by Jonny Capps
Even after annihilation, humanity doesn't change.
| Nothing he had learned from Archimedes really needed to be kept from the rest of the crew. Still, it made Josh feel more important, knowing things that no one else knew. Besides the current population (cataloged, anyway… there were probably others out there who weren't part of the Illuminati grand scheme, but Josh didn't want to think about that right now, mostly because of the nightmares that it would produce), Archimedes hadn't really revealed anything too conspiratorial. Syracuse was fully equipped to provide for the team, without additional resources, for the next ten years., provided they lived within their means. According to the map, which Archimedes had agreed was crude, there was a fully stocked library, a medical bay, a functional laboratory and greenhouse, a garage which contained an armory and tool shed, along with motor vehicles of various size and properties, and there was a fitness center, for those who were so inclined. Joshua had asked about the power supply, and Archimedes informed him that everything was solar powered. The sun had not been as effected by the nuclear fallout as some scientists had theorized. It was still pumping out pure solar rays, which was why the computers had “woken up”, 100 years ago, in order to gather enough power for the base to function at full capacity. Josh was wondering now, with most of the radiation being vented out of their atmosphere, if maybe the sun's rays were even more pure than they had been when mankind had run civilization, thanks to the decrease of man's involvement. He knew that, 500 years ago, humanity as a whole had virtually converted to clean energy, at least for everyday purposes, but there had still been innumerable power stations, nuclear testing sites, Styrofoam, microwaves, and pockets of hippies who insisted that their way of living was better than anyone else's, even if what they did was expensive and ultimately more damaging to the atmosphere than others. |
Cows were likely a thing of the past. That would probably help with the methane problems.
Josh stepped into his bedroom, quickly showered, and changed into a vintage Star Wars, Episode XX t-shirt, along with a pair of oversized island shorts. He didn't bother with shoes, since there was no point. After all, the library's “no shirt, no shoes, no books” policy probably died with the librarians.
As he was walking toward the library, Josh had a thought: he wondered if Archimedes was in contact with the other bases. Communication satellites were likely decommissioned, since there was no one around to operate them any longer, but if The Illuminati had set up an internal network, it would make sense for them to be in contact with one another. Josh made a mental note to ask Archimedes about that, the next time that he had a chance.
Josh arrived at the library a few minutes later. As the door slid open, granting him entry, he stared in awe at the utopia which welcomed him. It almost made the 500-year sleep completely worth it.
Dr. Tenzin St. Crow watched Josh leave, and was torn between being relieved, curious, and slightly guilty for mocking his humorous attempt at levity. The terrycloth against her skin was rough, when compared to the fabrics that she was used to wearing, but it was more comfortable than the social anxiety which she had tried to get under control most of her professional life. It wasn't easy getting people to take her seriously in medical biology, especially when she looked the way that she did. Being included in this project was supposed to eliminate those insecurities, but somehow, they remained in place. She had been short with Stein, and she knew that it had been a hasty, angst-fueled response. Now she was just hoping that she would be able to recover from that quickly, since it was far too early to begin making enemies already. Every time that Ruscov looked at her, she felt as though she were suddenly naked with her legs spread. That probably was not entirely his fault, and she wasn't going to tell him to stop looking at her, but he still made her uncomfortable. She was not that familiar with Russia's culture. Maybe that was just the way that they looked at women and, therefore, something that she would need to get used to.
“So,” Bartholomew addressed Archimedes “what would be the preliminary goal here? I know that the ultimate goal is to revive the Earth and preserve humanity, but what would be the first step to doing so?”
“I would imagine that our first action would be to explore the new world and see how things have changed,” Derrin answered before the computer had a chance to do so. “We can't really proceed much more until we've done that, right?”
Archimedes nodded his assent. “That would be an excellent move, Dr. Flattery,” he confirmed. “External readers on the base have, indeed, confirmed that the air is, once again, breathable, with most of the radiation having been vented out of the atmosphere naturally. In the garage, you'll find vehicles, along with an armory which will give you any defensive products that you need.”
Derrin looked at Bartholomew. “You specialize in botany, right? How'd you like to join me on a trip to the new world?”
Bartholomew nodded: “I'd enjoy that quite a bit. The horticulture of a formerly irradiated world must be fascinating. I wonder how the atmospheric conditions have effected the natural evolution process!”
Derrin laughed at Bartholomew's eagerness to join the expedition. He was starting to think that, maybe, this might not be the worst group of people to rebuild the world with.
Derrin walked into the garage, followed closely by Bart (he said that, if it was easier to eliminate the three syllables, people should just call him Bart) and Claire. Mikhail had expressed an interest in coming along, but Tenzin had fortunately reminded him that he was little than a diplomat, and there would be very little use for one of those at the moment. Tenzin herself said that she would be along in a short time, but she wanted to examine her lab first. Derrin would have preferred to have Josh along for the trip, since he was the cartographer and the construction of maps would probably be vital, but he had informed them that he was preoccupied.
With the more information that Derrin uncovered about Syracuse, the more impressed he became with it's capacities. The internal communications network was pretty standard, and he was used to computers using heat signatures and biotracking to pinpoint individuals in large complexes, and being able to talk, via screens and telecoms placed throughout those same buildings. He had not, however, expected to have those same conveniences without a direct satellite link. He'd asked Archimedes how that was possible, and the computer had explained that it was a localized network, with a self-contained source box. Derrin understood that, to a certain extent. He didn't want to think too much about it, or how it had continued to operate at full capacity after 500 years without upkeep
Looking at his wrist, Derrin examined the other device that he was trying not to think too deeply about. Archimedes had called it an “Oracle”, and he had informed the party that it was to ensure prolonged contact and analysis, while the team was out in the field. Staring at the digital screen, Derrin had to resist the urge to pull it off his wrist and break it apart, just to figure out how it worked. The device was apparently a communication tool, an analytical computer, a homeostasis reader, and an informational storage pod, all in one device. Each team member had been supplied with one, and Archimedes had warned them to never take them off, especially when out in the field. Of course, that was exactly what Derrin wanted to do.
“Wow,” Bart breathed as he entered the garage. “This is quite a setup.”
He wasn't lying. Contained in the garage were two SUVs and three ATVs, each locked into an electrical charging station, with three gas fueling stations along the rear wall. In one corner, Derrin could see the armory through the glass door, with a vast collection of guns, ammo, and bladed weaponry for melee (or for those who just preferred style over comfort). The other corner contained a work bench for mechanical repair or design, along with the tools that were required for those ventures. Derrin was practically salivating at the chance to make modifications and designs, using those tools.
He was jerked back to reality when he heard one of the SUVs roar to life. “They work,” Claire cheered from behind the wheel.
Bart quickly jumped to one of the ATVs, placing his thumb against the starter. The ATV started immediately, and Bart laughed. “All right, so either Claire and I were very lucky, finding the specific vehicles linked to our thumbprints,” he said, loudly enough for everyone present to hear “or all of our prints are in the vehicle's memory.”
“Well, that'll make our insurance premiums a bitch to pay,” Derrin laughed, stepping up beside the SUV that Claire was currently sitting in.
Claire took Derrin's hand as she climbed out of the SUV after shutting it down: “Guys, why are we getting so excited about having cars? Seriously, I saw the SUV, and it was as if I was a child during Christmas.”
“It's something familiar,” Bart observed, shutting down his ATV and coming to stand beside Derrin and Claire. “The entire world is new and undiscovered, everything that we once knew is now gone. We all know the motor vehicles, though, and they still work the same way that they did in the world of the past.”
Derrin could see the rationale behind that statement, and he nodded in agreement. “Well,” he sighed, turning to the blank wall that was opposite them, which served as a garage door “before we get too excited, starting and unstarting our vehicles, let's get out there and see what's become of this world.”
There was a palm scanner, situated next to the wall. Claire walked to it confidently, laying her hand against the panel. As she did so, the blank wall began to slide upward, just as a rudimentary garage door ought to do. Upon seeing the motion, Claire moved to stand beside Derrin and Bart as they stood, transfixed on the world which was revealed. Once the process had completed, the three of them shared a vast pool of emotional responses, ranging from disappointment to fascination to intimidation.
“Yeah,” Bart sighed after a moment of observation “I don't think we're going to be driving out of here anytime soon.”
The flora and fauna which had come to dominate Salt Lake City resembled that of a wild, unchecked, rainforest. It seemed as though the Earth had not suffered much from the lack of human interference. Trees, vines, and ground cover from varieties that Bart couldn't identify canvased the exterior of Syracuse, creating a blanket of the brightest green that he could remember seeing. In the background, perhaps miles away, Bart could see the outlines of the mountains which had once identified the city. They seemed larger than they had before, and much more intimidating.
Bart took one cautious step through the door, closer to the jungle which awaited him. The soil beneath his feet felt solid and familiar, like that of the Earth that he had left. Looking down, he dug the tip of his shoe into it with no adverse reaction. It was the shade of red granite, but had the fine texture of white sand. Restraining himself, Bart decided to not take a sample until he had the appropriate equipment.
Breathing deeply, the smells which greeted him were unlike anything that he had experienced before. It was pure and natural, both welcoming and foreboding, inviting him to embrace the new organic world, but warning him not to mess things up. This was a botanist’s dream, with a vast array of uncatalogued beauty to experience. It was a nightmare, as the list of unknown threats grew within his brain. Bart was hesitant to touch anything until he had protective gear. This world had existed for 500 years without humans. He was an alien on a new planet. There was no way of knowing how this planet would react to his interactions.
Returning to his awe-struck companions, Bart felt his face break into a wide smile. “Planet Earth seems to be doing just fine,” he chuckled. “I almost don't want to mess with the ecosystem.”
Claire nodded. “It looks so peaceful out there,” she agreed. “Even with the untamed wild, there seems to be an organized chaos. It seems a shame to disrupt it.”
“We're humans,” Derrin commented. “Disrupting ecosystems is what we do.”
The three of them stood together and looked out on the wild for a moment longer. Exploration would need to happen, obviously. They would need to leave the safety of Syracuse. New threats and species would need to be analyzed and cataloged. At the moment, though, the world felt right.