Bighead Moon Stories
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Imperial Earth
Bighead Moon Stories are in the tradition of classic hard science fiction.
Rocket # 56
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UFOs Over Woodstock
Upcoming stories: UFOs Over Woodstock, The Girl with the Yin Yang Belly Button, Fan the Ember Moon.
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The Rose over Bighead Port, Luna
"The Rose has risen," Darja said.
Oh God, Let Us Be Lettuce
A Bighead Moon Story
text and illustration copyright © 2019 - 2020 Peter Thorpe
word count: 6055
uncorrected proof
for review purposes only


To call me a non-believer would be an understatement. I don't believe in the word believe. It means to accept something without any evidence of its existence. I don't need that. And I don't understand religion or faith at all. But I love science, and good science means that anything is possible. So who am I to judge? Religion is far too dogmatic to my way of thinking. It supposes too much. But, my job, as a museum comtech, is to work with artifacts, many of which are religious.

So it is ironic that I found, by chance, possible proof of the existence and miracle ability of one of Mother Earth's most lasting religious icons.

I work at Luna's finest, though perhaps least well-known, museum, scanning and cataloging various items of art and culture from Earth. The Museum of Terrestrial Heritage, or MOTH, is an important repository of Earth artifacts.

I first visited the museum while I was in college. It was during a student trip and I didn't even think that much about it at the time, but in the back of my head, I was impressed. I remember thinking that working to preserve Earth's cultural identity was a good idea. I've never been there of course, but I do like history. And the objects in the museum were so very beautiful and interesting.

After school I worked comtech in the office at the Farms for a while on a scholarship that just about every grad gets anyway. Hey, they need the people, but, although it was easy, I really wanted something else. I always loved things...stuff made by humans, like furniture and vehicles and lifts and suits...stuff that lasts longer (usually) than we do. Old things were rare on Luna, where just about everything is new. Every now and then I'd be in someone's cave and they'd bring out a book, a bound book, and it'd be like, wow, this is old! And then I'd start to think about the museums and libraries and it made sense to want to work in such a place.

Good chance I'd get a nice job like that, right? But I got the chance. And it came to me through a shapely blonde beauty by the name of Bunny Upwright.

Beatrice "Bunny" Upwright was the prettiest girl I'd ever met and I met her at the 2200 New Year's Eve party in the Grand Plaza, up under the dome with the stars shining through. I guess she choose me really, as I would never have approached a girl like her. But she saw something she liked in me and before I knew what was happening, we were back at her cave. "Jack Turner," she said, "I need to wrestle with someone tonight, and that someone is you." So we spent the night together. It was great fun, but I had to ask myself, could something like this be more than a one-night stand? I mean, what did she see in me? Girls like that collect men. I knew that. So I had a good time, and I was very, very careful. Careful with the sex and careful with my heart.

Bunny worked at the Museum of Terrestrial Heritage. Ansel Anderson, a sixth generation Anderson, ran the place like a quiet, intellectual library. The Anderson family funded the collection. Bunny's job was secretary, docent and archivist. Her only co-worker, Georges Mann, a comtech head, had just taken a job offer from Bighead City Library, leaving an opening at the MOTH. Bunny and I had just started to get to know each other, and, without me knowing it, she submitted my name for the open job.

In retrospect, she was more interested in having a suitable work mate than in my career. Fine. But I was happy to take it. I will forever love Bunny for that. And, really, it was a compliment.

I dove into the work. At the Farms we produced a large percentage of Bighead City's food...very important for all our lives, of course. But at the Museum, I archived important terrestrial objects for posterity. That was so much more satisfying. I had the basic skills to do any comtech job. It was Bunny who gave me the chance at archives, and thanks to her, I got to work a dream occupation.

I scanned my heart out. Scanning most artifacts was just a matter of recording dimension, weight, density, molecular composition, etc. Simple scans. Many items were recent, some were very old. All had some historic significance. I learned about them, and Earth history, on the job.

I was always amazed by the variety of potshards and paintings, sculptures and fabric pieces there were in the collection. The majority of them were small items, but we did have our larger pieces too.

First of all, shipping anything from Earth to Luna was ridiculously expensive. Artifacts sometimes came to us from travelers using a 'carry discount', bringing mass over from Earth that had value beyond its basic atoms. And there were plenty of discounts for passengers willing to sacrifice a portion of their weight allowance to bring along a historic artifact. Skip the redundant clothes and accessories and bring a valuable object that makes you credits. It was a good way to minimize the expense of visiting Luna. We also got items through foundations and organizations that funded or otherwise supported the arts.

Bunny set me up at the Museum and I gave her thanks, space, and compliments and we did just fine. 'Don't date anyone on your own hall,' the old saying goes, but you can, you know, if you just do it right. She was the girl everyone wanted, a real jewel, and if she picked me to work with, and sometimes sleep with, well, don't blame me. I could never figure it out.

Attraction has its details, of course. I did like her. But there was one major barrier holding me back from total infatuation, and that was religion.

Bunny was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. She loved her Bible. She had photos of the Pope on one wall, on another was a large poster of Jesus with his glowing heart showing within his robe. She burned candles (very dangerous!) and had a cross, a big one, on the inside of her cave's front door. I asked her once about the artwork of Jesus' heart. "That is the Sacred Heart of Jesus," she explained. "It represents his love and compassion for me." I just shook my head.

Another time, when we were playing in bed, her on top of me, she said to me in a deep, sultry voice, "Tell me what you want me to do."

Trying to be funny, I said, "Give up that religion stuff!"

Bunny didn't laugh, but she didn't react badly either. She accepted me for what I was and what I was not. And I was not religious. No one in my family was. My Aunt Paige had a saying that I liked a lot: "Oh God, let us be lettuce." She meant that we should be happy with our lot in life. Accept life as a great blessing and otherwise try no to pontificate its purpose or shroud it with dogma. Sane thinking.

Within a year of my joining the museum we received a major donation from an Israeli Foundation. It was a large shipment of artifacts and I didn't even see the pieces for at least a cycle. They were not thought of as priority, but there were many objects, including some large items. There were stone tablets and bronze tools, some dated to three millennia old, and a few larger clay and stone items that were a millennia, or so, old.

One item was a limestone water jar, its base and pedestal intact, with a geometric pattern cut in the stone around the girth of the base. On top of that the bowl of the jar had a flat bottom with gently bowed sides rising 60 centimeters to a mostly intact mouth ringed with a vine pattern around the lip. It was dated to around 900 AD in the manifest, but I thought that was probably wrong. The piece seemed much had something that spoke to me. I told Bunny that I wanted to do the scans on it and she thought that was fine.

It wasn't until several nights later that I got to it. Preliminary isotopic and mineralogical analysis placed the age at 2200. The clincher was the bio-scans of residue on the inside bottom of the pot. That turned out to be dried red wine.

One micro-layer of the scan of the interior of the jar, scan #1225 showed something interesting. It sat right between the wine stain and the stone, actually just within the surface of the limestone. It was a dark pattern of atomic silver iodine. On the screen, just for one layer, it looked very much like a human face, bearded, with long hair and an open hand just below the beard. It was not clear, but still somewhat realistic, so for a laugh I tagged it to show to Bunny the next morning.

Ansel was at the MOTH when I got in the next day. Bunny was late, as usual, and so was not there when I reviewed the previous evening's scans. On seeing scan 1225 again I called Ansel over and asked, "What does that look like?"

"Well," he said moving closer to the screen and squinting his eyes, "I'd say it's some long haired guy waving at us. What is this from?"

"Item 669, the stone water jar bottom. It's of the inside of the jar, just below the bio stain, which is, by the way, red wine."

Ansel replied with just one word. "Pareidolia."


"It means seeing a pattern or picture in random data. Like seeing a face in the regolith of a crater. Or an animal in the swirl of clouds around Earth."

"Right. But you have to admit that this looks pretty real."

"I suppose so. Now get back to work."

When Bunny finally arrived she had to dive into some file sorting for Ansel, so it wasn't until lunch that I got a chance to talk to her. We were in the kitchen, enjoying a lovely salad of lettuce, tomato, shelf bacon and chunks of chicken, when I mentioned the scan to her.

";And what artifact was this in?" she asked.

"Number 669. Come on, I'll show you." We carried our bowls of salad to the scan cave. We weren't supposed to have food in there, but Ansel was out at this point, and we'd be careful. Or at least I thought we would be. But when I brought scan 1225 up on the screen, Bunny let out a scream and dropped her bowl.

"What's wrong?"

"Oh my Lord God, oh my Lord God..." she whispered over and over. Then she jumped up and ran to her desk. "What artifact is that scan from?" she yelled over her shoulder. I told her and she brought up the file on her com.

"Oh my God," she said, "It's from the Israeli shipment. The provenance lists it as having been found in a dig in North Israel, somewhere near Galilee. Initial dating to 900 AD..."

";No that's wrong, Bunny, I got much older dating from the scans."

"Ok, yes. And the object is an almost intact ceremonial Jewish stone water jar. Inside bottom contains a layer of bio sediment.

"That's right. And the material is dried wine."

"Oh God, oh, God..."

Bunny looked like she was going to pass out. I ran over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. "Honey, are you OK?" She reached up and grabbed my hand. It felt cold. She was shaking and tears were forming in her eyes.

"Jack," she said, "Tell me more about this. What is causing the image? What molecular data is in that layer?"

I was confused by her reaction, but recounted my process. I brought her back over to my com and showed her the data. Silver iodine atoms composed most of the darkened area. The sandstone of the jar had silver atoms in the form of silver nitrate throughout it at a concentration of one part per one thousand. But only the one surface layer had the silver iodine molecules.

Bunny sat with her head in her hands while listening to me. She remained that way for a minute after I finished, then sat up, her yellow hair bouncing slowly around her pretty face. She ran back to her com and started typing rapidly. I picked up her salad and followed her. After a few minutes she turned to me. Her eyes shone with a glow I had never seen before. Tears dripped slowly down her face as she said, "Oh, Jack, it's Jesus. Oh my God, it's Jesus. It's a photograph of Jesus!"

I stared at her in disbelief. Bunny could be funny, she could be contrary, but when it came to religion she was nothing but serious. The look on her face said she wasn't joking. "OK, Bunny," I said. "How do you figure that?"

"It's in John 2 in the bible. "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee," she quoted. "When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing."

"Oh yes, I know what you are talking about. The story where Jesus turns water into wine."

"That's correct. And right here we have one of those stone jars. It was filled with water, probably spring water. That would have iodine in it. The limestone has small amounts of silver in it." Here her voice got higher and louder. "Don't you see? It's like the early photographs, the early photochemicals used in daguerreotypes. We have some of those in the museum here. I was just cataloging them a few days ago!"

"I don't know..."

"Yes!" She was getting more excited as she explained. "It was enough to make the bottom of the jar slightly photosensitive. The jar probably had a lid on it. Once the jar was brought out into the sunlight, Jesus removed the lid, held his hand out over it and blessed the water. In doing so her turned the water into red wine. The wine acted as a photo stop, sealing the image. After the wine was distributed, a bit of it remained in the bottom, which dried leaving the sediment!"

"That's a bit of a stretch..."

"No! And it's proof! The red wine stopped the photo process that started when the liquid was water. Not only is this a photograph of Jesus, it proves his miracle ability!"

I thought Bunny was crazy, but what the hell, it was her brain, she could believe what she wanted. When she said we should not tell Ansel about it yet I pointed out to her that I had shown it to him earlier that day, albeit without the Jesus theory. She thought about it and said she wanted to wait a day to tell him her thoughts. "In the meantime," she said, "you want to spend the night in my cave tonight?" An invitation from Bunny was not to be turned down, so later we found ourselves at her place on D Hall, take-out Chinese and Japanese beer in hand.

She had copied the files relating to the jar and after dinner she loaded them on her com and then we made love. In the afterglow I asked her, "If you are so Christian, how come casual sex is no big deal for you?"

"Sex with you, Jack, is no small deal. I adore you and you know it."

"Me and quite a few other guys too I believe."

"It is true that I take many lovers. And it is not un-Christian. Magdalene, Jesus' companion, was a harlot after all."

"Ah, so should I be paying you?"

"Not in credits, you silly boy. Anyway, today you have done for me more than I could ever place a monetary value to."

"In bed or in the office?"

"Both." She kissed me and I fell asleep and it was sometime later that I woke to see her at her com, typing furiously with tears in her eyes. I got the impression that she was linked in with someone. As I've said before, I accepted her expansive social life so thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning Bunny had already left, leaving me a note: 'Jack honey I've got some errands to run before work. There's coffee made on the counter, help yourself and see you later.' She had never left me alone in her cave before and I was mildly tempted to have a look through her things, but decided against it. How much did I really want to know about her other loves anyway? So after a cup of very good coffee I got dressed. As I was leaving, a priority message came through on her home com. I considered pinging her personal com, but she never answered that, so I figured I'd let her know at work.

When I got to the MOTH Ansel was already there, but not Bunny. Ansel asked me into his office. He stared at me a minute. I though maybe I hadn't cleaned up all of the salad Bunny had spilled the night before so I prepared myself for a dressing down. Instead he surprised me by asking, "How many times have I told you and Beatrice to make sure to lock up when you leave late at night?"

"What? Why we did, I'm sure of it, I did it myself."

"Well, the front was open when I came in an hour ago. Please check your station and let me know if anything has been disturbed."

All was fine, and I looked over Bunny's desk as well when it occurred to me to look in the back. The storage cave is where I had left the water jar and I had a suspicion. Sure enough, it was missing. Further checks in the facility did not turn up the jar.

I tried to get Bunny's personal with my com but there was no answer so with a worried look on my face I returned to Ansel's office and asked him if he had given Bunny the day off. No he had not. Was there a problem?

"Well, do you remember the scan I showed you yesterday with the image that looked like a guy in it? It was from item 669. And, well, Beatrice had an interesting theory about it. Now she's not here and I can't find the item."

Ansel cursed under his breath and said, "Tell me about this theory." He sat as still as a statue as I related the events of the previous day and evening. I though he would get angry but when I finished he simply said, "Find Beatrice. Do not come back without her."

I ran back to her cave, calling her on com as I took the drop to D Hall. No answer of course. I had left her door unlocked so after banging on it I let myself in. It looked the same as when I left. After a look around I decided to sit at her home com and check a few things. I am not a hack, but I majored in comtech in college and knew a few tricks. It was easy to review her recent com activity. When I checked her searches and messages from the early hours of that morning, the stuff she was doing while I slept, I found some interesting things. She researched biblical studies relating to Jesus's miracles. She searched for lunar law regarding lunar religious establishments and then searched for locations of churches in Luna, especially ones in Hiten City at the south pole.

I also found that she had been in touch with Georges, the fellow who's job I now had. It seems she had told him that 'she' had made a great discovery at work and needed 'Rose's help.' The activity ended there. I considered comming Georges but decided a face-to-face would be better, so I made my way back up to the Grand Plaza where the city library was located. I found Georges at his station there and after introducing myself I asked him point blank, "Where is Beatrice?" He didn't know. He also didn't seem to be in the mood for questions. He did say he had talked to her early in the morning, that she wanted to stay at his place for a few days. "She and I broke it off a few cycles ago," he said, "and now she wants to stay with me? I told her no, and besides, I have a new girlfriend."

"Is her name Rose?"

"No. Does it matter? Look, I'm sorry, but I do know that you have been seeing Beatrice lately and I have one piece of advice for you. Be very careful with that stuff. Word to the wise."

Back out in the plaza I stood under the spinning giant holo of Luna and asked my com for Catholic churches in Bighead City. There were only two, one right off of B Hall common. I ran down B Ramp, crossed the common and found St. Lawrence House, with its tall glass front façade. Although I had seen it before, I didn't realize it was a church.

Inside, I was greeted by a boy in a robe. I told him I was looking for a member of his church. I didn't actually know if Bunny was a member, it was a guess. The boy had to fetch a priest. While I waited, I looked over the interior which was what you'd expect, rows of benches with an isle down the middle leading to a raised altar with a very large cross on the wall behind.

The priest arrived and I asked if he knew Beatrice Upwright. "Yes, I do," he answered. "Beatrice is a wonderful parishioner, she always attends Sunday morning mass and is very generous to the collection com."

"I work with her at the MOTH," I said. "I'm looking for her. There might be some trouble."

"Ah, boy trouble is it?"

"Not exactly. If you see her, please ask her to contact her work. My name is Jack Turner."

"I shall pray for her, my son."

"Thanks." She'll probably need prayers, I thought. Back out in the halls I took a drop down to Bunny's cave. Again, she wasn't there and she wasn't answering her personal com. I was preparing to leave her a message when Ansel pinged me. "Still no news," I said before he could speak. After a moment of silence, Ansel said, "On the contrary, there is news. Of a sort. Take a look at LunaID. And then get back here as quickly as you can. I'm going to need you here."

I used Bunny's home com to access LunaID's news feed. At the top was a headline that caught my breath. It said, 'Photograph of Jesus Discovered in Ancient Artifact at Luna's Museum of Terrestrial Heritage.' Below it was my scan #1225. The article was brief. It mentioned the basic facts but said that Beatrice made the discovery, and linked to the MOTH's net. There was no attribution. I scrawled a quick note to Bunny. "What have you done?? Com Jack ASAP!" I left it on Bunny's table and ran back to the museum.

Ansel was not in a good mood. "I didn't contact LunaID," I exclaimed as I ran in to his office.

"I know, Jack. I just finished talking to them. It was Beatrice. She submitted that about an hour ago." They wanted a follow up from me. I couldn't deny the story, not completely, as the scan of ours that they posted is authentistamped MOTH. I asked them to pull the story for the moment but they said it was too late.

"Now I want to know a few things. First, where were you last night and early this morning. Second, how serious is your relationship with Beatrice? Third, How likely is this photograph to be anything close to real?"

"Well, I guess you know the answer to the first," I said. "But Bunn..., I mean Beatrice, and I are only casual lovers. It is a friend thing and does not interfere with my work here. As for the scan, sure it could be real I guess. The limestone of the artifact does have enough silver in it to be reactive if combined with iodine. And iodine is present in most groundwater all over Earth. The idea of red wine sealing the image is frankly ingenious, and the image in the scan is fairly realistic, but, as you said before, false images can be found in all sorts of normal letters in the tracks on the surface or faces in the foam of the fountains in the Grand Plaza."

"And I still think that's all it is. Apophenia, or pareidolia or anamorphosis or whatever, it is simply a coincidence. But here is how we are going to play it. We are going to say that our scan is real, which it is, but that it is inconclusive. We are going to say that we will do more tests. And we are going to sit on that."

"You are going to take it seriously?"

"I just had a message from the Sistine and Lateran Museums, both part of the Vatican, expressing extreme interest in the artifact and offering funding. It is the funding that I am taking serious. I am not beyond turning this fiasco into a gold mine."

"But we don't have the artifact!"

"For the moment we will act as if we do. In the meantime do you think you can find your girlfriend? There must be a way we can track her personal com without using security."

"I'm good with comtech but not that good. Any tampering I did along those lines would leave a trail I'm sure. And she's not my girlfriend. Look, I checked on Georges Mann, I checked on her church, and neither know where she is. At least that's what they say. I searched her recent activity on her home com and think she might be considering leaving Bighead City. She was checking on churches in Hiten City, and told Georges she was interested in help from someone named Rose."

"Georges is not to be completely trusted. I remember there was a Rose he used to refer to, but I never met her. He is from a wealthy family, the Manns built half of the lower halls. But Rose may be a friend, not family. The thing to think about here is, what is Beatrice's motive?"

"Religion, obviously. You know how devout she is."

"Yes and her knowledge of Christian history is one of the reasons I hired her."

"So, as far as motive goes, she believes the artifact is a real relic, and is probably on her way somewhere where she can keep it safe. She will be looking for sanctuary. But I don't understand why she didn't think the MOTH was sanctuary enough."

"Well, for one, she knows that I am a major skeptic when it comes to miracles. And maybe I treat her faith a bit harshly at times. We had a nasty clash along those lines when she was first here."

"You and her had a fight?"

"It was more a lover's spat. I dated her before I hired her."

"Oh my God, is there a straight man in this city she hasn't fucked?"

"Probably not. OK, Jack, I want you to work on finding her, or finding out where she is going. You should start at the port. Get moving."

I took a tube out to Bighead Port while thinking out a plan. An old classmate, Darja Mobasa, worked port com there, and I figured I'd contact her first. I commed Darja and left a message. Just as my car pulled into the terminal she commed back.

"Hello, Jack, what's up mate?"

"I'm looking for someone who may be taking a transport out. She works with me at MOTH. You know, the Heritage Museum. I don't know the port very well, and though you might be able to help me."

"Sure. Find the port com office and you'll find me."

I made my way around the cavernous terminal with its entry docks and tall windows that looked out onto the surface and the parked transports there. I scanned the various people milling about, looking for a buxom blonde with big hair. No luck there.

Darja pulled a chair up to her terminal when I got to her office. I explained who Beatrice was and that she might be trying to leave Bighead City with museum property. "What you need is port security," Darja said. I thought so too but wanted to check a few things first. Like when transports were leaving, and where they were going. Nothing had left so far that morning, but the Hollow Bell, the first commercial ferry of the day, was just about to leave for the Farside Observatory. I had Darja check the passenger list but there was no Beatrice Upwright, as well as no female names on it at all. Next we looked at the upcoming commercial flights, of which there were two within the next six hours. Again no Beatrice.

"Do you think she might be traveling on a private craft?" Darja asked.

"I don't really know. Any Catholic church craft leaving today?"

Darja gave me a funny look. "Not that I know of. The problem with private craft is that their schedules are not public. We only hear of it once they are prepping for take-off. And right now I have nothing private going out."

I thanked Darja and asked her to com me if anything came up. I went back out into the terminal and watched as the Farside ferry lifted off, its thrusters kicking up a nice cloud of dust. I then spent the next hour walking the port hallways and hangars, keeping an eye out for Bunny. I had just about given up when Darja commed me. A private yacht was getting ready to leave with a flight path just filed for Hiten City. "It has just one occupant, the pilot. Her name is Dorothy Mann. I have no record of her ever using the port before although the craft, The Rose, is registered here and has its own hangar."

"The Rose! That's it. Stall it if you can, I'll be in your office in two minutes."

Darja had bad news when I ran into her office."The Rose has already risen," she said.

"Oh, no." I sat next to her. "Is there any chance I can talk to her?"

"Not on Port com but I'll ask her to respond one of our channels."

I nodded so Daraja said, "Port com one to The Rose, request you respond on LNA321."

After a few seconds we heard, "The Rose here, port, go ahead."

"I've got someone here who really wants to talk to you." Before Beatrice could respond, I jumped in, "Bunny, it's Jack. I'm really worried about you. Ansel is worried. There has been a report on LunaID and the artifact is missing..."

"Jack! I'm sorry honey, I don't want to drag you into this. I told LunaID the discovery was mine. I'm taking the jar to a safe place, don't worry, but I have to take control of it. Believe me it would have been in danger with the museum. A relic like this belongs to the church, and I intend to make sure they get it."

"Bunny, I can't see how it wouldn't be safe at MOTH, and besides you are taking a dangerous tack by taking a yacht..."

"I didn't steal it! It belongs to Georges, or well, his family. I've been on it before with him."

I got a certain image out of my head and asked, "Do you know how to fly it?"

"Close enough to get where I'm going. And speaking of going..."

"Wait, Bunny, listen. I am seriously worried about you. You know how I feel about you." And even though I didn't mean it, well I had to try something to move her, so I said, "Hell, Bunny I love you."

"Oh, you're very sweet, Jack. But you know that's lust not love. You are very good at having fun. Hell, I've enjoyed all of my boys, but there is only one man who I love."

That got me for a second. Who? "Are you talking about Ansel?"

"Oh, yea, right," she laughed. "No, if you think about it, there is only one man in my heart." And with that she cut com and would not respond to us again.

I commed Ansel and filled him in, giving him Bunny's flight plan. He said that he would alert Security and asked me to stay at the port. "Port Security will get her to turn around and I want you to get the artifact as soon as she gets back." I wasn't so sure about Bunny giving up easily, but I stuck with Darja, listening to the Security feed. We could hear the call for pursuit and a minute later saw two Security craft zoom overhead in Bunny's direction. "How are they going to get her to turn around?" I asked Darja.

"Security doesn't fool around," she said. "Watch the radar and see what happens."

But I knew Bunny and I had little faith in Security. We heard them ordering her to turn back. No response from Bunny. Security then threatened her with laser fire. Still no response. "Will they shoot her down?" I asked.

"No, they'll just shoot across her bow."

I couldn't see Bunny stopping. "Let me talk to her again."

Darja opened com and I thought for a second before saying, "Bunny, it's Jack. Please Bunny, come on back to port. We'll get this all smoothed over and you'll be fine. We can't have you out of circulation! What would the men of Bighead City do?"

Darja gave me a disapproving look then checked her screen. "Hey, Jack, she's turning!"

I yelled "Yes!" and threw my arms around her. But the joy was shorted lived. Instead of heading for the port, The Rose was headed straight for the Security craft pursuing her. Within moments it looked like they would collide. We heard, "Fire!" and The Rose blinked off the radar.

The news reports said that Beatrice crashed The Rose while under pursuit. I know different, but can't blame Security for defending itself. I guess it made everything easier if it looked like an accident. I knew Bunny wouldn't want to give up, but she wasn't suicidal. And she would have wanted the artifact to survive. What she was thinking by trying to ram Security I'll never know. She was no pilot, so maybe she wasn't sure of what she was doing.

There was little left of The Rose. A photo of the crash site appeared in the LunaID report. It had been taken by one of the security craft, and it wasn't very clear. Darja got me a satellite scan of the site a few days later. I about dropped when I saw it. Perhaps it was a case of pareidolia, of seeing a familiar pattern where none exists. But I could swear the ejecta left by Bunny's crash, looked at from a low north-east angle, well, it looked a lot like the torso and head of a bearded man with long hair, his arms stretched out to either side.

May Bunny rest in the arms of the only man she ever loved. I went back to work for Ansel and we weathered the press concerning the incident. The MOTH got great publicity out of it and life goes on. Ignorance is bliss, isn't it Aunt Paige? Let us be lettuce. And please, pass the vinegar.

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