Previously in Future Prefect... after explaining some of the mysterious events
which surrounded the severing of contact between h2g2 and America three hundred years
before, the Queen of the moon people is shot dead as her throne room is invaded by
American troops. Agnes and Linda escape arrest by making use of Agnes' ability to make
herself and nearby people invisible, and follow the party of prisoners...
They hung back ten metres or so going through the corridors of the moonbase, in case the
American soldiers heard their footsteps, but they needn't have worried, because the moon
people weren't moving along without a fight despite their shackles. The guards had taken to
prodding them with electrified sticks to keep them moving.
'They're treating them like cattle,' Agnes whispered to Linda after one incident where
the soldiers got a prisoner moving again with continuous shocks and a few strikes to the
back of the legs with a gun barrel.
'There's obviously more history we haven't found out about yet,' Linda replied. 'I'd like
to know what it is.' She paused for a moment. 'Either that, or these troops are just a group
They followed in silence for a while longer, then had to squeeze in close behind the two
soldiers at the back of the column to get through an airlock and into what appeared to be a
hover vehicle of some kind. One of the soldiers went forward into the cockpit, and they
travelled for perhaps half an hour before coming to a halt. The moon people were unloaded
by the soldiers and taken off one way by guards who were waiting on the other side of the
airlock. The soldiers split up and went in different directions. Agnes and Linda looked at
each other, Linda finding it rather disconcerting that she could see the wall through Agnes,
who was still maintaining the effort to keep them both invisible.
'Who do we follow?'
'I'd like to know where we are,' Agnes said. 'Perhaps we should follow the Americans for
'Sounds good,' Linda agreed, and they did so. Most of the soldiers went to what looked
like their barracks, so the two h2g2ers followed the remaining three, who entered a large
room filled with computer terminals and bustling activity. Data, readouts and diagrams were
projected onto huge screens on the walls, and in the middle of the room a flickery hologram
of a large piece of machinery floated in mid-air. Agnes snorted at it in contempt.
'Primitive technology,' she said, then frowned. 'More technology than we saw when we
were over there though.'
'Perhaps this is a research facility,' Linda suggested. Agnes nodded slowly, and gestured
for Linda to follow her to get a closer look at the hologram. It was in monochrome and not
particularly clear, and appeared to only show part of a larger system. 'Any idea what that
'Not a clue,' Agnes said. 'Something tells me it's part of the key to what's going on here
At about that same moment, a klaxon sounded. Several of the people in the room rushed
to computer screens and started entering commands, while one of those who appeared to be
of the highest rank, since he was wearing a uniform heavily adorned with gold braid and
ribbons, moved to the hologram projector and made the image zoom out and show the
entirety of whatever it was. Agnes and Linda studied it carefully. Apparently built mostly
below the Lunar surface, it did have one feature above the surface which appeared very
obvious in function.
'It's a gun,' Linda observed.
'But what are they shooting at?'
'Is this what causes our earthquakes? An earthquake gun?'
'How could it? We must be on the dark side of the moon still, or someone would have seen
this long ago.'
The Americans in the room continued to work industriously, and the high-ranking officer
chewed on an unlit cigar before issuing a string of orders about acquiring targets and
charging the 'weapon'. Linda and Agnes looked on with increasing apprehension as the order
to fire was given. There was a rising hum in the air, quickly becoming an unpleasant
vibration. With a suddenness that startled the h2g2ers, it was over.
'Discharge completed,' someone reported.
'Target verified. Impact in ten minutes,' someone else said. There was a general
atmosphere of congratulation in the room.
So what are they shooting at? Linda wondered. Agnes tugged on her arm and
pointed to a nearby screen, which was showing a view of Europe and western Asia. They
made their way over to it, narrowly avoiding running into one of the technicians who came
scurrying past with a clipboard in hand. It took a couple of minutes before they made sense
'So that's it,' Agnes muttered. 'It's all just-'
'-a side effect,' Linda said. She felt a strange, inarticulate anger welling up inside her.
Surely everything that had happened couldn't be the result of a simple side-effect of this
technology, whatever it did. So much death and destruction... she studied the text on the
screen for a while longer.
'They draw energy from the gravity between Earth and Luna,' Agnes said eventually,
'and use it to power this thing. And the side-effect of that is...'
So now we know why the earthquakes were happening - but what does the
machine do, and why does it need so much power, and isn't there another way to get hold of
it? Find out in some future edition of Future Prefect...