Author : Phil Gagnon

Our destiny was to spread from our cradle, to go forth and tame the universe. Our motivation for this was simple; pandemic, mutually assured destruction, cometary impact, the thousand ways that humanity could die. Whether by fate, chance, or its own hand being bound to one planetary sphere pushed us to leave our wrecked Earth.

For half a century this was the drive of the preeminent governments. War, catastrophe, opposition parties axing budgets when they came to power, and the multitude of events were but a sideshow. The progress we made was astounding.

Another decade or so is all that was needed. A hundred habitats hung in a delicate necklace around the world, the assembly points for the massive starships whose hulks had begun to arrive from planetside piece by piece. In our drive to escape our crèche, we pushed too far.

We had known for well over a century of our irreversible effect on the climate. Sea levels had stabilized just shy of the worst case predictions. The modeling of category six and seven oceanic storm systems was less a guess and more a hard science.

Nature, in its creativity, knows how to escape the perfect algorithm. Two years ago, a quintuplet of category six storms threatened landfall. Highly unusual to see more than two raging at any time, four was unheard of. Outside of statistical probability, but there they were.

From the habitats, the spearhead of colonization, we watched the storms intensities increase. Reports claimed that they had surpassed category seven, into the newly created classes of eight, then nine, and eventually ten.

In our industrial might, our ravenous consumerism, we pushed past the saturation point for a true greenhouse effect to take hold. One of the last transmissions from the ground indicated sustained winds over 450 knots, 830 kilometers per hour! The death toll had reached into the billions.

A year had passed since the last radio signal had been detected from the surface. The Lunar H-3 Facility had gone dark shortly after. Last night, I watched yet another habitat blaze through the atmosphere below us. We are alone, the sole habitat left perched above our homeworld.

From my perspective as station commander, the talk amongst the crew of deorbiting was too much to bear, so I sabotaged the manual controls. I refuse to let suicide by fire be the ultimate end of our miscarried race.

I float in the microgravity of an observation blister tidally locked with the planet below, sequestered from the enraged crew. I watch the billowy blanket of the global storm. I muse on this station becoming a headstone for the lifeforms of earth, hung high above as a marker and warning for whomever may visit in the flung future.

I long for a view of the coasts, of the world spanning oceans I know lay beneath. With a snick and a pop I depress the emergency vent switch. As I shed a tear, my last thought flashes in the silence of vacuum… A White Marble.

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