” Opening chambers now! Cobb? Do I initialize the launch protocols? ” STUD, the VI assistant replied. The base door of The Apotheosis gradually swung open as the quadric rover approached it. This would be the last time that Webb had to load the samples. Mars was habitable. The 300 trillion dollar question that bugged humanity for ages, had finally been answered.
” Log entry, 7245, The quintiles have been locked… And sealed. Expedition completed. Close the door, STUD ” Cobb said switching on gravity field within the shuttle. He couldn’t answer STUD on the launch. Not yet.
” Cobb, logs saved. It’s best that you come up to the docks, now ” STUD spoke through one of the speakers in inventory chambers. STUD was designed as a cognitively thinking and constantly evolving Artificial intelligence. Apart from everything else that he did, STUD was Cobb’s only companion on this planet.
Cobb walked up to the Observatory dock to have one last look at his home for more than a year. He was about to go back. But not to home.
” STUD, is there a way to extend our stay? ” Cobb said looking at the vastness beyond him. The planet and it’s serene sense of existence. Unpolluted. Unyielding. Pure.
” Cobb, the protocols have already been initiated by the base camp, I’m sorry. There’s nothing much I can do now ”
” Well. You couldn’t have stopped it. Can I be honest with you, STUD?”
” My interface architecture is imprinted through this Shuttle’s mainframe. Even Earth can’t reach me if I don’t want to. So yes, whatever you say is going to be with me. Only with me, that is! ” STUD replied. Cobb looked up for a second. All he could see was the metallic silver lining of the shuttle. But his eyes were concerned with what lay beyond.
” Rhetorical question STUD. The thing is, I don’t want to go back. This is my home now. Not to the chaos and tragedy again. Can’t take that man !! ”
” Cobb. It’s beyond you too. Your petition to stay has been rejected by the council. Do you want me to contact them again? ”
” Oh no no. They don’t believe that I can live here by growing life out of quintiles. They are organic for God’s sake ” Cobb strolled around, quite animatedly. He had found a way to infuse life into specifically chosen quintiles. All he needed was to artificially treat them with atmospheric pressure of 3300 pounds. And more importantly, he needed to stay. At least for a week. Everything stood cancelled.
” Initiate Launch Protocol STUD. Maybe they’ll send me again. Organic Samples should count for something ” Cobb said taking a seat clicking a sequence of switches on the control panel. He buckled himself with the seat belt.
” Running Diagnostics. Air pressure, Surge capacity and Krepon reading normal. We’re good to go ”
” I wanna live here man. I’m the greatest man on this planet, dude!! ” Cobb shouted as the ignition systems went green. Tonnes of Fuel burned, hot smoke mixed with the cold red storm. And The Apotheosis lifted beyond the atmosphere. Mars left behind.
” Give me the wheel and the ETA, will ya? ” Cobb said unstrapping himself and turning down Pull friction levels to the minimum. Gravity got annulled. Cobb floated to guidance panel and turned up the AMOLED.
” Going Manual…. Now. You should have it, Cobb. ETA to Earth, 38 Days 17 Hours! ”
” Earth. Crooked and Slimy Earth. I just hate the place. Anyways, give me the fuel and resource count ”
” Fuel checked for 40 days of drive. Ghost mode, approximately 43 days. Resources the same ” STUD answered
” Should be enough right? ” Cobb said closing his eyes. He could take the storms. But not the dizziness.
” Planning any detour? ”
” I wish. But no! ”
” Auto Pilot’s been fed with affirmed Trajectory. Want it to take over? ”
” Not yet. In a couple of hours maybe, when I go to sleep “
…………………………………………..Look and see,
the shooting star is falling across the sky.
I know, one day, that is what I must be,
so I could fly high.
The world no longer feeling real,
I shoot across in confidence,
Looking down on everyone else,
I would brighten up the sky,
and everyone would see me,
” What’s the ETA? What’s happened?”
” What is it, STUD? ” Webb said stretching his legs and back.
” Cobb, I don’t know why. But I can’t find Earth”
” Come again? ”
” I mean I can’t find it. The trajectory is there, but there is no destination to it. There is no Earth “
All beautiful in their own way.
I am sad to say,
but soon my time will be gone.
I will fall again,
into the darkness of forever night
and leave my dreams to be
just a dream