“Attention Crew: Assemble in ten minutes at the command centre” the commander’s voice called out from the speakers. The eerie silence added on to the glum atmosphere of the International Space Station.
Dr. Nigist was the first to arrive from the medical bay followed by the remaining crew.
“It is now 3 weeks with no response from mission control. For that matter, we could not get in touch with a single source from earth. it is logical to assume the worst” The commander`s face seldom showed anxiety or stress.
“It happened finally”, Akio sighed. “After humanity overcame all its fears of apocalypse, nuclear wars; alien attacks, deadly diseases – the END comes not with a bang but a whisper. Pity we could not stop it with our advances in technology”.
“What advance technology?”, Martin interrupted. “I have read and seen Sci FI movies of the 20th and 21st centuries using more advanced technologies than what we are using now. I mean, we have still not been able to have an android as a crew member, still not colonised any other planet, still not found someone or something out there, all of which were presumed achievable by the 23th century”.
Alyonah took a deep breath and said “The myth of cognitive AI was effectively shattered in the 21th century itself and after the great war, our ancestors finally had the sense to know what progress should actually mean and diverted their resources to other productive ventures”.
Fana the elder of the two sisters joined in – “Well, it took us 5 wars to finally wake up to the truth. To separate facts from fiction. Religion, race, political and national boundaries were all replaced by rational and scientific thoughts. It is very hard for our generation to even imagine how, rather why, our ancestors believed in Gods and Ghosts; their actions and decisions prejudiced by race and religion. At least now we are proudly living up to the “Sapiens” tag given to our species by our ancestors”.
Fani, the younger sister said “But still, an entire species wiped out by an unseen foe. From up here, it is difficult to understand why we were not able to isolate the virus, was it so potent that we did not even have time to react, to get together, to find an antidote, surprising!”
Alyonah: “After the great war, mankind diverted all their energies for knowledge and peace. We finally decided to respect our environment and live in harmony with all other species. We overlooked the fact that nature will always have many species evolving and competing to be on top of the food chain. There can only be one lion in the den. Today it is not us and we have passed on the baton, I guess. Unfortunately, nature ensures the losing species is wiped out so that the dominant species can have an unchallenged run”.
The commander interrupted, “Crew, accept the fact that we 7 are now the last of our species. Going back to earth is not a rational option. We must re-activate the HABITAT project. That is the best chance for us to survive, to evolve, given the odds. It is a long shot but it is still our only chance.”
The HABITAT: A massive ambitious man made structure , which started off as a space resort for the rich and the famous. While the project kicked off with lot of promise, it was abandoned due to escalating costs and gradual change in overall human behaviour after the great war. It was then modified to function as a last option for humans to survive but this project was not completed and it was unceremoniously placed in a geo synchronised lunar orbit.
“We are a crew of 4 women and 3 men.” The commander continued, “I shall pick the name of one lucky lady from amongst you and she shall be excused from active duty. Her mission is to reach the HABITAT survive against all odds along with at least one man from among us, who shall join her post the successful launch of HABITAT. We need at least 3 crew stationed full time on the ISS which will act as the command centre. The lucky survivors can join the HABITAT. At any point of time there should not be 2 men doing any critical activity and when the time comes we shall again draw the lots for the lucky man to join the woman and the remaining to stay on ISS.”
The lots were drawn and the commander picked the Dr Nigist. The crew sat together to work out the plan.
Martin used the ORDER (ORbital DEbris Remover) to capture and attach all the satellites and then charted a path towards the sun. He safely ejected and saw the earth finally cleared of all the space junk – debris; nuclear war heads, satellites, etc. Fana and Alyonah successfully aligned the HABITAT to a parallel orbit with the ISS. The ISS and HABITAT were now orbiting Earth with such massive velocity, that from the view deck of the ISS, one saw 18 sunrises and sunsets in one single Earth day.
Fana and Alyonah’s next mission was to enter the HABITAT and go down to the core where the nuclear reactors were kept on standby. Working so close to the reactors meant she won’t survive but she has never come back from a mission defeated. Finally, she could align the reactors. “All clear” were the last words she relayed to Fana.
“Commander”, Fana said, “Standing by for permission to switch on the main power”
“Granted and Let there be light”
The voice came through her ear piece transmitter and the Habitat slowly hummed itself to initialisation.
The anti-gravity systems were functioning as expected and the entire Habitat was covered. The oxygen levels covering the entire habitat started functioning as programmed. Fani, meanwhile initiated warming sequence and pre-determined areas in the habitat which were pre-filled with ice started melting and forming waterbodies.
The second month was a success with portable water forming as planned, covering more than half the space of habitat.
The commander along with Fani and Alyonah started the massive plantation and vegetation programme. Wheat, Rice, Onions, radishes, lettuce, potatoes were planted. This was back breaking but when grass was the first to sprout and the video was beamed back to the ISS, the joy that erupted was a victory.
Akio was given the responsibility of delinking the Habitat from ISS and slowing down its speed. He managed to slow it down to a geostationary orbit with Earth. With this, the Habitat was now experiencing equal day and equal night.
Over the centuries there was a good amount of birds, the bees and small animals on the ISS to destress the scientists and have an earth like simulations. It was always a logical rule to have pairs of these animals, though not more than a handful. 2 pairs of parrots; 4 pairs of pigeons and sparrows, 10 penguins, guinea pigs; rats, mice, 2 pair of dogs and 1 pair of cat were the first and only species to go over to the habitat. From the food animals, The ISS had a tank of live fish; chickens and goats. The entire live cargo was put into the launcher, now dubbed as the “Martin’s Ark” and steered by Martin and Fana for their mission to habitat.
The plants were growing and the first crops were also harvested and stored.
Tragedy struck the ark while returning as it lost its velocity and plunged to a fatal dive into the Moon’s atmosphere.
“Dr Nigist, it is time” Fani informed the Dr and urged her to prepare for her final mission. The launcher was being readied by Akio. The commander and Fani were already waiting for her.
They helped her into the launcher. They said their goodbyes and watched her leave the ISS for the Habitat.
The commander said, “Come on guys, we still have work to do”.
Akio: Commander, permission to speak freely?
“You knew she was pregnant even before you picked her in that lucky draw, didn’t you?”
“With a male-female fraternal twins, I presume? “
“So, does this imply that the books our ancients wrote on Genesis-may not be actually fiction.”
“Yes – Probably but who knows, they might have written it as a reference guide for later generations”
“So are we supposed to be the angels who control the novo sapiens destiny from up here. Heaven is a crampy place, if you ask me, but boy, am I proud of the Eden we created.”
Fani: What we have here is hope and what Nigist will have down below is faith. Faith to keep her moving, surviving, knowing that her angels above will not let her down and when her tribe increase, she is sure to offer her gratitude by whispering a small thanks to all of us up here. A new religion will start and the circle will be complete. We shall begin all over once again.
We can now only monitor and control from up here till our last breath hoping mankind survives and evolve.
And the seventh month they rested….