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A Blessing in Disguise

by Patrick Williams, age 12, from US

I was a lieutenant on the Aerial Defense Force of Sylon, a large group of domed cities on Mars. Colonel Mason had just assigned me, along with 19 other pilots, the task of escorting a convoy of transport ships to a space station, where their cargo of rookie pilots would receive further training. The mission was all planned. I was to study a map of our course that night before I hit the sack, as people might have said 100 years ago.

As we came out of hyperspace the following afternoon, 200 kilometers from our destination, I sat back in my seat, glad that the mission had been accomplished without bloodshed. I recalled that when I'd joined the force three years earlier, I'd done so in the hopes of avnging the deaths of my mother and father, killed in a raid on our colony. Then, after killinga man on my first mission, instad of the grim satisfaction I had expected, I felt only guilt, shame. I realized then that, because of me, his family would grieve just as I had. All because of me!

Slamming back into reality, I saw an enemy fighter charging straight at one of our transports! I knew what I had to do. It was either him, or hundreds of men aboard that ship. I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. During the course of the battle, I disabled three more fighters without killing their occupants. The convoy docked with the space station safe and sound, except for two of our fighter pilots. Thir families would be sent the Dreaded Letter as soon as we got back to the base. Once on the space station, I was thanked and congratulated many times by the pilot of the ship I'd saved. As she shook my hand one last time, I heard the buzz of a code-red alert.

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