Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lost Convoy, Part XII: Ray Patch

The whole world was allowed to obsess over it for exactly three weeks. That's how early scientists were able to predict that the Earth's core would no longer hold itself together. It wasn't a matter of environmental disaster, as so many had predicted over the years, or the sun winking out, or some horrific new weapon. It would take far longer than those three weeks to determine why exactly the core had finally failed.

During those weeks, however, there was a great amount of denial to be sorted out, and so preparations for evacuation were only sporadically attended. For an event that included the entire population, every country, every sex, every ethnic variety, Ray might have thought there'd be a little more unity. But same as it always was...Fortunately, he'd been contacted fairly early on, and so knew exactly what to expect for most of that period. As panic worked its way through every level of the population, Ray sat and watched, essentially, focused almost exclusively on what lay ahead, after all of that was finally over. He saw many of his friends, his co-workers, die needlessly, and many versions of the plan had to be scrapped and rethought, until, as someone very early in the process had noted, "You're basically going to have to improvise, fall back on your instincts."

He had been part of such an extensive collection of pilots at the beginning, he almost thought he wouldn't have to fly at all, that he could become just another passenger. When it came out that several of the frigates had been sabotaged, that the whole of the fleet would no longer be able to carry what would soon be dubbed "the survivors of Earth," long before the planet was actually lost, he panicked a little, and saw the numbers dwindle so much as to assure he would be needed in the full official capacity in which he was qualified, necessary. He thought to himself, What are we saving here, anyway? So many people apparently felt it perfectly acceptable to continue acting in exactly the petty ways that had made it a difficult prospect even in the first scenario. He had never been an astronaut, but that had never stopped him from wondering why it would take decades to continue exploration of space, when so much had already been proven about its viability. Only arrogance and pride, and dumb stupidity, he thought bluntly, and sadly, during those weeks.

When the fleet was finally about to launch, he realized he really would have to fall back on his wits. All his colleagues were either assigned elsewhere or gone, lost before even the planet. He decided that he would let the rest fall to fate. He would be boarding the frigate, he would be flying it. That much was now certain. And then everything else would just have to happen...

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