The “Lucky” Ones

The “Lucky” Ones

Out of a population of over 10 billion, there are less than 100,000 who managed to escape before their home turned into a nuclear fireball. Within weeks, Earth had cooled into a nuclear radiation-ensconced snowball largely devoid of life. Escapees estimate that around 200,000 are hunkered down underground, but nobody can be sure. It seems that Earth-bound survivors have turned off their communications for fear of an attempted breaching of their fortifications or a follow-up targeted strike. It could also be possible that the explosions and radiation were so severe that there weren’t any survivors — nobody in orbit knows.

This fraction of humanity may be all that is left. Decisions must be made. They can’t return to Earth. They can’t stay in orbit indefinitely — and the lunar bases and Mars outpost can currently support less than 5,000 at best. Many of the crafts that were haphazardly flown out of the conflict were not designed to take trips of more than a couple weeks at best. They certainly weren’t designed to leave the solar system.

Yet, waiting for supplies to slowly dwindle doesn’t seem like an appealing option either. Fortunately, a plurality of the ships that escaped came with water- and food-production modules. While intended to be used primarily in-craft, they could be deployed on lunar or Martian terra.

Quickly, an attache from each surviving delegation confers to come up with ideas. While debate was vigorous and at times quite heated, they all had the same goal writ large: survival. Survival not only of themselves and those within their delegation, but everyone from every delegation — all of humanity. And while it went unspoken, the larger goal was a continuance of the species and the rebuilding of civilization, a home, a future.

Many were struck with the disparity with how the attaches were communicating now — and how they communicated when the whole world as they knew it came to an end. These disparate groups had only weeks ago been engaged in vicious combat that ended in nuclear detonations and radiological fallout — mere days ago. Why couldn’t they have resolved their conflicts then? Why is it that only when the Earth that they took for granted has been radiated, pockmarked with craters, and destroyed that they come to their senses?

While the decision was to let each and every surviving person, family unit, and ship govern itself, the attache panel came up with a plan that resonated with most: some would stay nearby, others would search for a permanent home.

10,000 would stay in the solar system, at least for the time being. By deploying the survival modules, they believe they could quickly double the carrying capacity of the lunar and Mars bases to accommodate an initial population of this size — albeit with some belt-tightening rationing.

To start, surviving spacecraft would be anchored to the surface, docked with each other, and connected to the permanent and pre-existing bases that can accommodate expansion. Once things reach a comfortable stasis, these groups will attempt to rebuild heavy industry that can accommodate spacecraft production and the fuel needed to power them.

“They can’t stay in orbit indefinitely — and the lunar bases and Mars outpost can currently support less than 5,000 at best.”

Should things go as planned, those that remained could follow the initial settling convoy once it was viable. Plans were also devised to send unmanned space drones to Earth once orbital debris had been reduced. They would search for survivors and offer safe passage to the nearby settlements — or ostensibly a trip to the Glieseian star system.

“Arrival” (Part 4 of 6) drops here on 11/4 at 7p.m. EST.