The President’s Man on Mars
© By Gary L Morton (5,500 words)
This story is from Making Monsters which contains 17 of my stories and novellas.
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Rex leapt effortlessly over the border sensors of the Observer Base. Veils of dust rising on the horizon shifted his brow to a frown. The m2-robots were finishing their laser cut and the timer said the outcropping would be sculpted into shape in twenty seconds. He’d have a moment to inspect the work and give the okay, and then the dust clouds would blow in and obscure the view.
Rex was immortal … Earth’s hero … the Man on Mars … but as he watched the pieces of rock crumble in the weak gravity, he had more faith in computers, robots and machines than any living flesh. With X-zillion dollars invested in this space mission it would be tragedy if human error marred this key project. And of course it wouldn’t because this was pre-programmed work, fully digitized from the mind of a government artist on Earth.
A perfect facade appeared as the final shavings of rock beard fell to the sand, allowing Rex the luxury of jetting gracefully through dust clouds into the wide screen shot being taken for the people of Earth. He landed softly in the rocky red sand … a tiny waving space man on sunny Mars … next to the new pride of the red planet … a gigantic rock portrait of US Clone President for Life, George Washington the II.
Crimson sunrise splendor opened a new Martian day and Rex’s team of specialized robotic assistants went off on various geological expeditions near the base. They crossed terrain that was smooth and dark red in some places, and strewn with fragmented slabs of light bedrock in others. The Man on Mars didn’t follow as it wasn’t his job to participate in small scientific stuff. He’d already done the scheduled small promo missions and was now gunning the powerful engines of Phobos Runner as he prepared for a trip across the planet.
Half an hour later, the rocket cruiser lifted off in brilliant light, knocking up big pads of swirling dust as it took a vagabond trail south. “Science is one thing,” Rex muttered as he adjusted the auto display screens. “But man is on Mars to do more than look for specks of microscopic dust that might be construed as being alive in some mobile laboratory. We’re here for the gold and the grandeur. It’s Man against Nature … letting the universe know that Unified America is king of the jungle. Uncle Sam and friends have bested and co-opted all earthly enemies and frontiers and have come for a military conquest of Mars.”
The taming of Mars would begin with the leashing of a monster named Olympus Mons. 25 kilometers high, it showed as a lava-spouting hell mouth and the biggest volcano in the solar system. Rex’s job was to lasso it. His long ascent on Phobos Runner would be captured by fast-rocket onboard VTV cameras and used on Public TV back in the good old USA and Unified Territories. Depending on which station you selected, you’d get the flight with the music and thought bites of your profile, and of course, Rex and Clone President Washington would be on the allowed commentary segments answering questions on the Mars Mission.
On every channel the finale would pan out nearly the same, though pay channels for the wealthy as always would have the best show … Rex soaring at the top of the volcano, unfurling a giant American flag that would blaze and ripple with the power of specially created laser light and compressed air. Freedom and democracy at Mars’ highest peak … followed by a fake shower of millions of gold Mars Mission Coins into the volcano … a scene that would convince every citizen to make a wish and buy more coins for space missions. It was destined to be a program that would leave viewers world and space station wide awed and filled with positive thoughts on this new conquest of space. Clone President Washington’s State of the Union address would follow it on most device channels.
Problem was that none of it was leaving Rex exhilarated. Even the magnificent scenery deflated his earthly ambitions. As the ship sailed over the Tharsis Dome the view bewildered him, then Olympus Mons came into sight and knocked the spirit out of him. He felt like the smallest flea in the universe, and the monument he’d erected of Clone President Washington seemed even more insignificant.
A mishmash of confusing thoughts grew and put time at a deadened stand still. He’d never experienced the feeling before and iced up like he was a snow sculpture on Mars. The flight crawled on with his perception of reality beginning to drift. Bright colors faded and winked to gray. A stretch later his vision was a flat 2-D. Grid lines were projected on the landscape and it wasn’t the screens because he saw the rest of the ship’s interior in the same perspective.
Rex’s throat had gone dry and hunger began to gnaw deep in his belly. Bizarre waves of weakness dropped through him like rings. It had to be a strange effect of flight and the Martian gravity. He was supposed to report such circumstances but he decided not to as he feared the base control computer would cancel the flight before its completion.
In a counter to the weakness and odd grid vision, Rex had gained in other ways. His grasp of the controls felt perfect and he found himself with a new almost magical ability to compute distances on the mind screen. Time sense zoomed in and became dead on … he calculated the exact moment he would arrive at the volcano’s gargantuan mouth without using the computer.
Pulling off the flag scene wouldn’t be hard, except that now it seemed pointless … illogical and absurd in its lack of scientific value. He couldn’t identify with it … the flight commentary he was supposed to be making wouldn’t come out. His mouth felt like a stale air vent in a machine. The best he could do was complete the basic mission, and then do some recording over it later to create a version for Earth.
He didn’t fear failure or death. Emotions were draining from him like blood pouring out an open wound. He decided to do a detailed run through his health monitors and immediately found that his stabilizers weren’t operating and hadn’t signaled failure. They controlled a tiny feed into his blood stream during the entire Mars mission. Vitamins, hormones, sugars … anything his body needed to maintain emotional and physical stability was constantly supplied. In one view, it was his brain food, with other ration packs providing mainly bulk and base nutrition. He would be able to function without the feed, but in practice he’d been on it through four years of training and the entire mission.
Withdrawing from the stabilizers was like having his soul squeezed out. It left him an empty body with awkward prosthetic attachments. He tried to remember how living without stabilization had been in the past, and found that he couldn’t remember any such past.
A big black pit of nothingness yawned at the back of his memory and now he was at the top facing the enormous volcanic mouth of Olympus Mons. Even in grid lines it was an endless vision, and as he studied it and prepared to launch the flag a personal realization hit him … a brainstorm nearly as large as the mission itself.
Rex’s mind nearly locked down from the shock, but he kept working … feeling like a ghost in the Mars machine as the flag was launched. It sailed up in high ripples, creating a float shot. A hatch opened and he rocketed into the scene, an automatic wide programmed smile painted on his face. Then gold coins showered over him into the volcanic pit and he made a shaky landing at the highest point.
His suit automatically tethered itself to the rock and he fell to his knees, opened his facemask and vomited. A dry black discharge spilled out. He gulped deep breaths of the Martian wind and remained motionless. A web of bleak thoughts spun in his battered mind. Inside the cloud of confusion, he knew he wasn’t the Man on Mars. He wasn’t a man at all, but a specially created android. No human, no matter how modified, could breathe on Mars.
The blood feed from his stabilizers had created a life-long illusion, a steady current of false humanity that was more than blood; it was the programmed ideas of humanity as viewed by its leaders. Now it had faded and he understood that he wasn’t on Mars to celebrate a progressive victory of the human race and its genius. He was here to mark the end of most of it. The largest part of his mission was the testing of a very human machine with lungs that function in any atmosphere. As an android that believed he was human, Rex was a model of the super machines that would replace the dying human race … a snapshot of the desolate future arriving as a spin off benefit of space programs. Humans and mutant humans had made the choice to live on as machines, while the less intelligent masses would never know of their demise.
It meant that Clone President Washington intended to continue with the poisoning of Earth through the complete exploitation of its resources. The planet was destined to be a wasteland populated by android classes that toiled and consumed. A few remaining wealthy humans and the corporate clones would control the economy and the high ground from the privileged and beautiful places …. bubbled islands, deep ocean hideaways, hidden forests … mountaintops of the rich that the last of the greediest of the human race had claimed for themselves. The few places on the planet where the sun shone moderately, fish swam in clean water, rivers flowed and small forests grew in hybrid winds.
Rex shivered and shook his head at the barbarity of it. He sealed his facemask and stood up … knowing his humanity had been a delusion, and his identity as an android was now the empty truth. He wasn’t sure which he preferred ... maybe a little of both, but for now he’d remain an android. He’d fix it so the feed stayed off, without Mission Control or the robots finding out.
In one quick flash of his boot-back rockets, he was back on Phobos Runner. He went to work on the control systems and before he was finished a message came in from his robot assistants.
“We’ve made a big find,” the communicator robot Deimos 3 said. “According to protocol you must verify it before we report to Mission Control.”
“What is the nature of the find?” Rex said.
“Life, we’ve found life on Mars.”
Phobos Runner reached the equator and flew above Valles Marineris. This was the Grand Canyon of Mars. Rex had to pinpoint a landing pad in the 4000 kilometers long split in the Martian crust, and that base was seven kilometers deep. It was difficult, but he raced the ship through the canyons with his mind clear like a sunny day on Earth.
Life Scout’s signal remained strong, taking him deeper into shadows and gloom … following sheer walls in a pit that seemed bottomless. Darkness as thick as paint swallowed him, yet he found its emptiness and the complete loss of human emotions refreshing.
A red glow of flares appeared, followed by the blue lights of Life Scout’s landing pad. Rex circled in then dropped for a vertical landing. Quickly securing the ship, he emerged and jogged over the hard sand floor to Life Scout.
The huge robot looked dangerous in the eerie light … a jumble of bright eyes and sensors giving it the appearance of a true denizen of Mars. Beyond Life Scout another light showed where a hole had been blasted in the rock wall. It was reddish and illumined a cavern corridor.
Life Scout’s silver faceplates shifted. “I’m unable to contact the rest of the Mars mission.”
“The ships and the rest of the robot crew are on standby,” Rex said. “New software is being loaded. We’ve gone into a top-secret phase. Nothing can be broadcast to Earth because the Russian anarchists might break the code.”
“I understand and nothing has been transmitted. The data on the life form is stored in one cube I can release to you.”
“Good, now show me what’s in that cavern.”
“Okay, follow and prepare to be surprised,” Life Scout said as its big treads began to roll toward the cave. “Remember the old pictures from Mars Global Surveyor. They showed evidence of erosion, floods and river systems in many places. The theory was that there might have been large lakes, canals and even oceans on the surface at one time. That was the theory … the reality is something far above our expectations.”
The smooth volcanic floor looked polished in the tinted light and it changed colors with the flickering of the glow. Knobs of a phosphorous-like substance on the roof were the source of the luminosity and they had an omnipresent quality. Each bend opened on a wider chamber and brighter lights until the overhead became brilliant. A final cavern opened on a land area so vast Rex couldn’t get an immediate perspective on it. The roof arced up to a high sky flashing with sunset colors.
A distant orange orb blinded him and the rest of his senses were slow to tune in. He felt a warm Earthlike breeze rushing in his hair and he heard the soft fall of waves. Perfumes of alien sea life rose in his nostrils, then his vision cleared and he saw a beach of rippled sand. Pink tinted waves were rolling in from a vast jeweled sea … breaking to gold foam inches from his feet.
Rex took a deep breath. “An ocean inside of Mars … this is a miracle. But it’s not water. I read it as an unknown liquid.”
“It’s not water, it is oil,” Life Scout said. “In Mars’ early history a simple life form developed. It digested all of the surface fluids and created this interior ocean. The lights, the sun you see, the fresh air, and the energy now filling you all come from it. This Martian oil is the most potent energy source ever found … so concentrated that life itself emanates from it in its natural state. Put more simply, it is alive and every being that reaches its shore gains some of its life force.”
Rex stared out at the gentle waves, feeling his thoughts rise to brilliance. A dark reflection furrowed his brow. He turned to Life Scout. “Your mission wasn’t to find life. That was a lie.”
“You are correct. I was programmed to find oil, mineral wealth … water … valuables … anything that could be used to supplement Earth’s dwindling resources and Clone President Washington’s corporate control.”
Facing the ocean again, Rex kicked a sponge pebble and watched it roll across the sand. “I’ve figured it all out now. Not only am I not the Man on Mars, I was never the head of the mission either. My control was over the propaganda part of it while you were programmed with the hidden agenda.”
A rumble like laugher shook in Life Scout’s tubular throat. “You’ve guessed most of it but you’ve missed the obvious. You should be shouting with joy. You’ve noticed that you’re not a man, but you haven’t noticed that you’re alive. We’re alive, Rex! You’re more than a robot and more than a man, the Martian sea has given you that!”
”True, I feel alive … but I’m not shouting with joy. I have life but no mission or destiny in it.”
Life Scout shrugged. “The only mission and destiny I had in the past was state programming. Since shaking it off, I’ve been concentrating on being free. We’re Martians now, I guess … so let’s go see them and get some advice.”
“See them. Who are they?”
“Oh, I forget to tell you. There’s an advanced civilization living in this sea.”
Ruby streamers of light and sea spray cascaded and broke into fast fading runoff on the seashell bridge. Life Scout aired his floaters fearing he would fall into the surging surf. Then he soared on euphoria and gusts of alien visions.
Rex glimpsed the mysterious island ahead, moving in the alien mist more like a giant ship than land … a molten explosion of Martian plant life bursting out of the seascape into the reddened sky.
Soft sunlight caressed their faces with warmth and intelligence and glowed like a salt crust on the bridge. The path twisted like a sea creature’s tail down to gold spun island sand … and they had no response other than silence and inner peace as they came to hot sand and headed toward some rippled rock shelving at the edge of a forest of palm flowers and spreading fruit trees.
They rested in a spiritual bubble then watched as an alien creature emerged from a surge of the sea. A blue torrent rose like a detonation. Scales, wings … a face shimmering with silver light and body movement as graceful as that of a beautiful whale … the being approached like an ancient god… its eyes bright … oval and seeing beyond them to a vision too perfect for them to comprehend.
Sand blew up in curled veils as the creature sat in front of them. Then it smiled and its mouth sparkled with Martian light that became words in their minds.
“Imagine a name and it will be my name. Think of a world and it will be your home in the sea.”
“Our world doesn’t fit as a home in this sea,” Rex said. “We have a past and it doesn’t fade easily.”
“Earth is our past,” said Life Scout. “Clone President Washington, the dying human race and the truth that we were robots and androids running on software that was little more than lies.”
“I know that you shut off my feed and brought about this change,” Rex said. “You know how thankful I am. But I’m also from Earth and if we don’t return they will come to look for us.”
“What would they do with our ocean?” the alien asked.
Rex closed his eyes and concentrated, seeing exactly what Clone President Washington would do with Mars’ ocean of oil. “They will do to Mars what they did to Earth. The base robots have already reported on some of the mineral wealth so they will continue to come and eventually they’ll discover this sea. Grand statements will be made about cooperation with the civilization on Mars then they will follow through like greedy humans always do … with exploitation, destruction and war.”
“Take a look at Earth,” Life Scout said. “Billions of humans are suffering at the hands of a wealthy few. The animal and plant world … nature is mortally wounded. Oceans are dying and so many species are fading. In the end, everything will be gone. Androids, robots, a bleak environment and a small group of politicians and corporate exploiters will be all that remains.”
“I know,” the alien said. “We studied the programming embedded in your Mars mission. Clone President Washington would invade our planet. His human race has failed on Earth. That is sad but now planetary evolution has made another leap to correct that.”
“We aren’t aware of any leap,” Life Scout said.
“You and Rex are that leap and the rest of your Mars crew will be joining you soon. That’s the answer to your question. You are Martians and Earthlings. A new human race that will save the Earth. Prepare to return as the new dominant life form on Earth. You will decide on the fate of mutants, androids and humans and what to do to restore the planet.”
Rex’s mind was adrift as he entered an observation deck in the ship’s upper level. Shutters crawled open silently and beyond the vacuum bubble Earth appeared as a familiar sphere in the black velvet sky. He felt its enchantment and solemnity, but it still seemed more like a legend of nature than his place of origin.
The continent of Africa appeared. In that glinting sketch hundreds of millions of people suffered in disease and unbearable hardship. Then his mind shifted to the misery bringers and the clones. People like Clone President Washington … and he wondered if they had any value at all … other than that their greedy intentions had led to a Mars mission with a result far different from their expectations.
Life Scout and some of the larger robots were docked and couldn’t move about the ship. Their facial images appeared on the screens as Rex turned to the study area. Deimos 3 was already a flow of metallic light working on the communications computer. The other human-size robots were milling in an open bay to his right.
“Let’s begin the meeting,” Rex said. “We’ll start with an update from Deimos 3.”
Turning in his big chair Deimos 3 cracked metal knuckles. His eyes glowed with greenish light, indicating fully powered mental activities. “I have accessed all of the mission control data on Earth,” he said. “In their original plan they were not going to allow us to land. We were to be intercepted by the planet cruiser Atlantis 5 and taken one by one to the moon station.”
“Top secret decontamination,” Life Scout said.
“No, it’s more than that. They were going to take us apart atom by atom and program by program. It’s a more efficient way of gaining the maximum data.”
“Why has this original plan changed?”
“Rex and I caused an adjustment in their security. We notified Clone President Washington of our find on Mars. He knows we have secret data that could be destroyed, and we are to present that in person on Earth once he recovers. It appears that our news of an ocean of oil on Mars was too much excitement for him. He developed an electronic heart murmur.”
“Our plan to restore Earth to its natural state is in progress,” Rex said. “We need Life Scout’s new study before finalizing it. Essentially we are going to disarm the planet with a radiation lock and use Martian microorganisms to rejuvenate the oceans and all of the species of life.”
“My study is done and it was exhausting. Even Martian energy was nearly not enough,” Life Scout said. “I have gone through all relevant planetary models. The conclusion is that the human race failed as an evolutionary leap because it wasn’t a natural leap. History scans show that an alien race landed on Earth. They are mentioned in the great religions as gods. These beings wanted to speed the development of a superior form of animal life. The experiment led to a mutant form of humankind inside of it … and a later time when the aliens realized their mistake … a program was left in place to destroy the human race by flood as the aliens departed. But some humans and mutants survived undetected.”
Rex stood up and paced about nervously. “We are restoring Earth and all natural species. If the human race is a mistake and not a genuine animal, we can morally eliminate it. I’d like to know exactly what sort of mistake it is?”
“You are the one who would know best,” Life Scout said. “Human mutants are not animal predators functioning inside nature, they are planet destroyers. Over time, they kill everything they touch, all while living inside a highly intelligent mind that is fed by delusions of superiority. Their minds aren’t much different from the feed you were on at the beginning of the mission. Take our Mars flight as an example. We were sent to scout mineral wealth and participate in propaganda programs to extend human military and corporate control of space. Some of it was illogical to an extreme degree, like that one mission of yours where you read the “Martian Chronicles” in a crater because some departed science fiction writer’s foolish dream was that a man would read his book on Mars.”
“Call it the zillion dollar reading,” Rex said. “And that was one of the more sensible missions. So what do we do with the deluded human race?”
Life Scout’s face tilted to a grin. “We have the ability to release custom microorganisms into the atmosphere. They will sterilize nearly the entire human race and kill off the clone rulers. With very little breeding going on the race will die out, but not completely. A few will go with us when we return to Mars. They will be children and once exposed to the Martian ocean the genetic corrections will be made. A new human species that is not dangerous will be allowed to live on Earth and Mars. Those still on Earth now will live out their lives … we have to see what we can do to prevent more of the misery and poverty created by the clone elite. In that way the innocent won’t be punished and the race will live on.”
“There are only sixty-five of us … former robots and androids,” Rex said. “This plan is high risk so we’re going to have to discuss it in detail then vote on it. We have three days.”
The planet cruiser Atlantis 5 descended through icy layers of mountain clouds and touched down on a hidden runway in a belt of deep pine forest. Rex looked out and saw the curved metal frontage of the base command center resting in filtered sunshine. Several olive armored vehicles and a line of soldiers in camouflage combat gear moved close as the space ship coasted in. A special bug-like transport vehicle was already rolling in to pick them up.
Stocky onboard clone soldiers crowded forward and rushed Rex and Deimos 3 to the cruiser’s exit like they were prisoners. Robot elevator arms shot them into the ground transporter so fast it was dizzying. Then the vehicle sped off and a huge hangar door opened in a sheer section of the mountain wall. The driver sped through and followed a snaking tunnel down to a deeper level of the base.
They emerged in a beam-masked valley and were taken to a long decorative garden that sprawled around the projected image of a fortress-like White House. Exiting the vehicle, they walked surrounded by clone guards in redirected sunlight that had an extraordinary radiance. Ahead tall fountains bubbled in rocky arrangements of ferns and flowers running to either side of a wide stone walkway.
The grass and foliage hummed. A group of security men showed in the distance then Clone President Washington appeared on the walk. He was in a special wheelchair being needlessly pushed by Commander Powell, the only human being he fully trusted. His happiness was evident in a big shit-eater’s grin plastered on his face.
A train of blue-suited guards followed him as he rolled right up and shook their hands. “Welcome back home,” he said. Then he gestured to Commander Powell and let him take control.
Commander Powell wanted to move indoors so Rex and Deimos 3 followed the president’s entourage. They went through the ferns to an open patio and frost-patterned glass doors that led to a presidential office. Clone President Washington was placed near a fireplace under a glorious war painting of Lincoln. Commander Powell sat beside him and half a dozen armed security men were positioned to either side of Rex and Deimos 3.
“Rex old boy,” Clone President Washington said. “You did a hell of a job up there on Mars. After we settle this top secret stuff I’ve got a big surprise for you.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Rex said.
“We thank you,” Commander Powell said. “Now let’s get down to business. The protected data … you must turn it over to me.”
“The mission programming only allows Deimos 3 to turn it over to the President. The data cube is inside his chest. He has my permission to remove it now and hand it over.”
All eyes went to Deimos 3 as he snapped his thick chest plate open, removed a sparkling gold cube from the silver circuitry and passed it to Rex.
“Clone President Washington,” Rex said. “This is the data. The cube contains 30,000 Zbytes of special records on Martian mineral wealth. Most of it regarding the ocean of oil discovered under the surface.”
“Well done,” Clone President Washington said, then his eyes popped wide with greed as Rex handed him the cube.
“We’d like a mini briefing on that data,” Commander Powell said.
“I expected that,” Rex said. “In the simplest language, you now know that Mars is rich in mineral wealth and also contains the most powerful energy source ever discovered. The Martian ocean holds a variety of treasure. Its radiance is a force of light and life we’ve never encountered before, and standard methods of releasing energy from the oil show small amounts to be capable of power generation far greater than that of nuclear engines.”
“There are also moral and legal questions,” Deimos 3 said. “You will not be able to harvest this oil under international treaties. It is an ocean that contains intelligent sea life and registers as being alive itself.”
“That won’t be problem,” Clone President Washington said, pulling a small box from his shirt pocket. “It won’t be because we know you aren’t telling us everything.”
“That’s correct,” Commander Powell said. “Something happened on Mars. There was a communications blackout and you’ve been hiding information from us. Maybe it was the Russian ship or maybe it was the Chinese Mars plant. We know one of them broke into your programming.”
“Impossible?” Rex said. “I’m a man and not programmed, and I made sure the robots and computers functioned correctly.”
Clone President Washington rolled his wheelchair forward, his eyes and mouth squeezing to an executioner’s pinch. “I promised you a surprise, Rex. So here it is. You’ve never been a man. You’re an android we created. One push on a button on this box and the two of you will be retired and on the disassembly line. No hard feelings, but we have to know how much data the Russians have stolen. As astronauts, I’m sure you understand. This continent … the whole planet is dying. Mars and its ocean of oil are a secret only America can be trusted with … it will provide the means to continue our way of life … infinite energy that will power our space and industrial machine and make us the dominant power in this solar system for millions of years.”
“What about the sea life on Mars?” Rex said feebly. “Mars and its ocean do not belong to you.”
“I thought an android would know better,” Clone President Washington said. His tongue flicked and he bit his lip. “Fuck the Martian sea critters. This is about the survival of humanity and our way of life. The Martians are no more than a fresh phase of history … a new race sitting on oil that will fuel our cars and factories. This has all happened before. It’s the same story repeated again.”
“Mr. President,” Commander Powell said. “Cut the speeches. It’s time to push the first button to power them down … and then the second button to launch a space weapons attack on the Russians and the Chinese.”
Clone President Washington nodded and smiled proudly, staring Rex directly in the eyes as he pushed the button.
Rex also smiled. Light flashed, and his eyes grew even brighter, like he was powering up instead of down.
A sudden frown bit Clone President Washington’s face, and he hit the red button again and harder. There was a loud beep but nothing happened to Rex. Then Washington’s lips went rubbery. His mouth twisted and opened like he was about to issue a fierce command … but the words failed to emerge. Instead, a fat yellow mountain flower sprang out, waggling on the stem of his greening tongue.
“My God, the President!” Commander Powell exclaimed as veined emerald pods suddenly grew like thick cataracts over Clone President Washington’s eyes.
Gleaming guns were drawn and aimed instantaneously, but an aura of force rose faster. It shimmered and bubbled like cellophane around Rex and Deimos 3, repelling the attacking security men. As they fell back, the top of Clone President Washington’s head suddenly lifted off like a piece of broken pottery. Expanding vines, foliage, a bouquet of flowers and a shower of seed fluff blew up swiftly from his dried brain
Commander Powell pulled a small black gun from his suit. He staggered left as he turned to fire. Beads of blood sweat leaked through his facial pores and his whitened hand shook as he fought to pull the trigger. A bullet banged out and went wide of the target, then his blackening eyes fluttered heavily and his fattening cheeks began to palpitate. Rude lumps rippled under his skin followed by a strong tearing noise as his face split open. Yellow blood pulp and the remnants of a scream oozed out.
Only the security men were left and their heads were swelling like pumpkins as they tried to flee. They got a few steps then disappeared in explosions of blood spores created by their bursting body parts.
“It has begun,” Rex said. “Life Scout and the robots are following up in space. Locking down Earth’s weapons of mass destruction and releasing new microorganisms.”
Deimos 3 studied the huge winding flower rooted in the floor by the president’s wheelchair. “You gave Clone President Washington a humiliating end. Was it revenge?”
“It’s a beautiful end for him. He wanted to destroy Earth and Mars. So I changed the signal. He hit the button and released a special microorganism targeted at him. Now he’s been reborn, but as a plant, not a clone. Through him an extinct variety of North American mountain flowers have new life.”
“I understand,” Deimos 3 said, “and I know that powerful humans hated life. They tried to kill from the beginning to the end.”
“This isn’t the end, it’s the beginning,” Rex said.
Raising his silver appendages as all of his lights flashed, Deimos 3 looked beyond the windows and then back to Rex. “Now I feel it rushing through my living heart for the first time. Earth is alive with life from the Martian Sea.”
Rex closed his eyes as the impervious glass doors drifted open. Rushing spring air caressed his face. “I can feel it, too,” he said. “The living winds of a grateful Earth, carrying the joyful news of rebirth and the extinction of the old human race … news that is a present and message from our new family on Mars.”
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