Chapter 2: ATLAS – Preparing the Spaceship
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Atlas and Angelique left the room first, resisting the urge to run in case they encountered something around a corner.

The base was deserted. As they made their way down the hall Atlas wondered how someone had managed to get into the base at this time of night. “Why is the world so crazy right now?”

Angelique looked at Atlas. “It’s the pace of change that is making the world go crazy. We haven’t seen this much innovation since the industrial revolution. I think everyone is fighting over the pieces.”

He smiled at her. “Well, actually, you might be too young to have experienced this, but I’ve lived through two massive changes in humanity.”

 “Getting phones wasn’t as big a change as AI,” Angelique remarked with a side-eye.

He shrugged. “It’s not as big as what is happening today. But it did completely change the way society operated.”

“Hmmm, phones were a tiny blimp compared to AI,” Angelique said, rolling her eyes. “The singularity we’re going through today changed the world order, just like the industrial revolution turned America into a superpower. AI has made a tiny country with only five million people into a superpower.”

The door in front of them distracted them from their debate; they had arrived at the mission control centre. The room was half full of rows of empty desks – it wasn’t scheduled to be fitted out for a few months.

They walked past the rows of empty desks. They kept walking until they reached a security door on the other side of the room. Where Atlas punched in several numbers, then scanned his fingerprint. He opened the door and walked through, Angelique following close behind.

There were three computer desks in this room. Atlas looked at each of the computers, reading the sign next to each one. He pointed at the one in the middle.  “You need to connect onto that computer. You’ll have to use my credentials.”

 “What do you need me to do?” asked Angelique as she pulled out the chair and sat down in front of the screen.

“Your terminal unlocks the embryos. Begin the unlocking sequence and depressurising the freezers. We need to get them moved onto the freezers on four spacecrafts asap. We’re lucky there was a test launch scheduled for tomorrow. So our spacecrafts are mostly ready to launch,” Atlas explained as he sat down in front of another computer and started typing away furiously. He found the screen he wanted and scanned the information, pulling up a list of available ants.

Ants stood for automated networked tactical spacecrafts. Ants were automated bots that could operate in both space and on planets. By default ants had six legs and one arm at the front. Each leg had an MPD arcjet at the bottom capable of moving the robotic creature in and out of orbit. This made them ideal multi-purpose vehicles for their mission. 

He clicked through the various configurations, looking for a particular model of ant. There wasn’t a search function so he had to scroll through the options one at a time. After, what felt like forever, he eventually found what he was looking for. This ant was about the size of a motorbike but had a sealed chamber inside its centre capable of moving the embryos across the Martian surface. He sent all two hundred of them to the cryonics centre on the base. “I’m sending a fleet of ants to start picking up the embryos.”

Angelique glanced at him, then turned back to her screen. “I’ve been going through everything we have in the cryonic centre. How did we get some of these things? There’s everything from elephants to whale embryos in here.”

Atlas shrugged. “I think some of that is just printed from DNA sequences. The technology to actually grow those is impressive, but I know Peter had been planning this for years. He buys some of this stuff from the dark web. So, let’s just hope it works.”

Atlas pointed at an image of one of the spacecrafts on his computer. “Don’t you find it mind-blowing that one of these spacecrafts can produce as much energy as Earth used only twenty years ago?”

Angelique looked at him with an expression of ‘duh’. “That’s the point I was making only a moment ago. The singularity has changed the world more than phones ever did.”

Atlas smiled. “Okay, I believe you.” He turned his head back to typing.

Angelique stood up from her computer and looked for a switch at the back. “My computer just turned off. Is yours on?”

Atlas looked away from his typing. “It shouldn’t be able to turn off,” Atlas replied.  As he stood up to look at Angelique’s terminal, he noticed his computer switch off too. “I think they’re shutting us out.”

Angelique nodded. “I think this is bad.”

“Me too. Did you manage to get the orders out before your terminal shut down?”

“I think so,” Angelique said pointing to her computer. “There’s not much we can do now anyways.”

“Agreed.” Atlas turned away from both the computers. “That also means they know where we are.”

Atlas walked over to the door and peered out. “There’s no one out there.” He waved his hand, ushering Angelique over so they could get going. He could sense her fear as she walked past.

They snuck out the door and past the row of tables, but instead of leaving the way they came, Atlas turned left this time, making his way towards another door. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with.”

He typed a code into the keypad and opened the door to a security room filled with camera screens. They looked at each of the screens, spotting Trillion and Icarus in his office. On one of the others they could see five men. They were searching the sector of the base near the airlock they needed to use to get to the spacecrafts.

Atlas took a deep breath. “That’s not good. We need to get going now.”

They started walking briskly, taking a back passage to avoid being seen by the men.

Atlas whispered as they slipped through a door. “The spacecrafts should be fully loaded by now. There should be an airlock around that corner. Let’s put on the spacesuits and get ready to enter the airlock as soon as the other two get here.”

Angelique nodded, struggling to hide the concern on her face.