The young Ventulli gathers her items and courage for the path ahead.
|Tina took a quick stare at her clock on top of the ceiling. 2:46 am. She was still unable to close her eyes and not try to imagine how the "old world", as how they like to call it, would look like. She had no idea how to imagine loud and polluting vehicles that would roll on wheels, on such smelly and harsh road like concrete. Also everyone staring at screens that would easily shatter or get damaged otherwise. A world without holograms, self-driving speeders or common trading ships would be too...plain and boring. But at the same time, her thoughts turned to the reason she would be heading back.
Closing her eyes, she recalled the last few minutes of her recruitment.
"Your mission is of utmost secrecy and key role for our survival." said the human, known as Hasif after the ceremonial recruitment into the team. "When you will arrive, a whole new planet, and as such, world will be around you. Back in those days, communication and travel is extremely slow. You need to be patient, especially with your contacts you've been given. No one will know what and who are we. Most of our citizens will most likely panic, and as such, you will need to be diplomatic. Do tell them that we mean no harm, and we want to help."
He stood up, walking up to and facing towards the window.
The orange planet, Mars' surface was swimming in the sun's rays, like sprinkles of gold. It was a great view, though Hasif sighed. "Our planet used to be a sight to behold. Lush, green forests, deep blue waters, and bountiful prey. Our cities would stretch as tall as the sky. None of this pre-grown plants and synthetic meats..."
With a creased brow, he looked back at Tina. "Now, it's all but habitable. Filled with pollution and radiation, we destroyed our home. As you know very well by now: Your mission, along with your friends we will send you, is to change our past. To save our Mother Earth."
She nodded, dutifully saying: "I will not disappoint you, Mr. Hasif."
"Good." he smiled slightly. "We accept only success."
The Ventulli kicked some water out of the pool, swimming on her back. 2:48 am. "How does one do so much damage so quickly? How much hate does one need to deploy weapons of such hatred..." she thought.
Tina finally opened her eyes and yawned. Her eyes were heavy and her attitude mostly grumpy. She is pretty sensitive for not having enough sleep. After a quick shower and drying herself up, her eyes wandered back onto the now bright clock saying 8:47 am. She stretched herself as she took in the interior of her home, finding it just the way it has been for years.
The morning sun shines in from the glass rooftop, scattering the color of the blue waves of the pool, making the white walls seems like one's underwater, deep in the sea. The pool is in the middle of the room, with a functional self-servicing kitchen on the side, a changing room with two lockers, and a bedroom for guests. Other than that, there are no other rooms in the huge open space. Not much decorations except for the water's scattering light beams coloring and animating the living space's walls. A single holoscreen and peripheral input devices were placed to look over the room.
Even though she was no coffee person, she really felt like she could use one today...her half-awake body wandered to the holoscreen, pushing a few buttons and sitting down in the chair. Soon after, Olivia's smiling, bright face appeared, along with a background of a well decorated interior of a room similar to Tina's.
"Good morning sleepyhead!" she giggled, wearing the same type of swimsuit as her. "I see you had a lot on mind."
Tina pouted at her. "Yeah yeah, and it was totally not you. So don't get too excited." she smirked, laying her legs up onto the keyboard and sitting back in her seat.
"Right...So, I guess we both have some research to do. Do you know where you'll be dropped off?"
"As far as I know, somewhere near a countryside town of Yemmek, where no one would notice. There I can get my supplies together, and have the Camo device up and running."
"I see...I wish these humans have invented zero delay communications earlier, we could have some of that-"
"But as we both know, that would be too suspicious." interrupted Tina, running her three fingered hand between her hair.
After good ten seconds of awkward pause, both of them checked their calendar. There was one day before having to check in at High Command.
"Hey, we could bring Ian along too! How about a tour at the park?"
"Sounds great, I really need to go outside every now and then. Well, as far *out* one can go here."
Olivia nodded. Sadly, the current martian economy didn't afford High Command to commission any terraforming ships just yet. VenuCorp, based around Venus, doesn't give their well-preserved technology for free either. The residential areas are all under a protective barrier, having all of the breathable gases inside for common lifeforms. Day and night cycles are not changed however, but for the sake of human settlers, everyone adapted to the 24 hour cycles. The only big change that was needed really, is having the seconds to adapt to 24 hour martian daytime.
After a few hours of research on the database and getting decently dressed for outside activities, Tina gathered some of her belongings in her usual messenger's bag. The sun was still high up, though not really changing the temperature within the protective barrier whatsoever. Several cargo ships, drones and other flying objects passed overhead, not making much noise because of the automated traffic. Thus, no horns are needed, and arrivals are right on time.
"I wonder how those poor humans got along back then, where everything was manually driven." said Olivia, staring away from the bench they were occupying, onto the road. "We need to have that Wheeled Vehicle Training. Who knows when it will come in handy."
Tina stared blankly around the artificial park. No scents, birds or flowers were around, only greenery. Some of them were real, but most of the grass were definitely fake. It was still better than nothing, said the first human settlers. No one allocated any resources towards actually making a functional park, since it would require precious manpower, one that a few hundred people couldn't spare. Since then, the planet grew bigger and bigger exponentially, making it a living and working place of a million lifeforms.
"We know so few of our past...and just within a year, High Command starts training us. From having a time machine, until selection. And we are given less than 2 weeks to prepare? What gives..." says Tina to herself, crossing her arms while looking at the top of the protective sphere.
"Come ooon, we can't question what they ask of us. You know that too, we need to press forward! If we succeed, we will come home as celebrated heroes!" said Olivia, softly reaching for Tina's shoulder.
The shorter Ventulli creased her brows, not meeting her anxious gaze. "I don't care about fame, I just want to help some of these people. The Inner Circle is already paying us all quite the wage. What else do you need?"
Tina's gaze turned harsh, looking at Olivia in a questioning way. Her pupilless eyes met the ground, no response.
"Where's Ian anyways?"
Just as Tina said these words, a blue circle appeared close to them. The circle rises up into a column, diminishing with a bright flash as Ian, a male human arrives.
"Sorry, I got your message a bit too late. I was on a meeting again."
"That's fine. Here, take a seat, take some time off." she said with a pat of her hand on her right.
Ian sat down, curiously watching the two Ventulli spacing out.
His clothes were nothing out of an ordinary Mars diplomat clothing: blue-red shirt with long sleeves, and pants in the blue-white colors of the Human Confederacy. He was in his mid 30s, having a short, unkept brown hair and piercing green eyes. He was slightly taller than the average human height.
Ian took a deep breath, reaching behind the bench, holding the back of Tina.
"Ahh, I wish these parks would be the same as in my simulators. Birds singing, wind blowing the leaves around...seasons...we have none of that here. I can't wait to see how it was back there."
Tina took out three sandwich looking rations, offering to her friends one each. They graciously accepted them, starting to eat.
As the sun started to go down again, they all discussed their plans over how they will meet up at the planet, syncing up their coordinates and such. Even with the humans' primitive technologies, a simple dipole radio antenna would do the trick for communication.
By the time the three of them finished making plans for today, all of them retired to their respective homes for today.
Tina did her usual night routine, staring from the middle of the pool towards the clock and the starry sky.
It's time to go to sleep.