The days are long, and the nights even longer. Ever since the great purge two hundred years ago, the world has rebelled against our dominion, and has decided to kill all of us. There are only a few of us left alive, but we have always survived, and we shall continue to do so, even with the best attempts of both the gods and the planet to do away with us.
As I write this in my journal, our fortress is assailed from without, by trees, animals and all manner of creatures bred to bring about our end. The earth itself has rebelled against us, but we have found ways of protecting our people. Our fortresses do not stand upon the ground or even water, but float hundreds of feet above the earth where we are protected. We are never safe, but our distance makes it harder for them to attack us.
The colonies in the sea and on land where the hardest hit by the rebellion, most fell without even knowing that they were in danger. A regrettable loss, but life does go on.
I suppose I should start from the beginning and write down the details for any future scholar so that they can make some sense of this tumultuous time. I should start from the beginning, but where exactly does the beginning start? Should I write about the exodus from earth? Should I tell everyone about the terraforming efforts and the enslavement of the native species? The beginning is such a vague term and evokes a sense of time passing that belies the truth. I suppose where I should start is at the beginning of my life and move from there.
I was born over five hundred years ago on an overcrowded planet called earth. Ten billion people lived there, and we only had enough food to feed seven. Starvation was rampant and civil wars affected every country. At the time of my birth, the world was very fragile, and a new power had just emerged in a country called Canada. Though it was only five hundred years ago, we no longer have records of the specifics. I cannot remember his name, or the name of his party, but I remember enough to tell you what happened next.
It took twenty years for his power and influence to grow, but eventually he was elected as ruler of Canada, and then as time passed on and as his country’s wealth and influence grew, others began to turn to him for guidance. Within ten years of his election, a new governing body was created and all countries were invited to join. At first, only a few countries willingly joined, and a few more were coerced into becoming members, but it didn’t matter. This governing body was given both the power and authority to rule over all the signing countries and to decide everything. This union was the first attempt at a world government and the elimination of individual nationality, it was also successful.
All countries that signed had their governments dissolved, and those that did not were forced into giving up their sovereignty. They had trade embargoes levied against them, tourism was prohibited, and armed forced prevented anyone from entering or leaving those countries. It did not take long, and within fifty years of this party being created, the entire world was ruled by one body. This was not, as many people feared, a tyrannical force devoted to ruling the world for their own nefarious end, but rather a government dedicated to preserving the people that were left. Once they had total power, they began to eliminate all roadblocks that stood in their way. A new currency was introduced, free trade enforced, and the armed forces were integrated into one army, the global defence force. Billions of dollars were spent on research, and billions more were spent in trying to feed the ever growing population, to no avail. The populace was growing, and there was only one feasible solution. Well there were two solutions really, but one was discarded as being too drastic to consider.
The solution that was decided upon was the exile half the population of the planet, and spread throughout the galaxy. Five billion people were chosen, and one thousand planets were decided upon. Of the thousand planets, five million people were chosen, and over the course of a decade, one thousand enormous ships were built, outfitted, and organized. Each of these ships were stocked with supplies, enough to ensure that the ship would be able to make it to their destination, and feed the population there for five years. It was estimated that it would take a year for terraforming to complete, and then another four for crops to be grown and animals to be bred. Not only were they wrong, they were dead wrong.
I remember this quite vividly, as I was not even a hundred years old at the time. People were told that if they volunteered to undertake this journey, they would be ensuring that the family they left behind would be able to live in abundance, and no one questioned it. Everyone was so taken with the idea of a new planet, and enough food for everyone, that no one questioned the math and logic behind it. Looking back on it now, it seems quite obvious, but back then we were filled with hope. Each ship was given experts in every field, but most were manual labourers, what few that remained in a mostly automated world, I was one of the few exceptions. The world had undergone genetic revolutions, and with designer genes and so called designer children, new mutations were formed, some beneficial, others benign, but most of them were simply unwanted and forced upon the children. In an effort to increase the amount of living space on the planet, millions of children were born with gills, webbed feet and webbed hands. They were stripped of the ability to live on the surface, before they were even born. These children needed to be raised within chambers of water, and the only contact they saw with the outside world was that of their teachers. They were taught to farm, hunt and build underwater, and once they were deemed old enough to survive on their own, they were simply thrown in the ocean, with no means of contact with the outside world.
Thankfully, I was not one of these, but I was given another unwanted and unexpected ability. A very small portion of those who were altered before birth developed another ability, one that was dubbed TK. It was easier to simply lump everyone together, and give all these abilities the same name; despite the fact that no two people ever had the same abilities manifest themselves.
Some people could dream the future, or see a few seconds in the past, others would alter their bodies or the world around them to different degrees, but I did not discover what my ability was until much later on in life, until the troubles started aboard the ship.
With one trouble gone, the government saw their chance to remove another one, that of the pesky Tk’ers that dotted the globe. The majority of the ships were only given enough food to last for a few weeks, and the soldiers and police officers stationed on each ship in order to keep the peace, were the only ones who had access to the food supply. Most ships were simply expected to travel through space until they were too far to turn back, and then die when the food ran out. The ship I was on however, was different.
I discovered a few days into the launch, that the entire ship was composed of TK’ers. Each and every single person had some ability to do something, but it was Gomez who became the most important among us.
Gomez was a pre-cog tk’er, he could see the future of anything he touched. Unlike most of the people who could only see a second, or who just saw images flash by them without any sense, he was able to focus his visions and see what he wanted to see. He had kept this secret hidden from everyone for decades, but when he saw a vision of the ship exploding and everyone aboard it dying in fire, he couldn’t hold his tongue any longer.
From the interrogations of the soldiers and government employees aboard the ship, we later gathered that our ship was the only one that was actually outfitted to make the journey. The terraforming machines would actually work, and we had more than enough food to make the trip. It seems that the government did not want to take the risk that we would discover that anything was wrong before the point of no return, and so gave us no reason to doubt them.
The food was real, the equipment was real, and the planet we were headed to was also real. The only thing that the soldiers didn’t know about, were the tons of explosives that lined the hull. That was a surprise to them as well as us.
The only clue we had of this impending doom were the visions that Gomez gave us. With his help we were able to pinpoint the trigger devices, and over the course of a month we were able to disarm each and every one, yet his visions of doom remained.
I often wondered why I had been sent aboard this specific ship, I had not manifested any abilities up to this date, and had no family members that presented as such either, but I have since come to the conclusion that I was simply monitored, and showed as having the same genetic markers as other TK users had. Whatever the case was, it was only three months into our journey that I discovered my own ability.
Most people with TK have one ability, a small thing that usually proves useless; some people have a stronger ability that can be of some real use, like Gomez’s ability to focus on certain parts of the future or Tina’s ability to turn make her skin mimic anything she touched. A very small percentage of people have an incredibly strong ability, or present with more than one. In my long lifespan I have met five such people, each one tried to use their abilities to enslave or control others, and each time I have stopped them.
The first time my power manifested was when the engines aboard the ship began to malfunction, and one was about to explode. Gomez had led us to the proper engine just in time to see the sparks begin to fly, and feel the heat on our flesh, but with nothing we could do to stop it.
By this point we had already organized ourselves, imprisoned all of the soldiers and government officials, and created our own little group. Gomez was considered our leader as he was the only one capable of guiding us out of dangers and warning us before they happened, and he accepted this role with gratitude.
Tina was his second in command, and a few others were his trusted council members. Up until this point I was simply a nameless drone, I followed the orders that were given to me, and did my best to make myself a contributing member of our society.
I woke up in the morning, went to my assigned job aboard the ship, and worked there diligently until it was my time to be relieved, then I mingled with the other passengers, sometimes meeting new people, other times simply talking to old friends and acquaintances.
On this particular day I was assigned to the firefighting squad, and our group was the one assigned to this particular engine.
I remember that day quite vividly, despite the centuries I have lived on this earth. You tend to remember the day where your entire life changed. You remember every meal you ate, each person you spoke to, and you remember exactly what you were doing the moment that it happened.
In my case I had slept in that morning, my shift was only scheduled to start at lunch and I used that opportunity to be lazy. I woke up at ten, ate a breakfast of eggs, sausage, orange juice and bread. I went to the common room on my level and chatted with Lisa, the girl I had been flirting with for some time now, but had never gotten the nerve to ask her out.
When time came for my shift, I grabbed the heavy equipment, clothed myself in the fire retardant gear, and went to my station. We learned early on to always have everything we needed to survive on us. The smallest hull breach could kill you before you had time to reach and put on your mask. Everyone had everything they needed to survive on their person at all times.
The engine had been running hot that day, and the engineer assigned to it was a little confused as to why, but as the heat didn’t seem to be excessive, he shrugged it off after informing his supervisor. That was when Gomez and his retainers burst in.
They told us all to evacuate, and I had the strangest sensation of having experienced this before, but since his visions had never been wrong in the past, I immediately listened and made my way out, that was when it happened.
I later learned that Gomez and his people had tried to stop the explosion ten different times, one of his retainers was a person who was powerful enough to turn back the flow of time by a few minutes, but no matter what they tried, there was simply no way to stop the explosion, and so he made a decision to abandon it and save as many people as he could.
You must understand, the ship was powered by almost a hundred engines, and the loss of a single one would not hinder our travel through space, but Gomez could see what no one else could, that the loss of this engine would start a chain reaction. With one engine less, more strain would be placed on the other engines, and one by one they would begin failing, until there were none left.
He tried everything he could think of to stop this from happening, as there was no way, simply accepted it and devoted himself to saving as many as he could.
I was almost at the door when the engine began to make a strange sound, and then stopped altogether. Gomez and his retinue threw themselves on the ground on the other side of the hallway, and everyone else still in the room turned to look. I can’t verify the accuracy of this statement, but apparently I froze up and would not move.
What I can tell you is that in that exact moment I saw a blue light coming from every person around me. It felt like I was floating in the air, looking at my own body from above. I saw a light coming from Geoff, a friend I had worked with for weeks, and then it simply vanished.
I remember seeing a bright flash in my eyes, but I can’t for the life of me tell you how. I still saw myself from above, and though I did not see anything else but the people, I was still aware of the door, of the party huddling on the ground, and most importantly, of the blazing heat that blossomed against my back. The pain was so fierce that I was sure I would die, but I did not.
With my other vision I saw all the blue lights that came from my co-workers simply vanish. Those trapped in the room with the engine were gone in a split second, and a few of those outside in the hallways vanished as well.
This is the limit of what I remember, because once the last blue light vanished, I fell to the ground and darkness shrouded my mind.
I woke up later in the hospital, covered in bandages and hooked up to machines. At first I didn’t remember what had happened, and in my confusion I began to unravel all the bandages and ripped all the sensors and devices from my body, including a tube from my urethra. I was in pain, and I was confused, but I couldn’t see anything wrong with me. Whenever I removed a bandage, all I saw was flawless skin and hair. There was nothing wrong with me, nothing that I could see in any case.
I rose from the bed, placed my feet on the ground, and the memory returned with a vengeance. I remembered everything that happened, and even as I struggled with the despair and sorrow I felt at the loss of my friends, I was also beset with confusing.
Why was I alive? How had I survived unharmed?
The screaming nurses were no help, they kept calling for security and doctors, and it was only then that I realized I was thrashing and struggling like a madman. A nurse had come in to see why the monitors had suddenly gone blank, and when she saw me sitting upright, she came to me and placed a hand on my shoulder. I don’t remember any of this, but I pushed her away, and she flew through the air to crash down twenty feet away from me.
More nurses and doctors came in, and they all had to struggle to hold me down. I thrashed and fought all of them, refusing to be sedated or put back in my bed, until I became aware of what I was doing. Once I did, I stopped fighting and let them inject me. The moment the needle pierced my skin and the plunger sank down, I began to float on a magical cloud of happiness and warmth, and I fell asleep.
The next time I awoke, Gomez was there sitting beside my bed, but he looked much older than I remembered. He had lines across his face that were not there the last time I saw him, and he had begun to lose his hair. His jaw was still strong, with full cheeks and lips, but they were strained by stress, and a few new scars graced his face. His brown eyes were still vibrant, but deep within them lived exhaustion and a sense of futility. He was still muscled, his brown skin still stretched tight by daily exercise, but there existed a pallor in his skin that could not be explained solely by the lack of sunlight.
He smiled when I woke up, and grabbed my hand. “I know this must be very confusing for you, and I am here to answer any questions you have.”
I looked into his blue eyes, and carefully pulled my hand away from his. I have never liked being touched, not even when I was a child, and today was no exception.
“What happened? How long have I been unconscious?”
“I don’t think you truly want to know what happened. Your reaction the other day proves that you are aware of the deaths of your co-workers, and as to how long you have been under for, I’m afraid you will not like the answer.”
I looked at him again, noting his furrowed brow, the deep creases in his forehead, and the gauntness of his cheeks. “How long?”
He took a deep breath and sighed before answering. “Three years. You have been in a coma for three years.”
Some part of me knew that now was not the time to deal with that, and so I pushed it down, away from my mind and focused on my next question.
“How am I alive?”
Gomez looked quite pained, and as he stood up a small groan escaped his mouth.
“We were hoping you would be able to tell us. After the fire, all that was left in that room were charred corpses, and when they were brought to the morgue, only yours was whole enough to actually identify. It took a week for caskets to be made, and for family members to grieve, and only when we returned to place the bodies in their caskets did we notice something unusual about you. Your flesh had begun to grow again. At first no one could believe it, and we all thought there was no way this was happening, but we brought you up to a lab in any case. As the days wore on and tests performed on you, we came to the conclusion that though you had died, your body refused to, and everything that was damaged began to grow again. It took you almost a year for your body to heal completely, but you did not breathe, and your heart did not beat.”
I placed my hand over my chest, feeling for a pulse and was relieved to feel one. A deep breath of air filled my lungs, and as I exhaled I savoured the feeling.
“If my heart would not beat, why am I alive? How is it beating now?”
“That was quite an accident. It seems that you were accidentally shocked by a faulty machine, and the electric current was enough to restart your heart, and after your heart started, you began to breathe. We all hoped that you would wake up shortly after, but our hopes were quickly dashed.”
“So what happened after that?”
Gomez looked at the ceiling, and passed a hand over his face, pausing for a second to rub his eyes. “Chaos is what happened. Pure chaos.”
Over the next hour, Gomez told me what had happened in the year since my death. The troubles slowly began to build, but Gomez and his retinue were there to stop them for the first little while. But as any expect would tell you, when thousands of people were stuffed in a crowded space like sardines, they start to go a bit crazy. It began with small things, but for the first while the troubles were easily avoided, then they began to swell, and eventually there were so many that Gomez needed to appoint people to patrol the ship, a police force of sorts. Then the murders began.
Everyone thought it was an accident, it seemed innocuous enough. It was the first death aboard the ship that did not involve mechanical failure or sabotage, but no one suspected anything more. It was an engineer that simply got a piece of his clothing stuck in the machine, and no one was able to cut him loose in time. It happened in broad daylight with many witnesses, and no one had any reason to suspect foul play. No one suspected anything, even knowing full well that the ship was filled to the brim with people capable of killing without leaving any evidence.
The murders were sporadic, one or two a week, and then all of a sudden they began to increase in number and in brutality. Where the first ones were made to appear as accidents, the later ones did not even try to pretend. The first obvious one was quite simple, but also unmistakable.
Gomez told me that a TK simply exploded his victim’s brain. There was no warning or argument, the victim was eating in a cafeteria with his wife and children, and then his head simply burst apart.
He told me that it seemed as though a floodgate had opened with that one single act. After that grisly display of power, the ship began to fracture into fragments. Level turned against level and the fragile government and system of law that was upheld on the ship simply vanished.
After the violence subsided, Gomez found that the faction under his leadership only controlled a third of the ship. The other two thirds were held by various gangs, cults and miniature kingdoms. Gomez was able to predict the violence to a degree, but could not stop it, so when it erupted he gathered all those loyal to him, and created a stronghold around the key components of the ship. They held the bridge, medic bay, the engineering hold and a full three levels of the ship.
“And now we come to the problem that I am currently facing. One of these factions has currently taken hold of the engineering bay, and cracked the codes giving power to the entire ship. We received a letter saying that unless we gave up control of the bridge, they would turn off life support to sections of the ship. About three hours ago the leader of this faction turned off life support to a thousand people, and killed them all. That was about the time that you woke up.”
I scratched my head. My muscles should have been weak and atrophied from disuse, ignoring the fact that I should have died nothing about my existence made sense. “Why am I alive? And why are you telling me all of this?”
A small smile spread across his face. “You know I can tell the future of anything I touch, and I saw your future when I picked up your body once we realized your body refused to die. I assume you know of the vision I saw when I led the rebellion against our captors.”
I nodded, still in a state of shock. “That future has not been avoided, but it has changed many times in the past. One of these changes is your existence. There was always one figure who was prominent in these visions, but until your death I couldn’t tell who it was. Ever since then I have been able to see your face, and you are the one who will avert this catastrophe.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Amuse me. How?”
His smile vanished, and a flash of irritation quickly appeared on his face. “I don’t know. Your fate is… clouded. I can see my own fate, well that which is the most likely in any case, but yours does not end. When I search for your death, you are the one person that reveals nothing to me.”
He rolled his head and cracked his neck. “I need you to come with me, and help me fix this. I might not be able to see your death, but I can see your life, and in the future where you aid me, this ship finally arrives on the planet.”
“And it doesn’t if I refuse to?”
“Oh no, the ship still makes it, but no one aboard it does. Will you help me?”
I mulled over the matter in my mind, but I already knew that no matter how long I thought of it, or how many arguments I made to the contrary, I already knew that Gomez’s visions were very rarely proven wrong, and if I wanted to live, I should probably help him.
I shrugged and sat up. “I don’t really have a choice, so I will.”
His face lit up with excitement, and he quickly strode out the door. “Excellent!” He said before leaving the room. “I will come back in an hour or so with clothes and equipment. “
It was only then that I realized I was naked underneath a sheet, no clothes or even a robe to keep my modesty. I wrapped it around me awkwardly like a towel as I stood, and examined myself in the bathroom mirror.
My pale skin was still flawless, my eyes were still blue, and my face was still the same it had always been. The rest of my body was the same, arms and legs sufficiently muscled, abdominals not flat, but not round either. I was by no means a star athlete of any sort, but I felt strength in my body, one that wanted to explode from me. It was a strange sensation, but one I relished. You cannot know what life is like after you have been told that you were dead. I remembered nothing of my time spent in death, there was no afterlife, and there was no hell or heaven. I remembered nothing but the flash of heat that brought about my end, and yet there is something at the back of my mind, something that I should remember but don’t. I spent the greatest part of an hour simply trying to think of what I should remember, and I was still thinking of it when Gomez returns.
He carried with him a uniform, the letters GPD stitched to the back of the shirt, and both pants and shirt were made of a strong cloth. These were the uniforms of the police service back on earth, and when I asked Gomez about them he answered simply. “They used to mean Global Police Department, but most people nowadays have started calling it the ‘Gomez Protection Detail’, everyone that accompanies me lately wears these uniforms.
He also hands me what looks like a nano-armour vest, and a collapsible force rod. The vest is slightly too large on my frame, but in a few moments it shrinks to fit me, and reinforces my previous thoughts of nano-armour. The force rod goes in a holster against my left hip, opposite of the empty gun holster on my right.
“I didn’t know what size footwear you took, and so I decided I would wait for you to be clothed before finishing the rest.”
I thanked him for the clothes and protection, and followed him to an equipment locker. As I grab a pair of sturdy boots only half a size too large for my feet, Gomez finally asks the question that very few have ever asked aboard this ship, or even on earth for that matter.
“What is your name? I realize now that this may seem like a small thing, but after you died we asked the men and women on your level, and none seemed to know it. Even the ship records are blank. What is your name?”
I have to strain my thoughts in order to grab a name from them. It had been so long since anyone had ever asked, much less tried to find out. Even my closest friends in the work detail had never tried to find out. “My name..”
Gomez leans forward slightly, waiting patiently.
“My name is El.”
Gomez smiled and claps his hands together. “Well, El. Are you ready to take this ship back?”
I nodded and gripped the handle of the force rod with my hand.
“Then let us have this ended. Today is the day that this ship is finally taken back. Today is the day that I fulfill the promise of a year ago. Today, we bring this ship down to our new home. This will be the longest day of your life, but this will be the day that our name will sing on through generations. The day of Gomez and El.”