Where shall I start…
My name is Ebony River, I am 20 years old, and in my short lifetime, I managed to cause a diplomatic crisis between the Earth Prime and the 4th Orbital Colony. How is that for a guilt trip?
It all started when I turned 18 and I announced that I wish to leave the 4th and explore the universe. Both my mothers flipped out and blocked my credit to prevent me from leaving the Colony.
Actually, it all started a lot earlier, even before I was born. It started with the birth of the 4th itself. How did it happen that my race became so isolated from the rest of the humanity? When the Big Ice expanded from the Earth poles 500 years ago, it forced many people to leave to the orbital stations. First wave of orbitals consisted of six colonies, but only the 4th became so reclusive.
When I studied our history, it was apparent that we did not become this way at once. We used to travel between the colonies and to the Earth Prime. We were still a part of the human family. It lasted for over a century. The exact moment of change is hard to pinpoint. However, it might’ve been only a matter of time for us to evolve in the kind of people we are today, because the initial purpose of our colony was to become the brainpower behind the humanity. All the prominent scientists and thinkers were selected to the 4th. Politicians moved to the 2nd, artists moved to the 1st, agrarians moved to the 3rd, manufacturers moved to the 5th and 6th. The majority of the military stayed on the tropical stretch of the Earth.
It actually worked quite well that way. After the economy recovered from the crisis, new economic relations established, and everything seemed to work just fine.
That lasted probably for 200 years. Then the political changes started happening, and the colonies ended up drafting their own constitutions. We did not abandon the humanity, but we earned the right to create our own laws and gain substantial independence in the internal affairs. The divide between the colonies and the Earth Prime was becoming so apparent that today the only thing that we have in common is our shared history, and the blue planet that keeps us from drifting away into space. How ironic. We don’t even look alike anymore.
Then, about 100 years ago, the hell broke loose, and we as a human race completely lost it. If you asked anyone on the 4th, that was our crown achievement, but I have my doubts. I mean the year 2450, when we adopted the “No-Boundary” act that legalized any conceivable genetic modifications, cognitive or physical enhancements we could think of in order to achieve the core philosophical goal of our society – pure perfection. Luckily for us, by that time isolation bred out any aggression and desire to possessions and materialism, other then the strife of knowing. Perceiving no threat, the Earth Nations just let us do whatever the hell we wanted. They thought of us as harmless goofballs, only interested in science. They were right, I guess. We had one mutual agreement with the Earth nations: they leave us alone as long as we don’t interfere in global politics and continue to perform our functions for the benefit of the rest of the human colonies. We were perfectly happy with that kind of a setup. More so, we completely cut the interactions with the rest of the human races, and worked remotely on everything they needed from us.
You can see why my family was not particularly happy to hear me contemplating leaving. Mommy Jane was crying all night, but I was deaf to her pleas. I didn’t feel like being their little pet project any more. I grew to viscerally dislike my ‘bright future’ in the scientific community and keeping my mind ‘pure’ for the pursuits of science. At age 18, the citizens of the 4th were assigned their career tracks based on the test scores. It looked like I was headed towards a bright future of a climatologist. That is a glorified weather forecaster, in case you wondered. And the worst part about my weather forecasting future was that I would not be able to travel to any of those places that I predict the weather for! It’s a damn deskwork based on the deep space scans fed into my computer.
Make no mistake, weather forecasting is not for slouches. Weather does not emerge according to any single predictable algorithm. It is a system of complex correlations with margin of error accumulating exponentially the farther your predictions stretch into the future. Of course, any 5th grader can predict the weather for the next week given the accurate raw data and decent software. But when we are talking about terraformation, a slight change in one variable can cause the entire eco system to shatter. Let’s say, we have a planet that we need to warm up by 60ºC. That alone can salinate the soil and make it forever useless; or cause the areas of extreme low and high pressure that might create violent tornados; or release toxic gasses in the atmosphere, blah blah blah. You get the point. We are talking about a climate change for centuries into the future.
So yeah, I’m smart. But that’s not the point. All the time that I studied for the climatology track in school, I learned about the places where I would never go to. In fact, I don’t know anyone who would know anyone from the 4th to ever meet any outsider in person, whether on our home turf, or elsewhere.
What time is it? I have to go now, Rebecca is waiting. I agreed to tutoring Rebecca Stone for the trig exam. To me, any conventional Earth learning is a piece of cake. I have eidetic memory. I never forget anything. So here, at the Royal Moroccan Fleet Academy, I am the top of the class. Other things present me with challenges, like how to tell jokes, or how to know the difference between when someone likes me and when someone has gas in the digestive tract. These are the subjects that Rebecca agreed to teach me in return. Two years ago, I left the 4th and became the Cadet of the RMF Academy. Next year I am graduating and becoming a soldier. The first ever soldier from the 4th Orbital, I maybe the last one as well, because the diplomatic crisis over my asylum on the Earth Prime is not over. My fellow cadets have no idea that I am that very person over who the 4th threatens to withdraw its scientific expertise from all areas of human life. Nobody takes their threats too seriously, because left alone they would starve. My people are smart, but helpless.
Helplessness is what I rebelled against leaving my home.
[To be continued]
You were reading the diary of Ensign Ebony River, that predates the events in the “Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula” mini-series. Two years later, in 2587, Ebony would be assigned to the classified mission on the home world of alien species with the designs on the Milky Way galaxy. The mission, authorized by the Earth Nations, was supposed to investigate the intelligence, according to which Unkari were testing powerful weapon in their home galaxy, Sagittarius Dwarf. The mission failed, and the entire Galactica class military vessel was obliterated. The only survivors, Lt. Mazula and En. River, struggle to stay alive, captured by the enemy. This diary reveals the mysteries of Ebony River, a citizen of an outcast human race that secluded themselves to the life of intellectualism through genetic engineering, drugs and radical robotic enhancements.
Copyright (2016) Ellie Maloney