Governmental District, City of Nova, Planet Mars
It was the day of the Secretary-General’s speech. The twenty fourth of December, otherwise known as Christmas Eve was now a symbolic memory of the snowy holiday where family members exchanged gifts, sang carols and decorated a Christmas tree. With the relocation of the human race to Mars, this tradition remained only due to how deeply ingrained it was in human society by the 21st century. Should one wish to decorate his home for this festive occasion, he would be hard pressed to find anything remotely authentic. The unforgiving, desert like terrain of Mars did not allow the natural growth of too many plants, forcing humans to focus on the development of hydroponic farms in order to produce food. With a population of over 800,000,000, a fraction of what was once several billion humans, Mars is pressured by the needs and demands of its inhabitants. Even now, in spite of severe investments in hydroponic and nutrient replication technology, the amount of food produced artificially could not sustain a quickly growing population.
Modern human civilization no longer celebrated Christmas like before. While members of todays society acknowledge the history and message behind this tradition, most households do not really partake in the occasion. Over the later half of the 22nd century, the United Nations begun using the 24th of December as an opportunity to try to rally the population behind the exploration of space. Were it not for the volunteering efforts of over ten million people, civilization on Mars would be very much different today, far more rudimentary and far less technologically advanced. Education was a very high placed item on the U.N’s list, but the sheer necessity for intense physical labor forced them to use this occasion in order to rally volunteers for the construction of its Navy and planetary infrastructure.
At this moment, Secretary-General Alphonse Macedo was preparing for his Christmas Day speech. His intention was to officially announce the beginning of Incipium Nova, the exploration and colonization effort meant to expand the territory of the United Nations and to find habitable alien planets that could solve the food and resource issues Mars was currently facing. A desert storm was currently approaching the city of Nova, covering everything it touched in a very thick cloud of dust and sand. As the sirens rang out, the city barriers rose from the ground to surround the outer skirts of the capital. With a loud crash, the walls were placed in position, and the dome of the city slowly begun to close, encasing the city within a gigantic vault of steel.
Within the very center of Nova, the governmental district was bustling with activity. Tens of thousands gathered before the old U.N Headquarters, sitting before the announcement stage. Law enforcement officers were deployed through-out the area to ensure the security of both the civilians and the politicians present at the festivity.
As the beginning of the speech approached, those close to the podium could hear the chatter of the crowd:
“We’re finally going to go beyond the Sol System, aren’t we?”
“I heard that they are going to search for new planets we can settle!”
“I wish I could become a colonist, I hate the sand here.”
Secretary-General Alphonse Macedo finally made his way on the podium, greeting the thousands of civilians that appeared for his Christmas speech. Alphonse was a tall, sturdy man in his late fourties. His neatly trimmed hair was well complemented by gray strands through his beard and a stern demeanor. The Secretary-General oozed the confidence and strength the human race desperately needed ahead of their greatest step forward.
As he waved towards the crowd, the Secretary-General approached his stand and slowly keyed his mic. He cleared his throat and slowly let out his raspy voice.
“Citizens of Mars, brothers, sisters and most beloved children. I greet you all on this most auspicious occasion.” He slightly paused to inspect the crowd from left to right. “It is with my utmost pleasure that I announce the commencement of Project Incipium Nova. We humans wished to travel the stars from the moment our forefathers discovered their existence. Ancient astronomers believed that one day, the human race would be sufficiently advanced in order to explore space and beyond. Allow me to tell you, that this is the day we will finally release the shackles that bind us to the Sol System and depart to distant stars. Alpha Centauri, Barnard, Procyon, Trappist. All of these places, once thought unreachable, are now within our grasp.”
The district was engulfed by the cheers of the crowd as they chanted the name of the United Nations and that of the Secretary-General himself. Slowly, Alphonse motioned the audience to settle down.
“For the past two hundred years we have endured many hardships. We have endured the death of Earth and billions of our kind. We had moved to Mars, adapting ourselves to the many deserts and barren rocks of this planet. And now, we have finally discovered the key to exploring the rest of the galaxy. Many of you have siblings, parents and even children who have volunteered to join the Navy or the Directorate. Be proud, for they are the ones to lead us in this new age.”
Alphonse licked his lips and clenched his fist. Vigorously, he delivered the end to his speech.
“We will explore space. We will struggle, and we will overcome. We will once know the lushness of the planet we personally destroyed. For the United Nations, for humanity!”
The rapturous cheers would echo through-out the capital city of Nova.
The facility interior, more specifically the U.N wing was designed very much similarly to the old headquarters located on Earth, in New York. It was perhaps a symbolic attempt at reminding the U.N Councilors of the organizations roots, what it stands for. The organization’s ancestry had seen several dark moments through out history, especially during the initial stages of the relocation to Mars. They were very tough times. Humanity had to powerlessly witness the death of Earth.
Just like the speech within the governmental district of Nova, this meeting was related to the exploration effort meant to depart Sol within the next few days. As it had been previously stated, the U.N chose to adopt a defensive policy and not respond aggressively to first contact. Of course, some members of the security council, more specifically members that had ties into the Defence Command, be it as past allegiance or other forms.
The UNDC itself was split on this matter. The Grand Admiral of the Navy, Lana Oldham was one of the supporters of an aggressive first contact policy in order to allow the Admirals, at their discretion, pre-emptively strike any potential threat. However, many officials feared that by taking such an approach, the United Nations would risk war. Should a sapient, space faring civilization be discovered during the exploration project, an unprovoked act of aggression would be equal to a declaration of war. A war that the United Nations would most likely have no chance to win.
Grand Admiral of the Navy, Lana Oldham had been appointed by the Security Council as a result of the split between the Navy and Army. Initially, Oldham had served as part of the personal staff of the old UNDC’s Director-Commander. A decent strategist and commander, Lana Oldham had quickly rose through the ranks of the organization and displayed cunning several times during war exercises. However, many Councilors within the U.N, alongside many officers within the UNDCN believe that her appointment is one of political nature and not merit alone. As she approaches her mid-fifties, the Grand Admiral still has much to learn. Hopefully she will not buckle under the pressure of her position.
Ranier Fulton, Marshal of the UNDCA, was on the other hand, a supporter of the peaceful first contract protocol. He believed that humanity must not commit the mistakes of their forefathers as they explore these new territories. Human civilization is no longer the apex, nor are they conducting any missions to civilize barbarians or tribes. An aggressive approach could very well bring forth the utter destruction of Mars and the final remnants of humanity. He further feared that, in the event the U.N manages to fight back the invaders, the economy and population of Mars would reach the point of no return. Even now, the great domes of Mars struggle with resources and food. The planet’s population is carefully motivated each year as to not lose hope for the future. If they are faced with the prospect of starvation and even death, mass hysteria and anarchy might engulf humanity once again.
A loud bang was heard in the conference room, as one of the members of the security council banged a gavel against the stand. The stand was synthetically made by the Science Directorate, a concoction meant to imitate the wood you could not find anywhere on the surface of Mars.
“We have been debating this issue for this entire day, councilors. Our esteemed guests, Grand Admiral Oldham and Marshal Fulton clearly have differing views.” Said the Speaker for the Council. “We cannot reach a majority, and thus the initial policy will stand. The Navy will adopt a peaceful first contact protocol and will not, under any circumstance, open fire on an alien vessel unless attacked.”
“Speaker, I must once again insist. It is imperious that the Admirals could—” Lana tried to intervene.
“Give it a rest, Grand Admiral. It has already been decided.” Ranier interjected, sighing. “Your conduct is unbecoming. Do not forget you are within the halls of the United Nations.”
Lana glared back at Ranier and remained silent. She acknowledged that her actions were out of order and pressing on this matter could reflect badly on her in the future.
The Speaker rubbed his wrinkly forehead as he stared at the exchange before him. “This meeting can be adjourned. I thank you all for your presence.” And swiftly, he banged his gavel.
It is a satisfying result for Ranier. Lana’s attempts were very much reckless, and, if one were to take gossip into account, may be politically and financially motivated. This exploration effort opened up several business ventures for industrial companies, especially in the military department. Several mining companies hold a decently sized percentage of asteroid mining facilities through out the Sol System, and they cannot wait to expand into neighboring systems. It is, after all, free real estate.
The increasing influence of these corporations also represented a threat. Ranier was a staunch believer of democracy, and so he thinks that if the corporations increase their wealth due to the exploration and colonization efforts, they will soon seek to stake claims within the United Nations General Assembly. One of the greater industrial companies of the Mars city of Sutten are already suspected of having bribed U.N Councilors in order to obtain several mining permits within the southern side of the Sol asteroid disc.
Exploration and expansion represent salvation. And as they represent salvation, they may as well present the fall and end of the human race. Over two hundred years ago, a war was fought between the two greatest ideologies of man, a war that turned the ancestral home of humanity into a radioactive rock.
Author's note: I wish to say hello to you all again. I've been on a pretty lengthy absence ever since May, with a small attempt at doing another story, although due to circumstances, dissatisfaction and me losing motivation, I discontinued that story too. I am however back, and although I will be posting updates at a slower rate, I hope that you will all enjoy this story.