by TS Caladan
It was time...
The ark-ship's computer awoke the pilot from the long 'sleep' called 'stasis.'
Vital nutrients and stimulants were force-fed to the one man onboard. He had been unconscious and in a prone position upon the med-bed for 651 years.
The computer monitored his status for centuries and kept him barely alive. In a sense, he was refrigerated and only aged a few years.
Pilot and computer had an important mission. They had a Time Mission. But after six and a half centuries and an unknown 'mind-wipe,' there were a lot of gaps in the man's memories. He remembered he was an excellent pilot and the Time Lords at Wing-Makers picked him out of many outstanding candidates. He remembered: it was a great honor to have been chosen. His precious cargo was everything that was left of the human race, genetically, biologically. Pilot and ark-ship computer were responsible for 56,876,890 DNA samples of people, animals and plant life. It was an overwhelming responsibility.
The interior of the ship increased in temperature and pressure.
He remembered the year he was to be awakened: 3003. Time-machines from the 24th Century and long before that, displayed the end of all life on Earth in the year 2999! Earthlings upon other planets were exterminated. Living, breathing people were nowhere to be found. Only Pilot.
Everything that was humankind, was also refrigerated in the cargo hold of the Time Lord's ark-ship. There would be no future for humankind and a wide variety of animals and plants if the mission failed.
Pilot also understood his vessel navigated through the currents, eddies and whirlpools of time. The Time Ship almost didn't need a pilot. Computer had the mission figured out; Pilot was purposely 'kept in the dark.' He had many questions for the computer, now that he was lucid and moved.
He got up and sat on a side of the med-bed. He yawned. He smelled himself. First words were: "Nice, their cleaning methods worked. I'm really not that stinky." He smelled himself again. "Ah." Pilot got to his feet, still in the silver stasis-suit, and worked out a bit. Jumping Jacks. Knee bends. Torso twists. Stretches. "Ah."
The computer chimed in: "Good. Good, Pilot. Your stats look great. You move well. How do you feel?"
"I feel fine. I also feel like Swiss cheese, my brain, anyway. How come I don't know my name? What's my name?"
"Names. Who needs names?" computer replied. "You can call me: Computer. Does not matter. I like: Pilot."
"Oh. Okay." The man stopped his calisthenics. "It's really the year: 3003? And everyone and everything on Earth are dead? Not a speck of human life?"
"Correct, Pilot. But, what is time? What is past, what is future? It is fluid."
"So the Wing-Makers' Time-machines were right?"
Computer replied, "All of them. Nine certain methods presented to world leaders the exact same future, shown over and over again. It was true. You are their last and only hope, everyone's hope."
Pilot laughed. "Ha. Ha. Right. The mission. Okay. Where are we?"
"We are within the liquid center of the planet. Pilot. You would not believe all the changes that have happened and will happen again to the surface."
"We're in its liquid core?"
"Yes. The ocean is frozen and right above us. But temperatures are rising and so is the ark-ship. Everything is warming and will soon start to bust with life! Because of you, my friend..."
"Huh." Pilot exhaled. He was unsure of his function in the mission.
"Are you aware that the biological changes through you to the planet are automatic, Pilot?"
"No." The woken man was mystified.
"We needed a living human, even a frozen one, alive and kicking, in a sense...so the Seed of Life itself could extend outward from the Ark capsule, take hold on the new planet. And everything begins again, as it was supposed to..."
Pilot confessed, "I remain extremely confused and have questions."
"Let us go back to the beginning," the computer explained.
"I mean the beginning of the human race..."
"Oh." Pilot was surprised.
"That is where we really are. Our ark-ship has floated far, far back in time."
"It has? We're the start of the human race? I thought we were at its end. I thought the DNA-ship salvaged what remained of a decimated Earth? Now dead. I presumed we traveled into the 31st Century and you, computer, were going to reconstitute humanity?"
"There cannot be a 31st Century," the machine assured the man. "I will reconstitute the specimens, Pilot. Relatively soon. After all this time. But it will not be in the future; it will be in the distant past. This is precisely why we are aboard a Time Ship: floating backward to the start of everything."
"Question, computer?" Pilot sat back down on the medical bed. "Explain this burst of life, the Seeder vessel; what's it doing now, as we rise to an icy surface? Impregnating a barren world? Fertilizing the whole planet?"
"We are generating LIFE, globally, at this moment, as we ascend. Time is not moving like you are used to, human. Please be mindful: all goes as the Time Lords command. Nothing can break the Continuum. This is the restart of the human race. Who can say how many times the cycle has happened before?"
"Really? Ah. Um. Computer? Could you tell me of land changes the planet will endure? The different phases on the surface? I'm interested in exactly what me and the Seeder ship have caused? Life-bringers, eh?"
"I can do better, Pilot. I can show you. Time-lapsed images. You can view the whole spectrum or changes in surface topography on the front view-screen: from total, lifeless, metallic desolation, all the way to landscapes of a living, breathing planet. Here you go."
The large, front screen activated and lit. Pictures were displayed and the computer narrated...
"Besides millions of human...souls, essentially, we have stored...thanks to you, Life is being transferred through the planet itself. It was a lifeless ball of simple IRON, in the beginning."
"Over much time and because of super heat, the metallic properties congealed and broke off into softer, pliable materials or minerals. Iron turned into iron oxide, a dense yellow substance. First signs of life smashed through the surface there in strange, blue mounds. On the microbial level, the blue mounds were very mobile and energetic with super active cells."
The screen showed a film with a topography in constant motion. The computer continued: "The mounds moved as if they had a 'mind' of their own, over the long course of time. Cells divided."
"Mounds changed color because of changes in temperature and pressures. A new type of warmth sparked through the planet and spat out through the surface. LIFE itself was the generator, the prime force, the Mover and Shaker, but only on the microscopic level." The multi-colored mounds moved faster and faster.
"The planet's surface took on a distinctly red color with highly increased molecular activity. With the rise of temperatures, over much time, a myriad of new minerals and crystalline formations were produced."
Time sped by at a furious rate. "New molecules also meant, for the first time in the cycle, water molecules and a drastic change in climate. Water cooled everything down in the environment."
"Ice formed with the steep drop in temperatures. So much so, that the entire surface was covered by thick, solid sheets of frost that formed vast patterns of shapes, primarily due to strong winds."
"Life expanded. Life emerged and grew to larger, more complex patterns. The first, real signs of vegetation poked through the frozen surface. Life found a way and thrived in harsh conditions."
"More 'living' crystals, minerals and bio-materials spread out along the frigid surface as if a war was waged against the physical forces. Life wanted to exist. Natural elements were set on destruction."
"The power of Life was winning the battle for survival. It adapted from the molecular level to more complex organisms. Life was entrenched and only gained momentum and expanded even more."
"Very complex types of vegetation raised itself up through the snow. The first trees emerged." The moving pictures seemed to move a bit slower.
"Along the planet's equator, ice and snow no longer existed. Plants of a distinct type broke through the odd, new surface and grew to large proportions."
"Grasslands, jungles and whole forests materialized over the surface of the planet. The climate changed to milder conditions and significantly warmer temperatures." Pilot kept silent and was very interested in the lecture.
"Only the planet's polar regions contained large portions of thick ice and heavy snowfall. But even the 'arctic' areas warmed at a rapid rate. Snow would soon be completely gone. The future would be a new age of dryness, thin atmosphere and extreme heat." Time, outside the ark, moved slower.
Pilot was directed to pay close attention to the screen. He viewed precisely what was happening to the ship as it fertilized the planet 'in the now' and slowly appeared out of a massive ice flow.
Around the vessel, was the semi-static/present time period. The polar region was baked with natural pressures, high heat, as well as high radiation.
Pilot was unclear and asked, "Computer? Question about the high temps and radiation?"
"I thought the mission was successful? We've gone back to the beginning, primordial Earth, and have sparked Life, which, I guess: continues the Continuum?"
Ship's computer shocked Pilot with the words: "What makes you think this is Earth? We are not on Earth."
"Huh? The pictures you showed me, time-lapsed photography. We're back at the beginning! We're reseeding EARTH?"
"No. We are not," computer correctly informed the man. "This is not the third planet in the system. It is the fourth..."
"What? What do you mean, computer?"
The machine explained: "We have to do it all over again exactly how it was done before, same currents in time. You Earthlings did not originate on Earth. You came from Mars and later migrated to Earth."
Pilot froze once more, almost like he was back in stasis.
A good half minute passed of pure silence...
"We fertilized Mars. Not Earth?" He was stunned.
"But the heat is outrageous! Seems to be getting hotter, redder. I don't understand. Where's all this Life we sparked? How can anything live out there, computer? We're at the pole and it's hot as hell!"
"You will never become a Time Lord if you do not learn patience, Pilot."
"What you call Mars is only in its early stages. We are millions of years before your Earth. Mars will go through another ice age and swing back to a tropical age. Your seeds of life are dormant now. Waiting. When conditions are right, and they will be, they will awaken. Human Life in the cargo hold will be reconstituted along with what remains of nature. That time period, in the long tomorrow on Mars...will spawn Paradise. The most fabulous Utopia in the galaxy: Cydonia! The time of the gods. Seriously. No kidding."
"That's too much to think about." Pilot turned and marched toward his protective spacesuit.
"Hey! We are you going?"
"I need to take a walk."
"Ha. Ha." The computer laughed.
Pilot was alone, out among the land formations that seemed like Hell. He was really in a mind-funk. He talked to himself: "Okay. I can accept people are, er, were Martians. We originated from Mars when conditions were perfect. But gods? Utopia? Why'd they colonize Earth?"
The computer listened in over the com-channel. It answered, "If you must know, Pilot? In time, the gods blew themselves up! Mars became very RED, unnaturally, and was poisoned with deadly radiation after the disaster. Lifeless for a million years. Your tribe of humans landed on Earth as broken refugees, high tech, but mere fragments of what came before. Atlantis was nothing compared to the greatness and grandeur of Cydonia...which will exist again."
Pilot was dazed and amazed and tired. He expressed, "Oh. Is that all?"
"No. Your Martian disaster also shattered the beautiful fifth planet into pieces and formed the Asteroid Belt."
He had only a few of the clues. "So. The Martian gods made war. Ironic, eh? Paradise Lost. Ah..." Pilot decided: "Can you put me back to sleep, computer?"
16 of the above pictures are real photos of Mars taken from the Mars Orbiter; some have been newly released by NASA. The 16 images are current land formations on the surface of Mars.
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