It was a strange turn of phrase. Vague yet prescient. It bothered her that it was so endearingly imprecise.
Anyway, it was 2035 now and Kennedy and the first moon shot were long long gone. The famous astronauts from '69 had been dead for years. Space was in the hands of billionaires now. Men of iron and money. She should know. She was Lieutenant Pitt of the Private Satellite Corp, Pisco, owned by one.
Yep. The moguls had got us all paying through our teeth. As soon as you breathed you had to pay. They owned the air already. They were big shots in space too. The big Four: Epsilon, Big River, Hail and The Forty Thieves.
They were rivals in everything. They owned the world, its air, its land, its seas and its peoples. They had divided it into four parts and ruled everything in them. They were the Kings of omnipotence. Governments were mere vassals. Sub-contractors baying for crumbs at the table of Lords.
But the Big Four had never set foot on the Moon. The space tycoons were too busy netting the Earth. Its atmosphere, the blue arena of their competing games. Everyone was hooked on their games. You had to be. It was required. OK, you got free global internet as long as you played their games and they weren't free. In fact they cost you everything you ever had or will have.
We were all slaves to the whims of the Four. Grist. Fodder. A funeral of mites.
All this monopoly, this industrial greed had heated our world. It was roasting like a spud and the seas were rising fast. But fresh water was scarce. There was a worldwide drought. The quartet had sucked us dry. The Earth was really dying.
Water was the new frontier. Fresh water. We all needed it. Thirst, the universal mint. We would all pay for it. And space was the place to get it.
The Moon to be exact. Ice had been found in its vast poles and the plan was to thaw it and ship it back. The Big Four raced like maniacs to be the first. To reach the moon and rule its waves. Whoever pushed their flag in those giant icecaps would be the one set the price, the one who reaped the rewards and the be one who ruled the moon.
Pitt was sick to the stomach. Pisco was part of Big River and Big River had big plans for our lunar neighbour.
"Dammit. Can't believe I'm being sent up there. We've screwed up the Earth so lets just screw the moon why don't we!" she fumed.
But it was no use. Big River had been secretly shipping substrate up to the surface for years. It wanted to farm the regolith and sow the seeds of clouds. Money would pour from the sky and collect in vast silver lakes of revenue making them top dog in the Big Four.
You can't keep a good idea secret for ling though, especially when grown on greed. The Forty Thieves had cottoned on to Big River almost immediately. In fact all of its three rivals had. Their spies were everywhere. Like a mist of gnats swarming in the desert.
All four had fed the moon. All four had sent up soil packed with aminos and all four had heated the ice. The baby bio, as it was called, had begun, stirring the craters like giant cauldrons filling with water.
A date was set for Big River's rocket. A whole colony would go to tend the water. Pitt's Pisco were chosen to escort.
The launch went well and Moon River sailed towards the stars followed by Pitt's space jet Pisco.
It landed safely in the Ocean of Storms. Camp was established and a reconnaissance team was dispatched in a rover bus to the baby bio crater.
Pitt's Pisco swooped by and all was AOK. She gave the bus pilot the thumbs up.
The vast crater had started. Started to terra-form. Plants were everywhere creating a huge bubble of mist like a gassy dome. The reccies got out and explored the ground. It was soft and mossy. Ferns soared into the sky and horsetails rose like plumes. Dew sparkled in the daylight and it looked to the crew like a garden of Eden. Water pooled everywhere. Lakes of dividends. The Big River project had worked.
Suddenly the radio crackled.
"Mayday. Mayday. This is the Forty Thieves flagship. We have been attacked. Everyone's dead. Ship obliterated. Epsilon gone. Hail too. Big River, they're coming for you. Forget the water, get out!" The radio stopped.
Everyone at Baby Bio looked at each other confused and frightened.
"We must return to the ship!," instructed the rover leader.
Turning to leave, they all heard a terrible smashing and trampling of vegetation as if something large was coming. It was. They were.
Huge glistening worm-like creatures broke through the forest and stared at the crew. Disgusting suckers shot out of where a mouth should be and retreated back in. They were writhing with hunger and quickly ran towards the astronauts.
The first one was slurped up into the massive sucker and the spaceman screamed as his skin was de-gloved from his agonised body, which was promptly ejected out and landed at the feet of the leader like damp washing.
"They suck off the skin!" He cringed. "Oh my God! They suck off our ski .."
The leader was swept up twenty feet into the air as a giant puckering beast hoovered him up. It only took seconds for his entire dermis to be peeled off like a plum and his red body to be exhaled onto the mossy ground still twitching and fully conscious.
His crew gawped at his damp scarlet muscles and his lipless mouth opening and closing. His discarded space suit followed swiftly and hit them in a shower of mucus and slime.
It wasn't long before they joined their leader and landed on his corpse with a loud sickening splat, jerking in their death-throes like a heap of hooked cod.
One got away and drove the rover like a mad man back to the ship. He shrieked when he saw the creatures following him in a long shambling line. He crashed into the rocket leg and sent a shudder up its structure towering one hundred feet in the new foggy air.
The Moon River crew felt the impact and peering through the portals were terrified to see a group of creatures in single file outside the ship like a queue of maggots. To their horror the biggest one at the head took the rover driver into its mouth!
With a nod from the monster the gathering beasts fingered the ship looking for a way in. The main bay doors buckled under the strain and the creatures slid inside.
Pitt and her crew watched in abject terror from their patrolling space jet. They had strafed a couple of the monsters with flybys but the Pisco wasn't weaponised. All they could do was watch as the pale giants crawled into Moon River and listen to the dreadful screaming and slurping on the comm.
"The other things!" she whispered.
"These are the other things Kennedy was on about! He was warning us! The early space race sent up all sorts of stuff besides people.....seeds, plants, sounds, people's ashes and ......"
Pitt trailed off.
"Tardigrades!" someone else said.
"They're giant tardigrades. I remember some crash landed decades ago. They've thrived on baby bio!"
"But now they want more. Our skins! They're carnivorous and they want to grow bigger!" finished Pitt.
Suddenly the enormous rocket fired its engines and flames bucketed from its nacelles.
"Oh my God! Someone's launching!" she yelled.
"Going back to .... Earth!"
Pitt stared at her crew. A vision of giant sucking tardigrades skinning everyone back home as they sat playing games hit them as one.
"You know what we must do."
It was agreed without speaking. Pisco jetted off at full speed and tailed after Moon River ascending out of the lunar mist.
Pitt and her crew saw massive eyes peering at them through the portals.
They were still watching those lidless eyes when they flew Pisco straight into the rocket's main thrusters.
Moon River exploded at once and everything in it was obliterated. The last of the colonists, Pitt and her crew and ....
Thank God, the other things too!