VITAE LOG #2
VITAE LOG #2
It had been five, long years since anyone aboard the Vitae had stepped foot on solid ground. With Earth and Mars reduced to ash, all they had left to call home were the claustrophobic and colorless halls of the Genesis Ark. For many, this was a difficult thing to adjust to. Earthers were used to fields of green stretching for miles upon miles in every direction. Martians found their comfort in the endless deserts of twisting dust storms and crimson rock. To know that they might never see land like that again...it tended to drive people mad.
Elijah was not one of those people. He had spent almost every day of his life in the cramped hull of many a lifeless warship. He had grown accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of a purring engine. He was used to seeing nothing more than composite steel and blinking consoles for months on end. Yet still, though Ross was a career Serviceman, he had found the last five years surprisingly taxing. He no longer had a home to return to. There would be no crowd of friends and family awaiting him when he returned from a tour. There would be no quiet celebratory dinner with his aging parents, or night of drunken foolishness with his cousins. They, along with the rest of Mars, were gone. And that was something Ross still had trouble coping with.
Coming here helped.
Ross sat upon an old fashioned park bench made from wrought iron and painted sheer black. A breeze blew gently across his face, passing through the graying beard Elijah had neglected to remove. His mother had always detested facial hair, so he remained clean shaven for her sake. The gesture had lost it's meaning five years ago.
Eden reminded him of a park he used to visit back when he was a boy. He and his friends would race one another around the gardens in their motorbikes. The security officer would always yell at them whenever they got going too fast, but Elijah never listened. The grass was greener here than it was in the Martian park. The trees grew taller, too. Healthier trees and the cutting edge technology involved in keeping Eden running made the air all the sharper than it was back home.
The commander wished he could still enjoy it.
Elijah had always taken air for granted. Oxygen was something they had in abundance, after all; no one worried about breathing while they were young and healthy. Ross couldn't have known how much he missed being able to take a deep breath without a searing pain filling his side.
Almost as if on cue, Ross went to take a breath, only for a sputtering cough to follow. "Damn it." He rasped quietly. A reluctant hand reached up to tap a small button on his neck. The armored piece began to fold out, extending around his jawline and mouth until it snapped into place, both sides connecting to form the respirator that Elijah required to breathe. The mouthpiece itself was transparent, per Elijah's request- he hated how the machine obscured his features. Ross was not the kind of man to hide behind a mask.
The artificially enhanced air forced into his mouth with every puff on the respirator felt cold and hollow. It was as lifeless as the walls of any warship. Elijah despised not being able to breathe real air. He despised needing to be hooked up to some machine. He felt lesser for it. Yet all of all of the options presented to him, this was the only one Ross could take that didn't include dying. Elijah would never give up his pride as a Martian and as a man to force some unnatural cybernetic into his body. Some lab-grown pair of new lungs wouldn't do either. Even if his world was dead Elijah would never give up on it's beliefs. Ross would die before he betrayed Mars's memory.
Though Eden held a special place in Elijah's heart, he knew that it wouldn't for long. He came here because it gave him a reminder of what was. But Admiral Locke's call earlier that morning had changed that- or, it would soon, at any rate. Ross looked on at the tree before him, a smile forming underneath his respirator at the sight of it's blooming flowers. This particular tree was from Conglomerate territory on earth, if he had his facts right. It was gorgeous- probably the prettiest thing Nagasaki ever produced.
If Locke was right, this might be the last time Ross would ever need to visit Eden to be reminded of what land looked like. Elijah didn't believe his ears when he first heard the news. After five years of unending space travel, Elijah had resigned himself to it- he had expected to die never seeing anything other than a bulkhead and the blacks stretch of space ever again.
'A habitable world...'
It was the first of it's kind they had come across after heading through the Eye, and Ross had the privilege and the honor of gathering a suitable team for their first away mission off the Vitae. With the press of a button he opened the holographic display from his personal device, a list of names appearing before his eyes. This was his sacred duty. To humanity, to Mars- to himself.
N.O.A.H had prepared a list of candidates for Elijah, dividing it up by occupation and availability. There were close to fifteen thousand people awake, and this list only contained a fraction of them. Yet there were hundreds upon hundreds of names here. Almost all of them were qualified for this job. It was up to Ross to determine who was the best choice for this. "I suppose I should start with the science team." They needed them to work with the survey drones to determine just how habitable the world really was. "Let's see, here..." Ross muttered to himself, flicking through the various pages of names.
As he began to flag potentially suitable candidates, a funny little thought entered Eli's mind that made him smile.
'I wonder what the air tastes like down there..'