Societus - Chapter One by rmburns
Karl Ramsey hated his job. Every morning, he woke up to the dull pulsing of energy turrets outside, destroying rogue asteroids before they could contact the surface of the space station. By decree, he was a greenhand: a caretaker in the vast gardens of the station's Agricultural Sector. In short, he and a few hundred others saw to the array of wild fauna that had been preserved from the Earth-that-was. To Karl, it was menial work with few benefits, but he couldn't feign ignorance in regards to how important the greenery was to the station. Plants represented life and in the cold of space, these shrubs and berries were more precious than any king's bounty.
Karl was born aboard the Ascension; the son of two refugees from the Great Exodus. Nearly fifty years ago, his parents came to the station from the frigid surface of Earth-that-was. They never explained to him how they gained charter, but in a way he really didn't want to know. Those days was brutal for mankind -- every nation having been crippled from the Ice Age sparked twenty years prior. Order and jurisdiction went out the window as millions rose against their own bureaucracies, destroying any administrative body unable to save them from the crisis. It was a filthy business, being tossed into the Stone Age, but the technology of that day allowed a suitable alternative.
"Good morning, Mr. Ramsey." a warm, computerized voice said, erupting from the speaker that perched atop the door leading out into the corridors.
"It is currently 5 o'clock AM on Sunday, the 23rd day of September, 2163."
"Thank you, VICAR." Ramsey replied.
The automated proxy had become quite familiar to him over the years aboard the Ascension. VICAR was a computer module, incorporated into the spacecraft's primary drive. The purposes of the program were numerous, including ship maintenance diagnostics, civil announcements, and maintaining the individual records of each civilian aboard. VICAR was created by a team of researchers and programming specialists from both Oxford and Trinity Universities. For nearly half a century, it had never failed.
"VICAR, load diagnostics, Agricultural Sector - Username K-R-A-M-S-E-Y." the greenhand said, removing himself from the bed and treading the cold, metallic floor to his bathing facilities.
"Voice recognition approved. Sector A-004 Diagnostic initiated..." a slight pause followed from the speaker. "Life levels are indicating 92.43%, a .02% decrease since yesterday. Known malefactors include the following: Rosales Moraceae Morus."
"Moraceae Morus? What could possibly go wrong with the mulberries?" Ramsey asked himself, raising a brow as a certain degree of confusion settled in. Most times the difficulties of one species out of thousands couldn't bring up too much of a fuss from the upper-level management. However, never in Karl's life had the Sector suffered from a .02% decrease. The fact left him with an unsettled feeling.
After finishing up in the shower, Karl Ramsey doned his gray uniform and laced up his dark-leather boots. Before exiting the chamber, he looked up to the speaker that hovered above his door like a vulture.
"VICAR, once I leave, arm the security and send a message to the launderers. My skin cannot tolerate the taycohm powder -- I've told them about this already, yet they continue to use it." he said, a notable element of frustration in his tone.
"Of course, Mr. Ramsey." the digital voice replied.
Karl rose from the bed where he was sitting and grabbed the large, green briefcase that lingered within the corner next to the door. A sizeable graphic of a shining leaf protruded from the side of the carrier, betraying to all the service that Karl Ramsey offered to the Ascension. After opening the door to his chamber, a soft beep resounded, indicating that VICAR had already fulfilled his first order.
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