“Maybe this isn’t such a great idea,” England said.
It wasn’t the reaction that America had been hoping for. Not at all. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. When America had first seen this place, he had been rendered speechless, a rare occurrence to be sure. It was the most perfect planet he’d ever seen, aside from his own precious Earth of course.
There were mighty peaks and underwater valleys of such height and depth that they put Earth’s Mount Everest and Marianas Trench to shame. There were geological formations that twisted and turned and folded in manners that challenged the scientists of Earth, and there were hot springs as large as seas and oceans as big as Earth itself.
Somnium, they had named it. When the United Federation of America and the United Kingdoms had made the decision to terraform this planet together, it was hailed as the largest project of its type to date. And it was. The planet was six times as large as Earth, and the scope of what they were attempting was gargantuan. They’d spent years verifying whether the planet had any forms of life living on it, as it was considered unethical to terraform a planet when it already had an established ecosystem, but once it was confirmed that there were no living creatures, Project Somnium began.
When the ancient astronomer Johannes Kepler penned the first science-fiction novel ever, a treatise about a trip to the, at the time, impossibly distant moon, he’d called it Somnium. It meant dream. Did England really not see how amazing this was going to be?
America’s hand dropped from England’s grasp and he frowned. “Still cynical after all these years huh?” He shook his head and sighed, taking a moment to adjust his glasses.
They stood inside the massive biosphere that had been created on the planet, staring out beyond its transparent walls at the vastness beyond. The scientists, engineers, government officials, and a verifiable assortment of American and British citizens who had been employed in its quest to terraform the planet, lived under the sphere, as the atmosphere of Somnium was not completely prepared yet.
England let out a short laugh and placed a hand on America’s cheeks, tapping the edge of his wire-framed glasses. “Still wearing glasses after all these years?”
America pouted. “I like them.”
“Vision problems are corrected in the womb now. One hundred years from now people are going to be wondering what the bloody hell you’re wearing on your face, as opposed to now, when they just think you like to model extremely vintage accessories.”
America let out a snort and winked at him, a surefire smile on his face. “You like them though.” England flushed and huffed. “Anyway, sir changer of subjects, I was really hoping you’d gasp in surprise and start weeping or something when you got your first view of the landscape.”
Project Somnium had been going on for ten years now, and terraforming was well under way, but England, unlike America, had yet to visit the planet. It was a six month journey from Earth to Somnium, and even America had only been there once before. They’d been in transit to the planet six months, and this is how England had reacted? Maybe he was just tired.
“Is that what you did?”
“I-I didn’t weep,” America retorted. He let out a short laugh. “Well maybe a little. But that’s neither here nor there! You’re not allowed to be pessimistic, because this is going to be the greatest thing in the history of mankind.”
“You say that about everything,” England said, but America could hear a smile in his voice. “Actually you always have.”
“Well yeah. That’s because all of those things were the greatest things in the history of mankind up to that point.”
England slipped his hand back into America’s and let out a puff of air, a smile forming on his lips. “You used to say ‘I’m going to reach for the moon,’ and then once you’d done that, you decided to reach for the stars. Soon you’re going to run out of places to reach for.” He chuckled.
“Nah, that’s impossible.” America grinned, and England knew that it was true. “Anyway, we can do this! We’ve terraformed many times before. This is just on a larger scale. And we have the money. In twenty years’ time this place will be filled with…” he paused, and for a moment it sounded like he was choking up, “our citizens. An Anglo-American planet.”
“Sort of like having a baby,” England said, and there was lightness in his tone, as if he were trying not to dissolve into peals of laughter at the idea. “A very expensive, very large baby.”
America let out a loud laugh, and England almost started at the volume of it. “We can have a baby shower.”
“Oh please. We both know you’d only do such a thing so you could get presents.” At this point, America wrapped his arms around England and rested his head on his shoulder.
“You love free stuff as much as me, don’t deny it. I saw you on the phone trying to mooch tickets to the Septucentennial Beatles Celebration Concert off of your prime minister.”
England rolled his eyes and leaned back into America’s touch. “I succeeded, and I’m going to take you, you git.”
America went quiet and glanced outside, surveying the landscape before him. Russet reds and onyx blacks twisted together to form rock formations that resembled ancient temples, and below them, green, newly terraformed grasses and sprouts of trees, dotted the ground. Beyond the landscape, just in sight, was one of the planet’s massive oceans, water untold fathoms deep and bluer than the bluest skies. It was a perfect place for life, for humanity.
“You really don’t think it’s beautiful?” America asked, unusually timid.
England squeezed his hand. “Of course I do, love. It’s stunning, and I expect a full tour.”
“Then why are you all ‘maybe this isn’t a good idea’ or whatever?”
England sighed, scanning the landscape himself. “Because sometimes, even after all of these years, even after all we’d done, I find what we’ve accomplished hard to believe. I honestly apologize. It really is brilliant, what we’re doing here.”
America pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “Silly old man.”
“Hush you.” He landed a light punch on America’s arm. “Now tell me about this… Mt. Fulgeo. Or better yet, take me there. I heard that the top of the peak is made of diamonds.”
Brightening, America could not at all suppress a huge grin. “The top third of the mountain, and considering that it’s a thirty-two kilometer tall mountain... We’ve seen nothing like it before. There are carbon planets, of course. Those are planets where the surface is largely diamond, as you know, but they’re all pretty much so far from habitable that there’s no way we could terraform them. Heck even a biosphere would be difficult because--- “
England placed a finger on America’s lips, silencing him. “Love, stop now before you start rattling off equations and never shutting up.”
America stuck his tongue out; for his childish nature had never fully left him, and England knew it never would (he found this, oddly enough, to be comforting). “If you want to take a tour of the planet, we’re going to be out there for a good couple of weeks, even with hyper accelerated travel.”
“Are you trying to discourage me?”
“Hell no I’m not,” America chuckled. “I’m just telling you to pack well.”
England pressed a kiss to his lips. “America, I’ve been going on ‘romantic vacations’ with you for seven hundred years now. I know full well that, considering the things you tend to get us into, you don’t just pack well, you pack for just about everything possible.”
It was a truth that America didn’t even try to deny.
England had never anticipated, back when he was sailing the oceans and listening well to tales of sea monsters that never came true, that centuries upon centuries from then, he’d be atop a peak of diamond, dozens of light years from Earth. There was a time that he didn’t even imagine that there was land across the sea from him, and now the very nation that made up a part of that previously impossible land was standing next to him, on another planet, another world, claiming it for their people.
It had been seventeen years since he had first visited Somnium with America. They’d toured the planet back and front. They’d gone swimming in great blue holes the size of Asia and they’d gone spelunking in caves with crystals as large as redwoods. It was like nothing England had ever seen, and it was theirs.
The first citizens to settle on Somnium had arrived six months before, and already they were well on their way to a stable, established society. The governments of both had set up schools, hospitals, and had offered a pension to those who had volunteered first and would continue offering said pension to new settlers who came to the planet within the following twenty years, and several popular companies had already opened or were working on opening stores and restaurants. At the behest of both governments’ environmental protection programs, a complex plan had been set up to best reduce any negative repercussions of humanity’s sure to be growing presence on the planet.
Today was the official dedication date of Somnium. They’d made the decision to hold it at the highest point on the planet, Mt. Fulgeo, and it was so beautiful that even England found himself choking up a bit. The atmosphere was so thin at the summit; it was near the very edge of it, that everyone had to wear an assisted breathing apparatus when they were outside. And the star that shone brightest upon Somnium’s surface and created daylight reflected on the diamonds so intensely that they were forced to wear special eyewear. But it hardly tarnished the experience.
A representative from each nation, chosen by the citizens, would be in charge of planting the flags atop the mountain peak.
America and England stood back as to not draw attention to themselves, hands held as they watched the ceremony. It was being broadcast across planets, moons, satellites, and of course to Earth itself, and England was glad, because this was something he wanted the world to see.
He was proud. It was hard not to be with America swelling with joy and pride next to him. The poor nation looked like he was about to burst, a quivering smile on his lips as his eyes watered. What a dream indeed this was for him. And the fact that they were sharing it, that it was theirs, made it twice as good.
A hole had been drilled into the diamond peak, and the first representative, the woman who had headed up Project Somnium from the beginning, placed the United Federation’s flag into it, its multitudes of stars (first there were thirteen, then fifty, now seventy-two, with Somnium being the newest addition) and stripes billowing in the thin air. America clenched England’s hand just a bit tighter, and England rubbed his fingers across his knuckles.
A short speech later, England’s breath hitched as his representative slid flag of the Kingdoms into the hole next to America’s.
And it hit him, in that moment, what this meant for them. America and England’s flags, atop a mountain of diamond, so, so far away from home and being broadcast to the known universe, as they united to create a new, marvelous civilization full of their people.
In a way, it was a bit like a wedding, or (since technically they’d been married centuries before under their human aliases), a diamond anniversary. And what a grand one it was.
“Hmm?” America asked upon hearing him do so.
“I was just thinking about… what this means for us,” England said, a faint dusting of pink on his cheeks. “It’s sort of l-like a wedding isn’t it? Well we’re already married, but we’re on top of a bloody diamond mountain sticking our flags in the same hole and…”
America laughed and grinned. “I totally thought about that too, but I thought you’d think it was silly.”
England shook his head. “It is silly, you git.” He pressed a hand to America’s cheeks, wiping away a tear that had managed to escape. “But even so it’s… rather lovely.”
Leaning down, America nuzzled his nose against England’s and chortled. “Yeah plus if we never did any of the things that you called ‘silly,’ we wouldn’t be here today.”
“Quite. We wouldn’t be settling on other planets, and we certainly wouldn’t be married,” England countered, his eyes sparkling with amusement.
America pouted. “Hey! I’ll give you the space thing, although it has always been awesome, not silly, but marriage? C’mon England…”
“Oh hush love,” he replied, curling his fingers around the bottom of America’s cheek and pressing a kiss to his lips. “We both know how ridiculous we are, and that makes us twice as ridiculous together.”
America’s laugh bubbled up within him and expelled itself onto England’s lips. “That’s why we’re so great though. A guy who believes in fairies and a guy who dreamt of doing what we’re doing now back in like 1930?”
“It’s so silly that it has to work,” England agreed. “Fairies are real though.”
“Mhmmm, I know England.” America kissed him again, and England kissed back; kissed his ridiculous and wonderful America (as ridiculous as him, no doubt) as the fantastic dream that they’d accomplished together shone in the background, two red, white, and blue flags waving amidst a sea of diamond.