The notification arrived on the 24th of August. He held the large bulky envelope from NASA for a long time in his hands. Besides detailed maps, pictures, and diagrams of orbits, it contained a short letter that had turned his world upside-down.
“Due to the revision of the term ‘Planet’ by the IAU, we regret to inform you that you no longer fit the description. It has been a delight to have had you as the ninth planet of our solar system…”
Charon claimed to have seen it coming from the time they started floating stories about her and Pluto being a binary system rather than “Planet” and Moon. Pluto, understandably, had been devastated. With a single decision, the political equation of the entire galaxy had changed. Neptune now regarded him with all the more scorn…so much for overlapping orbits, and, going by some theorists, being an escaped moon of that proud Planet.
Reactions of the Kuiper Belt Objects had been, surprisingly, that of sympathy. The belt – which was what remained of the solar system post The Bang – extended support as wide as itself. “Who cares, really?” Nix and Hydra tried to cheer him up. “You’re still the biggest guy on the Kuiper belt!” Little darlings! Being the smaller moons of the smallest planet of the solar system, they identified more with the KBOs than anything else.
Triton came calling. “Dude, this is way too much!” she said, exasperated. “This is so not done! Tell you what, lets get together and…”
“Don’t be stupid!” Pluto cut her short. “There’s already enough trouble with Neptune having captured you as its moon from the Belt. If you get in here, it means more trouble for both of us!”
“You’re not even a part of the galaxy, now!”
Pluto let out the saddest sigh.
“Arrey yaar, I mean, now you can afford to take as many pangas as possible. Don’t you get it?” she tried explaining.
“I’m really not in the mood for jokes, you know,” he said. “I have been formally stripped of my status. They’ve sent me bloody pictures and lengthy researches proving my worthlessness as a ‘Planet.’”
“Oh dear, dear…” If Triton had a head, she would’ve shook it. Pluto looked at her, angry, dejected and helpless, all at the same time.
“Okay,” she said, taking control, “just hand me the stuff those guys sent you. All we need is a plan.” Feeling that there was nothing to lose, Pluto acquiesced, albeit reluctantly.
“And yes, we’ll need to take Charon, Nix and Hydra into consultation as well. Meet me tomorrow, same time.” Triton directed. “And, just hang in there buddy!” she added before parting.
The next day Nix and Hydra were busy, jumpily telling him about the situation on Earth. It had always been something of a mystery to Pluto as to how these two always managed to get a low-down of whatever went on there.
“Disney fans are protesting and…” Hydra squealed.
“Rock bands are dedicating songs to you!” Nix added.
Charon came in just in time to save Pluto from Nix jumping right at him with another piece of ‘News of the Earth’
“I’ve been speaking to a lot of other KBOs,” she said. Triton, who till now had been poring over the documents sent in by NASA, looked up interestedly. “And…?” she asked.
“Well, they seem ready for some action, but are too daunted by the big guys. They’ll need more convincing.”
“Hmmm…” Triton responded, her brain ticking. “Look at this,” she said, showing them a map of the Kuiper belt and the rest of the eight planets.
Millions of small bodies, including them, encircled and enclosed within themselves the vast periphery of what was now the solar system. “We have a clear advantage of location here,” she explained.
“Yes, but did you take the asteroid belt into consideration?” Charon asked, indicating the asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. “They’ve got some big guys. Some even bigger than our man here!”
“Damn!” Triton let out a small Nitrogen explosion. “Always too small to make a difference!” Nix and Hydra, who had never been exposed to this side of Triton, shuddered. Charon tried to calm her explosions down. Pluto, deep in thought, suddenly looked up. “Hey! Wait a second!” he exclaimed. ‘IDEA!’ was written all over him.
And so, a plan was hatched.
* * *
George Marsh, the chief administrator of the IAU sat in his office, elbows on the desk, and his head in his hands. He could’ve never seen this coming. Even all the heads at NASA put together could not decide how to respond to this. While a thousand thoughts rushed through his head, his eyes remained fixed on a letter on the desk. A letter, which could be an outright declaration of war, a coup, or maybe just a joke. It was hard to tell. His eyes went over and over the text:
“Due to the revision of the term “Size” by the TNOU (Trans Neptune Objects Union), we regret to inform you that the you no longer fit our description of a planetary system.”