The Daughter of Mars

She raised her shield, blocking the blade coming down at her head, and pivoted as the crowd above her roared. Her own blade cut deeply into the leathers her foe wore and she heard another cheer go up. Footsteps sounded on the sand behind her and she dropped, rolling to the side. Back on her feet, she faced two foes now. They were burly men, gladiators trained. Not like her. She was something else. Something they’d never seen before. She kicked the sand up into the face of one man and slammed her shield into the other, roaring her own battle cry.
“For Mars!”
She swept his feet out from under him and laughed with triumph as she looked up at the Emperor. Would he give her the signal and let her draw their blood in her father’s name? He nodded as the crowd cheered, every one of them as bloodthirsty as the last. Her blade bit deep and she relished the feeling of strength that flooded into her body as she offered her fallen foe to Mars Ultor. Then she stood again, twirling her gladius as she looked for her other opponent. He must be here somewhere.

Phobos and Deimos Rising

Looking up into the sky from my window, I could see the twin moons, Phobos and Deimos, as bright lights in the sky. But there was a third light tonight. My big brother Hank had said it was Earth. I read about Earth in class. Mommy and Daddy were from Earth, they’d said. A long, long time ago when they were kids they had left there with their parents to come here. I hugged my bear tight and wondered what it was like. I’d grown up in one of the big domes all my life, playing in the hydroponic sheds and out in the long corridors. But Earth had forests and rivers and lakes and all kinds of neat things that I’d seen in the vids. They’d brought animals here, but only some, only the food ones or the pet ones. We had a cat who Mommy said was descended from the cat she had on Earth. I wonder how. Did they put the cat into cryo-sleep like they did the colonists? They must have. I bet it was really scared in the pod. I would have been. Mommy says that someday, people are going to go even further than here and leave the solar system. I’ve got a model of the solar system hanging in my room. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. I wonder what it’s like out past there. Hank says that there are probes out there exploring and beaming back pictures. I wonder if they’ve found anything with forests.