By Liza O’Connor
With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.
However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.
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“Yes, Your Holiness,” replied an eager young man in far more splendid robes.
“Failure is not an option.”
“We will not fail. We have planned for every circumstance. Project Einstein will not succeed.”
“But it will not come back to us?”
“No, Your Eminence. No one will blame us for their demise.”
“How many back-up plans?”
“Not enough.” His ancient hand quivered as it rested upon the metalwork. “Fifteen. I want fifteen plans, each certain to succeed without the blame reaching my feet.”
“I will see it done.”
The old man turned and studied his devotee. “You have doubts, Thomas?”
“It is not my place to doubt God’s work.”
“Earth is about to fall into an ice-age of such duration and frigid temperatures that nothing is expected to survive. So you wonder why God would wish to destroy one of our chances to continue mankind on a different planet.”
The man fell to his knees and pressed his forehead to the floor. “Forgive me, Your Holiness.”
The old man walked around the prostrate body and returned to his red velvet chair with authentic gemstones cresting each upholstery tack. He sat with a heavy sigh. “It is better for the human race to die in its entirety than to survive without God.” He stared up to the arching ceiling painted with clouds and angels. “The time has come to choose eternal Heaven or Hell.”
The young man’s head rose. “Yes!” His face filled with joy and wonderment. “I understand now.”
The old man’s head wobbled, perhaps in a nod. “Then go and see God’s will is done. Only Project Chosen can succeed. Project Einstein must be destroyed, at all costs.”
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Two hands raised.
Lancaster gave them both hard stares. “What part of the words ‘do not open until instructed’ did you not understand?”
Several of the other teenagers chuckled. Another boy opened his envelope then froze upon seeing Lancaster’s angry glare.
“You have not yet been given permission to open them. Names?” He eyed the three with opened envelopes.
The three identified themselves as Li Chou, Antonio Fox, and Ry Pasha.
“As punishment for disobeying this order, you will work kitchen duty until I say otherwise.”
The punishment did not sit well with Antonio. “Why should we be punished? There’s nothing important inside. It’s only our class schedule.”
“I am aware of what is inside the envelope, but that is irrelevant. The envelope said ‘do not open’. Thus, you disobeyed the order. You must all learn to follow orders—all orders—not just those that make sense to you. Thus, there will always be punishments associated with disobeying orders. The severity of the punishment will depend upon the situation. Threaten this mission in any way, and you may be removed from the project entirely.”
Tam looked horrified that he would so blatantly threaten the lives of the children, but Max caught her eye and gave her a stern glare to be quiet. She refocused her mind on the purpose of the mission. Max then passed out the envelopes for the teachers. She almost opened hers, then stopped, searching both sides of the envelope for something that said, “do not open”. When she found nothing, she opened it.
The rest of the teachers stared at her as if she were insane.
“It doesn’t say ‘don’t open’.”
“Everyone, please open your envelopes now,” Lancaster said.