The Worldship Avalon is the first and last of its design. Originally designed before the invention of FTL as a generation ship to colonize the stars. However, with the discovery of FTL, the design was shelved. It was unearthed once again nearly a century later as a novelty for history buffs to ogle over.
Two centuries after its first conception, a ship designer began iterating upon the original design modernizing it in his spare time. Utilizing the latest and greatest that he could, he put everything into the design, bringing it into the modern day. He dubbed it a ‘World Class’ ship, designed to house 10 billion sapients. The new design, while at its core was the same, had Quintupled its tonnage and utilized materials far in advance of the original creators’ conceptions.
Upon finishing his work, the designer put up the design for auction. It sold for a modest sum to a shipyard near the fringe of the galaxy and human territory. The shipyard disappeared a few years later, and no thought was given to it. The World-Class ship’s design, while novel, hadn’t been a popular idea at the time. Most considered it to be an ‘extravagant waste of resources.’ Especially when projects such as the Dyson Swarms would have more significant dividends.
Sixty-seven years after the auctioning of the ‘World Class’ ship designs, humanity found itself on the losing side of an Interstellar war. It had begun waging war against a parasite race that invaded the nervous system of other creatures and bent them to their will.
Humanity was generally speaking resistant to this invasion of their minds. There were exceptions, and some humans found themselves taken captive, prisoners within their own minds and bodies as an alien piloted them about like some sort of fleshy vehicle. However, these were indeed the exception, and due to this resistance, the parasites deemed Humanity an unacceptable risk to their supremacy and began a war of annihilation.
After ten years, Humanity was losing ground. Planet by planet, system by system, the parasites sought the total destruction of every human. And then rumors began to abound of a ship the size of some planets. It was escorted by an advanced fleet of warships, mobile shipyards, and other support vessels. It was going from world to world and evacuating them, sparing them from the slaughter.
And where this ship and its escorts found the parasite’s fleets and armies, it left nothing behind. Fleets turned to scrap and slag before being fed into the processing plants of the mobile shipyards that swarmed about the Worldship as they spat out new ships to join the ranks that guarded humanity’s newest home. Named for the island of myth, it wandered the stars saving all it could. Wreaking vengeance where it was possible.
Gus swung his pickaxe into the wall tearing loose another chunk of ore. He could feel the sweat coating him under the hazard suit. The air from his rebreather was warm and stale, and he could feel the exhaustion from the day’s labors setting in as he raised his pickaxe for another swing.
A crack in the wall appeared where his pickaxe struck, and before he could lift his tool for another strike, a red light appeared in the corner of the visor that covered his face. The signal for his day being finished had finally come. He hefted his pickaxe and began the trek back to the rail. Someone else would come later to collect the ore he’d struck from the passage.
As he exited the tunnel he’d been assigned to, he slowly joined up with other miners. Sparing a few nods and a few quick greetings he listened to their banter as he let his mind drift. Tomorrow was the beginning of his rest period. Three days before he was back to the mines. Except if he was lucky, he wouldn’t be going back.
Just the day before, ships had been landing at spaceports all over the planet looking to recruit able-bodied men and women for service in the Avalon fleet. He didn’t have much technical training beyond what he’d managed to teach himself. Years in the mines had left his body strong though, so he was sure he could find a job as a marine. Anything to leave this hell behind.
Before he knew it, his feet had carried him to the rail line where the mag-train lay waiting. The paint of the old company's logo had long since faded, leaving behind discolorations on the train cars. They were battered from long years of use, but the reliable design and constant upkeep by the colony's engineers had kept many of the trains in service long past their expected scrap date. Nothing went to waste here, for there was nothing to spare.
He shuffled into one of the cars grabbing onto a handhold from the ceiling. The interior of the cars was even more dilapidated looking than the outside. Faded outlines of where seats used to be before those were considered a waste of space and materials. Spaces where viewscreens had undoubtedly been mounted long ago held nothing but empty space or chains for the miners to grab onto.
The ride went by quickly as the train accelerated rapidly along the magnetic tracks that carried it back into the city outskirts. Gus disembarked with the other miners and began the final march to his home.
The streets were clear of debris though not exactly clean. Strange colored stains covered the pitted asphalt that made up the floor of the habitation dome he lived in. Beyond the fake blue skies of the dome he lived in was a nightmarish volcanic hellscape. An atmosphere too toxic to breathe and unlivable temperatures. The only reason for settling this world had been the abundance of easily accessible resources.
Gus finally reached his small single room apartment. Despite his age he had no partner. His genetic material had been stored for potential use later on, but the colony had put forth a strict birth limit and he was very far down the waiting list for starting a family.
He shook the thoughts of a family from his head as he stripped off his protective gear cleaning and then storing it in a small alcove. If anything, not having a family was now an advantage with a branch of the Avalon fleet in orbit and looking to recruit.
Gus grabbed the nearly empty bottle of moonshine and poured himself a glass sipping it as he collapsed into his chair. He grabbed his tablet from the small desk in front of him and looked and pulled up the recruitment appointment he had set for the next day. He’d been lucky to get it as all the appointments for that day had filled up in a flash. To make sure he got one he’d written a short piece of code that did most of the application process for him only requiring a couple of inputs to verify he wasn’t a bot.
There hadn’t been continuing education slots open for him to progress into something that wasn’t hard labor when he’d finished his basic schooling. But that had never stopped him from learning on the side, he may not have been smarter than the handful of people who had gotten the slots instead of him, but he wasn’t stupid either. He knew if he’d been born on another world, or even just twenty years prior that he would have had a much better life.
He sipped again at the moonshine dismissing the thoughts of what could have been and pulled up a newsfeed. He found it filled with nothing, but talk of the Avalon fleet in orbit. He pulled up an article talking about what ships were in orbit. The article rambled on about this and that and various specifications which would normally have fascinated him, but he found himself merely skimming them.
The article concluded that this was a small task force split off from the main fleet. Which meant it would have a very limited capacity for recruits even with most of the ships in orbit being troop carriers. At most only a percent of the planet’s population could fit aboard those ships and more than forty percent of the population had applied.
Gus leaned back feeling his chest get tight. He took a deep breath and let it out. He couldn’t let it get to him, he knew he was getting on one of those ships because he had to. He couldn’t continue to live life as a glorified mining drone.
Gus set down the tablet and took another sip of his moonshine, sighing as he got up and prepared himself a meal. He’d managed to get ahold of some greenhouse vegetables on his last rest day. He turned on the heating element he’d bought last year so he could cook. Then he sauteed the last of the vegetables in a pan with a nutri-cube that he had thinly sliced as if it was a sausage. Not that he’d ever had sausage before, but he’d seen pictures.
Over time he’d found creative ways to make eating his nutri-cube rations more bearable. A little bit of seasoning could go a long way. Greenhouse veggies now and then not only made the meal taste better, but filled him up a little more. He hoped he would get to eat some real food if he was recruited. He shook his head, not if, but when he was recruited.
He sat down with his meal and finished his moonshine along with it. The exhaustion of the day finally overtook him as he stumbled into his narrow bed. A dreamless sleep overtook him granting him some measure of peace.