Martian language and measurements have been translated to English and Imperial System of Units, for earthly comprehension purposes.
Androse watched helplessly, as the asteroid barreled towards Mars. “Isn’t there anything we can do?” he asked.
Mandera wrapped is two left arms around his son and sadly replied, “We’ve done all we could. The rest is left to God.”
A tear ran down Androse’s face, as his voice cracked, “I don’t want to die.”
The urge for Mandera to hold his son until the end was tempting, but there was still work to do. “Go home to your mother, son. I’m sure she’s frightened. Having you there will be a great comfort for her.”
Reluctantly, he left his father’s side and walked back home, leaving his Mandera behind.
As soon as Androse disappeared around the corner, Mandera dashed to his lab and when he entered, he found Bango tallying numbers on his adding machine. “What’s the status?” Mandera blurted out.
Unfettered by Mandera’s attitude, he answered, “The calculations look good and with a little luck, we’ll be able to land the rocket on Earth.”
Mandera wasn’t happy with this news. “What do you mean, a little luck?”
“I’m afraid with the Great Moon orbiting Earth, there’s no way I can accurately calculate if its gravity will deflect our rocket or not.”
Thirty-four million miles. The distance the rocket had to travel was unimaginable, even without interference. But from the beginning, he knew the Great Moon was going to be an unavoidable hazard. “Any chance we can further minimize the risk?”
Bango shook his head. “The calculations are good as they’re going to get.”
“Then, I guess we’ve got no choice. Ready the payload.”
A few clicks on the control panel and a snap of a switch, Bango was finished. “Do you think it’s going to work? Earth’s atmosphere is composited mostly of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.”
“Maybe so,” uttered Mandera, “but unlike our neighboring planets, it does have an enormous amount of water, making it by far the logical choice.”
Since the moment the asteroid’s deadly orbital track was discovered, Mars’ greatest astronomers had attempted to deviate its course, but in the end, their efforts turned out to be in vain. During that time, Mandera had been collecting simple organisms known to be resilient to carbon poisoning and manipulated their DNA to be volatile and easy to adapt to a new environment. These specimens we’re sending to Earth will be able to break down water molecules and absorb oxygen from them. If the rocket lands in the ocean, we can create plant life on Earth. At least that’s what he reported to the Board of Science.
But Mandera was secretly trying to find a way to infuse Martian DNA into the simple lifeforms, in hope to create species which may one day evolve to creatures capable of thought and feelings. Though, the members of the board were men of science, they held on to the belief that God and only God could create life. Had the board members learned of Mandera’s true intent, they would have condemned him as a heretic and destroyed all his work.
So, behind closed doors, Mandera went through a list of possible species capable of traveling through space, surviving in Earth’s oceans, and can be infused with Martian DNA. Day after day, he continued testing, and at the end of each day, the list grew shorter. Finally, Mandera’s luck changed. He discovered the Philicratus, a microscopic cousin of shrimp, had met all the requirements.
When it came time to infuse the DNA, Mandera used his own to complete the process. When it was completed, he waited to see if it would be transferred to the Philicratus’ offspring. Miraculously, it had, and to their offspring as well. The hope was one day the shrimp would mutate and the Martian DNA would take hold, forcing evolution to commence. There was no doubt the creatures would not resemble those on Mars, but hopefully self-awareness and intelligence would develop on Earth.
Mandera knew the chances of any kind of success were slim at best. The distance between the planets, the gravity of Great Moon, the rocket striking water, and the ability of samples to survive in a hostile environment were a million to one. But even at those odds, the chances of surviving on Earth were better than those of surviving on Mars.
Mandera turned his attention back to Bango. “Are we ready to launch?”
“Twenty-two minutes to go, then everything is in God’s hands.”
“God’s hands,” laughed Mandera. “Look what’s about to happen to our planet. Were we in God’s hands, until he decided to drop us?”
“Don’t talk like that,” shouted Bango. “You know what the priests say. Just because we don’t understand what is happening, doesn’t mean there isn’t a good reason for it to be. Look, Mandera, we are doing something beyond ourselves and for a selfless reason. As our planet is dying, we are trying to create life in another. Why can’t you believe this is God’s plan?”
Mandera had no answer, so to deflect, he asked, “How much time now?”
A couple more clicks on the control panel and Bango answered, “A couple minutes. If you want, we can observe the launch from the window.”
“There’s no way I would want to miss the culmination of our work.” With that, Mandera joined Bango by the window. There, they stood silently, until a distant blast and blazing light rose from the horizon.
“That’s it, Mandera. Our part of this mission is completed.” He walked to his closet and put a coat on. “I don’t know about you, but I’m going home to be with my family. Good-bye and good luck.” With that, he left the office for the last time.
Moments later, Mandera headed for home as well. Bango and him may not always agree, but in this matter, there was no argument. When he arrived home, Androse and his wife, Marla greeted him affectionately.
“Honey, it’s wonderful that you’re home.” Fear began to grow on her face. “What are we going to do? All our neighbors are leaving for the caves nearby. Should we follow them?”
Mandera held her tightly. “There’s no sense in going anywhere. In a few hours, all life on Mars will be destroyed. As Bango reminded me today, our lives are in God’s hands.”
Androse tugged Mandera’s hand. “Should we pray, Dad? Maybe God will spare us.”
Since the day Mandera finished school, he had put his belief in God to the side and replaced it with science. Ritual prayers were forgotten, and science journals quickly littered his office. The only time he thought of God was when Androse would breach the subject. Now, in the end, he was reconsidering his position on the eternal.
Looking at Androse’s wondering eyes, he gently grasped his hand. “Today, you are the man of the house. If you could, would you lead us in prayer?”
Androse’s face glowed with pride. Embracing his mother’s hand with one of his own, he prayed his heart out, and when Androse was finished, he led them outside to watch the asteroid, as it plowed its way towards them.
As they stood gazing at the asteroid, the sky suddenly exploded into a blazing glare light and the ground shuttered violently shook, throwing everyone high in the air. A blast of heat erupted and spread across the land, vaporizing everything in its path. When it was over, thirty percent of Mars’ surface exploded into space taking most of its atmosphere. What was left was a remnant of the planet, covered in red dust. All evidence of life was eradicated.
Two-hundred days have passed since the last day celebrated on Mars. But on Earth, it was a day, like any other. The hue of the sky was a hazy orange. In the center of Pangea laid scorched ground ever starving for moister, and at the same time, hurricanes with wind speeds surpassing three-hundred miles per hour reaved havoc on the coastlines.
The moon gyrated so close to the earth’s surface, it ripped at its core, causing 9.5 level earthquakes, and forced tectonic plates to shift. These forces, ever so slowly, was tearing Pangea apart. Had there been any life to witness this destruction, they would have seen their world torn apart again and again.
But if he found himself looking skyward at the right time and the right place, he may have seen a streak of light tumbling towards the planet and crash in the ocean. Had he realized the significance of what had just witnessed, he might have uttered, “Let there be life.”
But there was no one, no life, until that first day on Earth.