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





















Birthright

By

Gerald St Clare

























With special thanks to Gordana & David





Published by the Sovereign Media Group.

© 2018 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.



.









Birthright

Purity Year 0 (2988 AD), day 1

Arkship Purity (official designation AS282) had arrived.

After seven hundred and twenty-one years travelling from Earth across the empty void, Purity had reached her symbolic ingression point into the anonymous stellar system. Although she had already been burning her last reserves of fuel for eight months to slow her frantic pace, (with planet fall still more months away), today was considered Arrival Day.

The end of the generations-long journey was to be marked by a magnificent ceremony as the Grande Dame looped around the new sun and headed for her final destination.



*



Terry Roberts was born to be a butler. Not in any metaphoric sense, no; Terry was actually chosen from the embryo store and trained from birth to serve as a butler for the first Leader of the planet. At his sixteen year examinations, he had successfully outperformed his peers (as predicted by all his teachers) and had been confirmed as First Butler. The pretenders accepted their lower positions, content just to be in service for the First Grand House.

But he hadn't done it alone. From the age of six, he and Deborah Chambers knew that they were better than the other children. They had been as thick as thieves since finding out that their destinies were to be the main care-givers for the most important person on the planet. Deborah was going to be (subject to exam results) nanny to the Leader, so together they saw themselves as surrogate parents - although were never so imprudent as to voice that opinion. Their campaign had been relentless, always differentiating themselves and excluding other children who did not accept subservient roles. Their greatest coup was achieved around the age of ten, when nice old Mr Scarborough agreed that they could wear black instead of the regulation blues. From that day, the pair of them could be mistaken for Manager caste; he in his tailored-look black suits and she in her severe long skirts and jackets. The other children didn't stand a chance.

After his confirmation, Terry had started his apprenticeship with that same Mr Scarborough. Avery Scarborough was only in his late sixties, but as the oldest of the three Managers, he was considered antediluvian by everyone on board. For the last three years Terry had been a part of the furniture during many personal and public interchanges between Mr Scarborough and his team, for which he had cultivated a deep respect for the man. This morning had been a case in point: the most significant date on their journey, a turning point for so many and a start point for all, Mr Scarborough was unflappable. The disastrous loss of his gold cuff links was addressed with a smile and “Put away that shirt, we should do this in dress uniform.” Terry had obviously misplaced them, but there was no finger-pointing or recrimination, just a cheerful solution to the problem.

So with his work for the morning done and Mr Scarborough secreted in his office in preparation for the ceremony, Terry stood with his back to the maintenance hall looking out at the stars. Although made to look like a large picture window, the vista was actually a image recorded earlier from the non-rotating part of the ship. As he felt her hand slip into his, Deborah breathed a greeting into his ear. “You look nice.”

Are you sure you're a nanny, not a ninja?” He squeezed her hand back and leaned into her.

They stood together, each pondering if the tiny crescent in the middle of the screen would treat them well.



*



Avery Scarborough shook his head in disbelief and passed the printout to his second-in-command. Victoria Berengar was surprised at the lack of reverence from the old man, so completely out of character. She took her turn while Ragunath Pande waited with unconcealed impatience.

We should have guessed he was a bloody hippie. 'Purity' for dung's sake! That was the clue.”

Victoria shushed Avery while she finished reading. Ragunath was already pecking at the corner of the paper so she released it with a glare at the young Manager.

Avery carried on with his rant, “And what the hell is an Utu? More like 'Utter stupidity', I'd say.”

Ragunath was still reading but interrupted while pointing at a word on the page. “Not 'uhtuh', it's pronounced 'oo-too', Sumerian I think.”

Victoria decided to conciliate. “It's just names Avery - and probably with some historical or mythical significance too. What about the main body of the Orders?”

Avery cooled a little. “It's all pretty much consistent. I guess all Leaders want their planets to be some sort of Utopia, so it sort of makes sense.”



*



Proclamation of Claustima Baines-Crackpole for the foundation of Arkship 282 and execution of planetary license HD20367. Part 3: Leader's Orders Regarding Colony.

I greet you all from your distant past and congratulate you on reaching this important milestone toward the realisation of my vision. Your journey is now all but over and only a few small tasks need to be completed before you can benefit from the bounty that I have bestowed on you.

Firstly I shall attend to the most important issue of Naming:

Our sun will be called Utu, after light and balance.

Our planet will be called Purity, after the vessel and the virtue that has brought us so far.

Our first planet fall leader shall be a male heir titled 'Claustima Baines-Crackpole II, First Leader' and I shall heretofore and throughout history be referred to as 'Claustima Baines-Crackpole I, Founder of Homeland Purity'.

Secondly I shall deal with Foundation:

The homeworld planet Purity and all its inhabitants and dominions in the system of Utu shall remain the property of the Leader in perpetuity.

Our home must be pure and balanced and to this end I proclaim that we will abandon and heretofore abjure all influences that compromise this principle. In the first place: our settlers may use any means necessary to journey to the homeland but on arrival shall permanently destroy any artefacts and technology from the Electric-Age or later. Secondly: construction, maintenance and future development shall be supported only by resources that grow on the land and under the sea; but only in partnership with our environment, never as its master.

I gift to you all a life of gratifying toil for the glory and comfort of the Leader!

(You may toast me now, followed by Claustima Baines-Crackpole II, First Leader.)

As mandated by the Arkship Charter of 2188 and Embarkation Agreements AS282, any person not wishing to accept these terms may depart from the Arkship after repayment of their travelling costs to the Leader. Interest charges and the cost of one personal airlock full of air at 0.1 atm will be waived if the transaction is completed by ingression day.



*



Avery lowered the proclamation (now printed on thick vellum decorated with watermarks and crests and bearing the heavy red seal of the Crackpole line). He looked over the gathering, not expecting any response. One of the audience started to clap, but that petered out to silence.

The maintenance bay was the largest open space on the arkship and had been converted into a elegant hall through judicious use of paper streamers and the artwork of twenty generations of Managers. The balloons were a disaster, just one flaccid bag hung near the inner door where the staff had forgotten to remove it. But overall it was a suitable display which would be made into an August Occasion for Posterity through video editing. He glanced again at the Orders. “Maybe not.”

Forty-six Service personnel stood in a loose congregation in front of Avery while he was flanked by the chairs of Managers Victoria Berengar and Ragunath Pande. Avery snapped his fingers at an apeman standing at the back of the room, who opened the door and a swarm of them came in with glasses of wine for the audience. When all 49 inhabitants of Arkship 282 'Purity' were armed with wine, Avery enacted that last order. “To our Founder, Claustima Baines-Crackpole the First, err, Founder of, umm, Homeland Purity!” All glasses were raised, a few clinked and one or two downed in one. “and to our new Leader, Claustima Baines-Crackpole the Second, First Leader!” Further sipping, more clinking and some unconvincing mime from the empty-glassed ones.

Right at the back of the gathering Terry and Deborah stood hand in hand, lost in private thoughts and completely oblivious to their surroundings other than the nasty sour taste left by the weak vinegar they had just sipped.



Purity Year 0, day 242

Normally the period between their slingshot around the star and planetary arrival was a quiet time for everyone on board an arkship. Automated systems would insert the ship into a high orbit around the destination planet, where it would split and disperse into a hundred or so individual craft. Even settlement selection was out of the hands of the humans; the systems knew the parameters and would select sites for survivability and opportunity and deliver suitable habitats down to those locations. Whether the planet was a sterile ball requiring ten thousand years of terraforming or a lush garden, all the colonists would need to do is read their individual orders and get on a shuttle. Those notes would map out the rest of their lives.

But the Founder clearly wasn't big on detail. The Purity systems were only programmed as far as orbit, leaving the problem of how to transform a hostile planet with stone axes entirely to his minions. Under the circumstances one would expect the three Managers, weighed down with the pre-launch tasks normally delivered by 300 workers and a dedicated system, to miss a few details in the short months they had available.

Avery Scarborough addressed the problem as all the greatest managers before him had: he would delegate. The 46 service staff were split equally into two groups: Team A and Team 1 (Ragunath lobbied for 'Team Vitality' and 'Team Aspiration' and Victoria for either A/B or 1/2, but Avery was having none of it.) Each team member had overall responsibility for one aspect of the colonisation effort, those responsibilities closely aligned with their skill set and normal duties. Team A was a more technical group, so Victoria was in charge of monitoring and managing them, Ragunath delivering the same management role for the more 'social' Team 1. Avery's intention was to incrementally disband team A as their technologies were taken offline and transfer them as subordinates to Team 1 members.

Everyone managed to fit in seamlessly with this plan except Francis May, the geneticist.

Each arkship was basically a factory to recreate Earth on a distant planet. It carried a vault containing the frozen seed for all the plants and animals that would inhabit the new world, including around twenty million fertilised human embryos. During the journey the geneticist was responsible for selecting embryos to maintain the in-transit population of around four managers and up to fifty service workers the dormant millions were kept healthy, After terraforming was complete and comfortable living arrangements available, the then working geneticist would select Leader embryos to become the First Families.

During the journey the geneticist was responsible for selecting the appropriate embryos to maintain an in-transit population of around four managers and up to fifty service workers, and ensuring the dormant million were kept healthy. After terraforming was complete and comfortable living arrangements available, the then working geneticist would also select a range of Leader embryos to become the First Families.



With a function so critical to the success of the journey, geneticists often exhibited a God Complex, at the very least believing they were more important than any other service worker. As far as Avery was concerned, Francis May was showing all the signs of this delusion; insisting that he have special dispensation to retain modern technology for a period of at least sixty years following planet fall. Now they were entering orbit around the fourth planet, it had all come to a head.

Do you understand the importance of Leader's Orders Francis?” The little man in Avery's office was hopping around as if on hot coals. He seemed unsure which foot to stand on and was wringing his hands in time to the dance. “Stand still man!”


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-9 show above.)