In honor of the 4th of July, here’s an excerpt from a yet-to-be-published sci fi short story, “Capture the Flag.” Set in the not so distant future, the world watches as astronauts rush to the moon to protect the first American flag planted there.
Capture the Flag
by C.R. Hodges
Eagle II hovered over the Sea of Tranquility as I searched for an artifact-free landing zone. I needed to get us close enough for the boys to hike in with their heavy weapons, but without damaging any of the treasures we had raced to protect. We had no rover—the prototype had broken down on a training mission in Utah—so a lunar promenade was our only option.
Running around on the surface of the moon armed for interplanetary bear had not been the plan. I was supposed to captain next year’s Mars mission. My crewmates, all Marines, were supposed to be storming beaches or doing whatever the hell Marines do.
That was before Flagjacker.
“There,” Hank said, “just beyond the rise. But land quickly, Fay, the Chinese are coming.”
“Copy.” We landed fast. The lander had been designed for Mars’s gravity, so it was overkill for the moon’s. This entire mission was overkill, but the stakes were enormous. One of the proudest symbols of our nation was under attack: the Chinese were attempting to capture our flag. Neil and Buzz’s flag. The first flag planted on the moon, a century ago.
Happy Independence Day.