Author Note: This is a story about a superhero named Nova. Told from the very beginning, before hope, before life, and before redemption. Let’s hear her story.
It was a sweltering evening on Andromis, everyone hurried about with protective glasses and reflective coverings. A scientist sighed at his work station, he leaned back away from the computer console and rubbed his eyes. Yet the images from the screen could not be rubbed away. He felt a great wave of loss and fear, There isn’t enough time, he thought desperately.
Andromis was once a beautiful planet, tropical and full of life. Little had their ancestors known that their sun, Kritanta, was nearing the end of its life. It was only within the past century that the Andromisians were advanced enough to begin formulating a plan to save their planet.
Every child was taught science and brought up to become scientists. The need was too great, as the hourglass of time poured out with each passing year. The sun grew hotter and larger, the air became harder to breathe. Plants shriveled up and rain hardly ever fell upon the cracked soil.
It was with great sorrow that world leader Arkamin, stated that there was no way to stop the death of Kritanta, and that their energies would now be directed towards saving their people. Today, three years later, the planet had advanced enough to create space pods, large enough for an infant or child. They were prototypes, if they could send a small creature into space and it somehow survived, they would begin placing children in the pods.
It was their only hope, after all. Andromis believed that life existed elsewhere, they believed this out of necessity, nothing was left for their children here.
However, no one was ready to send their children away, not when they believed they still had time. And so, scientist Barak, had gone to work just as he always did, ready to study and perfect the prototypes believing as everyone else that the star had a few more years of life left in it. Until this morning.
Barak had witnessed an unsettling change in the sun, large solar flares had shot out away from it in angry bursts, it appeared to be expanding, and Barak knew that the final stage before explosion would be contraction. He figured that Andromis had only hours left now, the thought of his young daughter came to his mind. The pods will have to be ready tonight. He shot out of his chair and ran from the lab, he had to tell Control what he had discovered, even if it was too much to bear.
He grabbed the handle of the Control room, this was the very heart of the world’s science division, they called all the shots and had access to the world’s resources. Barak paused as he heard laughter and casual conversation behind the door. It was break time, the last one they would ever get. With great effort, he pushed the door open and sadly approached the team. “I’ve made a discovery, I’m afraid that it is the worst news I could ever bring you,” Barak said, his voice shook with emotion. Everyone stopped, smiles fell off faces and they turned to Barak in confusion. “What kind of discovery, Mr. Barak?” He told them his findings and using the Control room’s central computer he pulled up the file of pictures the telescope had recently captured.
There was a moments pause, the lead Scientist Sentek threw an arm around Barak’s hunched shoulders and chuckled, “Now Mr. Barak, we have seen the sun this active before, it always calms down again, surely this is one of its tantrums, but to say that it is dying today? Why that is quite an absurd assumption!” The other scientists nodded in agreement. Barak pulled away from his grasp in shock, “No, you don’t understand, this is different! I’ve studied these readings every day for 15 years, never has the sun made quite the demonstration that you see now, It is actually expanding, look!” Everyone reluctantly looked at the screen again, and yet Barak could see that they weren’t really looking. They are in denial! The fools will kill us all! Barak thought in anger, he clenched his fists.
He attempted a few more times to get their attention and was met with more head shakes and laughter. “Mr. Barak, go home won’t you? I believe you have worked too hard and are in need of respite.” He locked eyes with them all, hoping to burn the truth into them with his gaze, they merely smiled sympathetically. “Fine, you’ve made your minds up, I see.” He turned on his heel and stormed from the room, slamming the door behind him. I don’t have much time, I can try to tell the world and risk being locked up, or I can save my daughter, I must ready a pod for her. In that moment he hated being a scientist, calculations and numbers never left room for emotion. He knew that the percentage was low that the world would hear his voice, after all, it wasn’t the first time someone had claimed the sun was dying soon. Most people were in denial, he had only hoped that they could be reached.
The only one who would believe him without a doubt was his wife, Amara. How she ever fell in love with him he will never know, she was stunningly beautiful, with gold colored hair that reflected the sun’s brilliance. She had deep blue eyes that reminded people of Andromis’s past. When there were springs of clear refreshing water around every bend and the sound of waves crashing on a not so distant shore. Barak felt he was only average compared to her. He had dusty brown hair, dark eyes and black-rimmed glasses that slid down his straight nose. There was a time he had been quite physically fit, a time when he had hope that the world could be saved and that he could do it. I’m not a hero. Barak placed his hand on the cold pod before him, I am a coward.
It was nearing sundown, the only time Andromis ever got a break from the heat. Amara looked at the horizon in confusion, the sun wasn’t setting as fast as normal. A baby’s cry drew her attention away from the kitchen window, “hold on sweetie, mommy’s coming!” She grabbed a fresh bottle and filled it with milk, shaking it slightly she left the kitchen and proceeded toward her little girl’s cry. A nursery painted to look like green forests and blue skies greeted her. She took in the sight of her baby, almost one-year-old, with golden hair and brown eyes like her father. She smiled and reached her little hands up to her. A front door opened, “Amara, where are you?” Barak’s voice called. She quickly picked up her baby and exited the room.
She greeted her husband with a warm smile, but it quickly fell when she saw the look on his face. “What did you see?” She asked knowingly. He slid to his knees before her and hid his face in his hands, “our time is up Amara, I’m sorry.” He looked up at her and tears welled in his eyes. Their baby started crying again, and Amara held her close fighting back her own tears. She too fell to her knees and together they embraced their little girl and wept. After a few minutes Barak broke away, holding his daughter in his arms, he patted her back gently and hummed a lullaby. Her crying stopped and she rested her head on his shoulder. “My little girl, I’m so sorry I couldn’t make a better world for you.” Amara wiped her eyes, “when?” was all she could manage to say.
Barak stood and helped his wife to her feet, “tonight, it will just be us Amara, I tried to tell Control and they wouldn’t hear me.” Her face grew more hopeless, “What do you mean? Why haven’t you tried telling anyone else?” Barak shook his head in frustration, “They are blinded, if we tell them and they don’t hear us, what do you think will happen? I could get banned from the lab and our only means to save our child!” Amara stood in silence and Barak was surprised at her quiet reply, “Is our daughter’s life worth more than the lives of an entire world?” Barak looked into his baby’s innocent face peering up at him, “Amara, she is my world.” Nothing else was said, Amara only nodded and after one last pause to look at her own world before her, she left the room.
It wasn’t hard. Packing a small bag to put in the pod, and closing the nursery door, driving through the night toward the lab. Outwardly they appeared set and determined, this isn’t hard, they told themselves. And yet, inside they screamed and cried with each step they took.
The lab was dark, Barak swiped his badge and motioned for Amara and the baby to enter behind him. The only sound that could be heard was their footfalls down the hall toward the pod room. Barak had secretly set it up, one pod out of millions stood ready to be deployed into space. He had checked and double checked it and had readied his station. “It’s all set Amara, all we have to do is place her inside and we can control her ascent from here.” Amara nodded and began crying. “Yes, alright.” A computer screen turned on in the far corner and began beeping, a red warning sign flashed across it.
Barak’s mouth opened in shock, “no, no, NO!” He called running to the console and grabbing the sides with his hands. “What Barak, what is it?” Amara dashed to his side in terror. “Put her in the pod now, hurry we are out of time!” They ran back to the pod and gently placed their sleeping baby in its compartment. Barak looked at her one last time, he didn’t cry but smiled and said, “I love you forever and always, remember that.” He went to close the hatch but Amara stopped him, she reached into the compartment and smoothed back her daughter’s hair and kissed her forehead, “goodbye, my heart, my life…my world.”
Barak closed the compartment and turned away before emotion could consume him. Amara followed and they each manned a station. The pod was lifted gently by mechanical arms and placed in a torpedo-like capsule. It rose up the shoot and out of the basement of the lab, it’s speed increasing with each floor. In seconds it shot out of the building completely and into the night sky that was quickly turning gaseous. Solar flares could be seen like fiery spider legs jutting out across the darkness. Their light grew brighter and stronger, fire began raining from the heavens as the pod’s capsule turned to rocket, with blue jets shooting it ever higher.
Barak and Amara watched it’s ascent, making slight adjustments and finally applauding when it broke the atmosphere into space itself. They turned their faces away from the screens filling with static and instead looked into each other’s eyes. Their hands reached out and intertwined and they smiled.
…and Andromis, was no more.
(Part 2: coming soon)