1. Chapter I. Moonboy

Once upon a time a boy lived on a moon far away in space. No one else lived there but him. His home was a solitary place and he felt friendless and forlorn.

Moonboy was a skinny thing of hard black diamond, all dark and porous, and when he moved, he made the sound of grinding stone. His hair were spikes of jet black metal, hard and sharp, and so were his fingers and his toes. His teeth were white, his eyes blue and bright against the blackness that was him.

Moonboy did not have anybody to play sticks with on his moon, nobody to hug whether he was happy or he was sad. Only the planet around which his moon revolved, gave him some respite from despair. All blue and green and white with swirling clouds, it was a beauty to behold as it waxed and waned at the horizon.

One moonday, as many other moondays before, he was watching Eara as she hovered crescent in the sky. He was lying atop a giant peak that shot up five miles high from the bottom of a crater five miles wide and five miles deep, leveled with its rim. The incredible array was a natural, gigantic dish antenna that focused and amplified all sort of radio waves from space. To Moonboy's ears those invisible radiations were actual sounds, and the crater where he lay the most amazing gate to the true music of deep space.

From his vantage point, he tuned in to the heaving of Eara's crust, the booming of her fires, the shifting of her restless clouds and scratching of her storms, the whipping of her bolts of lightning and the singing of her incredible auroras. Underneath it all, barely audible above the sighs and whispers of galaxies and stars around, the caressing of her breath ebbed and flowed to him across the void of space.

He could see that breath of life as it surrounded her with a light blue haze that shimmered against the sun, that enshrouded her like a veil and protected her from the harshness of deep space. He sniffed the void and inhaled the tangy scent of the infinitely small and rare particles of Eara that somehow had made the journey to the far shores of his home. He was certain that Eara was alive just like the moon once had been too, and that she must be home to many creatures and various forms of life.

He also had a hunch that some of those living beings ought to be like him for sure. There just had to be more like him somewhere. Why not right there? He could picture these strangers in his mind: they looked just like him, but maybe were a bit taller and with big green eyes. They were the best of friends, all funny and nice, and at that moment undoubtedly were chatting, laughing and having a great time.

If only he too could have a friend, he sighed, just one true friend that he could love. He wrenched his eyes away and looked around at his desolate and barren home, hoping hopelessly to find that special person standing at his side, although he knew too well that there was no-one on the moon. No-one but his lonely self, that was.

Wearily, he stood up and set out to search the moonplains for the prettiest moonstones he could find. He gathered up the best in a big pile and walked up North where he could have Eara in his line of sight. He picked up one of the stones, took aim, then cocked his arm and squeezed his fist. From the back of his closed hand, a jet of high pressure gas burst out, thrusting his arm forward in a blur of speed. He groaned as he felt his shoulder creak and almost snap out of his titanium socket all at once. So great was the speed his hand had reached, that the dust in the atmosphere ignited with a spark.

He let go and the moonstone shot toward the sky, burning like a true comet of deep space. For a few seconds, a violet crown arched aflame around its head and a beautiful blu-orange tail stretched far behind its back, leaving a trail of smoke that expanded in all directions and disappeared almost at once. Then it was gone. Now dark against the dark slice of Eara up in space, the moonstone climbed furtively to the farthest reaches of the sky, slipped through the clutch of gravity and sailed right into space.

Methodically and taking care in aiming right, Moonboy flung each moonstone in his pile, then watched with baited breath as his fleet of rocks set course across the void between the worlds.

He patiently sat back, knowing his messengers were on their way. After staring straight at Eara for almost three moonhours--that were on the other planet almost three full days--he saw Eara wane to a thinner crescent in the sky. He watched it revolving on herself three times as it glided smoothly through the vastness of deep space, spinning against a tapestry of stars and constellations, while a few other bright planets travelled along the horizon at different speeds.

Since the moon mirrored Eara's every phase, but in reverse, as Eara was fading into darkness, light was now sweeping more than half of the moon's surface and gaining ground. Moonboy turned to his left: at the horizon, the edge of sunrise rolled forward like a tidal wave, swallowing the night of space in its relentless path with an eerie, breathy hiss. He stared at the glowing, shifting curtain of pale light along the rim of the horizon, always fascinated at the sight. Day was walking briskly up to him.

He stood up and started running West, which was on his right, to outpace the blade of sunrise sweeping across the plains and mountains of his home, filling up its craters with its light. He stopped in a spot still bathed in the chill of night and resumed his observation of the sky.

As he settled in, streaks of light flashed across the dark gibbous side of Eara, sparked like falling stars, then died away. That was the signal he had been waiting for--his moonstones had hit home. Yet, he did not rejoice at the amazing feat, but kept on staring doggedly at the crescent in the sky, waiting... waiting... waiting for another, a different sign.

The fact was, even after all these moonyears, he hadn't given up his hopes. He still wished one day somebody up on Eara would catch one of his stones, know he was there, and threw it back. Maybe today was going to be that fateful day, he thought with a wrenching longing that ground against his heart. There was no way people up on Eara could ignore rocks falling from the sky or streaking in a jet of fire straight above their heads. He had thrown so many moonstones through the years that in some places there must be piles now stories high. Surely people ought to ask themselves some questions at this point. Then why they never threw one back? They must have figured out someone is throwing them at them and feel the urge to check whoever that might be, or at least feel compelled to throw some of their own right back and see what happens next. If there were people up on Eara, of course... But there must be, there just must be...

As motionless as the moonboulders that stood gray and dead sprawled in the vast silence where he sat, Moonboy waited for another moonhour, then two and three. Light slowly slipped away from Eara's face as she waned into the darkness of deep space. Nothing changed.

Defeated, he shook his charcoal head. Day caught up with him and flooded the frost-bitten moonplains with hot light, but couldn't thaw his heart frozen in despair. Why had his life become so grim? It hadn't always been so bad. Once, he had never been alone: the moon had talked to him and kept him company all the time.


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