Author : David Kavanaugh

“Your honor, counsel, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning. Over the last two months, we have heard so many rambling excuses for the accused’s illegal activities, that I’m sure you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. So I want to take the final moments of this trial to step back, and look at the simple facts.

“These individuals before you did knowingly deceive the American government and steal sixty-two billion— let me repeat that— sixty-two billion dollars from the United States! Under the pretense of their so-called ‘science,’ they convinced Congress to fund a mission designed to deviate the course of the asteroid known as Hercules 113b. They claimed their federally funded satellite network indicated that the asteroid was on a collision course for planet Earth.

“Of course, we all know now that no such imminent disaster was ever actually likely. And the accused’s trickery didn’t end there. They staged a launch and released a video that showed a supposedly successful strike on 113b. The world cheered, the streets rang out with joy. We were saved! Or so we thought, until video analysis proved the footage to be phony.

“When news came of their deceit, they didn’t beg for mercy or apologize or even return the funds right away. They were— they are— proud to admit that Hercules 113b was never going to hit Earth! In fact, it was never going to pass any closer than twenty-two thousand miles. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too worried about a bit of space rock whizzing around somewhere out in the stars.

“Now, we’ve heard their excuses about threat of these Hercules asteroids, about how they needed more funding. But here’s my question: Why couldn’t these ‘scientists’ convince Congress in the first place, with the truth?

“Now, we’ve already begun the process of healing after this repulsive abuse of trust. We’ve frozen the program until new leadership can be established, and the satellites should be back up and running in a few months. But that’s not enough. We cannot let treachery of this sort go unpunished.

“It doesn’t matter how fervently they believe their methodical mumbo-jumbo. What matters is that the law is followed, and that the American people have a say in how their hard-earned dollars are spent. It’s that simple. So, on behalf the United States of America, I ask that you return a verdict of guilty as charged against the accused. Thank you.”

It took the jury less than twenty minutes to deliberate. Guilty. On all charges.

The young prosecutor’s very white smile showed as he sauntered down the courthouse stairs and jogged across the street towards the park.

Ducks were bickering over breadcrumbs. A teenage boy was trying in vain to lock lips with a teenage girl on a park bench. A girl wearing headphones and neon sneakers and little else jogged past, her breasts bouncing in rhythm with each step. The prosecutor’s grinned widened.

It truly was a beautiful day. The sun was high and hot, the sky a rich blue, broken only by a few feathery cirrus clouds.

He sighed, taking in the scenery, nearly bursting with pride at knowing that his career was finally taking off, that the world was his.

Then the sky cracked in two and the horizon rushed towards him in a wall of black.

Hercules 114, unseen as it passed by the satellites whose funding was now cut, had just reached Earth. It burst over the coast of Nova Scotia, sending ripples washing across the continents, so that the landscape glowed and danced.


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