"Why are you so nervous?" Freya Ryan asked her boyfriend. He'd been tapping his fingers on the table all though breakfast and now was looking around the deck.
"Why am I nervous? Oh I don't know Freya - maybe because this will be the first shift on the bridge at the same time as the captain!" Julian Ice replied drumming his fingers against the side of his mug.
"You've been on the bridge and piloting this ship since your ascension six months ago!" Freya countered. "And you are a descendant of THE Alexander Ice. You were born to pilot this ship!."
"Yes but the captain Freya! I've always been second or third shift - barely caught sight of him. And as for my ancestry - it was three hundred years ago. You shouldn't put so much stock into it." he said looking toward the cafeteria, still unable to settle himself.
Freya rolled her eyes but smiled at him. "Whatever happens - you should eat a good breakfast first. Doctor's orders." she said as she got up to grab a breakfast plate for him.
"You're not a doctor yet." Julian said laughing. It was the first sign of the anxiety leaving him. His watched beeped twice and he jumped to his feet. "No time for breakfast, I've got to go love!" he said in a rush. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and was moving to leave when Freya grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back for a better kiss.
"Good luck." she said smiling as he left. Her smile faded a bit when the door closed behind him. She scooped up their mugs and put them in the bin to be washed. She waved to Ash Swanson, who was washing the breakfast dishes and made her way toward the medical ward to start her own duty shift.
"The children need vaccinations" Dr. Harry Finn grumbled as Freya walked in to the ward. He motioned to the front desk where a case with files and supplies waited for me.
"Good morning to you too." I muttered at his back and scooped up the case.
It was a well known fact that Dr. Finn hated children and almost every child on board was terrified of him. So I flipped through the files in the case as I walked back out of the ward. Dr. Finn didn't acknowledge my departure in anyway. It was also a well know fact that Dr. Finn hated me - particularly my being in HIS medical ward.
I slipped into the first classroom quietly. The lights were dimmed as the children were watching a recording. Lydia Holloway - the teacher and one my friends smiled at me as I entered and motioned for me to sit. I took an empty seat and turned my attention to the recording. The narrator's voice was that of a female and I instantly recognized the recording from my own childhood history lessons.
After the dust settled from the great world war, Project Unity was put forth as a means to reunite the world governments and to create a lasting peace. Unity, the original ship that now contains Primary Bridge Operations and the Engineering Bay, began being built in 2082 - just one year after the end of the war. Project Leader James Hunt oversaw construction of the entire ship and was instrumental in selecting the various scientists and engineers for the crew. The Project was supposed to unit twenty-five representatives from around the world for a year long space exploration mission.
Three years later the ship was only weeks from launch. The Quuvari, the first alien species to make contact with the people of Earth, invaded with a large force. The war-beaten population of Earth was easily overtaken and decimated by the Quuvari. Half the population was slaughtered, most of the remaining were enslaved. Small pockets in less populated areas were able to run and hide.
The location of Project Unity was far from any major city, allowing it to remain undetected by the Quuvari in the early days of the invasion. James Hunt took the opportunity to scrape together the nearest survivors of the invasion. Hunt took everything he could from the project headquarters for supplies and loaded up the ship with their only means of survival. He and twenty-four other souls consisting of scientists, engineers, assorted staff from Headquarters and an Ambassador who had been visiting at the time of the invasion boarded Unity and launched. The Unity became a life boat for a small band of the human race.
Whether the Quuvari ships didn't detect Unity or simply ignored it, we will never know but we must forever be thankful for efforts of James Hunt, the first Captain of Unity as well as the other crew members who worked together in order to survive.
The lights slowly came up in the classroom and Lydia stepped forward. "Three hundred years has passed since Unity left Earth with only twenty-five passengers. Who can tell me how many people live aboard Unity now?"
A girl next to me raised her hand and Lydia pointed to her. "None." she said with a smile. "Everyone lives aboard the Ark now." she added.
Lydia laughed. "Very true Tessa. The Unity crew realized they could not thrive on the small vessel so they started to expand. In time they collected space debris, parts of derelict ships and eventually they encountered other species in their travels. They were very crowded of course for some time because it took years for the first segment of the Ark. Those original twenty-five people grew...and grew - as did the ship. With passing generations, new segments were added. Now, Tessa, how many people live on board the Ark?" she said looking at the girl who had answered earlier.
"Fifteen hundred." Tessa said confidently. "Give or take a few." she added.
Lydia nodded. "Correct. Each generation adds to the population of the ship and everyone works together so that we continue to thrive." she smiled. "But for your generation to get to add to the population - you have to stay healthy. Which is why Ms. Ryan is here today. Everyone stay in your seats." she said as the children turned to look at Freya. "Turn on your computers and begin reading chapter 3 which talks about genetic diversity and the special significance to our people. When it's your turn, you'll be called."
The kids turned away from me and I could hear the thrum of the computers as they powered up and they began reading. It took Freya two hours to work though all the classrooms and administer the vaccines. She was a little sorry to return to the coldness of the medical ward and Dr. Finn after the happiness of the children.