I am the last one. Everyone here now had not been born when we left Earth, and they want me to die so they can go on with their revolution. I am alone and hidden. How long do I have?
When we left Earth we were full of idealism, this was our only hope left. Everything else had been methodically removed from our future.
The Earth was wounded and was forced to push us away. We had exhausted the easy life and were getting deeper into the fringe of survival. The land was fighting back to survive and heal itself from our wounding it. The resources we knew how to exploit so easily have long been exhausted and we have been living off of digging into the landfills and wastes left by our ancestors.
The mines and oil wells ruined the water, the air was ravaged by the weather, the sky was a constant storm, life in the surface of the planet was impossible. Our friends the animals were gone. Our sources of food, the plants, were unrecognizable. There were plagues, some horrifying and slow, some mercifully fast. Some were annoying and uncomfortable, but there were a few that killed horribly and cleared out the largest populations. We few survived and made do with what we could.
The ships we loaded were left over from the early days of optimistic investment, there were a few models that worked so they were reproduced at the manufacturing plants that were working constantly. Each vessel has its destination programmed, navitation is not accessable to the passengers, there are automated features that will keep order and make constant repairs. The human passengers are expected to keep their own health and to survive. They have no say in the path of the journey, which leads to New Earth.
Today the kids have locked my door, they found me hiding in the storage area and brought me out and put me on trial. That was the way they convinced the others that their story worked.
There is the story I wanted to tell, and here is the story that they are telling now.
They said they were tricked and wanted to make sure it never happened again. They said we had perpretrated a fraud on them and they wanted to salvage what they could and make a new plan. Somehow the old library has been closed, and the new library starts with their stories.
I am the oldest one on board. I am the only one that remembers the truth. Soon the old library will be gone forever. Soon the only story will be the one where they are the heros.
Here is what I remember.
Thirteen is a number that some fear, they talk about the last supper and how unlucky that number is. Triskaidekaphobia is real. The evidence all adds up when you look for it, but then, any evidence can fit into strange patterns that are useful for agendas.
At first the movement to New Earth was popular, and much progress was made developing hardware and methods, plans and resources. Then came the dark period, when the enemies of the movement took control of the popular thought.
People seeking to leave Earth were called traitors, there were many names. They were portrayed as selfish opportunists who were seeking to trick the masses into some strange fantasy about life in a dreamworld, somewhere far away that was quickly named “Impossible” and “Destructive” or “Suicidal” by the new scientists recruited for this purpose.
Prisons were filled with free thinkers and developers of this technology. Everyone forgets how dark this time was, it only lasted a few years, a decade at most if you count the early years, but the damage was incalcuable. However conditions on the surface of Earth went from difficult to impossible.
Eventually there was a new political regime voted in, not without a bloody struggle.
Knowledge creates its own paths for survival. A new religion was born, first in secret during the dark time, then blossoming and creating a huge following. Hope does that, people like to imagine there is a way to overcome the difficulties at hand.
Our ship left on DATE, with much fanfare, we were not the first, but we were in the early part of the Exodus movement. I remember how long it took, how many delays and problems came up during that time. I gave up over and over again, but others did not, and we made it.
At first we had contact with the Old Earth, and things were encouraging. I remember when it stopped. There was a short period where things were bad, and then there was an end to transmissions, and we were alone.
The first child born on the ship was NAME, and there was much celebration. The next few years were filled with romance and debauchery, all women were required to become pregnant, and after giving birth to go again, and again. That is probably why they eventually began to die, and soon there were no more grandmothers. I am a great great grandfather, I am the last of the Old Earth dwellers.
At first they made only vague insults, then I would hear increasing talk of my doom. I was a welcome member of the gym, in zero gravity there is a problem with bone density loss and weight gain. Exercise is the only way to survive.
The day I was banned from the gym my picture was posted all over the ship, I was called a traitor and warnings about associating with me would result in severe punishment.
My chamber used to house thirty of my fellow Old Earth dwellers, now I am the only one. My door was sealed shut, I found a way into the air duct, and nobody knew I had left my so-called reservation, and I took up clandistine residence in the storage areas deep in the hidden areas of the vessel.
I got away with this for twenty years. Now I can see the end is near. I have a story to tell. Who will find it?
I was born in Michigan, to an ordinary small family, during the beginning of the third war in Afghanistan, at the end when everyone was lost and without a central cause. There were lots of factions that sought to assume control. Control of what?
During the time before the discovery of New Earth, I think there were more than one such location, hedonism was the unspoken law of the land. If you did not enrich yourself, that was your fault.
During the dark time, the religion of Elysia arose, secretly. They worshipped the Earth and Nature, at first they were tolerated because they gave reasons to stay on Earth, but ultimately the movement was transformed into a survivalist cause. The ways of Nature became the science of evolution away from the old planet, which by then was becoming increasingly distressed.
Cleaning up the water supply was at first a common cause, then the dark period came and the place got worse than ever. Now there is no such thing as surface water that is not poisonous. The smell of burning garbage became normal, we all wore masks and fresh air was a slogan, not a reality.
Getting on that first shuttle rocket was a big deal, we were excited to find a clean and new looking place to be, even if it is temporary. We spent five years on the Asimov space station orbiting the sun, joking about being a new planet. Then we boarded the vessel we are on now, the one where we were to spend a very long time. The rest of our lives, so that the next generation would have a better chance at a good life.
On this vessel there are over a thousand living people, who knows how many ghosts or lost souls. Some believe in them, some do not. The food is getting better, at first when we were learning how to feed everyone there were some bad years. Now we have figured out how to prepare the new materials in better ways.
The dreams are still about being back on Earth, I wonder what my kids are dreaming of, probably the passageways and chambers of this ship. I remember the sun, and the way night and day would alternate, and the weather would vary with the seasons. Now things are pretty much constant. Getting used to zero gravity was easy, but I remember what it was like to walk in the Earth, what will these new beings who have never experienced weight and being fastened to one plane instead of free-floating, I wonder how they will adjust.
Now that I am out of the storage hiding place I am confined to my bed, I am really old and the next thing is for me to die. I better get writing.
After we had been in space for about ten years the population gradually shifted from all Earth dwellers to more and more kids, as they grew up they became more prominant in the way things were being run. Then came the time they realized that there were more of them than there were of the old Earth dwellers, and they gradually took control of the scene.
They did not accept being told they had to fulfill the destiny designed by the old ones, they wanted to take hold and make their own way, their own goals and decisions. They did not know what all that meant, but they did know they were not going to just follow along. This was a slow process at first, then there was a tipping point, and soon the older leaders were being shouted down. Things were torn off of the walls, some walls were broken, things changed, it was an upheaval.
But they did not have a clear plan, only a rejection of the old plan. All they had to do was wait, as there were more and more children born, and fewer old Earth dwellers around, but some could not wait and they made trouble.
One of the problems with a utopian vision of society was that there was no authority, no constabulary or mechanisms for enforcing order, so after the discipline of the old ones faded, the new citizens went through a time of testing boundaries and rejecting order to find the ecstacy of chaos. We were not prepared for this. This was not part of the plan.
Part of the way the space ship was designed was to encode the navigational mechanisms and remove any sort of piloting, the destination was singular, being the distant New Earth, so there was no need to ever make any adjustments to the flight plan. There were areas of the ship that were forbidden, sealed off and woven into the machinery of the vessel. If you have no helm, you do not need to make any of this accessible. This was infuriating to the new citizens, they rejected the single destination concept and wanted to create new ways to steer and control the path of the ship.
But they had no knowledge of how to accomplish this. They were wise enough not to destroy the habitat that was keeping them alive and comfortable, but there were a few who wanted to do just that. There were problems with individuals who tried to break into the forbidden areas and tamper with the equipment.
It was eventually decided that a few would be permitted to carefully study the equipment in the forbidden zone to see if they could safely figure out a way to take control of the flight path.
Most of the living areas were designed to be cleaned and maintained automatically, but when the revolution came some of the cleaning robots were damaged, and now there are areas of the living areas that are getting dark and worn. Luckily the majority of the common areas are still kept pristine by the cleaning robots.
The storage zones were another story, and that is why I chose to hide in that vast part of the ship, until I was found and removed and now remain confined to my bed. At least I now have steady access to nourishment, when I was hiding and outside of the system that was a big problem.
As I lie here waiting to die I am thinking about everything that has happened to me. I have been given the means to record my thoughts, hence you are reading this now. I have a small portal that allows me to look out into the darkness beyond. My walls are filled with storage compartments that have clear doors so that the contents can be seen, I have my books and sentimental objects, some decorative momentos and a few souveniers that please me to look at.
There is an air duct. I know how to move through the air duct system, but my captors have thought of that. There is no way to enter from inside my chamber. At least I can breathe.
Most of my dreams take place back in Michigan, I walk my hometown streets and go to my old school, my old church, and visit magical places downtown. That always changes, as dreams do. Sometimes the familiar old places have new doors or passageways, or the path goes in a different direction and scenery mixes up, various locations fit together differently.
I was always a person who appreciated the ways our culture had developed, I had a brief period when I was moving from adolescence and the care of my doting parents into the exciting part of life that waited ahead. I never made trouble or had any urges to reject their ways, it always included a goal of success and prosperity for me.
My studies included the sciences, of course, we all were interested in the sciences, and we were all required to learn other languages, which included bodies of literature being opened up to us. Each one created their own focuses, some went into physical trades and began their life work at a young age, some kept on exploring new areas of study, some went into teaching, which allowed for perpetual access to the learning resources.
On Earth, everything was a mixture of traditions and revolutions, it was normal. On the ship there was no room for revolution, survival was planned and contained. This created opportunities for tension amongst the newer citizens.
The biggest flaw in the ship’s plan and automated destination actualization is the vast distances involved. We knew at the outset that before the fulfillment of the flight plan, the old Earth dwellers would be long passed, gone and now forgotten, even rejected.
Rejection of the past was never considered, the Earth tradition of revering the old ways was such a natural part of the culture, there were no means to protect old knowledge, history was a burden. Teaching survival never included inventing new methods, we had things pretty well figured out after living on Earth for so long, trying various things and settling on a way that worked, which honored the successful methods of the past and allowed for learning and trying new things, within the greater established traditional moral framework.
Now all that guarantee of safety has been torn away and we are facing every manner of danger, from keeping the ship functioning to considering new destinations and ways of life.
I wonder what the other ships are going through. There are legions of ships, at first the explorers were motivated by curiousity, there was a period when the ships were prisons, ways to dispose of misfits and dangerous elements that required isolation. Then came the realization that Earth was not going to provide sanctuary any more, and there was a rush to the skies, to move from the old dying planet to finding a new place to begin again.
Religion shifted from the oldest monotheistic traditions, to a new worship of Nature, and now here on the ship the young citizens are trying new ways, testing new belief systems. Nature, meaning the old Life Sciences and the traditions based on sustaining ways, the established ecological vision of life is part of the old Earth, and has become less accepted as obvious.
I hear a noise coming from the air duct, there is something happening. I try to move nearer to investigate. I see that there is someone who is working on removing the security pannel. They signal that I should not draw attention to their presence, and I am thrilled to be part of a new conspiracy, maybe even a source of illicit hope.
The people who confined me here have ways of monitoring me, but I would expect that they would grow weary of watching my surrender to my own death, watching me lie here sadly and record my memories. They have no use for my memories and there is no way to retain these things, still I persist on my obsession, creating a chronicle and memoire.
There is an obvious camera watching me, but I have devised a way to elude their view. When I simply block the lense, eventually someone comes and punishes me, always clearing the view so they can watch from the central control area, and reminding me that my cooperation brings comforts that are not required for my sustenance. Those comforts have not been available to me for two years now, I assume they are content to watch me suffer alone. My patience has bored them, perhaps the central control area has better things to monitor.
Perhaps I should devise a distraction, or an illusion of normalicy. I need to conceal the air duct activities, and the mysterious silent person or persons working from inside the ventilation. They come and go, trying various things to open the way for me to escape.
The main light grows dim and goes out, now the only source of light is from the portal. Soon there will be someone to fix the main light here. I will wait and see what happens.
Now the light has been off for a long time, many feeding cycles. I do not thing anyone is coming, only the persistent activity inside the air ducts.
I dreamed that my parents came through the vents and invited me to escape with them. I went. I woke up still a prisoner, but it is dark now. I can see fairly well in the low light. Maybe it is the design of the control room to just forget about me. Will they think of something new to do with my old room after I have gone, after I have died?
Some things I will never know, evidently. Do all doors open?
Now the air duct person is working again, and the duct vent swings open, there is an old lady who beckons me to escape, to come with her. She signals me with her hands not to say anything. I help to close the vent back so that it appears intact and then go with her. We proceed through miles of air ducts, and come to a part of the ship I have never seen. This took hours and when we arrived she had food and water prepared for me.
Nya is an Elysian Priestess, she has been onboard since she stowed away on Earth, before the original vessel was first constructed on the Asimov space station. She is an expert at being hidden, and has been practicing her worship of Nature since all that began, during the dark period when such beliefs were made illegal and persecuted by vigilantes as well as authorities of every ilk.
Nya does not expect me to follow her religious practices, she offers respite from the situation I was in. I was thinking this was the end and was looking for a speedy death in my chamber, but she has brought me to a new place.
On the way here, traveling through the air ducts, floating along, I kept thinking, “am I dying now? Is this what the end is?”
I remembered how I got here, how it was to fall from being one of the leaders to being the group’s nemisis, the source of their problems. Being alone used to be peaceful to me, but then it became part of hiding to survive. I once had a choice to be alone, and it was a simple blessing in a busy world. How innocent I was back then.
Nya tells me how it will go, here is the food we live on, here is the safe place, avoid these places. Nobody seems to come back into these parts of the vessel. We can float through the air ducts most of the time, because the ship was designed to keep the passengers busy and away from the inner workings. I had no idea this area existed until the long journey through the air ducts. The ship is much bigger than I ever imagined.
The light here is gentle, the chamber is spacious, I cannot see all of it. The ceiling is probably about 60 meters above, the walls exist no doubt but I cannot see that far, it is dark further away. There are various smells, some containers are perforated, most are airtight. Sometimes there is a breeze that distributes the smells. The sound varies according to the size of the chamber. We can float anywhere but it is safer to keep hidden in the shelves where the boxes are fastened.
Nya tells me that there is a farm and we can sometimes venture inside and get a feeling for the old Earth. I look forward to that. So far I have not met anyone else, Nya tells me that there are others here and we will be meeting them soon.
When I first decided to join the space migration program it had been forbidden for many years, then came a change in the whitehouse and everything was different. Instead of hiding like criminals, the space program became the primary focus of pretty much all activity, everywhere, all the time.
The dark years were different, the government was trying to suppress this interest, the prisons were filled with people like my brother and his entire family. He was working in secret to develop some kind of food program, a way to sustain ongoing food sources, so we would not be limited to eating what we had brought with us.
I remember when I heard he had been arrested, someone he knew got a reward for telling the police that he was working on the space program. They called it the Earth Traitor Movement and said it was the biggest problem facing our Nation, bigger than the bad water and loss of agriculture. That lasted for a few years, then there was an election and a new government was installed, one that is friendly to our cause.
Deciding to join the new movement and prepare to leave Earth was easy. My brother and his family were released from prison, except for his wife who had died there under mysterious circumstances, and we all pledged our allegiance to the new movement, the Bright Future.
Nya has brought five of her friends, and we are going to the Rama Gardens. The youngest in the group is 71 years old. I will not ask who the oldest is.
The Rama Gardens are not as big as the fabled place in Arthur C. CLarke’s novel, but the concept is pretty much the same. Instead of huge mixed kinds of neighborhoods, with buildings and platforms, the surface is entirely filled with agricultural activities, and there is no open water. The rotation is much slower, so there is no sense of gravity. The plants are all secured to the cylinder walls. The entire chamber is probably two kilometers long with a radius of half of a kilometer. The air is humid and warm, the light is a puzzle I have not figured out yet. Because plant life cycles are triggered by cicadian rhythms of darkness and light, there are sectors that have pronounced day and night and seasonal light, and sectors that are constantly lit, with no solid barriers in between.
Because there are mixed sizes of plants (no monoculture here) there are orchards and grasslands, as well as fields and areas in various stages of planting and harvesting. There are places that are open and a human might stand out, and places that are filled with trees and tall plants, where we can congregate and do as we please. I have not figured out the survelliance measures that are in place here, it appears to be limited access and therefore no need for extreme camera coverage.
They tell me that there is an aqueous Rama vessel, called the Varuna chamber, which is filled with water and used for cultivating fishes and other kinds of water-based life forms. That would be more difficult to visit, without specialized equipment, but it is interesting to think about, a huge aquarium with lots of fish swimming around, located out in space. Some of the fertilizer for the gardens comes from the Varuna chamber.
The protien that is consumed by the residents of E13 is generated in huge vats, animal cell samples are cultivated and harvested, and that area is heavily monitored. We have no business there either. The storage areas and the Rama garden are ours, our little band of hidden people have open areas to live our lives, however long they may be. There are no ranches, pens or chicken coops where real animals live, all of the meat comes from laboratories. The flavors are amazing, as cuisine has become a unique artform that is much celebrated by everyone.
There is a small abandoned room (abandoned by the official bridge) which allows us to keep up with what is going on with the general population. We can access pretty much any of the surveliance cameras as well as the various shipwide broadcasting projects. We do not have access to exterior communications, but there is not much going on, as the only known places to communicate with are back on Earth.
They do not appear to be aware of us, they are busy with factional strife and the struggle for leadership within the general population. This has little to do with us, so we are busy rescuing the materials found in the old library, which has no value to the current leadership. We are quietly lurking in the background and they have no interest in our existence.
Nya has brought together seven of us, I am 83, Bill is the youngster at 71 going on 72, Lynn is 85, Alex is not saying how old he is, Mary is 74, and Marcia is also not saying. We are hidden from the general population, and they are not looking for us. They are busy with working out their new order, which seems to change from day to day.
Bill is a physician, he takes good care of us and has clandestine access to the back office of the medical system here on E13; Lynn, Mary and Marcia are in good health, they are all active in the old Elysian movement, worshiping Nature, under the leadership of Priestess Nya. Alex has the most health problems, and I have no interest in making a list of his complaints. We seem well suited for our predicament, living in the background and creating our own version of the history of everything.
We take turns monitoring the activities on the ship, and pursue our various activities, Lynn and I are writing a comprehensive history of our journeys, Mary and Marcia are collecting images while writing their own stories, and Alex does what he can, editing and commenting on our history books, while Bill watches over all of us. Nya looks deep into the future.
Elysia teaches that the spirit world is the only real world, this physical world is a theater that requires interpretation. Nya sees spirits and shows us the natural way, the way of Earth magic, where human life once developed and thrived. Now we are in a new place and the old rules are untested.
On E13 Elysia is not practiced openly, and most of us in our little hidden group are willing to accept the things that make sense to us, but not the entire prophesy of Elysia. The ancient Roman story is about the afterlife, a utopia at the end of our journey, fertile fields and abundant life under a warm sun decorated with breezes.
Nya has taken us deep into a forested area in the Rama Garden. When E13 was launched, she established a temple hidden there. She has never spoken about this place out loud, and that is our rule now, never speak of this place out loud. She was the local Priestess beginning when the ship launched, and she conducted ceremonies in the public area, keeping this place a secret from the beginning. When the ceremonies were no longer popular, she continued with her work, and when the ceremonies became illegal again, she did not miss a beat. The Elysian religion was created in secrecy, and only flourshed during the decade before we left Earth, so she already had the habit of keeping the core practices concealed.
In the temple, which is disguised, if you did not know what to look for you would never know it was here, there is an altar and a place for the faithful to gather. There is a hidden place for the priestess to come and go from, and there is a public area where the congregation can dance and celebrate the rituals, which originally were based on the positions of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, and the relationship with the moon. There is also a columbarium. This is the most secret part of this place, it is against the new way on our ship to preserve memories of the dead. What you do in your own mind is your own business, but there are no legal burial grounds on E13.
We sang a few of the old songs, silently, in our imaginations. We did not make the ritual chants or responses. This is a new practice of an old secret religion, which was based on ancient principles and adapted to meet the needs of the times, first in secret, then openly celebrated, then adapted to being on E13, and now in secrecy once again.
It is a long journey to come from the storage area where we live, through the hidden ways to the Rama Garden, then deep into the vegetative areas, almost to the extreme end of the Garden itself.
Nya lights a candle, she performs her strange rituals silently and we wait. I hear a noise, and bow my head. I follow the practice of clearing my mind and riding my breaths. After a time I feel a new presence and open my eyes ever so slightly, and I can see them. There are hundreds of souls here. I recognize everyone who I once knew and that has died since E13 left on this part of the journey. I feel a sense of belonging. I can smell the old presences. I relax and watch as this congress conducts its traditional ceremonies of taking the count and of accepting the agenda.
Today we are confirming the goals we set out to accomplish. There is an awareness of the changes in the goals of the general population, but the assumption is that since the ship has no navigation system and is locked into its path to the New Earth, the old goals still hold true. The general population is going to make noises and could end the journey by committing suicide by shutting down the ship, but short of that the old plan to travel to New Earth shall prevail, automatically. The general population is busy with its own internal power struggles, conducting its business and establishing its own sense of normal. But E13 has but one mission, and that is the survival of human life and conducting the spark to the new world.
I am not able to communicate directly with my old friends, nor are they able to do any more than nod and smile at me. We sit together until it is time to return to our hidden quarters.
There is tension rising in the general population, factions have emerged and have been escallating their rhetoric as they seek to exclusively dominate all they see, and to exterminate the remaining resistance.
We have succeded in remaining beyond their collective awareness. The general population is consumed and obsessed with their own struggles. There are no personal weapons available to the various factions, otherwise there would be massive casualties. There is rage and there is destruction. One of the first things that was torn down was the original library, the materials gathered for nourishing the imaginations of the future. Since then the remaining materials were secretly moved into storage areas by the defending far-sighted librarians.
The factions include the originalists who wish to continue with the first plan, to journey to the New Earth. As time goes by this group has shrunk. The largest opposition is focused on eventually assuming control of the navigation system and diverting the path of E13 and finding a new destiny location, however they have no more specific new plan to offer, only a dream. There is a faction that wishes to turn back to Old Earth, but they are very small. They forget that Old Earth is forever lost. There is a mixed group which might be collectively called a faction, that offers a variety of new approaches, including the old-fashioned contrarians who would disagree simply to disagree. This so-called group seems to be the collecting point for those who simply share the notion to oppose the original plan but have different priorities.
Nya has been consistently leading us to sustain the original plan, while keeping open to new discoveries and developments. There have been several gatherings of our congress of spirits in the temple, no works are spoken, but the message is clear and simple. The plan holds, while the general population boils in turmoil.
We are here to record this history, and you are here now to read it. Before I boarded E13 I had imagined a very different destiny for myself. I had it in my mind that I was to be a musician, and had set upon that path. Part of my method was to create a greater mystery about my craft and had made a practice of performing while wearing a mask, a simple plastic covering for my face which was held in place by a hat.
That was more than fifty years ago, I have been on E13 for nearly 50 years, and I had the nightly job of being on the stage during the time before the migration began, during the time of darkness when political forces conspired to keep the sciences repressed, when anyone looking towards the stars for their future hopes was considered an enemy of the state. Keeping my identity hidden while performing was key to surviving in those times.
That hat was cool. It was part of my essence. I have not thought of those days in a very long time. Life on Old Earth was so different, we had hardships and we had excess at times. The kinds of food we ate were decadent, there were things we enjoyed that I have almost forgotten about.
But the greatest difference that I remember from the old days on Earth was adjusting to having no gravity. We had to adapt by embracing a practice of performing some simple motion exercises five times a day, sort of like a prayer. Because of the Elysian movement, calling it a prayer would have ruined the whole thing. Those were dark times. Religion was rejected, even the followers of Jesus were banned, to the extent that those who were permitted to be on E13 had to take an oath.
Without those simple motions practiced frequently, five times a day is the minimum, and it only takes a few moments to perform them, our bones and muscles would quickly become fragile and we would experience a painful slow death. Gravity provided muscletone and a constant resistance which kept our muscles and bones in good shape, without that daily attention, the bones break up and the muscles become jelly-like. Diet made a big difference too, but the flexing ritual brings immediate results.
This ritual takes about a minute and a half to perform, sort of like an Earth cat moves, enjoying the act of stretching and reaching, followed by relaxing and resting. Five times a day there is a signal given and everyone takes a moment, remaining in the place they were when the signal is heard, and we return to whatever it was we were doing.
The tension within the general population has become dangerous again. There are reports we have monitored from our hiding places that factional drama has become extreme.
There are no guns, so there are no shootings, but there is pain. There are no panes of glass, so there are no deadly shards. There are angry people who express their rage in the traditional ways, assault and battery is common. The medical facilities are busy. The maintenance robots are engaged. Mostly there is confrontation and noise. There is a need for a constabulary of some kind, which was deliberatly excluded from the original plan, by philosophical design. Now there are wrongs being committed by increasing numbers.
There are no strangers here, we are the hidden ones who remain unrecognized outside, but the general population can rely on peer recognition, even though the numbers on E13 are well into the thousands. Each can find respite and sanctuary in their personal quarters, there is a strong sense of privacy and respect for each one’s personal security, a place to rest and feel safe. The confrontations happen in the public areas.
The role of the constabulary is being discussed by the leadership. The concept of keeping the peace is primary. The concept of protecting property and of containing danger is new to our society here. No such behavior has been widespread before this time.
A group of adolescents has gathered some household tools, such has claw hammers and kitchen knives, and has systemically murdered all of the oldest first-born of the general population. As there is no organized constabulary or other law enforcement the children have retreated to their homes and are being defended by their parents.
Now we have three hundred and twenty five dead adults, none of them fought back, none of the young murderers were injured. This marks a major turning point in the life of E13 general population. There will be a funeral and the remains will be cremated using the facilities provided in the vessel. There will be more meetings. Now the oldest among the general population, which excludes our hidden group of six, was born after the ship set off to New Earth.
How did a group of innocent adolescents manage to identify and murder so many of their elders? There is an ongoing forum which has come about. It seems unlikely these children created their own plan and knew exactly who to kill. Also, there were no wounded, each of the dead were carefully dispatched. Clearly there are hidden hands at work. This has been brewing for weeks.
After the funeral there emerged new factions, the surviving families who lost their oldest members, the parents of the children who murdered them, the last of the original destiny (the ones who believe that the original mission of E13 is worthwhile), the mediating neutrals, and the oldest rebels who want to change the path of E13 towards a new destination. It has been revealed that most of the dead are from the later group, and there is an investigation underway. Again, without constabulary forces this is a difficult process.
As time goes by the tension has increased, every day there are retribution murders. The mediating neutrals have emerged as the largest surviving group only because they are not trading violence with their so-called enemies.
We have spent more time in the hidden temple, while trading shifts watching the activity from the hidden media center. It appears that common sense has abandoned E13. It appears that the population has now been reduced by more than half of the original numbers. There is no way to verify this, as the means for maintaining a census has long been discarded, this was one of the first objectives of the original revolutionary forces.
There is one camera on the exterior, Mary has noticed that there appears to be an approaching object or vessel. We went to the Rama Gardens to sit with the congress of souls, there were new faces among them, calm and steady.
Much later we returned from the gardens and found the entire ship, E13, completely empty. We watched from the monitor room, and then felt confident in entering the area where the general population had dominion.
There is nobody on the ship but the seven of us, Nya, myself, Bill, Lynn, Alex, Mary and Marcia. The maintenance robots have cleared all signs of the struggles that we watched from the monitor room where we hid for so long. The old library has been converted into a conference room where the dominant groups held meetings.
We who remain are at the ends of our lives, we are the last ones to have walked on the Earth. And now, the last of our rebelious new pilgrims have vanished.
Bill has found something in one of the laboratories, some genetic elements. Without our consultation, he has taken it upon himself to combine some of the essential matter to begin the breeding chemistry. We have a new family emerging.
Because this has already taken place, there is no need to deliberate, we can only react to what is happening, what has begun. Here is the ironic part, none of the women who are present now are capable of carrying a child, so the nutritive laboratory is being adapted. These new children will be grown in the vats that are were originally designed to contain nutritive cell growth.
Will any of us be alive in nine months? This is a very serious problem. We are now working on preparing for the future of these new humans. Nobody knows how long we will live, but we are already very old and are not likely to be present for most of their lives.
These preparations are more important than figuring out what happened to the general population on E13, but we need to try to do it all.
There are no signs of struggle, the maintenance robots have cleared away all of the debris which might have told the story. There are no remains anywhere, the surface of the vessel is intact. It is most likely that the approaching light that Mary saw has something to do with what happened.
The seven of us have distributed responsibilities for checking out all of the ship, from the larger areas where the general population was contained, into the storage areas that we have more recent experience with, to a massive review of the monitor records, which are set up for live viewing and not recording automatically. Anyone can start and stop such a recording, but none of the communication facilities are set up for automated data storage, this is one of the compromises that had to be accomidated in the original design of E13.
We now have 300 embryos in the laboratories. These, or the ones that come to term, will be the new general population. We are reconsidering the resources of the ship, and figuring out improvements to make. The original problems came from the sense that the new citizens were stuck with decisions that were made on Old Earth, and that they were stuck with the results. There was no interest in history or traditions, including emphasizing problem solving over preserving the established technologies.
Inovation must be emphasized in the upbringing of these new humans, rather than the doctrine of supporting the status quo.
Nya has some proposals for how we should introduce spiritual beliefs and practices. There is discussion about comparative religions compared to a coordinated best practices approach. None of the rest of us have any significant experience with the practices of spiritual matters. The Elysian religion is too new to offer established traditions, beyond what came about during the dark times and the more recent experiements with transplanting an Earth worship into space transport. Most of the Earth practices have to do with the solar day and night cycles, as well as the seasons and relative position of the moon and the tides. Out in space we are inventing as we go.
What shall be the role of the spirit congress? Perhaps we can take that resource into consideration. This appears to be something that everyone can agree upon, even Nya.
Our new brood will all be exactly the same age, or close enough to be considered having the same general age. Will they emerge from the incubator simultaneously? Will they all survive? How will they appear, will they be identical? We do not even know their genders yet. We are not in a position to be selective, we need to work with what we have, there are no remaining viable genetic resources.
The ship is so big, we have not been able to verify that there are no others onboard, we sustained an invisible presence the whole time, so we know it can be done. Our reasons for hiding had to do with getting along with the various political factions that evolved, that appears to be all gone now.
We believe that what caused the downfall of the general population was the way the destiny of those onboard was presented, rather than encouraging problem solving and cherishing individualism, the system was set up to demand fidelity to the original plan. The navigation system is pre-programmed, the exterior of the vessel is not accessable. There is no need for steering or course corrections, the destination is New Earth and that is a very specific location. There are no needs for refreshing supplies, all of the fuel and nourishment, air supply, water supply, it is all self contained and self perpetuating.
There are no real portals, no need for navigation. That might be something that can be remedied. The seven of us have no way to accomplish anything here, and the cost of fumbling or somehow damaging the automated system is too great.
Instead of teaching our new astronauts to obey the directive, we need to value problem solving and the benefits of valuing the collective well-being, balanced with the motivations of self-preservation and mutual benefaction.
The first problem is figuring out how to get these new people to become self-reliant, as they will probably be very young when the last of our group of seven pass away.
There will be no overseers, it is doubtful that the spirit congress can play any kind of role in the daily life, but that is something we should explore.
Our automated maintenance robots will keep the ship clean and functional, but the establishment of a regement and daily routine will be our first priority. If we can teach them to solve problems, that is probably the best thing. If we cannot do that, then there are few prospects for any kind of future we can anticipate.
Life on Old Earth was based on collective wisdom and the older ones being responsible for the young. This new situation will be an unguided population, all the same age.
We need a solid library, materials that will inform them as much as possible, about Old Earth and their options for choosing their destiny. We are returning the salvaged materials to the original facilities, much was lost, but there is more to work with. Now we have the recent past to process and present. They will need to know everything so they can make the best possible decisions and can build on everything, from the mystery of how E13 became depopulated, how they came about, and as much about Old Earth as we can possibly make available to these New Pioneers.
Nya believes that the Spirit Congress is one of our greatest assets. Communicating with them is not possible, so far as we can tell, however they have a presence and a strong connection with each of us, collectively and individually. We need to maximize our resources.
We have the rudiments of establishing a form of automated individual guide for each child. Obviously there is no way for the seven of us to provide much beyond making sure that this robocare is going to get them through what will be a very uncertain childhood.
We have been focused on this as we try to manage. There is always a sense of being overwhelmed, but there are no options for failure. We do take a great deal of comfort from the Spirit Congress, a confidence that we are doing the right thing, even though getting here has been truly a series of accidents and improvisations.
When the first 300, if they survive, are in their late teens, there will be a new wave of breeding. Eventually there will evolve a layered system where there will be older caregivers to watch over the youngsters.
The future will bring, ultimately, the arrival on New Earth. The dangers we face range from self-destruction, accidents, and unforseen circumstances. Also, would whaever took away the general population, as precarious as it was, return to take away any new populations?
So many priorities for seven old folks. We are keeping a good balance of solving our own problems, anticipating new problems, and enjoying our current situation as best we can. There are no days in outer space, no seasons or any kind of natural chronological rhythms, only now. We can only teach by how we live.
We must teach these new souls to survive. So far humans have persisted, as evidenced by our advanced location in the universe today. There is the problem of loneliness.
Our Learning Companions, which is the name we have chosen for the teaching robots, are going to be programmed with the primary function of responding to the child’s natural curiousity. There is a progressive agenda, teaching them the fundamentals of communication and compassion, the history and mythology that has formed our familiar traditions, but instead of feeding them an agenda, the primary function is to support natural curiousity, and to tolerate excursions into what appear to be diversions. Child play is not digressive, it needs to be nourished. Imaginative exercises are more important than rote memorization. Overall, familiarity with our cultural story is the goal, common territory that we wish to impart these new humans.
What is going on beyond E13? There are many other vessels with similar conditions, people who are travelling to the common destination, the New Earth. The coordination of these huge enterprises was not designed to be a primary concern, each colony is autonomus and the only thing in common is the end point. There is no coordination, no shared journey.
It was one of the original characteristics of the migration design, the choices made happened to fall on the side of internal survival, rather than collective coordination.
What will they find when they get to New Earth? The whispered speculation is that the conditions will be similar to the New World, and colonization will cause the downfall of the indigenous dwellers. There may be hostility, there may be misunderstanding. Our role in this migration is limited to our survival. Once we get there, and it could be that these 300 survivors will have aged and passed their wisdom on to new strangers, our descendents. It could be that we would not recognize these new humans.
We have gotten the new brood out of the vats, and assigned each one their own Learning Companion. We hope that the programming we have provided is going to work. First Nya passed away, then Bill, and we had no doctor. Mary died almost a year to the day afterward. Marcia and Alex died on the same day, holding hands. Lynn was my companion at the end, and she passed quietly a few hours ago.
Again, I am the last one, surrouned by strangers. These strangers are all infants, and share with me their smiles and naturally joy-filled youthful spirit. Hope survives eternally. E13 continues on its journey. My name is Courage Joiner, and I lived a good life, with some complications. I am at peace. I am heading to the Rama Gardens to rest.