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Moon Counting (standard:fantasy, 6257 words)
Author: J.A. AarntzenAdded: Oct 16 2005Views/Reads: 2436/1542Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Two asteroids have become separated from their friends and family in the asteroid belt and are now hurtling through space towards the third planet from the Sun.

Moon Counting 

Starshot could not believe what was happening to him and his mother. 
For as long as he lived and for as long as his mother had lived, they 
were always in the familiar range jutting out their eternal course 
around the distant sun.  They were always surrounded by other members 
of the family and their neighbours.  Life had always been relatively 
quiet outside of the occasional territorial dispute among some of the 
others.  Fights would break out now and then as some would justle for 
space but these would last only momentarily and then everything would 
be back to normal as everybody would get back to their routines.  The 
routine was monotonous enough but it was the life that they were born 
to in the Asteroid Belt.  It was the life that they thought would last 

Nothing had seemed to be out of the ordinary.  Starshot, his mother and
the other asteroids were working their way on catching up to the planet 
Jupiter along their orbital migration.  It was a manoever that they 
would perform on every loop of the sun and a manoever that Starshot 
enjoyed the most along the trail earmarked for them since time 
immemorial.  There was always the game of who could see the Jovian 
moons first and who could see the most of them.   In the last go round, 
Starshot's cousin, Agemmenom, claimed that he spotted twenty of them.  
This was a record for the asteroids but one that was hotly disputed.  
Malthazar, headmaster of the asteroid calflings, would not accept 
Agemmenom's score. 

"By Jove, Jupiter does not have twenty offspring!"  Malthazar exclaimed.
"Agemmenom you have cheated!" 

"I have indeed seen twenty.  I counted every single one of them!" 
Starshot's cousin protested. 

"Jupiter only has twelve moons, not twenty.  Either you have not learned
how to count properly or your are cheating.  And since you have shown 
me that you know how to count right when you make sure that you are 
given the most favourable trajectories in the Belt, I can only conclude 
that you are cheating."  Malthazar had said sternly.  "For this reason 
I will see how well you can count because you will now be in the Omega 
Track for the next one hundred revolutions." 

"The Omega Track!"  Agemmenom cried.  The Omega Track was the least
desirable path in the Asteroid Belt.  It was at the rear of the pack 
and along the edges of its innermost band.  This flight pathway was a 
terrible place to be.  Not only did the asteroid have to contend with 
the flying debris cast off from the other members of the herd but also 
had to continuously concern oneself with righting one's course because 
of the host of gravitational forces that furrowed from the other 
asteroids to the rear of the pack. 

Starshot hadn't seen Agemmenom for almost a complete revolution.  His
cousin was a hundred thousand kilometers behind him and remained hidden 
from view by the bodies of the myriad of other asteroids that made up 
the field.  He was sure that Agemmenom was still very miserable for 
there would still have to be ninety-nine more orbits to be completed 
before he would be allowed out of the Omega Track. 

Starshot's mother was coasting beside him.  She was five hundred times
his size and to work through space next to her meant that Starshot had 
to be mindful of her powerful gravity swells and not going crashing 
into her.  Young asteroids did collide with their progenitors now and 
then and sometimes the effects of these collisions could be quite 
disastrous for the younger meteorites.  When adult asteroids bump into 
each other with a particularly heavy force, baby meteorites are 
created.  Indeed, that was how Starshot came into existence.  He had 
been a rather awkward contusion on his mother's flank when Collosus, 
the largest asteroid in the pack, had smashed into Minerva, Starshot's 
mother, and sent the awkward contusion into an orbit all of his own.    
Thus Starshot was born. 

Collusus had sired many of the asteroids in this herd that sculled the
Belt between Mars and Jupiter.  He was an Alpha Asteroid and was looked 
upon as the leader of the pack.  He was as reckless at being a parent 
as he was in making his path through the crowd of interplanetary 
voyagers.  Many an offspring had met their final fate by being 

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