Author: Connor D Trulock
The Captain of the deep orbital station opened their eyes as they came back to life.
They shivered, but not from cold, the artificial thaw ensuring the entire body was nearly instantaneously and uniformly raised out of the cold near absolute zero.
After acclimation they moved forward, towards what they were resigned to see and to their one last task.
Alone they floated limp over the viewing port and despondently gazed down at the brown planet below, a planet of ashes.
The station was shaded on the far side of Neptune during the event.
It orbited Triton, studying the microbial life that flourished under its surface.
The Captain had laid the groundwork before the long transit and the longer sleep.
Instructions given, the ships bio lab machinery went to work, producing proper amino acids, peptides, and proteins from its databanks.
It had plenty of time to weave strands of DNA together, base pair by base pair.
Life’s genesis by machine.
The Captain looked with red puffy eyes at the monitor and the shots taken of a world from the sky.
The grid shape was there along with some of the place’s structure; steel and concrete still remained. Memories of a life sketched in charcoal.
The Captain turned, away from the city where they were born, where together they grew up, made a family in, where they wouldn’t see them again.
The synthesizing machines had done thier heavy lifting, the rest was up to the Captain.
Faltering only for an instant, thoughts of return to the safety of the frozen nonexistence, but though now left alone, they would do it.
Cargo secured, trembling gloves pulled and the pod jettisoned making its final journey to the dead planet below.
The event seamed a cosmic fluke.
Humans rushed headlong towards a self-imposed extinction, but in the end, we were beaten there.
A star’s dying breath, a pinch with the light of a billon suns, and a singularity came into existence, exhaling a geyser of compacted light.
A gamma ray burst.
Only being glanced was still enough for a billion years of constructed information to come crashing down.
The Captain lay down by the sprout under whose shade they will never would.
Somewhat off-color yellow, it was making its way to healthy green.
The pod landed on the side of the planet not directly struck to afford the new life a better chance.
The Captain spread the load of synthesized organics far across the land and sea surrounding the drop site, to maximize the microorganism’s habitat, though still almost microscopic compared to the size of the desolate planet.
The majority of the seeds had failed to sprout or had died shortly afterwards, but there was power in numbers and the vastness of time.
One last bit of sustenance they could offer.
Ashes to Ashes.
The Captain shut eyes to the light of suit alarms, as cold from the medical unit ushered one final death.
Pod resources gone, the little specks of life would have to make it on their own.
Then again, they managed the planet far better than Humans ever had, just maybe without them there they could do so once more.
Much, Much latter, the first lieutenant of the deep orbital station opened their eyes as they came back to life.
Around them the rest of the pods were opening, crew emerging.
Together they dressed and moved forward to the main viewing port.
With small gasps and tear-filled eyes, together they look down at the green planet below.