A century has passed and yes, the human race stumbled into evolutionary compromise. But it’s not the androids who are the victors. Post-humans have exploded into preeminence, gaining tech superiority and a tech immunity against the global environmental degradation. Humans are trivialised, a minority species, their one last significant task, restore the environmental damage they inflicted on Earth and terraform off-planets. One human and his ‘biot’ android embark on such a journey to Mars, opening the possibility for an evolutionary path back to greatness, but hostile post-human agents have infiltrated their mission.
I was intrigued by space exploration from an early age but never put in the required study to gain entry into science based industries. Writing allowed me to imagine life in the world of space exploration. At the time of writing, a lot of exciting space projects were unfolding, particularly around Mars. Early drafts of Sentient were about intergalactic flight, but I ultimately narrowed the scope of the story to our own backyard, the solar system and Mars.
Draven was unarmed except for a single dagger, which he removed from his sheath and pointed his assailant’s way, inviting him to battle. Harvey, like all military biots, was a robotised killer, programmed to fight in the fires of hades if there commander required it. He welcomed Draven’s challenge, exchanging a steel salute with his blade.
In that moment between standoff and battle, both combatants exchanged an inscrutable glance that signalled the opening gesture, acceptance that what they now started would only end with one standing. War-like adrenaline saturated the cave like the Martian dust as they began a dance they’d spent their lives honing. Both were masters of the blade.
The soldier relished rather than feared Draven’s advantage as he rotated 360 degrees to confront the four assailants that encircled him. It was a Russian roulette encounter, with only one holding the real weapon of death. But which? The soldier flicked his handle, extending his knife to a sword, showing he too brought tricks to the arena. Masterfully, he swept the sword in a Samurai-like movement of grace and skill glancing all four assailants, clicking real metal on only one, establishing his real target.
He attacked Draven, slicing, carving and driving his sword in every possible direction and angle but each time Draven evaded his assault untouched, toying with him. The soldier grew bolder with every exchange as if the challenge was all that mattered. Ever faster, he launched attacks that ultimately pushed Draven into the rock wall. Cornering Draven, he felt emboldened to make a devastating but risky assault, successfully finding the small opening in his defence allowing Harvey to plunge his sword deep into Draven’s core.
The sound of steel driving through Draven’s body echoed through the cathedral signalling victory, but to the soldier’s shock, Draven stood tall, before the flickering of his holograph gave way to the cold rock where he stood.
You’re fast, soldier. But I’m as quick as light,” he said, pulling his knife from the soldiers back, spilling his blood to the Martian dust, decommissioning the young soldier with a single decisive incision.
C S Lewis’s classic, Out of the Silent Planet was the first book I ever read, over fifty years ago, commencing my lifelong fascination about the future and Mars. The War of the Worlds has been the motivation for a large number of film and television interpretations of H G Wells famous book. I still enjoy seeing new versions of this enduring classic. My favourite SFF novel about Mars goes hands down to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, a masterpiece of hard science fiction.
Author and Links
Michael Leon is an explorer, writer and author of the new novel, Sentient. Professionally trained in international trade, Michael has spent the last decade reading and writing SFF novels about new worlds to be explored in the future. His latest work, Sentient, imagines Earth in the year 2120. Michael has traveled extensively around Europe, walking the paths of his characters, from the famous European opera houses in Phantoms to the mountain tops of Switzerland in Emissary.