Guiana Space Centre
“Oh, it stopped raining,” Ben said absently, as they walked out into the clear night.
“It stopped raining three days ago.”
I’m so tired, Ben thought. I’m so, so tired. And we’ve only just begun.
Ben had always been terrified of failure. His family and teachers were shocked when he quit competitive chess in his junior year of high school. As national champion, all Ben had to do was defend his title. No one could understand the move, but no one saw Ben sleepless during the tournaments, sick to his stomach at the thought of facing off an opponent in front of a live audience with media attention. Winning was not a victory, only a relief.
Ben and Love waited for a jeep in the dead of night. Harsh spotlights cast either blue/white light or black shadow on all the moving people, building the Defense Effort piece by piece.
“How… how did this come together so quickly?” Love asked, over the loud vibrations of a passing helicopter overhead.
Ben could see there was so much Love didn’t understand but she tried to pace her questions with his failing stamina and her own patience.
“There’ve always been comets and asteroids,” Ben replied, “and there will always be comets and asteroids. It’s humans that have no precedent. We’re the variable—”
“So you always knew it was a possibility,” Love interrupted, “but how did you get all these different people and governments to work together?”
“Science has no borders,” Ben said simply.
It sounded like a bumper sticker but it was true. For as long as Ben could remember, there was an international network of scientists dedicated to collaboration in the name of planetary defense. Despite wars, espionage, broken promises, cyber attacks and sanctions between their countries, scientists kept communications open with a flow of ideas. When UD3 was discovered, these scientists didn’t wait for public opinion or permission from demagogues.