a Story by Nathaniel Bates
Noah looked down at the surface of Mars as the ship landed. Mars was a place that forbade most technology. The Martian colonists believed that technology ruined Earth and that happiness rested with a life free of hierarchy, the state, and all but the most philosophical of religions. They did require an electrical grid to maintain their artificial magnetic field. But in general, they resisted the forms of worship dominant on the Earth including that of technology. As Noah passed Olympus Mons, he remembered his college discussions about how an absolute Creator who was perfectly good could create a Universe with suffering. Noah always believed that the answer lay in the fact that forgiveness was a more powerful demonstration of the goodness of God than perfection. It was a heretical belief in religious circles, but he could accept that there were imperfections in Nature because he felt that a “perfect” Nature would be its own idol. It was a view he often shared with his most loyal son whom he felt would be his heir to founding a new people.
Noah held religious views at odds with both Earth and the Martian colonists. Earth worshiped technology. Humans blended their souls with computers. Humans altered the human genome. Giants walked the Earth, creations of the laboratory and not organic birth. Mars, by contrast, viewed religions as upholding the oppressive and hierarchical structures of Earth. Martians followed a form of pantheism. Noah himself believed in a form of God that transcended Nature. The intolerance of Earth caused him to leave for Mars. There was not that much more tolerance among the atheists and pantheists of Mars, but Noah’s minority religious status meant he would be largely left alone with his family on the margins of terraformed Cydonia.
The terraforming of Mars meant that a magnetic field, and in turn an atmosphere, had to be created. Plants and animals were introduced. Mars became a natural habitat that was more “authentically wild” than Earth. Many noted the irony of the fact that Mars was more of the natural paradise Earth than Earth was. Water began flowing freely and humans began building familiar structures known on Earth. Often they were pyramids. A pharaoh like structure was built that could be seen in space, a mockery of the worship of leaders found on Earth. Pyramidal grain stores were built. A non-traditional and non-hierarchical civilization based on semi-anarchist ideas arose. There would be no human-cyborgs as on Earth.
Noah landed at a space port near his farm. Space ports were allowed technology, though only for necessity. To get home from his trip to Earth, he and his family would have to walk. Riding animals was rare on Mars. Also rare were patriarchal families of the type Noah had. He, his wife and children walked to their farm on the outskirts of Cydonia. The low gravity of Mars was always a help in getting around. Streams and lakes seemed to leap up to greet them as the strode by. Fish leapt out of the water. As night fell, the pale blue dot of Earth could be seen. Sad, Noah thought, that technological destruction had ruined his once beautiful home now covered by ice. The beauty could still be seen in the sky.
Fear of invasion by Earth tyrants was always a reality in the back of the minds of the Martians. They were left alone because they left Earth alone, and because they were an escape valve. Earth was ruled over by giant humans, genetically enhanced rulers whose cruelty was alleged to include eating humans and tearing the limbs off of living animals. Some even alleged strange blood drinking rituals. Martians were not big on conspiracies or rumors. Most conspiracy theories came from disaffected Terrans whose politics was often not aligned with the Martians. Noah himself was often an outsider on Mars. He knew that many of the rumors were true. The giants of Earth did rule through terror, and would engage in cruelty toward humans and animals. Their worship was of the gods of war who must be appeased with cruelty.
Noah glanced at the pale blue dot and knew in his heart that an invasion of sorts was coming. All that Earth had to do was melt the ice caps and much of the surface of Mars would be flooded. He knew because the Dream told him. He knew because it was Revealed. But he also knew that the corruption of Earth would come back upon them. He also knew that he and his family would be safe.
Life on the farm resumed. Noah, his wife and children worked the land and it became productive. Most of his neighbors tried to live more of a hunter-gatherer life style. Noah was inclined to farming. He was even inclined to industrial activity. He had been an Engineer on Earth. His field of study was mathematics and he went into engineering. He worked on advanced propulsion for one of the rulers of Earth, one of the giants. He was not proud of his involvement in the military-industrial complex. It was his past before his God called him out of the evils of the corruption on Earth and told him to repair away to Mars. But his memory was clear. There were weapons that could be used against Mars if the rulers of Earth felt it was necessary.
They passed the stares of their secular neighbors who long suspected them of being Terran authoritarians on the way back to the farm. Noah’s family retired to the farmhouse while Noah himself began to tinker with his mechanical project. It was not just any mechanical project. It was, unbeknownst to his neighbors, a defense of Mars. Frankly, it was a device to melt the ice sheets of Earth that covered so much territory. It could flood the Earth in the event Mars was flooded. Tyranny, like space, was not easily conquered. But it could be met with equal force. He put the finishing touches on the microwave weapon. The key to its power was the ability to burn a tree from the inside, a powerful pulse weapon that could also be aimed at Earth from Mars. It would need no spaceship. Powered by the sun only, it was efficient. Engineering and mathematics ran in Noah’s bloodline as long ago as his great grandfather known as the Great Seth.
Most of Noah’s family had tried to avoid military destruction as pioneered by Kaiyin, the brother of the Great Seth, who was so vile as to murder their mutual brother in cold blood. Kaiyin’s line too were engineers who built whole cities. It was from them that the rulers of Earth arose. Those rulers persecuted Noah’s line since they correctly perceived them as threats. It saddened Noah that he might have to end the evil that had overtaken Earth. But it would allow for a renewal of Terran civilization. At least a new chance would arise. Soon his weapon would be finished, one that gave him no joy. It was the best Martian defense that could exist, one undoubtedly viewed as evil by his largely anti-war Martian neighbors.
Noah tinkered in his shed to perfect a weapon that would melt the Earth’s ice. It was the only way. It was sad, he knew, but it was the only choice he had. The corruption and evil of the Earth was fundamentally a moral corruption. Soon the flood would subside and the Earth would become a lush paradise of green as it once was before the ice. The Martians could leave Mars and come back to Earth. The weapon was not any different than the ones perfected by Earth’s engineers that would be used against Mars. Freedom was not easily won. The hardest part about winning freedom was the moral ambiguity that the fight for freedom always entails. It is never as easy as the partisans of freedom make it out to be. The fight for freedom is almost always one in which freedoms are won but new injustices arise in the name of freedom. It was the case when Kaiyin, brother of the Great Seth, originally slew his brother in the name of some cause that made sense to him but which simply degenerated into blood. His followers became so cruel that they would tear limbs from living animals to impress upon subject populations their vicious cruelty. “Freedom” is hard to define and fighting for it is often ambiguous.
Noah did not think of himself as a “freedom fighter,” per se. He was no revolutionary. Many on Mars thought of themselves as partisans of an anarchist world view against the depredations of Kaiyin and his descendants. Noah knew better. It was only through the Law that order and justice would be restored. The Law was the word of God, he believed. His belief in the simple order of patriarchs of old set him apart from all Earth factions, and definitely apart from his Martian colonist neighbors. His fathers remembered the time before ice covered the Earth, a time of lush green before tyrants. The Martians also remembered this time. For Noah, humankind lost this paradise because they forgot the Law. Martians preferred to oppose tyranny with No Law. His position and theirs were too different to be reconciled easily in a common cause.
Huge genetically engineered giants walked the Earth. Noah saw in a Dream that they would soon be sent to Mars to extinguish the last light of freedom. The mirror he was designing would reflect light from the Sun and melt the ice on the Earth. It was harsh justice, but one that the righteous patriarchs of old would uphold. His last finishing touch was to attach robotic control technology to the mirror. He had already figured out the calculations to get it in to Earth’s orbit. Soon, the Terrans would place a similar mirror in Martian orbit and then send a shock invasion of genetically engineered giants. Noah worked through the night and realized that day was approaching. The Dream told him he must hurry as delay would doom him along with humanity.
Working the fields of terraformed Mars was a relatively easy task. Martian gravity was less of a burden than gravity was on Earth. Humans were growing taller and taller due to less gravity. Exercise and good diet prevented muscle atrophy. Animals and plants thrived on the planet due to an artificial magnetic field that kept a thick atmosphere, one that sheltered water in place. Lakes and streams abounded with beautiful fish that nourished a paradise planet. Noah knew that the artificial magnetic field could be knocked out with an attack on the Martian electrical grid after melting the poles. His was a race against time. Fortunately, he had done the finishing touches that night. No one on Earth would suspect that anyone on Mars had a defense strategy. Or perhaps they did and would deal with Noah later.
The following night, Noah’s neighbors were alarmed. Strange lights were heading toward Mars from Earth. They were ships. Sudden panic ensued as Martian colonists fled to avoid what they knew was an attack. Noah knew that a space mirror was among the ships heading to Earth. Fortunately, his own would be cloaked and not easy to detect. He gathered his family into his own private space ship. It was another surprise he kept from his Martian neighbors. Since he knew that a flood was coming on both Earth and Mars, he kept his ship private. Only the elect would be saved. It was sad, but it was the Law. As the ship took off, he launched his mirror towards Earth. Only time would tell but he knew his mission would be a success.
Noah’s ship flew fast. It would avoid the Terran invaders by virtue of the fact that they would be concentrated on destroying the Martian electrical grid after a flood. The Martians did have weapons and some of the war would be hand to hand. On some level, Noah suspected the Kaiyinites knew that Noah was not like the other Martians, and that perhaps he could be handled separately. This gave him time. Noah programmed a trajectory in his mirror’s guidance system that would head towards Earth. His ship would arrive later, after using Jupiter’s gravitational field as a slingshot. He would arrive long after the invasion of Mars—and his mirror— would melt the poles on both Earth and Mars. It was just as well. Mars would be destroyed completely and would return to being the desert planet it was before colonization, and Earth too would return to the time before ice covered it.
While Noah was gone, huge giants of half-human and half-reptilian warriors slaughtered the Martian colonists. Tuval-Kaiyin’s son himself led the slaughter. There was no anti-war movement on Earth to prevent it. No pacifist sentiment worked any longer. The slaughter was complete and Mars was returned to the desert it had been before colonization. The Earth also saw the huge walls of ice melt. Huge floods covered the Earth. Noah could see the flooding of the Earth as he landed his spaceship on top of a mountain top. He celebrated his re-arrival on Earth by sending out a bird. As the flooding subsided, he and his wife, his sons Shem, Japheth and Ham, their wives, all settled on the Earth. They all looked up and saw a rainbow that Noah called a New Covenant to restore the wisdom of the patriarchs. Murder would be forbidden. No limb from a living animal would be torn and blood would be forbidden. The Law was restored under the benevolent rule of Noah and his family.
The family of Noah spread across the Earth and brought with them knowledge of the time before the Flood. Shem, his most loyal son, begat Arpachshad, who begat Shelach, who begat Eber, who begat Peleg, who begat Reu, who begat Serug, who begat Nahor, who begat Terah who begat Abraham. Abraham settled in the Fertile Crescent long after the ice melted and sang in Hebrew the songs of sacred wisdom. Very little survived of the ice age civilization on Earth, save for a few mysterious architectural oddities. On Mars, a huge face survived that Noah’s children would rebuild in Egypt, along with some pyramids.
But, a more skeptical age would doubt these things, and even doubt Noah ever existed. This more skeptical age would think itself wise enough to avoid brutal wars, genetic engineering and the dominance of Nature. This more skeptical age would hope to avoid the melting of ice caps. It would hope to avoid the use of nuclear energy for destructive purposes. This more skeptical age would avoid ideological and religious differences. It would avoid greed and exploitation by virtue of its optimism. It need not learn from history because it would know all the answers.
Just like the world of ice before it.