Prologue – Onix’s Introduction – Void

I’ve been alone for so long. I don’t know if its been days months or even years in this cage of mine. I could leave if I wanted to. I’ve been tempted at times but I don’t know what would happen if I did. So I’m sending this record out through the bars in hope that someone finds it. I don’t know who will find it and when, so I’ll have to be thorough.

The main thing I want to convey with this record is not to give up on truth. Truth is an idea that people are often very skeptical of but it’s important to realize it’s out there. I’m not saying that it’s easy to know what truth is but trying to know has kept me alive. Hope can give out on you when you don’t know what to expect anymore. Facts are fickle and can be played with by any charlatan. Truth is solid. Even if you don’t believe in it anymore, it still there. I often times lost sight of truth like clouds that obscure the Sun. Like the Sun, truth doesn’t leave, you just loose sight of it.

My name is Onix Concade. I wasn’t born on this planet, I was born on a planet called Earth. We came here because things started to fall apart on our planet. In a strange way we became too successful as a species and too sloppy in our success. We actually crashed the biosphere of the planet. It wasn’t one thing that did it it was billions of things each with their needs that did it.

I grew up in one of the nicer tenements that were eventually set up to house the refugees. Not refugees from any marauding armies. Refugees from old cities that were no longer habitable. Ours became a desert, others flooded, some were shaken apart by quakes. They started happening one by one at the beginning of the century, a generation before me, people thought they would just move back and fix things back to the way they were. Then another disaster would strike and fewer would go back. Then another and no one went back. By the time I was born when a city was hit, no one tried to go back. There was no one to help a city rebuild. There were no resources, there was no money left. Hopefully you know what money is.

I grew up normally for people of my time. My parents and Aunt raised me, I didn’t feel poor except when I noticed that my Mother wasn’t eating. For some reason I didn’t notice it when my Father or Aunt didn’t eat, maybe they hid it better. My Mom would just stare at me with a weak smile and tell me to eat the little bit of bread that they could afford that day.

Its strange how on Earth, there would be thousands without work. There were people standing around in the streets with no food and no one decided to put them to work growing food.

My parents and Aunt worked whenever they could find it. It was never enough. Just getting water to drink was sometime hard in the tenements. There were millions in the tenements and it perplexed me later in life that there were so many children in them. It seems the worse off people have things, the more children they have. Still in a place and time when there was five to ten children to a family, I was the oddity. I was an only child.

I didn’t know how much my parents put into making sure I survived. I was still young when I noticed that they weren’t going out to get work anymore. They were too weak. They had been rotating who wouldn’t eat on any given day. Of course I wasn’t in the rotation. It’s strange how you can miss that kind of thing when you’re young. Mom went first, Dad went very shortly after. I don’t think he could take not having Mom with him.

My Aunt Jess was a strong woman, she lasted with nothing but thin soups for weeks. Before she died, she told me that my parents didn’t give up, they just put everything they had into making sure that I would be healthy. The three of them had vowed that I would live. Aunt Jess took care of me up until she couldn’t get out of bed anymore. I tried to get the state health service to come and help her. I banged on the door of the hospitals until they relented and came to pick her up out of bed but it was too late. She lied in bed for four days but died in the hospital. She was too far gone to save her.

With so many in the refugee camps, the state health service was stressed so badly that it was broken. No one had the funding to take care of so many. Although I blamed them for years, I don’t anymore. The huge burden of all the refugees made the life of one person trivial, no matter how much they were needed or loved.

I did benefit from getting my Aunt in the hospital, I was pitied and a kind doctor pushed to get me into state care. There were thousands of orphans on the street but a doctor who I still don’t know the name of to this day got me into a state run youth program that made sure I had food, shelter and that I went to school. I did well in school, not excessively so, but I did well.

It occurred to me later in life that my parents wanted me to live on past them, so paradoxically I joined the military because they would feed me on a regular basis. I missed the fact that there were three wars going on at the time.

I came to this planet in September 2085.  I was among the first from Earth.  We called this planet The Artifact.  We had known that The Artifact existed for many years but were unable to reach it.  Our own world needed to heal.   Some nations could wait, but not for long. Some, nations were so desperate for more land that they couldn’t wait any longer.

The Artifact had been discovered in 2029 by deep space probes but for many years was nothing but a notation in a starchart. It was among the closest of the nearby planets, and appeared to have an atmosphere that contained oxygen, but was initially thought too large to be a candidate for colonization. At first, our images lacked the resolution to identify the more unusual features of the planet. The Artifact is a massive planet with structures built on both poles that triple the size of the planet. Each of these structures is so large they could hold the entire planet Earth inside. But the structures are not hollow; they are designed for habitation, human habitation. Indeed, someone built them for a purpose. What that purpose is only now do I begin to understand.

In 2042 our telescopes were powerful enough to provide an image of the planet. The shape and regular surface of the planet forced us to rethink why we dismissed it. To the inhabitants of Earth this construct was nothing short of astonishing. Precariously placed between binary stars, the planet is held up by the opposing gravitational forces and fed by two stars’ radiation.

We had not considered colonizing another world because the speed of light was a barrier to us.  In 2079 we developed two techniques called quantum teleportation and vacuum engineering. Both of these were made possible by the ability to generate fields of negative energy. Vacuum engineering compresses space in front of a craft and expands in back. This process allows an object to accelerate to near the speed of light in it’s local space by a pseudo-gravity. However the distortion makes the vessel travel faster than the speed of light in relation to the rest of the universe. However no human can make this trip because as an object travels at near the speed of light its apparent mass increases to near infinity. The effects would be deadly to any human. It does allow an unmanned probe to make a trip at effectively faster than light speed. This allowed us to make one trip with a significant delay to deliver a device to will allow us to instantaneously travel between planets.  This device, called a receiver, receives and decompresses data transmitted to it and coaxes the copy at the destination into existence.  The transmitter was on earth.  Massive resources needed to be spent to construct this device but the cost was something we were willing to pay to escape our planet.

The UN project chose to construct a single transmitter. The Indo-China Alliance built three separate transmitters which has enabled them to transport more personnel and material, but the lack of investment in a single transmitter has caused a higher failure rate.

Everything changed in 2085. All the events that lead up to that year, it seemed like we were in a haze. We were desperate in our condition and delirious at the prospect of new hope. The chance to start over. That’s what everyone would ask for when things went terribly wrong. It looked like humankind would get it. The signs of the Earth collapsing underneath the swelling weight of mankind were beginning to show. Third world countries began to catch up with the rest of the world’s rapid consumption. The world’s population slowly grew, and the half measures taken to solve the problems only served to placate the masses. There was no one thing that caused it. Billions on billions of reasons, each one with its need gnawed away at the planet.

We thought The Artifact was uninhabited.  We were presumptuous to think that we were the only people in the universe.  We quickly learned that The Artifact had its own inhabitants and many did not like the idea of us being there.  Our first encounter was with the people called the Kelrath.  They rightly feared the diseases that we might carry.  Large majorities of their population were slaves and did not have medical care.  A nation called the Chezbah was not concerned with our presence but we were thrown into conflict with them anyway by making an alliance with their enemy, the Scimrahn.

The major powers of The Artifact oppose our presence on their planet but arrogantly we came anyway.

I didn’t see it as arrogance then. I thought that given our condition, we were justified in our action.

The Scimrahn offered us sanctuary and technology that was sorely needed to survive on this world.  In return the Scimrahn demanded that we defend them from the Chezbah.  Some nations felt uncomfortable with this but were forced to comply or be left behind without any help.  The two organizations developed the ability to travel to The Artifact were the UN and the I-CA.  The UN created the ASO or Artifact Study Organization to investigate this planetoid to acquire or develop whatever alliances and technologies necessary to allow for safe colonization.  The Indo-China alliance or I-CA was created because the nations did not feel they had the option of waiting.  They sought to start immediate colonization.  Because of this they came in direct conflict with the indigenous nations of The Artifact.

The Chezbah are both a nation and a religion. The Scimrahn, earth’s new ally, were a group that ceded from both. An unending war with the Kelrath caused a tiny anti-war group to speak out against the religious order and government (the two are the same). In doing so they drew the wrath of the Chezbah deity Loc. The group was forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the bowels of The Artifact’s dark interior. This has prompted the Chezbah declaring a holy war on the Scimrahn to wipe them from the planet. Despite the advanced technology of the Chezbah and seemingly limitless resources, the Scimrahn have eluded destruction and in some cases have even managed to stake a foothold in some places.

Further back in The Artifact’s history, possibly three millennia ago, The Kelrath severed themselves from the Chezbah under conditions that have faded into history. The Kelrath are now the most populous people on The Artifact. Their nation was fathered by a race called the Tanroc Fredar, a group that figures prominently in both Kelrath and Scimrahn societies.

The most astounding thing about these aliens was not how unusual they were, but how very human they were. Many are uncomfortable with giving the label “human” to the inhabitants of another world. The similarity was not only skin deep, it went all the way to our genetic structure. Even the fact that they had a genetic structure was astounding, that it was the same as ours raised questions that had no ready answers. If we were the same who came first? Many felt that the inhabitants of The Artifact had been transported across the Galaxy melenia ago to seed this planet. It seemed the most likely of possibilities, but it was wrong. Beyond that, I will not say more. Some things that have been revealed to me are too difficult to accept, but I know their source is accurate.

The UN and the I-CA hoped that diplomatic options would open up once earth had a foothold on the planet. The ASO openly offered medicine and information to the Kelrath but secretly worked to subvert the leading Rantaa’ caste. The Chezbah were a more difficult problem. They did not directly oppose our arrival, but would not sponsor Earth the way the Scimrahn pledged to. In addition they declared that any suspected Scimrahn sympathizers would be hunted down.

To gain the Chezbah’s indifference we would have to abandon our only true ally in this new world. This was not a viable option. I learned that it would not be the only condition imposed on us if we had taken it.

 

Chapter 1 – The ASO Camp

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