Authors: Adrian Fulcher
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Space Exploration, #Space Opera, #Alien Invasion, #Colonization, #Science Fiction, #Teen & Young Adult, #Adventure, #First Contact, #Literature & Fiction
Immortality for Life
By Adrian F Fulcher
Immortality for Life
Copyright 2012 Adrian F Fulcher
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Zoren stared out of a tinted window, down at the massive planet far below. Linud was partially bathed in the light from the nearby star, which softened the harshness of the spirals of dark-grey clouds that blanketed the planet. Beneath their feathered edges, stretching out like many slender hands trying to grasp the adjacent weather systems, he could glimpse the surface, which was covered with large blue land masses surrounded by deep yellow oceans. Huge grey stains on the land marked the locations of deserted cities. On the dark side of Linud there were occasional flashes of brilliant white light signalling another fierce storm in the cold of night.
The Agonians had once lived on Linud. Their physical appearance is typical of most races within the Xinp galaxy. They have a head, torso, two legs and arms; however, they have no hair anywhere on their body and because of a distinctive dolha, which is a raised bone that runs over the top and down the back of their head, and their tanned complexion, they can be easily recognised. Their life span is one of the shortest of the races in the Xinp galaxy, with the oldest recorded Agonian living to just forty-six Earth years of age.
I wonder what it was really like down there,
Zoren thought to himself.
I’ve read all the books about Linud, but still can’t imagine myself living there.
‘Don’t you ever feel cheated, Sabri?’ Zoren asked, as he felt his wife’s presence behind him.
‘What do you mean?’ she replied, while adjusting the belt around her slim waist to get her light-green boiler suit to fit more comfortably.
‘We’ll never step foot on Linud. We were born on this space station and we’ll die here. Not even our grandchildren will be able to travel back to the surface.’
The space station was in geostationary orbit around their planet. It was just over two hundred metres in diameter and eighty high, and comprised of eight decks, three of which were used solely for accommodation.
Zoren and Sabri were standing in the central living space of their home, which was small but had the advantage of having a number of rooms leading off it. Their home had two bedrooms, a separate eating area and a shower room; nevertheless, the central living space was the only room with a window. Each home had an air lock door as its main entrance, which led out into a corridor that circled the entire deck.
The walls of their home were all light-grey in colour and large bare metal beams spanned the ceiling at regular intervals. Most of the walls were decorated with large colourful cloth sheets to add some brightness to what would have otherwise been a very depressing place. The furniture was made from a very durable blue dio-plastic, which was a composite of plant call diontu and a plasticised resin.
Sabri placed her hand on his shoulder and then gazed out at Linud.
‘What makes you all philosophical today?’
Zoren turned to her and placed his hand on her belly.
‘I was born here on this space station nineteen years ago, just a year before you. In a little over a year our baby will be born here too, and I want it to be happier than us, to experience more than just being cooped up here on this damn space station. What life does our baby have to look forward to?’
‘At least our baby will have a life. That’s more than those poor people on Linud had. Remember, millions died down there. The Founders were the lucky ones, Zoren, and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here. I’ve never been happier. I fell in love with you here and we’ll have our first baby here.’
‘Sabri, don’t get me wrong. I love you more than anything and I love our baby too.’
He nervously felt his marriage band, which was fastened around his left wrist. The metal flakes moulded into the dio-plastic sparkled in the light.
‘You’ve not been reading the journal of the Founders again?’ Sabri asked him, with a concerned look on her face.
‘I’ve read it at least twenty times now and I still can’t believe what happened down there on Linud. Why did the people destroy each other and poison the planet with radiation? The sensors the Founders placed on Linud indicate that it will be at least another one hundred and seventy years before our people will be able to return.’
‘I’ve only read the journal once, Zoren. I’m afraid it depressed me. You shouldn’t keep reading it. What’s happened is history; it’s the future that’s important.’
‘But what if the journal doesn’t tell to truth?’
‘The six Founders wrote it to tell us what had happened,’ Sabri replied.
‘Yes, but why are there no other documents or recordings. I know the history books do show many wars between our people, but what if they deliberately kept something important from us.’
‘Why would they want to do that?’
‘I don’t know, but I’ve read the journal enough times to know there are facts missing.’
‘Have you spoken to Jilnor, the historian? I’m sure he will have the answers,’ Sabri said.
‘I already have and he feels the same. Jilnor believes that the six Founders knew of the impending holocaust. And if they knew, then why don’t we have a ship to get back? Why do we have to build one now? We don’t even have space-suits if something should happen to the exterior of the station. He believes there are facts missing to protect us from something or someone.’
Zoren peered past the planet out into the space beyond.
‘Sabri, do you believe we are all alone in the universe and that we were created by Iop our God?’
‘Of course. Why ask me that now? We all believe that.’
‘Because I don’t. Think about it. If there was a one in a billion-billion chance of life in the universe, then logic dictates that in two billion-billion there must be another life-form out there somewhere. Maybe they’re not as developed as us, or maybe they’ve already ventured to the stars and can travel great distances.’
Sabri shook her head, before she said,
‘Our entire race is here on this space station, all descendants of the Founders. We’re all related, all fifty-three of us. We share the same beliefs, but now you and Jilnor see it differently. Just don’t go spreading rumours, Zoren. Look, I’m going to be late if I don’t leave for hydroponics now. Are you coming?’
Zoren stared out of the window for a moment.
Time to go to work, I suppose,
he thought, now checking his reflection in the window. His dark-blue boiler suit looked crisp and new.
Same routine, every working day until I die. What a life!
‘Zoren!’ Sabri shouted from the now open door to their home.
‘Ok,’ he replied and sighed.
Zoren and Sabri exited their home and entered a long sweeping corridor on deck two of the space station.
‘Jilnor has been researching all the books we have,’ Zoren said, as they walked. ‘He can’t find any evidence of how this space station was built.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, there’s no record of when they started to build it or even when they planned to build it. In fact, there’s very little record of any space flight from Linud.’
‘Well, don’t you see? How could we have built something as large as this? It would have taken decades to get all the parts up here.’
‘Maybe we don’t have the latest books here. Some must be missing.’
‘You could be right. Maybe they are missing, but surely the space station would have been mentioned or made reference to somewhere. After all, we have the plans to build the shuttle to take us back home and even that’s mysteriously absent from the books.’
Zoren heard the sound of two young girls, chatting loudly to each other, rapidly approaching. They were running along the corridor.
‘Asnica, Doine! You know not to run in the corridors,’ Sabri said to them, as they approached.
The girls stopped running immediately. They were now very quiet.
‘Sorry, Sabri,’ Asnica said sheepishly. ‘We’re late for school.’
‘You’re nine years old now, so you should know better. You should be setting a good example to your younger sister. Now, be careful, both of you,’ Sabri said sternly.
Sabri watched them as they hurried off into the distance. They were once again chatting loudly.
‘I bet they’ll run as soon as they’re out of sight,’ she remarked to Zoren.
‘That’s what we used to do,’ Zoren said, smiling back at her.
They reached a junction in the corridor.
‘Right, as usual this is where I need to leave you,’ Sabri said.
‘I’ll see you tonight then,’ Zoren said. ‘Have a good day.’
‘Love you,’ she said and then started down a smaller corridor to the left. ‘Oh! And don’t forget we’re meeting up with Supora and Valon tonight,’ she shouted back at Zoren.
‘No, I won’t. Love you,’ Zoren replied.
Zoren continued along the corridor, before descending two levels down a metal spiral staircase. As he ambled towards the engineering section, he noticed a maintenance engineer lying halfway inside a duct. A large dio-plastic tool box was open and various tools were laid out on the floor nearby.
And gazing more closely at the engineer, he thought
, That looks like Supora. I suppose I could have some fun here.
Supora’s head and shoulders were inside the duct. She was wearing a dark-blue boiler suit identical to Zoren’s. He very carefully sneaked up behind her then bent down.
I shouldn’t really, but… it is Supora.
He clapped his hands together.
Supora jumped, banging her head against the roof of the duct.
‘Ow! Shit!’ Now realising the noise came from behind her, she said. ‘Who the hell did that?’
She backed out from the duct.
‘Zoren! It had to be you,’ she said in an unsurprised tone.
‘I couldn’t resist it.’
Supora was twenty-nine years old and the mother of Asnica and Doine. Although she was a good friend and a cousin, from the expression on her face, Zoren knew she was not impressed by his antics.
‘What if I was inserting the environmental crystal-array back in its socket? I would have got a shock you know.’
‘Don’t be a baby. It’s only a small charge of static and wouldn’t have harmed you,’ Zoren replied. ‘So what are you up to? Repairing another burn out?’
‘I can’t work this one out,’ Supora replied. ‘I checked this panel out yesterday and it showed a burnt out array.’
Zoren glanced at the replacement crystal-array lying on the floor alongside the tool box and then said, ‘You’d better use the replacement then.’
‘But that’s the point. It’s the one I’ve just removed. I still have the replacement here. Look!’
She picked up another crystal-array from within the duct and showed it to him.
‘You must have been mistaken then, or you’re at the wrong panel,’ Zoren remarked.
‘This is the right panel. I know it is. And I know it was burnt out yesterday. I looked inside the duct. The crystals were black.’
‘Someone’s playing a joke on you, Supora.’
‘Erm... And it wouldn’t be you by any chance?’
Zoren held his hands up. ‘It wasn’t me, honest!’
‘Well this is the only serviceable spare I know of, so if someone is playing around, then I don’t know where they got another crystal-array from.’
‘Didn’t something like this happen recently?’ Zoren inquired.
‘Yes, I seem to remember that the fight deck environmental control went berserk. It registered a decompression, so we had to evacuate the front two sections of the station. We were going to have to send in a remote control robotic arm to fix it, when it just seemed to fix itself. No problem could be found. Not even the main computer records showed there had been a problem.’
‘Maybe we have ghosts, Supora,’ Zoren said.
‘I know what I saw, Zoren. Aren’t you meant to be in engineering by now?’
‘Yep, should have been there at nine.’
‘Gulco’s going to kill you.’
‘Oh, his bark is worse than his bite, but you’re right, I’d better get moving. We’re going to test the first of the completed drive units for the shuttle today.’
‘See you tonight at seven-thirty,’ Supora said.
As Zoren hurried away, he held up his hand in acknowledgement.
He arrived at engineering, where he was greeted with the smell of machine coolant mixed with oil. Unusually everything was quiet. None of the heavy machinery, which would normally be used to manufacture parts, required to construct the shuttle, was operating.
He stared at the shell of the shuttle, sitting over on the far side of the room, surrounded by metal scaffolding. The shuttle’s outer skin was complete, but there were still no windows present. Large holes in the rear marked the positions where the drive units would be housed. Directly in front of him was an empty drive construction frame. The only completed drive unit had been moved into a large testing chamber ready for its first firing.
Towering above everything, near to the ceiling, were six overhead cranes, and also within the room were several large work-benches with various tools and parts on them.