Part 1 Secrets Revealed
The Clan has existed in this remote valley for a thousand years. There was enough land to farm, game to hunt, and stay totally isolated from the rest of the planet. Clan members resembled early pioneers in dress, housing, and way of life. Their government is like an oligarchy, minus the royal titles and trappings, but keeping all the brutality and iron-fisted rule. Four families controlled all government functions:
The Snyder Family (Military and Police)
The Wallace Family (Commerce and Taxation)
The La Salle Family (Judiciary and Restitution)
The Singh Family (History and Religion)
One might assume the least powerful of the four would be the Singh family, but that assumption would be terribly wrong. As the steward of The Clan’s history, the Singhs controlled the people’s perception of historical events, their traditions, and the reasons they do the things they do and, the manner in which they do them. As the guardian of The Clan’s one and only religion, the Singhs controlled the people’s thoughts and emotions. The main tenant of this religion is the rejection of technology and innovation. Advanced technology would make life easier, affording people more free time to ponder their place in society. The more people question the norm, the harder they are to control. One unexpected event threatened to destroy this carefully choreographed system. The last of the Singh line died without leaving an heir. As expected, infighting and intrigue between the remaining families began almost immediately.
Peter King, Josh Snyder, and Jacqueline Bordeaux became fast friends during the first week of lower school. Clan law dictated that all children must attend the same public school regardless of the social status of their family. Even though family standing was supposed to be ignored, the children quickly determined which kid came from a subsistence farm, a prosperous merchant family, or the oligarchy. What made the friendship so unusual was that Peter came from a poor dirt farm, Jackie's family owned a successful manufacturing company, and Josh was a member of the Snyders. The bond between the children became stronger. The families, in not-so-subtle ways, tried to dissolve their friendship, but these attempts only reinforced the children’s resolve. The three had reached their late teens when the Singh crisis took place.
Exploring the valley was the trio’s favorite pastime. The older they got, the further they would roam. There were certain sections of the valley that were off-limits to all clan members, except the most senior of the ruling families. According to legend, a massive beast slumbered in one cave in particular. Waking the creature would lead to the death and destruction of all Clansmen because this valley belonged to the creature. Guards were posted at the opening to the cave and, except for the oligarchs, no one could enter. The legends and the guards made this place a must-see for the trio. What harm would a look inside an old cave do? Besides, nothing could be alive for more than a thousand years.
The three approached the cave entrance and their path was immediately blocked by two very large soldiers. Josh took the lead.
“Why are you stopping us from entering? Don’t you recognize the family crest on my coat? You men work for my father and by extension me. Stand aside or suffer the consequences.”
Peter and Jackie were impressed, and a little taken aback by their friend’s forcefulness and demeanor. The guards, puzzled at first, relented and allowed the three to pass.
Once out of the guards' hearing Josh let out a long breath and said, “That worked a lot better than I thought!”
The trio continued deeper into the cavern. Peter was the first to point out several anomalies in the enormous subterranean hallway.
“The walls are smooth as glass and they radiate a bluish light. The opening was pitch black until we entered the opening. Now the light seems to lead the way ahead. How is this possible?”
His two companions had nothing to offer, so they just kept walking. They finally entered a chamber so large the ceiling and far wall almost seemed to disappear. Centered in the chamber, hovering about a foot above the ground, rested a massive cylindrical object. A ramp extended from the midpoint of the object to the floor of the chamber. The three cautiously approached the ramp and, one by one stepped through the entrance of the floating object.
As they tentatively proceeded deeper into the structure overhead lights flickered on and pathway lighting directed them toward what they assumed was the front of the cylinder. A large door slid noiselessly open, revealing what could only be described as a control room. A round table, waist high and ten feet in diameter, perched on a pedestal in the center of the room. As the friends approached, indentations around the outer circumference began emitting light. The lights formed shapes of people dressed in what looked like uniforms similar to what the military now wore. Josh recognized the insignia of a captain, a major, and a general. Another man in civilian clothes was the fourth person in the group. It wasn’t until a fifth well-dressed man entered the group that a conversation began.
“Mr. King,” said the general, “Please stop wasting our time with your protests. We have decided the best way for this settlement to prosper is under the strict control of the military and the church. The heads of state will consist of Doctor Singh as head of theology, Major Wilson as head of commerce, Captain La Salle as head of justice, and I will remain head of the military.”
“This is not what our great-grandparents intended when they launched the generation ships two hundred years ago,” said Mr. King. “We left Earth for a better life where all the citizens would have equal status, not live under the boot of an oligarchic regime. The technology that we have developed while on this ship will allow everyone to live happy lives. Why would you want to take that away from the clan?”
“That’s not how things were done on earth!” exclaimed Captain La Salle. “There has always been a privileged few controlling or if you prefer, guiding the masses. We continue that tradition. Once we are permanently in charge, we will travel to the other generation ships and place them under our control as well. We’ve selected this landing site because of its remoteness from the others. They will think we’ve been lost during landing, giving us the benefit of surprise when we attack and conquer the other sites.”
“This is outrageous!” shouted Mr. King. “I will contact the other ships and tell them of your plans. The people on board this ship will revolt and exile you once we land.”
Dr. Singh spoke next. “As head of the church, I have prepared a proclamation stating that God has sent me a vision decreeing that all should be as we have described it to you. Any decenter, including you, our esteemed leader, will be considered a heretic and put to death.”
The trio just stood, mouths agape, unable to move or speak for several minutes, until the images faded away. What they had just witnessed was like a vision from above, which it was in a manner of speaking.
Finally, Peter recovered enough to stammer, “Did all of you see that?”
“Yes,” said Jackie in a meek voice. “That was your and Josh’s ancestors arguing about the fate of the Clan.” How can we know if this actually happened and if it did, when?”
An oddly accented voice emanated from what appeared to be thin air. “The events you witnessed were recorded on October 17, 2815, Earth standard. They were the actual events written into the ship’s log.”
“Ok, now I’m hearing voices! Who said that? Show yourself.” Said Josh.
A flickering image of a man took form in front of the trio. “I am the ship’s artificial intelligence AI92756 but you may call me Al. It is my job to look after all ship’s systems, record events, and be of help to the humans aboard this vessel. How may I help you?”
“So many questions, where do I start?” said Peter. “Al, who else on the planet knows about you, and how long has it been since anyone else was here?”
“This ship was last visited 729 years ago. I don’t believe anyone currently alive knows of the ship’s existence,” replied Al. “I must have been placed on some type of quarantine after that because you are my first visitors since that time. Apparently, humans have digressed technologically over the centuries. I will be happy to instruct you on the workings of this ship, but it will take many years before you fully understand its designs and functions.”
Jackie responded first. “We don’t have years, so maybe you can answer a few questions now. Where is Earth? Why was this ship made, and where are the other ships these men spoke about?” Peter was next. “Were those really our ancestors? Why is this ship, as you call it, under a mountain, and can it leave the cave?” Josh just waited patiently for some answers.
“I will answer your questions in order.” replied the A. I. “Earth is a planet seven light years from here. It is where your species began, developed, and eventually left. This ship and three others identical to it left Earth to find new homes in this solar system. Earth had become overcrowded and polluted, so it was decided that the human species’ only chance for survival was to resettle among the stars. It took two hundred years for the first of the generation ships to reach this planet and one other. In this world, the ships landed on opposite sides of the planet and developed independent societies. The conversation you viewed actually took place between those in charge. I, or this ship, if you prefer, was placed in this artificial cave to block any communication with the other ships. As far as the other voyagers are concerned, this ship perished with all souls on board 1000 years ago. I am perfectly functional and able to leave this cave when instructed to do so.”
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.
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