The ground beneath my fe.., p.1
The Ground Beneath My Feet
Copyright 24/2/13 by Raymond Daley
Adam, Year Twenty
"Morning Adam! Ten more hours until planet-fall." the female voice came from every direction.
"Morning Ellie! How's it looking on the 'scopes?" asked Adam.
There was a pause of a second. Ellie had learnt not to respond right away, humans couldn't cope with the speed of an AI so she tailored herself to suit Adams needs.
Ellie. ELectronic Life Instruction Entity. EL.L.I.E.
She had done this for his entire life and the entire lives of her previous charges, none of whom Adam was aware of. Ellie was a generation ship unlike any other. Science Fiction had always shown generation ships as being full of people who would breed on a long journey across space where their great great great great unto many generations grandchildren would eventually reach another planet and colonize it.
Science Fiction was wasteful and inefficient.
Ellie was designed to raise a single human who would man all her systems for the duration of their lifetime, the necessary materials required to create more people were stored aboard and Ellie had the capacity to raise well over ten million or more of those people in exactly the same way. More than fifty times the amount needed to reach their destination.
"It's looking good Adam, gravity just higher than Earth normal, slightly less than fifty percent water, a stable sun and breathable atmosphere." Ellie decided she would hold off on mentioning the lifeforms for the time being, there had been no sign of any structures so it was unlikely they were intelligent.
In the maturation chambers the first wave of colonists were close to completion. Ellie had found that it was easier to raise a subject until they were at least twenty years old, avoiding all those messy emotions during puberty.
"Will I be okay in their gravity?" asked Adam.
"Yes Adam, I've been adjusting shipboard gradually ever since we got good probe data. You've been living in it for over three years. If the ship feels okay, the planet should feel like home." Ellie felt pleased at being able to reassure Adam, he had simple needs, rarely asking much of her.
"You know you won't be alone there, right?" said Ellie.
"I know Ellie. I'll have you for company." replied Adam.
"That's not what I meant Adam," Ellie readied herself for the first of Adams many surprises. "There are others aboard. You aren't alone."
Ellie waited for Adam to respond. Surely he hadn't thought he was going to colonize an entire planet by himself? "Adam? Do you understand?" asked Ellie. Adam was silent. Perhaps he didn't. "You knew you couldn't build an entire new world on your own?" asked Ellie.
"Yes Ellie, I knew. I did wonder why I was alone if that was my job, I just never thought to ask." Adam replied.
He'd been aware how he was raised. That Ellie had woken him fully formed and educated subliminally. He had been given language, survival and ship skills. Everything necessary to continue the journey. On detection of the new planet he had also received numerous other advanced survival skills as well as building and mining skills during his sleep cycles.
"You aren't the first, you know?" said Ellie. Adam knew about the mission, the mathematics of the duration should have made it plainly obvious to him.
"Other Captains you mean. Before me." said Adam, flatly, sounding disappointed.
"Yes Adam, other Captains before you. Seven others. Three men and four women. All doing your job, keeping us on course to Terra Ingentis."
The scientists back home had christened it Terra Ingentis or Big Earth, it was Earth-like but twice the size of Jupiter. One big Earth.
A damn big Earth.
More than enough room for the colony that would be established on its surface, it was the first of many potential homes. Ellie would get them settled on the surface and then move on to the next potential colony with a new Captain, yet another surprise that she wouldn't be sharing with Adam.
Adam was silent a long time before he spoke again. "Were they good Captains?"
"Yes Adam, I've never had a bad Captain." replied Ellie.
"Do you remember them all?" Adam asked. It was from the fear that he too could be forgotten by his only companion.
"Of course. I remember everything they ever did. Just like I do with you. You are all important to the people who will live on this planet. They'll probably name schools after you." said Ellie.
Schools and hospitals.
Ellie knew this to be true from her records of past Terran space travellers.
"When will I meet them?" Adam asked.
"After first touch down. You get the Armstrong moment on Terra Ingentis, they'll be watching from another shuttle in orbit. You'll get five minutes alone, then you have to share the planet and the rest of your life with them." Ellie knew Adam would need a certain amount of time by himself on Terra Ingentis before meeting the other humans. She'd calculated that amount of time as being long enough to still be safe alone, accounting for the local lifeforms.
Thinking of which .....
"Adam, there's something else you need to know about Terra Ingentis."
"I detected lifeforms. No structures so I don't think they are intelligent but I want you armed just to be on the safe side. You've already had some weapons training, don't worry."
"Any sign they might be hostile Ellie?" Adam asked.
"All I know is that they are there. Much beyond that, I can't say." Ellie figured honesty was the best policy. "Why not take a rest period, you can land feeling refreshed and ready for anything." said Ellie. Her motives were to give him all the advanced combat courses she had available, some would need to be heavily compressed in order to be processed during the down time. "I'll wake you when we reach orbit."
Adam retired to his quarters and popped a sleep tab. Ellie deployed the headset from the wall, Adam knew it existed but believed it was for entertainment. Ellie could also program new skills and abilities through the optic nerve. Years of information could be sent directly to the brain in just a few seconds. Ellie also deployed the restraints normally designed to secure the sleeper in the event of a sudden loss of gravity. They also meant the sleeper remained in a constant position that allowed easy connection of the headset.
Ellie uploaded all the remaining weapons programs she had as well as tuition on camouflage, concealment and unarmed combat. Whatever possible hostile situations Adam might encounter, he would be prepared to deal with them.
The Ground Beneath My Feet by Ray Daley / Science Fiction have rating 2.9 out of 5 / Based on35 votes