I can’t remember feeling quite so motivated to action since my first decision to leave Earth, but looking at the situation that my home world was in now was extremely distressing. It was one thing to predict the end of the world and take action to avoid it; it was entirely another thing to see it actually happening and not be in a position to do anything about it. That wasn’t entirely true though. I was past the point of no return as far as travelling to Earth, but it wasn’t impossible for me to take action. My actions were just limited, is all.
I spent the rest of Wednesday gathering my information and putting it together in the best ways I could think to. I even tried to adopt some techniques that the major media corporations had used to present information in a more compelling way than it actually was. I wrote down my bullet points and put together a loose script to go with my ‘slides’ that would be in screen while I spoke. I even bothered to make sure an image of me speaking was in the corner as I addressed my planet. It was only a matter of actually performing.
It’s unlikely that I’ll get a response this Cycle. I wasn’t even sure if the people who were working at our facilities on Earth were as reliable and courageous as the ones who did last cycle, or even when we left. It had been sixty-eight years already, so I couldn’t imagine any of our original employees were still working there, they had to have retired long ago. I could only imagine the types of young people that had to be coming up these days, let alone the ones willing to risk their lives working with the ‘Traitors of Earth’. Hopefully they found a way to leak my message to the people of Earth, otherwise I was just barking in the dark.
Working with T.I.A. it was a remarkably quick process to put the presentation together. All I had to do was talk in front of the designated camera. I hoped the ‘ancient’ level of visual quality of what once were top-of-the-line cameras wouldn’t offend too many people’s aesthetic senses.
“Greetings, people of Earth. My name is Hawthorne Crenshaw. A week ago, for me, I left our mutual planet of birth, and I have been observing the events and trends of Earth that have been happening since our expedition left. Obviously I will not tell you where we are at the moment, nor where we are going, considering the terms by which we parted company, but please understand that I did not set about leaving maliciously. I foresaw the turmoil and destruction that you’ve already seen, and more that has still not come to pass. I fled in fear of the ultimate results of these trends, fear not just for my own wellbeing, but for Humanity as a whole and Earth.”
I looked to the side to double-check that the proper graphs and charts were on display before speaking up again, feeling that I looked as persuasive as I could in a classic doctor’s coat. I needed to look into how medical fashion had evolved, if at all. “Humanity is on a track to destroy its own civilization on a global scale. The powers that have taken control of the world, despite how they tell you of what kinds of gifts and securities you will receive under their rule, are jealous and greedy corporations. More importantly, they are humans who have reached a point where their only rivals are other powerful corporations, almost all of which have some manner of cataclysmic destructive powers under their commands.”
“I can understand why it is that you’ve cooperated in this takeover. You no longer have to worry about where you’re going to live, or about how you’re going to eat. Work is something that you do for the love of it rather than to be productive, all while machines do everything for you and your masters. You must understand, though, that this makes you expendable. Worse, from a corporate mindset, you are drains on the economy. The machines only need so many people to maintain them, and eventually there will be machines to do that as well. Humans have become pets of their corporate masters, responsible only for circulating wealth through the economy and entertaining each other while keeping each other in line. It sounds like a life of ease and plenty, and evolutionarily speaking it is an ideal situation to find oneself in.”
Images of past tragedies were be flashing on the screen now, some being long past and others remarkably recent. My people had at least done well to gather information before it could be scrubbed from the internet, which had become a lot more fractured and bottlenecked between regions. “The people at the heads of these companies are ruthless competitors, Alpha humans with no intent to either give up their power, nor admit inferiority to others with the same levels of power. The heights of power that they have ascended to will not be enough for them. They have proven ruthless and ravenous in the past, and there’s no reason to think they’ve stopped. In very recent history, you must try to remember, they took aim at your countrymen and brutally seized power. The casualties may have been light, but there is no mistaking the level of cruelty used to achieve these aims.”
“This would probably be fine if this is as far as it goes. If these corporations can live together in peace and take care of the planet and humanity better than past generations have, there might just be a long-term future for this instance of human civilization. This will not be though. Within a decade these same powers will re-open hostilities, and they no longer have to worry about public opinion or governmental regulations to control their actions. They have nearly absolute power, and until they achieve absolute power in total, they will not be content. You will be victims of their greed as one corporation opens fire, forcing all the others to open fire lest they risk being overtaken. Please see this appeal to reason and don’t let this happen.”
“You took our families, but time would have likely taken them by now, if not soon. We knew we would never see them again. We largely had made peace with this by the time we left.” I did my best to wrestle the tears from my eyes as I felt them moisten and the screen blur. “But please do not think that we hate you, or resent you. We wanted to be the backup plan for if our race were to encounter calamity enough to wipe out civilization on Earth. It is horrible that you’ve ended efforts to colonize the local solar system in the wake of our departure, and if you really are as close to destruction as I think you are, you need to understand that the last of humanity to survive will effectively be flying a paper airplane into a hurricane. We might make it out on the other side, but there can be no guarantees at this point.”
“There is a good chance our mission will fail. The dangers we must surmount to achieve our goals are unknown to a degree that if we really do end up being the last of humanity, we might be the last of it to die. I have dedicated my life to shepherding my people to try to make sure that humanity doesn’t die out cold and alone on Earth. I believe it is the Great Filter that we have encountered and we are doing our best to escape its destructive wrath.”
An explanation of the Great Filter appeared on the screen that would go through the basic concepts of it. This was information that was more than a century old, but at this point I imagine that the people of Earth were likely ignorant of it due to censorship. I did not neglect to learn about it though, and I did my best to explain the concepts to them. “Humans have never encountered aliens from other planets. It is increasingly likely as we advance that we never will. It is possible that is because the Great Filter has weeded out all levels of evolution before they reached the point of history we now live in, but I believe that we are right on the cusp of it. I believe that the reasons we haven’t encountered interstellar life is because it is the nature of life to self-destruct before it can leave their planet and spread life to the dead worlds.”
“Evolution seems to be the culprit in this seeming eventuality. The things that allow life to come about and advance are the same things that can endanger it. Fear and competition has served Humanity well for millions of years, but now that humans wield the destructive forces of nature itself those former allies can become enemies. I am not trying to say that they are enemies, but if they’re not properly considered, then far greater destruction than has come from them in the past is likely. Before, if you feared another nation was going to eventually overtake you in power, you could kill a few thousand of them and knock them down a peg, but the kinds of weaponry Earth has access to now would mean that that reaction will cost millions or billions of lives! There’s no reason to think that it would stop there though.”
“One would hope that the awe and fear that would result in so many deaths would temper Humanity into thinking such a thing could never be allowed again, but the way that the nationalized corporate media downplays everything awful and tries to erase all signs of anything horrible that has happened while keeping people focused on inane and unimportant things will keep the emotional impacts from happening. If you allow this to happen, then you make it look acceptable to use such means in global conflicts. If you allow those means to be used, you will damage the planet to such a degree that human civilization as we know it will fall. Who knows if the challenges that are required to reclaim such a world would be within your means? Can such soft and sedentary people really be expected to survive in the fallout of such destruction?”
“I will watch on in hope that you come to your senses. I can only hope this message can sober the minds it needs to to help you get back on track. I dream that one day a more advanced Earth will intercept us and speed us on our journey to our new home. Hell, if that were to happen then I’d gladly allow myself to be brought to judgement for my actions, but if that will ever happen then you need to survive. I will be here in the sky, watching down on you, and if you wish to seek my guidance or aid, I will respond. I may have abandoned Earth, but please know that I have not abandoned Humanity.”
A few seconds of silence hung before I tapped a touch screen to end the recording. I hung my head and rested my body forward on my palms on the counter as I tried to recover from delivering such a message. Was I speaking to my people on their deathbed? Were they too drugged up to truly comprehend what was happening? What would the last Will and Testament of Humanity even look like if they responded to me? Would they slap my outstretched hand away in hate, or forgive me for my perceived betrayal? Hell, could my message even reach them before the destruction came?
All I could do was wait and see, and get back to work. “Tia, please transmit the message to our facilities on Earth, as well as any communication satellites that we can detect around the planet in an effort to reach as many people as possible. It is safe to assume that the individual nations can’t be trusted to share it with each other.” I hoped to see some kind of response before I went back into stasis, but at the moment I needed something else to focus on. A pair of damaged solar panels rested on the ground, and it was only at this point that I felt like I could spare the attention to deal with them.
Settling down before them with gathered tools I set to work. Despite the modular nature of the panels, it was remarkably difficult to unfasten and dislodge the damaged components. A piece of super-hard glass had been damaged enough to leave a particularly sharp edge, which damaged one of my work gloves pretty thoroughly before I managed to work around it. It felt good to work with my hands, to pry apart the delicate components, and to set aside hopelessly damaged parts. One shield ended up looking somewhat checkerboarded as the pitted, pockmarked panels were removed, and the other one had a huge chunk of the central panels removed. Looking all the individual parts over, it felt like they could be recycled, but that would require accessing some machinery from the storage that did not feel vital at the moment.
T.I.A. had correctly estimated the number of replacement panels I would need, having a good understanding of what levels of damage were acceptable, and I only ran into a few speed bumps in replacing the damaged components. There were a few wires that gave me a hard time, and one of the panels needed a little extra work to get it to fit into place, but by the time I had finished working on then both shields were shiny and smooth again, ready to be utilized for the remaining time they were needed before we were out of range of Sol. After that point other methods would be needed to power the ship, more points of failure to account for.
I worked well into the night, not getting to bed until late, dragging my exhausted self into bed with the two panels looked like they were new, shining and gleaming and ready to resume their intended purpose. T.I.A. took them away through the cargo lift in the floor, and looking out one of the windows I could actually see one of the long robotic arms withdrawing them from the hold and wielding them outwards. They were almost all arranged back towards Sol, sucking up what energy they could. They would be more than adequate for now, but as our distances grew it would be difficult to keep the ship powered with them alone. Thankfully I’d already had a number of plans in place to replace solar power for the majority of our journey. It was also fortunate that our destination was a binary star system, meaning we should be able to recover solar power much more quickly than we lost it.
The worries of my eventual future seemed to pale in comparison to the immediate future of Earth. Would my planet go silent for the first time in centuries? Would we be all that was left? I was certain I would know sooner than later.