Beneath the Desert Moon

- Prologue -

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." - Jimmy Hendrix, 1942 - 1970

Violence has been linked with the history of mankind since before the dawn of recorded history. War, murder, genocide, slavery, all were intertwined with mankind's past. They had become fused to humanity itself, so that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began.

This is why the Amalgamation was such an enticing possibility. A joining of all the countries, all the ethnic groups, all the religions, into one unified race. The word humankind had been a mockery for so long - it implied harmony and unity, while in reality the world was broken into fragments. But here was the opportunity to end this. If the proposition was passed, war would lose its power, and peace would settle over the world for the first time in many thousands of years.

The year was 2100. An auspicious time for such a significant step to be taken. And yet, even as the governments of the world juggled with the possibility of the Amalgamation, a resistance arose. Calling themselves the Brotherhood, they countered every step towards a unified world with two of their own.

However, despite the Brotherhood's opposition, the temptation of peace after years of war was too much for the world leaders. The vote was unanimous, and the papers were signed in the last months of 2100.

Yet still the Brotherhood impeded forward progress. The reasons for their resistance were many and varied. Some resented the abandonment of the religions. Others rejected the lack of racial identity. There were even some who simply abhorred the notion of peace, who had lived too much of their lives in violence and hatred, that the idea was foreign to them. The leader of the Brotherhood, Valerio Plotch, was one of the latter. Ruthless and coldhearted, his resistance to the Amalgamation was so great that even after the proposition was passed, he inspired his followers to defy those who had executed it.

At first the Brotherhood was just the proverbial pebble in new World President Arthur Aurienne's shoe. They were a relatively small group, nothing compared to the strength of the Unified World. In the early days of the treaty they resisted through political channels. As time progressed, some members began to physically strike out at the World Government. After the turn of the year 2102, all-out war had begun. Valerio Plotch was a charismatic man, and citizens who had previously been neutral began to flock to his banners. Yet, although their numbers and strength increased every day, they were a minority, and posed no real threat to the World Government.

Arthur Aurienne had a council of three trusted advisors: beautiful, intelligent Meredith White, strong, supportive Ezra Zesiro, and cunning Li Ling. Their advice to him was varied, however, they all agreed that there was quite likely a traitor in the high levels of World Government. The Brotherhood seemed to predict every move that the World Union made even before it happened. More and more often when a Brotherhood rebel was captured, he or she would be wearing an Alliance uniform, carrying a post-Amalgamation weapon and in possession of Union technology.

Years passed, and the Brotherhood grew larger and stronger as it ingested more and more members. Whenever Alliance troops stormed a potential Brotherhood base, it would be utterly empty, the occupants long gone. The leak within the government was doing his or her duty to the rebels well; the mutinous fellowship was never caught unawares.

In February, 2105, the Brotherhood tried a bold and daring tactic. They attempted to take hostage President Aurienne's six year-old daughter, Diedra. The manoeuvre failed, but it was far too close to succeeding, much closer than Arthur liked.

He countered the Brotherhood with a decidedly unorthodox strategy. Under the advice of his councillors, President Aurienne did the only thing he could do to remove his family from danger.

Diedra and her mother, along with the immediate families of the three councillors, were sent to the safest place possible. Two orbiting space vessels were launched in secret, one, the Alban, containing the World Council's spouses, the other, the Amparo, containing their children, while Arthur, Ezra, Meredith and Li remained on Earth to continue fighting the Brotherhood. The occupants of both ships were in a deep state of cryogenic freeze. In orbit they would be safe - the Brotherhood's reach did not extend that far. Not yet, anyway. There was a lot of criticism of this move, but the councillors refused to put their children in danger.

The two ships circled the Earth for five years, their precious cargo blissfully unaware of the turmoil on the planet below. However, as the war intensified, so did the strain on the orbiter's mechanics. Five years was far longer than such vessels were designed to run without maintenance. The Alban managed to gallantly hold together, but the slightly larger Amparo developed a fatal system flaw in the Cryogenic Regulator.

In 2110, the Amparo's cryogenics system was so far degraded that it failed completely. Amid the hiss of escaping vapour, the five children of the World Council emerged from their cryogenic pods. Arthur Aurienne's daughter Diedra, Ezra Zesiro's twin sons Cadwalader and Jhem, Meredith White's daughter Gwyn, and Li Ling's daughter Mei - five infants against the cold, dark and loneliness of space.

Yet even with the odds stacked up against them, the children survived. They lived on flavourless Synthesizer food inside the constricting shell of the Amparo. When the orbiter circled around to the dark side of the Earth, night fell in the ship. It was these times when they drew support from each other, when the darkness filled every corner of the vessel, when their unseen, nameless fears sprang to life and held them tightly until the sun dawned over the eastern rim of the planet below, filling the Amparo once more with the Light.

Many children would have given up hope. However, these infants were resilient enough to keep going, enduring the soul-crushing loneliness of space, together. Consequently, they grew closer than family to each other, as two trees might grow around each other over the passing of the years.

Yet the children were not without hope. The planet below beckoned to them, shining and enticing. There was one way to land the Amparo, and one way only. It involved considerable alterations to the ship's software, more than most trained mechanics would be able to execute with such limited resources. However, Mei Ling, most intelligent of the Amparo's children, believed she could do it. Day and night she worked on the system alterations, sifting tirelessly through the layers and layers of highly sensitive coding. One tiny mistake could take weeks to undo, a larger error could cause the entire ship irreparable damage. It was an almost impossible task.

In the year 2120, ten years after they had come out of cryogenic freeze, Mei accomplished the impossible.