Author : Bob Newbell

“I’m tired of hearing about Mars!” said the Russian envoy. It was a sentiment the other diplomats in the room could understand. A year earlier, a dozen nations had collectively decided that the Martian colonists’ repeated attempts to secede from Earth had gone on long enough. The colonists had begun with appeals which had progressed over time to demands and then to acts of violence. Some called them terrorists and some called them freedom fighters. The leaders of the nations represented in the room had called them a security risk.

“We’re all tired of it,” said the American diplomat. He looked to the window with annoyance. Even now there were protesters outside the building chanting that the great powers were guilty of genocide. “But the Mars Expeditionary Force’s after-action report is almost complete. And it contains something potentially disturbing. We may not have had the last of our trouble with the colonists.”

“There were survivors?” asked the Russian. “Even if that was the case, they would be in no position to–”

“There were no survivors,” said a voice from the far end of the table. It was the Chinese representative, a middle-aged woman. “The strike was quite successful in destroying both the habitation domes and the underground facilities.”

“No one survived,” said the Indonesian envoy. “Our ground forces confirmed the orbital bombardment was totally effective.”

“Then I do not see the problem,” said the Russian.

“A team of American and Chinese marines were sent to Deimos to see if there were any colonists manning the mining facility’s mass driver. The marines discovered it was gone.” The American sighed and sat back in his chair.

The Russian leaned forward. “How could they have relocated the driver to another location on Deimos? Something that massive–”

“He didn’t mean the mass driver was gone,” said the Chinese woman. “He meant Deimos was gone.”

“You’re telling me Mars’ outer moon is missing? Why would–” The Russian stopped speaking. He turned pale. “Bozhe moi!”

Just then the building started to shudder. The angry chants in the street below turned into shrieks of terror. A fireball redder than the sands of Mars rose on the horizon.

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