THE NEW WORLD
Jillian clutched her side. She’d felt this twinge before, but this time it was more menacing and harder to ignore. They had been working these fields for several weeks. At the end of each day, her muscles and joints screamed for relief, and each morning she was greeted by a stiff and tired body. It was all she could do to get out of bed, and the thought of facing another day of hauling water or digging in the fields made her sick.
Trappist-1e was one of seven Earth-sized planets circling a star named Trappist-1, and all seven orbited closer to their star than Mercury does to the Sun. In the case of this planet, it completed one orbit every six days, and because of its close orbital proximity, it was tidally locked to its star: just like the Moon back home, one side always faced inward as it circled around in space, which meant that Trappist-1 never set. On the farm, it was always high noon. There was no twilight or darkness, and the shadows never moved.
When they signed on for this mission, there were no illusions regarding the tasks at hand. Starting life on a new planet was going to be hard, and with little or no modern equipment, they were forced to do everything by hand. Even their plow was human-powered, and if nothing else, she had a new appreciation for modern farming—how she missed the convenience of something as simple as a roto-tiller or a small tractor. These were luxuries that couldn’t be transported across that enormous gulf. Cargo space was limited, so everything they had packed for this trip was carefully stacked and compressed into every available space on the ship.
Since they hadn’t known what to expect, they had prepared for the unknown, knowing that much of what they carried might never be used. It was the only way to ensure that they accounted for every possible contingency. Now that they understood the nature of this planet, they’d do better next time. Their list of supplies would be far different on the next trip, now that they understood what they needed and why.
But not all of it was useless clutter. Knowing that it might be some time before their first harvest, they carried six months’ worth of food in the form of MREs (meals ready to eat), which were commonly used by the military and required no refrigeration. Once their first crops matured, they could reap the benefits of their labor, but that was still far away. Until that time, she had to carefully monitor the seedlings, watering them by hand using buckets filled and transported from a nearby irrigation ditch—a ditch they had constructed themselves over the course of several days.
Using only picks and shovels, they had excavated several tons of earth, carving a small channel that led from the lake to the fields. The idea was to break the land into four plots of one acre each. Each section would be planted at different intervals, so there would always be a field ready for harvest. The gully that ran between the plots formed a large X in the center, and using large sprinkling cans, they collected water and carefully moistened the seedlings. The good news was that they only had to do this while the plants were young. Once they matured, there’d be no need to water on a daily basis.
While it didn’t rain, there was still a natural ecosystem in place that provided moisture in different ways. When they first arrived, she had been confused as to why the soil had a consistently high moisture content, especially given the desert conditions. Hannah theorized that the formation of dew was the reason for the moist soil. On Earth, dew formed overnight when the air cooled and then started warming again in the morning. Dew is water in the form of droplets that condenses on any surface as it radiates its heat. In the case of Trappist-1e, the sun never moved, so they wondered how dew could form with no significant change in temperature.
Because of the number of planets in close proximity, and given their rapid orbits, there were times when one, two, or even three planets passed in front of the star at the same time, reducing the amount of radiant energy for a few hours. The transit of these planets caused a dip in temperature, and during those intervals, the atmospheric moisture condensed at a rate greater than it could evaporate, resulting in watered fields. They didn’t notice at first because there were no plants on which to see the droplets form. The ground immediately soaked it up, causing the soil to darken until the upper layers evaporated, but this process was almost invisible to the naked eye.
While this helped to explain the presence of water in the soil, it didn’t explain why the atmosphere was saturated with moisture. Given the desert conditions, the humidity should have been very low, so why did the atmosphere re-circulate the water in the form of vapor? The answer seemed to lie in the unique location of the landmass they occupied.
This continent was similar in size to Antarctica. Both were surrounded by an ocean that stabilized the climate. In the case of Earth, Antarctica remained frozen, dry, and cold, but on this world, the ocean, and the winds that circled it, kept it moist and warm. Even though the wind patterns prevented cloud formation on this side of the planet, the conditions for life remained favorable, as long as they could rely on this heavy dew.
In Genesis 28, it said:
“May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.”
The only problem was that this wasn’t a consistent source of water, so the seedlings needed to be watered every day. Once they matured, it was reasonable for the plants to go days without water, only taking advantage of the dew episodes as they occurred. It was the same on Earth. Crops didn’t receive regular periods of rain and could go days or weeks without water. But on this new world, these solar interruptions happened every few days, so a small amount of water was spread out over a more frequent period of time with the same results.
As for the growing conditions, they were just about perfect. This was a land of perpetual summer. There were no seasons—no spring, fall, or winter. It was the ideal place to establish a human colony, and in time, they could transplant animal life and other sources of protein on a grand scale. Farmers could produce food year-round and never face severe weather. It was a paradise, except for one problem: light.
The amount of light coming from Trappist-1 was a fraction of that shining from our Sun. When standing on the surface, it was like being in perpetual twilight, which was very beautiful. The ocean sparkled and took on a violet tone when viewed from land, a magnificent sight that never disappointed. Nevertheless, in order for plants to grow, they needed a substance named ‘15Ea-phycocyanobilin,’ also known as 15Ea-PCB. Before coming to Area 51, Hannah had been involved in a German research project with the goal of creating a synthetic substance to replace the light-absorbing component of plants. Basically, the substance fooled the plant into believing it was exposed to light.
In her initial experiments, the plants developed in the dark as if they were outside in the light. In spite of the darkness, the plants germinated and grew at the same rate as a control group exposed to the Sun. She showed, for the first time, that a synthetic substance could cause ‘light’ effects in entire plants. It was a major breakthrough in botany.
After further research, she synthesized a powder that could support a 10-acre plot—using a single 50-pound bag—from seedling to harvest. For a 10-acre plot, that was really ambitious. Just working this one-acre segment was hard enough, but rotating four acres would have been a time-consuming task, even for seven people. While the 15Ea was a miracle of bio-engineering that could have applications for food development back home as well as on Trappist-1e, the public wasn’t aware of it yet, and for now she had the entire world supply inside SM1—the code name for their space vehicle. SM1 was their only means of transportation to and from this distant world. It was found on Earth’s moon many years ago, but the technology to recover it hadn’t existed until very recently. There were many theories as to how it got there and how long it had been sitting on the surface. Over time, and as the evidence mounted, they began to believe in a spiritual origin, and there was plenty of evidence to support their theory.
This unique interstellar spacecraft was discovered back in 1966 by Luna 12. It wasn’t until 1975 that a team landed with the express purpose of exploring the site, which was successfully accomplished during the covert mission of Apollo 19. It was here that archaeologist Nickolas Roshenko first encountered what he believed to be an alien structure, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that a second expedition (including an older Nickolas Roshenko) determined that this was actually a flight worthy space-craft capable of interstellar flight.
During the Orion mission, it was returned to Earth. There was fierce competition regarding the use of SM1. Some wanted to use it as a military asset, while others wanted to reverse engineer it. The evidence all pointed in one direction: Trappist-1. This is where the fifth member of their team, Jacob Logan, was put to work, analyzing the mission from a religious perspective.
As a biblical scholar and theologian, he was hired to interpret the 66 books found inside the ship, which were later translated into all the books of the bible. Until he arrived, they were considered nothing more than accepted biblical text with no new messages to reveal. It took the efforts of Jacob to decode the deeper meaning of each symbol, and using the Torah code to assign numerical values to each character, he was able to prove that the intended destination of SM1 was a red dwarf star in the constellation Aquarius. It was here where they had landed two months ago.
It wasn’t without controversy. The seven of them stole the ship from a hangar in Area 51, and for all practical purposes, were fugitives on a foreign planet, light years from those who meant to harm them. In order to resupply, they’d eventually need to return, but they hoped to leverage their discoveries by proving that Trappist-1e was a habitable world, capable of supporting complex life and therefore worthy of colonization. Using that information as insurance, they would seek a pardon for their crimes while convincing the powers on Earth that the best use of this resource was to establish a second home for humanity, ensuring survival for millennia to come.
Although, they didn’t intend on returning anytime soon. They had six months’ worth of food and plenty of work ahead of them, and when Jillian considered that, she cringed at the thought of watering one more plant. She didn’t realize the size of an acre until they started hauling water every day. It was a full 12-hour job and would continue until the plants were large enough to fend for themselves. The major joked about that all the time. He would smile and say that, on this world, they only had to work half days—just pick which 12 hour shift you wanted. Then he’d laugh.
When she considered his words, it was all that and more. They had to turn the soil by hand, dig by hand, and plant by hand. By the time they finished each day’s chores, they were tired and sore, and it was no wonder her stomach ached.
When they first landed on Trappist-1e, they explored their immediate surroundings. To their back was a vast sea that extended all around the single continent, and in front lay a freshwater lake. There was also a ring of mountains that bordered the dark side of the planet. They theorized that the continent and the surrounding sea were created after a giant asteroid slammed into the side of Trappist-1e, resulting in a structure known as a complex crater. When the object hit, the collapse of the transient cavity was driven by gravity, causing an uplift of the center region (their continental landmass), followed by the inward collapse of the rim, which they saw as a ring of mountains along the twilight zone between the light and dark side of the planet.
This helped shield them from weather patterns that normally would have formed thick clouds on their side, providing a circular wind pattern that swept most of the cloud cover to the far side of the planet. Within the shallow crater, a vast sea encircled them, extending all to way to the rim, and from space it was a marvel to behold. This wasn’t just an island, but a continent larger than Antarctica with a huge variety of landscapes. The future exploration of this wilderness would be a story onto itself, and yet as great as that was, it would simply be another saga in the continuing history of the human race.
She reached down and caressed one of the young plants. It was green, healthy, and strong enough to support itself against the mild winds that swept in from the lake. During the past few weeks, the breeze never seemed to gust more than 10 miles per hour. Since the entire sun-soaked side of the planet was so stable, one positive result was a steady breeze that kept the air cool and moist.
Mark theorized that there had to be a way for the planet to equalize the temperature between the light and dark side of the globe and that the dark side was probably a raging storm of atmospheric transference that never rested. Jacob compared it to heaven and hell, with purgatory being the mountains that circled the terminator between light and dark. Someday they might risk a trip in SM1 to take measurements and photos, but for now it was enough to explore their immediate surroundings, which didn’t happen very often; farming consumed most of their available time.
Feeling exhausted, she lay down on her back and rested for a few minutes. It seemed odd to be able to stare directly into their sun with no trouble at all. It was nothing like the blinding star of home; it was a warm and inviting ball of illumination, similar to looking at Earth’s moon at night. The burgundy tones bathed everything in a rose-colored luminescence that reminded her of the most beautiful sunsets on Earth. Adding to the allure were the large moons that circled this world—actually not moons at all, but sister planets that orbited so close together that they appeared more than twice the size of Earth’s moon when viewed from the ground.
These sights never failed to stun her, and she marveled at the vast complexity of this tiny system in space. Who could have imagined a more perfect world that never got too hot or cold and where rainy days were non-existent. There was no night, no storms, the sun never burned, and the waves never raged in anger. The lightning never flashed, and the wind never howled. It was a paradise in every way but one—this star was too dim to support plant life on its own. Man would always have to bridge the gap between life and death, providing for the survival of every living thing.
On Earth, humans could disappear forever and the biology of the planet would continue uninterrupted, but here, mankind was truly the gardener who held everything together, just like the God of heaven. Without God’s power, the universe would fall apart and scatter into nothingness, leaving a dark void of nothing. On Trappist-1e, life would collapse in the absence of human intervention. This was the reality of their situation. While this world might be a second home, it came with a price. Man would have to toil by the sweat of his brow to keep this place alive, and everyone would need to contribute or face disaster. She remembered Genesis 3:19:
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Jacob described it as divine penance for their sins. When she asked why, he pointed out man’s failure in the Garden of Eden and their subsequent destruction of that beautiful world. There’d be no need for another Earth if man had just listened to and followed the Lord’s instructions. When she inquired further, he pulled out his manual for life and handed it to her. It was his beat-up old bible, and she laughed in that moment. For only Jacob could see it that way, but she also knew he was right.
On Earth, humans were always at war, polluting the air and water, and filled with greed, strife, and hatred. It wasn’t a matter of if something was going to happen, but when mankind might implode in a fit of war, disease, or self-hatred. Now they had a chance to start over on a new world, but man would have to plant it. God’s first garden was a pre-made gift of perfection, but this second one would have to be built from scratch, using imperfect designers. She could only imagine the result, but she remained hopeful.
As she looked up, something blocked the light. She shaded her eyes and saw Mark Sallsmann looking down at her. Mark was their astrophysicist, and Lori was his wife. They were graduates of the California and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology. They were put in charge of reverse engineering SM1 and came with them on the Trappist-1e mission in order to continue their work uninterrupted. With their help, humans might be able to duplicate this technology someday, allowing man to reach vast distances in space.
She smiled at the thought of it, but her thoughts were interrupted when the shadow blocking her view spoke.
“Are you all right?”
It was Mark offering his hand to help her up. She hesitated and then put on a happy face.
“I’m great! Just taking a break. All this kneeling hurts my back. It feels good to get off it for a few minutes.”
Mark looked down at her with skepticism in his eyes.
“Seems like you’ve been resting more and more. Are you sure you’re ok?”
“Oh yes. Absolutely. I was just getting ready to kick it into high gear.”
“Why don’t you go back to the ship and take a break. You’ve been pushing harder than any of us and you deserve a few hours of rest. It doesn’t do us a bit of good if you’re sick or injured. You’re the only botanist we’ve got.”
She immediately dismissed his concerns. “Which doesn’t make me any more or less important than the rest of you. I can pull my own weight around here.”
She struggled to her feet, but when she stood to face Mark, she felt the blood drain from her head and hoped her face wasn’t turning white. When she peered into his eyes, dark circles betrayed happier times, and his beard was full of dust and dirt. They were all tired and sore, struggling with the daily chores. For the past several weeks, it had been non-stop. Those sprinkling cans were their most important resource, but they were heavy, and the work of filling and carrying them around was a back-breaking task that never ended. It was a wonder they hadn’t all collapsed.
When she looked at herself, the news wasn’t much better. In their race to escape, they hadn’t thought of everything. Her bloody knees protruded through holes in her pants, worn away from hours of kneeling in the coarse soil. She dragged an old towel along and used that as a crude kneepad, but it was stained with blood and filthy from sweat and grime. Since the dirt was sterile, there was little risk of infection, but the bits of gravel that burrowed into her open wounds were a constant source of pain.
She could only imagine what she smelled like, and feeling with her hands, her hair was matted stiff and her fingernails were worn to almost nothing. The calluses on her hands spoke volumes, and if she could see herself in a mirror, what a sight she’d be. She was used to wearing her traditional sari, glittering with beautiful colors, which contrasted perfectly against her bronzed skin, but not today. Today she looked wrinkled beyond her years, and she’d lost so much weight that her sari hung on her like a set of curtains. She was eating her rations like everyone else, but she was burning so many calories that maintaining weight was a challenge.
When her father and mother had arrived from India, they had adopted the American culture immediately. No longer did they wear the traditional clothing of their countrymen; they assimilated the Western style of dress, abandoning everything Indian. They even changed their name from Gujarat to Green in an effort to fit in. When she was born, they ignored tradition and named her Jillian, which meant “youthful,” and educated her in the best schools available.
Nevertheless, she never felt the desire for fancy dresses or skirts but found the traditional sari and choli to be the most comfortable. It seemed the more her parents tried to push her into Western culture, the more she rebelled by going back to the old ways. It was important for her to understand her roots, and she wasn’t ashamed of where she came from or who she was. In fact, she used her differences to separate herself from the crowd, but this was hardly necessary.
When she walked into a room, her beauty was accentuated by her half-saree, which was a three-piece set consisting of a lange, a choli and a stole wrapped over her like a tunic. The colors made her sparkle like a bronze goddess—the reds, pinks, and blues shimmering as silken waves across her body.
Boys raced after her like a pack of dogs, which made the other girls jealous. It was impossible to compete against this exotic beauty, who could light up a room by simply walking into it. She never felt that way and dismissed it as stereotyping.
As for the stereotype of being studious and smart, she was every bit of that and more. She was an honor student all four years of high school and earned a free pass through college. By the time she finished her education, she was a highly trained botanist, ready for the challenges ahead. But today she looked haggard and tired and nothing like she used to look before coming here.
Feeling the pain in her side again, she winced. If it wasn’t hunger, then what was it? Perhaps she had pulled a muscle hauling water—or maybe a hernia? Anything was possible, but she didn’t want to be a burden to anyone else, so turning back toward her work, she thanked Mark for his help, but not before stumbling and falling one last time.
Mark took control.
“Ok. That’s it. You’re going back to the ship and laying down. That’s a medical order.”
“You can’t give that order.”
Nonetheless, you’re going. Let Lori check you out. We need to figure out what’s wrong and get you some help.” He continued with his lecture as he lifted her back up. “This is ridiculous. You’re in no condition to keep working at this pace.”
He put his arm around her back, giving her leverage to use him as a crutch. Making their way back to SM1, he found her a chair and asked her to sit. The girls would have to sort this out. Jillian needed help—and now.
Jacob Logan struggled as he thrust his shovel into the soil. He’d been tasked with tilling a new field, and breaking ground for the first time was always difficult. He learned that first hand when they designed their irrigation system. Using basic equipment, they excavated a long ditch, which started at the far end of the field and extended all the way to the lake. The idea was to dig a deep channel that gently inclined until it matched the water level of the lake. It was similar to building a miniature version of the Panama Canal. Just like that engineering project, the last step was to break the barricade, allowing the water to start flowing into their drainage system. In the end, the canal they created was working well and was a marvel of engineering talent, but success didn’t come without some design challenges.
When they finally broke through to the lake, the water rushed down the hill, and they cheered as the liquid soaked into the soil for the first time. In that moment, they were optimistic about their chances on this new world. However, their celebration was short lived when they realized the field was flooding. They had been so intent on getting water to their plants that they forgot to provide a drainage outlet, and now instead of moist soil, a pond was forming right in front of their eyes.
It took several minutes of fast digging to re-establish the dam, and they spent the next two days constructing a drainage ditch. When they finally re-opened the channel, they made small adjustments to the depth of the gutter and modified the slope to ensure the fields didn’t flood. Eventually they reached an equilibrium point whereby they had a steady stream but never overwhelmed the ditch. Once that was complete, they could relax, but it had been more work than they had anticipated.
Everything had been more difficult than expected. Jillian had insisted on planting four acres. This was virgin soil that had never been plowed, so they had to turn it all by hand, using shovels, spades, and picks. After tilling the dirt, they carefully planted each seed and watered them daily, using buckets and sprinkling cans. He remembered from Psalm 65:10:
“You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.”
As a biblical theologian, he understood the importance of water to Christian beliefs. Water represented the cleansing of the sinner, but it was also the source of the living water that sprung up into eternal life. Jesus referred to the coming of the ‘living water’ as the Holy Spirit, which, at the time He spoke it, had not yet been poured out. In the Old and New Testaments, God was the source of this living water, and those who drank from it would never die—at least spiritually.
However, for their little garden, water was more than a symbol—it was an elixir of life that meant survival on a lone outpost in space. While he never liked the rain back home, he hoped for a little here, but that wasn’t to be, so they hauled water from the irrigation channel almost constantly. Today he had a break from all that; today he’d been tasked with digging the second acre. In a few weeks, they’d be ready to plant this section and start the process all over again. By the time they started the third acre, the first acre would be ready for harvest, and by the time they completed all four acres, they’d have a steady source of food—but also a constant source of labor.
Subsistence farming wasn’t for the faint of heart. It was a physically demanding job that aged the body quickly, converting a vibrant young man into a stooped and arthritic shadow of his former glory. This was far different from sitting at a desk and studying Hebrew text. This was tiring and painful and something he wished to forget, but he signed on to this mission because it had been his work that had led the team here in the first place.
This was personal for him, and he took full responsibility for his actions. It didn’t seem right that he could be so confident in his theory and then send somebody else to verify his claim. Right or wrong, he was going to see this through to the end, and he consoled himself with these words from Deuteronomy 28:8:
“The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
But did God give them this land? Using the symbols found in the alien text, which was part of the 66 books that Nickolas found in SM1 on his second expedition to the Moon, he was able to assign values to each symbol, and then using the Torah code, apply a numerical value to each glyph. Hannah Saunders, their cryptologist, had already been successful in translating the symbolic text to English but didn’t have his knowledge of biblical code to decipher the hidden meaning. When he applied the Hebrew ‘Tree of Life’ to a star chart of the heavens, he was able to show how the angle of 31.68 degrees pointed the way to Trappist-1.
While the Hebrew Tree of Life was not a part of Christian beliefs or a part of the Bible, the symbolic tree made for a good visual representation to describe God’s created universe. In the Torah code, the number 3168 was the number of God. In fact, the phrase ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ in the original Greek had a value of 3168. He remembered that Jesus was the one who actually did the speaking for God when the universe was created. His number, 3168, could be found all over Creation. The diameter of the solar system was 3168—with lots of zeros behind it. If he put the Moon on top of the Earth and drew a circle around the two, the same number came up: 31680 miles. If he had the right map, Bethlehem was situated on latitude 31.68 degrees north, and so on and so on.
Using this as his base of knowledge, he constructed a star-map using the Tree of Life and presented his findings to the group at Area 51. First he overlaid the Tree of Life against a map of the stars. Then he tilted the entire tree by 31.68 degrees, based on the nearest known habitable exoplanet, named Proxima b. Nickolas visited this planet when he first tested SM1 in interstellar space, and during that time, he explored this strange world in detail, although this was just a first step in the journey of man. The ultimate goal was Trappist-1e, but until mankind could recreate the indestructible materials used to build SM1 and reverse engineer its propulsion system, they would have to take baby steps, jumping from planet to planet along the map outlined by the Tree of Life.
By simply slanting the Tree by 31.68 degrees, he was able to apply that same angle to all the remaining lines, which produced a map that pointed to Trappist-1. First he tilted the entire Tree by 31.68 degrees. Next he extended the lines based on this unique angle, which showed how everything pointed to a single star. In his opinion, their intended destination was obviously Trappist-1.
The whole thing had been conceived based on the Hebrew math encoded into each character of the Torah. This, combined with other clues, provided the evidence needed to move forward with their journey. Now he found himself in a whole new situation, working hard to prove his decision was the correct one. If this didn’t work, his credibility would be shattered, and that fear drove him to work with every ounce of strength he could muster.
He should have been satisfied with finding such a habitable environment, but there was still the issue of the star itself. It was just too dim to support organic plant life. To be honest, this made him second guess his conclusions, and he wondered if he had been wrong or had misinterpreted the signs. Did they travel here for nothing, only to fail before they ever got started? On the one hand, it made sense that the Lord might create some sort of dependency to Earth, providing not only a physical lifeline, but a spiritual one as well. In the absence of the church, might future colonists start to interpret the Word in their own way, changing it to suit their current situation? If Trappist-1e was colonized and cut off from Earth, two divergent cultures might develop.
However, if God made it impossible to manufacture 15Ea-PCB on Trappist-1e, then this colony would always be dependent on Earth for support, forever tying these worlds together in a mutually beneficial exchange of information and trade. Perhaps they might come across some yet to be discovered mineral or resource on Trappist-1e that wasn’t available on Earth, further ensuring that link. It was possible. Something of great value would not only fund future expansion but guarantee a constant flow of commerce for generations to come. So there was a lot riding on this expedition, and what they discovered here could make or break this experiment.
For now, growing a healthy crop was their first priority, and as he pressed the tip of his shovel into the soil and turned it over with his spade, he was literally staking a claim on this new land. Genesis 1:29 crept into his mind.
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”
This was true even in his current circumstance, for they could easily transplant every fruit-yielding seed from Earth to establish groves of trees, vineyards, and great expanses of grassland. It was all possible. In fact, they were seeing some of that future in their first acre already. When he turned to look at it, he couldn’t believe they had come this far and accomplished so much already. It seemed improbable that their early efforts could be so positive; while the work was hard, the thought of a better future fueled his enthusiasm, allowing him to shake off his fatigue and dig that much faster.
Every so often, he looked out toward the sea and spied the seedling that Jillian had planted during one of their first exploratory expeditions. It was a Great Basin bristlecone pine, and it wasn’t inconceivable that it might live to be thousands of years old. One of the oldest recorded trees on Earth was a bristlecone pine named Methuselah—almost 5,000 years old. This tree might be here for 150 generations or more, as a reminder to future colonists of their humble beginnings, when the planet was a blank slate, ready to be transformed into the new Eden.
In the end, he knew it would be anything but a perfect paradise. 5000 years was a long time. He once heard that experts believed that over 14,000 wars had taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century. These conflicts had claimed the lives of over 3.5 billion people, leaving only 300 years of peace. For all he knew, the ground he was standing on might be the site of a future battle, pitting brother against brother in a fight for power, land, or resources. It was an inevitable reality of sin, and while he might hope for a better outcome, it was an unrealistic dream to think it might never occur.