The Eden Sky - 3 - An Auspicious Day
Alexa held her chin in her hands, a strained look crossing her face as an audible 'Hmmmm' permeated the space.
"Alright people, can we have your attention please?"
A voice from the centre rose above the others. Strong, powerful, the captain stepped forward. She was around forty years old. Dark auburn hair streaked with glittering silver and a jagged freeze-burn scar across her cheek.
"Eyes forward. I'm sure you're all wondering why you've been woken up early and there have been a lot of rumours floating around. Unfounded rumours. All we know for certain is that we received communication from Earth approximately one Earth month ago. As instructed we staggered the wake cycle so as to ensure maximal survival and to get the ship in the best possible condition before everyone goes about their daily lives."
Everyone was silent. The ceiling lights had dimmed and small robots scooted around the amphitheatre going about their duties, Mila hadn't noticed them before but they were everywhere.
"We've been instructed to wait until everyone is awake and ready before even opening this message so I apologise for the trouble this causes but we have to follow orders. We're approximately half a light year from our destination and we're decelerating at around two percent C right now. We should be there within the year. With that in mind, we need to view the message."
Murmurs spread through the crowd, some disturbances and commotion towards the front. Christian turned around, tapped everyone on the shoulder and drew them all in. The crew all gathered on the central stage and began discussing amongst themselves.
"Guys, I know you've probably heard some of the rumours, I've heard a few myself and I know for a fact that Alistair buys into that whole 'natural disaster' nonsense but, there have been a few more recently that are actually plausible, sorry Alistair."
The lighting dimmed completely and a fuzzy holoscreen appeared in the centre of the stage. Static at first, hazy and indistinct but there. Hues of white and blue with some intermittent green as the signal came in stronger.
"... if you're hearing this... news... you're almost out of range but... hopefully this message clears up. We don't have much time... I'm sorry. My name is General Damon Masters, I was recently promoted, I'm - in an underground silo in Colorado, I'm not too sure where exactly, there are only a few of us here..."
A few explosions could be heard, the hologram grew hazier, more static appeared, lines through this young mans face. He looked terrified.
"... I know this will wake you up early, we've already sent the signal ahead, the Prince Directive was initiated."
More explosions. Closer now. Nobody moved.
"I don't have much time so let me run through everything that's happened. Six years ago, the UN convened to end the conflict across Asia. America, Russia, Germany, France, The UK, China and Japan came together, pooled their resources and attempted to quell the violence. It had spread so far in such a short space of time. Stretching all the way to China's borders from the Dead Sea, biological weapons were being used, salves were being taken and the worlds already dwindling oil supply was cut off when eighty percent of the refineries in the region were destroyed."
Papers were being shuffled around, muffled speech could be heard and a fear glazed the eyes of the young general.
"I- I'm sorry, I don't have much time here. The war raged on, The UN intervened and rolled through the region. Everything was levelled. What was supposed to be a mission for peace soon became a race for resources as America attempted to take control of the region. Germany, The UK and Japan were forging ahead with support from Russia in the West. China had pressed from the East, claiming lands as they went. It became quickly obvious that they weren't taken prisoners. They'd lost too many people already."
A closer explosion. Dust fell from the ceiling, lights flickered and a more solemn terror gripped the giant hologram general.
"War crimes beyond imagining were committed. Millions died, more starved to death when the war raged on longer and longer. Nations were left to rot, governments crumbled, destabilised regions across the world, noticing the lack of attention on them began to rise and crippled so many already struggling regions. South America fell first, civil war was rife and eventually, nuclear weapons were used. As the rest of the world burned, The UN was complicit in a cleansing of the Middle East. We didn’t know what we had done. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
There was another murmur through the crowd as the figure bowed his head, tears strewn across his cheeks. More and more loud explosions rattled the capturing equipment. His face distorted horribly amidst more and more dust.
“When you get this message, it will all be over. We tried to oppose China, we tried to stand up for what we felt was right. But we were too weak. While we had fought and advanced, China had decimated and lost so little in comparison. We – we were backed into a corner. Europe fell next. We got pushed back and – and things got ugly. Japan and China had created a neutrino bomb. They used it to decimate our forces in North Africa. That was six months ago . Now they’re here. All we can do now, is our last resort. We knew this day would come, so thirty years ago, America planted strategic caches of advanced matter anti-matter silos across the globe. Orbiting the Earth is a series of kinetic bombardment devices all targeting these caches...”
The physicists among the crowd were the first to realise what had happened. Piecing together the story with what little we knew of the century before we departed, it painted a grim picture.
“... so we’ve activated them. Within the hour the entire array will line up and drop their ordinance. The matter will collide with the antimatter and will begin a chain reaction across the Earth that will decimate the crust and cause the surface to collapse. Everyone will die. This is the end. I – I had to give the order myself. As the most senior remaining officer, I had to consign making to extinction... I’m – I’m so sorry. Please, I hope you can forgive me. I hope you can understand why. Encoded with this message is all of the information we gathered from the past few years. I haven’t had a chance to go through it and I know it’s not pretty but – “
An explosion tore through the hologram. Debris and grit flew everywhere as it cut to static. The broadcast was over. Nobody made a sound. Nobody stirred. The lights stayed off and even the robots, so numerous in the beginning, seemed to shy away from the weight of the silence.
Everything they had known, everyone they had ever cared about, every single sector of humanity, was gone.