2175, A.D

My freighter slid easily through space, knifing the short distance between the world I knew, the world of green trees, blue sky, puffy white clouds, and this smaller sphere that hung ahead, a world of dust and craters barren and lonely.

When the moon had first been colonized just under a hundred years ago, scientists had realized an incredible opportunity. The far side of it was covered with factories, freeing up farmland on Earth, and allowing greater prosperity to reign. But it came at a price. Far from the warmth of our loving planet, the people here on the moon had grown wilder, with word of greater and more shocking criminal acts constantly reaching home.

As for me, I was a simple rancher on Earth, trained in piloting to bring my ship here myself. Though I didn't much like the moon itself, I loved flying, and seeing the stars from closer up. A herd of cattle rested in peaceful, lightly drugged contentment, safely tucked inside the cargo hold. Even criminals have to eat, I thought darkly.

The boxy ship rumbled close to the moon's surface, sending dust flying into the air behind us. I was eager to try out my new car, a hovercraft I'd picked up at the New York Spaceport on my way here. Hopefully this would be quick. I locked the ship into place and stopped to check the cattle. On the off chance that someone might try to steal it, they would find it could go no higher or lower, only straight.

The cows were, as expected, fine. Gentle mooing filled the air, a sign that some of them were waking up. My brand new, silver-blue car, rested safely as well. There was just a simple hall between the cockpit and the hold, and in between were the tiny living quarters. I was thinking about setting the ship on autopilot and catching a nap when the engines roared to life and the ship jolted forward. The door out of the hold shut in my face, and the ship shuddered as someone tried to break the lock and fly up.

I fell backward and grabbed the first handhold I could find as the freighter moved. Suddenly the cargo doors opened and the ship swerved, sending me tumbling out into the harsh landscape of the moon. I activated my emergency spacesuit and my clothing sealed up around me protecting me from the airless void. Unable to reach the ship, I tapped a the button a simple remote and my car leapt out of the hold just the doors slammed shut.

I was about to get in and give chase, when someone came running up. A radio signal crackled in my ear. "Did your ship just get stolen?" a woman with dark purple hair and strangely catlike eyes asked. "I'm a bounty hunter. I've been working with the government trying to catch them."

I nodded. "You need a ride?" I asked, indicating my car.

"That would be great. You sure it's prepared for a moon drive? Let me check the motor." I pushed a button on the dashboard and the hood stretched forward into several segmented sections and folded in on itself, revealing the engine. I settled myself into the cockpit and waited. "Looks good." She said simply. "Let's go."

The heavy freighter couldn't match our speed. It was soon looming close in the windshield. I whooped with triumph and the throttle died. We came to a sudden stop, spinning for a short time before coming to rest roughly at the edge of a crater. I could see the Earth edged against the stars, and wondered how long it would be until I was there again.

The click of a gun at my head gave me my answer. I looked over at the thief who had set me up, and prayed my family would have a good life. She'd fouled up the engine. She'd fooled me.


She shrugged and pulled the trigger.