as he watched her. She heat­ed the water and made the coffee.

“So,” she said, “the naked truth.”

“The near­ly naked truth,” he observed.

“Oh–” Miller smiled, tug­ging at the tee shirt.

“What’s this about?” Nils tensed, real­iz­ing that she had been manip­u­lat­ing him again.

“Look,” she sat down at the table, set­ting the cups down for them. “I’m try­ing to make a peace offer­ing Nils.”

“Yup,” he answered, sit­ting down across from her. “And then you will demand your cut and insist that it’s the only way you don’t turn me over to either the Amer­i­can or Urubuan Mar­shals. I’ve heard all this before, Deputy.”

“How much was my cut?”

“Ten per­cent.”

“So,” she leaned for­ward, tak­ing a sip of cof­fee. “I take ten percent.”


“Ten per­cent, but you spec­i­fy the value?”

“Uh, yup.”

“Then you could have been lying to me about the val­ue.” She lift­ed her cof­fee and took a sip, an almost smug look on her face.


“Not that you did,” she observed. “You are very hon­est. I’d know if you lied.”

“I did not.”

“You should have,” she stat­ed. Nils not­ed the slight smile and the beam­ing eyes. “But I know you didn’t.”

“Miller, I don’t under­stand what you–”

“Lis­ten, Nils,” she inter­rupt­ed, “I got mad at you that night. In fact, I’m still pissed about it.” He knew the night she was speak­ing about, the night they met. He forced it out of his mind, as he reliv­ed every moment of hell since.

“Miller,” he start­ed again. “I don’t want to relive that night. I should have kept my mouth shut.”

Why the hell did she want to bring that up?

“You’re miss­ing the point,” she said.

“No. I’m not. We crashed and burned that night, and I should not have tried to con­duct busi­ness at the same time.”

“You’re still miss­ing the point.”

“I don’t care about that now. I need you to recon­sid­er going with me.”

“You mean now?” she asked.


“I don’t think so,” she frowned.

“It’s dan­ger­ous.”

“I know,” she answered, still hid­ing some­thing. “But I need to be there with you.”

“Come on,” Nils said, frus­trat­ed. “You can stay at Con­rad. It will just take me a cou­ple weeks.”

“I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t.” He pressed.

“I need to be with you.” She stat­ed. “Let’s con­sid­er it part of the favor you owe me.”

“About that,” Nils con­sid­ered, know­ing she was hid­ing far more than a sim­ple favor. “What is this all about?”

“I’ll get to it.”

“I don’t have time–”

“Nils, please.” She spoke, eyes open as though she were mak­ing a plea. “We’ll get to that lat­er. First, I would like to ask you–”

“Ask me what?”

“How are we get­ting to Hab 18?”

“We’ll need a hop­per.” Nils answered before he real­ized she had said we.


“It’s a small rock­et.” Nils smiled. “It’s enough of an engine to lift the crawler to the trail-head and back.” A hop­per pow­er­ful rock­et burned enough for a sub-orbital hop, pro­vid­ing trans­port to anoth­er loca­tion on the lunar sur­face with the crawler. It was a means of hop­ping from one loca­tion on the Moon to anoth­er. For point-to-point trav­el, a hop­per was a main­stay of lunar trans­porta­tion, like sub-orbital rock­et jumps had replaced air­planes for transcon­ti­nen­tal flights after Yellowstone.

“Not all the way there?”

“Not real­ly,” Nils shook his head. “This trip is dan­ger­ous enough. Land­ing near 18 would be tough.”


“I’m not that good of a pilot,” Nils answered. “The ter­rain is rougher when we get clos­er to the pole. The autopi­lot might require an over­ride. I can­not take that risk.”

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Science Fiction Vignette “Sins of the Son” by Torn MacAlester

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Sins of the Son is a Sci­ence Fic­tion Vignette by Torn MacAlester

It is a sto­ry about Mark Mason, who appears in my near future sci­ence fic­tion nov­el Thun­der Moon Tus­sle, avail­able for Kin­dle or Paper­back for­mat at


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

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Mask of the Joyful Moon

By Torn MacAlester

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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.”


“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.


“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.”


“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