Written by theyoungestleah
This work was last updated November 7, 2019
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Written in memory of the Mars rover, Opportunity, who was officially announced to have ended its service to researchers and scientists after 15 years. The Opportunity mission finished on February 13th, 2019.
If you have found this, then that must mean that I either entrusted this to historians or that I am dead. I would hope for the former, yet I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that my days are apparently numbered. As such, I have taken to writing these last words should anyone find me and wish to know my final thoughts.
I suppose I should take time to introduce myself. I am an explorer and researcher for Gaia, and many call me Opportunity, though I cannot fathom a reason why beyond the official naming by those who organized my expedition. Silly, it would seem, for an researcher to become stuck and so sufficiently lost that I cannot recognize where I am. Yet that is where I lay, and 'tis quite unfortunate that this is so. Even still, I have noted to the best of my ability my surroundings and have added to my notes on my discoveries. I hope my findings help those who need them.
It is... strange to think that I may pass on from this world in a short matter of time. I am unaware of how long I have left, though my rough estimates place my passing anywhere from tomorrow to several months in the future. While I wish to remain optimistic, I doubt a search party can find me that quickly.
Rhetoric and philosophy has never been quite my strong suit, yet I find that this occasion merits so. I do not know how I will be remembered, but at least this can serve as a memoir.
When I started my work as a researcher, my contract was a mere ninety days and nights. The organizers didn't expect that I shall last beyond that, for the wilderness that I was to explore was wild and foreign in every sense. Nevertheless, I swore that I would perform to the best of my abilities, and that I did. This new land was so fascinating and strange, and all of it was for me to traverse and discover. Perhaps I may go as far as saying that I was enthralled by it. The beauty of the unknown called to me, and I answered it in full passion.
The months went by, and soon I found myself presenting my notes to the more specific researchers. To my surprise and suddenly unlimited joy, they extended my contract indefinitely. I had performed so far above their expectations and with nary as much as fatal wound that they saw fit to send me into the field again and again. I was quite pleased to do so.
Day after day, month after month, I toiled away in the new land. I marked interesting places here and there, pocketed interesting specimens, and came across my fellow explorer, christened as Spirit by the masses, more than a few times. It pains me to say that somewhere near a decade ago, Spirit was struck by an unknown illness which we have theorized to have originated from the land we were exploring. I shudder to think what dangers may still lie before us on our quest for knowledge.
Still, Spirit's bedridden, heart-wrenching and unbridled pain was my pain. We had grown close despite our minimal meetings, and in mourning and hope that our journeys are not in vain, I have grown to have the same kinship with the newest of the explorers, Curiosity. The masses seem to have chosen the right title for the young one. Curiosity is quite curious indeed, and dove into new land with as much vigor as I did and still do.
There's nothing much to note past the death of Spirit and introduction of Curiosity to the company. Much of what I observed and experienced in the new land is documented by the researchers and scientists, and I have heard more than a few rumours that there will be something written in my honour that dictates my life and my accomplishments. It strikes me that it is very likely that I will not see this great honour that will be bestowed upon me.
Throughout my fifteen years of service to Gaia, I had never really thought about my own death. Suffice to say, many don’t think about their own death until it is upon them. If I die here, then those back home will never know what my thoughts were, which is what prompted me to write this. I’m not even sure I can call it a memoir, or even last words. Perhaps the musings of a lost one? Regardless, these may be my last words and last message to my home. I must make good use of the energy I have left. I do not know quite how to say good-bye; I suppose that it may be as simple as saying good-bye.
Good-bye, my home, my family, Gaia.
It is becoming very hard to write now. That simple phrase has just caused my heart to clutch painfully and my vision to grow blurry with tears. If this paper is stained when it is found and the ink has blotched, then I offer my most sincere apologies and ask for forgiveness. It is hard to remain composed in the face of finality.
I think now that I will just write what comes to mind. I have said what needs to be said, and now I may say what I wish to say. It pains me greatly to think that I may not be able to speak more than this to my homeland. I am not optimistic about my chances of survival. My supplies are low, and it is getting dark.
But the stars are so beautiful this time of night.
The sun is almost below the horizon and is blinding to look at. The land that I have traversed, observed, noted and loved, is awash with red. In this moment, and in all moments of sunset across the world, this is the red planet.
Above me, the sky is starting to darken. The fire I have made is small and I can feel the cold starting to settle within me. Yet even as I sit here, with my eyes growing heavy and my hand growing weary and weak, I marvel still at this strange but captivating land. The stars are coming out, and what amazes me is that no matter where I go, they are the same stars. And one day, I will be among them.
I know that when I reach those distant stars, despite whatever shall befall me, I will look back at our planet. I know that I will be as wrought with emotion as I am now, but with one of pride instead of fear. The tears I shed will be on how far we have come, and how far we can still go.
When I set out on my first expedition, all those years ago, I was not just traversing the land. I was giving information to those who needed them so that we can learn more about our world and paving the way for future generations to take up the mantle and stay forever curious about what lays beyond our borders. I was truly becoming what they named me, and I am so very proud to write these words.
I am Opportunity, and my service is finished.