It'd become something of an unofficial motto for Eden, derived from a speech given upon Conestoga's christening; it was re-coined by the lead surveyor when welcoming the first wave of colonists to their new, daunting home. The phrase was packed with all the raw emotions humanity's last hope brought with them from Earth — torn families and a homeworld now reduced to a geoid of molten rock. It's a customary send-off for expeditions, and every councilor has managed to squeeze it into their rhetoric one way or another. But it never got old. A world some billions strong reduced to a mere two-hundred and sent out among the stars packed like sardines in a space-can — no one questioned the phrase's verisimilitude: Survival is not an option. Archer's last communiqué was probably the most efficient message sent in the colony's history: "I don't know." Packed behind that single thought was an implication that rocked the colony's most hardened souls to the core. Archer had held humanity's hand since its fabrication, and had even helped guide Eden in its first steps making a living for itself. Anachronistic sentiments of technological over-reliance started to boil into people's minds, even driving some to take matters into their own hands against the will of an indecisive council. The question, of course, was whether or not Archer thought terraformation was the best course of action — somebody had leaked a plan from the encrypted portion of Earth's time capsule database that allegedly had the potential to turn New Terra from a red wasteland into a true new Earth. The catch was that this plan relies on a form of microbial manufacturing that had never been made a reality, much less tested on the scale needed to apply it to an entire planet. Apparently a think-tank got together on the subject of teraformation in Earth's last days and came up with the idea of converting ice into a breathable atmosphere. The whole idea was reckoned bogus by the people in charge at the time, but there was a policy of nothing wasted, nothing lost, and so the concept was relegated to the encrypted portion of the database with the hope that it wouldn't be seen until long after the colony had established a sense of stability. If it weren't for Archer, Eden may never have heard of the plan until centuries down the road. Given the stark nature of New Terra, Eden's council sicked the supercomputer on the problem; some weeks later, word got out that the cipher had been cracked — dumb luck, even for a machine as advanced as Archer. There were conspiracy theories suggesting that Archer had the key the whole time, but nobody really bothered with the subject. There was a solution; that's all that mattered. Archer briefed the council on a number of ideas proposed by Earth's plethora of end-game think tanks, but the only one that was comparable to any familiar technology was this, which paralleled some of the genetic research that went into the boptronic supercomputers like Archer and its predecessors. Even so, it was a stretch. Chairman Nguyen's voice boomed with his characteristic bravado, his opinion on the matter clear: "I can't just sit around while this council bickers about theoretical consequences; three technicians in a week is an unacceptable casualty rate. Hesitation could make the difference between a near miss and a near failure! We're making hairline decisions here — and if that doesn't scare you lot into action, I don't know what will." He takes his seat with a huff, the air settling just as quickly as it had been sent into a frenzy. Chairwoman Burke brought with her words a foiling calmness; she had managed to keep the council swinging this long, and she wasn't about to let it sway in this hot-head's favor. "What you're suggesting is that we make a leap of faith—." "Yes! A leap of faith!" "A leap of faith that could very well spell our doom." "Or none at all that will surely guarantee it." His dark hair flopped about in fervor toward the end of that sentence. It would be comical under less trying circumstances. "Better to die trying—" • • • "—than to lie down and die," piped in Axen, interrupting her tale. "He actually said that?" "Not that you heard it from me." "Of course; confidentiality and all that, Doctor Burke." The two walked down the primary corridor connecting the command center to the hot lab Chairman Nguyen had sole domain over. It was somewhat cramped for such a popular thoroughfare, just enough space to fit four men shoulder-to-shoulder. The floor mesh covered a bundle of tubes and cables which carried resources from section to section, but the military atmosphere was contradicted by a skylight that curved overhead, revealing the shoulder-deep terrain the corridor carved right through. "You know, I think he's starting to lose his touch, Emma; between you and me, I think it's about time he croaked." "Now, that's just in bad taste." "It doesn't take a genius to recognize he's in over his head." "It takes one to come up with a better solution." "That's why he's not the only one on the council, huh?" Axen nudged his companion with an elbow, nearly clotheslining a passer-by. "Sorry, bud!" Chairman and Doctor Phan-Chun Nguyen, a prominent member of Earth's scientific elite, made leaps and bounds in the field of biochemistry, effectively doubling the rations since the first generation of colonists landed, and taking the first steps toward making available to Eden the specialized boptronic components in the Savant supercomputers. Chairwoman and Doctor Emma Burke, a well-respected leader and geologist, was charged with surveying New Terra for an optimal landing site for Eden's initial facilities; she was an adventurer of sorts, familiar with a number of other scientific fields and still young enough to pick up a few more tricks before she went. Doctor Axen York, the youngest of Conestoga's compliment, was an up-and-coming computational engineer; his ancestors were responsible for the invention of the Savant-series supercomputers, and he worked closely with Doctor Nguyen to bring the technology into Eden's reach.