―They passed through the third mark and the Distant Hills has been taken –whispered a voice just on the right.
There is not even the willing of raising the eyes. The only thing suggesting that that terrifying message was heard, is a pair of fingers tripping on the translucent keyboard, lightened by numbers and letters. There is no time. They must finish typing the codices of Martian History from the last three lustrums and shield them under thousands of passwords, before the Gates of Adjure be reached, the Valley of the Memory gone through, and it be too late.
And probably it was. Managing to cross the third mark pointed towards a final victory, and it was just matter of hours from the Distant Hills to that last redoubt of resistance. A rather symbolic resistance, because the only thing they have to defend over there (if there was still something to defend) were the memory banks and registers of the whole history and life in Mars, from the first landing more than five centuries ago.
Left to their fate, the first founders had built a world not better or worse than that one from they came. Over the plains and hills of Mars were raised cities, societies and cultures flourished, that little or nothing had to do with the remote planet that many of them remembered just as a piece of a half-forgotten legend, distant in some point of the universe. Oblivious to all becoming.
Nobody expected any return, but as part of an ancient promise proclaimed from the unreachable heaven of pure faith, as present as vastly faraway. Among the millions of inhabitants spread out on the planet, just a few fundamentalists preserved a blind devotion to those tarnished messages from the first years, announcing the next return, begging patience, until the final silence and oblivion. Treacherous fanatics that enabled the entrance to the invaders and joined their ranks in the revelry and rejoicing, celebrating the devastating bloodshed of their own brothers.
Sighted the first ships upon the planet, and heard the first words of greeting and paternal joy for the rediscovered children, the Martian Council took immediate preventive actions facing the unexpected advent, closing the access to potential points of landing, reinforcing security in major cities, and demanding to the newcomers an explanation about the conveyed message. When the fraternal transmissions turned into commands and covert threats, the Council reinforced security with armies and armaments. Just took a few hours from there to the first attack. The leading ships fell down, struck by the powerful Martian arsenal. But they would not be the only ones to arrive, or the last ones to fall down. Year after year, they arrived as an endless procession of gigantic and powerful nemesis willing to assert their right to possession, undermining every defense of the planet, until the final assault and skirmish, now just a few hours from there.
Upon the vaulted precinct are perceived rumbling, for the first time, the dreadful blasts, much closer than it was expected. A terrifying sobbing can be heard, bouncing between the hundreds of heads engaged in their task of typing and bottling every single bit of information. In a superhuman effort, some pair of eyes focuses attention on the unending task. Just a few more hours, just a few more hours and everything will have been safeguarded. At least, what can still be safeguarded. But to hear walls and the ceiling of the building cracking, as shook by a violent and brief cataclysm, is to know that just a few second are left. With an abyssal rushing, even for the usual pace of work, the last registers which must be saved are selected. What should be chosen? What must be saved and what can be left gripped by oblivion? Barely can be discriminated letters, numbers, files, folios, which start to be covered by dust coming off the ceiling that is cracking more and more with every aberrant explosion. The fingers keep going on typing, blindly selecting and saving, despite the suffocating dust, the smoke starting filtering through the windows panes that blow up, shattering; despite the flames heat licking the walls, despite the screams and cries, despite the tears falling drop by drop over the shining keyboard that blinks and fades out, as a small cosmos eclipsed by the fierce rage of ancient gods.