A planet, Pine, and its moon, Mech, were so close in size they looked like siblings. Technically, because the moon’s gravity did affect the planet’s trajectory, they could be called binary planets or moons of each other, but that would seem an exaggeration. Pine had dirt, water, vegetation and wild fauna, and Mech was rock, gravel and steam.
Long-tongued humanoids of the same species, Thothekths, lived on both and could breathe both airs, though the moon’s less easily. These were the only two places anyone had ever lived in that solar system. All were really native to the planet, had bubbled up there somehow, but more people were born on the moon these days than visited.
Each colony was multicultural in a different way. The moon was a welfare state where the rich summered. A short drive from any slum was a bubbled community or a neighborhood of very amenity-enhanced homes. Even among the rich, a strictly functional design aesthetic prevailed. It seemed to pair with a candor among the locals. By the time someone had lapped Pine once or twice, they considered themselves no-bullshit types. That was the way. The Pineans, therefore, were diplomats–and therefore narcissists. They were wasteful yet stingy; they were self-involved.
Probably related to the relative speed of the moon, going around and around the planet, Mechins rich and poor alike were mostly fitness buffs, political zealots, drug fiends or epileptics. They were also more indoorsy, as their buildings were sealed and oxygenated (using solar-powered converters made on Pine). They favored clear roofs, “the better to keep an eye on the sky.” Children liked the roofs for their beauty but shuddered inexplicably when they heard those words. The Mechins with spas and swimming pools, though, were content to steam their bubbles and trust.
Down on Pine, there was practically every kind of person and beast imaginable. Too many to describe now, anyway. But on clear nights, any of them could see the larger of those steamed bubbles shining on Mech like specks of glitter.
It seemed to everyone that the Mechins kept an eye on the Pineans more than vice-versa. But they weren’t threatening. They would only last about a year without resources from below—most not nearly that long. And they couldn’t take over below. There was no real need anyway. So the colonies nagged at each other, but it was really one-way. Water was the perennial bargaining chip. Mechins could get water out of steam but not to scale, safely. Mech rocks were popular on Pine, especially when carved or crafted into fine jewelry, but there’s only so many moon rocks a person needs.
This is, of course, a love story of a moon humanoid and a planet humanoid.
If only they could have met in the middle. . . .