TITLE: Down into Darkness
GENRE: Science Fiction
Linguist Brian Marconi arrives on Jupiter’s moon to discover that his only predecessor was killed by the alien colony she went to contact. In a race against time, Brian must solve the riddles of alien culture if he hopes to find an avenue for peace before Earth steps in to resolve the problem with brute force.
“He’s a smart kid, Amani,” said the gray-bearded man seated at his ironwood desk. “It’ll be a shame to lose him.”
“He could make it,” the standing, dark-haired man replied.
“He’s a soldier, Erickson. even if he doesn’t know it.”
“Isn’t that true…” Erickson reached for the old-fashioned globe of Mars on his desk and set it spinning with a stroke of his hand. “Amani, I don’t know what we need most, justification for war with the damn Mars colony, or sufficient intelligence about Jupiter’s little devils to know what the hell’s going on.” His eyes flicked to a second globe out of reach to one side, a globe few would recognize: Jupiter’s third moon, Ganymede.
“It’s now in the hands of Allah,” Amani said.
Erickson’s beard rasped like steel wool against his uniform as he nodded, raising a hand to touch the shape of a cross concealed beneath the fabric of his shirt. Then he reached out to slow the spinning orb of mars, his fingers dragging at the globe like gravity, or the hand of God, until the northern latitudes came to rest beneath his thumb.
* * * * *
Brian brought his face close to the ship’s tiny porthole, fogging the space-glass as he looked out. He steadied himself in the darkness, gripping the wall bar to support his weightless body while he wiped the window with a sleeve. Outside, the forbidding world of Mars floated beyond his one-man craft. It looked so innocent.