Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chapter 1: Leaving is Easy

Mack slammed the door behind him as he ran into the room, lights off. Anger and resentment coursed through his veins but he was determined not to let it get to him, he knew deep down that he would come out on top. His family never understood him; he even felt a world apart from his own twin brother James, who ready to follow in their fathers footsteps, as a regional liaison and advisor to the Hive Queen. He had already been accepted with a scholarship to Cambridge in regional politics, but Mack had other ambitions, he just did not know what they were yet.
He sat on the floor of his room with his back to the door for a few minutes, then stood up and decided he needed a walk to clear his head; he opened his bedroom door and could hear his parents and his brother talking in the living room. He walked quickly but quietly to the front door of the penthouse apartment, set his spinplant playing loud music and shouted “I’m going out” whilst slamming the door behind him.
* * * * * * * * * *
“I just don’t know what we can do with him” Janet said, slightly distraught. 
“I’m sure it’s just a phase darling, he’ll grow out of it someday,” Joseph comforted his wife “soon I hope.”
“It’s like he doesn’t even care about all the Hive Queen has done for us, maybe, … I don’t know, we should have scared him more about what the world was like when our parents were growing up.”
“You bought me up in exactly the same way mum, and I turned out just fine” James said, half smugly. 
“James, do you think you could go to your room for a while, I’d like to talk to your mother on my own thanks.”
“Yeah sure dad, no problem” James walked back to his room, as always, pleased to get one up on his brother.

* * * * * * * * * *
Mack walked down the busy London street, music blaring directly into his nervous system. He bought up his Brain Computer Interface and started browsing the internet, always a good way of getting his mind off his stupid family, whilst reading the news, a major headline popped up reading ‘Hive Queen Announces Martian Wormhole Plan’. Always interested in technological developments Mack read on:
‘…with the improvements in wormhole technology since the breakthrough test wormhole to Lunar Base Alpha, and the successful colonisation of Mars, the Hive Queen has announced that she will open a wormhole to Mars later this year, allowing all citizens of Earth freedom to live on Mars if they choose…’
“Hah,” Mack said to himself under his breath, “I guess even the grand and almighty Hive Queen can’t keep a handle on the entire population of the world anymore.”
Then the idea came to him, and his stubborn streak would never allow him to change his mind, with only three months until he reached citizenship age, Mack decided to leave and make a new life on Mars, but he would bide his time until then.

* * * * * * * * * *
It was the first day of the so called Martian Exodus, and Mack left home telling his parents he was going on a camping trip for the weekend with friends, he easily might have been if he had any, he hasn’t really had any friends for years. All his old school friends got their spinplants when they were sixteen, and too easily fell into line with the Hive Queen’s worldview.
Mack took the already crowded maglev from London to New York, at mach two the journey only took three hours, the train stopped at Cardiff and Atlantis the world’s first artificial continent, created with reclaimed earth and artificially activated volcanoes, and by the end of the journey, the train was truly packed. Mack could already see this Martian exodus was going to exceed all expectations, who would have known so many people felt that living under the Hive Queen was so unbearable.

Arriving at the newly built Martian Interplanetary Station just outside New York City, a sea of people awaited the opening of the wormhole. Mack was glad he arrived in time to see the opening of the wormhole, even if he had to watch it second hand through his spintronic B. C. I. (or spinplant), which he could have done any time whether he’d have been here or not. He did not envy the people further ahead in the queue though who undoubtedly would get a better view of he event, but many looked like they had been queuing all night if not longer.
An hour after Mack arrived, the public announcement system and his wireless connection through his spinplant announced that the wormhole would be opening in thirty minutes, and for everybody to gather their things ready for departure. Mack, who only had a single rucksack of things, took advantage of people gathering their possessions, some people with what looked like most of their worldly belongings, to make his way further up the queue. He hoped to get through the gateway sooner rather than later, and that his parents and brother have enough better things to be doing than watch the wormhole opening. With his brother now at university and probably either hung over or studying, and his parents both working he was sure that he would be all right.
* * * * * * * * * *
Joseph Philips sat in his office drinking a hot cup of tea on his lunch break, after a slow and boring morning with nothing to do whilst the Hive Queen was busy preparing for the wormhole opening. Joseph decided to put his feet up and watch the opening via his B.C.I. with only two minutes until opening Joseph saw a panoramic shot of all the people queuing for the wormhole opening, doubling original expectations in number. He thought he saw a flash of a familiar face in the sea of people, but he thought nothing of it, as he meets hundreds of people in his career. A commentator was discussing the scene; 
“Here today are the thousands of people just outside New York City waiting for perhaps the greatest event in human history, the opening for colonisation of our planets Red Brother, Mars. In mere minutes the wormhole that will connect our two worlds will open and people will begin to venture forth to their new lives on the fourth planet”
the commentary was a little too flowery for Joseph’s liking, so he muted it and activated some music, some electro classical jazz that he considered fitted the mood.

A few minutes later the wormhole opened to Mars; a gyroscopic ring began to spin in three dimensions at increasing speed the rings became a blur, and the view through to behind the gateway began to ripple and distort. Suddenly a flash of blue light appeared and a three dimensional, seemingly never-ending, deep blue lined, tunnel appeared in a large circle in front of the masses. As the gyroscope began to slow down and stop, the tunnel began to condense until an image of a huge empty hall with some figures standing, peering towards Earth appeared at the end, that image drew closer until the original never-ending tunnel was merely a brilliant ultra-violet ring at the edges of the ring. Robotic arms positioned a walkway ramp leading into the wormhole, it had power conduits running towards it, perhaps it contained some sort of stabilising component, Joseph did not pretend to understand the complex wormhole physics dreamed up by the Hive Queen, an identical frame could also be seen being fitted on the Martian end.
“Would everyone please start heading through the wormhole in an orderly fashion,” Was said over the PA, and after a brief hesitation, people began flooding through the rotating gates and into the event horizon. That was when Joseph saw his worst nightmare, his own son in the masses heading for the gate. Joseph instantly called his son via his spinplant.

“Mack, what the hell are you doing?” Joseph sent just before seeing his son walk through the gate, perhaps never to be seen again. A second later Joseph received a time-activated e-mail from Mack telling him what he had done.
* * * * * * * * * *
Mack stepped into the shared sphere of the wormhole; the sensation of being in two places simultaneously was rather unusual and slightly disorientating. The gravity dropped gradually as he passed across the sphere causing a sudden but mild feeling of vertigo which passed as soon as he put his foot down on the iconic red polymer floor of the arrivals room.
“Mack, what the hell are y…” was all Mack heard as he stepped out of signal through the gateway. He took a breath of the slightly processed air of Mars City, looked up and saw a banner that had ‘Emigrants of Earth, Welcome to Mars’ brandished upon it, and he said to himself “I guess there’s no going back now.”

* * * * * * * * * *
“Welcome to Mars” Mack heard a PA boom out “Would people please queue at the gate designated for their spoken language of preference” it then repeated in several other languages, but Mack ignored them and headed straight for the English gate.
Mack worked his way up the queue and eventually reached a profiler. The profiler was a large device with a monitor a about eye level, an electronic voice spoke. “please State your name and country and region of origin and stand still with your hands by your sides for a full body scan”
”Mack Philips, Britain, Western Europe,” Two black bars extruded from the top of the profiler and ran down Mack’s height and back up again.
”Thank you, now please put your hands on the appropriate places and look directly into the retinal scanner” a robotic arm with a camera looking device on the end came out of a flap above the monitor. Mack looked directly into the scanner whilst putting his hands on the large black squares to the sides of the monitor.
”Thank you and Welcome to Mars, please take your new Martian citizen card with an initial allocation of credits, also please fill out the accompanying forms and hand them back at your induction meeting. Follow signs to your designated residence.”
A card slid out of a slit below the monitor and a tube extruded from a hole next to it, Mack took the card and tube and carried on out of the arrivals centre into a large intersection with people dispersing down several large corridors. He looked at his new ID card, cringed at the bad looking holographic image of himself and read the address ‘Habitation B Room 405’ “sounds nice” he mused as he slid the ID card into his pocket and headed down one of the large corridors.

* * * * * * * * * *
His apartment was better than Mack expected, with a decent sized living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, all fully furnished of course, the walls had a neutral coloured matte plastic coating. Mack threw his luggage on the bed and emptied out the welcome pack onto his table; it included a census, personal questionnaire, a relatively chunky induction booklet and an IQ test. He sat down on one of the chairs and opened the induction booklet. The book had everything about living on Mars in it, it had maps, information on jobs, information on the genetic modifications he would have to undergo and instructions about filling in the forms contained with the booklet.
Mack’s curious nature led him to read on about the genetic modification technique that the Hive Queen developed, at first to extend life expectancy, but found it was also useful for other purposes, with a few minor alterations. The basic principal employs cells known as “SASRESCs” or Specific Aggressive Self Replicating Embryonic Stem Cells. These are essentially embryonic stem cells with the ability to kill cells of an organism and then replace that cell with itself whilst ingesting the former cell to metabolise for the energy required dividing into new another stem cell; the new cells also have a coded immunity to this process unless they are already dead. These SASRESCs will only attack cells of the person that particular batch is designed for. Non-specific “ASRESCs” need to go through a specification procedure before injection; this involves using pure cells taken from the subject with no bacterial or viral contaminations. Not going through the specification procedure causes the ASRESC cells to implant their DNA into biological contaminants, causing problematic side effects. The SASRESC technique also means that they can put any other useful artificial genetic code along side the SASRESC code, and total body genetic modification can occur by chain reaction via just one injection. Side affects can include immune rejection; which is easily countered with a course of anti-rejection drugs, but once the process is complete, it gives the receiver all the genetic coding needed to live on Mars. As well as essential immortality, the ability to heal fast without scars, and even over time even regenerate nervous tissue and limbs, not to mention the countless other optional enhancements available free of charge.
After a long day, Mack passed out on his new bed reading the induction booklet.

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