The red sands soak in the rays of the distant sun and expands to the horizon undulating as dunes, gaping as ravines, raging in the dust storms that scatter across the landscape.
‘My son, I understand your decision and accept it,’ John said gazing at the sight that dominates the landscape for over a third of the planet’s surface. Olympus Mons rising 27km above sheer cliffs of volcanic rock as a dome passing through the thin atmosphere appearing to touch the very heavens. From its apex stretches a line that does just that reaching 17,000km high connected to a launching pad just above geosynchronous orbit.
‘Humanity’s future is here,’ James replied. ‘Father, this is our new evolutionary step. I want to continue your work here. The line of humility, the space elevator rising from Olympus Mons, the first of its kind could not have been built without your supervision. Look, you can see the lights from Hope the cavern city over there. You devised the method of constructing its ice domes. You were even involved in the maglev project and now look at that train breaking the sound barrier. The very air and ground of this planet has been changed by your geoforming.’
‘And that train carries the last chance for you to visit Earth for the next two years. It will take that long for our planets to realign.’
‘I do not regret my decision,’ James replied as he absently clipped and unclipped the magnetic bearings of his power-rings. ‘Here we can reset humanity, fix its problems and evolve into what we should be. I’m glad that I won’t be exposed to the primitive corruption of the people of Earth.’
‘This planet is no escape from humanity, for we cannot leave behind that evil which is a part of what makes us human. That is one problem that cannot be solved with science.’
‘Save it! I know you think Jesus is the answer but a 2600 year old dead peasant isn’t going to change anything. People can save themselves, we just need to try harder. And those who can’t, well … too bad for them, let natural selection do its work. This is our chance to evolve!’
‘I said I accept your decision but it isn’t the one I would make. Not the one I made 35 years ago coming to Mars, coming to the great unknown. I took the challenge to stretch my boundaries, to challenge my beliefs. I thought you, my son, would be the same,’ and at that he turned to gaze at his son just as deeply as he was at the landscape.
‘I know I’m right. I’m not running from anything,’ James said outwardly, weakly. But he buckled under that gaze and glanced down to brush the Martian dust off his power-rings.
‘You will never know, not now,’ and with that John left, pressing one hand on his son’s shoulder as he passed by.
Though the horizon was wide and the view vast the only thing James could see in that sea of dust he had known his entire life was the one thing speeding away, driven on electromagnetic rails.
‘I know! I know it as fact, I’m not wrong! I’ll prove it to him and nothing will stop me,’ and he smiled, he always liked a challenge. But his father was right about one thing, at midday in 15 hours the last manned ship to earth for the next two years would be launched from the top of the elevator. No train meant that he had to improvise to get from the foot hills of Biblis Patera over the 1200km of dunes, caverns, cliffs and dust storms. And again he looked at his invention, the power-rings. Four of them half meter in diameter lay magnetically clipped side by side at his feet. Each one boasted three angled blades connected to a central hub, blades powered by the electromagnetic tracks inset in the rim. The rim contained 500 lithium ion cells interspaced with powerful electromagnets designed to propel the spokes forward as they passed by.
He held one up contemplative, watching blades spin around lazily. Its mirrored surface reflected the dome he called home and the surrounds of his childhood. “No goodbyes” he resolved and with sudden determination he gripped the centre hub and revved the outer rim, his mind was set. He sped off with one ring in each hand after clipping a ring to the outside of both his boots.
Seeing the dust cloud caused by his son speed off down the slope made the old man to smile. ‘Like father, like son after all.’
Thank you for reading!
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