The black orb - oblivious to the tiny metallic bullet closing down on it - continued on its elliptical path. Inside the metallic bullet, two figures chattered continuously on the radio, informing about their whereabouts to the home base. "The distance is now forty six thousand kilometers, we'll land on this planet in about thirty hours" said Dominic Wilde. "We'll enter the atmosphere in about twenty five and a half hours approx" said Claudio Essar, proud of his recent achievement. He had been pioneer of this project. Essar was a strong supporter of the view of existence of life on this dark planet. Although the planet had been enveloped by CO2 and a handful of other toxic gases, it was still highly likely that life existed at some point of time here due to the presence of life saving nectar around its poles- water.
Although skeptics ruled out the presence of any form of life on this planet owing to its black sulphur-di-oxide envelope that prevented sunlight entering its atmosphere, other possibilities allowed this voyage to get manifested. One corner of Essar fantasized about finding living things on this misty planet. He recalled stories from his benign nanny 'We do not belong to this world son, we used to live in a beautiful paradise, heaven. Then some of us committed a sin and we were sent in this ugly world to suffer.' Little did his granny knew about Panspermia.
Twenty five hours later.
Dominic pressed the radio button "We are about to enter the atmosphere, a mild radioactive radiation has been detected. The intensity of the radiation is harmless."
Essar, concurring to Dominic, raised his brow in amazement. A mild radioactive radiation implied a larger radioactive reaction in recent history of this planet. He wondered why this radiation wasn’t detected by their ultra-modern microwave telescope back home, or by the inhuman spaceship they’d been sending here over last ten years. Perhaps the low intensity of the radiation allowed it to get masked by other toxic gases. Or may be the telescope didn’t have enough resolution to detect such a mild occurrence. Whatever the cause, for Essar, the hope of finding life at this point of time vanished. Dominic continued “high density of CO2 and sulphur-di-oxide confirmed. We are preparing to land on the surface.”
Five hours later.
"Five, four, three, two, one, zero. We have landed on the ground, preparing to set out of the spaceship." Dominic informed and terminated the connection. Both the astronauts readied their space suits and prepared to set their foot on this mysterious planet, an event that the whole world was looking forward to. Essar was the first one to set out on this mysterious planet. Dominic had the camera and he took the video. The camera was connected with an instrument on the spaceship, which would not only save it but will also send a copy to the home base without any of the astronauts having to press a button. This video would be released to the press so that whole world could witness this magnificent site. Although there was a petite group who considered such a voyage a complete waste of money and time- that the money spent on such an ambitious and obsolete project should have been used to elate the living standards of some lesser fortunate instead, the people who didn't had access even to basic amenities and health care- but chances were good that even those people would be looking at this video for its sheer enormity.
They landed on an arid land and started looking around. The idea was to thoroughly examine the place in the proximity of the spaceship. The two had at max one week before the return journey. Both of them wore a spacesuit which insulated them from the outside environment, especially from the toxic gases. The variations in temperature and pressure were of little concern as this planet had an environment highly conducive to life. Or at least Essar thought so. They had a backpack that carried oxygen supply and a small wagon, armed with equipments, for carrying out errands during their brief stay. They both carried torches as light was scarce. After traveling an hour or so they encountered, for what it seemed like, a forsaken log. Both alighted from the wagon and started speculating. Essar sneaked through a small hole. Dominic watched him gasp. "Roaches" Essar blurted as he tried to comprehend. It made perfect sense. Roaches are known to survive the greatest catastrophes. Its hard to eliminate them by any natural phenomenon, even nuclear reactions as it was known to Essar. Dominic had a quick look and he too looked equally startled.
They took a sample of a roach. This confirmed the presence of both flora and fauna on this planet. Both astronaut studied that log for a few hours and then decided to roll it over to see what lies beneath. A look of amazement, if not horror, ran through their faces as they gaped at the calcium composite lying before them- a human skull. "We need a driller" exclaimed Dominic his eyes still fixed on the skull.
(Apocalypse II - The Revelation)