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Mastodons on Mars

4 sci-fi stories in one booklet

Copyright 2015 by Ken Albertsen and Adventure1 Publications
ISBN 9781879338166

Distributed by Smashwords

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Chapter 1. Elemen and Peophants

Chapter 2. Horples and Peopreses

Chapter 3. Houndples and Humogs

Chapter 4. Boarmen and Peopogs

Chapter 1. Elemen and Peophants

Elephants, like all species, have to adapt to survive. Their predecessors, mastodons and mammoths, evolved to large or small sizes, depending on what was best suited to their varied environments. Early in the 21st century, Asian elephants became extinct in the wild, as did pygmy elephants in central parts of Africa. A few decades later, the remaining larger African elephants ceased to exist in the wild. The last free roaming herd to die off was a herd of long legged elephants ruggedly adapted to the deserts of Namibia.

A wildlife center near San Diego, California, had large walled yards. It was designed in the early part of the 21st century with the concept of enabling people to visit while slowly moving along above, on mag-lev observation vehicles. The center was divvied in to sections, representing major habitat regions of the world: Southeast Asia, Mongolian desert, South American mountains, Amazon jungle, European forests, Central African jungle, Saharan desert, North American forests, North American desert, Australia, New Guinea, and Pacific Islands.

Pygmy elephants from the African Jungle section were having a population boom. Re-introducing them in to their native habitat was not a realistic option, because there simply was not enough habitat left for large beasts to thrive in central Africa. A solution presented itself in the form of a companion park, 22 miles away, with enough room to accommodate generations of pygmies. Soon after that, a research facility was built alongside, which endeavored to enhance the elephants' thinking abilities. Elephants’ already-large brains were challenged, over generations, to think analytically, and to pass parents' knowledge on to offspring.

Within three generations, resident elephants were using computers with oversized colored keys to do basic communication, such as order meals or request their pens be cleaned. Four generations further on, rudimentary speech started to develop, with some particularly bright elephants having 100 word vocabularies. Dumber offspring were channeled back to the original outdoor park to devolve back to their recent ancestors' level of existence. That way, the gene pool was manipulated to favor those individuals which progressed fastest. In so doing, the smartest pygmy elephants at the research facility were continually challenged to improve their cognitive abilities. Somehow, they also found time to mate and make baby elephants to continue the trend.

Concurrently, Mars was being terraformed. Technology had progressed to the point where ever larger and more sophisticated probes were being sent. Payload weight became less of a challenge than earlier years due to improvements in gravity mitigating technology. It didn't actually lessen gravity, but instead used centrifugal forces to redirect gravitational forces. At first it was called the yo-yo method, because of long thin carbon tethers which spun around, with self-propelled weights at their ends. In combination with way-stations on the Moon, heavier payloads were able to be transported to many destinations within the solar system.

Another key component, which literally rocketed payloads through the solar system at much less cost than earlier times, was mag-lev propulsion systems. This system proved best from solid bases like planets, whereas centrifugal propulsion systems worked best for propelling payloads which were already space-borne.

For example, a rocket with heavy payload could be launched from the moon using a two Km mag-lev rail. Propulsion was provided by hydrogen peroxide reconstituted from lunar water. Breaking water in to oxygen and hydrogen was powered by solar power available on site. Additionally, rocket rails were found to work particularly well when built to start at rims of large craters. The rail started by facing downward at a slight angle, and then curved to a rise while following the upward incline of the crater. It was found that following the contour along one side of a crater was more effective, because it precluded traveling along the flat bottom of the crater. The only scaffolding was a series of rings called tri-rings, precisely installed, each having three points for securing the three rails. The ski jump effect, along with low lunar gravity enabled ever heavier payloads to get propelled out to space.

This technology had actually been developed on Earth. The first mag-lev gravity boost operation was built in the Rocky Mountains in 2031. Called 'The Boulder Sling-Shot,' it ran down a gradual slope for 43 miles. Heavier-than-normal payloads were mounted to a rocket which had earlier been trucked to the starting point and uppermost part of the tri-rail track. When ready to fire, the rocket was sent down the tri-rail slope, initially using only gravity for gaining momentum. At the lowest part of the track, when the rocket was traveling at about 185 Km per hour, the rocket propulsion system would ignite – just in time to add propulsion to its two mile shallow curved ascent on the rail – and off in to the atmosphere. It was found that giving a rocket a gravity-boost of 200 Km per hour, saved much fuel that would ordinarily have been needed to get the same rocket getting to that speed from a standing start.

Later, a larger 'Sling Shot' was constructed with European money, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Although there was fierce opposition from environmental and cultural heritage groups, the project went ahead. The advantage of Kilimanjaro was its proximity to the equator, thus enabling an added boost to the craft, using the rotation of the Earth.

There were debates on Earth regarding whether or not to try and terra-form Mars. Terra-forming is the term used for changing an environment to resemble Earth's. Some advocated a complete hand's off policy, including severely sanitizing all items sent there. Others advocated moderate terra-forming methods which might render the martian atmosphere breathable in roughly eleven thousand years. Then there were a minority of 'dirty-terraformers' who advocated terra-forming as quickly as possible, because Earth was becoming less habitable at an exponential pace. The dirty terraformers prevailed, mainly because China shot ahead in the race to habituate Mars. With its strong economy and its adeptness at leapfrogging on the back of other countries' technical advances, Chinese men and women were first to walk on Mars.

Terra-forming started with chemical emitters. Over time, their size and output increased dramatically. This was due, in no small part, to improvements in ways to fabricate atmospheric transformers right on Mars. Though the first transformer was imported in pieces from the Moon, it was soon dwarfed by larger atmospheric transformers made from Martian materials. The basic idea was to transform martian soil and water to create a breathable atmosphere. A mix of non-toxic bacteria, extremophiles, plants, animals, worms, lichen, and fungi from Earth – were seeded there. The Chinese committee called 'Friendship Mars' which oversaw the choices of life-forms was highly controversial. Protests on Earth were numerous and passionate, but were not able to stem what the protesters called 'dumping.'

As expected, organisms which survived, flourished. Friendship Mars had a basic game plan. Their members decided it didn't so much matter which organisms survived. The important issue was that surviving organisms would find their own balance. Some would ingest others, and all survivors would eventually rely, to some degree, on the success of other survivors. Mutations would happen and the fittest survivors would thereby become even better adapted.

No one knows who first made the decision to introduce pygmy elephants, but the more the idea was perused, the more plausible it became. At first glance, elephants appear to be environmentally destructive, as they eat large amounts and have a tendency to break or trample whatever plants are in their path. Yet, in the 2,366 years since the first terra-forming transformers went on-line, some plants on Mars had evolved to grow quite large and thick. The atmosphere was thickening and inching closer to breathable. Temperatures were above freezing for most of the year, in middle latitudes. Treaties had been signed, similar to Antarctic treaties on Earth, which forbade commercial exploitation of Mars, but such treaties had about as much bearing on reality as marriage certificates had on outlawing marital infidelity.

By mid-32nd century, China and the US had long faded as Earth's preeminent power brokers. Canadian and Russian mountain dwellers became the world's powerhouses. Human populations had plummeted, and sea levels had risen to such a degree, that only mountain ranges were habitable. For a protracted time prior, floating cities had enjoying some success, but rivalries and maintenance lapses doomed them all, one by one.

Mars had a human population, but through isolation, and getting only rare support from Earth or the moon, it was degenerating to becoming a separate species unto itself. By this time, if a martian person mated with an earthbound human, their offspring would be sterile, similar to the dynamics of a horse and a donkey mating to yield a mule. It was around this time that Mars dwellers descendent from humans began to be known as 'peophants.'

As regards the pygmy elephants: Though it was rough going initially, they survived in the Mars equatorial region, where it was comparatively warm, though only a few degrees above freezing, on average. Long before the pygmies were acclimatized, leafy plants had thrived in that region, so bringing on the large grazers was opportune. The small elephants had had many generations of selective breeding on Earth, which enhanced their analytical and speech abilities. These skills served them well in their new martian habitat. Besides grazing, they also built shelters and formed kraals to deal with issues which affected individuals and the herd in general. They would also sing and make music together, and it was not unusual for groups to bunch together and dance in a synchronized fashion - for special occasions.

A storage facility on Mars housed a genome library. It was located near Mar's southern area, so it didn't need artificial cooling apparatus. Within frozen compartments, were categorized genomes of nearly all organisms from Earth, from all phyla. Each organism category was marked with pictures, as it was suspected, even hundreds of years prior, that Martian inhabitants might not retain their intellect or ability to read, over ensuing centuries. The facility had been built 398 years prior, and would have fallen in to complete neglect had not one peophant, named Pral, made the effort to check periodically on its status. One martian day, Pral slogged to the facility in his snowshoes, and noticed the section marked with an elephant-shaped logo had the container holding its eggs, starting to melt. The solar operated back-up freezing apparatus had long since quit operating, and because Mars was heating up, Pral wondered what could be done. Two of his fellows in the dome knew enough about artificial insemination to possibly be able to do something useful with the eggs - before they thawed and became useless.

He talked his buddies in to helping to bring the eggs to term. They picked the embryo dishes which were least thawed, and which appeared special because they were housed in red colored jars. Convincing elephant females to take the eggs within their bodies was easier than the three peophants had imagined. All they had to do was convey to the elephants that these eggs were doomed to die unless given a chance at life, and the females agreed to host them.

Getting semen from male elephants would have been impossible for any peophant, but that too became a breeze when one of the females winked and assured the peophants she could deliver the goods. Sure enough, the next morning, she had a liter jar half full of semen. It was thought best to not ask how she had accomplished that task. Fresh semen added to 45 defrosted eggs yielded 21 which appeared to have been successfully fertilized. Those were inserted within eight healthy female elephant volunteers. Fifteen months later, four babies were born, one male and three females. But these had long reddish-brown hair. They were half-mastodon calves, products of genetic material taken from frozen flesh found in Alberta in the late 20th century.

During ensuing decades, pygmy elephants cross-bred with the half-mastodons, and yielded a sturdy breed now called 'elemen.' They were as large as Asian elephants and had thick reddish-brown hair. Both female and male adults had tusks, though males' were considerably stouter and longer. Elemen also inherited the analytical thinking abilities of pygmy elephants, who were offshoots of those especially bred near the desert alongside the place where San Diego used to be. That spot was now growing coral reefs, as it slipped in to the sea during San Andrea’s' 'Monster Earthquake' of 2122.

Elemen continued to be adept at transferring their cognitive abilities to their young. Additionally, they encouraged their babies to develop mental and tool-making skills as fast as possible. Grazing within martian jungles and plains was satisfactory all year 'round. Their prodigious amounts of poop greatly enhanced the flora at ever place they visited.

Elemen, with their thick fur, didn't mind the colder areas near the poles. Indeed, one of their favorite places to romp was the snow-graced areas there. They learned to make large toboggans in order to slip down slopes.

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