This is it, my ultimate story. I've had this in my head for about five years and over those five years its become bigger, grittier, darker, gorier and so on. I am currently writing the second one and have ideas lined up for a fourth and fifth. Now it does need a little bit of tidying up but otherwise it is completely finished. Enjoy.
Chapter 1: The Conference
The morning of October 3rd 2555 was a wintry one. The cold sun gleamed on the horizon like a giant yellow gem. It was bright, but it wasn’t hot, the cold air condensed against the windows of a small Honda. The driver of the car was stern, concentrating extremely hard to navigate his way around the unfamiliar Floridian city of Miami. He was in his late 30’s, tall, with blue eyes and short brown hair. He was wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt with a casual shirt over it.
In the back were two teenagers. A boy and a girl, both the same age and both bored out of their skulls. The boy was wearing practically the same as his father, and the girl was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. Together, they made up the Harpers and they were Jack, Sara and Lt John Harper of the United Nation Coalition Army.
“How long have we been travelling?” Jack moaned.
“3 hours, now shut up or I’ll shut you up.” Lt Harper replied. Jack rearranged his seat belt with boredom. Sara leant forward to speak to her father.
“Where are we going anyway?” Sara said politely. The car stopped at traffic lights and the driver turned around.
“We’re going to visit your mum; she is in a conference about the population problem. She’s also involved with that Saturn & Mars project.” Lt Harper explained. Jack turned back to his father from the window.
“What the hell is Saturn & Mars?” Jack asked violently.
“They’re the first deep space frigates. She’s been developing them for months! How long is your attention span?” Lt Harper replied erratically.
The small Honda took off from the traffic lights and turned right into a junction.
Jack stared, eyes half-open, out of his window. He looked at everyone going about their daily business, trying to forget the last ten years. His eyes searched the landscape looking for anything remotely interesting. Then he woke up as a spaceship half a mile long came into view. It was incredible; Jack had never seen anything manmade that big before, he’d never seen anything natural that big before either. That was until he looked up.
Above the spaceship, hovering about four hundred feet in the sky, was another spaceship just over a mile long. Two blue lines were painted vertically down the ship. Below them, the word ‘Saturn’ was painted in huge white letters.
For the first time, Jack felt patriot about his species. The fact that they could build something this impressive was incredible. Where did they get the resources? Jack definitely wanted to see these vessels take off.
The Honda turned another corner and became parallel with the huge ships. But unlike Jack, Sara had a far less impressive view, more of a depressing one. A barren wasteland of destroyed buildings and people looking for valuables stretched before her.
Miami had suffered heavily during the war. It had been a battleground from the very beginning of the war in 2545 until 2550 when the peace agreement was signed and the war ended. It had been one of the most heavily affected areas of the disease pandemics. Thousands had lost their lives here during the war, but more lost their lives due to cholera and tuberculosis. People were still trying to rebuild their lives here and the US government and the UN did not have the resources to help all of the affected areas, or at least that was their excuse.
The car continued passed the destruction, around another corner and headed for a large building covered in balloons and banners. The two huge spaceships sat behind it, ready to launch.
As they approached their destination, Lt Harper noticed an abandoned filling station. The logo of the station had been taken off the post, but the prices were still up. Lt Harper read them but afterwards wished he hadn’t. The signs read “Protonic-$00.25, Gas-Sold Out.”
God Damn Protonic energy, Lt Harper thought, if it hadn’t been discovered, the war would have never happened. That said, if man had not exploited oil as much as they did, they wouldn’t be in this mess at all. Lt Harper scowled one last time at the Protonic energy sign before pulling up outside the balloon-covered building. He hated the stuff; he had seen many young, brave men die pointlessly for a fuel that the greedy refused to share. It had been found in the May of 2544 and was considered to be a miracle as in 2543, oil finally ran out. It was found throughout the Earth and its supplies would last for millions of years. However, the problems that came with it were that some countries had more than others and because of the sizes of the supplies; it could be sold cheaply. Economies of poorer countries collapsed due to the cheapness of the energy. They could not get any oil either as the countries that had surpluses raised their prices by millions. It became known as ‘The Devil’s Blood’ as any country that invested in it went bankrupt within months. This was the basis of the war, The Fuel War or as most referred to it, The Third World War. It lasted for five years, and within that time 20.1 million people were killed. The war ended when a new form of renewable energy was discovered that involved Hydrogen based fuels, but humanity was beyond the brink at that time. The destruction left behind by the war caused a huge lack of housing and sanitation, which in turn, created huge pandemics with disease. The human race was on its last legs. To keep the population alive, there was only one option, rapid re-population. Artificial insemination, cloning, all methods of creating humans were used. It was such a success that the Earth became over populated.
The leaders of Earth’s countries begged the colonial planet Mars to take a small percentage of people, but they refused. They turned to NASA to come up with ideas of reducing the problem. Several ideas were produced but each failed miserably. However there were some who knew what must be done. Two physicists at NASA, Dr Phillip Grace and Dr. Lucy Harper found the solution. They decided the best way to lower the population was to find new planets, thus the “Saturn & Mars” program was formed. That was why they were here today; that was why the Harpers had travelled all the way from England. They were here to see the future of their race come to life; the possibility of growing an interstellar empire.
The conference was filled with journalists, each more annoying than the last. Dr Lucy Harper was behind the counter on the stage. Sat next to her was Dr Phillip Grace, the chief astrophysicist for NASA. Between them was more than fifty years of experience. If there was anyone to create intergalactic transport, these were the people to do it.
“If our population continues to grow this rapidly soon there will be no room left. Mars is refusing to take any Earthlings from Earth permanently, and the “Space City” project failed miserably.” Dr Harper said into a microphone. The words stuck in her throat like dry pasta. The “Space City” project was the worst to fail of all the proposed solutions. It had fallen out of orbit straight into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all onboard. It was terrible loss of life so soon after the end of the war. It was one reason it had been hard to get the ‘S&M project’ off the ground.
Dr Harper had just answered a question from a journalist that she had not particularly enjoyed.
Another journalist stood up. He was holding a pen and a notebook. “What do you plan to do with ‘Saturn’ and ‘Mars’?” The journalist asked with a thick Long Island accent.
“We…” Dr Harper began, but Dr Grace stopped her.
“I’ll field this one; four fuel ships will accompany Saturn & Mars. These will make sure the mission is a success. Saturn & Mars will use their long-range sensors to find new planets suitable for human life. If they find any planets, Saturn will report back to Earth. As soon as Mars begins construction, transportation of people will begin.” Dr Grace explained. A low hubbub began to build in the hall. One journalist stood up in the mass of journalists and scientists.
“How far are the nearest planets to Earth?” The journalist asked.
“We’re not sure; we think at least one to two light-years away, that’s about three days journey by FTL travel.” Dr Grace replied.
“What are your expectations of intelligent life?” One daring journalist asked. There was a sudden loud hubbub in the hall. The panel found it hard to calm the audience down.
“Settle down! Settle down.” Dr Grace ordered.
“We do not believe we will run into any intelligent life, animal life, yes, but no creatures with abstract thought, we have been searching for life, since the late 20th century and found nothing, we now believe we are the only intelligent life in this part of the galaxy.” Dr Harper said with confidence in her voice.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there will be no more questions at this time. Please make your way to the next room for tea and refreshments.” A man said from the front of the hall. There was a round of applause as the scientist panel including Dr Grace and Dr Harper walked off stage through a door to the left of the stage. Lt Harper clapped, watching his wife walk off the stage. He was standing at the back of the room and quickly exited into the buffet room.
The buffet room was a large rectangular room with a table going around three of the four walls of the room, covered in a white tablecloth with all different types of food on it. Sara and Jack quickly rushed off to get some food, as after a seven-hour car journey, it’s all you can think about. Lt Harper kept to himself. He didn’t mingle with the other people in the room. He got himself a glass of punch and sat down at a round table in a corner of the room. The sound of stiletto shoes came towards him. He looked up to see Dr Harper. She was wearing a very elegant black suit. She had shoulder length hair that was blonde and blue eyes. After a whole year without seeing here, he realised why he married her. She was beautiful.
“Hey” Lt Harper said happily.
“Hi” Dr Harper replied with the same enthusiasm as her husband. There was an awkward silence between them for a while after she spoke.
Lt Harper knew this wasn’t right, here was the woman, he had pledged his heart to, who he had not seen for an entire year and he could not think of anything to say.
“Well are you happy to see me?” Dr Harper said bluntly.
“Yeah, of course, it’s just that I’ve had a long journey, I can hardly stay awake. Lt Harper said.
Sara came running over from the buffet table towards them. “Mum!” She shouted. She ran toward Dr Harper and hugged her. Dr Harper returned the hug.
“Oh, I’ve missed you so much. You been studying? Where’s Jack? Dr Harper asked. She looked around the room for Jack.
“He’s outside on the balcony” Sara replied. A loudspeaker suddenly came to life, with a chime.
“Attention, please make your way to the main balcony” The loudspeaker sounded.
“Right, let’s go, quickly now.” Dr Harper said with enthusiasm. She turned and looked at her husband, who was in a daze. “Are you okay?” She said with concern.
“Oh, uh, yeah, I’ll be fine; I’ll catch up with you in a minute.” He replied tiredly.
Sara and Dr Harper walked towards the balcony; Lt Harper watched them for a second, then he finished his drink, got up and walked towards the balcony.
Outside steam began to spurt out of exhausts on the bottom of the ships.
“Cover your ears; this is going to be loud!” Dr Harper shouted.
The loudspeaker came back on and gave a countdown. “Initiate launch.” The loudspeaker sounded.
The ship’s engines began to heat up, a huge inferno at the back of the ship. Mars began to lift off the ground as thrusters engines blasted out of the bottom of the ship scorching the grass below.
Saturn began to turn slowly in the air. Mars rose up to Saturn’s level and turned slowly as well. The support ships took up their positions either side of Saturn and Mars and the fleet stood still in the air for several seconds before speeding up incredibly fast and blasted upwards towards space with an incredible boom.
“That happened too fast!” Jack exclaimed.
“Technology, huh?” Lt Harper said surprised at the event. He looked up in awe as the fleet hurtled towards the deadly silence of space before looked out across the grassy launch area. Patches of cracked earth were visible were ships had taken off, heating the ground to almost melting point. As he scanned the scenery, a structure rose two foot above the grass. It was the top of an abandoned missile silo. The UN believed that weapons of mass destruction were “unnecessary” in 2489 and as a result they had all been destroyed. This led to an era of peace and security lasting from 2490-2543. It was in those years that fossil fuels would come to an end and the world would spiral into period of war, depression and near extinction.
Lt Harper looked at the silo with a frown, he felt vulnerable now. He felt that is there was a large attack, they would have no way to force a peace or, if necessary, defend themselves. Soon, his fears would become reality.
Inside the monstrous ship, the admiral of the Saturn was running through all of the navigation checks and safety aspects of the brand new vessel. He wanted to be absolutely sure that nothing was going to go wrong.
The bridge of the Saturn was a semi-circular room at the front of the ship. Mars looked exactly the same, just a lot smaller than Saturn. The admiral stood on a raised platform directly in front of the door to the bridge. There were steps either side of the platform leading down to the controls which hugged the wall all the way around. In the middle of the bridge was a row of computer terminals that controls various aspects of the ship. There was also a holographic projector that gave the crew a 3D view of the planet or object they had discovered.
The bridge also had a tinted panoramic window around the curve of the ship. This allowed maximum sight without exposure to UV rays as well as reducing sun glare by up to seventy-five percent.
Captain Jackson, a tall, well built man down on the bridge floor looked up to the admiral to speak to him. “All systems green, sir”.
“Excellent” Admiral Chang replied. “Set a course for the Orb System”.
“Yes sir.” Captain James replied, a thin, British man with dark hair. He looked at a midshipman and nodded.
The midshipman pressed a button that initiated the procedure. The same procedure was happening simultaneously in all of the ships involved. If they didn’t get the timing just right, they would arrive at individual times and could lose each other on their scanners. It had to go perfectly. The fleet’s engines turned from yellow to blue and the fleet jumped into what is known as slip space, the part of space that is not governed by the laws of physics. The fleets disappeared in a bright blue flash.