The earth looked beautiful from the space; that was precisely what Mandy knew all great astronauts had said looking down upon our planet. She of course thought that it had lots to do with emotional attachments one feels with one’s home; which is earth, so to say for each one of us. However, on looking down the window of the LunaLunaX, she felt that our sphere was picturesque perfect with all the tranquil blues, the splashes of green and bordering stretches of brown. It was even more perfect because all the fighting going on down there couldn’t be seen from a distance of a million miles unto space. As for the myth of the Great Wall of China, she had no way to tell, with large chunks of the wall already torn down and blown away during the WW-III. Iconoclastic or not, the fighting was true, and as much as humankind had taken leaps in economic development, and technological advance, no one had bothered to bridge the gap between the affluent and the deprived. Social and political conferences were held across the world, regarding the eradication of such evil, but hardly anyone bothered to trace back the discontentment to the enormous disparity among social classes, that had broadened to unprecedented limits in the twenty-second century.
For every one person who could opt to stay alive for as long as they wished, there were four children who died from malnutrition in their infancy. For every new achievement in genetic studies, a thousand people were subjected to brutal tests in the name of the ‘larger good’. For every skyway built around the face of the planet, a thousand rolling meadows were sacrificed, and for establishment of each new manufacturing plant, thousands of acres of farmlands were wiped off. Mandy was happy that she was a ‘society wife’ and that Sam had the political and economic approach to have opted for the ‘Beta’ facilities. If they had the constraint of limiting their aspirations to the Beta facility, they were still better off than 99.9% of the world’s population, only 1% of whom had the resources for the Gamma and Delta facilities. Of course, availing the Alpha would have been their dreams come true, but that was strictly confined to the reaches of world leaders and a few selected renowned men. Anyway, Beta facility wasn’t that bad either; though Sam and she had to put a lot at stake for that.
Their blooming careers, their beautiful LA mansion, their relatives, and all the places they had loved or had ever dreamt of visiting…. Everything went away with their choice, but it held a certain degree of satisfaction, for their child would be among the elite 0.1% of humankind, who would be free of risks, living away from all the incessant fighting, the widespread epidemics, extreme global warming, rapidly diminishing natural resources and the uncertainty of a normal life. It was great having two centuries worth of lifetime, living comfortably on LunaX, and reading about all the horrors of living on earth from a safe distance. Basically, Mars was the God of War, and therefore, after decades of discussions and debates between bureaucrats, scholars and statesmen, they changed the name to LunaX, just to free the name from any terror-inducing implications. This was absurd, of course, especially coming from the very men who’d decided to inflict so much of terror on Earth, but that was inconsequential now, Mandy thought. It was great that human settlements on this alternative planet, LunaX had been going on for the last five decades; it meant considerably negligible chances of any uncertainty associated with inhabiting a new planet. Moreover, the LunaX babies had significantly longer lifespans, considering Uberspace’s new venture. Mandy had spoken with Brenda two years ago, and she had decided right then and there, that no matter what the costs, she would opt for the ‘Beta’ facility for her offspring. It was marvellous; she had parted with all her philosophical outlook on life in that one instant. To hell with the future of humankind, forget about all the injustice and the social disparity. Her child was hers, and she would ensure that she provided the best to her child.
As LunaLunaX neared its destination, the LunaX could be seen, veiled behind the beautiful muted glow of the Atmos Sphere. What a relief it was that Zoranium could be recycled, for LunaX thrived upon the fission of a Zoranium atom into various atoms that constituted the air they breathed on the planet. Atmos Sphere was a huge transparent ball that encased LunaX and maintained the atmospheric stability around its surface. Small vents at Coordinate 00 ensured that some of the air leaked out beyond the Atmos Sphere, which was burnt to serve as the primary light source on LunaX. Mandy had loved this concept of creating an artificial sun, all for the benefits of LunaX residents. When she had asked Sam if they would yearn for actual days and nights, as on earth; he had replied that even that was relative. He had reminded her that day and night were phenomena that occurred because of earth's rotation, its distance from the sun, parallax, the atmospheric density etc. Since LunaX also had its own sun, there was no reason why they should feel any difference.
It was as smooth as a piece of cake, Sam had said; and now Mandy couldn’t agree more. Every little arrangement had been made on LunaX to the finest degree of perfection. Uberspace Corp. had changed the face of humankind’s history with unprecedented force and unimaginable success. The organization had worked tirelessly towards providing the best of facilities to everyone at nominal charges, which in their case was just below two thousand billion dollars. God knew what the charges for the Alpha facility were!
Mandy wasn’t much bothered about the privileges associated with Alpha facilities though, for even the Beta facilities meant a lifespan nearing some two hundred years, something that was done by complete genomic transcription and reprogramming by the SuperCompX, that had a counter-part working on earth which recorded all embryonic information from the foetus as soon as an expectant couple enrolled for their services. Mandy was happy that the only step that remained would be the easiest; downloading the complete genomic codes into her wrist pack and going for the regular treatment facilities once her child was born. The treatment went on for a little more than three years during which period much of the genomic configuration of the child would be altered in accordance with the blueprint that Mandy would very soon be downloading, and then, she would have one of the near-perfect children, something the idiots who were fighting on earth could hardly envisage. Scientists had discovered long ago that complete isolation from all kinds of pathogens would actually harm a person's immune system, thus reducing the rate of recovery in case of even a small cut. Thus, SuperCompX on earth auto-generated a set of random codes that were actually the digital flowchart of a child's major life-events, carefully punctuated at specific intervals, by certain diseases that would help develop the autoimmune system. The SuperCompX counterpart on the LunaX simply downloaded that information and the android physicians worked upon transcribing the same into the child's gene. It excited Mandy to think that her child's long and healthy life had already been sketched down to the finest details by Uberspace; she looked forward to discovering it.
It was true that Sam had earned a lot, and not all of that had been earned fair and square, but Mandy no longer had any qualms regarding any of it; she was feeling unusually happy, on the contrary. She was excited that Uberspace had finally acceded to the LunaX citizens’ demands regarding the Earth Imitation Programme. It was true that there was full access to anything on earth from here, but having real things here was something different. Seven-D access to everything on earth certainly gave the real-time feeling of skydiving in New Zealand or playing beach ball at the Copa Cabana, but hardly provided the satisfaction of actually having been there. Thankfully, Uberspace had started designing LunaX in line with earth, starting with the United States. She was happy that her child could see the Niagara Falls in reality when he grew up. It would be wonderful. They might even someday plan for a holiday in Europe, the LunaX Europe that would be more perfect, safer and risk-free. How she would love for her child to go skiing; he would be infallible at it. Sometimes she would spend a whole night discussing with Sam, what they wanted for their child's future. Sam thought studies would be good enough, but Mandy wanted an athlete. She even argued about the futility of all that rigorous exercise for the child's brain, when there was nearly nothing else left for humankind to discover. Of what use would education be, as such?
Disembarking was a lengthy affair when they reached LunaX. The LunaLunaX was supposed to engage at precise coordinates, where they had space sockets; Mandy thought it would take a lifetime to get off the spaceship. She was well into her second trimester and had been experiencing the problem of developing slight oedema in her feet. All the flying had left her feeling slightly queasy. The oxygen rich environment had done little to alleviate the suffering; she saw the physicians from Uberspace Corp. handing pills to the people who had finally started emerging. Those were supposed to be antidotes for atelectasis, or mucus accumulation in the alveoli caused by inhaling oxygen rich air for too long. She knew that it would take still some time for the Beta facility members to disembark. The three-day long voyage had taken some toll upon her health, for she didn't feel too immaculate herself. She wondered how the heavily pregnant woman from the Alpha Club had managed it, but then they had travelled Alpha Class. Mandy tried peering around looking for the SuperCompX. She was sure that Brenda had told her that moms were specifically assigned to do the honours. What an exciting thought that seemed to be! She would have the blueprint of two centuries worth of a lifetime for her offspring. These thoughts made Mandy feel marginally better; the morning sickness made her shudder with an onslaught of another wave of nausea. Why the hell were the Alpha members taking so long to disembark? All that Mandy wanted now was to get off, get themselves registered, download all the information from the SuperCompX and be escorted to their cottage, where she would plunge right into a hot bath.
It was nearly a couple hours before they finally emerged from the spacecraft and set foot on LunaX. Mandy felt paralyzed by the momentary temperature difference she encountered while stepping inside Atmos Sphere from outside. Even the space capsule hardly camouflaged the freezing temperature outside.
The lady in Uberspace uniform made a gesture towards her to move along the queue of would-be moms. She started feeling fidgety. Once she reached the SuperCompX, she removed her wrist pack and touched it to the console. She knew that it took a few minutes for the data to download, but hers was done in a jiffy. Right beside the computer was another which deciphered the computer language into pages of human languages. Mandy gingerly inserted the cable into her wrist pack. The screen blinked thrice and returned just one word; 'VOID'.
Mandy repeated the exercise twice, and upon finding the same on all three occasions, her hysteria erupted.
"What's this? Something's wrong here... HELP! SAM, HELP!"
The Uberspace Volunteer seized her by her arm and led her away from the console.
"This is an extremely unfortunate incident, Ma'm. Happens once in probably a million; the earth SuperCompX must have malfunctioned while performing your initial embryonic scan, but don't worry, we could arrange for a refund minus the travelling charges".
"You bastards! What does it mean? My child isn't going to live?"
"Exactly Ma'm. Without his genomic transcription, he wouldn't be able to make it on LunaX. But you can always try for another. That's free because you're enrolled and have paid in full". The volunteer's courteous voice had caught a challenging edge.
Mandy kept kicking and shrieking as they began leading her away to the cottage....