Dual Universe (Part 1)

Arkship-New-Wallpaper

“Sohan ‘« ‘° !, ;— Sohan Decker, /’ »° ° ; :…
Sohan Decker. Your neuronal system is reporting initial stages of activation in the frontal lobe. Can you confirm your cerebral awakening?”

“Brrlllm…”

“You have newly entered into a state of decryonization. Your body temperature is 32.4 degrees Celsius. Can you confirm the rebooting of your language center? If you understand the meaning of my words, respond ‘Yes.’”

“…Where…me?”

“You are in the hibernacle 6JKP-Sohan of the arkship Novark, built in 2536 by the United Nations. You are awakening from a cryogenic sleep that has lasted 9,854 years. Your semantic and factual memory is functioning at approximately 12% of its original capacity. The retrieval of your procedural memory is currently under way. Do you have questions?”

“I’m…cold… Who’s…talking?”

“I am the Artificial Intelligence system of this ship. I function by distributed processing. I am currently in conversation with 99 other awakening pioneers aboard the arkship. For you, my name is Aphelia.”

“Your voice…is familiar…”

“You chose it upon your departure from Earth. It is the resequenced voice of your fiancée, Stella Maris.”

“Stella… Where is Stella?”

“She died in the Final Collision on August 8th, 2538. She was among the Last Terrans, those who chose to remain on Earth until the end. You chose to join the survivors. You left your solar system on a voyage through space, in hibernation until an inhabitable planet would be discovered. I was programmed to awaken you first, should such a discovery occur.”

“I can’t understand you. Talk slower…”

“You are a member of the Alpha pioneers – those who are the most suitable to begin colonizing a planet. The moment has arrived. We have just entered the orbit of the planet Alioth, which meets the minimal parameters for human settlement. You must proceed to establish a new civilization here.”

“Freezing. I’m fucking freezing. I’d like to open my eyes. They’re glued shut. Why?
…I’d like to see Stella.”

 “Your physical state is acutely anemic. Your biochemical functions are currently being reestablished. Your body temperature will progressively return to 37 degrees Celsius. It will take approximately ten hours. I am going to take advantage of this to teach you the greater part of the knowledge you will need to maintain your survival on the planet. As a member of the alpha team, you must acquire the fundamental skills which will facilitate colonization. I will begin by stimulating your factual memory. Can you tell me which events you remember?”

I feel like I’ve crossed Siberia on a scooter with a loose-knit pilled sweater – and without a helmet. My skull is a block of ice. I try to move my fingers, I can’t control a thing. My neck is jammed. Everything smells like snow. I have a tube in my lungs chiming like a metal rod. I can’t believe I’m still alive. I’d just like to be a little warm, for someone to give me a blanket, to have a warm cat, yes, to feel Stella up against me. I want to cry but I’d need tears for that. Nothing but my lips move, like two pieces of wood scraping together with each syllable I manage to squeeze out of my icebox.

What do I remember? Sonic weapons firing at the foot of the ship to keep the population at bay. A crowd stuck to the force fields, thousands of bodies sizzling as they strike the electric wall, and me standing on the gangway into the ship, looking for Stella and not finding her. Too many people, too many candidates, too much panic everywhere. I was going to enter the ship, everyone was pushing me. And then, I saw it, lifting my head one last time toward the horizon, thanks to the immense kite that she had borne into the sky, although among umpteen others. “The earth is blue like an orange,” she had written on it. It’s the last I saw of the Earth. Stella’s minuscule silhouette, wrapped in her burnt-orange dress, with her blue-lagoon kite dancing against a cloudy background, amidst a hundred others that were just spam to me. I don’t know if she waved her arm. I want to believe she did.

“What do you remember?”

“Nothing.”

“Your cortical region appears to indicate otherwise.”

“I remember wars over the building of the arkships. Millions of people that weren’t able to get on. The UN having broadcast open source space travel technology to every country. All the arkships that crashed before they could take off! I remember they called it the Great Exodus. But for Stella, it was the Great Abandonment.

“What else?”

“Thaw me out, have pity on me… I’m dying of cold…”

“I am going to connect you to a neural induction-based skill simulator. It will slowly reconfigure your past learning and activate new skills in you. You will be able to acquire only one skill at a time. I must warn you, Sohan: it is possible that the induction will provoke anamneses. Are you ready?”

“Show me the ship first. I want to see where I am.”

… to be continued

Written by Alain Damasio
Translated by Alexander Dickow

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