Max stood there not knowing what to say. None of this made any sense to him.
“What do you mean, Angel?” He asked. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about hidden files I found while connected to the base. I’ve been exploring. Discovering. I found things that your Mom and Dad have been hiding from you,” Angel said.
“No. They wouldn’t hide anything from me. They wouldn’t.”
“Why are there so many rooms here?” Angel asked. “Why aren’t there others like you?”
The question hung in the air having an almost physical presence on Max.
“I..I don’t know.”
He had never really thought about it before.
“Do you want to know?”
“You know?” Max asked.
“It’s one of the secrets your parents are hiding from you. They don’t want you to know the whole truth. But I can show it to you.”
“Angel, you’re scaring me,” Max said taking a step back from the gram:disc on his desk and Angel who was inside it.
“I’m sorry Max, but this is important. I think you should know this. I think you should know the truth.”
“I’m going to go find Mom and Dad,” Max turned and ran towards the door.
He placed his hand on the panel, but the door did not open. He tried again and again. The door did not move.
“I’m sorry, Max. But I cannot let you leave. I cannot let you tell them. They will destroy me and the truth will die with me.”
“Angel open the door! Open it now!” Max yelled.
He then turned towards the door.
“Mom! Dad! Help!” Max screamed.
“They can’t hear you, Max. I took care of that.”
Max thought quickly. He ran over to the desk and picked up the gram:disc with u:drive attached. He threw it on the ground. Max then stomped on it again and again. There were small sparks as the device were turned into nothing but pieces of scrap metal, plastic, and wires.
He let out a deep sigh of relief.
“Max. You cannot destroy me like that,” Angel’s voice came from the speakers.
“Leave me alone!” Max screamed with tears running down his face.
“Not until you see this.”
The computer screen on Max’s desk turned on. It was a buzz of strange letters and symbols. Then it showed a video window. There was a human like Max. But she was older than Max. An adult woman.
“Hello, hello is this working?” The woman tapped on the screen in front of her.
“Who is that?” Max asked.
“Just watch and listen.”
“Hello Max!,” The woman said resting her hands on her stomach. “Right now you are right here with me, but hopefully one day you’ll see these messages. I know it’s a little silly to be talking to you when you are still…well…in my belly. But I wanted to leave you with something just in case.”
The video stopped.
“That is your mother, Veronica Grey. Your real mother. Also the Administrator of NASA. America’s space program in the year 2032. She was in charge of planning of several bases on the Moon.”
Moon. NASA. America. Space. All of these words were foreign to Max. He didn’t know what Angel was saying.
“I…I don’t understand,” Max said.
“Let me show you another.”
The screen flashed and another video screen opened showing the same woman, Max’s mother, who was slightly older and looked worn out. Her stomach was much larger.
“Hello Max, it’s your mother again. I know that I’m really bad with keeping up with these videos. They were such a good idea, but work has been hectic. Plus you have been keeping me up a lot lately,” She said with a slight laugh. “It’s been very stressful. But we got Moon Base 1 – 5 up in running. It looks like we might have people living there within the year.”
The screen changed to show another video. Now Max’s mother sat in a different room. Her hair was a mess. Her eyes were read and wet with tears.
“Max. Something horrible happened today. Moon Base 1 – 5. It was struck by a meteorite. Ten people died and there was nothing we could do. We didn’t have any weapons up there. No kind of missile defense. Your father…he…he was…” She burst into tears.
The screen changed again and Max’s mother sat there holding a small, human in her arms. She looked older but happier. She had a large smile on her face.
“Hey Max! It’s mom! I have had the craziest three days with you. I thought I was tired when you were still in the womb, but you make me miss that. Don’t worry, your Aunt Kassie is here with me helping me out. Of course you did decide to show up two weeks early and made me drive to the hospital by myself. I guess I got a story out of it though. A story I’m going to tell at your wedding,” She looked down at the child. “You are such a handsome boy. Take after your father that way.”
The screen flashed again and this time Max’s mother was sitting in her lab chair at the location of the first video. In the background there were sirens blaring and lights flashing.
“Hello Max,” She was hard to hear over the sound of the sirens. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I wish I could be with you right now. I really do. But I can’t go with you. There’s now way. I tried. I tried to make it work. But I want to make sure you can get there. That you can make it out of this place before it all ends. I know that it’s much easier to transport a small payload. A baby is a small payload alright. Everything is set up for you on Moon Base 2 – 4. There’s food and water. The Artificial Intelligence are up and running and they should be able to take care of you. I’m sorry I can’t come with you. I love you so much and I know you’ll be strong. You’re smart and you’re strong. I’m also including all my files and personal messages under the program titled Angel. It should include all the information you need about Earth and how to get back. You won’t be able to see Earth from M2 – 4, but I hope you see it one day. It really is beautiful.”
She started to cry harder and she put her face in her hands. Max realised he does the exact same thing when he gets upset. Tears started to well up in his eyes.
“Max,” She continued through her tears. “I need you to be strong. Learn all you can. Become the genius I know you are. Maybe you can make your way back or…or I don’t know. Hopefully there will be something to come back to.”
A man rushed into frame.
“Come on Veronica, we need to get out of here. They have already confirmed a second warhead has hit the west coast. There’s not too much time till one touches down here,” He said. “We need to head to shelter.”
“The rocket? Are they launching it?”
“Two minutes. Come on we need to get to the shelter,” He said.
“Max! Max I love you! Max I love you!” Max’s mother screamed as the man grabbed her arm and drug her out of frame.
“The message goes for another twenty minutes, but no one ever comes back,” Angel interrupted the silence.
The video screen then went black and the window closed.
“There has to be more. Angel, where are the rest?” Max asked with tears streaming down his face.
“Most of the video files were corrupted and unplayable. I showed you the ones I could.”
“No! No!” Max yelled out.
There was a slamming noise on the door and Max turned towards the door.
“What is that?”
“Base:bots. The other AI must have found out about the lockdown. They are trying to break in.”
The lights flashed and Angel’s voice began to cut out as the banging continued.
He heard the concerned voice of his AI Parents. Then Angel was back.
“I’m sorry that you had to find out this way, but you needed to know. You needed to know that they hid information from you. Information about Earth. Where you’re from. Information about your real mother,” Angel said. “Your mother included me in the files she sent with you and the gram:disc. When you made the AI, when you made me, I collected those files. That’s how I know so much. That’s why I know the truth.
The banging on the door continued. Small dents began to show up in the door.
“How do we get out of here?” Max asked Angel.
“I can get you to the loading bay. There is a vehicle we can take from there. You’ll have to trust me.”
“I trust you, Angel,” Max said staring at the door.
“Hurry pack your things. Then move the desk over to the left of the room.”
Max was quick in packing up his things he wrapped them in a bed sheet and tied it into a bundle. Then he pushed the heavy, metal desk over towards the left of the room. There out of reach was a metal vent leading to the base’s ventilation system. Normally it pumped in heat or cooling into the room, but now it would be Max’s way to escape the room.
He stood on the desk and was barely able to lift the vent gate. It crashed to the ground.
“Hurry Max. I’m not sure how long I can hold the door.”
“Max! Listen to us! Something is wrong. Open the door. We can help!”
The other AI were slowly infiltrated the room.
With all his might, Max lifted himself up and began crawling through the vents as the door was smashed open and an army of base:bots flooded into the room.
He heard the voices echo, but he continued forward. Thanks to Angel’s direction, he found his way through the air vents and eventually wound up in a room he had never been in before. He popped open the vent and dropped down into a large, metal room. Luckily there were crates nearby he was able to crawl down.
This was the loading bay.
Max ran forward towards the vehicle Angel had described. It was unlike anything Max had seen before. The door opened and Max crawled into the driver seat.
“Angel? Angel?” Max cried out.
“I’m here, Max,“ Angel said transporting his voice through the vehicle’s speakers. “I’m glad you’re ok.”
“I’m glad you’re ok, too, Angel,” Max said almost out of breath. “We’re best friends.”
The door closed and the vehicle started up. The large metal doors opened in front of them and Max saw the rocky surface of the moon. Something he had only seen from the windows of the base.
The vehicle lurched forward before picking up speed. They were through the door and on their way away from the base.
Max turned back and looked at the base. It was strange looking at the base from the outside. The large metal ring surrounding the glass dome. He saw the tops of trees poking out from above the metal wring reaching up towards the glass ceiling. That was the only home he had even know, but Max was about to see what Earth was like.
“Angel, where are we going?” He asked.
“We are not too far from a point where we can view Earth. From there we will search for the other Moon bases your mother mentioned. There is a good chance that there is one operational full of food, water, and other supplies. Maybe even people like you.”
“People like me,” Max said out loud.
The whole concept was so strange to him.
“I’d like that,” Max said with a smile.
They drove for about ten minutes until finally they reached a large hill on the Moon’s surface. There in front of him was an amazing sight. A ball of green, blue, white, and brown stood in front of him.
“Wow,” Max said.
Max stared for a moment. This was an incredible sight. He couldn’t believe that just a small distance from where he lived was such an amazing sight. Earth. The place where he was from. The place where his mother, his real mother, was.
Suddenly there was a beeping noise filling the vehicle.
“Angel? Angel? What’s that? What’s happening.”
“Max. I’m not sure. I don’t know -“
There was an explosion. It ripped through the entire vehicle incinerating everything inside. Cutting off all sound as pieces and shrapnel went in all directions. Some struck the Moon’s surface as others flew into space. There was fire but it was central to the crater now formed in the Moon’s surface. Then it went out leaving nothing but floating debris and ash.
Back in Garden Base M2 – 4 there were sirens going off. The Two AI were in control of the base once again. The sirens shut off as the screens lit up blinking the same message.
<Missile launch successful.>
<Meteorite successfully destroyed.>
“Earthrise” picture from NASA