Black Ocean, Red Shore

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Doc Future, Jun 18, 2014.

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    People were calling it an exodus. As if we had anything to run from apart from the complete stagnation of mind and putridity of spirit. If were running from anything on Earth, it was from ourselves. The stink of our souls and the atrophy of our bodies nearly drove us mad after all the war and plagues were over--we lived in a time of international peace, yet inner turmoil.

    The crossing from Earth to Mars was supposed to take six months, given the size and crawling speed of the spaceliner. It carried nearly two hundred men, women, and children-- the first crop of Martian settlers. Scientists and engineers had, of course, been on Mars for decades, and their preparations were now complete. They were ready for the masses to come to the red planet and begin new lives, new civilizations, and new trials.

    The spaceliner which carried the settlers from the blue to the red was called Prodigal I. It was originally a luxury spaceliner made for the rich and famous to cruise earth in high orbit. It had been bought by a conglomerate of nations and repurposed as an LVV (long voyage vessel). It was assumed that the following voyages bringing settlers from Earth would not have the luxury provided by this certain vessel, but the trip warranted a certain amount of fanfare and extra expense, being the first of its kind.

    The vessel was divided into seven decks, or levels. The first level is comprised mostly of the "guts" of the ship. The many computers and machines which housed and worked in unison with the engines, atmosphere integrity, and gravity control are found here. The second and third levels are residential decks which house the settlers and the lower-ranking members of the crew. The fourth level is almost completely dedicated to dining, laundry, and other services provided for the voyage. The cockpit of the vessel is found in the "nose" of the ship, on the fifth level. The rest of the fifth level houses the upper crew members and the international detachment of military personnel, meant to keep order during the crossing and return with the ship to Earth. The sixth level was originally made to house ballrooms and other leisure spaces when the ship was used as a luxury liner. These ball rooms, sports areas, bars and libraries are still in operation, against the wishes of many taxpayers on Earth. The seventh and smallest level of the ship is dedicated to housing the ships communication equipment, as well as offices for the diplomats of Earth governments who wished to observe the crossing.

    All in all, the total number of souls aboard the Prodigal number at 190. Of those, 150 are the actual settlers who would be staying on Mars when the ship reached its destination. The other forty are crewmembers, diplomats and military personnel. The nations who paid for the voyage signed a treaty which established Mars as a free and independent world. No nation would lay claim to the settlement, or any future settlement. The settlers were to hold elections upon landing and create their own government.

    The voyage has been planned expertly and is expected to go off without a hitch, however...
    There are rumblings about a conspiracy of a few to grasp power over Mars.
    Crew members have sworn that they've seen a ghost ship on radar, trailing the Prodigal since she left Earth.
    The mysterious engine which fuels the ship is top secret, and no one is allowed to know how it works with such little need for refueling.
    And children on the ship tell tales of something dark and murderous which lives on the first deck, among the engines and gravity generators. Something ancient and evil.

    This is the story of the first Mars Crossing. It has been thirty days since the Prodigal left dock at earth. Only five more months to go until she arrives on Mars. If she arrives, that is...
    #1 Doc Future, Jun 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2014
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  2. Thirty days. Thirty days of knuckle grinding, back breaking, sweat soaking work. There was nothing at all easy about being a maintenance man aboard the Prodigal , let alone being the sole maintainer within three of seven levels. Hans Shoeman almost regretted having signed up for the job. If there hadn't been a 500,000 dollar bounty on his head back on earth he would have never in a million years signed up for this. Screw Mars, thought Hans as he took an adjustable wrench to a plumbing fixture in a bathroom on level one. He spent most of his days on levels one, two and three. Cleaning, fixing, repairing and as he called it 'catering to the dregs'. The lowest and poorest aboard the ship lived here, this included Hans. After tightening the loose fixture, Hans stood and chanced a peak in the mirror, staring back was a scruffy haired man looking to be about 25. He had tired brown eyes and a permanent five a clock shadow. Had he been clean shaven no one would have guessed he was 25, but rather much younger. He was cursed -and blessed- with a baby face. His narrow chest rose and fell with a deep sigh and he hitched his tool belt tight around his boney hips. He really wished he had more time to enjoy being in space and less work, but duty called.

    His time so far had been busy, and for the most part, uneventful. The work was seemingly never-ending and he was the only one. When Hans first boarded the ship there had been one other maintenance man, Juan Carlos, however, after overhearing a strange conversation between one of the co-pilots and a military advisory, he disappeared. What exactly did Juan over hear? Where was he now? Was he being held captive on the ship? Hans hadn't slept well since Juan disappeared with no explanation, he feared they would soon be coming for him.

    After a long day's work, Hans laid in his bunk. A small port window showcased a breathtaking view of outer space. Stars shone brighter than anything any human on earth would ever see. He was exhausted, but unable to sleep. His mind raced with question; What secrets was the Prodigal hiding?
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  3. Skipping along the corridors, a rhythmic clanking of metal sounded through the gaskets and fixtures of machinery winding as Hazel hopped her way through the floors of Prodigal. She was seized by an arm that, from darkness, erupted to hold her still.

    Old hands attached to arms that led Hazel's eyes to a tired and weary mans face. He said to her, struggling to be coherent, "Water,please....water." Hazel jumped. The man had given her a fright, and soon her fear was lessened to worry. "Wait for me here, I will find water for you."

    The weak old man held fast to her for a moment and released. She stared at him and quickly ran off in a childish and sincere quest for water.
  4. Stars in the deep of the dark winked and phased between existence and oblivion. Tiny portals into the past, thought Sean as he watched the bright and distant multitude through a window on the sixth deck. He wore black formal clothes, seated in a deep armchair in a circle of similar armchairs which held similarly dressed individuals. They were in the corner of a large room with many windows and many people. This room was one of the higher class bars, or 'clubs' as the crew referred to them. There was a dress code and not much noise. This club was also one of the few aboard the Prodigal which allowed smoking, so several of the men seated in the circle were taking advantage and smoking every form of tobacco. Sean himself smoked the stubbed remnants of a cigarette and returned his attention to the conversation which he was expected to take part in.

    A businessman from China was currently speaking incredulously to the only other American in the group besides Sean.
    "You're saying, of course, that an egalitarian society is impossible because it must, by definition, be made up of people? Do I read you correctly?"
    The American he spoke to was a very tall and muscular man who smoked a cigar under his mustache. The American exhaled smoke and cleared his throat before replying. "No. Of course it's not impossible to achieve. Man can achieve anything he sets his mind to. I'm saying it is impossible to maintain."
    "I'm afraid I cannot subscribe to such a pessimistic view, Mr. Allgood," the Chinese businessman replied.
    Allgood rolled his eyes and gestured to Sean, who still sat in silence. "Please, Sean, explain my position. In America, we hope for the best, but we are realists to the core. Always have been. We know how the world works and how one gets ahead of the pack. And there will always be those who get ahead of the rest. Those made to excel. And that, Mr. Xiang, is why we sit here in this comfortable club, smoking, while the rest of the settlers live in the same squalor and poverty they lived in on earth. Even in space, society must be made up of classes. And yes, even on Mars."
    Sean chuckled. "I wouldn't say that within earshot of any of those down below, Allgood. The promise of a truly new society-- a whole new planet where anything is possible-- is all that made those people volunteer for the exodus. It may be hard for men such as us to imagine a world where all are truly equal, but to them, that is what we are headed towards. And I hope them godspeed. To illustrate my point, Allgood, I want you to look at that couple dancing together, centerstage." Here Sean pointed to two handsome young people dancing slowly to the droning music. Tell me, do you think they're wealthy?"

    Allgood turned and looked. "Well... Yes. I'd say they have a good deal of money. They don't carry the air of old money, but perhaps one of their parents came into money during the energy boom... Yes, if I had to guess, I'd say one of their parents owned energy futures during the boom, and then arranged to have their child married to another rich child. Money begets money, Sean-- you know this."

    "An excellent read, Allgood-- but wrong. They're friends of mine from the lower decks. They haven't two pennies to rub together. It's their anniversary and I paid their way to the club tonight. Clothes and all. Now, if you'll excuse me..." Here Sean rose and extinguished his cigarette. Mr Xiang chuckled lightly as Mr. Allgood turned and strained to look at the couple, trying to see some hint of poverty. Sean crossed the room to the couple and put his hands on their shoulders. "How's our night going, friends," he asked. The man gave Sean a look of contempt and said, "Fine, I suppose, Mr.--?" Sean coughed and slapped the man on the back. "Thermin... And please, be cool. Act like we're old friends. I'm trying to prove a point to an asshole."
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  5. All but 7 years old Hazel came sprint back down the rickety hall of the first level, a bottle of water glistening in her hand. She circled the level several times looking for the old man but he wasn't anywhere in sight. Confused and genuinely worried for the elderly, she slowed herself to a walking pace.

    Moving up a level to see if he had made it that far for water himself. Hazel looked everywhere.
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