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Rebirth is the name of my story, it's a backing story I am making for a game of mine. Feel free to suggest improvements or offer criticism.
Prologue - Humanity's only hope
Woken up, again. I don't know what time it is, I don't even know the year. The notion of time has long since disappeared from our collective knowledge.
No one ever asks what time it is anymore, not since the sun stopped rising in the morning, but that doesn't stop me from wondering, after all no one ever believed the critical mass drive can be built on earth, they didn't even think we'll survive, yet here we are onboard the Oscar, cruising onwards through the universe like a single drop of water falling through the ocean.
If I were to guess I'd say it's the year 2075 somewhere mid february. I probably know that because right now it should be my birthday, which will go unnoticed, just like the dust that scrapes our hull each passing second, like any other childish aspiration that now holds no meaning , just like anything that isn't Oscar.
I should probably start from the beginning. Project OSCR (or Oscar as we nicknamed) is short for Offworld Space Recon and it's the peak of mankind's race to conquer space.
I remember it clearly even now. It all began during my sophomore year at the university. I don't seem to recall it's name, but names aren't really that important. What was important was that I was studying Rocket Science... and I was failing.
"State the basics of the tunneling principle." Sophomore physics, I do understand the importance of quantum physics in my domain, but tunneling ?, that is preposterous, no one used that principle in decades, yet it's still being taught. Better hand over the paper.
"The tunneling principle states that if a charged particle encounters a barrier, it has a statistic chance of getting across ... Young man your definition is incomplete and your paper is just a bit over subpar. I'm not keen on failing students, but looking at this paper, I must say you don't give me much of a choice. "
"The tunneling principle is subpar, no one uses it anymore, the electronic microscopes are now obsolete and do not require maintenance and any other practical usage for tunneling has long since exceeded its relevance in world economics"
"Ah, yes, but if you cannot grasp an easy principle such as tunneling, how can you even think of understanding high level rocket science, such as the critical mass theorem. Why I bet you can't even explain what's light."
"I bet you can't explain light."
"First of all, your answer proves my theory and concludes your final examination with an F, but so you know, light is a series of weightless particles with dual property, on macroscopic scale they act as a wave and on microscopic level it's made of photons."
"Sure, but what if you could think of everything in the world as if they had an associated wave, then by analyzing it at macroscopic scale, you could observe a wave-like behavior, but what if analyzing it then you could ultimately conclude that light is just matter, after all who's to say that if you fling a million planets and view it at an according scale, you wouldn't observe the same behavior?"
"Pertinent, and perseverant, I think I can lift that grade to a B-,but on one condition"
"Take this number and ask for OSCR. All I'm going to say is that you'll learn far more in there than you would in this university.
And don't worry, I'll find out if you call or not and will grade you in accordance, you have a week to decide."
Two weeks later I was starting work at OSCR. Should my teacher have known how right he was, he would have surely been next to me as I write in my journal, but he lives on in my memories, probably smiling for giving me the one chance at survival.
Oscar was the crown jewel of the space race... It wasn't about who got there first anymore, this was a race for survival. The planets' resources were fading, water was becoming a problem and food was starting to get scarce as well. The world couldn't maintain its population anymore and the illusion of our prosperity was quickly fading away... just like the Mayans before us, we have reached the peak of agricultural potential and we are preparing to fall.
Fortunately society could regulate itself for a while longer and we were kept focused on our goal, but the signs were there for everyone who looked.
We required no payment, our reward was a full meal every day and a safe sanctuary to live in, we had no need for remuneration, for what good is money when there's nothing to spend it on... in fact I'm sure anyone living outside this research facility would have given any fortune to spend a day in our shoes... but let's get to the point.
Project OSCR was based on the critical mass drive. Like Einstein believed a long time ago, matter displaces the space in the universe with an amount that is dependent on its mass. Our plan for intergalactic travel was not to move ourselves in space, but to move space towards us. Long story short engineers made a radiation proof chamber inside of which was placed the heaviest material known to mankind, code name XPF-PR13, the only known artificial material capable of maintaining point singularity... and it worked.
I do not know most of the implementation details, they were hidden from me, not that I'd bother myself to find them out, my physics teacher was right, critical mass theorem really was harder than tunneling.
Anyway, like I said, the prototype was working... on small distances.
We transported robotic drones with environmental sensors to prove life could survive the trip. First tests were a success, pressure, temperature, every variable that could endanger human life was within normal limits, so we were soon ready for a experiment with people on board. We sent some volunteers from our ranks, mostly enthusiastic students. We were so sure of ourselves back then. We took the decision to start raising the distance, so the volunteers were sent to a trip to Alpha Centauri... we were running out of time and the success made us think our research was complete... needless to say, we were wrong.
First test trips with humans on board were a success, we would instantly teleport them across the planet and back, but as soon as we tried the full trip to Alpha Centauri, they disappeared, and that's where I come in.
I was in charge of the neural networks regulating Oscars' trajectory.
The problem was surely in the displacement algorithm the spacecraft applied, the small scale experiments confirmed it... the spacecraft was almost always found further away from the arrival coordinates. At first we rendered this small detail insignificant, but as we waited for the prototype to return it hit us that they might be trying to come back, but the distance they had to travel was so great that the resulting error could keep them on the run for a long time.
Analysis of the errors showed no link between them, it's as though they were absolutely random. The only clue we had was that they were getting bigger with the distance OSCR had to travel.
Looking at them made my mind go haywire, it was complete chaos, no symmetry, no obvious pattern, no nothing, just random positions, and that's when it hit me.
Thinking about it now, it seemed almost hilarious it took me that long to understand the solution. It was so simple, we studied it in highschool... it was diffraction.
Plotting the coordinates revealed some sort of system of circles, different radius, same center, a diffraction grid similar to Newton's rings. I don't remember what made me happier that day, the fact that I could prove I was right or the fact that I was the last piece in the intergalactic puzzle.
But my happiness did not last for long, for as history has shown us in our entire existence, every dream we had was smothered by man's greed.
The OSCR did their best to keep everything isolated in the facility, nothing got in, but especially, nothing got out. That helped us focus on the task at hand and hopefully save all earth, but when you have limited resources, sooner or later holes start to appear in your security and stopping the most brilliant minds on earth from exploiting them was like fighting a lion with an umbrella, something bad was bound to happen and it did.
When word got out that there was a way to get off the earth to a possibly untainted world with new resources to exploit, it was like everyone went mad. The ultimate purpose in everyone's life was now to secure a place onboard Oscar. People traveled far and wide to make camp in front of our facility and enumerate all the reasons they deserve their place in this program, blaming each other for the world they helped make.
It was only a matter of time until they figured no one listened to them and they banded together to start a civil war . Who cared they didn't understand a thing about our research there, all they wanted was to get away from the consequences of their actions.
Just as I was filing up the last report on my research and was headed over to make the final adjustments, the alarm went off. When it comes to their survival humans would do anything. Being rushed to the evacuation chamber, I couldn't get a glimpse of the crowd, but I can only imagine to what extent they will go to secure themselves a place among the stars.
The military thought that we should hide in a auxiliary wing to let the civilians weaken themselves trying to sort out who has the right to live and who must be abandoned on earth, but something didn't feel right.
If they were desperate enough to ambush our facility, they would surely be desperate enough to fiddle with the controls and activate the built in safeguards. Suffice to say, I didn't want to be around when that happened... so I fled.
Hours of running, miles of running. I managed to run away. Right now my hopes were up, everything was still standing, but that didn't matter now. My instinct told me to run away. Something inside me was screaming, saying that I made a mistake, but then I ended up on the beach. I was just in time to see the sunset one last time.
Glaring at the darkness that was slowly creeping, eating away at my last day on earth I heard a familiar sound. Seconds later I was onboard the first Oscar prototype stabilizing the displacement algorithms.
We decided to make one more small scale experiment before leaving to be sure everything is mint condition so we made a jump to the moon. Everything was working perfect, we seemed to be set for the journey, but we were about to leave our homes for good, it only seemed natural to pause one last time and take a look at the Earth one last time.
Then suddenly there was a flash of bright light and everything looked as if it went up in flames. I can only suspect that it was the facility that caused all of this, but somehow, there were two facts that kept popping in my head. Earth is now an uninhabitable planet and we are humanity's only hope...