The moons of Mars did not so much as hurtle as zip apart outer space. And when day was extinguished, the darkness above beheld the ground’s mists below. It froze in midair. Lonely astronauts stumbled through the glassy threads and broke them, when they fell onto the hard, hard ground.
Julian Buren II was out of breath.
-They called me queer -- well, fuck ’em. 'Cause I'm the first queer on Mars, and they can all kiss my grits!-
He rolled over and pretended to kiss the sky through his visor. Sensors blinked in his helmet. Oxygen and nitrogen mixtures depleted. Prepare to die.
Christmas week in the Oregonian gaelic-tecs meant nothing to the terrible teenager Julian Buren II. Vercingetorix’s veterans called him ‘Junior’ with no mention of his famous grandfather. The terriblest. Not that Julian cared. Respect for their silly revivalist days never left his lipsticked mouth. He hung out with the flag burners. Smash the state.
Bridga. His childhood best friend. She jumped him in a crowd of itinerant Auditorms. What she lacked in their dreadlocks, Julian mentioned she made up in smell. She gave a fuck as much as him.
-So what?! I stink like a hostage of the Language of the Tree should!-
-Just like a grey eyed Clare...c'mon bitch, it's time.-
The two teenagers told the story of Brigda's grandfather all the way to the observatory.
Emperor Norton's Bridge earned the name by default of the Elation Days, still fresh on the minds of the victors of the Western Secessions. One was not elated. Andrew Clare. He climbed over the railing and looked into the channel of water between San Francisco and the East Bay. Faraway city lights looked busy and bright with the promise of Self-Determination Day celebrations. But he held no joy, nor goodwill to man.
The Battle of Christmas Day had stolen his love and unborn child, and if he thought of one more day without Kendra and his own bright promise of tomorrow, to be a hero and leader of new American nations was easily replaceable with a headfirst dive -- and then silence.
Julian stared into the Martian night. Soon he would see a pale blue dot. His face and the symmetry in death. He would miss his New Wave though.
-Brig...Brig. You always were a closet Mormon. Now what? Should I be seeing that angel now?-
His childhood friend lurked inside his helmet.
The fuckin' Italian Angel himself, dickwad. Moroni!
Julian laughed. It was all too real.
Brigda sharpened the telescope's focus on the Red Planet and explained an alternate future of the Commonrealm. Written by Andrew Clare. Dedicated to his Baalist angel. About the world without him where Julian's namesake -- the first Julian Buren -- grew boastful. Partisan bloodshed engulfed the western free-states. The zealotry far surpassed the history in the trenches and tank fields outside Salt Lake City.
For a moment Brigda vanished into the night, the fog, the red, red, red.
Julian sat up to marvel at the frozen chasmae he occupied. Ready to commit his bones for eternity.
-...I can ask for help. I can. I can say 'help'...-
He pushed the button on his wrist. Mayday went out to Brigda Base One. He did not know where he was. But he knew where he came from.
Brigda walked Julian down the side of the mountain. It was morning in America. The sun illuminated fields of green and blue rivers and lakes, and it was only winter. He beheld the pale blue dot. What a life.