“Elana we need that jump clearance NOW,” shouted Anthony, the commanding officer for the evacuation flight. “There is no time to waste. According to the last predictions the invaders will be swarming upon Earth in no time.”
“I know Tony, Earth air traffic control has just cleared us for the jump,” replied Elana, the navigation officer.
“What are we waiting then? Lock the wormhole coordinates and let’s get the hell outta here,” grinned Tony.
“Aye aye skip…..”
“What the hell was that Elana?” shouted Tony after a tremendous shock wave travelled through the hull of the ship.
“I don’t know Tony. Seems like we were shot.”
“Damn it. They are here. Let’s jump NOW, before we become stardust.”
With that said the transportation vessel prefix 3D3N of the Global Research Development Network – GRDN for short - initiated its one-second-long trip through the cautiously-calculated and artificially-produced wormhole which would take them to the Sirius-system mining colony, which was safely away from Earth - for Earth was being attacked by a humanoid race that just three days earlier was totally unknown to humans.
“What is going on Elana?” asked Tony when he realized the jump was taking a little longer than anticipated.
“I don’t know Tony. It seems that - and I hope I am wrong about it - we are off course.”
“But that is impossible Elana.”
“Yes and no Tony. Once we enter the wormhole it is indeed impossible for us to be off course. But if something interferes with its generation before we initiate the jump, then it is indeed possible the wormhole was not correctly generated and we end up in the wrong destination!”
“Ok, calm down Tony. We are just out of it. Let’s try and figure out where we are.”
“What now?” asked Tony after the entire ship started to shake uncontrollably.
“I know as much as you Tony. Look, it is the environmental condition alarm of the cargo compartment. It indicates total loss of pressure, which might be the result of a hole generated by the shot we took before jumping,” noted Elana after recognizing some alarm indicators blinking on the control dashboard.
“But that means …..”
“Yes Tony. That means all of them are dead. There is nothing we can do now. Let’s try and find somewhere to land this ship before we are also dead.”
Both knew that they had failed miserably in their mission. A failure that was not to be taken lightly, for they had received one of the most important missions of their life.
Once Earth military command had realized that the recently discovered alien race was not willing to make friends with the human race there was only one course of action to be taken – complete evacuation of all relevant human assets from Earth. Tony and Elana were one out of fifty flight crews that were assembled to be piloting the GRDN vessels away from the attack. Each crew was chosen amongst the best military pilots on Earth, and they were also brilliant scientists themselves. But when compared to their ‘cargo’, they were mere average lab assistants, for each of the fifty ‘cargos’ were comprised of two-hundred of the top scientists, doctors and artists of Earth. Each of the evacuees were chosen by the Earth’s government for they were the only hope that mankind would be able to survive the annihilation that would follow the three-day-warning received from the humanoids.
Most importantly, and potentially tragic, is the fact that GRDN-3D3N was the first ship in the departing queue. And if the first ship was hit by the attack, which, apparently, started minutes before the deadline, Tony and Elana could only imagine that the other ships didn’t have a better destiny luck than theirs.
“Look Tony, we have a planet ahead of us. Let’s land there and see what it is. We don’t have time to assess options now,” spoke Elana with her finger pointing to a round Earth-like planet to the starboard of the ship.
“You are right. Let’s land before this whole piece of junk falls apart. Setting up manual landing program.”
“Analyzing atmosphere for the reentry path calculation,” responded Elana in a very professional manner, until she changed her look and just noted, “Weird!”
“What Elana? Don’t gimme more bad news just now!”
“Not at all Tony. This is far from bad news. In fact the atmosphere of this planet is too similar to Earth’s own atmosphere on composition and density.”
“How come Elana? We have mapped over ten thousands planets outside of our solar system and none come close to resembling Earth’s atmosphere,” reminded Tony.
“I know Tony, That is the reason for the use of the word ‘weird’,” sarcastically replied Elana. “But now is not the time to wonder about this, let’s land this thing,” complemented her while plotting the reentry descending path.
Reentry was smooth and they had enough time to find a suitable landing spot. They chose a long and wide beach surrounded by plains filled with vegetation and close to a river delta. They did not comment on the fact that there was abundant water on the planet, for they had more important things to think about, but that fact did not pass unnoticed to either of them.
“Engine is off Elana. Let’s suit up, leave the cabin and check the ship conditions.”
“Wait a minute Tony. I don’t think we need to suit up at all.”
“Again Tony, the atmosphere is way too close to Earth’s. Even more, I dare say it is exactly the same as Earth’s. And to make things weirder, take a look at the G-gauge,” ordered a very surprised Elana.
“It just can not be Elana.”
“Well, it is just what the gauge is showing. I am not making anything up.”
“I know. But that is not possible. Too many coincidences are never ‘coincidences’.”
“Well, it is always possible that the blast we took did some damage to our ship’s instruments,” noted Elana, “I say we do suit up, go out there and check the atmosphere with the portable instruments, for they would not have been affected by the blast. And we can also try some walking and jumping around ourselves so we can gauge by ourselves if this 1G reading is accurate. What do you say?”
“I don’t have a better idea myself. Let’s get moving. Take the blasters just in case.”
And so they suited up on their environmental independent gear, took their manual instruments and blasters and headed to the outside of the ship.
The first thing they noticed when stepping out of the ship was the gigantic hole that was cut through the cargo compartment and the remaining frozen dead bodies inside of it. They both made a mental note they had to get rid of those bodies as soon as they figured out where they were and how safe it was.
Their portable instruments readings agreed fully with the ship’s instruments’ and they got rid of the cumbersome gear. Also, there was not the slightest doubt they were on a 1G environment too, since walking, moving, jumping and all other physical movements were as natural as if they were on Earth.
For some one hour they were silent, looking intently at their surroundings, experimenting the touch and feel of every little grain of sand, small plant, the water … everything felt so familiar that they couldn’t understand what had happened. After the quiet hour passed they realized it was getting dark and they needed to go back to the ship to spend the night in a safe place. A night they had no clue as to how long it would last.
Tony and Elana were acquaintances from the military compound but they had never really talked to each other for longer than two minutes and knew very little of each other. So, that first part of the night was spent on a friendly conversation among two people who would really need to become closer if they wanted to find out what had happened to them.
Anthony David Matthews was a 35 year-old pilot, born up north and had a degree on physics. He had always wanted to fly space ships and that was the first thing he learned in his life. Once he was of age, 16, he joined the military school and chose physics as his minor so to make sure he would be able to be in the forefront of spaceship development when he got too old to fly the ships himself.
Elana Winter Eckhart was born East in what had once been known as Europe. She was 10 years younger than Tony and was a geologist and a first class navigator. Her reasons for joining the military were less related to the military life itself, and more related to the possibilities she would have of travelling a lot and getting to know many different places without any cost. At least that is what she had thought, for the military life was a lot harder than she had anticipated. But she was a strong woman and made sure she would not complain.
Both were very beautiful specimens of the humankind and for whatever reasons they chose not to get married and have kids, as it was the norm for all those who were of age – 20 year-old to be more precise. They had chosen the bachelor life, which could have its downsides, as being always the ones that didn’t have kids to boast about, or those who didn’t get invited to most of the social gatherings – for those were boring family reunions in most cases, but the upsides of the bachelor living style always seemed to be way too good to disregard – they actually couldn’t understand why the vast majority of people would give up the travelling, the studying and the freedom to choose his or her own place to live (married couples would not be allowed to move to different cities for that would remove the population balances). In any manner, they were young and beautiful and brave, which allowed them to rest that night as If they were in their own quarters on Earth.
Next dawn brought with it a new pieces of information that would only add to their already puzzled faces. First they realized the night had lasted about twelve hours, then they noticed the sun was moving apparently from East to West, which made them go back to their survival kits and grab their compasses. They were only half surprised when they realized the magnetic orientation of this planet’s magnetic field was similar to Earth’s.
“Elana, is it only me or this planet does look exactly like Earth?”
“Well Tony, I am asking myself this very question for the last hours. But I have checked all communication channels and I get nothing on the radio. So, it is possible, yet unlikely, that we just happened to find a planet that is a copy of Earth somewhere out in space. But I believe we have something a little more important and urgent to do just now. Those corpses will start to rotten too quickly under this sun. We need to do something about them as soon as possible.”
“I know. And I have been thinking about it, for we need to make sure we both remove them from here and also salvage as much as possible of the ship for our use,” replied Tony while grabbing the toolboxes from the ship’s maintenance bay.
“What do you propose Tony?”
“Well, first of all I don’t think it is viable for us to carry those 150 plus corpses around. Since the ship is still functioning I believe we could do the following: first we blast a hole into the sand with our plasma cannons, then we remove the center panels part of the lower hull of the cargo bay, fly the ship atop the hole and we dump the corpses into the hole. What do you say?”
“Sounds like a smart idea. But what if we attract attentions from whoever is the owner of this planet?”
“Good point. I had not thought about it. You are right!” recognized Tony, “but at the same time, we cannot afford getting rid of the whole cargo compartment. It can be used as shelter I we need.”
“True indeed! So, I think we better get going with digging and pushing corpses manually then,” grinned Elana, “and double time soldier, we have no time to waste!”
So they spent the next two days digging and burying corpses while keeping an eye on the horizon, on the communication instruments and on the movements and sounds from the vegetation line. They barely noticed anything other than some bird-like creatures flying high on the sky. They were lucky also for there were plenty of supplies – food and water - to last for weeks.
“Done! This was the last of the poor souls,” said Tony while sitting on a sand mount with his whole body covered on sweat, “what now Elana?”
“I say we rest Tony. It seems this is a reasonably safe place and we are drained. We won’t achieve anything if we don’t allow our bodies and minds to rest a bit before thinking about next steps.”
Then they slept for the next thirteen hours and were awakened by a huge tropical storm that crashed down upon the ship.
“Tony, we do need to try and find out where we are. We cannot stay put waiting for anything to happen.”
“True. We need to get back the control over this situation. What do you suggest we do?”
“Well, first of all I would like to test the environment in more details. Like checking the water, the plants, some of those insects and all else we could put our hands to,” spoke a very serious Elana.
“Seems adequate. On my side I would really love to fly a bit and look around. None of the radars has picked up anything that appeared too large or to be moving, so I believe we are in a reasonably safe place and we can risk flying a bit to gather some more information. What do you think?”
“I think it is reasonable. And if need be, we do have the ships weapons still in good shape. Also, the reactor is intact and will provide us with power for a veeeery long time.”
“So, let’s get to it right now.”
They spent the next two weeks like two very focused scientists, making observations, annotations, discussing possibilities, scenarios and theories. Every single piece of information they collected led them to that unbelievable discovery.
“Elana, I don’t think we can avoid it anymore. We have to accept it and live with it,” said Tony while looking to the horizon and holding his knees by the bonfire, “it is the only explanation and it makes complete sense.”
“I know Tony, but how is it possible? We had everything properly mapped!”
“You said that yourself Elana, once we enter the wormhole we will never be off-course, but if anything goes wrong with the wormhole generation before we get inside of it, we are doomed to be ‘god-knows-where’, and we have checked the navigation system and we both agree it is damaged beyond repair.”
“I KNOW TONY! I KNOW!” cried Elana, “but this is too surreal to be acceptable. An error in the generation of the wormhole could send us to one of the infinite possibilities of space-time coordinates, and we would always be able to go back right away in case we ended up in the wrong place or time, if only our navigation system was intact. But it is statistically impossible for us to have ended up exactly back on Earth. I mean, back on 50,000-year-ago-Earth. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!”
“Elana, it is as possible as any other destination, and you know it!”
“I KNOW I KNOW. I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE WE ARE STUCK HERE. Forever …” said Elana while falling into an uncontrollable sobbing.
Tony knew better than trying to argument statistics or any other scientific principle with her at that moment. She was desperate. He was desperate. They knew they were stuck there. Forever. Doomed to be alone on a 50,000 years younger Earth. He hold her in his arms and there they spent their next night, tightly holding each other. No words were spoken. No ideas were conceived. There they stood, realizing they were to be alone in a very unfamiliar Earth.
Days passed. Weeks passed. Months passed and they were now accepting their situation of hostages on an unknown place. They filled their days with studying their environment and building what one could name as a ‘villa’.
Time went by and they started to be more and more certain that they were alone. Their reconnaissance flights took them thousands of miles from their original landing point – which they chose as ‘home’ – just to show them that apart from insects, mammals, small reptiles and birds, they were the only other living animals around.
Their villa became a very beautiful place. One could even assume they were living on a Tropical Island Resort, for they were able to build really beautiful and useful housing, furniture and other minor luxury and comfort items, for they had both the knowledge and the tools to help them. Food and water was no problem and with their survival kits, and their cutting edge (future Earth’s) medicines and healing devices, they were fairly safe on the health side too.
After some one year they had already ‘finished’ their villa and they chose to build a very opulent main gate to it – they could not explain why they had built fences and gates when they felt safer than they had ever felt in their lives, but that seems to be a human thing to feel safer when one is surrounded by strongholds. They finished the main gate about the same week they found out Elana was pregnant. For it comes as no surprise to anyone that two good looking humans alone in a tropical paradise will end up in love. ESPECIALLY when those are the only two humans around.
The gate was beautifully crafted out of wood and held atop of it one of the side panels of their ship, where the prefix of the ship was beautifully painted in large grey lettering “GRDN-3D3N”.
To make the occasion even more important, Tony surprised Elana and gifted her a very beautiful crib he crafted out of palm leaves – which he learned to woven pretty well during the past year -- to which he added two wooden panels, one to which side, both portraying a beautifully carved heart. In one of the hearts he left a space to add the baby boy’s name – once they agreed on it, for he wanted to name the boy Abel while Elana insisted on Cain – inside the other heart he carved his and Elana’s initials like any teenage couple in love would do on Earth: