This title is super temporary. Basically, I'm writing a sci-fi novel, but I want to get a feel for my universe first. So I'm doing a short story (maybe closer to a novella?) based on members of the Mars One project. The year is 2024, and the world has been rocked by a very short-lived nuclear war wiping out almost everything bordering the Pacific, as well as the Middle East. There's over a billion dead, and humanity is struggling to find help. This novella will follow the events from Mars, about three months after the initial strike.
The barren red landscape stretched for hundreds of miles in every direction. Nothing but rock, dust, and clouds anywhere he looked. The surface of Mars was a bleak, desolate landscape, depicting a world once thriving, now long dead. Through the plastic window of the base, the view was astounding, just like every day.
“Hey Aaron, coffee’s ready,” Lisa said. Aaron gazed at the vista a moment longer before turning to his wife. Though she looked average by most people’s standards, she was the most beautiful woman he knew. It had been a massive stroke of luck that the Mars One program had chosen both of them not only to be astronauts on the project, but to be part of the very first mission to Mars. That had been a year ago, and neither of them regretted the decision. Aaron smiled as he took the mug from Lisa.
“Thanks sweetie,” he said. He took a tentative sip, and closed his eyes as it flowed down his throat like silk. Lisa was the only person he knew who could turn the freeze-dried powder NASA called coffee into an enjoyable drink.
“So, has there been any news from Earth?” She asked as she cradled her mug. Aaron took another drink before grabbing a nearby tablet and showing his wife.
“Riots in Washington, D.C., police helpless to stop the violence and looting...” Her voice trailed off as she read the lead story. “How long will this continue? All this fighting…can’t we all come together to solve the issue at our door?”
“Not with the politicians twiddling their thumbs, hoping some other country will find the answer. We’re barely getting funding as it is. If Dr. White and Dr. Irussi don’t keep fighting for us, we’ll get forgotten,” Aaron replied, staring into his coffee.
“The pollution is increasing, and more people are dying. The death toll is approaching one billion, and they still say they’re working…it’s been three months. Where’s the answer?” Lisa seemed on the verge of tears. Aaron continued gazing into his drink, lost in thought. Four months ago, life on Earth had been status quo. Then the entire Pacific rim went dark. By the time anyone knew what had happened, the nuclear strikes had already begun. China thought the US had done it, the US blamed China, South Korea thought it was North Korea, and North Korea looked toward Iraq and Iran. Before any reasonable debate could begin, attacks began, counter attacks were launched…and the world went cold. Whoever wasn’t killed by the blast was being poisoned by the radiation. The human race was in dire need, and the Mars crew could only watch.
“We need a miracle…” Aaron practically whispered as his mind raced. The couple sat quietly for what seemed like an eternity. Then a face filled the tablet.
“Jacques?” Lisa perked up as the Frenchman, out of breath, addressed the couple.
“You two had better come out here, we found something.” He had barely finished speaking when the camera cut out. Lisa and Aaron shared a look as they set down their mugs, got up, and prepared to suit up.
“What could they possibly have found that wasn’t one our scans?” Lisa wondered aloud as she helped Aaron seal his suit.
“I’m not sure. Remember, our scan was set to look for specific elements, so there’s plenty it may have missed,” Aaron explained. His suit now sealed, he began to help his wife. Luckily, the pressure suits for Mars were much less involved than those for the vacuum of space. Aaron always caught himself feeling glad he wasn’t on board the International Space Station. Grunting, Aaron managed to close the clasp on Lisa’s helmet.
“You’re good,” he said through the intercom. Before she could reply, Jacques came on.
“About time. Hurry, Joakim and I are getting impatient.” Lisa shrugged as the speaker hissed and clicked. The couple moved cumbersomely into the airlock, and began to pressurize the compartment. It took only a moment, and they opened the door onto the crimson vista. The sun glared off the ground and into their visors, which quickly dimmed to provide protection from the brilliant light of their harsh solar mistress. Arrayed along the ground, for hundreds of yards in either direction, were the solar panels soaking up the precious sunlight, and converting it into power for the base. Along with a tube drilled deep through the planet into a massive underground lake, water was never an issue, either. For all intents and purposes, the quartet of astronauts lived comfortably.
“I sure hope it’s something worthwhile this time!” Aaron quipped as the couple climbed into the remaining rover. Red dust kicked up as the vehicle began trundling off.
“Alrighty, where are you guys?” Lisa asked.
“About two miles north-northwest of the base,” Joakim replied. Even with his thick Swedish accent, after a year together, they understood him perfectly well.
“Gotcha!” Aaron said as he glanced at the compass. Of course, it wasn’t a true compass, as Mars had lost its magnetic field innumerable years ago. This compass operated by a simple gyroscope, tuned to what scientist called the north pole of Mars. With an incredible top speed of 30 miles per hour, they were pulling up to the destination within minutes.
“Okay, we’re about two miles north-northwest of the base. Can you see us?” Lisa asked.
“Yes, turn about twenty-five degrees to your left, and drive about a hundred yards,” Jacques explained. Lisa turned, and sure enough, there were the two other astronauts, waving their arms beside their own rover. Aaron chuckled as he turned the vehicle and moved toward them. He pulled it to a stop next to the other rover and hopped out.
“So, what did you want to show us?” He asked. Jacques motioned, and the group walked several feet to the edge of a small, shallow valley. Joakim stepped tentatively on the slope, and slid gently to the bottom. As the others slid down, he pointed at a spot on the ground. Aaron and Lisa looked closer. Then they saw it. A fossilized arm. A fossilized HUMAN arm.
“What is that!?” Lisa screamed.
“That’s what we want to know,” Jacques replied.
“Remember that dust storm last month? We think that may have uncovered this. We have no idea how old it is. We’ll need the instruments at the base to try to determine what it is. Primary scans can’t pinpoint what it’s made of, there’s too much stone fused to the bones. We figured we should get your help to excavate it,” Joakim explained. Aaron’s mouth hung open in shock.
“C’mon, let’s grab the excavation equipment and see if we can’t get this guy out,” Lisa suggest as she began running back to the rovers.
Edited by Jinkmeister, Jul 31 2013 - 10:10 AM.