March 19th 2014
Humanity had achieved adolescence and taken fledgling steps off our homeworld. The planet of Mars had finally been terraformed. Senator Stephen Nguyen had finished his speech and unveiled the Memorial.
Those in attendance were simply enjoying the party as night fell across the surface of Mars. The Roommates’ “What It Was,” in the early stages of its meteoric rise in popularity, was playing over the system as the celebration continued.
It was a night of a tremendous Human accomplishment. It was about to be a night of two.
A shrill cry pierced the music, instantly drawing the attention of the Senators, dignitaries and scientists. They quickly found the source: Kinah Okon, one of Port Renatus’ engineering supervisors. Originally from Nigeria on Earth, she had been part of the project for several years along with her husband Madu. More importantly though, she was seven months pregnant with the couples’ first child. Medical staff on the base had closely monitored the baby’s progress, even going as far as recommending a transfer back to Earth, but Kinah refused to abandon what had become her passion project.
On-site medics quickly escorted Kinah and her husband to the infirmary. At 01:28 SET, Abeni Okon became the first Human born on a different planet. It was not without its complications, and Abeni had to spend several weeks under careful observation.
“There was so much we didn’t know. Would the basic differences between Mars and Earth affect the child? We didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I felt personally connected to this child, so maybe we were a little extra careful,” Dr. Michael V. Smith, head of the base’s medical facilities, remarked in his memoirs. “But no one could deny the massive implications of what had happened.”
Abeni was eventually released from the medical station to her parents, who were finally able to take their daughter home. Something else was waiting …
The media orgs stalked Abeni, broadcasting every step of her life. As Mars developed and people began to escape the desperately overcrowded Earth, it became increasingly difficult for the Okon family to evade the throngs of curious and worshipful.
“They all felt like they knew her,” Kinah Okon remarked in a rare interview. “She was everybody’s daughter or sister or friend. Sometimes it was sweet, other times … not so much. It was an unhealthy level of familiarity from strangers.”
It seemed like only a matter of time before this unending scrutiny would trigger a backlash. In her late teens and early twenties, Abeni seemed to just give up and embrace the adulation and attention.
She could be found at every bar and party willing to pay for her appearance. She embarked on ridiculous business ventures and generally wasted the money that had always been around for her. Media coverage began to take a darker turn: that of a damaged ship fighting to stay aloft when everyone knew a crash was inevitable.
The crash did come, but it was not as public as people thought it would be. Abeni was leaving a launch party one night when she was confronted by the usual press of fans outside. There were no drunken fights or bottles thrown, just an exchange of words, and then Abeni was gone.
After that night, she receded from the public spotlight without a single explanation of why and started working in local community outreach programs. She moved often, heading to areas that needed the most help and always further away from the fame that had nearly consumed her.
Abeni made one final public appearance. In 2232, at the age of 75, she was the guest of honor at the launching of the Artemis. Standing at the podium, flanked by Captain Lisa Danvers, Mission Director Justin Cobb and distinguished Heads of State, Abeni had this to say:
“There are moments to be proud of. By all accounts, I am the one who doesn’t deserve to be at this gathering, standing beside these people like I belong. I am here simply because I existed. I achieved a fame and notoriety through no action or pursuit of my own outside of being the child of my parents. But there are people whose bravery and dedication move Humanity forward, not solely from their actions. They force us all to look at ourselves and demand that we do better. I have tried to live better, but I want to hear from the real heroes.”
She then stepped away from the microphone for Lisa Danvers to address the crowd. That was the last time that she appeared in public and the closest anyone got to an explanation about her sudden change all those years ago.
Abeni Okon died on 2252-09-12 SET at the age of 95.
The first extraterrestrial Human was laid to rest with a simple headstone on a hillside in Mars: the world that she helped feel like a second home for Humanity, whether she liked it or not.