Laika’s Revenge

Introduction to 2100 CE

A mere fifty years after Orville and Wilbur Wright became the first humans to undertake powered flight, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, while soon after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the firsts to set foot on an extraterrestrial body.  It would be another century before these achievements, made in such rapid succession, were at last surpassed, with the establishment of the first permanent settlements in outer space and shortly thereafter the birth of the first child of the new space age, the Kleiner twins Aeva Gemella and Emzara Marie.  Ever-mounting tensions amid uncontrolled population growth would ensure the Kleiners were not alone, as those capable of finding their way to space launched humanity’s great migration skyward.  Not even a generation would pass before more than a third of the entire human population would come to reside in space.

            Humanity now resided not just among the colonies in Lagrange orbits, but beneath the lunar surface, amid the covered canyons of Valles Marineras and the high-walled craters of the Martian surface.  In high Mars orbit, orbiting colonies larger than those over Earth were being constructed, while the grand experiment in terraforming on Ganymede had, perhaps accidentally, rendered its once frozen surface a veritable paradise to rival images of the Amalfi and Venetian coasts.  Humanity would settle not only there, but on the arctic shores of Europa and upon the errors of Callisto and distant Titan.  Forged under the pressures of an ever-burgeoning population, the same forces which drove those first migrants skyward came to drive a desire for greater, if not outright independence from the Earth.  Structurally reliant upon the resources harvested from these colonial possessions, the chief global powers had little tolerance for any such ideals.  It was to their mind one measure too many after the compromise which had produced the public-private Confederation of Economies and States, through whose collective authority the chaos of the prior decades of space settlement were brought to order.

            Amid the more boisterous voices of the time was that of Junius Zanscar, the noted Professor of Comparative Cosmology at Tannenberg University on Ganymede.  His is arguably the most visceral of the neo-revolutionary minds of his day, presenting in a series of treatises known today as the Cosmic Ruminations a reinterpretation of history.  The struggle of independence is traced to the stresses of evolution and the forces of natural selection, describing a universe in which the past and present became the same through a novel understanding of its origins and its predictable outcomes.  In his final paper on the matter, Zanscar outlined the way in which his vision of the past might be applied to the politics of the coming century in space settlement.  This model would be given life when Zanscar began his campaign for a seat on the Ganymedean Signoria, to which he was subsequently elected for the year 2100 and every year thereafter until his death.  The power of his message would in turn inspire Europa in 2101 to elect the presidential administration which to this day remains in power.  When agitation for such governance reached Callisto, it required the deployment of Peacekeeping Forces to withstand a riot on the steps of the Economic Commission intent on storming the building.  It was thereafter determined that Zanscar’s defiance must be ended, or they would soon face the same among the rest of their colonies.

            Junius Zanscar and his immediate circle had little warning of the assault which rained down on their heads.  Descending in individual reentry pods fired from ships in orbit, spaceborne infantry came surging down in waves, landing deeply behind Ganymedean lines.  Islands and atolls fell rapidly to the professionals of the Peacekeeping Forces, overcoming first the disorganized defense offered by the Ganymedean Army before then cornering their quarry on the campus of Tannenberg University.  Whether killed by a self-inflicted gunshot or amid a firefight with peacekeepers, Junius Zanscar was killed and with him died all further resistance on Ganymede—a message to other would-be revolutionaries of the fate which would await them.

            But the dye had been cast, and there could be no going back.  In death Zanscar became more powerful than in life or deed, for it would be his philosophical gleanings which would inspire a generation of those who believe, had they been on Ganymede, that they might have fought alongside him.  Zanscar would become the term used for to describe this sort of militant separatism, characterizing the regime on Europa as much as the riots at Clearwater and the uprising on Mars, and to the events which brought the war to its moment of greatest devastation.

Amid the freezing winds of Kazakhstan in November, humanity’s first explorer in outer space prepared for liftoff—though she was not human but human’s best friend.  Given their proclivity to surviving under high levels of stress, a mongrel street-dog from Moscow was thought to be the best choice for a proof-of-concept test in launching living beings into orbit.  The passenger aboard the capsule of Sputnik 2 was called Laika, “barker” (лаять) in Russian, and so named by the scientists for her loud voice.  A variety of stress tests demonstrated in Laika the greatest levels of trainability and compliance, the ideal choice for the brave endeavor which awaited her.

            The final night before her otherworldly departure, she was afforded the opportunity to play with the children of one of the scientists.  Then on evening of the 3 November 1957, Laika ascended to the skies to become the first living being to achieve orbit and enter outer space.  Before closing the hatch, technicians would record that they “kissed her nose and wished her bon voyage, knowing that she would not survive the flight.”  Though Soviet authorities would report her survival in orbit for as long as a week after launch, the truth was that the little dog had died only a few hours into the flight.  Amid her fourth orbit about the Earth, the friction of the upper atmosphere upon the satellite had heated the capsule as to cause hyperthermia and death.

            When humanity began its migration spaceward, a venture was undertaken to propel some particularly rich and usable asteroids from amid the orbits of Transmartial space to Earth orbit.  So placed, they could more easily and more rapidly be mined and exploited for their wealth.  In their transit of these smaller bodies to the gravity well of Earth, the international community assigned to each new names in imitation of the moon’s own proper name, Luna.  Five asteroids were eventually brought to orbit the planet, named in turn by their arrival Lilith, Máni, Nephthys, Chandra, Bendis, and Laika.  Depleted of its mineral riches, Laika station—as it was then known—was hollowed out for use as a prototype proof-of-concept for human settlement in space.  Made to rotate about its long axis, Laika station would first demonstrate the reality of how centripetal force might be used to simulate gravity on a large scale.  Yet the relative costs of the endeavor—the costs necessary to render Laika station truly habitable—proved out of proportion when compared with those of constructing a new Island One or Island Two space station.  Thus Laika, along with her siblings Nephthys and Bendis, would become integral to Earth’s orbital space traffic control network in the form of manned outposts.

            The population on each of these orbiting stations was limited to controllers and support staff, civilians who would prove little trouble for a group of armed extremists.  Although no attempts were made on Nephthys and Bendis, their vulnerability made clear with their departure for higher orbit after it became readily apparent Laika had been hijacked.  There was nothing those other crews could do but watch in horror as the asteroid careened towards the planet, the final transmissions from the space station revealing the identities of those involved.  They professed their allegiance to the cause of separatist independence espoused by a prominent follower of Junius Zanscar, the self-professed Yeshu N’yota on Mars, Joshua Starr.  And although those directly responsible were all Martian nationals, the involvement of Europa’s sophisticated intelligence apparatus was at once suspected as the root of the extremists’ funding and logistics—a proven reality on Mars, but the first of its kind so close Earth.

            The surprise of their attack was intentionally designed to mirror the surprise of the assault by spaceborne forces on Ganymede more than a decade before, timed to strike two months after the official declaration of war from the Galilean League and the New Year’s Day assault on the Peacekeeping Base at Mahon in orbit over Callisto.  In its descent and impact, Laika vaporized hundreds of millions of lives, directing the bulk of its kinetic energy upon the Combined Operations Headquarters of the Peacekeeping Forces at Vandenberg Space Center in Santa Barbara, California.  There thousands of peacekeepers and other volunteers were mustering for transit to orbit in what was expected to be a repeat of the operation which had taken down Zanscar, but on a larger scale.  The rising voices of separatism on Mars at last ignited into armed rebellion against the Earth authorities.

            Made to face surmounting odds on the defense along two fronts, in the civil war on Mars and amid the spacelanes and asteroids of the Transmartial orbits, the Confederation opened a third front in Saturnian orbit.  Seeking to deny the separatist Galilean League control of the harvesting and refinement operations in the Cronosphere, Peacekeeping Forces thought to be destined for an invasion of Jupiter instead transit to Saturn’s moon of Titan.  But the Europan Secret Service would once more preempt the Confederation, allowing the Galilean League Army to lay an ambush, eliminating much of the Earth fleet and stranding Peacekeeping Field Forces on the surface in an impasse with the enemy.

            Though locked in a stalemate along all fronts, the tenuous position in which both sides now find themselves means that even the smallest concerted effort may tip the balance….

Begins with A Tour of the Solar System.

Part of 2100 CE.

About the Author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like these