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Excerpt for Apeman: The Arkship Archives by , available in its entirety at Smashwords













APEMAN

By

Gerald St Clare

























With special thanks to Gordana & David





Published by the Silversphere Media Group.

© 2017 All rights reserved

No part of the publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodies in the critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.

All characters and events portrayed in this work are fictional. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.



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Apeman

My name is Anthony Farrah and, yes you are right, I am that Anthony Farrah, the one who defended the mass-murdering apeman. But before I explain myself, let me tell the story for those who come after us; those who may not know who we were or how we lived.

*

In the year 2864 of the pre-diaspora calendar (PDC), I was born into the service caste on Arkship AS337.

The Arkships had left Earth from 2192 PDC until about 2283 PDC (the date all communication from Earth ceased). The first few were built and launched in the hope that humans could escape the death of our only planet, either through depletion of resources, man-made destruction of the environment or catastrophic external events. These early ships carried five to ten Leader caste families totalling fifty people, a few hundred staff to look after them, 200 or so live meat animals and frozen seed banks for the destination plants, animals and around 20 million human embryos.

But by the time AS12 was boosting away from Lunar orbit in 2221, our ancestors had realised the cost of just fixing the world was far less than the cost of running away. If only they had worked that out two hundred years earlier, there would have been so much more to save.

So the new Arkship range starting with AS013 were built solely with the intention of spreading humanity (rather than specific humans) to the stars. Notice how the zero was added by the Public Relations team to suggest a long future. The crews of the 013+ Arkships now numbered only eighty: four manager caste, sixty service caste and a dozen or so apemen. The Leader caste no longer had to suffer generations of death in space, they could be born after planet-fall and only once a comfortable environment had been set up by the workers. With a much smaller “live” population and no need for the comforts of the earlier ships, Arkships could be built, stocked, crewed and launched at a rate ten times faster than the old “pre-teen” ships.

The human embryos in storage on these later ships still had the same mix of castes and the biodiversity necessary for a healthy and growing destination population, but a small percentage were also designated as crew members. In the nine hundred years that our journey would take, sufficient managers and service crew were available as embryos to replace their ageing predecessors. Apemen were also replaced, albeit at a much higher rate due to their shorter lifespans.

Our home, the Arkship AS337, was the three hundred and thirty-sixth of her family (we don't count the unfortunate AS017, of course). A shell of safety cocooning a living and near-living cargo which represented the hope of an entire world. That world did not yet have a name. Although the old-earthers probably had a name for the star it orbited, the privilege of naming was reserved for the first Leaders born on that planet. It was an ancient human tradition that the naming of something was a divine permission to ownership of that object. And only a Leader can own a planet.

We called it “new earth”; the lack of capitalisation ensuring that we referred only to the objective, not it's name. My guess is that all Arkship destinations had that same label.

*

So born into the service caste, I was designated as a geneticist following my 16th year exams. Unlike the old-world geneticists, my role had nothing to do with research or original thought; I simply selected and prepared embryos for birth.

Central Planning would provide weekly reports of the current population status. These included details of personnel health, injuries and any behavioural events over the preceding week. I would take this raw data and calculate recommendations for retirement which were sent back to Central Planning. I also used the retirement and death-in-service data for my own planning; selecting an appropriate genome for each of the personnel that would need to be replaced within the next sixteen years. Management personnel were not retired, so we always needed an excess of them in case of unexpected deaths (only one was actually needed but we ran with four). Service personnel were easier to plan for, with both a larger pool taking up any variation and also the ability to foresee their retirement date in advance.

And apemen were the easiest of all; reaching working age after only five years and any deaths covered by just redistributing their workload; we simply had a few in progress at all times.

Or at least we did until my client went on his rampage...

*

That Thursday I was working in my lab on a complex splice. The process for every splice was identical and mostly automated, but the importance of every detail being precise and correct made it a high-stress function of my job. (Of course when I say “high-stress”, I don't mean I have any recessive tendency, it's just metaphoric).

The door beeped and I started cleaning up. I never answered the door immediately as it was always a Learning Group and the mentor would know that I had to complete any important process and make safe before risking contamination from external agents. But the door just opened! Without my pass-phrase, it just opened and someone came in!

As you can see, I was horrified. I turned on the intruder with fury (metaphoric again, of course). And stopped short.

The woman who had entered was not wearing the normal blue one-piece that every other human I had ever met wore. She was dressed in an exotic garb: a brilliant white shirt, almost blinding to the eye and a long tube of grey fabric reaching from the waist to just below where she probably had knees. I cast the thought of knees from my mind, embarrassed at such an inappropriate thought about someone who was clearly Management. Her features were the classic C1197 line, a genome I had always dreamed of working with. Clearly this was the Rozinia Ferrante I knew from the data: C1197, 28 years old, 88% efficiency, negative events four. She looked angry.

“Did you hear me Anthony?”

I hadn't. “Yes”.

Her attention bored through my lie and read my thoughts. “I said 'you have been selected'”

My eyes immediately welled up with tears. I fought it down and tried to understand. I was party to all Planning decisions about retirement and knew I was not even nearly on the radar. Only thirty-five years old and running above 70% operational efficiency for my entire working life, I was in my prime in every way. Obviously I took special care with my own statistics during planning and pro-actively addressed any failings long before they manifested themselves. She must be wrong.


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