Read The God Mars Book Two: Lost Worlds Online

Authors: Michael Rizzo

Tags: #mars, #military, #genetic engineering, #space, #war, #pirates, #heroes, #technology, #survivors, #exploration, #nanotech, #un, #high tech, #croatoan, #colonization, #warriors, #terraforming, #ninjas, #marooned, #shinobi

The God Mars Book Two: Lost Worlds (4 page)

BOOK: The God Mars Book Two: Lost Worlds
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“The surviving ETE personnel have maintained
terraforming operations that provide oxygen, water and hydrogen
fuel to support these groups. They have also erected an
electrostatic net over Melas and Coprates that maintains an almost
breathable atmosphere density and has moderated surface
temperatures—we will forward you our latest environmental data. The
ETE technicians’ efforts in this endeavor have been heroic, and all
of us owe our continued survival to them.

“While none of the survivor groups we have met has
expressed any desire for evacuation to Earth, I expect a number of
our own personnel would greatly appreciate relief as soon as is
practical. We would also greatly appreciate information from home—I
expect a lot has happened while we were sleeping. I can imagine the
last fifty years has been quite eventful.

“I will send along an updated personnel roster—if you
could send updates about our families, it would be greatly
appreciated.

“You have no idea how good it is to hear from you.
Awaiting your reply. End message and out…”

I have to stop and breathe. I’m still shaking.

“Nice job,” Matthew grants with a nod and a
smile.

“One for the history files,” Tru agrees.

“You smoothed the ETE issue nicely,” Matthew adds.
“You really are getting good at this.” I give him a nod, then get
to my feet.

“Attach that personnel roster, along with our survey
images of some of the colony sites—Shinkyo, Industry...” I tell
Anton. “No mission logs yet. I want to see how they respond to this
much. Send it ASAP.”

“Two minutes,” he promises eagerly.

I don’t feel like celebrating. Not yet.

“I’m going to need some coffee…”

 

The next communication comes at 02:05. We get video
this time: a low-rez and pixelly talking head. He’s tanned, with a
longish face and high cheekbones, military cropped hair behind a
high hairline, and the familiar lines of a crisp drab uniform.
Behind him like a halo is the familiar United Nations’ globe and
laurels on blue. I’m thinking he looks familiar, and I know why as
soon as he introduces himself:

“Melas Base, this is Brigadier General Jonathan
Richards, United Nations Global Peacekeeping Force. Colonel Ram,
Colonel Burke, Colonel Ava, Dr. Mann, I believe you knew my
grandfather, General Thomas Richards.” The voice that comes through
with him is not the same as the one that spoke previously: it’s
warmer, making the attempt at being at least professionally
personable. But he
does
look like our old UNACT SO, only
younger and less worn down by decades spent dealing with the likes
of us. “I requested this honor because of that connection, and I
hope I can provide you some personal reassurance that we are
aggressively working toward providing you material relief.

“We have received the files you sent and are
reviewing them now—what I have seen so far is truly incredible, so
expect to be bombarded with questions. I can pass you some initial
requests that you send along as much information you can about the
other survivor groups you have encountered, as well as whatever you
know about what progress the ETE technicians have been making,
especially in terms of any technological advancements. Your report
was also unclear about the circumstances surrounding the nuclear
detonations we detected.”

“So much for happy to hear from us,” Matthew
mutters.

“I didn’t think they’d just let me get away with
being vague,” I admit.

“As for what has been transpiring here,” Richards
continues evenly, “I don’t think I’m the one to explain it. I can’t
even address the decision to abandon rescue efforts—all that was
before my time. Just know that our priority is to get an accounting
of the situation from the ground and to send you supplies as soon
as we can get them assembled and launched. I regret that we haven’t
had much of a space program in the last several decades—our global
priorities had shifted elsewhere, as you will learn soon
enough.

“We will transmit the information you requested as
soon as it can be formatted for your receiver: The disposition of
your loved ones, recent news, and at least some kind of condensed
history of the last half century…

“I am very much looking forward to meeting you all in
person one day. I’m sorry to tell you that my grandfather passed
back in ’79, but he spoke of you often and with great respect. Be
assured that help
is
on the way. End message. Out.”

“So, why did he get the job of talking head again?”
Matthew cuts, shaking his head incredulously. “Did he actually tell
us anything?”

“Only that we’ve scared them maybe as much as we’ve
made them happy,” I consider. Then I chime to Anton: “Did we get
any attached files with that incoming?”

“Nothing sir,” he tells me with an edge of weary
disappointment. “Just the video clip.”

“Are we sure it’s authentic?” Matthew repeats his
earlier concerns, but this time with wry skepticism. “Thomas
Richards speaking
well
of us?”

“People always seem to say nice things even about
people they hated after they die, Colonel,” Rick answers him with
his best smartass grin. “Remember what a great president Dubya Bush
was at his funeral…”

I key up MAI for a reply video, this time just a shot
of my head.

“Melas Base to Earthside. This is Colonel Ram.
Looking forward to whatever you can send. Please keep us updated.
Will send our reports as soon as they can be compiled. Curious as
to why it took so long to receive a reply—we have been transmitting
for sixty days. Is there a problem receiving? Please advise.

“To General Richards: Hopefully we will indeed get to
meet in the flesh soon. End message. Melas Out.”

“And I’m going to assume you want it sent sans
attachments?” Anton asks conspiratorially.

“Transmit as is. I think it may take me some time to
get what they want composed,” I excuse dryly.

“This is just too weird,” Matthew sighs. “Exciting—at
least we got through. But still: Very weird.”

I look at Tru, who looks haunted, not excited at all
anymore.

“Something is really wrong,” she says shakily.

 

Carrying on a conversation that has indefinite pauses
(guaranteed to be at least nine minutes) between talking and
listening gets maddening almost immediately. I realize I can’t even
ask them to tell me when I should expect the next message because
I’d have to wait who-knows-how-long for an actual answer. Matthew
tries to make me feel better by telling me how much the delays
would drive him nuts if it was him trying to do the talking.

I doze off in my chair before the next message comes
through. Kastl has to wake me. Matthew has gone. Tru is asleep in
her own seat, and doesn’t stir despite the sudden activity. I can
barely see that it’s 05:30.

The face on the screens this time is not General
Richards. It’s a well-groomed and maternal-looking woman with a
warm smile, round olive features, big dark eyes, and black hair
pulled tight into some kind of bun. She wears what looks like a
gray business suit. The UN symbol is behind her.

“Greetings from Earth,” she begins like she’s making
a heartfelt but highly scripted speech. Tru stirs and opens her
eyes, sits up. “I am Bennezir Satrapi, Secretary General of the
United Nations. I cannot begin to express the elation the people of
this planet are feeling. All of our hopes and prayers are with you,
and I assure you that assistance will be arriving as soon as all of
our resources can make it happen.

“We have reviewed the files you sent us, and are
sending along some of the information that you have requested about
your families. More will be sent as it can be compiled. As for the
history since the Great Tragedy, there is a lot to explain, and I
expect it will be difficult.

“To begin, I expect you will not be surprised that
the United Nations Martian Affairs Council was disbanded back in
2072, seven years after the tragedy. The General Assembly is having
an emergency meeting later today to vote on its re-inception,
though I expect a new UNMAC will have quite a different focus than
the original.”

She takes a deep breath as if to gather herself
before continuing.

“I have seen your reports on what you have gathered
from your end about the Disc Drones’ role in the disaster. The
intelligence we were able to acquire—what is in the official
file—has only recently been declassified. However, while our
information corroborates your report that the Discs were indeed
responsible for firing the Ares’ Shield weapons platform, from our
perspective it did appear that the enemy had critically breached
several high-threat labs. What we failed to see was how effectively
colonial ground resistance had been in deflecting some of the
inbound nuclear devices. Once direct contact with our orbital
facilities and satellites was severed, all we had was long-range
telescopes, and analysis at the time indicated the devastation to
be as thorough as it was designed to be. When the initial signals
from a painfully few survivors went silent, and years of attempts
at contact met with no response, our hopes died.”

She pauses again, looks down at her hands.

“What you do
not
know is how complete the
devastation was beyond the surface of Mars. Not only were Ares
Station and Phobos Dock totally lost, but no fewer than twelve
ships in dock and entering orbit were destroyed with all hands. We
estimated orbital casualties at over thirty-two hundred souls. This
does not include personnel sent into orbit from your bases in
rescue attempts—we intercepted communications indicating that
several of those craft were destroyed or damaged by enemy fire, but
we cannot give you an accurate accounting due to interference from
the nuclear detonations.

“Only six transport shuttles managed to slingshot
back homeward, a maneuver they had to calculate and initiate under
fire and without refuel or resupply. Two of these failed to
course-correct accurately, and were lost to deep space—we could
only communicate with them helplessly while their life support ran
out. A third ship expired before reaching home. Five hundred and
forty nine people died of suffocation in the cold of the void. But
that is not the worst of it.

“We celebrated the miracle that three shuttles had
made it back to us against all odds. What we didn’t know was that
two of those ships had Discs attached to their hulls, waiting to
strike. They used our survivor ships as gun platforms, giving us
the horrible choice of firing on those who had beaten the odds—the
only apparent survivors of the Martian tragedy… The first volley
from the lead ship home destroyed the orbital docks as well as the
rescue shuttles sent to meet it. The Disc attached then crippled
its host vessel before engaging our defensive satellites, likely a
strategy to keep us occupied while the next ship moved into range.
We had hoped that there was only one compromised ship, so we gave
the pilots the go-ahead to approach. Our hope cost us critical
damage to the International Space Station, before the brave pilots
expended the fuel they had saved for docking to steer away. The
attached Disc destroyed itself and the ship when it realized it
could no longer effectively strike other targets. The final
ship—it’s pilots assuming it was also compromised—changed course
into a higher orbit to keep any Disc attached out of firing range
of critical targets, expending the last of its fuel. Upon satellite
examination, no Disc was detected—the ship was clean. But our
orbital resources had all been crippled or destroyed, and we had
nothing left that could reach that ship before their very limited
life support ran out. We listened to them die alone in space as
well.”

It takes her some moments to collect herself again. I
find I am impressed with her apparent candor and strength, but even
more by her ability to be so moved by events that probably happened
when she was too young to understand or remember.

“We sent probes almost immediately, but lost contact
with them as soon as they made orbit around Mars. We could only
assume that the Discs had met them. After that, there were heated
debates about whether we should send a military force, but we had
lost so many lives already, and there seemed to be no hope of
finding survivors—especially by the time we could reach you—that
public pressure came down against a military mission.

“I regret I cannot speak to the specific decisions
made; I was far too young to be truly aware of what was happening,
as were all of my generation that subsequently grew up in the
difficult aftermath of the disaster. The lessons of my childhood
were that we as a species had failed, had committed an unforgivable
sin, and that because of it, fifty-three thousand human beings did
not return—no one made it home, and hundreds more died in the hope
that someone would. We cannot even imagine what those times were
really like for our parents and grandparents, but they did shape
the world we live in now. I can only hope that, when you hear of
what we have done here in the last half century, that you will not
simply think us all cowards and economists for not returning to
Mars aggressively.

“As for the delay in replying to your signals, I can
only partially speak to that issue. You will have to wait for
explanations from our technical and military advisors. I
can
tell you that part of our delay was that we did not hear you, or in
hearing you we did not understand your signals. Technology has
changed. If you were to see smoke signals, it would take you time
to realize you were not looking at some odd natural phenomenon,
longer to recognize the patterns, and even longer to translate the
message. I know that is a poor excuse, but understand it was
compounded by our ingrained belief that no one was alive on Mars to
send any kind of signal. We had stopped listening when I was still
in grade school, and the encoding you are using has not been in any
machine’s language in forty-five years.”

BOOK: The God Mars Book Two: Lost Worlds
2.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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