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From Earth To Heaven - Chapter One
Chapter 1: Meeting the King of Mars
A quiet morning at base camp is about to receive a visit from the local neighbors. Miles above a spacecraft, twice the size as the original space shuttle, had just entered the Martian atmosphere. Six people representing the United States are scheduled to meet with the King of Mars. They are using more advanced technologies than the first American visitor did in a rush to claim their place in history. To collect their share of the treasure the King has tempted them with.
The shuttle, instead of landing like any normal aircraft, continues to fall straight to the ground. With 1000 feet to go a magnetic field similar to a maglev causes the craft to slow down. Eventually hovering twenty feet above the surface. The landing equipment is engaged and the craft settles on the ground as the sounds of Mars return to normal. A door opens and a small package is tossed from the craft. Seconds later it explodes sending a powered substance into the air. Settling into the wind as the powder mixes with the Marian soil.
Commander Reynolds takes a step onto the surface. His only words, “The path to Mars was forged for us and we will continue to forge this path for those wanting to travel into the vast universe.” The crew; Commander Reynolds, Kenny Barns technician, Sharron Taste Payload Commander, Doctor Carlyle Holt, Chad Heppner mineralogist, Roy Willingham Botanist journey fifteen minutes towards the remains of the second craft to have arrived on Mars. Each person in turn takes instrument reading and pictures as they walk across the landscape.
They arrived to the craft originally called ‘Nerio’ but renamed by its only occupant after his hometown to ‘Wendell’. They all stood in silence. The structure is still anchored to the ground but the roof had been ripped off from constant sand storms and tornadoes hitting it. Everything inside is covered in reddish sand as all the equipment is frozen solid.
Multiple repairs and adaptions to withstand the planet could easily be seen. Graffiti covered the existing walls. Some writings were almost faded away but the majority was of a woman’s name. A woman the team never officially met but was in the process of reuniting them together. Due to the planetary orbits it took three years to accomplish this task.
Kenny went to work surveying all the equipment inside the ship. The Oxygen Generation System was literally kept together with tape and quick fixes to stay operational. The computer system was also showing signs of constant repairs. But surprising was finding out all of the hard drives were missing. Outside the craft the other members of the team are observing a solar eclipse. One of the moons turned the sun into a giant eyeball staring down upon them.
Afterwards they journeyed towards a nearby valley where the remains of the first transport ship stood near a portable bio dome. Sharron noticed strange vines creeping in and out of the Martian sand. As in the old proverb that all roads lead to Rome; these vines were all converging towards the valley floor. The entire bio structure and cargo ship are completely submissive to the intricate weaving of the vines. The erotic view of nature’s sadism is equally matched by these manmade structures masochism.
So many vines covered the valley walls that it was impossible to see the cave entrance. But from years of watching these vines grow, they could easily find the entrance. A satellite in geostationary orbit allowed NASA to watch everything. They knew the Martian King had planted this special plant within the cave. They had a few ideas of the factors that have kept it alive for so long. And a sample of this plant was returning to Earth in the hopes of understanding a way for other forms of vegetation to survive the Martian terrain.
After years of watching this plant grow in an impossible environment was beyond the entire scientific communities’ ways of thinking. Even when the King explained it so as a child could understand, these scientist lack the faith and drive that every farmer has when growing their crops.
And everyone watched the King. Making his daily walks to Wendell to replenish his oxygen tanks. Watching him journey across the planet, playing with the tornadoes and his rock collections. And they knew where he was waiting for them. The King had dangled the forbidden fruit before their watery mouths with this meeting helping to blossom Earths growth towards other worlds.
The entrance into the dome was blocked by the vines. Simply cutting them required bolt cutters. They noticed the vines closest to the cave were larger and greener in color. The leaves were a lighter green than the main vine as the leaves seemed to stick to the vine itself. The vines further away were greyish as the leaves were wrapped tightly around the vine like a blanket.
Once the doorway was clear they carefully went inside. On the door was written ‘Naha’ in reference to his wife’s birth place. Inside they noticed the floor was covered with sand, food packages, repair equipment, large bags and dried fecal waste. Many things decorated the walls. But it was the words from an old song below his wife’s name that showed how much he really missed her.
Shadows on the moon
Mirror on my heart
Shattered broken glass
Cut my world apart
Rescue me my lover
Kiss me back to life
Save me when the sun goes down
Cause I'm lonely tonight
He laid on a bed still within his life support suit. A briefcase clutched to his body. As the Commander took the case the Martian King just stared back at him. Lifting the visor showed the frozen remains of His Majesty. Chad looks inside one of the bags and is shocked by its contents of gold, gems stones and other forms of mineral deposits.
The Doctor noticed the pack of six pills by the bed. They were for the first team that was supposed to come to Mars. But destiny had other plans. These pills were to quickly end their final suffering so as not to drag out their hellish final days on Mars. But now all those unused pills spoke volumes of what those final days for the King were like. The dried mucus and blood spatters buildup inside his helmet showed that he was in a lot of pain. Commander Reynolds offered a small prayer before the doctor took over.
Doctor Carlyle tended to the remains as the rest of the team journeyed to the cave. The vines in the cave were dark green in color as the leaves were larger and more like the leaves found on Earth. They discover the temperature inside the cave was a constant 80 degrees. With lights on they begin to explore the maze of passageways decorated by the floral of vines.
About twenty feet in they discover a second oxygen generation system. But this one had been converted into a near perpetual engine. As water is broken down to oxygen and hydrogen, the hydrogen was contained into another device that produced power for the oxygen machine, water pump and the hydrogen generator.
A long tube connected to the water tank led deep into the cave. As a few of the crew members followed it, the Commander stayed back to look inside the case. Handwritten documents exploded out of the case like a soda can that had been over shaken. The cover page was clearly the last to have been written before the Kings death. Words expressing love for his wife and son and of the dangers inside the cave.
As the crew members walk through the passageway, the darkness was more of a thick powdery mist that was absorbing the light from their flashlights. A screaming Commander drowns out their conversation. Standing in terror, they are informed of short ledges, sharp drops and other dangers. They hang on to his every word as they began to notice the sound of splashing water in the distance. Unable to move forwards or backwards they waited for help.
Kenny arrives and begins to work fast. Replacing damage parts and restarting the water pump with a portable generator brings the oxygen machine back to life. Oxygen flows out of the machine through tube vents traveling deep into the cave. As if by magic the mist evaporates all around them as they could now see all around them. And they notice how close they came to actually dying. A mere four feet away was a steep drop. A dropped stone tells them it fell at least 60 feet into a large body of water.
A water depth sampler is used to collect samples that are then placed into a larger container. They noticed the water is very warm and has a creamy white color. Wanting to continue onward into the cave but more splashing sounds indicate that they may not be the only ones there. They return to the cave entrance to figure out what to do next.
As they reach the opening the Commander directs them to another part of the cave where a mountain of gem stones overflowed the area. They take a few samples as other crew members assist the Doctor in carrying the remains of King back to their ship. As the doctor begins the autopsy everyone else goes to their assigned task.
Before nightfall many things from Wendell and the Naha 2 are already loaded onto their ship. By nighttime a few of the gem stones have been studied and the autopsy completed. Kenny continues repairing the hard drives pulling as much data as he can from them. The rest of the crew begins to lock up the ship to survive the nighttime temperatures. The Commander contacts NASA with a preliminary report of their first day on Mars. A rather overly happy NASA and government officials are thrilled about the confirmation of the crew’s findings.
They have two more days to complete their mission before returning home to Earth. More ships were in final preparation to launch to begin establishing a permanent settlement on Mars. And the Commanders report had started that clock for those ships to launch. That night as the crew ate, the captain reads from some of the notes the King had left them. Everyone hung onto every word that was written.
Everyone was amazed with info about the underground water system. Whether the entire planet was set up this way or just in certain areas as the water on Mars was very similar to the underground water system found in Brazil. Once it was run through a purifier on board the ship, it was just like regular water found on Earth. The King had been drinking it for months when his original water supply ran out. But he didn’t have a filtering system which led to later complications.
The King tried to do some fishing but after a few days decided that if there were fish, he didn’t really want to see it. Plus the fear of finding out that he might be on the bottom of the food chain. But he did discover that with two moons the water, even underground, still created a tidal effect the same way the oceans acted on Earth but are more active due to the duel lunar tidal effects.
The following day all available crew members loaded all the gem stones and other treasures left by the King. On the last day two grave sites were prepared as the bodies of the King and Queen were lowered into them. The Queens body was brought to Mars as she had passed away just mere days before the King’s death. Part of her was cremated as those ashes were released from the ship before the crew took their first steps onto the planet.
After a funeral service the grave markers were securely placed. The crew did a final tour of the planet before heading back to the ship for their return trip home. The Commander remained alone by the grave site. His first impressions about this self-proclaimed King of Mars had changed over the years. He first viewed him as a total nobody that had no right to even be connected to the NASA program. But from observing this person over the years had come to see and understand that he was more than qualified.
As he looked over the landscape he could see mini tornadoes moving across the landscape. He remembers the videos of the King running into them. At times nothing happened; other times he was thrown around like a rag doll. The King figured out which ones where safe or dangerous simply by their color. Even some of the crew members were playing the same games as the King did.
He could see the vines stretching out in all directions. The true Martian soil was less than a foot deep beneath the red dust. The original plant itself could be found planted just inside the cave entrance where its root system quickly connected to the underground water system. And the Martian soil rich and full of nutrients as a simple Kudzu plant has made the record books as being the first Earth plant to survive on the planet.
He observes his crew having the time of their life. Everyone is collecting souvenirs of rocks, sand and pictures. He remembered the first recorded words spoken by the King when he himself first arrived on Mars. Words that have awoken many people to the blindness it was living in.
With the crew and cargo loaded and ready to leave, the ship roars into the sky as the normal sounds return to their usual ways. But in time more ships will advance to this location. With stronger and faster engines the travel time had already been cut in half. And as the technology for space travel continues to cut the travel time to Mars, other worlds are now closer than ever before.
Along the journey home they will pass two shuttle crafts heading to Mars. When the space craft Valor is half way to Earth, it will link up with another ship for refueling and supplies on its return time to Earth. They will be celebrated as heroes who helped to answer the secrets of Mars and meeting the Martian King. In the crews four months of living in space, they will study everything he had left for them. Already they have been enlightened by him.
The Kings final days on Mars were a living hell. Everyone onboard was offered a glimpse as future generations will experience the fullness of the Kings Motto, “Life is difficult at first then it gets easier. Till eventually Heaven is all that’s left. “