“We have drank Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered…”
- Translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith from The Rigveda (8.48.3)
Forged in the name of vengeance under the guise of hope at first the ship had no name. When it began life hovering above the orbit of Phobos three hundred years ago it was just another silly little project under development by one of dozens of space agencies that no one really took too seriously anymore. Designed for deep space exploration it was one of the many being worked on by several corporations and agencies throughout the world in hopes that the human race would spread out among the stars and discover new worlds. We must have felt so proud back then. Dreaming of projects that would change history as we began to venture around, explore, and colonize our own small solar system. Finally after many years it was finished at a secret research post above the dwarf planet Pluto and given a name. They called it the Erebus. The Erebus was our shining star. Our greatest triumph. Drifting at the edge of our solar system in the darkness of space. The name was poetic in a way. Erebus also said Erebos was the greek word for ‘shadow’ or ‘deep darkness’. The Erebus, our flagship, our starship of hope that would explore new worlds and travel far beyond the edge of the sol system and into the stars. If only they knew the truth.
Alien civilizations were out there. Life wasn’t quite as rare as we thought. Most worlds were primitive, inhabited by nothing more then wild animals. We knew (or rather we soon discovered) that beyond most planets there were cultures full of different species, religions, even genders. Some even asked us to join them either out of spite or fear (we refused of course deciding that their conflicts were not our own, we had plenty of problems to deal with ourselves). Other’s refused us.
The Erebus was the largest one of three ships. The other two; the Aelita and the Tritan traveled in front of it. Together the three ships were nicknamed ‘The Trinity’. On each ship slept thousands of humans in stasis (also known as cryo or the ‘deep sleep’). When the three ships left the solar system they began a journey to a place called ‘Eden’. It was a journey that would take hundreds of years. Those that came onboard believed that they could sleep the whole way through while others accepted the facts. The truth was no one from that original crew would survive (and they all knew it). The Erebus, Aelita, and Tritan were seed ships, in other words they were made so that the descendants of the crews onboard would one day reach their destination and in doing so ensure the survival of humanity. Only the bloodlines of those onboard would survive. Giving up their homes, their jobs, their accomplishments thousands gathered to come aboard the three starships believing the sacrifice was worth their lives. It was a pilgrimage to a new world, a new dawn. Giving up the lives they had was the first great sacrifice humanity had made. The second, the reason we built the ships, the reason we ran; the second sacrifice was unforgivable.
When the project was first announced (shortly after the first invasion around the end of the 21st century when humanity was just beginning to colonize our solar system) social media and the ‘net’ blew up with hash-tags, news, conspiracy theories and more. People questioned the ‘real’ purpose of ‘the Trinity’. The project took many years and soon the enclave of news died off with much of the public unconcerned or uninterested in deep space colonization after all that was a job for scientists and dreamers. Breathless bodies stood still standing straight up lining the dark corridors of the ship. In a way I was there, I feel like I can remember it. Through the eyes of a stranger I sat still in the silence, in the dark checking the vital signs of my crew. Many were healthy; most of the crew was a mix of refugees taken from countries and colonies throughout the ‘Sol System’, others were socialites and ‘elite upper class’ who paid their way onboard (either by bribing or paying for the construction of the three ships). Their blood runs through my veins, each one of them could have been an ancestor of mine - the best of the best. ‘The Trinity’ had no room for the weak.
It didn’t matter that there were no crews, no onlookers or journalists on inside the port when we launched. The port itself was abandoned during our exodus from ‘Sol’. This was what the Erebus had been built for. It was a freighter filled with cargo. The computer controlled the course, sophisticated artificial intelligence rigged with organic hardware for speed and accuracy. The Erebus folded time and space and began creating the tear that would allow humanity to spread throughout the universe.
The ‘tear’ was actually a dimension that sat on top of our own we called the ‘immer’. With enough power (and the three ships each generated a massive amount of power using anti-matter and exotic technology far too complicated to explain right now) we could tear a hole for a tenth of a second just large enough to take a starship through. The space inside the immer was unlike our own, many suggested that it actually laid on top of ours folding space and time. If our universe was an apple we would be sitting on the outer rim while the immer was the core inside. Distances between point A and point B were cut in half, a journey that would take years would only take weeks or days. Traveling through pathways inside the immer (the immer was not like ‘real’ space, so straight lines were not always the best way to travel) was as close to faster than light as we had ever come. It was the biggest breakthrough in our history.
The Erebus (as well as the Aelita and Tritan) had no fleet numbers even though they were heavily armed (and for the most part military) ships. If it had been possible they would have been built in secret but their massive size caught the eye of journalists (and amateur astronomers) everywhere. The Erebus itself was the size of what was once New York City (and divided much the same way). After the first invasion, the invasion by the aliens known as the Skrav the three ships were an easy sell. We knew we were no longer alone in the universe. Each ship as a monument, a symbol of our complete victory over an extraterrestrial force that dared to see us destroyed. Not to let the conspiracy theorists down, the three ships were in fact reverse-engineered from remains of destroyed Skrav warships. The Skrav technology introduced to us several new kinds of metal that we were able to recreate on the molecular level, self-replicating nanites, and organic materials made from biological DNA twisted and manufactured into a hard casing. Inside the three ships looked like an H.R. Giger painting, a mix of metal and organic walls that recycled air and water. Advances in organic processing ensured that the ships would never break down, rust, or wither away.
The Erebus was immortal.
Each ship was alive, or at least they seemed alive. The artificial intelligence took commands by Captains (who later became known as ‘elders’). DNA coding ensured that the three ships could never fall into enemy hands. The technology was ours by blood. The Erebus itself was both our child and our slave. Through a strangers eyes I stare as the Captain of the Erebus looked up and exclaimed, “Ready our forces! We are set to launch!” I still remember the first jump. The first time the human race set sail into the universe, into the wild. The pilgrimage just as it begun, just as it was now, just as it was designed, it all started with blood and war.
“Skrav forces are heading in our direction, a warship has just appeared out of the immer, ships are descending towards us now!” A soldier yelled out grabbing my arm as a blast from the Skrav warship knocked against our hull threatening to destroy us before we even exit the gate. Together that soldier and I fell to the ground our eyes bloodshot from the adreno we had taken and lack of sleep from the night before. The Skrav were upon us. Their assault fighters had begun attacking the hull of the ship. I could see it in my mind, the small black Skrav fighters like wasps stinging at the sides of the ship hovering around us like we had just kicked their nest. The hull must have looked like it was infested. The port we were docked at had fighters but they were not enough.
Things after that are a blur. In the archives there is historical documentation that talk about the brave souls that gave their lives so that we would not be struck down. Brave souls that sacrificed themselves fighting against the Skrav in the vacuum of space. The battle that triggered our escape.
Accelerating hard the Erebus took to the stars, it like the rest of ‘the Trinity’ disappeared form the port above Pluto into a dark black void. The three starships had their first real orders, they were simple, “Run, run far away and never return, never stop, our future is in your hands…”
The Captain shouted, “Jump into the immer now!” and just like that the stars disappeared. The immer was full of a variety of colors (usually hues of purple, red, and orange), dust, and clouds but most of the time it was solid black with no light. A few seconds after the first jump the three starships reappeared back into the ‘real’ (normal space). A few of the human and Skrav fighters that had gotten caught in the jump burned up around the hull turning to ash. Small ships back then were incapable of taking the inertia and pressure of a jump. Pieces of debris hit along the side of the ship and echoed through the bridge. It was like we had been caught in a hailstorm. In the distance where the sun should have been there was nothing. Scans had shown a giant white light as we dropped into the ‘real’ and then even that seemed to fade after a few seconds. If a human had been watching (aside from going blind) they would have barely seen the flash as it was over in the blink of an eye. It was the first part of a prophecy that had been set into motion hundreds of years before the ship had even been designed.