Wang An-feng stood there, looking out across the barren surface towards the earth, which rested low in the sky. Behind her, its dome-like skeletal form only faintly drawn in the darkness, was the massive frame of Tai Huo, the new city they were building.
It had been a long day. Things were happening. Even as she stood there, things were changing. At least, that was what she’d heard. The colonists had had enough. Now they were wresting the power from the hands of those who, like Fan Fa-liang, were not Mars born, but servants of the seven great Lords, back on Chung Kuo. Making Mars their own. Throwing off the shackles of the last eighty years.
If rumour could be trusted, Governor Fan was already dead, shot through the helmet by one of his own bodyguards while visiting the new oxygen-generation plant up in Biblis Patera. Whether it were true or not, it was significant that there even was a rumour. Mars had always been tightly governed. Treated more like a prison camp than the new frontier.
Yes, and if anyone knew the truth of that, it was Wang An-feng, for she had been here almost fifty years now. Part of the second wave that had turned a base camp into a Colony. One of the ‘Old Hundred’ who had crossed the dark of space to come to this desolate place. Perhaps the last of them.
Those had been hard times. Of the hundred who had come, only thirty were alive ten years later.
She glanced at the display lozenge at her wrist. Ninety eight and falling. She would need to get inside real soon, or freeze to death out here, among the red sands. Besides, Kan Jiang would be waiting for her. Worrying about her safety.
Wang An-feng took one long, last look at it, the longing she always felt undiminished. Earthlight. How beautiful it was.
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