Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 16: Calm Before The Storm

There is a lull before every battle. A calm that almost makes you believe that there won’t be one. It is almost unnerving.

It can fool you into making mistakes. Or into becoming impatient. It can be a source of false hope.

We had entered that short period of time. And yet, none of us seemed to be fooled by it. None of us let down our guard.

We knew our enemy was building up their forces to the east. We knew they had forces to the west. But would they use them all? Where would they strike first?

I had my bets on a united attack, one that hit both sides simultaneously. But were they really that coordinated? Could they pull that off?

I was unwilling to discount any possible move. Their intelligence relied solely on the intelligence of their hosts. Though sentient, they could not be expected to do anything more intelligent than what their hosts could comprehend.

Thus, with those now infected from Earth, The European slaves would be intelligent enough to coordinate an attack while those that had taken our own president and politicians would possibly not be so inclined. After all, they had been less than unified before their infection. Why would they change?

Still, I knew that Yah and Yam were more intelligent and would possibly be in the lead. Had there been a Yah and Yam in charge of the Euro set? What of the Asian set? Or the African set?

Which aliens would be commanding? Which would hide behind the soldiers and allow their puppets to be slaughtered? Would they even care?

And just how sentient were these parasites? The questions seemed to have no end. And no answers. Yet.

My only hope was that the scientists would find some secret weapon we could shoot into the ships and wipe out these abominations. But they would have to make more than one. But how many?

I figured that there was one ship per capital. Maybe one per large city. Byond that, I had no clue.

Did the scientists know? If so, were they developing something they could easily duplicate? Or were they just as in the dark as I was?

***

“What’s bothering you, son?” The general saw that I was puzzled.

“How many ships landed?” I returned.

“From initial accounts,” he began, “one per capital. Perhaps the parasite believed, and not exactly or fully wrongly, that all would flock to the capitals when called upon to do so.”

“So,” I grimaced, “approximately 195 ships. That means 195 dirty bombs.”

“Yes,” he nodded, “and all sent out as a simultaneous attack.”

“A clean sweep,” I mused, “providing we don’t have any spies in our midst.”

“There’s always a risk of that,” he admitted, “even in the most coordinated and tight knit armies.”

“So What’s the plan?” I asked.

“We release commands every hour on the hour until the first wave,” he stated, “the, when they attack, we begin sending orders as needed. No daily routine. Just every hour.”

“And once the enemy is engaged,” I filled in the blanks, “we allow the field commanders to do what they have been trained to do.”

“Pretty much,” he averred, “but under advisement.”

“With the main orders being simply to defend and hold their ground,” I nodded.

“For as long as they can,” he acquiesced, “then they are to retreat only far enough to regroup. There is a ‘do not surrender’ order included.”

“I doubt they will ever surrender, sir,” I shook my head, “most are determined to either defeat this enemy or die trying. There is no surrender in them.”

“Good,” He praised, “let’s hope it stays that way until the very end.”

“I believe most have the impression that this will not be a brief battle,” I opined, “but an extremely long war. Maybe centuries rather than decades.”

“And they still stand shoulder to shoulder?” He was incredulous.

“Yes, sir,” I nodded in affirmation, “they do.”

“Well,” he breathed, shocked, “I’ll be damned.”

“It surprised me too, at first,” I stated, “but like them, I am not willing to allow some parasite destroy my planet. Not after what some of us have been trying to do to fix the damage we have already caused.”

“I really can’t blame you,” He allowed, “besides. You’ve faced worse foes than these in the form of some of your own fellow humans.”

“Very true, sir,” I smiled, “but hopefully, after this, that will be a thing of the past.”

***

Our objective was to keep our enemy blind to our plans. There were no written plans. No maps. No clue to what we were up to.

Only those at the core of our command knew anything of what we were planning beyond the day at hand. We sent out hourly rounds of commands to our frontlines. Nothing past the hour.

And since the enemy had yet to attack, the front was only concerned with setting up and readying for the eminent attack yet to come. They had been ordered to stand at the ready, but not to attack. Should the attack start, they were to defend,

At noon, the first wave hit. Our casualties were light. Theirs were not.

I had been correct in assuming that the alien parasite army would try a multi prong attack. They hit us from all sides. North. South. East. West.

Their tactics were weak. Their attack, uncoordinated. Without cohesive leadership.

They were using the human slaves as the coordinators of the battles. Bad choice, but apparently the only one they felt would win the war for them. Distrust among their puppets, though, caused dischord and the inability to make a single cohesive strike.

It seemed that the old rivalries, the old political differences, caused the most problem. None of the human hosts could agree on the most direct way of attacking our front lines. Nor could they agree on which weapons to use.

The resulting chaos was both entertaining and a warning. We had to remain cohesive. We had to continue in our trust of each other. No matter what.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 14: Training Day

The moments before a war are the bleakest. Darkness seems to settle over everything as uncertainty begins to eat away at resolve and courage. This war was no different.

In a way, it was training day. That long stretch where training took up most of our days, where preparedness met uncertainty. Were we going to be ready when the war knocked at our door? Or would we be too weak to win?

Humanity hung in the balance. Earth hung in the balance. Failure was not an option.

We had no real choice. We had to win or we would cease to be. The Earth was the prize.

I knew I would die trying to save the Earth from being overrun by this infection. I had already decided that. I would not surrender.

I had no clue how the others felt. Only the general seemed to be determined to win or die. The rest, well, most had never fought a war.

Most had never had to face much of anything but a pandemic. Correction. Two pandemics.

The first had been a pandemic of hate that had begun the moment the president had been elected. This one was due to a lack of education. A rash of willful, religiously driven, ignorance.

It swept through the religious community like a wildfire, causing the institutions to fall from favor with the vast majority of the people. Arrogance and greed had made them all bloated, yet empty. Devoid of a soul.

This had made them the perfect target of the alien parasites now invading. Their arrogance. Their hate. Their greed. Their lust for power.

It all made them willing to accept a new master, one that offered to make them all powerful. All knowing. And all seeing. None of which, they would really receive, but they had believed it.

The second pandemic had been a viral one. Those who had bowed to the alien parasites had refused to use common sense and common courtesy. They had seen mask mandates as an infringement on their ‘freedoms’. But then, weak minds spawn weak wills. And weak wills generally lead races to their doom.

And humanity was now being led to its doom. Or part of it was. If it survived, it would not remain the same. No, it would be forever be altered.

But would we survive? If so, how many of us would remain? One hundred? One million?

***

“We’re not sending you out as a spy anymore,” the general stated, looking at me, “your last trips have gained us all the information we need. Our team is busy deciphering much of the video and audio that floods in on a daily basis. We know roughly what the parasite looks like, how it reacts to different physiologies, and roughly how it controls its victim.”

“So what is my position now?” I inquired.

“You will be training others how to disappear and become nonexistent to the se parasites,” he responded, “with the help of our alien allies, of course.”

“In other words,” I smirked, “you’re telling me to train ninjas. Assassins. Shadows.”

“Never thought of it like that,” he scratched his head, “but yes. That is exactly what I am instructing you to do.”

“My only question is how many of our current recruits will be willing to drop all animosity and become invisible?” I queried.

“Hopefully, all,” He acquiesced, “otherwise, we’re FUBAR.”

“Not exactly,” I smiled, “even one man with a stick can win the day.”

“Using my own sayings against me, are you?” He snickered.

“Nah,” I chuckled, “just an old line out of a movie.”

“Still,” he turned away, “I hope that all do learn from you and change. It will push the odds of winning more in our favor.”

“It will also make men like you and me obsolete once we win,” I warned.

“True,” he nodded, “but I would rather be obsolete than dead.”

“Same here,” I averred, “I would rather see mankind rise above all that has kept him divided than to die because he resisted change.”

“Change is inevitable,” he shrugged, “I believe you told me that. And that which does not embrace change tends to go extinct. This is our extinction scenario.”

“And here we were so worried about global warming,” I joked.

“We’ll have to discuss that when we emerge from this,” he admitted.

“That is,” I mused, “if we do not learn from our alien allies and adapt their technologies to our needs.”

“We would be wise,” He began, “if we did learn and adapt.”

“When has man ever been willing to learn over his billion or so years of existence?” I tested. “We rise to a certain point, then regress back to the savage we began as.”

***

“Do we know their planet of origin?” I asked one of the aliens sitting in the meeting.

“They originated on a desolate planet in the Sentaire quadrant,” the purple colored alien announced, “we were sending out our science teams to explore and map nearby quadrants. Some had landed on a desolate planet and had returned infected.”

“So,” I began thoughtfully, “your race was the original host?”

“Not the original, no,” it responded, “but the original hosts to spread it from planet to planet. We were the first to study it and try to put an end to it. We almost succeeded when it jumped from our race to another nearby race.”

“And where, exactly, is this Sentaire quadrant?” I asked.

The alien pulled up a holographic digimap and pointed to a remote region of space on the edge of the known universe that had a very old star at its center.

“That is the Sentaire quadrant,” it replied, “why do you ask?”

“So I know where, in relation to my own system, their origin is,” I remarked, “and also so we might combat them at their source through sterilizing the planet to destroy all remaining parasites there. I have a hunch that they use a sort of collective consciousness to both communicate and thrive. Perhaps there is a queen of sorts that keeps them all alive.”

“You mean,” another alien began apprehensively, “like make the planet barren of all life?”

“No,” I shook my head, “simply to put an end to the parasite. I realize that life, or nature, is a balancing act. Everything exists for a reason. Even these parasites. But there comes a time when even that must end.

“My proposition is to find an inoculation of sorts, something that kills the parasite only, then release it in massive doses over their planet of origin,” I explained, “thus ending the threat. No race deserves to be erased from the universe in this manner.”

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 10: Storm On The Horizon

“See these links here?” The scientist who had done the video analysis pointed at the enlarged frame to a couple thin silver lines running from the halo-like headband into the president’s head. “I believe this is how the aliens control their non transformed slaves, the ones that are still living and breathing in the conventional sense.”

“What would happen if we clipped those links?” The general inquired.

“There’s no telling,” the scientist admitted, “perhaps nothing. Or maybe death. We have no clue what preventative measures have been taken to keep removal of the halo from taking place. There may not be any. Or…there may be such an intricate preventative measure that we would risk detonating some hidden explosive that would destroy everything within a fifty foot perimeter.”

“Then,” the general understood the scientist’s meaning, “death is the most merciful measure should we have a chance to save these poor souls.”

“Affirmative,” The scientist nodded.

“Alright,” the general sat back, “continue with the next bit analyzed.”

“We also analyzed the video of the laboratory,” the scientist continued, “and though we were relieved to find that this was not the lab where the mindless slaves are made, we found that something much more horrible takes place in that lab. Something that transforms, twists, the individual subjected to the tortures they put captives through into something far more dangerous.

“As we watched, a captive human was hooked to wires and tubes and energies run through him. as these energies were run through him, something else was being done. Upon closer inspection, we realized that one of the aliens was being spliced into the captive. These aliens are a kind of cosmic parasite that feeds upon other races of beings. We, in essence, were intended as their food.

“But while the alien feasts upon its host,” he started the enlarged video so that we were now watching what he was describing, “it uses its host as a way to travel and fight. They are, after all, fairly defenseless when not feeding. And they are far from human in appearance.”

“Can they infect a human without the aid of the energies?” The general pressed.

“If what we witnessed was accurate, they have to be introduced through the tubing,” the scientist responded, shaking his head, “perhaps at a larval stage. Sort of how a mosquito infects us with malaria.”

“So,” the general surmised, “they are nothing more than a giant germ.”

“Yes,” the scientist nodded, “for the most part…though they are far more intelligent than your run of the mill virus or bacteria. or even your average nematode.”

“Can we find a vaccine or cure for them?” The general insisted.

“we are working on that,” the scientist confirmed, “using the dead alien we captured.”

“What is your time table on such a thing?” The general asked.

“Weeks,” the scientist affirmed, “maybe a couple months.”

“Make it your number one priority,” the general commanded.

“Yes sir,” the scientist nodded.

“How are the weapons coming?” He asked.

“We have successfully replicated their rifles,” a weapons tech confirmed.

“And the warcraft?” He pressed.

“It’s proving to be a bit more complex,” the tech admitted.

“any idea on when a replicated one will be ready for testing?” He was not happy.

“Two to three weeks,” the tech nervously replied.

“make it in two,” he ordered, “we can perfect after the first tests are complete.” He turned to me. “I need you to go back in and plant more bugs. Find other vents. See where they all lead. See if you can find the lab where the techno-zombies are created. We need to know how they do it. And how to stop them.”

“Yes, sir,” I saluted, “when do you want this done?”

“Immediately,” he frowned.

“Consider it done,” I saluted again.

“How is the armor coming?” He turned his attention to other issues and away from me.

“Jeff’s armor is ready to be tested,” The weapons tech averred, “as soon as he wishes to test it.”

“I will test it out this round of recon,” I offered, “I am also willing to test the other weapons as well.”

“Good,” the general smiled, “if the weapons work well, and without much difficulty, we’ll expect enough to be made to equip all who are currently here in camp.”

***

I suited up. The armor was tight, but surprisingly light. though tight, it allowed for a great range of motion. The alien rifle snapped into place on the back as if by magnets and yet, was easily accessed when needed. the pistol snapped on the hip for quick access.

Something told me that the technology had not originated with our new invaders, but had been adopted by them when they had destroyed the original owners. Just seemed like a thing an intelligent parasite would do. Steal alien technologies.

After all, man was sometimes just as parasitic. We tended to steal things from others and call it our own as well. And we were a race of beings. Not a walking bacteria.

Once I was all suited up, I boarded the plane. I was ready to go in. I was ready to do what I had been asked to do.

But this time, I was armed with their weapons and was protected by their armor. This time, I was testing their technologies against them if I needed to. And I hoped I did.

“What’s our destination?” I asked the pilot.

“The aliens have expanded their zone,” she began, “so I cannot drop you at the airport where we dropped you the last two times. I can’t get you anywhere near the ship now.”

“What does this mean?” I queried.

“I have to drop you at the abandoned airport in Canton,” She responded, “and you will have to journey the rest of the way either on foot or by stolen automobile.”

“Ah,” I smiled at her, “I get to hotwire a ride. Hope someone left their Harley so I can travel in style.”

“Meet me back at the Canton airport in four days’ time,” she admonished, “and we’ll head back to HQ.”

“Will do,” I replied.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 9: Back Into Hell

I was flown to the abandoned airport near Washington, DC again. This time, I was armed with the crossbow and two wireless bugs and several relays. The bugs were to be planted in the air ducts of the alien ship. The relays were meant to be attached to the now idle cell towers that dotted the landscape in between.

I knew that my return to base would be slow, but I didn’t care. perhaps I could glom onto a semi, trailer and all, and abscond with the food that was now sitting abandoned in the stores that lay on my path home. I kind of wished that I had been allowed an assistant so he could glom onto a fuel truck, but I understood why they refused to take the chance.

We knew absolutely nothing about the aliens. How they gained control of their human supplicants. How they detected their victims.

All we knew was that they could not sense me. I did not exist to them. I could slip in on them without warning and leave behind whatever I was asked to leave.

It made me the perfect spy. The perfect thief. And the perfect assassin.

I took aim at the guard the aliens had left to deter me from doing my job. rather than use a large bolt, I opted for the small dart gun on my arm.

the dart hit its target and injected the virus, then disappeared. Perfect hit. The alien guard slapped the back of its neck.

I wondered how the malaria parasite would affect the alien. How quick would it take? What symptoms would be the first to develop, if any? Would it spread through the collective as it did with humans? Or would it ride their psionic connection?

I watched as the alien suddenly collapsed without warning. Interesting. I had not seen that coming.

I slipped into the ductwork of the ship unseen. Unsensed. Unhampered.

It would take time for them to discover their comrade. By then, I would be gone and the bugs would be planted. Hell. I would probably be to my next destination.

I quietly made my way to the conference room. I had but one mission here. I didn’t need any weapons. I only had to plant the bugs.

I was soundless as I went. No need to alert them to my presence. No need to set off alarms.

I smiled. So far, so good. I corrected myself. No need to get cocky. Being cocky caused mistakes. Big mistakes.

***

I slid out of the ductwork on the other side of the ship. Both bugs were now in place and two aliens had succumbed to two different illnesses. I had been very effective.

I had successfully completed another mission. The aliens would never know that I had been there. Not unless they looked at the backs of their soldiers’ necks.

Did they have necks? What did they actually look like? would our cameras catch them as they were? Or as they appeared?

I would have to wait for those answers. Now, I had to make it to the first tower and attach the relay transponder. To do that, I would have to find a car or some automobile.

I was also getting hungry. I hadn’t eaten since I left the base. That had been ten hours ago.

As I slipped from shadow to shadow, I wondered how long it would take for the aliens to program a human to betray me. To help them see me. So far, I had been lucky and they suspected nothing.

But that would come to an end once they realized that I could assassinate them without being detected. I hoped they wouldn’t even try. I hoped that they refused to believe that their comrades had been killed by a human agent.

I hoped that they would believe that their soldiers had accidentally uncovered an old human weapon, some canister of gas, and had loosed whatever had been inside trying to discover what it was. Still, I knew better. Perhaps they might initially come to that conclusion, but they would figure it out at some point.

Then I would be a sitting duck. I would have to hide. I would no longer be able to spy for my own.

It could possibly spur them into finding a cure or vaccine compatible with their physiologies. Or maybe to create a better armor. One I would not be able to find the weakness of.

For now, The mission had been a success. I had proven that they were susceptible to human diseases. I had planted the bugs.

***

I arrived at the last tower and climbed to the top. It was after dark and I wanted to be done. I had spent six days on the road in a truck with two trailers. One was filled with diesel, the other was filled with food.

I had done well. Rather than use the fuel in the tanker, I stopped regularly and siphoned off gas from abandoned tanks at stations. Perhaps I would make more trips to gather more fuel. I didn’t know.

That was up to my superiors. All missions were. As long as I didn’t have to lead, I was happy following orders.

The road headed toward base was a lonely one. Empty. I could remember when the interstate was packed with cars and trucks.

But here we were. A third of the population had fallen into darkness. We were what was left.

We outnumbered them, sure. But we were still without weapons that could kill them outright. Bioweapons didn’t count.

They were dirty. Dangerous. Potentially lethal to us as well.

Their use had to be limited. We could never use them wholesale. It was too dangerous.

BUt what about nukes? We had precision nukes. One that could hit a predesignated target with a 90% accuracy. We also had ‘dirty’ bombs. But how effective would they be?

I placed the relay at the top of the tower, then climbed down. This part of my mission was now complete as well. I went to the truck and climbed in.

Time to head for base. Time to head for bed. And safety.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 8: Stolen Gems

I had been fortunate enough to steal ten sets of the alien armor as well as a dozen guns and assorted other weapons. The warcraft I had also stolen would offer an opportunity for the scientists to study and replicate alien technology. The video and audio gave us plenty to observe, but only the audio gave us anything definitive.

For instance, we knew that they planned to make us outlaws. Enemies of the state. And they believed we were dumb enough to fall for their trap.

They wanted us to give in without a fight. Become their slaves willingly. Something that was never going to happen.

“You did good, Jeff,” the head of our intel division asserted, “you got us audio of what they are planning.”

“I felt it was necessary,” I averred, “important. Something just told me to hit record at that point in time.”

“And well you did,” She nodded, “You’ve saved us all.”

“All in a day’s work,” I smiled.

“Now,” she admonished, “don’t get cocky. We don’t want you making a mistake and getting caught.”

“So,” I began, “What’s next?”

“First,” she started, “we allow the science and technology department to study the weapons and armor you brought us to see if they can replicate them. Same with the warcraft you stole. Once they are able to, we wait until they can build you both. Then, we send you out on more recon missions since you are the only one thay seem to not see.”

“And the video of that poor man?” I inquired.

“we will study it to see what is happening,” she sat back, “then, we will run over it with you. We may need you to-plant a few bugs for us.”

“Not hard to do,” I shrugged, “as long as I don’t have to go and blend in.”

“No,” she smiled, “nothing like that. more….ductwork, though.”

“I see,” I nodded, “stealth work.”

“pretty much,” she giggled, “but no theft.”

“See if Tech can design a sniper rifle using the alien guns,” I suggested, “when I have to take on out, I don’t want them to see it coming.”

“Will do,” she promised, “but for now, you will have a crossbow with special bolts.”

“Intriguing,” I uttered, “able to penetrate their armor?”

“of course,” she winked, “and some will carry certain viruses and infectious bacteria in tranq-dart configuration.”

“Chemical warfare,” I mused.

“Yes,” She admitted, “everything from sarin and anthrax to the plague and typhoid.”

“That’s quite a wide range of infectious diseases,” I remarked.

“Perhaps they will spread it through their own community. And their slaves,” she suggested, “though there is a slight risk of it spreading back to us.”

“As always,” I nodded.

***

Cheyenne Mountain became our temporary home. As a bunker, it was somewhat safer than our other options at this point.

We were met by the commander of NORAD.

“You’re trespassing on US military property,” He warned.

“There is no US military,” I responded, “and no nations of the world. There is just us and you. We represent what is left of the world population.”

“What the fuck happened out there?” He demanded.

“Our governments were taken over by the aliens,” I informed him, “there is no longer a president, VP, or Congress. Even the Supreme Court is gone. All are now under the control of the aliens.”

“And the military?” He was hesitant.

“Those who were near the ship are either prisoners or enslaved,” I answered, “Those still on the bases retreated to our location in Iowa and regrouped. It was upon their suggestion that we headed here for safety.”

“Damn,” he breathed, “I was wondering why there had been no word from Washington.”

“The religious leaders of the world gave up without a fight,” I stated, almost as if I had read his thoughts, “and they bowed in reverence to the illusion cast by the invaders.”

“Fucking idiots,” he scowled.

“We have intel that they will be passing laws,” our intel chief began, joining us, “to coax all resistance in peaceably. They will be outlawing resistance.”

“The hell they will,” he seethed, “who collected the intel?”

“I did, sir,” I responded, “since I don’t exist to them, I can slip aboard their ship. I also stole some of their weapons and armor. And a warcraft.”

“Then,” he smiled, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t remain our chief spy.”

“It’ll be an honor, sir,” I saluted.

“For Christsakes!” He exclaimed, slurring Christ and sakes into a single word. “At ease, soldier.”

“We’ll be sending him back in as soon as Tech is finished examining and replicating the alien technologies, adapting them for human use.”

“Good, good,” he nodded, “and what will his mission be?”

“To plant a video and audio bug above both the meeting room he recorded the discussions on trying to coax us in over and above the lan he brought video feed from.”

“The purpose?” He was curious.

“We want to get a closer look at the headbands on the leaders,” She averred, “for one. And for another, we wish to learn exactly what was going on in that laboratory.”

“Very good,” he nodded, “we need to collect all the intel data we can.”

“I suggest that you put out a coded message for all military still out to collect here,” I advised.

“I agree,” he smiled, “and will do so immediately. We’ll try to connect up with Ghost Lake, Groom Lake, and a few other unmarked bases.”

He ushered us inside.

“Unfortunately,” he began, “we aren’t designed to house so many people. We’re only capable of handling 800. Not…” He gestured to our group.

“We understand that,” our intel chief averred, “but, perhaps, we can…expand the facility. Eventually.”

“We were thinking,” he nodded, “that we should go deeper and run tunnels and even, perhaps, creating a city under the mountain.”

“We might even be able to hide the city under the mountain range itself,” one of the men in our group stepped forward, “a few of us are former miners, mudjackers, and sandhogs. I think some of us could even secret the equipment west from the coast.”

“Once enough of a military presence is here,” the general looked at him, “we will see to that mission. You will need cover.”

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 7

7.

 

“We are very pleased with you, Billy,” the head elder praised, “you have restored water to our planet of origin and possibly life.”

“Sirs,” he fidgeted uncomfortably, “if I may be permitted to speak.”

“Go ahead,” the elder nodded.

“I hesitate to agree with your desire to recolonize the planet,” he responded, “as the risk of there being a repeat of all that came to pass there is too great.”

“Oh?” The elder was now intrigued. “Is there evidence of the incident not being unique?”

“In many ways,” he nodded, “yes. Not that I have definite proof, but…”

“But you saw something that made you believe,” the elder finished for him.

“Yes,” he nodded again, “there is a massive wall like structure, something that looks man made, that stretches the length of the ocean basin we were first in.”

“An interesting anomaly,” the elder agreed, “one that makes me inclined to agree that mass resettlement may not be a viable option.” the elder peered at him. “So what is your solution?”

“We make Earth an animal sanctuary where wildlife can roam free,” he voiced, “and place a small scientific crew to oversee the sanctuary.”

“Interesting idea,” the elder smiled, “and is there more to this?”

“Yes,” he admitted, “we can clean up the lunar colony, tear down the original as it would be…unusable….then build a hostel or resort in its place where visitors who go to view animals in the wild can stay while there.”

“This is your project, Billy,” the elder announced, “we grant you permission to do all that you have suggested. But you must wait for at least eight days.”

“That is eighty Earth years,” he beamed, “correct?”

“Well,” the elder chuckled, “close enough to. It is about 400 Earth years. Long enough for the forests you planted to grow. Long enough for the climate to return to as close to normal as possible.”

“Thank you, sirs,” he bowed.

“You’re welcome, Billy,” the elder answered, then bent closer, “and you will be placed as management of this new sanctuary.”

***

“So what did they say?” His mother asked.

“They loved the sanctuary suggestion,” he bubbled happily, “and I am to be manager!”

“I am proud of you, son,” she smiled, “you have finally become an adult. Being given a charge is a sign that the elders see you as an adult. I believe the mission you were given was their test for you.”

“So I am to pick the science team?” He looked at her.

“Yes, son,” she nodded, a tear coming to her eye, “choose well.”

“What about those who have been caring for the animals in the preservation zoo?” He inquired.

“You will have to ask them if they would be interested,” she suggested, “but they would do as a starting point.”

“And you?” He pressed.

“I can only offer technical support,” she responded, “nothing more.”

“But we work so well together,” he objected.

“Yes,” she nodded, “but you need to find others you can work with. Others not of family.”

“Very well,” he was disappointed, “I shall. Wish you could go.”

“Son,” she began, “I have had my fill of Earth. It was a beautiful planet, but I do not want to live there. This is your destiny. Your opportunity to shine. Go. take hold of it and do not let go.”

“I will miss you,” he sniffed.

“And I, you,” she smiled sadly, “but I always knew that this day would come.”

“You always knew that I would leave?” He was surprised.

“We all must leave at some time,” she nodded, “and I knew that you were marked for greatness. Greatness that would not include me.”

“But,” he objected, “this was never the way I intended it to be!”

“It never is,” she shrugged, “especially when fate takes a hand in things.” She looked at him. “You were always destined to go back. From the first trip we took, that was to be your path. There was nothing I could do to stop it.”

“Couldn’t you have said something?” He inquired.

“No,” she confirmed, “it would have made you want it more. You would have pushed harder. And it would have driven you away from me more violently.

“I had to allow you to do as your destiny demanded. It was more natural. This is what is meant to be. Embrace it.”

“What of you?” He persisted.

“I will still be here,” she affirmed, “and I shall come and visit. Do not worry. And you may have a brother or sister. It is the way these things go.”

***

Billy selected a team. The conservation team agreed to accompany the animals to Earth and to remain there to study and preserve life in a more natural setting. The conservancy cubes were loaded into the largest ship he had ever seen. 

“What shall we call our ship?” Anders, the bug cat overseer, inquired.

“How about The Ark?” He asked, somewhat jokingly.

The Ark,” the scientist mused, “good enough for me.”

“Let’s get loaded up,” he looked at Anders.

“Yes,” the scientist nodded, “let us.”

Billy entered the ship with the science team. He stopped at the hatch and took one last look around. It would be the last time any of them would see Home.

They lifted off after the last conservancy cube had been loaded. The small loading/offloading crew remained aboard. They would return the ship after all was offloaded. 

That had been how he had set things up. They would load and unload the ship, then return Home with the empty ship. He would remain on Earth with the scientists.

He smiled sadly. In a flash, they would be over Earth. There, they would off load the animals according to their original continent. The Americas. Eurasia. Africa. Australia. 

The islands would receive their animals last. There would be fewer to offload. Fewer to get mixed up.

Behind them. A second ship lifted off. This one was loaded with a cleaning and colonizing crew. The lunar colony would be small, just enough to maintain the hostel. 

Their project would be the most important. It would establish a resort where people could stay while visiting the preserve known as Earth. It would ensure that there was little to no contamination of the preserve.

***

The Ark lifted off from Earth and vanished. Its departure symbolized the last chance of leaving the planet. Billy blinked away the tears.

What had begun as a research project had become his life’s work. He was now fully invested in returning Earth to its former splendor. There was no turning back.

He turned away from where the ship had been and vanished into the primal jungle. He would roam the forests and jungles from this point on.  

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 6

6.

 

He had found the same promise of hope at each capped source. Grass had begun to grow where the water had made a wet spot. The discovery gave him such hope.

It showed him that life could return to the planet. Life would return. That meant that once the caps were destroyed, the atmosphere would return to what it had been before humanity poisoned it.

The rains would return. The plant life would spring back to life. Verdant forests and lush prairies would grow.

He hoped that the elders reconsidered their idea of resettlement. He would rather they return the creatures of Earth back here to roam free. Yes, Earth would be best as an animal sanctuary.

Humanity had its new home. It really did not need to return here. They did not need to risk returning to what they had been.

If they wanted to colonize, they should look outward from where they were now. Not back toward where they had been. No need to revisit the past.

Not permanently, anyway. The animals could have Earth once they were repopulated in their respective regions. Humanity could come back and visit, leaving it as they found it.

Not that it would be hard. They no longer hunted for pleasure or even for food. They no longer had the need.

Perhaps they would have to cull the population in order to keep illness down. Then, again, maybe they wouldn’t perhaps illness was nature’s way of doing just that.

He could only hope that the elders would listen. The planet was going to be pristine. Untouched.

At least once every seed had grown and all animal life returned to its rightful place. And once the oceans were filled and once more teeming with life. Why spoil it?

Humanity had destroyed it once. There was no need in risking it happening again. Not after so much work to restore it.

Perhaps they could replace the colony on the moon and use it as a hostel where they could stay when visiting Earth. They could also clean up Mars and recolonize there.

He would recommend this as more feasible. He would push for the idea of Earth as a nature preserve. A sort of open zoo where the animals roamed free in their own environment.

The only permanent human inhabitants would be those sent to ensure each region’s animals’ full return to wildness. The keepers. They could close down the preservation zoos they had set up on Home permanently.

He smiled. It was a grand plan. He just hoped that the elders would agree.

***

He placed explosives on the last cap. He was finally done setting the charges. It had taken three months, but now they could free the water.

He grinned with satisfaction. Every seed had been planted. Every cap was ready to be blasted. 

“Are we ready, mother?” He asked into his communicator.

“For what?” His mother returned.

“I just set the last explosives,” he responded, “are we ready for mass blasting?”

“Did you remember to place the wireless remote detonators?” She pressed.

“Yes,” he averred, “and made sure that the explosives were just enough to destroy the caps, but not enough to damage anything else.” 

“Then,” she admitted, “we are ready just as soon as you are back in the ship and we are airborne.”

“Then,” he stated, “I am on my way in.”

“Any special requests?” She inquired.

“Turn on the external audio sensors,” he suggested, “I want to hear what it sounds like after the caps are blasted.”

“Very well,” she sighed, “the audio sensors will be on.”

“I’m headed back in,” he concluded, “no time to waste.”

“The hatch is open,” she averred, “just hover right in.”

“Thank you,” he stated, “I will.”

He sped to her location.  He had no time to lose. They had to get to a high enough altitude that the mists of the roaring waters did not dampen their ship and cause contamination. They also had to go above the planet and deploy the relay net so that the simultaneous detonation could take place. 

He hovered into the cargo bay of the ship. Getting out of the rover, he made his way to the bridge.

“We need to release the relay net,” he stated, “so we can finish up.”

“Let us get into high orbit,” his mother responded, “that should do the trick.”

***

The relay net was a remote operated retractable device that expanded to whatever size was needed. They would expand it completely for use, then allow it to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. It would not cause any harm to the planet.

Once it was deployed, they reentered the atmosphere and hovered low enough to capture any sound that might emerge after the detonations. And waited. 

The detonations barely registered as more than a distant pop. A soft, but growing roar followed as the waters were suddenly released. They watched on the monitor as the waters washed over the parched ground, flooding over the newly planted seeds.

It was a beautiful sight. He thrilled at the thunder of the water as it flooded forth. The sound of nature at her most pure. Most violent.

Even his mother was enthralled by the sight and sound. It was the first time he had ever seen her speechless. He smiled.

“So,” she finally gathered enough courage to speak, “this is what the elders wanted you to do?”

“Yes,” he nodded, “though I am not so certain we should recolonize.”

“Is that their intention?” She frowned.

“It was one of the possibilities, yes,” he admitted, “though not the only one.”

“What would you do?” She pressed.

“I would turn Earth into a sanctuary for the animals currently kept in the preservation zoos,” he responded, “with minimal human contact. And almost no human population…just a small number of scientists to oversee the welfare of the preserve. We could…have hover tours to keep contact to a minimum and a hostel on the moon to stay at when visiting.”

“So,” she rubbed her chin, “you’re against recolonization?”

“Yes,” he nodded again, “I am. Why colonize when we can always search elsewhere for suitable planets? What if recolonization sets off the chain of events that originally caused us to leave the planet in the first place? What if we recolonize and end up finally destroying the planet?”

“I see your point,” she averred, “and agree. The risk is too great.”

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 5

5.

 

Bones littered the plateau. Shattered remains of buildings, glass stripped by fire and explosions, stood like stark sentries above what had been New York City. A blob of oxidized copper sat where a once grand statue had once stood.

The bridge was still there, but riddled with holes. Crumbling. Unusable.

Empty shells that were once cars sat, littering the streets. Skeletons sat within, sightless and uncaring. Sands had begun to reclaim the streets. 

It was a nightmare landscape. Something out of his nightmares. How he wished he could turn back. 

But he had a mission to complete. In a way, he was breaking the rules at the behest of the elders. He was attempting basic terraforming by reintroducing once native species back into the ecosystem.

The only difference was that he was taking the natural path, not using machines to do the work. All he had to do was find the source of the problem where the rivers were concerned. What was keeping them from flowing? 

Had the source springs dried up? Had they become clogged? Or maybe buried?

Had the same happened to the tributaries? Or had the aquifers been drained? Or had the problem been manmade?

He knew that the aquifers had not gone dry, but too many questions flooded in. He felt somewhat lost. He had admission to complete, but no idea where to begin. 

He sighed. He would begin at the big lakes at what had been the ancient border of Canada and the United States. He would do some scratchings there as well. In each lake bed. 

He hoped that he could turn things around. He hoped he could return waters to this rock somehow. Even a little bit of water flowing could restart the ecosystem. It could get the rains to begin again. 

Yes. He would have to get a little water trickling out of the ground. Just enough to restart the rains. Once the rains started, the rivers, tributaries, lakes and oceans would fill up over time. 

The seeds he was planting would grow. And maybe long dormant seeds hidden beneath the sands. With that growth, the atmosphere would heal more. 

The cycle would continue. Rain, growth, oxygenation…perhaps his actions would bring on more seasons. Perhaps spring and fall would return to separate summer and winter.

He smiled as he thought of what his actions could bring. A renewal. A rebirth.

It could also bring on catastrophe. But that was a remote risk. Something the elders felt necessary to see if Earth could be revived.

***

The scratchings and corings done in the lake beds had yielded moisture. Water had come bubbling up from two holes left after core samples had been taken. Puddles had soon spread, forcing Billy to abandon each lake bed. 

He smiled. Water was to be found. And at this rate, he might be able to return a decent ecosystem to this planet. 

“Water in all four large lake beds,” he reported to home base, “perhaps this planet isn’t as barren as we were led to believe.”

“That’s a positive thing,” his mother began, “isn’t it?”

“A very positive thing,” he confirmed, “has the oozing water a few clicks from you begun to build to anything?”

“So far,” she returned, “not that I can see. But the location is quite a distance from me, so it could have become a bigger stream. In this salt desert, it’ll be hard to see much difference until a lake forms…or a river.”

“True,” he averred, “just keep watching. If it does show signs of change, or the water gets too close, go ahead and move to a plateau.”

“Alright,” she answered, “and I will be sure to relay my new location to you.”

“If I happen upon something manmade and believe it will pose a threat to you,” he continued, “something I have to break, for instance, I will contact you and tell you to move the ship.”

“Alright,” she stated.

Shutting down the communicator, he went back to work. First, he would travel to the north. Check the rivers there.  He would plant the seeds as he went. Forests and grass would grow once more here.

“Moving to the slope,” his mother reported, “for a better view of what is below.”

He switched his communicator back on.

“East? He inquired. “Or west?”

“West,” she replied, “why?”

“Just for reference,” he stated, “the west slope is closest. The east would give me further to travel.”

“Oh,” she responded.

***

Humanity had been stupid. They had capped all the source springs of all the major rivers and tributaries. They had literally stopped the flow of all lifegiving water. All in their greed.

Perhaps they had thought that they were conserving. Or maybe it had been an act of war. Or malice. Or greed.

He believed it had probably been the last. Or maybe a combination of malice, war, and greed. And maybe not in that order.

Whatever their reason, they had killed the Earth. After capping the rivers and tributaries, the rains had stopped. When the rains stopped, crops wouldn’t grow. And starvation set in.

By all appearances, they had forgotten that they had capped these sources. Wouldn’t surprise him. Humanity had not been that smart.

They had always been making war for no reason. Hating for even less. And their greed had been horrible.

They had stopped caring about each other. Only money mattered. Not life. Not equality.

And their politics had reflected that. Their hate. Their greed. Their lack of compassion.

But so had their religions. All of them. None of their religions had taught compassion or love.

Both had been their downfall. Both had brought on their extinction. Their end.

Looking at the cap before him, Billy noticed something. It had begun to deteriorate. Just a little.

Where the water slowly oozed from the cap, a small damp spot had appeared and grass had grown in that spot. A ghost in the ruins. The promise of returned life.

He had enough explosives to blow every cap he found. The problem was, how to handle the simultaneous demolition of every cap on the planet. He turned his communicator back on.

“I have a problem,” he announced.

“What kind of problem?” His mother inquired.

“I have found the source of the problem,” he returned, “but it will take weeks to set up all the explosives for a synchronized demolition.”

“Demolition of what?” she pressed.

“The fools capped all sources going to all rivers and tributaries,” he sighed, “all will have to be blown so that the rivers can all run free.”

“Is that within the parameters of your mission?” She was alarmed at his inference of interference in the natural order of things.

“The caps are all man made,” he responded, “if we destroy them, we return the natural balance and set the rivers free. Is it interference if we return things to their natural order?”

“Well, no,” she allowed, “but…”

“I was told to do whatever it took,” he reassured her, “as long as it restored balance and did not use machines to artificially create anything. Blasting the caps off the source springs successfully fulfills that mandate.

“The problem is that we will likely have to go to every continent and island and set charges…which is time consuming. That means we will be here a while. That is, if we want to do this right.”

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 4

4.

 

Beyond the sixth coring site, he came upon the rusted hulk of a submarine. Had the inhabitants survived? Or had they died?

Curious, he approached it. It was as big as he had believed it would be. No matter. He could still get in.

A simple adjustment to his utility belt and he was at the top. He studied the hull as he rose. It was remarkably preserved for something that should have been rusted away.

But then, there had been no moisture since it came to rest here. No rain. Nothing.

He inspected the sealed hatch. The lock was still intact. Almost as if no one had exited the machine.

That meant that all were possibly still in there. Were they alive? Or had they died?

He shook his head. They couldn’t be alive. These machines had not been built with hydroponic chambers for extended use. They had been intended to remain at sea for short periods.

Once out of food, they would have returned to base to get more. They possibly changed crews at that point as well. Or received new orders and ordinance.

He popped the hatch. A putrid odor rose from the bowels of the machine. The smell of death and staleness.

He touched another button and a bubble popped up around his head. A filter would be needed for exploration here. Something to filter toxins.

He descended into the bowels of the submarine. As he did so, he noticed that some of the lights were still blinking weakly. There was still energy enough stored here to keep the lights going. That was good.

Bodies were strewn everywhere. The mummified remains told him a tale of being trapped within this machine for decades longer than they had intended. Maybe longer.

He sought out what he believed would be the captain’s quarters. He needed to find the log. Or whatever the final moments would be recorded in.

He needed to know what happened. How it happened. And why.

Anything that could help prevent future mistakes. Or future wars. And anything that could add to the incomplete histories the elders currently had.

***

The captain, or what he took to be the captain, sat at a desk in one of the compartments. A stained book lay open before him, his dead, empty eyes staring at the ceiling. In his hand was a stylus of some sort. To one side sat a strange computer so compact that it folded easily.

So unlike the current technology, Billy thought to himself. Now, computers were little more than crystals that projected digital workpads. They saved so much room and used so much less energy.

The data on the old foldable computer would have to be extracted and digitized. After, it would have to be transferred to a crystal all its own. Just as the book before the captain would have to be digitized and placed on a crystal.

Still, the work couldn’t be avoided. The data was important. As was the video feed streaming back to the ship. 

He had switched on his video button when he entered the submarine. He had wanted a record of his entry into this massive machine. He had wanted to record all he saw.

He had not expected things to be so grim. But then, he wasn’t sure exactly what he had expected. Or why.

He had known that no one could have survived in one of these tubs for thousands of years with nothing to eat. And it was very apparent that they had starved to death. Or those who were still in one piece had. 

The rest had become food for the others. Perhaps, because of this cannibalism, the rest had succumbed to poisoning as the rest may have died of illnesses. At least that was how it appeared. 

He took samples from each corpse. Perhaps the samples would tell him what had ended their lives. He only hoped that he didn’t end up freeing some contagion.

From what he could tell, the engineering crew had been the first to be sacrificed. Perhaps they had been the first to die. Or maybe the first to fall ill.

He knew that in situations of dire need, in those times, the ill and the weak generally ended up the first to serve the needs of the rest. It was a disgusting fact in primitive humanity’s past. It amazed him that humanity had survived.

Man had been such a horrid creature in his primitive form. So selfish. So filled with hate and violence. So quick to eat his own in times of need.

He was glad that humanity no longer had need of physical sustenance. It seemed such a distant unnatural thing. So foreign.

He made it to ordinance. Or what he believed to be ordinance. He checked for radiation. 

There was none. The uranium used in the warheads had finally degraded beyond danger levels. The radiation levels in the engine room had proven to be below danger levels as well, though there had been signs of a leak. 

Nuclear power had been such a primitive form of propulsion. Most of it was what was called fission reaction. Splitting atoms to make energy. 

The Savior, the man who had helped the peaceful escape and who had started the colonies, had used what was called cold fusion reaction. Creating energy by fusing atoms in a cold environment. At least that was how he understood the concept.

***

A few clicks away from the submarine sat another ship. This time, it was a surface ship. One the ancients had called an aircraft carrier.

It was huge. Like a massive city that had once floated on the waves. And as it was just sitting there on the bottom, seemingly settling in an upright position, it was even more impressive.

Unlike the submarine, the aircraft carrier had begun to oxidize and the sheeting seemed a bit eroded. Still, it was in fairly good shape. He nodded. He would explore.

Instead of seeking entrance at the lower level, he decided to hover to the top, to the tarmac and explore from top to bottom.

Bones littered the tarmac. Deteriorating aircraft also littered the top deck. Standing at the far end of the top deck, he could see a seabed littered with planes. And other ships. Cruisers. Destroyers. And even one that looked oddly like what had been described as a commercial cruise ship. 

Apparently, they had run our of fuel. All of them. He shook his head sadly.

He didn’t have time to investigate the other ships. Nor did he want to. As it was, he was wasting valuable time exploring this one.

He felt, though, that he should. Maybe there was a similar journal here. Something to corroborate the other one from the sub.

Floor by floor, he walked the corridors and the cavernous lower levels. None had survived and much of the ordinance was harmless. There was even evidence of the same fate as those on the sub. 

A tear came to his eye. It was such a sad way to go. The torture of deciding who to sacrifice. The slow agony of death as it closed in.

Again, he had turned on his video feed. Once again, all was recorded. He climbed back into his rover and turned off the video feed.

He would head on to the plateau once known as North America. There, he would plant the seeds he had been instructed to plant. After, he would seek out the mysterious reason why the rivers suddenly dried up.

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 3

3.

 

Home was fifty light years from Earth but the most current technology could bend time so that one could land on Earth in the same moment in time that they left Home. They could remain in the present even if the space in time was vast.

He chuckled. Ancient humanity would have claimed that the technology was impossible. But they, his more recent ancestors, had come to realize that nothing was ever impossible. Ancient quantum physics, and ancient astrophysics for that matter, had been rudimentary. Incomplete. Biased enough to ensure that truth seemed to be the impossibility.

Even time travel was accessible now. One could go to almost any point in the past and, remaining beyond the continuum so as not to be seen, observe events of the past. Yet none had attempted it. Not past a few years.

He wondered if he would be given a pass for that as well, once he was done with this mission. He wanted to find out what had really happened. Who had started what? Or had it been a natural disaster?

He also wanted to know what the true origin of the long held religion really was. Had it been a single man? Or had it been something simply made up?

He was full of questions. How did man begin? How did he advance to where he had been when the schism occurred? What had been the origin of that schism? Had it been founded in truth? Or just another lie?

He had so many questions. So many things he wanted to discover. But at the moment, he had to finish the mission the elders had given him. After, he might convince them to allow the other.

“Two minutes until we enter Earth’s atmosphere,” his mother stated, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“Did we remember the rover?” He inquired.

“Yes,” she assured him, “and the packs you were told to bring. I just don’t understand why I have to remain with the ship.”

“The elders talked that they might be transmitting more orders,” he shrugged, “and someone has to be aboard to upload the data I send through com.”

“Oh,” she frowned, “and what was with all those packs?”

“Just something the elders wanted me to do,” he smiled, “nothing to worry about.”

“Not worried,” she sighed, “just seems to be an awful lot of secrecy surrounding this mission.”

“I will probably be gone for a few days, so will have to send data through com,” he explained, “someone is needed here to upload it to the crystals so that it is ready for transmission to Home. No real secrecy. No mystery. 

“I am simply to do my experiments on my own. Nothing more. It was the instructions I was given by the elders.”

“Oh,” she nodded, finally satisfied, “OK.” She paused. “Be careful.”

“I will, mother,” he smiled, “no worries.”

***

What had once been oceans were now deep cavernous deserts. There was no life to be seen. Nothing to hint of the once vibrant world that Earth had once been.

Instead, a swelteringly dry wind met any who entered the desolate world that remained. Billy wondered if the plateaus that had been the continents and islands offered anything cooler. He hoped so.

He would be working up there soon enough. That had been where he had been instructed to plant the seeds. That had also been where he had been told to explore. 

There had been no settlements in the oceans. Nothing but great underwater war machines known as submarines. And even those had their limits where depth was concerned.

He was sure that he would come across some of these strange machines but he doubted if there was any left alive within. After all, there was no food. Nothing to survive on.

At least not where primitive humanity was concerned. Modern humanity no longer needed sustenance. They no longer needed anything remotely resembling food. 

Knowledge fed them. Understanding. Empathy. Wisdom.

Billy studied his surroundings. The trenches were off limits. They were nothing but fiery pits spewing lava.

He smiled. He would travel just out of his mother’s line of sight before making his first test for water. After scratching for water in a few places, he would head for what had once been the Americas.

He was glad that the rover had hover capabilities. It was sort of like a small flying saucer, though not enclosed and mostly empty so that cargo could be stored within. His little cockpit was just big enough for one.

“Am I out of your line of sight yet?” He called back to his mother.

“Yes,” she answered, “and I do not like it. But you have your instructions, so I must accept even if I do not agree.”

“Alright,” He began, “I will do my first scratching here.”

“Alright,” she returned, “ready for data transfer.”

He stopped his rover. He could not see the ship. Good. 

He got out of the rover and dug in the cargo hold for the instruments needed. Finding his core tapper, he walked a short distance and pushed it into the sandy soil as deep as he could. He would be taking six of these cores in his attempt to scratch for water.

***

On the sixth coring, water began to ooze – almost unnoticeably – from the ground. But he had noticed and was thrilled. It meant that the planet wasn’t completely dry. Or completely dead.

He gathered some of the water for analysis. He wanted to see if there were minerals in it. Or if it was completely sterile.

He hoped that this was not a fluke. That would be a horrible thing. It would also mean that this whole trip was for naught.

He hoped to find an answer to what had caused this. Surely humanity hadn’t drank up all the water. Nor had the water simply dried up. Or had it?

So many mysteries. So many strange things that didn’t make sense. He shook his head.

Even with the greenhouse gases that ancient humanity had caused, this was not a plausible end. Poisoned water, yes. Extreme heat, yes. But not total loss of water.

So what had happened? Had their nuclear warfare caused the waters to be stopped up? Had their greed caused all the rivers’ sources to be tapped and capped? 

Nothing here made much sense. There was nothing to indicate exactly what had happened. Not like the colonies on the moon or on Mars.

All on Mars had died from some bacterial plague. The source of the bacteria was unknown. Wherever it had come from, it had spread rather rapidly. 

There was incomplete evidence that the bacteria had been indigenous to the planet. But nothing solid. No evidence could be found to corroborate what the colonists had recorded. 

The catastrophe that had been the lunar colonies was horribly evident. Space debris, most likely a small asteroid, had destroyed the protective bubble and allowed the artificial atmosphere to escape quicker than the machines could create it. Space dust and stellar radiation damaged the machines beyond repair. 

The end result was the death of all within. The investigations into the scene had proven it. He found himself tearing up at the thought.