Out of the Ashes (Maji Book 1)

By: L.A. Casey

For those who believe there is life beyond the stars.

The Earth is dying.

Overpopulation, natural disasters, illnesses, world wars, a breakdown of government and law, and as of late, global warming. All have been a deathly combination to my precious dying world over the past few centuries. The latter has been the worst of all to deal with. The Earth’s ozone layer has depleted so much, it’s practically non-existent, and it’s causing nothing but death and destruction in its wake. Crops aren’t growing, animals and people alike are dying at a rapid pace, oceans and rivers are drying up to form deserts, and it’s getting nearly impossible to be outside without the UV rays from the scorching sun causing severe burns.

Since the year 2005, my beloved planet and race have been fighting a losing battle for survival. Nine point nine billion people out of a ten billion population have perished in the past 110 years. Nine point nine billion. Roughly, 100,000 people scatter the Earth’s surface, and that’s it. After 200,000 years of procreation, that small and still dwindling number is all we have to show for it. That number now defines us.

For the first time in existence, human beings have been declared an endangered species.

We have joined many other species in reaching an extinction point, and because of that, we are more vulnerable than ever. Five days ago, the announcement was broadcasted to the cosmos on our species’ status, and the Maji touched down on our exhausted planet four days later. That worried me greatly. Either they were close to our planet when the announcement went out, or they had unrivalled space travel speed to reach us so quickly.

In the year 2002, it was discovered that humans were not the only intelligent lifeforms in the universe—far from it. Including humanity, 233 known extra-terrestrial species lived in the cosmos. Several of them were hostile, several of them were peaceful and wished to co-exist, and several of them wanted to be left alone.

The greatest discovery in mankind’s history would quickly break the foundation of human life as we knew it. Back in that period, religion to billions of people wasn’t just a concrete faith; it was a way of life. With the news of other life in the universe, it unravelled many people’s beliefs and, for the most part, wreaked havoc and destruction. Holy landmarks were attacked and destroyed, leaders of all religions were slaughtered, and that was only the beginning of the terror humans would unleash on the Earth.

Around the time of the extra-terrestrial discovery and breakdown of religion, an advancement in science and medicine caused a massive breakthrough that created its own point in history. Prosthetics and blood and organ donations quickly became a thing of the past. Scientists discovered ways to grow new organs, create new blood types, replenish others, and attach augmented limbs to living tissue and have every human host accept it as part of their anatomy.

Scientists took up the vacant role of creator and decided to play god. They wrote DNA codes as if programming a computer instead of a live person. ‘Build-a-Baby’ became an ‘it’ thing for people with enough credits. Once an egg from a female and sperm from a male were donated, a scientist could design the DNA structure of the newborn based on the specific requirements from the parents. You could decide what your child would look like at every age of their life. You could eliminate all natural flaws and choose enhanced limbs and organs if you wanted your child to excel at something like sports. They could even enhance the percentage of useable brain to literally make people smarter.

Soon after that advancement, robotics and technology made its grand mark on the world. Androids were the new cell phones, hover cars were the new bicycles, holograms were the new video calls, and retina scanners were the new thumbprints. The world rapidly changed into a truly presidential digital and robotic era.

Aliens were real. Robots were real. Augmented humans? Very real.

All of it became the norm, and after a while, something else caught everyone’s attention because nobody could miss it. The sun began to die, and with it, so did the Earth. Not even the smartest of humans could figure out a way to protect our planet, and that was when the chaos really imploded.

It was currently the year 2115, and sadly, things had only gotten worse. With the Earth’s current fragile state, an unexpected visit from a new species had everyone on edge. Well, more on edge than usual. The Maji’s intentions for humans and our planet were unknown. For me, a twenty-three-year-old woman with no family, friends, or protection other than my two bare original hands, the not knowing was terrifying.

The Maji were the only reason I was so close to Command Central, and why I was out past curfew. Being out past curfew didn’t exactly make me a rule breaker since law broke down forty-odd years ago, but a person was still likely to be shot on sight if they were caught sneaking around after dark, especially at my region’s Command Central.

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