Front-Row Earth

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

Submitted: April 12, 2019

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Submitted: April 12, 2019

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Front-Row Earth

By Michael Lejuez




 

Tlaloc stood at the main bay window, a large expanse of clear enforced glass overlooking Earth, as he pulled on his pulse suit before the start of his day. As successful as the engineers had been in creating anti-gravity technology to combat atrophy on the station, these suits were standard issue to deliver minor shock pulses to keep muscles active throughout the day.

His muscles were the least of his concerns though at the moment as no technology was required to tell him about the harsh weather patterns ravaging the planet below. It was the best view from up here to peer upon his former home-land, an expanse of green and blue somewhere beneath menacing hurricane clouds. It is here on the ringed city above Earth that the entirety of the human population now resides, one billion weak. Unfortunately, this station wasn’t complete in time before the storms below grew unpredictable and powerful enough to wipe out entire cities in a day. A ringed space station, conveniently called the Perch, was now all they had to gaze upon and remember what their home used to be.

Tlaloc may consider himself lucky for having been chosen as one of the first batches of scientists to be called upon to inhabit the Perch, also jokingly referenced as an attempt to copy Saturn and its ringed counterpart before it became our only hope for survival.

For the station was originally started as a project to survey general planetary conditions as well as provide oversight of deep space objects in order to divert those dangers. Tlaloc was given an important role on the station, analyzing shifts within these weather patterns that may conclude a weakening of the storm systems. This could mean the potential of a habitable zone to return to in an effort to repopulate Earth. But Tlaloc wasn’t hopeful from the data, as the greenhouse runaway effect had taken a stronghold on the planet and only time would tell if Earth was ever to return to a balanced state.

-

The surveillance lab bustled with anxious movement as scientists hoped to be the first to find positive data to change their daily commutes. Hector, a geologist within the lab, saw Tlaloc walk in from what he knew was his gazing time.

“Tlal, I think those storms are getting weaker, maybe we’ll have great-great grandchildren by the time they’re through huh?”

Tlaloc expressed a wry smile, concealing his despair for how many generations it could actually take. “I’ll keep making that face until real data can overturn it. Did you get everything to orbital command from yesterday?”, asked Tlaloc.

“Yep, everything was sent and as usual no thank yous were returned.” Hector responded with raised eyebrows.

“Well did you expect the OSC to ever acknowledge us? That would legitimize us for command in the future which is strongly against their interests. They still see military prowess as the way for the future even though we can travel ten minutes to another section of the ship to resolve our issues with a good old game of StarFuel.”

Things did not play out so well initially on the Perch when it came to borders, but the Orbital Space Command did their best in resolving language issues and spatial issues through focused work stations that forced others to learn differences together or move to different areas of the ship that fit their abilities best. It doesn’t take long to work out differences when you realize that this is the only home you now have and the less conflicts already present in a life here, the better. Here and there, nations and countries retained as much of their cultures as they possibly could and gatherings were created to keep alive what they had on Earth, but under present circumstances there was no other way to live than through cooperation now.

Suddenly a voice came over the stations intercoms, “Will Chief Director Tlaloc please come to the main command deck please.”

Tlaloc glanced over at Hector, “You sure you handed in the correct data from yesterday, not your list of all the officers you hate in command?”

Hector gave an uncertain look at Tlaloc, “Guess you’ll find out soon enough.”

 

-

As Tlaloc exited the surveillance lab, he thought about the last time command had directly called him to the main deck. It must have been the first time the storms seemed to peak in intensity, with command wondering if this would be the climax before intensity levels began to decrease and hopefully allow for investigation teams to be deployed down to Earth. Unfortunately that hope was short lived as the peak never ceased and it ultimately became a constant. How long that constant could go on for was the question, and the reason Tlaloc believed he was called in without warning.

Tlaloc made his way to the Nova transportation system within the Perch to allow for ease of mobility throughout the station. In its inner workings, the station included four main sectors: Engineering, Agriculture, Planetary Surveillance and the Command Center. All of them were vital in keeping the station operational and Tlaloc made sure to keep great relations between each sector as this only aided his research as well as theirs.

As Tlaloc reached into the Nova Pod, grabbing the left and right handle grips in front and stretching his body out horizontally, he made sure to set his speed to a minimal pace as to give him time to prepare some relevant data he and his team had recently discovered. He also enjoyed watching the other sectors focusing on their tasks, engaged with each other to accomplish feats for an unknown future.

Engineering bay was focused on maintaining and advancing the artificial gravity chambers, allowing all of the survivors here to live without the fear of life threatening atrophy from microgravity exposure.

Agriculture was receiving one of its vapor drones tasked with capturing water from the safest clouds it can find to avoid being scorched by incessant lightning. Although the station implemented a recycle system for all water, agriculture was never one to pass on having reserves for those just in case moments. They also hold the largest sections of greenhouses on the station, supplying both breathable air and a surprisingly strong diversity of vegetables and fruits.

Planetary Surveillance was one section Tlaloc didn’t have to observe on the Nova, he had become accustomed to every facet of the lab already to understand everything there was about it and any more information would overload his already growing responsibilities.

He was close to the Command Deck now, a banner depicting The Blue Marble Earth in its former habitable condition donning the walls leading up to the Nova drop off point. As Tlaloc pulled up, Commander Zentin was already there waiting with arms crossed. The tough guy facade was never diminished from his stance even though the power of the storms below would sweep him straight off his feet as if he were not even there. His voice led the militaristic charge of past endeavors to try and prevent the storms with bombs and straight firepower. The result led to an even more hazardous situation in which Earth became even more radiated, with winds gracefully carrying the deadly gases throughout the planet.  Ultimately this failure was deemed as a minor setback, but realistically it called for a more scientific approach that would not worsen present conditions.

“You, huh?” was the only greeting Tlaloc received exiting the Nova Pod.

“Good to see you too Zentin”

“Come with me.” The tone in his voice made Tlaloc more uneasy than he normally is around Zentin. As Zentin led Tlaloc to a large conference room with several powerful people clustered around a holo image, Tlaloc struggled to catch a glimpse of what was so important.

“Glad you could make it Tlaloc”, came a greeting from General Reshin, someone Tlaloc owed his life too, as her voice convinced others in command to give him an early scientific spot on the Perch.

Tlaloc gave her an acknowledging nod, “Can’t say I have much new data for you, but brought some overviews just to make sure you had them.”

“That won’t be necessary, I believe you’ll understand why you’re here from this”, came the response as Rishen motioned to Tlaloc to take a look at the holo image. As the cluster of personnel slowly backed away from it and it became more visible, Tlaloc finally realized why he had been called upon. It was a classified technology, becoming known as Rainstick, developed by a team of scientists before the storms became too dangerous to test in. Tlaloc had only just begun on the Perch when the original team had been caught in one of the most powerful storms that have now become routine. After that loss of both intelligent minds to combat such storms and the technology to do it, Tlaloc believed any effort to revisit such technology again would quickly be dismissed.

The disbelief on his face must have been clear to the group as they gave each other unified glances as if they knew this response was coming. Tlaloc was also well aware of why he alone was called in front of the group as his expertise on the storms below gave him insight on whether or not this angle of approach was feasible again.

“We understand your reluctance to speak on this subject, but you do now see that we are becoming desperate in our measures to repopulate Earth.” Rishen knew full well that what she was presenting here was something jeopardizing Tlaloc and his team, but understood that they were the best team to accomplish such a task.

“We kept the failure of Rainstick secured from most ears and eyes Tlaloc, as well as the fact that the one destroyed in the storms was not the only one built.” Tlaloc quickly diverted his attention from the holo image to Rishen, realizing that they had been planning this for quite some time now with consistent data coming in from his team.

“You want my team to be in charge of this mission,” Tlaloc stated plainly.

“Yes,” Rishen said calmly. “We are currently exploring all possibilities to get the technology down planetside, but it will require a manual crew to set up the equipment as our drones cannot maintain communication with all the static created down there. We know this technology can work, we just need it to be installed properly to give us the necessary pressure cone. Once installed, storms will be diverted to that area…”

“I know how it works,” expressed Tlaloc. “It’s not the mission itself that you need to convince me on, it’s the part where I have to ask my team if they’re prepared to die.”

 

-

 

Tlaloc needed to take his mind off his most recent encounter with Command Center. An encounter which he did not believe would create even more anxiety than he already possessed. As he laid back into the Nova Pod, he hit the StarFuel Arena tab on the navigation panel and sent a message for Hector to meet him there. He then receded into his mind as the low electric hum of the motor glided the pod to its next destination.

As he pulled up to the Arena, glowing green blips on the scoreboard showed open hubs where games were still being organized. Tlaloc chose the first hub open and notified Hector where he’d be. His pod then entered into the prechamber, where Tlaloc got out to choose his g-suit, enabling him to detect how much power he had throughout the course of the game. Moments later Hector pulled into the chamber and found a suit for himself.

“It’s never a good thing when you notify me for a game without prior plans, how bad is it?” Hector had a comical tone to his voice as if it would just be another bad report on data, but Tlaloc was hesitant to tell him right away.

“Let’s get through this game and then we’ll talk. Ready?”

The chamber doors opened to a large expanse of a room with the focal point being a large sphere floating in the center, representing a star. Tlaloc reached for his photon stream, used to shoot at the star with a constant beam of light that would energize the star. The star started off as a blank white sphere, but with consistent accuracy from the stream, the star would fill up to become a bright orange ball by the end of the game, if able to get that far.

Tlaloc nodded to Hector as he pressed the button to initiate the game. The low gravity chamber soon initiated and both of them made sure to catch themselves on the handles spread throughout the entire arena. As the lights dimmed as well, the glow of their suits and handles gave them visual cues important for positioning and awareness. A timer appeared above the sun, counting down from ten seconds before the game began. Both readied themselves as the game initiated and immediately started hitting the star with a steady stream of light. As the star began receiving an orange glow at the bottom section, an alert flashed across the screen warning of an incoming asteroid field. They both had to divert their attention from the star to concentrate on destroying these large holographic asteroids flying directly at them now. Tlaloc used the whole arena to his advantage, dodging an asteroid speeding directly at him by quickly pushing off his handle to an adjacent corner. Along his flight to the other corner, a second asteroid appeared flying through his path, which he disposed of with an accurate stream. Hector had stayed in his original location, having to use his photon shield to deflect an asteroid that caught him by surprise, but continued a well positioned stream on the sun. As Tlaloc regained his hold in a new corner and the asteroid field passed, they combined their efforts to get the star well passed half.

Both thought this would be an easy finish to the game, but a slight tug on their suits indicated something powerful was forming in an unknown section of the arena. Their fears were confirmed as their light stream began to bend toward something invisible in the distant corner of the arena, Tlaloc and Hector now aware that a black hole had formed and was pulling everything towards it. They needed to get on the opposite side of the star to escape the pull of the black hole and allow for a precise stream. Tlaloc quickly pushed himself off with a trajectory to grab hold of a handle beneath the star. Hector saw this and did the same to meet him. As their flights took them to the same position underneath, the tug became too dangerous to try and get to the safe corner on the opposite side of the star. Both held on and attempted to hit the star from beneath, but the black hole was distorting that attempt as well. At this point, the star was almost full and only required a minimum consistent stream to win the game. As Tlaloc and Hector realized this, Hector placed his feet at the bottom of Tlaloc's feet in an effort to give Tlaloc more power once they both kicked off. As they readied themselves, they bent their knees in unison for a count of three and pushed as hard as they could. Tlaloc’s course took him to the opposite side of the sun, while Hector was pulled toward the black hole. As Hector flew out of view, Tlaloc centered his fire on the sun. Within a split second, a bright corona formed around the sun, engulfing the room in a pulsing glow representing the game had been won.  


© Copyright 2020 Michael Lejuez. All rights reserved.

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