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The Cytherean War #1: Fission Glitter

Sam Cameron-McKee lives in Adelaide South Australia with his partner Veronica. He graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Creative Writing and Linguistics and is currently completing his honors study in Creative Writing and Cultural studies. He has been writing fantasy and science fiction for many years, and considers his inspirations to be Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson. When Sam isn't writing he spends his time listening to progressive rock or watering his garden.
The first attack of the Cytherean War was beautiful from earth.
Joshua was walking back from a party when it started. He wasn't looking up at first. His head was pounding from the drink and synth-coke, tilting his head was dizzying. In any case, the light from the LA-Seattle sprawl made nearly all the stars and satellites invisible.
His thoughts were prescient. A headline ran through his head, a news-ticker:
Tensions with the Cytherean government rise, Brussels threatens sanctions on Venus.
He thought that war was unlikely--just another piece of news for him to gossip about. A small part of him was even happy; the longer the tension stretched, the more he could impress college girls. He considered his greatest move to be rambling knowledgeably about the disagreements over tariffs, freedoms, and the Earth's refusal to refer to the planet as Cytherea rather than Venus.
It was these thoughts that led Joshua to overpower his pounding headache and look up, hoping to catch a glimpse of Earth's sister planet. The evening star was often bright enough to show.
He thought he was blacking out.
The sky was beginning to shimmer. Spots of light were growing, flickering like guttering candles, or glowing television static from an archaic set. The lights winked, growing in a band across the sky.
Joshua had taken one Astroengineering course, and it was that knowledge that let him realize what he was seeing.
Thousands of space stations that orbited the earth--from rings of colonies inhabited by the hyper-rich, to the simple drop-off points for 'roid miners, were burning. Their fission reactors had been shattered by the first strike of the Cythereans, and as the unstable plasma consumed metal and flesh alike--as it annihilated with violent finality--it sparkled.
Later, he would describe what he had seen to a reporter. The phrase he used would come to be
famous: "Fission glitter."
The part of him that was happy was gone. He felt sick.
He never wanted to talk about the Cytherean tensions again, but for eight years there would be nothing else in the news.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, September 2nd, 2019
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