Author : Beck Dacus

From Earth, the lie was invisible. Looking up would present you with a deep blue sky, maybe some clouds sometimes, and a bright yellow sun (white from Low Earth Orbit). But I was on the Moon; nothing was the same. Here there was stark grey ground, a cloudless, black, star-spattered sky… and a spotlight illuminating it all.

The Light was a very tight beam by interplanetary standards, and when the Earth was the vertex of a right angle between the Moon and the “Sun” like this, you could see what was really hanging in space 93 million miles from the Earth. A dark region, absent of stars, wasn’t completely dark; cracks in the Mesh let starlight bleed out. Tens of billions of satellites, statites, and giant solar platforms were out there, covering Earth’s Sun, using it as a fusion reactor bigger than any humanity could ever possibly make. It was this that allowed such projects as interstellar travel, vast virtual reality, total interplanetary colonization, and the terraformation of Mars and Venus to be possible. The major, obvious problem is that the Solar System would be deprived of light. All the electricity we were getting from the Sun was light that would have fallen on all the worlds orbiting it. Earth would freeze, the climate of every planet inside Jupiter’s orbit would be drastically altered, and the Solar System would never be the same. Unless we gave a little bit of our light to the planets.

Jupiter only got 4% of the sunlight the Earth does, and that figure gets exponentially smaller as you go farther from the Sun, and no one really wants Mercury to be hot, so three “lasers” (though they weren’t tight enough to be lasers in the public’s mind) were constructed for Venus, Earth and Mars. The mechanics of keeping a hole in the Mesh pointed at each of the planets were too impractical, so a ring of these Lights was built nearly around the stellar equator. For a while, one will track a planet through space, until the angle gets too sharp, at which point it dims while another planet-aimed Light brightens before taking on the task of giving the planet all its light. In the rare event of a planetary eclipse, the two Lights will dim the appropriate amount (rather than turning one off, so it doesn’t have to warm back up) so that each planet gets a tolerable amount of light. This gave the the three “Main” planets the life-giving shine they needed, while allowing us to keep the immense power we needed for galactic expansion. But not everything’s peaches and cream.

The Outer Solar System sits in perpetual darkness, watching three glowing marbles roll around the Sun, completely dependent on power provided by the Mesh’s microwave lasers. All Sun-orbiting space habitats had to get energy beamed to them or run to the Mesh’s residential spaces, and they usually do the latter. Solar sail travel is only possible if the Mesh rents you a laser. The Sun no longer runs the Solar System; the people there do.

“If you don’t like it,” they all say, “just go to another System. If all this electricity and terraformed worlds with just the right amount of sunlight makes you so uncomfortable, you can go to Wolfworld, a mere 14 lightyears away, can’t you?” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m leaving this enslaved Moonbase on a ship propelled by Mesh lasers. Through a wormhole held open by Mesh power.

As I get farther and farther away, I wonder, “Will I ever escape them?”