Irons of Earth

Earth Ark
Eons ago the world was turned inside out and forged the greatest vessel created outrun a dying sun slowly consumed by a singularity–all life on Earth preserved, an old cult rises seeking destruction of Humanity’s new home called Earth Ark. This is a short story based on another story written by me in 1994 as a high school English class assignment. I was about 17 years old then. This continuance of that story was written some time in 2012. I am working on rewriting the original from memory which I titled “Cybersun” where the earth is stripped to its iron core and converted into a gigantic spaceship.

George was off repairing the outer ring wall of Earth Ark, a meteor strike had damaged the antenna array pointed towards Sol and created a 1/4 mile thick crater in the hull. This was routine maintenance for the ring occasionally taking small meteor strikes. The crews were quick to repair the damage done as it happened. There was no end to the supplies of raw iron available from which the ring was constructed to patch the holes and with hundreds of billions inhabiting the ring there was no shortage of labor. An antenna array which was used to study humanity’s old neighborhood now slowly being consumed by a large singularity.

Humankind left the Solar system 5 eons ago in a bit of a hurry, a very long time ago an astronomer detected an object hurtling towards Sol, it was a massive black hole. Faced with oblivion the Earth itself was completely dismantled by humanity to become the grandest star ship in the known universe. In a desperate gamble between either death or continued existence humanity took their home with them forging from the iron of Earth itself a ring and marrying that ring to the modified moon now our only light source through the construction of a laser grid and atomic core departing the solar system before it was too late. Now the earth expands around its artificial star at a radius similar to that of the original binary planet bodies they once were. Centrifugal force is produced by the spin of the Earth ring similar to that of the old planets gravitational pull, the moon tethered to the center spins along with the ring and is an impossible place for humans to occupy due both to the extremely bright burning light and the spin so it is manned by automatics who receive orders from the ring.

Essentially human science figured out a way to turn the planet inside out smearing it in an orbit around the moon to forge the nickel and iron into that massive ring. Using the resources of the rest of the solar system recreated creation itself capable of sustaining humanity for a million years as they searched for new planets to inhabit elsewhere in the galaxy. The moons reactors were powered by hydrogen siphoned from Jupiter which fed light energy to solar panels across the entire interior of the ring. Earth Ark rings artificial sun was an efficient substitute energy source but wouldn’t last forever. The problem with artificial lighting to simulate day and night was solved with liquid quartz arc shielding allowing for half of any section of the ring to be bathed in light while half covered in darkness on the 24 hour cycles every species on the Earth rings surface was evolved to deal with.

The damages to the exterior were relatively easy to repair the meteor added mass to the ring on impact–not as much blew off as was absorbed by the 15 mile thick outer hull. The debris could be collected melted down and reformed to fill the pits created by the hit.

“Good old Earth, she be one durable broad.”, George said to himself as he finished shaving down the craters raised edges.

All nice and smooth the ring would be kept perfectly circular as the debris was melted and shot into the pit by the harvester vessels fusing to the Iron hull while cooling in the vacuum. George stopped for a smoke break in the cab of his trimming vehicle while the filling crew finished up plugging the hole. Then he would go back in to smooth down the lumps. They didn’t mind smoking so much anymore since there was never any shortage of humans, no miracle cures for cancer or illnesses but no shortages of resources either, whatever humanity needed they could scavenge from space, the society is entirely resource based and less worried about who lives the longest Hundreds of billions of folks spread across a giant ring lined inside by organic matter and shielded by miles of Steel and plasma they were not so worried about living long enough just worrying about living as a species.

Life expectancies leveled off around age 60 based on the old solar calendar, so life was short but the quality of life was superb since very few existed who feared death and many took the risks necessary to insure all humanity prospered in their unique situation. From a dying star came a new philosophy based on manifest destiny. Humanity was now prepared to settle on other worlds–they had no other choice, it was that or die. Very few suffered in death unless that’s how they really wanted to go out, pain killing drugs are plentiful and less abused because there is no underground market, more often used by the elderly than by the recreational user, just open lawful distribution, lives can be ended by personal choice–honorably. Even with hundreds of billions of people the inner surface was well spread out giving everyone enough breathing room. The ecosphere was well managed, Earth was the greatest ark–though few knew what the word ‘ark’ originally meant.

The harvesters were finished shooting molten steel and George snuffed out his smoke before pulling down the lever to run his vehicle. Making the surface as smooth as glass, then getting picked up by the ship before switching on the plasma shield to the damaged section hugging the surface like a skin. The ship moved on to the antenna array to repair the damaged receivers. The array was their last connection to Sol, it measured the changes happening in the old solar system as humanity kept watch now from 5 light years distant. Scientists measured the changes in time dilation to help plot course and speed away from old Sol. So far the trip has averaged 1/1000th of a light year per year away but acceleration and time dilation calculations change that figure. In another 5000 years Earth Ark will have traveled twice that. However given observations for outside according to Einstein time tends to move at different speeds depending on the observer especially while still within reasonably close proximity to a singularity as the Earth Ark still is from the viewpoint of non ring observers

Eventually they would reach other worlds and see off into natural horizons, again what they viewed within the ring there was really no word for since no antonym for horizon existed before. From the interior no atmospheric edge could be seen. Earths interior surface stretched on into a haze in any direction viewed-there was a definite width to the ring but it was as wide as 3 of the old continents combined. You had to be close to an edge since the ring curved inward throughout the structure to view anything resembling even remotely a horizon. Still the curvature of the ring distorted the view so much that edge view would never be exactly the same. Casting your view off in any direction in the interior of any sort of what become known commonly as a Dyson construct which includes rings or hollow spheres came to be termed as staring off into the ‘dyrizon’.

This caused the land to blend off into the mist but as you traveled it the dyrizon receded endlessly along the rings curve. You could eventually see something different walking from edge to edge but it was never the same as it was for the ancestors of those occupying Earth Ark. The workers outside couldn’t see much of a horizon working on the outer surface either from the lack of light the fields of stars dominated half their view while the pitch black dominated the other half when working on or close into the surface patching and polishing the Earths massive hull. Most navigation was done by beacon and radar to fulfill the daily repair orders as 3 billion totaled workers took on 8 hour shifts day and night keeping the hull pristine then crossing over to the inside surface. Workers waving at the passing outward vessels to continue the constant plug and polish.
The job could be done with half of that but breaks were important. As brave and bold as the new humanity was about non fear of the individual death maintaining the structure of Earth Arc itself demanded high safety priorities less for the fatigued individual but for the safety of all living things. A fatigued individual on the clock was a danger to more than themselves and downtime for rest and pleasure became mandatory throughout Earth Ark. There was no shortage of fresh labor or resources available, no one needed to work two jobs to support family like on the old earth, a job was considered an honorable service but not having one was not necessarily frowned upon either. George had room to roam for the next three days.

He liked to travel the Earth Ark with his time off with over a half of a billion cities across its expanse even in ten lifetimes he likely wouldn’t have a chance to visit them all. George damn sure would try. If he resigned from the maintenance team he might find enough time to visit maybe a couple thousand long enough to enjoy their attractions, but as much as he liked the interior and exploring he loved the view from the outside. Few people actually got to see the stars. The shielded night sky of the interior was blank-another disadvantage of living on a world turned inside out. At night looking up at the sky wasn’t such a show. In the daylight at least there were the clouds to play shapes.

George was booked for a pleasure excursion in Langrad approximately 320,000 kilometers away counter clock from his house. The trip would take a couple of hours via subsurface tube train, George packed his bag grabbing ski boots and a parka. No need to pack too heavily it was only a couple of days and skis would be available. Langrad city has one of the finest known constructed ski resorts across the entire Earth Ark. It was a huge attraction for billions of people year round. Competition was still common even in the resource based society, not for the sake of monetary greed because there was no reason to use money, but rather through prestige gained with how the resources were used to service and please humanity during this long trip.

George arrived at the ski resort greeted by its hosts as if he were royalty, all Ark citizens got exceptional treatment at the resorts of course, but they rolled out the red carpet for the vacationing maintenance workers as theirs was an honored duty. Of the billions of visitors throughout Earth Arks recreational offerings only a fraction of a percent were workers from outside the ring. The ski resort only saw three a week on average from George’s chosen profession. He would be pampered, wined, dined, and thoroughly pleasured by the house mistresses for the duration of his stay all in appreciation for his years of contribution.

In the dining hall occasionally you could hear a toast being raised when guys like George entered the room, “A cheer to the worker!” they would say.

George wasn’t too crazy about all the attention and would rather keep to himself, choosing the least traveled paths around the resort city finding a private secluded slope away from the crowds. Skiing down checkpoint to checkpoint stopping for a hot tea and viewing the dyrizon stretching upwards into the blue mist all around him. One last run and he would make the resort before dusk, having traveled 20 miles of slopes setting the resort distance record. George would partake of the pleasures of the resort the next day in private, having his meals and company sent to his room for his remaining time there.

A young lady came to George’s room that next morning to greet him. She was quite pleasing and attentive to George’s needs, as breakfast was delivered George invited her to stay and eat. The conversation carried on until noon as they lay on the bed–mostly the girl asking questions about what it was like on the other side of the ring, but eventually the conversation steered toward old philosophies.

“Ever hear of the Crossers George?”, she said.

As he spooned out his grapefruit and replied,”Only in folklore, I think. They were bent on ending us all I recon–supposedly behind the attacks on Earth Arks original construction, but they were rarely called that aside from their own circles, everyone else called them Doomers”

She began again after sipping her Orange juice “They wanted eternal life though, didn’t they?”.

Putting down his toast,” I suppose so, but to expect any such favors form the deity be foolish and useless.” He paused and finished swallowing,”Life was given a gift from the point of the creation of the universe we should expect nothing more from it than to use what we get of it.”

He then pushed away his plate and continued,”They were beyond disappointed that their perceived promises had been kept from them, they eventually saw the end of Sol as the end of humanity and took every action they could to stop humanity from attempting to save itself. Through sabotage and subterfuge, These Crossers as you call em stood in the way of our gift for survival only in the end to shrink away.”

“Are you sure none are left?”She asked.

“Only as the woogie boogies in kids nightmares, I’m sure” George responded.

They still existed, but not in children’s dreams. The cult was small consisting of only a few million followers at its core. Far from the proportional strength in numbers before Earth became Earth Ark, They continued to plot and scheme for the end of humanity as they believed the deity willed seeing happen and saw humanity surviving as a vile affront to their God’s plan for the faithfuls eternal life. They believed they would not rest in eternity until humanity had ended which was interpreted as the divine solution. This few million were sparsely spread across the Ark causing destruction where they could, but rarely noticed or recognized since such destruction was too small in scale to effect the hundreds of billions of Earth Ark inhabitants. Violence was nothing new, even the open resource based economy didn’t solve everything.

There still existed rivalries, theft of personal property, domestic abuse, drug abuse, mental illness, pollution and so on. So the need for constables and basic governments to regulate certain aspects of society was still paramount–nothing was strictly prohibited of course but the societal structure was still there to keep Earth Ark regulated appropriately.

The drafting law was the most unique though. Rather than electing representatives for the Ark districts choosing from those who wanted political power and authority running for an office, a system of lotteries was enacted which the people chosen to represent were selected randomly from throughout the populace–many were never too happy about being chosen for the service, but managed serving with distinction until the next lottery drafted their replacement. George was among those randomly drafted twice in his lifetime for two each of a single year term in political office, not the record holder–that distinction was held by a man named Charlie Marx who a thousand years before had been drafted a record 19 non consecutive terms who also pushed through legislation for limiting the lottery to 3 terms after becoming so sick of the on again off again job. very few were happy about politics, but when chosen did their duty diligently.

George didn’t remember much of the rest of the day spent with that young lady following their philosophical discussions into the afternoon, he awoke the next morning a little drowsy. Time to pack and check out. Heading home he felt a little dull pain in his lower back, but it went away after the tube train stopped near his house.

The surgical scars were unnoticeable, while George laid in the private resort room drugged unconscious by his guest she skillfully removed his right kidney and implanted something in his abdomen. The only indication of its existence was when George was in high speed motion, and then it only caused a slight twinge of discomfort. He readied himself for his shift that evening, unaware that he was carrying a shape charged high yield nuke inside his guts. Designed to make a big enough bang to cut into and damage the stable structure of the entire Earth Ark taking the hundreds of billions of lives with it as it crumbled.

On the trip around to the outside George could feel the dull pain again, but thinking it must be gas ignored it since he was fine. Once finally landing near the harvesters and shaping vehicles he felt better again but just a little bit warm. Time was running out as work began on new meteor strikes 2 hours in the dull pain returned and turned warmer in George’s gut. Unknown to the Doomer who had planted the device however work on the outside was conducted in pitch black conditions with very little cab lighting everything was done by radar, but few who lived inside Earth Ark ever questioned that detail since it was really such a small thing that they never really knew.

George began to sweat as he noticed the cab getting mildly brighter. An eerie yellow glow flashing away in the cab of his vehicle set off alarms in George’s head the glow was coming from him–his back began to feel hot. George was on fire from the inside as the reaction began, his internal organs cooking beneath his skin he reached out for a switch launching his vehicle off the surface of the ring to get it as far away as possible from Earth Ark as he could, the light flashing in his stomach began to glow flashing red as George’s eyes shut–his vehicle tumbled into the endless void.

The nearest harvester reported having seen a bright burst of light from the direction of the crab nebula. The explosion approximately situated 2500 miles from Earth Ark caused the shock wave to hit resulting in mild quakes within the ring, before receiving one last message from George over the radio saying,”B’ware O’ them Doomers!”

George wasn’t even consciously aware he made that last transmission after his eyes closed, his finger flipped the transmit switch body burning bright white and got that much out of his throat just seconds. before detonation.

The nightmares of the children of Earth Ark had arisen once again.