McGee_and Maguin

A science fiction story in Alpha Station by Gary Bloom

Characters: Derek Maguin

´╗┐Derek McGee sat in his office, staring blankly at the wall. Messages had been piling up for the last hour or more, but he couldn't care much less; it might have been longer. The Olympus Union had just strung them out to die. Bleeding water, desperately in need, and they couldn't care less. How could he explain that to his people? How could they justify it to him?

Simply put, they couldn't. Even more simply, he didn't care what rationale was coming in from Earth and Mars. Derek didn't feel like an Olympian anymore. He realized that his connection was to this place, to these people. He really identified as a Jovian now. His parents had shuffled off the mortal coil not too long ago, all but severing his last connection to the inner system. This incident had clipped the last threads.

"So what?"

His voice sounded so hollow. How long had he been sitting quietly in this room? He'd been working through the night, reading messages, responding to what made sense, and just trying to recover from the meteor crisis. Gibson Ark had done what he could to help quickly, and his Vice Minister was on her way back from Mars after rejection. He'd ordered in food through the system, but hadn't actually spoken with anyone.

"So, maybe some kind of change? Something simple, something that the people around here would notice, without causing too much trouble back at the home office."

He couldn't change clothing. Fashions didn't differ dramatically enough between the inner and outer portions of the solar system. It would be a meaningless gesture. The same went for silly things like hair and other adornments. Tattoos were always an option, but he had an aversion to both needles and pain. Shaking his head, he tried reading some of his messages.

"Minister McGee, we need..."

"Minister McGee, we were told..."

"Minister McGee, if you could possibly..."

"Minister McGee, we're running short on..."

He read "Minister McGee" over and over again. Suddenly it struck him. Derek McGee is the man who came to Jupiter. Derek McGee is the outsider who had to earn the trust of the Jovians. Derek McGee was an Olympian. He really wasn't Derek McGee anymore. That was the change that he'd make. It needed to be subtle, but he would rename himself something a bit more appropriate.

With a renewed vigor, Derek turned back to his keyboard. Putting away the messages, he turned instead to the Jovian archives. Searching for a name that would identify him as Jovian, the Minister read article after article. He missed meal after meal until the solution came to him. Henrique Maguin.

* * * * *

Henrique Maguin is easily the most recognizable artist in Jovian history. When the first ships traveled from Mars to Jupiter for survey missions, Maguin went along. He was determined to capture the majesty of great Jove. When plans for Alpha Station were first announced, he applied for assignment to the solar system's furthest outpost. Utterly enthralled by Jupiter, he released work after work, after nearly five years of accepted retirement.

Maguin painted with actual oil colors. It was a lost art in the digital age. Refusing to give up his medium, it was even partially responsible for his retirement, succumbing to pain in his hands. Strangely, the pain seemed to subside as he filled canvas and wall, commissioned to paint a mural inside Alpha's main promenade. Showings were held across the solar system, helping to generate a new passion for the Jovian System. The man was even credited with the bulk of the Jovian colonization effort, and the desire for movement out beyond the asteroid belt.

Maguin's most famous works were created right here on Alpha Station. As the oldest of the stations, there were several famous pieces depicting nothing more than views out the windows, immortalizing everything from the Great Red Spot to the Galilean Moons. Derek looked up at the painting hanging on his office wall, Callisto crossing the face of the big planet. It was often a source of pleasure and peace throughout the hectic days.

The great artist had passed away just before Derek took over as Alpha Station Minister. Alpha Station celebrated the man's life for a full month after. Some remnants had even remained when McGee arrived several weeks later. It would be not only a way to separate, but to honor a beloved figure as well. It was time for the Minister to make a call.

* * * * *

Adrian Maguin sat in a chair across from the Alpha Station Minister, fidgeting and uncomfortable. At nineteen, the young man had never been in the presence of someone so important. Like his grandfather, and father before him, Adrian served as a commercial pilot. Grandpa Arni had rejected his artistic father's whimsy, intent on developing a new family tradition; he'd died shortly before Adrian's birth. Adrian's father had recently retired, making a move back in-system to Mars.

As the only remaining relative in-system, Derek had called upon Henrique Maguin's great grandson to discuss his revelation. He fully intended to offer the young man the opportunity to call his father, all the way in Mingus, if necessary. Hopefully it wouldn't be necessary.

"Can I get you anything?"

"Ah, no, sir, thank you, no."

"You can relax, Adrian," the Minister assured him. "You aren't in any trouble."

"I'd hope not, sir. I didn't do anything wrong. Nothing that I know of, anyway," the young man amended. "Just trying to be a good pilot. Dad was pretty adamant about that. He said grandpa was, too."

"Your paternal grandfather, you mean."

"Yeah, him. Dad said he was great, until that one accident. Stupid co-pilot was drunk, crashed them into an asteroid. Supposed to just be a simple run, picking up ore from a mining operation, and he crashed it. We're by the book people, Minister. Didn't want you thinking otherwise."

"No," he chuckled, "I didn't think otherwise. It wasn't you or your grandfather I'd intended to discuss, though."

"Ah, well, what am I doing here then? All respect, of course."

"Yes, of course. This will be a little odd, I suspect, since no one has talked much about him lately. I wanted to discuss your great grandfather."

"Wow, I don't think anyone ever brought him up. Nomar Zygaola isn't exactly a name most people know. Then again, you're a Minister."

"Who is Nomar Zygaola?"

"He's my great grandfather. He's the reason my parents moved to Mars in the first place. Mother's grandfather was always very independent, but obviously he's winding down. She wanted to be near him in the final days. They were pretty close."

"Oh, heh," Derek laughed, "I'll admit, I didn't even think about him. With such a famous relative, I suppose it's easy to overlook the living relatives."

"Oh, you meant Henrique?" Adrian blushed. "Yeah, I kind of haven't thought about him in a while. We had a lot of fun when I was little, but dad said he was a little too flaky. He was obsessed with expressing the Jovian System through artwork. Dad was obsessed being the best pilot, and raising me to be great, too. That didn't leave much time for visiting a grandpa who might suddenly get inspired and need to paint every moon from inside the magnetosphere."

"Sounds like a family trait, that strong focus," the Minister nodded. "I could have sworn that I read somewhere you appeared in two of his paintings."

"Three, actually," Adrian nodded. "When I was four, someone took a digital image of me pointing out a floor-to-ceiling window at a pretty amazing view of Ganymede. He turned it into some huge painting that's hanging in that Station Minister's conference room. The other two had me reaching out to touch other Galilean moons. I don't feel like you really want to talk about artwork, though, sir."

"No, you're right. Actually, I should probably get to the point, because we've both got work to do, and I've been putting mine off for much too long."

He stood and looked up at the painting across the room. Smiling, Derek looked down at the younger man. Adrian was suddenly visibly uncomfortable. The Minister smiled.

"Adrian, I've decided that I'd like to change my name to Derek Maguin. The purpose is to feel more appropriately Jovian. I couldn't think of any better way than to honor Henrique as my chosen new namesake, but I wanted to make certain it wouldn't make you uncomfortable."

"What?" Adrian was confused. "You're kidding, right? You're an Olympus Union Station Minister. Since when do they care what someone like me thinks before making a decision?"

"Suppose you just consider me a little different than the other Ministers, then, alright?"

"Ah, well, yes sir. If that's really what you have in mind, how could I possibly have an issue with it? I'd be honored, and I'm certain so would my family. If being a Maguin makes you more Jovian, well, welcome to the family sir."

Derek Maguin smiled, extending his hand.

"Not sure it really works that way, but I appreciate the sentiment. Why don't you go ahead and get back to your duties. No reason to get you in any trouble. We'll make certain to have you back here when I officially announce the news and the explanation. Consider, too, how you'd feel about reassignment to Alpha Station."

"I'll do that sir. Thank you for the time, Minister Maguin."

Derek smile as the door shut behind Adrian. Minister Maguin. Derek Maguin. Yeah, that had a good ring to it.