Prologue

    This is the year 3020 and the Earth is renamed Terra 2.0. 

    The entities ‘Food’ and ‘Water’ have perished after the floods of 2050. There has been a gargantuan change in the way of life. The wildlife and plants which exist are radioactive, hence inedible. With diligent research, scientists have successfully produced a fluid called Ambrosia from a specific strain of the bacteria to be consumed as food.

    This Ambrosia is the source of hydration and health for the inhabitants. Every individual is marked for a finite supply of Ambrosia for a lifetime. This is to be obtained against the completion of chores assigned to them. As the individual ages, he cannot perform his assigned tasks with expected proficiency. He then goes into the power-saver mode. This person is retires to the chamber where eventually he disintegrates into the stardust.

  Before retiring, he is expected to unscrew the chip in his neck which harbors his Qi or life force. He fixes it on the next clone which takes his place, transferring his habits and knowledge to the next generation. 

   This generation of humans hosts an exclusively male population. The reason for female extinction is hitherto unknown. Qi is their aura, their soul – which the Ambrosia fuels. A single phenotypical male produces just one specimen from his Qi in his lifetime. The huge Clone Provender Unit (CPU) takes care of the cloned fetuses. Here, they are suspended in the Ambrosia until they become independent.

   There exists a governing body on the Planet called the Seven. These Seven Chiefs look after the entire population and enforce rules and retributions.

******

Day 1

The Conference Room, Research Wing

The Seven Meet

  “…Our observations and repeated findings have conclusively established the fact that a 96-kilometre wide asteroid is approaching Terra 2.0. Its estimated speed is 183 million miles/hour. Upon crashing into the planet, it will create a huge dust plume that will completely cover the globe, blocking out sunlight, and will raise temperatures in the vicinity so high that it will instantly vaporise all life forms.”

  Homer Andrx VII, the Chief of Astronomy Wing waited for the announcement to sink in.  

 The stunned silence reigned for a full minute; culminating into chaos. The declaration had evoked in them the feelings their ancestors would have termed ‘fear’ or ‘panic’.

  A few managed to retrieve an iota of their insolence and asked him to check, recheck his calculations. He did so the satiate them. The Clone Homer Andrx VII hosted genes of one of the most competent astronomers of the past. He could never miscalculate Math and astronomy.


   “I suggest we all mull upon this discussion and come up with the most productive solution. Naturally, nothing is not to be leaked outside this room yet.” 

Homer thought it was the best to break up the meeting for today.

Day 8

The Seven met again. This time, there was a general feeling of abalienation to their fate.

Andre Paul, the Head of Economics Wing took over the podium.

 “We have no means to intercept or change the direction of the asteroid and Apocalypse is finally upon us. If this gets out, there will be mass hysteria and panic resulting in unprecedented violence and rumours. We can only announce this as doomsday draws very near. Till then, I suggest the news be only broken only to a selected one person from every team of the Seven.

“How many days do we have?” It was a unanimous question.

“112 days starting today.” 

“What next?”

“Ideas please.”

“We have a small colony on Mars, How about ferrying people there?”

“Martian colonisation for the entire population is not feasible. Our Cloning system is too unsophisticated to be transported over the distance. It would support maximum of one generation of around twelve clones and then collapse.”

No one spoke for a long time and the meeting was adjourned again.

Day 15

   Professor Gemini Muller XII was the chief of Molecular Biology Wing. A revered geneticist of the generation, he was an authority of anthropology and genetics of Humans. He had called for an emergency meeting with the selected fourteen.

 “Time, it seems has now come for all of us to decide on our priorities. After the catastrophic events of 2050, humans became more mindful of resources and nature. We rebuilt the dystopian Earth and shifted to sustainable energy sources. It seems all our blood, sweat comes to naught.”

 As he eyed the fourteen experts in their room, he tried to assuage their reaction to his next announcement.

 “In the event of the new development, I suggest, we collectively find out a way to move on. I am going to make it brief gentlemen. We are going to die in three and a half months. We do not have any time or manpower to stop the impending collision or save humanity. But we are obliged to pass on our genes, our lineage. We cannot colonise Mars, but our next generation can…”

The assembled men frowned in confusion.

“There is just a rudimentary team of 10 scientists on Mars.”

“The Ambrosia stores on Mars can currently support a maximum of twenty people for one year at the most…”

Professor Gemini waited for the protests to die down.

Then he presented his points:

  1. We have enough expertise to send our research database on Mars via the Interstellar Ship.
  2. We can send around five embryos with the modified nurturing plant set up to Mars. This can keep the embryos viable till they are independent.
  3. We have a team of ten people already stationed at Mars, who can care for these embryos. I suggest we inform them of our Plan of Action ASAP.

Homer raised his doubts. “This is no solution. Five clones is too small a number for viable procreation. What about the subsequent generations?”

Prof. Gemini seemed to be waiting for this exact point to be raised.

“Time has hence come, my men to turn back to the natural method of reproduction which requires a female. We will manufacture a few female embryos in our lab and load it in the interstellar space ship along with the male embryos. The colony on Mars will nurture these till they become independent. Mars will then host the next generation of humans who will reproduce the natural way.”

“But we do not have any females in the ecosphere anymore. How do we …”

Dr. Gemini paused for a few moments before he made his final announcement. He hoped the disclosure of the secret was taken in a right note.

“Post the Great Global Warming, The Heads of Seven Department – Genetics, Ecology, Astronomy, Technical Studies, Medicine and Economics – formed a Rescue Squad. As the humans died of extreme diseases and famines, we worked ceaselessly to re-establish our race as we know it today. The preparation of Ambrosia, the rules for rationing it, the human rescue operations were all once chalked out in this very room.”

“We also discussed the root cause of the issues infesting the earth. The unanimous conclusion was that the Population Explosion was the sole reason causing Global Warming.”

“As we rebuilt Terra 2.0, we realised that if we could control the population with extremely stringent standards, we would have a cleaner and more equitable resource distribution.”

The whole room listened with a rapt attention.

“The only way to keep a cent per cent tab on the population was to completely cease the natural method of reproduction. Hence, we infused Ambrosia with a drug that suppressed the XX Spermatozoa. This ensured no females were born in subsequent generations. As the human race entirely shifted to Ambrosia as a source of food, the females became extinct. This gave us an excuse to exclusively shift to Cloning as a method to reproduce. The transfer of the Qi Chip ensured only one clone was produced per human and so on. As you men can see, this has worked very well in our favor till now.”

 “How did you manage to keep this a secret for so long?” The concept was both ingenious and draconian.

“This discussion was erased from Qi chips of six out of seven lawmakers. Only the geneticist was made to retain this information in the event of an emergency. Since I have the chip on my person, I thought the time had come for complete disclosure.”

“The plan is simple. We send a few prototype female embryos on Mars with male embryos. These second-generation clones can then establish a human civilization there and we will continue to propagate our race.”

Day 20

In the next few days, some of the best minds of the faculties of Genetics, Ecology and Medicine brainstormed together of a way to reconstruct the lost XX Chromosome.

“Can we separate the X chromosomes from the XY pair of every clone and bunch them together?”

“Impossible to fuse them in a biologically cogent way.”

“Is it possible to manufacture XX chromosome in the lab?”

“Not in 120 days.”

“We will need a female DNA with intact XX genotype.” Someone gave a pompous suggestion.

“We have a better chance of bottling stardust….” The astronomy team answered irritably.

The nervous laughter that echoed in the room was devoid of any jealousy and spite. This experiment was the only legacy they hoped to leave behind and for once, all were unanimously rallying for its success.

“We are the tenth generation of male clones. Where do we find a female DNA among us?”

“There is an ancient Graveyard along the Eastern Corridor. We may get some bone samples there.”

And thus hope reared its tiny head.

Day 25

After painstaking excavations in a graveyard, the anthropology duo came across a skeleton which was possibly a female. The Chief reverently held the pieces of small bones in his slender fingers as he dusted and packed them. These pieces of Dead was about to bring someone a gift of life.

Day 30 

“Now we extract the DNA, separate the XX chromosomes.”

Two best geneticists in the Wing were busy with this task.

The cell from a regular clone was used for the experiment. Using the DNA editing technique, the XY chromosome was clipped off using the Micro Shears and the XX was glued in its place.

The cell was suspended in the Petri dish with all elements needed for its nourishment and multiplication.

“Gentlemen, now keep our fingers crossed and hope that the female DNA comes to life.”

Day 60 

“The DNA seems to have taken well to the new milieu. We can start with the cloning of this cell into a female embryo.” Prof Gemini was ecstatic as he declared to the group.

Day 61

Nature, however, had other plans. The proximity of Asteroid caused the Earth’s gravitational force to malfunction. It caused severe cyclones and tornados all over the Terra 2.0.

“The thunder crashed into our Clone Provedence Unit last night. All the embryos, but three are destroyed. The female embryo with two male embryos is safe.” Prof Gemini looked pale as he announced the news.”

“There is more bad news. Our Ambrosia plant was destroyed yesterday by the cyclone. We have no fresh supply for to infuse the cells.” Homer announced.

Day 65

After mutual discussion, the Seven Chiefs decided to infuse the remaining embryos with an infusion of their personal share of Ambrosia. The world around the lab was dying of hunger and floods. The embryos however flourished in the ambrosia under the hawk eye of the scientists.

Day 80

Something was wrong. The embryos were oozing yellowish fluid. 

“Is this some infection? It has never happened before.”

“An even excess dose of Ambrosia is not helping. We cannot use antibiotics for fear of causing mutagenesis.” The biology team was panicking.

“There is one way to protect these embryos. We transfer a part of our Life Force to the embryos by reprogramming our chips.” This came from the biology team. “Our immunological memory will be transferred to them.”

“But this will require a huge amount of Qi. It will leave us susceptible to disease and a lot of pain.”

Homer laughed sardonically. “We are dying anyways…let it come to some good use at least.”

The Seven transferred a part of their Qi to the three embryos via their Chips. Another setback was sorted. Serendipitously, the embryos were now enriched with the genetic memories of the seven great minds of this generation.

Day 100

The high dose of Ambrosia and the Life Force by the team had ensured accelerated fetal growth. The embryos resembled a 20-week clone, apparently healthy and thriving. 

Day 115

 The news was finally leaked to the world resulting in unprecedented confusion and chaos. The lab, however, was celebrating in jubilation as the embryos were developing ahead of their schedule.

Day 116

 The interstellar space ship was ready. The last of radium extracted from the earth was used to generate fuel to propel the ship to Mars with increased speed.

  The team gazed in wonder at “Her” in the glass chamber. She was placed right in between two healthy clones of male embryos, a tiny thing weighing half a kilo making suckling motions with her mouth.

  The ship was loaded with the two-member geneticist team and the knowledge database. They had managed to scrape together enough Ambrosia to barely sustain the team through their journey.

 All assembled to bid her goodbye and the mood was unexpectedly emotional.

Homer Andrx VII spoke in a voice seeped in emotions. “An Apocalypse is the eye of a needle, through which we pass into a different world.  The Seven played God once, to bring the World in our absolute control. A Higher Power has, I think decided to teach us a lesson. In four days, we all die. But I hope these three live on …and through them, a part of us all lives on too…Let us all celebrate today, for the first female in the millennia is set to be born. Rejoice my Men, for The Eve is resurrected.”

The team departed with a bitter sweet farewell as the Ship set out for its journey to Mars.

Day 120

The air grew hotter every minute. It was windy one hour and raining heavily the next. The tides waxed and waned with furious intensity.

Then there was a big bang and the planet burst like a large teal bubble. 

Terra 2.0 was a cloud of stardust. Again

*****.

Epilogue

Somewhere in the space two men carefully looked after the three fetuses kept in glass chambers. They were seemingly unmindful of the fact that their only home in the universe was lost forever.

They continued the transit in the interstellar ship travelling just below the speed of light. 

Did they reach Mars with the embryos? Did humans defeat Armageddon and successfully populate Mars?

That dear readers, remains the story for another day.

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Photo By: Johannes Plenio

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