17 Revenge of the Outer Colonies

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Stephen Whiteside
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17 Revenge of the Outer Colonies

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:40 am

17 Revenge of the Outer Colonies

© Stephen Whiteside 30.12.2011

For several centuries, Earth had been using the outer planets of the solar system as prison colonies - Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune. Even the moons of Jupiter had been found to have their uses. These were large, cold worlds, with heavy gravitational pulls and hostile atmospheres. True, semi Earth-like conditions had been established in the ‘glass-houses’ (they weren’t made of glass at all, but the similarity with the historic cultivation of plants was inescapable), and the gravity had been considerably modified within these small, confined areas, but they were still far from congenial places for human beings to live out their lives.

Originally only the worst offenders were sent there but, as these things tend to generally pan out, the scale of offence required to earn ‘transportation’ became less and less with the passing of the years. It was generally a one-way trip. Earth didn’t want to pay the fuel and food costs for the return journey, and the ex-prisoners themselves were in no position to do so. Gradually a ‘free’ community had sprung up alongside the prison colonies on most of these planets. It wasn’t all that different to the development of countries like Australia a thousand years before.

But there had also been break-outs. Rebellions. These communities were not healthy. For one thing, there were not enough women. And far too few children - not that they were good places for a child to grow up. Resentment simmered. The first outright attack on Earth had occurred a hundred years earlier. It had been poorly organised, and quickly and ruthlessly crushed. The major point of concern was, however, that it had occurred at all. The second attack had come thirty years ago. More determined, better organised, it had also eventually been put down without too much difficulty. Leaders had been executed.

This was long enough ago to have passed from the memory of most. But for those who followed these things, it remained a great worry. It was only a matter of time before a third attack was mounted, and it could be expected to be the most dangerous of them all. Reliable reports were coming in on an increasingly frequent basis. Forces were gathering. The third attack appeared imminent.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer

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