Hyrenas

by EN Auslender

The wisest man on Earth once said, “love is at the center of all relationships, love or the lack of it”.

When we leapt so far into the future with eager anticipation, we could only conceive of the hardships that would await us; there were plans upon plans, contingencies upon contingencies, anything and everything to validate beyond a reasonable doubt that where we were headed was right and that we would, above all else, succeed where mankind had failed. Earth had reached its tipping point, we were told: the droughts, the floods, the hurricanes, the heat, the famines all forced those with the ability to move to a more habitable area to do so. Those with the bare minimum of life and limb received it in their support shelters, and those without, didn’t need it.

Everything turned inward and downward, away from spreading mankind onto other worlds. Dreaming of a better future died before the risen tide, but with the cataclysmic loss of life and farming ability no one could be blamed for suggesting that space could wait while humanity sorted itself out.

But then it never truly did. Those who benefited from the cataclysm just kept building on top of one another with nary a tree to breathe. With wealthy countries walled off and refusing to aid, it seemed they wanted to wait for humanity to filter while their own fortunate few survived and thrived. I suppose the shock and mundane occurrence of extinctions dulled the senses into believing this was simply how it would be.

And then those of us who still dreamed determined there was another way, a better way, and a star with a habitable planet was found not too far from Earth. A ship was built in secret, a generational ship that would run on fusion until something better could be concocted by the 5000 scientists and engineers recruited into the Hyrenas project. Earth wasn’t going to change, and no educated opinion could make a difference. Everything was leveraged against short vs. long-term costs, where short ultimately had the final say. Staying meant resigning ourselves to impotence while we watched those with exploit those without. Hyrenas, we were told, was humanity’s next great dream.

It was so named by the creator of the project, nuclear physicist Aleksander Torgssen: Hy-, his daughter’s nickname, and –renas, Swedish for ‘purify’. The ship took all his life to construct in hiding, and though it was finally christened in his 98th year, he took the journey up into and beyond orbit in our vessel of hydroponics and nuclear power. Before his death near the orbit of Jupiter, he left us Edicta Hyrenas, the supreme law of the new human race:

  1. To all of Hyrenas, give;
  2. For all of Hyrenas, give;
  3. With all of Hyrenas, give;
  4. For all of Hyrenas, succeed;
  5. With all of Hyrenas, succeed;
  6. Within Hyrenas, know all;
  7. Without Hyrenas, know all;
  8. Within Hyrenas, love all;
  9. Without Hyrenas, love all;
  10. To life itself, spare no love.

The botanists worked artificial night and day to cultivate and accelerate crop growth. The mechanical engineers facilitated fluidity for the ship’s systems, and maintained its upkeep. The nuclear engineers and physicists tinkered to increase the engine’s efficiency. The theoretical physicists searched for methods by which the ship could move faster through space. The astronomers identified planetary bodies along the journey within a lightyear’s radius that indicated either sources of mineral ore or water. The computer engineers fine-tuned and monitored all processes, ensuring that all functioned as it should. The doctors and surgeons ensured all people maintained their health, and conferred with the astronomers to search for planets that could possibly harbor nutrients not grown on the ship. All was organized and coordinated through a representative group with ten members from each expertise. There, those with the most panache, rather than the most experience or credentials, held sway. But as all represented the very best of humanity, there was no fear of conflict.

Though when the mechanical engineers needed to take the radiometric sensors offline for several hours in order to shunt power to the nuclear physicists testing a more efficient engine, the astronomers and botanists grew angry- they were charting the structure of a just-discovered and possibly life-sustaining planet whose atmosphere was filled with phosphorous, and in the span of the downtime the planet would pass from the periphery of scanning range. They brought the complaint to the group. Arguments ensued: the engineers and physicists had the right to test immediately because a more efficient and powerful engine meant they not only would have more power to distribute across the ship, but they would reach their ultimate destination faster. The botanists and astronomers argued that phosphorous is one of the most essential and rarest elements in existence, and not taking the time to study that planet was an affront to Hyrenas. But then again, taking the ship to the planet meant adding 10 years to the journey, if not more.

The botanists and astronomers didn’t win the day.

Spite lurked beneath the doctrines, as it seemed the work of some was valued more than the work of others regardless of how integral everyone’s work was to the survival of the mission.

When the first child was born, the community of 5001 celebrated as one, all arguments temporarily put aside. The boy was named Aleksander Ngata, son of Koji and Mara Ngata, two theoretical physicists. One member from each profession volunteered to become teachers to the future wave of children.

Thus, a new class was born.

Within two years of Aleksander Ngata’s birth, 207 more children were born. In another year, 320 more. 6 months from then, another 518. The Ngatas broke the seal on the awkwardness of whether or not to have children on a spacefaring generational vessel, and many indulged in the proclivities of intimacy. They were, after all, working in close quarters day after day for hours on end; one could hardly blame them.

Though the computer kept an electronic record of the crew’s logs and work, Kaloshka Jindo volunteered to become the ship’s historian. He would act as the narrator for both the present and the past, and would teach children the history of humanity and the history and future of Hyrenas, and why they were the true evolution of humanity.

Within and between the throes of passion and triumphant heartbeats, theoretical physicists Yael Hernandez and Kira Nathanson realized in their post-coital clarity that fifth-dimensional space contained a membrane of ‘friction’ that prevented 3-dimensional objects from entering and viewing reality in 4 dimensions; that frictional membrane, however, could be utilized as a ‘motorway’ on which a 3-dimensional object can ‘ride’. Given the super-state energy required to enter fifth-dimensional space, it would take a fraction of that energy (the gravitational energy of a black hole, give or take a supernova) to tap into that membrane.

In essence, it was the theoretical express lane of the universe. The issue was generating the energy needed to pierce through the layers of space. They conferred with the astronomers about theoretical ‘wicked matter’, possibly existing as something tangled and torn between the Roche limits of two tangoing black holes.

The astronomers wanted extra power to the sensors to fine-tune their capabilities to detect the exotic theoretical matter. The engineers agreed.

The botanists became resentful. They brought their complaints to the council. They felt they weren’t receiving the due respect the engineers or physicists were whenever the question of the engines were raised. All other professions stated that the engines were the single most important function on the ship: they provided the thrust, the warmth, the air, the water, the light. Without the engines, the plants wouldn’t grow.

But without the plants, Hyrenas would die.

The physicists and engineers decided, in order to avert taking blame for such things, a single person could act as the ‘captain’ to arbitrate decisions. They sold it to the botanists as having someone to prioritize decisions, which was acceptable enough.

Sajavin King was chosen. A ‘polymath’ trillionaire on Earth, the 56-year old held several honorary doctorates from prestigious Earth universities. His fortune came from discovering and securing underground freshwater lakes, which then evolved into locating and mining phosphates, a key nutrient in agriculture. Much of his time on Earth was spent ‘developing’ technologies to facilitate food production in famine-stricken areas. Much of the food didn’t reach those affected by famine. King, and similar others on the ship, used their money to fund Hyrenas, and very few of the botanists, physicists, engineers, doctors, etc. knew much about King besides the proclamations in the news that he was going to solve world hunger.

Kaloshka Jindo began researching King, if just to have a good preface for the biography of the ship’s first captain.

Given King’s reputation as a ‘man of science’, the professions were generally satisfied with his approach to governance. Time was doled out evenly; disputes were arbitrated in what seemed to be a fair way.

But others who had exploited Earth in order to secure a place on Hyrenas took him as a sign of a return to old ways. In total, 6 people who had also used their incredulous wealth to fund Hyrenas discussed between themselves what it meant to have him atop all others. The 6 already sat on the council, able to insulate themselves from the hard work of the professionals, but they wanted more. A year, two years passed with only quiet discussion between them.

Jindo discovered King’s Earthly exploits, and privately questioned him before bringing his concerns to the council. In what Jindo described as a moment of pure contrition, Jindo noted that King stated, “the goal was always to survive, on Earth… stronger than others, healthier, to secure more than everyone else for our own. I threw all my money at Aleksander. I wanted to leave Earth a poor man. I deserved to, for all I did. I didn’t deserve to leave though. I’m a coward. But at least I can do something good here.”

King told Jindo he could bring his knowledge to the council, but Jindo didn’t. It was the 6, through listening devices in King’s office, who did so anonymously. Though some on the council were suspicious of King’s contrition, there was unanimous agreement to keep silent on the matter to the public. On that, the 6 capitalized.

Word immediately spread of King’s Earthly misdeeds. It didn’t take long until the people, in motley groups, demanded King step down from his position. Some demanded he be put in a maintenance craft and dropped off at the next barely habitable planet. Others demanded he be kicked out an airlock.

The council convened, and recommended to King he should step down. King declined. He still had support, he argued, and he wasn’t wrong. Many in the council desired to be rid of him. The members of the 6 spoke publicly about King resigning, and rallied support around themselves.

Surrounded by confusion and dizzying worry, Jindo went to King’s residence one night to apologize and attempt to clear the air on what happened. Several hours later, both Jindo and King were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

It was then that the first Hyrenas Juris Circle was created from volunteers appointed by the 6. Given the evidence presented to them, that Jindo had gone to King’s residence to reveal himself as the person who discovered King’s past, King murdered Jindo in a rage and then, realizing he had sealed his fate, committed suicide by hanging himself with his belt.

The reality of the situation is unknown. However, the next captain of the ship was Boris Jensen, who had the fervent support of the 6, and the second historian was Lilia Malloukis, a member of the council and suspected affiliate of the 6.

The truth of Hyrenas is a lie: many give to it, but a few hoard most. Many love it, but not as much as the few love themselves. Many know those within, but the 6 know all.

Historian of Truth
Genevieve Jindo

~

Bio

EN Auslender is a self-flagellating scribbler of half-truths and consternation that lends itself only to a deeper understanding of superficiality. Sometimes he writes coherently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

A Reflection on the Achievement of Gene Wolfe, with Gregorian Chant Echoing Offstage

Next Story

The Arms of the Gods

Latest from Fiction