Author: Alastair Millar
“All of you are now old enough to learn, children. So hear how it was, and is, and will be.” The Elder settled himself into his chair and smiled benignly. He had his audience’s full attention: it was rare for grown-ups to take them seriously, and this felt like a first step into adulthood.
“In the beginning, there was nothing but formless void. The Prime Movers had no form or substance but took the void, and shaped it through their will, creating the Over-heavens and the Under-hells and all the Worlds Between. The planets, and the stars, and the galaxies, they created them, and blessed them, making every one unique.
Then the First Ones looked upon what they had wrought and took took counsel, saying “this thing we have made should not be empty”. And so each according to their own designs made beings to fill the universe – some great, and some small, some that walked, or swam, or flew, some that were bound to surfaces or planes, and some which traversed the void; they were endless in their variety, their number beyond count.”
Young faces made O’s of wonder as they tried to encompass all of what he was saying; it was beyond their imagining.
“A few among those creatures they made capable of abstract thought, so that by being aware of themselves they might also comprehend the greater glory that surrounded them. And some of these Sentients see the truth of Creation and worship their own Creator, or the assembly of Creators, while others are blind to that truth, and seek to forge new paths on their own. Who can say which bring greater joy to the First Ones, whose intentions are ineffable?
To everything a span is given, whether it be short or long. Lifetimes are measured in the revolutions of fragile planets that themselves orbit suns which are not immortal. When it became clear that our Earth was doomed, our leaders created this Generation Ship; an apt name, for it took an entire generation of the planet’s best and brightest to design, and another to build.
Your parents’ parents’ parents left their homeworld behind them, and set out into the galaxy. They were not afraid, because they knew that others awaited them in the Great Beyond. Perhaps it will even fall upon you to find them. This, then, is our place and our mission: to find other races and species, and to take our place in the family of Creation”.
He beamed at them, and answered their excited questions for another hour.
The grey-haired Captain smiled as he watched through the ship’s discreet but ubiquitous surveillance network. His old friend had made no mention of the real reasons for their exile: horror at the short-sighted greed that underpinned a series of cold and hot wars, despair as entire populations were forced into migration by shifting climates, and desperation as competition for the planet’s dwindling resources increased even while science was held up to ridicule, and its practitioners scorned.
As young men they had rewritten the general curriculum for the passengers’ children, and rejected inflicting their forebears’ bitterness on the young. Better to give them a different story, and a new purpose. Let them forget.
The great vessel powered forward into the emptiness, birthing belief, breeding hope.