Away

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

It’s the end of life on Earth. Let’s leave

11th of February 2097 A Monday.

 

 

It has happened.

 

All the worst climate predictions from the early 2000s came true, and then some.

 

It all started 50 years ago. 

Before that, the problem was looming in the foggy distance. After all, governments were all working to fight climate change by reducing emissions by a few percents. That should have worked. 

No?

Well, it didn’t.
Profits and short-term economy ruled at that time. All that stopped when the polar caps started melting away for good. It was fast, too fast. In 10 years, the global temperature spiked.

 

At first, some strange events happened, like the rain forest  starting rejecting more CO2 instead of trapping it, or underwater currents stopping. 

The ice melted and as if it wasn't enough, the heatwave melted the permafrost all around the globe. 

That made it all worse. 

Way worse. 

CO2 in the atmosphere skyrocketed, so did the global temperature. Now the seas were rising everywhere, turning coastal cities into resorts for fish. 

Temperate areas morphed into tropical nightmares. 

Deserts were expanding, killing crops, animals and humans. 

It generated a massive exodus. As people fled for their lives, governments set up large staging areas for refugees. 

Diseases followed. Raging through the camps. It didn't take long for violence and looting to begin.
Of course, it got worse, and wars erupted all over. Countries tried to close their borders to avoid massive waves of hungry neighbors who lost everything they had.
Most of the globe's population, which was living near the sea, was forced to move to deserts or fight to live anywhere that was hospitable.

Not many choices to pick from : wet death, hot death, or war death. Humanity was living its darkest moments.

 

The global population went down from 11 billion to 5. Climate was still deteriorating, but at least after a while, all wars came to an end.

 

That's where you come in. 

A few years back, you engineered a new propulsion system. Instead of moving through space to your destination, you designed a way to move space itself to make the journey shorter. Of course, there were all sorts of complications, like avoiding distorting space around your point of origin or destination. Ripping planets apart doesn't do any good to anyone. 

Once the technology was mature enough, the decision was made. Humanity would fly to the stars and leave the scorching Earth behind. Massive ships were built. Everyone was going to leave. They called them "Generation Ships." That was because many generations would have to live on them. Even with the new propulsion system, travel time would still be counted in hundreds of years instead of hundreds of thousands. It took 20 years to build the first ship and start the journey. There would be thousands of them. They were made inside giant asteroids. Hollowed and spun around for gravity. It was a massive undertaking fueled by desperation.

 

On Earth, it was so hot now that oceans were getting shallower. Adding even more water vapor in the air. On a cold winter day, it would be a balmy 45°C. In a desert area, it would be above 60°C. 

During the building phase, you stayed in your lab located where frozen Antarctica once was. Now the last "paradise" on the face of the planet, but not really icy anymore. 

There you expanded on your space drive technology. Instead of just bending space, now it could also bend time. That would mean almost instantaneous travel anywhere. The problem was that it couldn't be used on generation ships, despite your best efforts. The scale was too big. 

So you decided to build the perfect ship for your engine. It was relatively straightforward. Engineering and material technology was terrific at the end of the world. 

Once everything was finished, only a short stop in a vault lost somewhere in Norway was on schedule before leaving for good. That's where you stand right now. 

Watching what Earth has become. We had a paradise, and we destroyed it. Nobody on the generation ships will see their destination. What will their descendants find? Other Earth-like worlds or just another hell. Will they eventually do the same thing to whatever planet they find? Somehow you are glad you'll never know. 

Where you are going, nobody can follow.

 

 

Chapter 2 ---------- First Flight

 

 

The launch was intense. Even with all the technology, getting out of a gravity well is a brutal process. After a few minutes of rumbling and shaking, the ship reaches space. 

Power to the engine cuts. Silence and weightlessness feel soothing and very much welcomed. The view into the infinite darkness peppered with bright lights is always overwhelming.

An invitation to reflect on how small we all are in the ever-expanding universe.

The ship sets its orbit around the Earth for a few last revolutions. This will be the only pause on the way to the stars. All systems are nominal, but given the long voyage ahead, you want to inspect the hull.

 

From outside. 

 

The latest EVA suits are like a second skin to wear on top of regular clothes. Intelligent fabrics tighten to fit the wearer's body while allowing for unrestricted movement. Very comfy, actually. Of course, the temperature and radiation protection is top of the line. Nanomachines in the fabric's layers act like heat sinks and reflect almost any harmful cosmic rays. A relatively small unit on the chest breaks down breathing CO2 into oxygen and uses carbon to power itself. Once the sealed helmet is on, you hear the smooth and relaxing airflow. While you wait for depressurization, a sense of sadness engulfs you. Leaving Earth forever isn't so easy. The green light signaling that the outer door can be opened safely stops your thoughts of what has been lost, and in total silence, the outer hatch slides open. 

The ship's orbit is geosynchronous, and the opened hatch is facing the planet. The view is breathtaking.

What once was a blue and green marble is now a cloud-covered dust-colored ball of heat. Still some blue, but mostly dust. Given the current evolution, in a few million years, it will be just like Venus. Surface temperature hot enough to melt lead and insanely high atmospheric pressure. It didn't have to be like that. If only we had acted when the time was right. 

The inspection goes fast and without a hitch. The smooth hull is intact and ready to conquer outer space. By design, the ship is very different from anything else ever built. Your habitation and command post only fills a small part of it. There's a massive machinery section and an even bigger storage compartment, stacked with the most precious cargo ever transported. 

The computer AI indicates that everything is ready for the stars. Resolve strengthens. 

With a gentle push of a button, you engage the drive.


 

Chapter 3 ---------- Star Drive

 

 

Activating the stardrive sets events in motion. The quantum computer determines all possible paths for a safe jump. Gravity outside the ship is manipulated to shorten distances in front and extend them behind. Time slows as a consequence of the distortion of space. In a matter of minutes, the ship starts moving gracefully across the stars. At first, acceleration is slow and takes the ship away from the planet. Soon, speed gets exponential, and once critical velocity is reached, the real journey begins.
The beautiful starry scene shifts forward and concentrates in a small bubble ahead. Everything else turns deep red and blue, then pure black. Space is folded like a ripple on which the ship glides, and time is slowed almost to a standstill. The trip seems to last only a few seconds, yet you emerge in a new landscape. The ship has reached the heart of the Orion nebulae. 1350 light-years away from Earth. The enhanced front view screens display wisps of silky gas surrounding newborn stars. 

The view is fantastic. 

The closest body is a few million kilometers away. 

Far enough not to be cooked and sufficiently close to refill the drive with elements from the intense solar wind. There are no planets in this young system yet. Maybe in a few billion years. But let's not wait that long. 

After a few hours of recharging, mapping, and computing, you are ready to continue. There is no set destination to accomplish the mission. Exploration will be laborious. Even with the ship's unique capabilities, you steel yourself for years of jumps, scientific research, and possibly unforeseen dangers. You decide to circumnavigate the galaxy, staying away from the core, as there's little chance to find what you need there. The blinking green light signals that the drive is ready again. After a quick check of the cargo, you jump again.

 

 

Chapter 4 ---------- Surge

 

 

3542.

That's the jump count so far. 

It means that you've spent nearly 5 years wandering across the galaxy. The most time-consuming task is studying each system to find the gem you are looking for. 

As of now, only a few candidates, but nothing good enough. At least the cargo is still in perfect condition. So is the ship. 

While getting ready for the next jump, in the surprising way life has to mess with well-thought plans, a cosmic accident happens. 10 years ago, two neutron stars merged, unleashing massive gravity waves. Those waves expanded in space, racing at the speed of light in every direction. Nothing wrong would have happened if you didn't engage the drive simultaneously when the waves passed through the ship. The result was like a spacetime catapult. Instead of a controlled and precise jump, the ship was flung like a rowboat in a hurricane. The destination was supposed to be 20 light-years away but turned into a million light-year intergalactic journey. 

It didn't seem all that bad initially until the AI started looking for known stars and finding none. 

Something was off, but what? 

The view of the star chart getting computed solved that mystery. From where you were, you could see the whole milky way galaxy, as a small smudge of light a very long distance away. The ship had transited to the Andromeda galaxy, in a star dense region, thankfully, but still 2.6 million light-years away. No other choice now than to explore this distant yet familiar bit of space. 

Maybe it would be an even better bet for the mission. 

With a knot in the stomach, you engage the drive again to the closest system and jump.

 

 

Chapter 5 ---------- Peace

 

 

After a few jumps, you realize that although in a different galaxy, it's just more of the same.

 

Jump, analyze, jump again, rinse, repeat. The system you just transited in seems to have an auspicious planet right at the perfect distance from its star. The image gathered with high power telescopes looks green and blue, which is a beautiful sight, and also a bit of purple. Unexpected, but why not. 

Further exploration of this body is needed. 

Up close. 

As the ship gets closer, images get more detailed. The biosphere is lush and seems to be teeming with life. Finding life so far away is fantastic, even if it disqualifies this particular planet for the mission. 

At 300000 km from the planet, it becomes clear. The purple areas have straight borders and what looks like walls and paths around them. There is more than life down there. It's a civilization. Once in orbit, you can see structures and lights on the dark side. There were no dense population areas, more like rural and sparse little towns. Close to what we had on Earth a couple of thousand years back. 

After a long and heated debate with the AI, it is decided to leave this planet alone to thrive.

 

Still, you can't help but wonder what will happen to this species. If technology will make them become a space-faring empire or extinguish themselves out of greed and carelessness. 

Like humans almost did. 

As you are about to jump, an idea flashes in your head. 

Instead of leaving this place, the drive could be used to only move ahead in time. Of course, it's a one-way street. Every jump would bring you years in the future with no possibility to get back. 

Seems like the AI loves to argue endlessly, but in the end, the choice is yours. 

Given the state of the civilization below, leaps of 500 years seem like a decent hop to monitor their progress. After 3 jumps, not much has changed, still fields and small towns. No technology. No visible changes. Seven more jumps and a total of 5000 years passed, and still no visible difference. This place is a mystery. Could it be that this civilization has reached its full potential? Or are they something like humanity never was, content. 

Not feeling the need to grow more or bend nature to their will. And ending up destroying it eventually. As you get ready to leave for good, a sense of awe engulfs you. You just witnessed a civilization stagnate peacefully. Maybe constant growth never was the solution, but the root of the problem. 

Sure, they will never explore space, but they will also never make a mess of their planet as they seem to carefully manage what they have. 

What a lesson in humility.

 

 

Chapter 6 ---------- Home

 

 

You found it.

 

After all this time, everything that you have been looking for is right here. The planet's landmasses are barren, oceans are deep, almost no atmosphere, volcanoes and lava spewing gasses everywhere. Way too hot for life and absolutely not suitable for human life. Size and mass are close to ideal. It's perfect. 

Now the real work can begin. 

Unmanned probes are sent all around the globe. Their task will be to channel resources and build miniature factories to take advantage of the planet's chemistry to introduce bacteria and viruses into the ground and air. 

Their role will be the same as it was on Earth, transform a lifeless rock into a lush, hospitable world. 

Of course, it will take eons of guided evolution to fine-tune air and water to grow plants, trees, flowers, and also insects to pollinate them. 

The drones and their factories will go through the ship's cargo to extract DNA from the databank you took on your last trip on Earth. The vault contained all the genetic information gathered over years of studies and research in every part of the planet

 

Every plant, insect, animal, and microbe saved for eternity with only one missing species. 

You set the jumps forward to one million years. 

Life needs time to grow. 

 

A lot of time. 

 

It has now been a hundred million years. 

Reports from the planet show vegetation everywhere. The biosphere is as varied as it was back on Earth during the 18th century. 

Animals have been introduced slowly too. The first generation being grown in tubes to kickstart their evolution. 

A whole new continent had separated from the main landmass thanks to slow tectonic movements. 

That's where beasts bred and transformed by humans like farm animals and pets will be introduced. It wouldn't make much sense to mix wolves and dogs or cows and lions. Instead of human handlers, they will have mechanical overseers. After all those generations of exploitation to suit our needs for food or fashion, it seems only fair to offer them a safe haven. Where they will never know slaughterhouses or human interference.

 

It is a beauty to watch free nature. Animals live their own life cycles. Herds of herbivores roam the continents with predators stalking them. 

Seasons come and go. Life grows. 

Seeing what a world without humans looks like is sobering. What a mess we made of Earth. There was little need for regulating species or interfering in habitats. Even here, where machines keep an all-seeing eye everywhere, not much needs to be acted upon anymore. Evolution runs its course for the best. Even in farm and pet land, changes happen, and they slowly transform into lots of new species. Suited to their world.

 

You are probably the last human still alive. So much time has passed since the beginning of this journey. What happened to the others? How many worlds were conquered and wars fought? You will never know, and any light or radio waves coming from the milky way wouldn't even be halfway to where you are. It doesn't matter anyway. The mission is a success. Now animals and plants have their own sanctuary. 

Free from us and safe. 

 

For the time being.

 

 

I hooe you enjoyed reading it. There's a music album with the same name and cover on spotify.

You can also find le on youtube.


Thanks to Laurie, George and Ron for their corrections to my english.

 

 


Submitted: June 04, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Lazypixel. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Criss Sole

I thought this was an exciting read! I can see this as a movie.
Hope Earth never gets to that place... but who knows what the future holds.
I thought this was very well written. Glad you had some help.
Can you please send me a message with a youtube link to the album. I would love to give it a listen.
Great story.

Mon, June 7th, 2021 9:42am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for your review.
Here is the youtube video with small bits of the tracks

https://youtu.be/86-xcoH4ciM

In the description you’ll find the link to streaming platforms for the full thing..

I hope you’ll enjoy it

Mon, June 7th, 2021 7:32am

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