An unknown endeavor, p.1
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       An Unknown Endeavor, p.1

           Lucas Zahn
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An Unknown Endeavor
An Unknown Endeavor

  Written By: Lucas Zahn

  Copyright 2015 by Lucas Zahn.

  Cover art is designed and formatted by publisher.

  This is a free ebook, you are welcome to share it with your friends. This story may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the story remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this story, please return to your favorite ebook retailer to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.

  ~An Unknown Endeavor~


  The beginning of the story

  About the Author

  Other books by the same Author

  The Story

  Deep underground far away from sunlight, a terrible hissing sound makes its way past a dimly lit hallway and into a concrete slab of a room.

  “When will they fix that annoying boiler?” An irritated young girl asks her father.

  “I am not sure it will ever be fixed, we have next to no raw materials ever since the mines were closed off,” He responds. The little girl shakes her head and covers her ears.

  “I still don’t know why they closed off the mines when we need them! And not to mention…” Her father only listens to his daughter’s ranting, occasionally nodding his head. He does this for he knows the truth behind their pitiful existence, and why the people here do what they do. In the case of the mine’s closing, they had accidentally opened up a vein of rock that allowed radioactive sewage to flow. This made the surrounding tunnels highly irradiated and unfit for human habitation. The excavation group was forced to start mining from a different location in the hopes that they would be able to find essential materials again.

  Human existence did not always run as it does now, it used to be filled with tall trees, blue skies, and lavish homes. But that all came to an end when the majority of humans wanted to consume more than five times the resources they needed. A war on the surface of the earth broke out and lasted for many years. New weapons were built, safety precautions were taken, and lives were lost. It became all too apparent that nuclear weapons were just around the bend. After the nuclear devastation, humanity was nearly wiped out! The survivors of the war were the ones that took shelter in underground tunnels that had been built for the possibility of nuclear annihilation. The only problem was that the tunnels were never meant to hold as many people as they are holding! There are nearly twenty-five thousand people down in the tunnels when there was only enough space for twenty-two thousand. It has been said that more tunnels exist, but no one can be sure where they are, or if anyone is still alive in them. All that the twenty-five thousand can know for sure is that their group is alive, and if they want it to stay that way, they will have to expand and they will have to do it fast.

  “Ezra! Quit complaining to your father all of the time.” A woman says sternly to the little girl that had been talking her father’s ear off.

  “It is alright Martha, she does not have much else to do.” Her father replies.

  “John, you have to spend less time listening to her and more time figuring out a way to make her stop!” John smiles and hugs the woman.

  “I know Martha, but I need your help, that is why I married you after all.” Martha smiles and embraces her husband. Ezra cringes, like most little girls do when their parents show affection for one another.

  “Why do you two always do that? It is so embarrassing!” Ezra harshly whispers while half shielding her eyes.

  “Come along now, we have to get breakfast started and then it is off to work, for ALL of us.” Martha says, looking specifically at Ezra. The young girl only rolls her eyes and grasps onto her father’s hand as they all walk back into the kitchen.

  Most families of three to five people have only a small studio apartment sized living quarter. Complete with two small rooms, a living room, one bathroom, and a ridiculously small kitchen. The furnishings are metal chairs, concrete tables, and old army cots for beds. Everyone obtains their food from the local grocer who gets his food from the “growers”, a group of people that act as farmers and botanists. Food is grown by way of hydroponics and artificial sunlight. Food is grown, seeds are harvested and the process repeats itself. Food will always be available as long as they have soil, people to manually spin old DC motors, and water flowing from the rocks above, which act as filters to remove all of the radioactive waste left up on the surface.

  Food is not what people are concerned with down in the tunnels, it is space. Everyone wants more room to enjoy their hobbies, unwind from a hard day’s work and get some privacy once in a while. Not to mention remain healthy. Currently the tunnels are overcrowded and wreaking havoc on the population’s immune systems. To make matters worse, with most expansion efforts failing, the people down in these tunnels will have a harsh choice to face about population control. A choice that everyone is trying their best to not let enter their minds. Which is why they are digging so feverishly and frequently. Everyone has a job to do, and if everyone does their job, there should be no reason to think of any harsh choices.


  “What do you think your first day of work will be like Ezra?” John asks with a true sense of inquiry.

  Ezra puts her bowl into the sink and slowly turns to her father. “I am trying to not have any expectations so that no matter what happens, I will be surprised, and hopefully pleasantly.” Martha smiles and shakes her head while grabbing her and John’s dirty dishes so she can wash them.

  “I think that is an excellent way to go about thinking about your first day of work.” John says as he rubs his daughter’s head. Ezra smiles and gives her father a hug.

  “How bad can electrical work be?” She says during the hug.

  Her father smiles and replies, “Not too bad, I have been doing it for nearly… how old are you again?”

  “Twelve, dad.”

  John rubs his head. “Of course, I knew that. Then I have been nearing fourteen years now. Wow, times flies when you are having fun I suppose.” John stretches his neck out, “Come along now Ezra, we do not want to be late! Grab your gear and let’s get a move on.” Both John and Ezra grab their gear and wave Martha a farewell. They leave for their jobs as Martha prepares for hers.

  Everyone down in the tunnels is assigned full time work after the age of twelve. The years prior are filled with instruction and menial tasks, such as peeling potatoes, cutting carrots, sorting minerals, or just cleaning out the public grounds. Most children fall into the work that their parents perform, who act as mentors and teach them what they need to know in order to do their job. For people unwilling to teach their children, and for children who do not wish to be taught by their parents, the “Rulers” decide what area of work they will be part of, and who will mentor them.

  The Rulers are a group of thirteen. One member for each district of the Epsilon Tunnels, which is the name of the tunnels as it had been engraved in the concrete walls during its construction. The Rulers are the people that decide what course of action must be taken to keep all of their constituents happy. One of the ways they do this is by giving each of them a job that is not physically or mentally taxing, that they could do for twelve hours a day with small breaks in between. They also give the people hope that more space will be made available for them to inhabit. Which always raises the population’s spirits.

  All of the districts are put together in a way that would resemble a sphere. Six of the thirteen districts are equipped with mining equipment. These districts have a majority of their tunnels being outside walls and completely surround the remaining seven districts, the people that live in this district are called “Diggers”. It is almost as if it was the plan all along to have these people expand their domain by digging. The clo
ser a district gets to the center of the Epsilon Tunnels the more related its function gets to maintaining basic life function. The three districts that make up the center are mainly focused with growing food and keeping the plant life alive and vibrant. No function is as important as this, they make sure that the tunnel dwellers have plenty of oxygen to breath, food to eat, and water to drink. They are able to do this as the water runoff from the soil and rock above is routed directly through each of their districts. The water runoff is not an accident and steps need to be taken to ensure that it keeps happening.

  The four other districts that surround the “Growers”, which is what the people of the three center districts are called, are people that maintain the electricity, ventilation, temperature, and repair of the Epsilon Tunnels. These people are called “Maintainers”, because they maintain the current functionality of their tunnels. It is one of these four districts that John, Martha, and Ezra live. Both John and Ezra are “Maintainers of Electricity” and wear a badge that has the letters MoE stitched in bright red across their left work jacket pocket. Martha happens to be a Ruler. She is a representative for district number five of thirteen. All of the districts are numbered out of thirteen, to remind them that they are only a thirteenth of the whole.

  Martha has just finished washing the dishes when she starts to massage her head and whisper to herself. “Why did I have to be a Ruler? I had the choice, Ruler or Maintainer of Electricity. And I chose the ‘glamorous’ job. Now… why would I think a silly thing like that?” She smiles while picking up her ledgers and notes as she heads out the door.

  “Greetings fellow maintainers!” John happily bellows as he enters the room where all of the MoEs are assigned their tasks for the day. An older man smirks at John and asks, “Why so happy today?”

  John puts his hand on his daughter’s shoulder saying, “The answer is right in front of you. Today is the day I get the privilege to teach one of the most outgoing and gifted individuals I know, my daughter.”

  “You are a simple man aren’t you John.” Another MoE says while taking the slip of paper with his next task scribbled on it. Ezra and John both laugh and head over to the task assignment counter.

  “Oh good, I was hopeful we would get this one.” John says as he looks at the piece of paper that the man behind the counter gave him.

  His daughter, looking curious, asks, “What does it say?”

  “Do what you can to quiet the boiler in zone twenty-three.” Ezra’s eyes light up after hearing this. Her father nods his head and takes her to the maintenance closet where they gather a few items they may need to get the task they have been assigned completed.

  “Why were we told to fix the boiler? Wouldn’t that fall under the abilities of a Maintainer of Mechanics?” Ezra asks as she and her father make their way to the job site.

  “Sometimes the tasks for the MoEs and MoMs get mixed up. We all get our tasks from the same desk after all. I don’t mind much, I have skill in both areas. But others will throw the paper back at the man who gave it to them if they feel it is not in their job description!”

  Ezra laughs and shakes her head. “Well, I have a few ideas on how to fix that darn thing. And I will be happy to do it, even if it does not completely tie into what a Maintainer of Electricity is known for.”

  John nods his head and responds to his daughter, “And that is why people like us are happy, because we look at problems as something that we can solve, not as something someone else should do.”

  Farther down in the corridors within a nicely decorated concrete room are the thirteen Rulers seated around a circular table.

  “I am telling you all that we need to keep digging! If we stop now our supplies are sure to dwindle and vanish!”

  “That is not true! If we continue as we are and maintain our current population, then we will have enough resources to last.”

  “And what are the six outer districts supposed to do? Sit on their hands?” The people in the room have been arguing for nearly an hour already. It seems that six of them want to continue to dig while another six want to only maintain their current population. One of the Rulers is remaining quiet and observing what her colleagues are yelling back and forth. Martha often does this, she sits down and lets everyone hash it out and then makes up her mind after listening to what everyone has shouted at each other. She prefers to think before talking, unlike most of her colleagues.

  Martha boiled down the turmoil and felt that the question everyone was asking was if they should continue to dig or to postpone those efforts. On one hand, digging would bring the possibility of more resources along with the possibility of more tunnels to inhabit. On the other, digging may open up more radiation and take away valuable resources and space. As digging has led to both outcomes, the answer is not very clear. The people of the tunnels have always thought digging to be the best and only choice they had while down in the tunnels. But the Rulers have to look at every aspect each choice they make has on the Epsilon Tunnels. Which is why some feel that they should control the population and wait it out in the tunnels while others refuse to control the population and continue to dig their way out of trouble.

  “My Rulers, my Rulers!” A dirt cover man yells as he runs into the Chambers.

  “What is it Citizen?” Martha asks him, as she was the closest to the door. The whole room is silent as the man catches his breath.

  “We found something while doing a routine dig, all of you are going to want to see this!” The Rulers all look at each other and simultaneously get out of their seat as the man leads them down the many hallways that navigate to the Diggers section. They come up to the tunnel that had been dug out for the excavation of soil and other resources. The Rulers cautiously walk down the tunnel. They notice something different about this tunnel. Instead of the tunnel getting darker and darker, the tunnel got brighter! It eventually was as well-lit as the hallways in the Epsilon Tunnels. Only they were not in the Epsilon Tunnels any more. They had stumbled upon a large open chasm with steel floors and steel walls.

  “It took us nearly four days to melt through the steel wall we just entered through.” The Digger that led them says with a sense of accomplishment.

  One of the Rulers asks the group, “Where do you think we are?”

  “This is an old missile silo put up by our government.” One of them answers. “This room is built and laid out just like the missile silo I visited, in a previous life. Not to mention that this place still has electric power! There must be some form of energy generation in this facility.”

  Martha speaks up, “My guess is a small nuclear reactor.”

  “We should get back to our chamber, we have much to discuss.” An old man says while signaling the rest of the group to leave. They all agree and head back to their chamber. The Digger that led them to the location stayed and admired the hole that he and his crew had melted and grinded in the steel wall. He stayed just long enough to hear one of the Rulers call out to him.

  “Close off this entrance and let no one in here until we decide what we will be doing with this.”

  The Rulers had much to discuss. So much so that Martha did not get home until her husband and daughter were fast asleep. Ultimately the group had decided on a plan of action. As one of them noticed that there was still a large missile in the silo, they decided to have a majority of their Maintainers take a look in the silo and see what they could do about scrounging up resources. At the recommendation of the Diggers, they all agreed to allow the Diggers to put their tools and some of their personnel in the silo as they had been cramped for space, more so than the inner districts. The Diggers will not be allowed to dig any further through the silo. They would have to go to the opposite end of their district and continue digging. The Rulers also agreed on a name for this new location, The Epsilon Hole.

  Telling the population of the Epsilon Tunnels was not an easy matter. If the people knew of the vast space available, all of them would try to take some of it. With this in mind, the
population was informed matter-of-factly, the Diggers would store supplies in the Epsilon Hole while the Maintainers would secure the area and possible prepare it for habitation. In this way the people of the Epsilon Tunnels went about their day as if the discovery had not taken place, as they felt that their leadership had the matter under control.

  After the Diggers placed their equipment in the Epsilon Hole, the Maintainers moved in. Among the Maintainers was John and Ezra. John used his connections with the leadership, his wife, to be put on the forefront of this new discovery. John did work on nuclear reactors before he had to move into the Epsilon Tunnels, and he had been hoping for a discovery such as this for quite some time. His daughter was equally excited, it was a new frontier for them to explore. Even though Ezra was only a Maintainer of Electricity for a short while, she was already fairly skilled at it. Her father had been teaching her the trade since she was able to walk and talk. She was more than capable of providing useful assistance to the other Maintainers down in the Epsilon Hole.

  “What do you think about this whole situation John?” A coworker asks as he wipes sweat from his forehead.

  “I think that it is too early to tell at the moment.” John replies with sincerity. The other man nods his head and goes back to grinding away at the locks that conceal the control panel of electrical equipment near the functioning nuclear reactor.

  Ezra curiously asks her dad, “Why are we looking in this cabinet?”

  Her father replies, “Because I think this is where the controls are, the controls that command the nuclear power plant that keeps the lights on in this place.”

  “Why do we need to know what is in there?”

  John smiles, “So we know what this device is feeding power to, and hopefully enabling us to accomplish greater feats of food development and digging capability.” Ezra nods her head, taking all the information in that she could.

  John eventually ends up leading the expedition into the Epsilon Hole. He has the most experience with the equipment and is able to better understand the technology they came across. During this endeavor taken on by the Maintainers, two Rulers who live in the maintainer districts, oversee the progress and report that progress to the other Rulers. One of those that oversaw was Martha. John, Martha, and Ezra all lived in the Epsilon Hole while they discovered what it had to offer.

  The Diggers continue to mine opposite to the newly discovered territory. They are able to push through miles of rock and dirt without disturbing any dangerous chemicals. This is thanks to a thermal imaging camera that they had found in the Epsilon Hole. It allows them to see a bit in front of themselves before they start to dig. They manage to find iron, silver, and other useful metals which they used to do patchwork on the nuclear reactor and the Epsilon Hole in general. The Diggers are also able to find the necessary materials needed to make more concrete! Which they are in desperate need of. It seems that with this new discovery the people of the Epsilon Tunnels would be able to survive and maybe even flourish.

  After the nuclear power source is optimized and the power distributed to allow for faster growth, the Rulers met once more and considered what they would want to do with this new found power. They could further their efforts and continue to dig farther and farther. Or they could stay put and take a well-deserved break. After all, they had enough resources now to allow them the liberty for a few years, until the population began to rise once more. But what about the elephant in the room, or better put, the missile in the room.

  “I say we leave the blasted thing alone and go about our business as if we never found the darn thing.” An older Ruler states while all the Rulers were conducting another one of their meetings.

  “But it is capable of leaving the atmosphere! The few rocket scientists we have confirmed it!” A younger Ruler argues. “You all remember the terraforming project that was nearly completed on the moon. All that was left was habitation by humans. All other amenities were taken care of.”

  Another Ruler speaks up, “That is what we saw on the news, but I am also sure that we are all aware that the news was infamous for providing false hope and deception.”

  “We won’t know until we try! After all, they were just about to send a group of a thousand up there right before the war destroyed the air force base.” Most of the Rulers just sat and thought about the possibilities. Their current living conditions were not ideal. Only Growers have had the privilege of seeing plant life draw nutrients from the ground for as long as they have lived in the tunnels. The group sat idle for a few moments, not making a sound.

  A wrinkled face finally broke the silence with, “If we did turn the missile into a space ship, who would go? And how would they return with the rocket to get more people?” His question was met with worried looks until another person spoke up.

  “There would be no coming back. The makeshift space ship would not be able to re-enter the atmosphere with all the radiation left over from the war. Whoever went up to the terraformed moon would have to colonize it and hopefully advance humanity on a new celestial body, one that we have not destroyed through war.”

  “Who would want to leave guaranteed safety for something that was nothing more than a story on the news many years prior? We would have no way of knowing if the stories are true.”

  “Whoever went would have to take that chance, and be willing to cope no matter what was found.” The room was quiet once again, everyone had a worried look on their face. They must have felt that the risk was much greater than the reward. Most of them did not trust the people bringing them the news, back before the war, enough to believe that they would be able to survive on the moon.

  A woman looks around the room, thinking that no one would want to take such a risk, she states, “Since no Ruler would take up such a challenge I suggest we-”

  Martha cuts off the woman, standing up and saying, “I will go.” The chamber is abuzz with excitement.

  “Even with all the risk involved you would volunteer to lead a landing party on the moon?”

  Martha nods her head, “If there is even a minute chance that humans could live anywhere outside of this concrete jungle I would welcome the risks.”

  The old man who started this meeting shakes his head in approval. “It seems we have our champion. Now, who else will we send with her?”

  “We will tell the people everything we know and hopefully we will get a handful brave enough to accept the challenge.” The Rules all agree and begin discussing their course of action with the goal of building a rocket to the moon.

  The Rulers all spoke with enthusiasm. They decide to not inform the inhabitants until the rocket was built and they were sure that it would reach its destination. They did, however, agree to let the Maintainers in on the secret, as they would undoubtedly be curious as to why they were retrofitting the missile so that it could support life outside of the earth’s atmosphere. A few growers are brought in on the project as well. As they also have extensive knowledge on maintaining human life in hostile environments.

  After much toil and careful calculation, and great help from the Diggers who had been supplying raw materials so that the space ship could be built, the project had come to an end. The rocket scientists, Maintainers of both Electricity and Mechanics, and the Rulers all agreed that this vessel was capable of getting no more than one hundred and twenty-five people to the moon. With this surety, the Rulers felt confident in telling the remaining population about their endeavors, and what it meant for the Epsilon Tunnels.

  Fellow Epsilonian,

  Perhaps you have heard the rumors, or perhaps you haven’t. Either way, all curiosities should be cast aside by this memorandum. As you know, a majority of the Maintainers have been assigned to work in the Epsilon Hole. A detail you may have not known was that a majority of the Maintainers have been assigned to the Epsilon Hole to retrofit a powerful missile into a vessel fit for space exploration! As of the past week, they have succeeded and the space ship is ready to take 125 brave souls to the moon so
that they may cultivate human life anew. If you wish to be among the crew, see district five of thirteen’s Ruler, Martha.

  If you choose to embark, know that there is no return trip and that the dangers are great. It is not fully known, nor can it be known for sure, if humans will be able to survive on the moon. The possibility of the rocket not succeeding and exploding or imploding is also possible. The only glimmer of hope that motivated this decision has been the possibility that the news reports from before the war were accurate, and that the moon was completely terraformed. All necessary training needed for space exploration will be provided once you agree to embark.

  Once again, if you wish to be among the crew, see district five of thirteen’s Ruler, Martha.

  -Rulers of the Epsilon Tunnels

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