WE COME FROM DIFFERENT ARCHES
2: WE COME FROM DIFFERENT ARCHES
Maggy got out of her last class of the day and heaved a sigh of relief. History was so boring she feared she’d have a nose bleed from depression if she had sat in there a minute longer. The topic of the day had been The Great Exodus. It was a story she’d heard since she was a kid. Humanity once had a single planetary home, called Earth.
Who in nebula’s name identifies their planet with the name of the… earth? The early humans were severely lacking in creativity.
Maggy shook her head laughing to herself about their apparent lack of common sense. At least they had survival instincts. She had to give that to them. If not for those who set the pace for interplanetary colonization, humanity would have gone extinct, long ago. It had all started, billions of years ago, with the expansion of earth’s mother star, the sun.
Another lame name.
That star had begun to expand as it emptied its hydrogen reserves. Humanity fled, first to Mars.
A bit better nomenclature. Sounds cool.
And then to Europa.
Did they get smarter in zero gravity conditions?
Eventually, humanity had become a cosmic nomadic group, moving from one solar system to another and finally, between galaxies. The problem with traveling within the universe has always been the same. Each trip, even between the same two points, takes longer and longer because of this annoying thing called expansion. It was a lot to take in every time, but as Maggy understood it, they were now in a big mess. The expansion had dragged galaxies and even stars so far apart that traversing the distance would take the entire time left for all humans in the universe to die out. Thankfully, she wouldn’t be the last one out.
Maggy’s thoughts returned to the present as she observed her fellow students running out of the school building, and wondered if they were as excited as she was about the planetary landing. She studied the enormous metallic structure that was her college. The architecture was imposing. Two titanic metallic slabs, in the shape of an isosceles triangle, rose for what appeared to be hundreds of feet into the sky and their width was miles apart. She smiled at the school.
“See you later.” She said silently.
“More like see you never.”
A startled Maggy spun around and shot the speaker a wide glassy-eyed stare. She tilted slowly backward in a mock falling action.
“Dies!” Her friend yelled.
“Clieo!” Maggy yelled in what was a high-pitched squeal. “Could you not startle me like that?”
“And, why wouldn’t I?” Clieo asked, placing her hands on her hips and pouting. Her dirty blonde hair fell lazily on either side of her face and her brown eyes produced a childlike gleam. Truth was, Clieo was one of the youngest students to get into Sector 50 Community College, or S50CC as they liked to call it. She was a brilliant girl who just hadn’t grown up enough to interact with the much older girls she found herself student mates with.
“You know everyone’s rushing home to get ready for the journey to the Sector’s de-boarding ships.” Clieo continued.
“Not everyone…” Maggy said smiling mischievously and leaning her upper body forward as though she were preparing to head-butt someone. “Cos… you are still here delaying everyone!”
And with that Maggy shot forward laughing out loud.
“Why you!!!” Clieo yelled and raced after her.
Despite her awkward running stance, Maggy was surprisingly fast. She teased the shorter girl by slowing down and letting her almost catch her, before darting off again. They ran for minutes as the dim light from the solar system’s star, a red giant named Hades-Core-117 shun past the planet they approached. They were back on their street now and most of the homes were deserted. Maggy and Clieo stopped for a while to take in the planet, Gaia.
“Wooooow!” Clieo exclaimed. “So cool! Will there be plants and mountains and flowing water?”
Maggy rolled her eyes and shaped her lips into a cone.
“No Clieo. There’ll be rivers of lava, a methane atmosphere and constant acidic rain that’ll melt the skin right off your bones like Christmas pudding. You know, since everything is coming to an end, the human race has suddenly gone bonkers. Suicidal even. We are all crashing into the nearest uninhabitable planet, to die.”
Clieo’s cheeks flushed red in anger.
Maggy burst out laughing and Clieo chased after her until they got close to their houses and then slowed down into a walk.
“Christmas pudding?” Clieo asked after a bit of silence.
“History class. It’s like a… uhhhh Christmas dish our ancestors prepared during a specific point in the first planet’s revolution around its star.” Maggy was struggling to explain a concept she barely understood herself.
“Hmmm. Christmas. Christ. I wonder!” Clieo said as she pulled out her Digital Data Indexer – DDI for short – from her suit’s side storage pod.
She accessed its database and was quickly scanning through exabytes of data.
“I swear that thing’s so slow. When we start working, we’ll upgrade to the latest version.”
“Well, at least I can search through a timescale of three billion years in five minutes.” Clieo responded. “Not as fast as the latest models, but it’ll do… There.” Clieo said as she pulled up a data file.
“King James Bible?” Maggy asked.
“Yup.” Clieo responded as she accessed the file and went to what Maggy assumed was the chapter named John 1.
“That’s the part I saw it in.” Clieo said as she accessed the chapter.
“In the beginning was the word…” Clieo began reading as Maggy rolled her eyes. She continued until she got to the line she was looking for.
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Clieo looked up at Maggy.
Maggy gave her a dumbfounded look.
“That doesn’t make sense. Too much of a stretch. What’s that book anyway?”
“It’s called a bible. Was very popular back on the first planet, Earth.”
“There’s a lot of talk about him being the “light” though. Why do you read that stuff?”
“Gives me hope… I guess.” Clieo said smiling.
Clieo lived with her parents in a home right beside that of Maggy’s grandma’s. As soon as they approached, they noticed a red-haired lady talking to their guardians.
“Maggy!” Her grandma yelled, eliciting the customary roll of her eyes.
“Clieo!” Clieo’s dad yelled out.
“Yes, dad.” Clieo said as though the very words weighed about a ton on the tongue.
The guardians went on to chastise their wards for a few minutes.
“Maggy, everyone’s left. Do you know what happens to stragglers left behind?” Her grandma asked, concerned.
“Who’s she?” Maggy asked, shooting a glance at the redhead who had remained quiet the whole time.
“My name’s Kaya Rencrafton.” She extended her hand towards Maggy. “I’m an SCE and your de-boarding officer from Sector 16. I’m also the person patiently making sure that I get everyone out of here before the Seraph permeate the barrier, and classify you all as waste. Do you know what that means?”
“Nope.” Maggy said as she turned around, ignoring Kaya’s extended shake gesture. “
But I do know one thing. You’re not an SCE. You’re an intern so don’t pretend to be one just because you think everyone further than Sector 25 is stupid. Now let’s go.”
Maggy walked off, happy at being able to put an SCI in their place. She stopped and turned around just in time to see Kaya, leading everyone else in the opposite direction.”
“The slingshot’s that way.” Maggy said. It was mostly directed at Kaya. Maggy’s smile slowly evaporated as she saw the bright gleam of light bouncing off metal, flash overhead and soon a very long streamlined pod came to a fast halt, in front of Kaya.
“Most people living on Spectral 7 are smart enough to know the slingshots goes clockwise around the entire circumference of the station, not counter-clockwise.” Kaya smiled at her and boarded the vehicle.
“I hate that girl.” Maggy said under her muted breath and Clieo could barely suppress chuckles.
They boarded the slingshot and as she sat down, Maggy noticed how lovely it was inside. She also noticed how empty it was.
“Liar. No one was here. You had them shipped in the last slingshot ride.”
“Sorry. It was the only way to get you onboard. Technically, I can’t command you… seeing that am an intern and all.”
Kaya silently cursed herself for forgetting to change her internship uniform. How could she think everyone here did not know the difference?
It’s full of old people they said.
And the young ones have never been past the boundaries of their sector, they said.
They never said anything about miss smarty-pants here.
Maggy thought she saw hurt on Kaya’s face and almost felt bad for calling her out on her non-engineer status. She had always wanted to get into the program herself, but her grandma could not pay the entrance fee and the scholarship slots always went to girls like Miss prissy-pants. Maggy pouted and looked out the window as the slingshot swung off, racing to the docking ships in Sector 20.