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Husband, father, and writer working on a short story project and submitting my novel, The Windsmith, to agents.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Life and Times of Aries Webb, Part 4: Times They Are a Changing

The Charles Webb Observatory was normally closed to the public except on Saturdays, but that night was a special occasion. There was a meteor storm happening, one not visible anywhere else. Aries had bought tickets for he and Amelia to go, and picked a secluded spot on the field outside to watch it with. The show was truly amazing, the sky was lit up with hundreds upon hundreds of silver and white streaks in the sky. Half way through, someone came up and tapped Aries on the shoulder. He nodded and turned to Amelia.

“Come on,” he said.

“Where are we going? The shows not over yet,” she asked, getting up.

“I got a surprise for you,” he smiled, and took her by the hand. The man that came and got them, a short Chinese man, lead them into the observitory. They climed up the stairs to a door labeled ‘Telescope Viewing.’ Amelia gasped.

“Really?” she asked. “We’re going to view the storm through the telescope?”

“Really,” Aries said. “It pays to be a celebrity some times.”

Of course the viewing wasn’t really due to his status as the first man born on Mars, but that didn’t hurt either when he asked Chen if he could do this tonight. Amelia gave him a hug, and Aries smiled. That alone was worth what he paid Chen to make this happen.

They walked into the room, where another man, an older gentleman with long, white a Fu Manchu moustache, stood. This man, Dr. Lee, bowed to the two of them, and pointed to the viewing glass. Amelia looked at Aries, and he nodded. She sat at the chair and looked into the looking glass. She gasped in amazement. Seeing the shooting stars outside was one thing. Watching them fly by up close was another thing entirely. The view was truly stunning.

“Aries, come here, you have got to see this,” she said.

“Oh, I’m planning on having a show of my own,” he said.

She looked up to find out what he was talking about, only to see him down on one knee by her side.

“What?” she started to ask, then held her hands to her mouth when he produced a small, black, velvet box.

“Amelia Day,” he said, “these past two years have been the most amazing, wonderful and fulfilling time of my life. And I’ve realized that I can imagine my life without you in it anymore. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and I want the rest of my life to start now. Amelia, will you consent to making me the happiest man on Mars, and being my wife?”

He opened the box, revealing an ornate, three banded diamond ring. She recognized it immediately as being Aries’ grandmother’s engagement ring. She gasped again.

“Oh, Aries,” she said, taking his hand. “Of course I’ll marry you. Yes! Yes!”

Aries smiled, and took the ring out of the box and placed it on her finger. She practically leaped of the chair to hug him, knocking him over and sending the two of them sprawling to the floor. Both laughed, but continued to hold each other and kiss each other. Aries smile just wouldn't stop. He truly felt that he was now the happiest man on Mars.

****

“I told you this would happen,” Aries said as they stepped off the tram. Amelia, her arm around his, started to hold her arm out to block the incoming photographers.

“Look,” she said to Aries as they pushed their way through the crowed to get to the mall. “I had just started to get used to seeing myself in the papers both here and on Earth as the girlfriend of the famous Aries Webb. As it was, my CO wasn’t particularly happy with all the publicity, but the brass at home liked that the First Man on Mars was in love with a US Marine. I guess they thought it was some moral victory of China or something. But none of that prepared me for the shear amount of time these guys would spend photographing us during the entire wedding preparation. Especially now, with the wedding in a few days. I figured they would have enough pictures.”

“A very private wedding that they are not invited to,” Aries said. “In fact, they don’t even know who has been invited. It makes them all the more interested in getting whatever details they can get from the event.”

“I guess I just sometimes wonder how it is you deal with it all, Greenie,” she said.

“Honey, I’ve been dealing with ‘it all’ since I was born,” he said. “Before, even, if the stories my dad tells are true. I mean, come on, the Earth held a party for my birth. I had no choice but to deal with this kind of thing.”

They paused at the entrance to the bakery, and she took his hands in hers. She looked at him with a very serious look on her face, one that made her lips look almost pouty.

“I’m so sorry, Greenie,” she said. “That never occurred to me. God, I’ve been so selfish.”

“Really?” he laughed as he kissed her and then opened the door to the bakery. “All this time together, and you never realized that I’ve been a celebrity all my life?”

“Well...” she said, hesitating. “I mean, you’ve always been you. So, yeah, it never occurred to me.”

He laughed. “Well, rest assured, that you are not being selfish. It’s not like it’s something a lot of people have to deal with, or even think about. Now come on, let’s go look at the cake.”

The baker, who insisted on being called Mrs. Baker, even though her name was Jacobs, took the two to a room in the back to see the progress on their cake. This newest design was something that Aries had suggested. It was a little unconventional for a wedding cake, but they were an unconventional couple. He smiled as Amelia saw it. She knew of his plan, but she never saw the drawings or the mock cake Mrs. Baker made.

“It’s amazing,” she said. Aries had to agree.

From the base, it had the look of a traditional wedding cake, a white square with columns to hold the next tier. That was also a white square, and both tier’s had some amazing filigree and trimmings on the edges. The sides had little pictures of the two of them, taken from photos Aries gave Mrs. Baker for this purpose. But the top layer, that was the one that really did it. It was circular, and made to look like a globe when viewed from the top. Half the globe was blue and green, the Earth, with North America showing. The other half was Mars, with Olympus Mons in disproportionate prominence. And standing on their respective sides were the bride and groom figures. The bride figure even had on a Marine Dress uniform.

“It’s perfect, Mrs. Baker,” he said. “Absolutely perfect.”

“Fantastic,” she said. “Well keep it frozen for the wedding.”

“Before you go,” Mrs. Baker asked, “A rather polite gentleman from the Olympus Herald said he would pay me a goodly sum if he could just get one picture of the cake. I told him that I don’t allow photographs of my work before the are displayed that aren’t taken by my staff. However, he was rather insistent, and I told him I would ask you first.”

Aries looked at Amelia, and she just rolled her eyes. Then, she nodded. He smiled. They were doing this more and more often lately, this communicating without talking. It reminded him of his parents. He turned back to Mrs. Baker.

“Tell him one picture only,” he said. “If it’s not good enough, tough. Make it clear to him that we are allowing this, though. I don’t want him publishing that he got this behind the scenes. That would be bad for your business, I think.”

“Indeed,” she said. “Very well.”

He must have offered her a goodly sum indeed if she was even asking, he thought. Still, she did fantastic work, and she deserved it. Besides, it was an amazing cake. It was worth showing off to the world. Aries paid her and the two lovebirds left. Only one more stop to go, at least as far as he went. After checking on the flowers, Amelia would be picked up by her friends and taken to get her final fitting on the dress. The stories he heard about it had propelled it to nearly legendary status. He was beginning to think he would never actually see it.

****

It was a beautiful day, with the sun shining bright in the pale blue sky. Aries loved days like this. This kind of day wasn’t found on Earth, or so he had been told my many natives to that world. But on Mars, they were typical of the summer months. The music started, and Aries attention was brought back to the present. He looked back over the gathering of people in the park, his friends and family, Amelia’s father and brother, who had come to Mars last week to witness this event. And at the other side of all this, he saw her, and his heart skipped a beat. She never looked more beautiful than she did in that moment.

Her hair, as curly as ever, was pulled back and held in place by a diamond studded tiara. The tiara held a veil that covered her hair and shoulders, but not her face. And the dress itself was simply stunning, every bit the legend her friends had made it out to be. For a moment, Aries couldn’t believe that this woman, this angel made real, was consenting to spend the rest of her life with him. He felt Bo tap him on the shoulder.

“Step down,” his best friend whispered.

Aries shook his head. Right. He took a step down and looked back up. Amelia was smiling, obviously amused at his befuddlement. When she got up to the edge of the crowd, her father stood forward. He was a tall man, muscular man for his age, made all the more intimidating by his marine dress uniform. He once asked her how it was that the daughter of a General would end up in the enlisted service rather than as an officer. She said it was because she ignored her daddy and signed up behind his back.

After her father stepped aside, she moved forward, to be by his side. And the ceremony began.

****

The reception was jumping and almost everyone there was on the dance floor. Aries managed to extract himself for a drink of water and a much needed rest. He looked around and saw that Amelia was still out there, dancing with some of the younger kids. She really did seem to be having the time of her life. He sat down at a table that was empty save for a few purses and jackets. He saw his father and mother out on the floor, too. Except for the beginning dances where they danced with the couple, they had danced with just each other the entire night.

A few seconds after sitting down, a hand appeared with a glass of ice water, and placed it in front of him. Aries looked up and saw the arm was attached to Bo, resplendent looking in his dress uniform. The Best Man sat down next to Aries, a huge smile on his face.

“This has to be the best party we’ve ever seen,” he said in Chinese, and Aries smiled and nodded.

“So, did you get my last message?” Aries asked.

“Yes,” Bo nodded, getting serious. “Are you sure we can talk here?”

“Everyone here is either a part of the Movement, or knows about our involvement,” Aries said. “So, yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

“Well, then,” Bo said. “In that case, you’re information is out of date.”

“What?” Aries said. “But I thought our emissary was well received?”

“Oh, he was,” Bo said. “The Chinese government is finding that the expense of an off world colony that doesn’t want to be part of the Republic is getting to be more than the payoff. They were willing to listen to our offer, and were very serious about it. It was unlikely that they would have accepted the offer, of course. A movement without any solid political pull with the colony can only go so far, but the fact that the Ministry of Colonization was even willing to listen is am amazing step forward.”

“So, what happened?” Aries asked.

“China invaded Korea,” Bo replied.

Aries goggled at his friend. “Invaded?” he asked. It seemed impossible.

“Well, not in the traditional sense with guns firing,” Bo replied, waiving his hand. “But they made it pretty clear that North Korea needed to accede their right to rule to the Chinese government or it would go badly for them. After some tensions and posturing by the Koreans, they eventually allowed the Chinese Army to roll in. It’s really caused an international stir. America, especially, is concerned, and is talking about sending troops into South Korea.”

“Why?” Aries asked.

“Resources,” Bo said. “After all this time, strip mining their own country, the Chinese government has found that it’s running low on needed mineral resources. Resources that Korea currently has in abundance. Including South Korea. America is afraid that China will continue it’s roll into the rest of Korea. Everyone is watching the national stage to see what happens next.”

“So, with a lack of resources in its own borders,” Aries said, “and American threatening to stop its march for those resources on Earth...”

“Mars is off the table as far as Independence goes,” Bo said. “They need what we offer too much. The only good news is that China is looking towards the Martian moons as locations for new colonies.”

“How does that help us?” Aries asked.

“If they can find the resources they need on Phobos and Deimos, then they won’t need us as much anymore,” Bo said.

Aries nodded. And then an idea hit him. “What if we helped them?”

“What?” Bo asked.

“What if Free Mars offered to aid China is setting up a new colony on Phobos, say,” Aries said. “It cold build up political capital with China for a later bid of Independence.”

Bo nodded. “It’s a plan,” he said. “Think you can get it started before you leave on your honeymoon?”

Aries smiled and nodded. “You bet,” he said. “I’ll get Harry on it. He’s the perfect man for this kind of thing, and I trust him to keep that processes going without the two fo us.”

Bo nodded again. Then he smiled and nodded over Aries’ shoulder. “Business is done now, it seems.”

“It better be,” Amelia said, a grin on her face as she came up behind Aries. “I plan on getting some dancing from my husband before the night is through.”

“I like the sound of that,” Aries said. He winked at Bo. “Come, my wife. Let’s tear it up.”

****

“So, Mr. Webb,” Amelia was saying, her eyes covered by a blindfold, “are you going to tell me what this surprise of yours is or not? I feel like I’ve we’ve been walking forever.”

“We’re almost there, Mrs. Webb,” Aries said.

“That’s Mrs. Day-Webb, if you please,” she said, giggling.

“Oh, excuse me,” Aries replied.

The walked on again, until eventually Aries stopped them. Then, he yanked off the blindfold.

“Taa daa!” he said.

She blinked her eyes at the bright afternoon sun and then saw that they were at the spaceport. This wasn’t too unexpected, they had, after all, planned their honeymoon to be on the moon. What she did see that wasn’t expected, however, was the gleaming white space ship with the words ‘Princess of Sol’ painted on it’s side. It looked brand new.

“Is that one of the new starliners?” she asked.

“Yup,” he said. “Makes the trip from Mars to Earth in a matter of two weeks instead of four. And we’ve got passage on it’s return trip, stopping off at Luna Station on the way.”

“Oh my God,” she said, turning to look at him. “How did you manage to do that? We don’t have the money for this.”

“Nope,” Aries replied, holding the tickets up. “But Bo’s family does. They gave it to us as our wedding gift.”

She smiled and gave him a great big, back breaking hug. “You have got to tell that little red soldier thank you from me next time you see him.”

He hugged her back, and they marched onto the ship. Their luggage was already on board, and the captain himself welcomed them. They were guided to one of the four honeymoon suites, a large, four room apartment complete with a hot tub.

“Oh, we’re so going to use that,” Amelia said.

Aries smiled, looking around at the suite. “I think this place is bigger than our room at the hotel on Luna.”

“I promise not to get too used to it,” Amelia replied. She slid up to him, her eyes half closed, that ever so slight smirk on her face, and wrapped her arms around him. “In the mean time, I think there’s a bed back there we need to break in.”

He laughed and let her drag him into the bedroom.

****

The trip on the starliner was as laid back and extravagant as Aries could have ever expected. He lounged on the pool deck, his wife next to him in her bikini. It was enough to almost make him want to go back to their cabin. Almost, but he wanted to get in the water at some point. Plus, he was enjoying the smoothie he had just ordered.

“This is the life,” Amelia said. “I haven’t had to do a 10K run in a week!”

“You still run first thing in the morning,” Aries said.

“Yes,” she said. “In sweats. Not in full kevlar, with fifty pounds of gear on my back. This here, this is living.”

“Yeah,” Aries said. “I could get used to this.”

He sipped his smoothie and then laid back in his chair, closing his eyes. The artificial sky, complete with sun, was a little brighter and bluer than he preferred, but it was re-creating an Earth sky, not a Martian one. He started to doze a little when he felt Amelia snap to attention next to him. He slowly opened one eye to find her sitting in her chair, her back ramrod straight, her sun glasses off, eyes darting about the deck.

“What?” he said. He had long ago learned to trust her instincts. It was part of being a trained Marine, after all.

“I thought I saw someone,” she said, still scanning the deck.

Aries looked around. The deck was just as full of people as always. “Care to be more specific?” he said. “There’s lots of someones around.

“Very funny, smart ass,” she said, smacking him. “No, I mean I saw someone who was just standing there, watching us.”

“Another autograph hound?” Aries asked. They had been accosted by no less than five people who recognized the First Man from Mars and his new wife, seeking pictures and/or autographs.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “They usually come up to us. This guy just stood there, by that poll, and watched us.”

Aries stood up then, also looking around. “Creepy,” he said.

“Yeah,” she said. “But he disappeared as soon as I sat up. I didn’t get a good look at him, either. He looked Asian, but it was hard to say, and he wore what everyone else here is waring. Swim trunks and a Hawaiian shirt.”

Aries looked around and saw at least three people that fit that description.

“Don’t bother,” she said, sighing. “I think I’m just paranoid. There’s so many people here that fit that vague description, it’s not worth the time.”

He nodded, but he could see she was still concerned.

“Come on,” she said. “lets go take a swim!”

She smiled at him and nodded.

“Last one in has to feed the winner dinner!” she said and raced towards the pool.

“Hey, no fair,” he said, just barely standing as she jumped into the pool.

****

Amelia lay in bed, sweat covering her naked body, a smile on her face. She had never felt this alive before, not even in basic training. She still couldn’t believe that the brass had let her use all her saved leave to go on this honeymoon. Apparently, someone back home thought it was good PR to have the First Man on Mars marry a US marine, and she was grateful. She looked over at her husband, who was looking back at her, a smug smile on his face.

“Think you’re that good, do you?” she said, rolling onto her side.

“No,” he said. “I think you are.”

She hugged him and kissed him. She rolled back off him a moment later.

“I need some water,” she said.

“I think we’re out,” he replied. “Want me to order some from room service?”

“Nah,” she said, getting up out of bed. “I could stand to take a walk and stretch some.’

“Didn’t get enough stretching here?” he replied.

She swatted him, but got up and threw on her sweats.

“I’ll be right back,” she said.

He nodded at her, getting up himself. He was probably going for his ePad to check in on things back at Mars. Or maybe he was just bragging. Either would be very like him. She smiled and left the cabin. She didn’t get two feet outside the door when a spot of movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned and briefly saw a tall Asian looking man run around the corner.

Without thinking, she chased after him. She got around the corner to see him turn a second one. She started running. She knew she had to be faster than this guy. When she rounded the corner, she saw that she was right. He had on that same stupid Hawaiian shirt and sun glasses she saw earlier. It was the same guy! He turned another corner. He was heading towards the elevator. She raced forward, but saw that it was too late. The elevator doors were closing, and her man was no where in sight.

“Damn,” she said.

She returned to the cabin and told Aries what had happened.

“We need to tell the captain,” he replied. “Security needs to know about this.”

She nodded. Something about this whole thing bothered her.

“Why?” she asked after he hung up the phone.

“Why what?” he asked.

“Why would someone be following us like that?” she replied.

“Who knows,” he said. “Paparazzi?”

She shook her head. “No one but you and the Wu’s even knew we were coming here. Not even the crew until we arrived. How would they know we were here?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. But he couldn’t imagine anyone else following them. “Are you talking about spies?”

She rubbed her eyes. It sounded crazy now that he said it back to her.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I think I’m just tired. And in desperate need of water.”

He started laughing and she started at him. Then, she started laughing too, realizing that water was why she was out of the cabin in the first place.

****

Aries and Amelia looked at each other across the table. Aries smiled. He couldn’t help it, he’d been smiling almost non-stop since the ceremony nearly two weeks ago. He wondered if the two of them looked like the newlyweds they were. He realized then that he hoped they did. She smiled back. He looked around the room briefly, just to pull himself away from her pure black eyes and his desire to just hold and kiss her.

They had left the starliner that morning, and were now dining in the Lunar Lounge, a raging hot spot for vacationers. Aries could easily see why. It was only his second time off Mars, and Lunar City was far more like he was used to than Earth was, being built with the same dome technology Mars used. But this restaurant offered an unparalleled view. The whole roof was open to the dome, and thus everyone in the restaurant could get a view of Earth. It truly was beautiful, blue and green. From here, Aries could almost think it was innocent.

Aries took a few bites of his food. The pasta was made from a locally grown wheat, and had a light flavor that he enjoyed. Amelia ate a chicken breast covered in a tomato sauce of some kind that looked amazing. He looked in her eyes again and started feeling dizzy. He smiled, but the look on her face was concerned. She was looking over his shoulder. He turned to see, but the dizzy feeling was getting worse. What was that about? Then, he saw what she saw. A man, vaguely Asian looking, in a casual outfit with sunglasses.

“Is that the guy you saw on the Princess?” he said, but most of the words came out in a slur. “What’s going on?” came out as more slurs.

Amelia dropped her fork and rushed over to his chair to check him out. He tried to stand, but the dizziness was worse. His stomach lurched. He fell to his knees, grasping the table. Amanda was smelling his plate and hunched over him. Over her shoulder, he saw the Asian man, and thought he saw a smile on his face. He wasn’t quite sure, everything was starting to look blurry. He looked at Amelia and saw she was trying to talk to him.

“Aries,” she said. “Aries, can you hear me? We need to get you to a hospital. I think you’ve been poisoned.”

****

Amelia paced in the waiting room of the hospital. Had she not been so worried about Aries, she wold have noticed that the room was very modern and comfortable, with chairs, couches, televisions and even Net stations. Instead, all she saw was the hallway that lead to the room where the doctors took Aries to have his stomach pumped. They didn’t seem at all to be concerned by her story of poison. Was that kind of thing common on Luna? She hoped not.

“Please, Mrs. Day-Webb,” a voice from behind her said. “Stop pacing and have a seat.”

She turned around to see the young doctor that had taken her husband down that hall earlier. She couldnt remember his name, and he was still in his green scrubs, so no name tag.

“Is Aries all right?” she said.

“Oh, yes,” he said. “He’ll be fine. Turns out it wasn’t poison at all.”

“What?” she said. “What happened then?”

“Food allergy,” he said. “Your husband appears to be allergic to the wheat used to make his pasta. You did right in bringing him here right away. Though it wasn’t poison, it might have been just as deadly.”

She sat in one of the chairs. Food allergy? Her mind was just having a hard time wrapping it self around the concept.

“So, no one tried to kill him?” she replied.

“Not on purpose, at any rate,” the doctor said and let out a little laugh. Doctor humor was strange, she thought. “He’ll be find by the morning. Right now, he’s in our facility where our machine is purging his body of the food he’s allergic too. You can see him tomorrow morning, when the processes is done.”

“I don’t want to leave him,” she said. Suddenly, the thought of going back to their hotel alone was terrifying.

“We already have a room set aside for him to recover in,” the doctor said. “You’re welcome to stay there.”

She nodded and let him lead her down another hallway, up an elevator and down another hall. She lay down on the small couch in the room, which folded out into a futon, and slept.

****

She didn’t know what time it was when she awoke, but the sun was shining in through the window. It was hard to tell if it was natural, though, given that there was no sky on the moon. Just the black of space and stars. And with a ‘day’ on the moon being almost a full month long, people set up fake lights to simulate daytime and night time during the moon’s rotation. Still, it had to have been several hours since she fell asleep. She pushed herself up from the futon and saw that Aries was asleep in the hospital bed, several tubes running from his nose and arms to machines. She gasped and started to stand.

“I assure you, he’s quite all right, Mrs. Webb,” a deep male voice said. She turned and saw someone standing in the dark corner of the room. He was waring a black suit and tie. This was not the doctor.

“Please, sit down,” he said. “You and I have to talk.”

She didn’t sit, and instead balled her hands into fists. The man sighed.

“Your father did say you would be difficult,” he said.

“My father sent you?” she said.

“Not exactly,” he replied. “But he and I work for the same people.”

The US Government, she realized right away. This man was some kind of spy, probably CIA.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“The same thing you do,” he said. “The safety of your husband. He’s quite a valuable asset to the country, ma’am. Does wonders for our moral, especially against China.”

She sat down. “Why are you here now?” she asked. “Surely a little food allergy wouldn’t bring you out of the shadows.”

He chuckled. “No, of course not,” he said. “I’ve come to let you know that your instincts about someone trying to kill your husband are correct.”

“That man with the sunglasses,” she said.

“No,” he replied almost immediately. “That man is a photographer for a tabloid back on Earth. He’s been taking photos of your honeymoon with those sunglasses of his and sending them back to Earth this whole time. No, I mean there is someone else.”

“Who?” she asked.

“We don’t know,” he said. “I’m only telling you this because I’ve been ordered to. Personally, I’d rather do my job without your knowledge that I am ever here. But, my bosses seem to think otherwise. I don’t know why, I was just told to tell you to keep your eyes open. Oh, and also that the paparazzi guy will be taken care of.”

“Taken care of?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.

“We won’t kill him,” he replied, getting out and leaving the room. “Honestly, some people watch too many movies.”

****

The rest of the honeymoon seemed down right dull compared to their first night. Aries apologized several times for waisting their first few days in Lunar City in the hospital, as if he had a choice about that. They made up for it, though, by visiting all the sights they could squeeze in. They saw the space elevator that reached to Lunar Station 1. They visited the Armstrong Museum of Lunar History, which included the lunar rover and foot prints left by the first astronauts to the moon. They visited several other places too, when they decided to leave their hotel room. During the entire time, Amanda saw nothing out of the ordinary. She never even saw the man from the hospital. She started to wonder if she had just dreamed it all.

Their return trip was on the same starliner that took them to the Moon, and Amelia was excited about that. Aries was just looking forward to some down time. The moon had involved a lot of walking and picture taking and other activities that left one physically drained. She teased that he needed to get up and run with her in order to get in better shape. He retorted that his shape was plenty fine for someone that wasn’t in the military.

“Fine then, go back to sleep on me,” she said as she put on her sweat pants for her morning run. “But you’d better be ready to be ‘athletic’ when I get back.”

He grunted, and she laughed, then left the cabin and started her run. It wasn’t as easy as it should have been. The last few days she had been felling nauseous in the morning, though she never quite got to the point where she was throwing up. She was getting concerned. Maybe she was sick. It was possible, she supposed, what with all the strange food she had eaten lately, and the different places and all the people. She continued her run, deciding that she would go visit the doctor later today.

That was when she saw something. A man, in a full body jump suit, all black, standing back in the shadows, looking right at her. If she hadn’t looked right into that spot, she would never have seen him. Even now, after she had passed him by, she wasn’t sure. Did she really see someone, or was it just her paranoid imagination. When she ran back that same way moments later, she didn’t see anything.

She shook her head, feeling dizzy. She must have just been seeing things. She came back to the cabin to find Aries laying in what she could only assume was supposed to be a provocative pose. He sat up when she came in, though.

“Are you all right, honey?” he asked. “You look kind of green.”

“No,” she said, and then ran towards the bathroom.

****

Aries and Amelia held hands as she sat on the uncomfortable table in the doctors office. They could create engines that traveled across space at blinding speeds, or allowed communication from Earth to Mars in very short order, but they couldn't invent a comfortable doctor’s table. That just seemed wrong to Amelia.

“How long do we have to wait?” she asked. “It’s not like there were a lot of sick people in the waiting room. It’s a starliner, not a city.”

“It’s also the only doctor on board,” Aries said. “Don’t worry, he’ll be back soon.”

As if on queue, the door opened and the doctor entered. He had a big smile on his face, and Amelia felt relief. He wouldn't be smiling if he didn’t have good news, right?

“Well, Mr. and Mrs. Webb,” he said. “It looks like your honeymoon was more productive than you might have thought.”

Aries and Amelia looked at each other. What in the world was he talking about.

“Mrs. Webb,” the doctor said, his smile getting even broader. “You’re pregnant.”

“What?” Aries said.

Amelia smiled. That was what was going on with her? She looked at Aries. He looked back at her and smiled.

“We’re going to have a baby!” he cried.

She reached over and hugged him. This was indeed a good way to end their honeymoon.

****

“Bo!” Aries cried. “Bo, I have the most fantastic news!”

“I have some news too,” Bo said. “Though not so fantastic. Maybe you should go first.”

“Okay,” Aries said, somewhat deflated. “Amelia is pregnant!”

Bo light up and looked at him in pure shock. “Really? Wow, that is great news!”

The two men hugged and Bo congratulated Aries.

“So,” Aries said, “what’s your news?”

“Well, like I said, it’s not good,” Bo said.

“Just spit it out,” Aries said.

“China and America have declared war."

The End

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