Ghost In The Ruins: Prologue & Chapter 1

Prologue

Earth was a dismal pit of despair. The greedy continued to drill for oil and dig for coal despite the efforts of the enlightened few who saw that the excess, the greed, was killing the planet. And so, mankind continued his drive to extinction…religion and greed blocking all enlightenment.

Among these enlightened few, Jim Barry had been an obscure soul. His success had been recent, but not at what he was about to become known for.

Though he had always been a thinker, a man of reason and uncommon intellect, he had never pushed the envelope in quite the same manner as he was about to. Now, he sat at a table, drafting the plans for a massive fleet of craft.

“What are you doing today, Jim?”  The voice of his assistant brought him out of thought.

“I had a brilliant Idea,” He smiled, “and as you know, I don’t have many.”

“Ooo,” his assistant stated excitedly, “I like this! Who is it for?”

“well,” he swallowed, “I had thought of offering it to the religious community…what with their expectations of rapturing off this hunk of rock and all…” he looked up at her. He could see that she was clearly amused. “But if they don’t take it, we’ll see how many of our fellow humans, those of us who are enlightened enough to understand what greed, hate, and religion is doing to the planet, want to go in search of something better. Let the ignorant have their way with Earth.”

What is this?” She pulled the plans for the terraforming equipment from beneath the plans he was currently making.

“Terraforming equipment,” He looked over at her, an eyebrow cocked, “why?”

“So,” she began, “this goes with that?”

“Yes,” he nodded, “as do atmospherics machines, gravitational generators, and shield generators to protect from possible asteroid bombardments.  There are hydroponics labs, tool and resource replication labs, and medical labs.”

“and I suppose that there will be stasis pods and self contained perpetual engines?” She pressed.

“Of course,” he smirked, “how else are these things going? Seriously, though, they are far from perpetual motion engines. They are, however, somewhat self-driven and based on continuous cold fusion reaction.”

“How do they work?” She was intrigued.

“They pull in elements from space,” He explained, “and fuse the particles together using a cold fusion reactor. No radiation leaks. No human interaction…unless they break down. And that is highly unlikely.”

“I see,” she nodded, “and who is going to pilot this thing?”

“Three crews,” he nodded, “two in stasis, one out for a single year. Each rotating into their routine at the end of the year. No contact with their charges.

“Only the medical crew and technician crew will have any sort of contact with the passengers. But not in a way where the passengers will speak to them. More like to keep the stasis units working and the occupants alive and breathing.

“The idea is to keep the passengers in stasis until they reach their destination. And before you ask…there will be three tech crews and three med crews. They will do as the flight crews. Rotate…until deep space where timers will be set for so many years once automatic pilot takes over.

“the only thing that should awaken the crew before the set time is if something happens. Staying out of their intended path. A near miss with a comet or asteroid. If a stasis tube stops functioning.”

“You have this all thought out,” she giggled, “don’t you?”

“It pays to, yes,” he chuckled.

***

Tests of all the components had been a success. The ships were ready. All he needed was a customer.

Talks with the religious community had failed. Miserably. Not that he had expected them to succeed.

The extremely religious had always wanted to rule the world. They had desired a theocracy for centuries. Now, if all went well, and the majority of humanity desired to leave, they would finally have their chance.

He sighed. He hoped the rest of humanity was more open to relocating. Let the destructive keep this ball of dust. They had already destroyed it.

“Sir,” his assistant announced, “They’re here.”

“OK,” he nodded, “I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Very good, sir,” she averred, “I will tell them.”

She left and he put his head in his hands. It was now or never. He rose and headed for the door.

“The craft are light and durable,” He began, moments later, standing before the representatives of nearly every nation, “as are the stasis tubes. As passengers, all will be placed in stasis for the length of the journey.

“Crews of techs and medical personnel will monitor all passengers until deep space is achieved. Then. they will also go into stasis until such time as they are awakened. The same will happen once the navigational crew get us to deep space…they will also go into stasis until the passengers reach their set destination. there, they will land the craft so that the medical and tech crews can unload the now awakened passengers.”

“What will be the cost?” The German representative inquired.

“We leave everything behind,” He stated, “this planet, the currencies, our homes, cars and most belongings. Some of us may even leave behind family members.” He looked around the room. “If this is a price you are unwilling to pay, then by all means stay! Just know that they will probably kill you for being enlightened.”

“We can always rebuild,” the representative from Ghana admitted.

“And we will,” he assured them, “as we will have the aid of terraforming equipment and any other technology needed for both survival and protection.”

“What do we have to gain?” The Arab representative asked.

“Don’t you mean what do we have to lose?” The Japanese representative returned.

“I see no need to think this through,” the French representative announced, “I know many who would jump at this chance.”

“So do I,” the Russian representative nodded, “anything to get away from oppression and hate.”

***

Several unmarked ships lifted up from every country. Aboard, teams of astronauts who had trained extensively now guided the ships out into space. Techs and medics kept a vigil over the passengers who were now in stasis.

Among those onboard as passengers were Jim and his assistant. Neither had desired to remain. Behind them, his abandoned labs now burned.

1.

He remembered summer. Earth had been a cacophony of seasons. Extreme heat. Extreme cold. No in between.

Not at all what he had been promised. But then it was over a thousand years after man had caused the massive disaster that had sent the species, the race, into extinction with the rest of life. Well, those who had refused to leave.

They had been extremists. The Inheritors they had called themselves. Radically religious. Closed minded. Hateful.

Those seeking better lives, more peaceful lives, had left Earth behind in search of paradises never before experienced. The rest were left to their own devices. Their own hatred. Their own ignorance and greed.

“What are you thinking, Billy?” His mother inquired.

“I do not understand,” he answered, “history says that Earth was once green. That man greedily cut down the forests and drained the fossil fuels, polluting  the water and air. And yet, the air is back at breathable levels. Has man been gone so long that the planet is healing itself?”

“Perhaps,” she nodded, “though I would hesitate in the belief that the air is breathable for very long. After all, the plant life has never really rebounded.”

“But could we terraform it back to its former state?” He pressed.

“Probably,” she averred, “but the planet is tainted.”

“Tainted?” He was confused.

“It holds the memories of those who destroyed it,” she explained, “and the disease that drove them to oblivion.”

“Couldn’t we make it a sanctuary?” He was still trying for a yes.

“Possibly,” she stated, “but that is against the natural law. The planet is to heal itself. That means we cannot intervene.”

“But we terraformed our planets,” he objected.

“That was over a thousand years ago, Billy,” She reprimanded, “we have learned so much since then. How not to go against the natural laws. The universal laws.”

“Well, yes, but,” he struggled to object.

“We have learned that all things are in balance,” she continued, not allowing his objection to take shape, “that we should never take more than we need. To never become greedy. That the old ways were wrong.”

“I know, but,” he tried again.

“We learned that terraforming was unnatural,” she brushed the attempt away, “that it harmed other planets. That other planets held new and better food sources than our old ones.  That evolution was always the natural path.

“You remember the skeletons in the museum at home? How they don’t look like us, but are our ancestors?”

“Well, yes,” he snorted.

“Humanity changed over those thousand or so years,” She taught, “after leaving Earth. Each planet hold a different evolutionary branch, each with its own unique appearance.”

“Sort of how,” he began to see what she was trying to tell him, “how evolution caused the color variations of humanity on Earth.”

“Yes,” she smiled, “now you are getting it.”

“So,” he scratched between his antennae, “if some of us came back to Earth…”

“Possibly,” she admitted, “but as I said. I wouldn’t be too sure of the air being at levels that could sustain much life. After all, the plant life has yet to return to normal and I am not so sure that Earth is still fertile enough to support much life.”

“And the sun?” He asked.

“What about it?” She returned.

“They once claimed that it would blow up,” He replied.

“There is still five billion years, give or take a few thousand,” she mused, “just as man had predicted that there was about 7.5 billion years…but that was before the avent.”

“So,” he smiled gleefully, “there is still a chance that life can evolve again?…here?”

“Yes,” she giggled, “I suppose so, given the right elements and the right natural push.”

***

Home world was nothing like Earth. The seasons here never became too cold or too hot. The old colony was now abandoned, no longer suitable for the new race of beings that had risen from the human colonists.

Plant life here was different as well. As was the animal life. But then, living here was different.

Few left the new home world unless it was to do research and none ever left for long. Here, only peace existed. Here, only symbiotic coexistence happened.

There was no crime. No greed. No hate. No lust.

Only a single mind. A hive mind. Something that had been a side effect of the planet’s unique atmosphere.

Much the same had taken place on the surrounding planets where other colonies had sprung up. Each planet had added to the humans. Changed them in a unique way.

But all had changed for the better. Mentally. Physically.

Billy had enjoyed his visit to Earth but had been saddened by the state of the planet. It had been completely destroyed. Its forests had been cut down. Its animals had been driven into extinction, man with them.

But what had saddened him the most was that there was no longer any surface water. The whole planet was a giant desert torn apart by massive eruptions. The colonies, Or what he had seen as colonies, were completely empty and crumbling. Eroding.

As were the land masses. They were all eroding. It had all been so surreal.

He had hoped to see a glimmer of hope. Something that would tell him that the planet was healing. Or Beginning to.

Instead, he had seen that the damage might never be reversed. The planet was dead. Useless.

It had been completely drained. Now, it just took up space. Like Mars and the rest of the planetary system it was a part of.

He sighed. The thought was depressing. And there wasn’t anything they could do to bring it back.

He would have to study it a little more.  Maybe he had missed something. Maybe he had overlooked some clue.

Yes. That was it. He had missed some clue.

He had overlooked the obvious. And though he could not terraform, perhaps he could scratch the surface to find if the planet still had water. And if he found water, maybe the planet could heal itself.