Sky Journal, Entry 1

November 13, 1 AF

Two hundred, ninety-eight years ago the populations of Earth were destroyed in nuclear war. Why the bombs fell or who fired the first missile has been lost to time. Until a year ago, the only ones thought to have survived the cataclysm were those who were living on international space stations at the time the destruction started.

In the beginning, there were thirteen stations, each holding a hundred people. After a decade or so, the stations began to fight each other for resources. After one of the stations was virtually destroyed, the remaining twelve decided to come together to save the human race instead of drifting aimlessly around a dead planet and fighting each other to extinction. They merged their stations into one they called the Ark. The day they joined together became known and celebrated as Unification Day.

The stations were renamed for the areas of industry they were to house. Agro Station specialized in food and preserving agricultural knowledge, while Mecha Station housed the mechanical school and focused on engineering and repairs. The central hub station, Alpha, became the seat of government for those living on the Ark. The largest of the stations, Alpha held the central medical ward, the communications central command, and the Ark’s police headquarters.

In order to maintain control, a charter was drawn to govern the Ark. The charter called for the creation of an elected council of twelve and chancellor to preside over it. The Council held one elected member from each station, voted into office solely by the citizens of that station to represent their interests. The laws of governance created after the Unification were draconian at best. Strict obedience to the Council Charter was mandatory. Any adult breaking any rule would be subject to execution—floated into space—if found guilty. Anyone under the age of 18 would be put into prison until their 18th birthday. If they could show they had successfully rehabilitated, they were allowed back into the general population. If not, they, too, were floated. Our prison was the last remains of the 13th station, a habitat ward known as the Skybox. This system was to remain in place for 400 years—the length of time necessary for the Earth’s radiation levels to decrease enough to allow for the survivors to descend back to the planet and begin re-population.

Another hundred years and we would have made it. Unfortunately, our life support systems were failing. Their design suffered from an insurmountable flaw. These last few years, as the oxygen levels continued to decrease on the Ark, we were forced to take drastic measures. The Council would secretly authorize the Chancellor to cull the population from time to time. Twenty people here. Forty-five people there. System malfunctions. Quarantined illnesses. The cullings were always reasonably explained to keep the general population from panic, as was the reason for them. Eventually, even that could not save us enough time to fix what was broken.

So we turned to the last resort we had, the planet our ancestors abandoned almost three hundred years ago. In a last attempt to save the human race, we launched a hundred of our children—criminals pulled from the Skybox—down to Earth with monitoring bracelets to discover if the planet’s radiation levels were low enough to be survivable. By the time we received that information, our time was almost out. We dropped the entire Ark to Earth. The stations broke apart upon impacting with the atmosphere. Not all of us made it to the ground. We may have learned from the hundred that the radiation levels would not kill us, but that did not mean we would survive either…

or if we even deserve to…

Sky Journal, Entry 1

ARKFALL Annerdan