Leaving Earth

Leaving Earth

The year is 2076. While much laudable progress had been made in the early part of the 21st century, things on Earth have taken a turn for the worse. Conflict, strife, greed, and social disunity are tearing the world apart. Low-level conflicts and regional wars in the early 2070’s have created a lack of trust among nations and communities that is fracturing the world.

Armies have been mobilized, creating a state of panic and tension among nations — and within them. The tribal instincts within people have been reactivated in a perpetual state of “fight or flight” for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Despite herculean diplomatic efforts, cooler heads didn’t prevail.

“They were blind to the road that laid before them, on a path to destroy the very thing (Earth) they had sworn to protect.”

Fighting breaks out slowly at first. Some have a sixth sense that these battles are unlike the ones that preceded them. The inchoative fighting has led some cautious individuals from all areas to leave — sensing that these battles would be unlike those that preceded them. They were right.

These premonitions lead them to their launchpads, where they board their ships and exit Earth’s atmosphere. Some hang out in high orbit, hoping these high-scale conflicts will recede. Others choose to land on the far side of the moon and wait out the conflict there. Some choose Mars, although the infrastructure for habitation is still in its nascent — and unproven — beginnings.

Suddenly, two large explosions are seen on Earth’s surface. Even from space it’s obvious that they were nuclear bombings — the first to be used in war in over 100 years. And these nuclear detonations dwarfed the earlier ones in kilotons, with explosive payloads that are an order of magnitude higher.

Suddenly, the skies light up with planes and spacecraft. Missiles and laser pulses cover the sky in violent streaks. Some crafts are engaged in battle, some are ostensibly trying to escape the planet. Some escape, many do not. Blast debris is entering the atmosphere and starting to spread. Then, three retaliatory explosions rock the other side of the planet, jetting debris into orbit. This debris isn’t just rock and dirt; this orbit-bound debris was once a city: people’s homes, businesses, ancient sites that have been around for millenia. Darker still, this ‘debris’ contains biological material that was formerly people, animals, and biodiverse ecosystems.

As crafts try to flee, many are shot down in fierce fighting. As others enter escape velocity, the debris has already blanketed many parts of the sky — at these speeds the crafts simply explode on contact. What was once a mountain range is now a high-altitude kinetic energy minefield. Others find a few more clear pockets in the sky and rocket out into space, escaping the horrors below.

“The end of Earth. The year is 2076.”

Then, numerous explosions — too many to count — rock the planet. Most regimes release a huge arsenal of their nuclear weapons on their opponents. Even the “winner,” if there is one, can hardly be considered a winner post-conflict. With debris surrounding the planet, nuclear winter will soon be upon them and any others lucky — or unlucky enough — to have survived this nuclear doomsday.

Beyond that, the radiation levels are so high that the only safe respite is deep underground in underground cities built as a contingency — one they never imagined they’d have to use — yet here they are. Once their food and water supplies run out, they too will have to flee the planet — hoping that the debris field has cleared enough for their long-carry craft to navigate it.

You loved Parts 1 and 3, but where is Part 2? You can fill in the interstellar blanks when the full chapter for “Part 2: The ‘Lucky’ Ones” drops on 10/28 at 7pm EST.