Mike moved quickly through the corridors back to where he thought he had left his bag . . . only to prove that the ability to navigate light-years does not help when moving meters. “I ‘spose the good news is that it is on my ship.”
He gave up in his quest to to find where his cabin had been and followed the pulsing lights to the nearest escape pod. None of the people inside the pod were familiar but that did not stop him from sitting down and strapping in. He watched as stragglers filtered in, stowing small kit bags, like his own missing one, in compartments as they arrived.
One woman near the hatchway looked up and down the corridor then keyed in an inquiry. The display flickered then went black. ‘Dammit” She leaned out into and yelled with a voice that would carry over industrial machinery. “One minute warning, move it or walk home!”
The man next to Mike laughed. “She means it, too. Helen has never had patience for people with a poor sense of time.”
“Time I can handle, with me it is always finding my path” Mike said ruefully.
“Yeah, so I noticed. You aren’t normally assigned to this craft, least I haven’t ever seen you here during drills.”
‘There is a good reason for that. . . ” Mike was interrupted by Helen shouting “FINE.” and manually closing the hatch and pulling a lever that would launch the emergency boat. Compressed gas and hydraulics fired the vessel even in the absence of power and the ‘chud’ and lurch told them that the basic laws of physics were still in effect even if the ships power was vanishing.
Helen hung onto grips by the now closed door as the lifeboat shot out from its berth. “Normally I watch for the fireworks at this point.”
“Not gonna be any.” Mike said. “Was a total system malfunction, not enemy fire. So no kaboom.”
She looked at him and pursed her lips. “And you know this because . . . why?”
Mike grinned.. “I was in the mess when the Captain gave the orders for evac.”
“Then why are you way down here in a maintenance boat?”
“I got lost trying to find my way back to my cabin. I didn’t want to ‘walk home’ so I took the nearest one, this one. I figure my stuff will still be there when the ship gets picked up so I am traveling light.” Mike shrugged. “So you all are maintenance?”
“She is department head, rest of us are assigned decks, me I am deck seven. That’s why this boat always has empty seats is that some of our people will get out on whatever deck they were on at the time but regs say the boat has to be able to handle the staff assigned to it.” His voice was a little higher than normal and he spoke a shade too fast.
“First time this hasn’t been a drill. You know the numbers. Odds of really surviving and all that.”
“Aye, I’ve seen the numbers.” Mike looked off into the distance. “So why did you sign up?”
“Space . . . we are in freaking space!” The voice calmed a bit. “And the pay, even for a janitor up here, is more than the richest guy in my old quad was hauling down. But this is a vessel that follows the battles and so we stop at all sorts of planets. I have seen bugs bigger than vehicles and wandered out onto parts of a world that nobody else has been to. I may push a broom to pay the bills but I am saving up and someday I am gonna own my own ship.”
Mike leaned back. “Gonna become a capsuleer?”
“Nah. Who wants to be plugged into a ship like some organic component. You know> I knew a guy who worked on a podder boat and said his boss sometimes did not even get off of the ship or out of his quarters when they docked. Man had visited maybe 50 systems and all he did was simmer in his own juices. I don’t want to be one of those.”
‘Not all pilots are like that but probably more than there should be.” Mike nodded. “I know a few who have estates and bases so that they can get out and breathe real air.”
His companion was now staring at Mike. “Holy crap . . . you are one of them?”
“Guilty as charged.”
“Why are you on a stock . . .yours was the pod they pulled up?”
“That too, unless you guys found a few of us.”
“No, just the one. But you talk like a regular . . . I mean you don’t seem to be . . . ”
Helen snorted from across the way. “Just like all us regular folks are not tongue-tied idiots not all podders are megalomaniacs with delusions of godhead.”
Mike grinned. “Only in the kitchen and the bedroom.”
Helen snorted “Gallentes. Oh wait, were you responsible for that three alarm meal?”
“I helped out a bit, showed Benjamin an old family recipe.” Mike leaned back. “Haven’t made that in a long time but some things you never lose.”
“So you have a few million isk and you still cook?”
Mike leaned forward. “Look, it comes down to how much you want to lose yourself. I do know podders who are so far gone they do not know where they end and the ship begins. But I also know some who are trying to cling to pieces of their lives before they got modified. We cannot keep family or friends except amongst our own kind because you all have a life expectancy.”
Mike held up his hand. ‘And that knife cuts both ways. We have to watch you age and die and you have to watch us NOT.” He shook his head. “The immortals dilemma, I read some stuff about it a while back and it started to make me think. Issah said that he was afraid that in making the cloning technology we would be splitting humanity into two distinct subsets.”
“I have read the book of Issah. That is a bit of an exaggeration.” Helen said defiantly.
“Oh, I have read that one, too. I wonder who sanitized it over the years. I read his journal and it was a bit more . . . radical.”
“What journal? Is it some kind of ghost written hackery?”
Mike shook his head. “I have degrees in archeology as well as a few others. It is authentic as far as any test I know applies. No, his work has been diluted over the years, whether by natural meme erosion or by active editing by agencies unknown. Thing is that he saw a lot of this coming and he even had ideas about how to slow it or even reverse the process.”
Mike leaned back, closed his eyes and tried to quote from memory.
Isolated populations then undergo genotypic and/or phenotypic divergence as: (a) they become subjected to dissimilar selective pressures; (b) they independently undergo genetic drift; (c) different mutations arise in the two populations. When the populations come back into contact, they have evolved such that they are reproductively isolated and are no longer capable of exchanging genes.
This has been common knowledge but they key may be that the process can be slowed or revered if contact is reestablished and maintained. The isolation in the context of sentients is completely controllable and should be discouraged at every turn. The best argument for this is the end result of what happens of two species try to fill the same niche. Combat and extinction or even further alteration of one of the species so that they no longer compete for the niche itself.
How would the common man and the immortal clone clash and who would be the victor? What would happen to the other? Would they follow others who have tried to slow the progress of man? Would homo-sapiens follow neanderthals and cro-magnons into the passages of history?
He cleared his throat. “Gods I hope not. So every time you make it ‘us and them’ you are pushing for what Issah feared. At least that is how I read it.”
Helen stared at him stunned. “Where . . .who . . do you have a copy of the book?”
Mike nodded. “I can make you a copy, if you’d like.”
She nodded, numbly.
Will we divide and will we eventually be so far apart that there is no return to our planetary lives?
I cannot find the reference but someone told me they thought that capsuleers were sterile . . .anybody know if this is so? By canon?
fly it like you won it