Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Microstory 1623: Death in a Vacuum

Vacuumverse, as I think I’ll call it, is another really weird one. It started out as a normal version of Earth. History came with hardships, war, death, beauty, advancement; everything you would expect. The world ended rather abruptly, and though humanity lived past the planet’s destruction, it too came to an end. In space, there is no up, or down. Because of gravity, it’s more like in and out. You’re either letting it hold you against the nearest sufficiently massive celestial object, or you’re trying to resist this gravitational pull. Most of the time, this works just fine, and it’s totally predictable. By measuring an object’s mass and density, you can figure out how strong of an attraction it will have on some other object. The math is hard to reach, but easy to fathom. In this case, the sun orbits the center of the galaxy, while all its orbitals revolve around it. Every inhabited universe operates in this way. Some others have alternate fundamental constants, but we’re not worried about this, because they don’t support life very well. Something changed in Vacuumverse. Maybe it was a black hole, maybe it was artificial, I don’t know. But something suddenly altered the orbit of Earth. If you were looking at the solar system from a distance, keeping the orbital plane in a horizontal position, you would see the planet fall down towards an imaginary floor underneath the whole thing. In fact, you would see all of the planets doing that, as if the sun simply stopped having any gravitational impact on its orbitals, and something underneath them took over. It was still there, but nothing was attracted to it anymore. Like I said, it’s weird, because it should be impossible. That’s not really how gravity works, so again, I can’t say what happened. Obviously, since it was no longer being supported by a host star, the Earth started becoming inhospitable. It’s a good thing a few people knew that it was coming, and had a plan. It wasn’t a particularly good plan, and it didn’t quite work out in the long-term, but I suppose it was the best they could do on such short notice. Or maybe they just didn’t try hard enough.

These people couldn’t save everyone, but they did save a few, and the way they chose to save them was just as strange as the cataclysmic event itself. Much like the Bicker Institute in Bickerverse, those in the know sought out people with healthy and compatible genetic codes. They figured that the survivors would need to be able to restart the population at some point, and they wanted to maximize their chances. As we’ll find out, their plans were hopeless. They gathered these lucky survivors a few different ways, usually by sending them subliminal messages, but also sometimes through good old fashioned kidnapping. They protected them through vehicles and aircraft retrofitted to survive the vacuum of space, and be completely self-sufficient, using advanced solar power technologies. Some were even protected in a bubble that surrounded a big parking lot. Don’t ask me to explain that one. What they didn’t do was tell anyone that this was happening. They didn’t even tell their savelings, as they called them. Once it was time to leave, they put everyone they wanted in their special lifeboats, and flew away, leaving Earth to plummet out of orbit. Their plan was...insane, and convoluted, and ridiculous, and honestly, short-sighted. I call it Vacuumverse, because now these people were living in vacuum-sealed tin cans with very minimal propulsion systems. All they could do was stick by the sun, and float around aimlessly. They couldn’t fly off to the next exoplanet over, and they couldn’t mine raw materials to expand their fleet with a growing population. They were just destined to be stuck there, with no hope for survival, not for long, anyway. It didn’t matter that they picked people with the best genes, because there wasn’t enough livable space for them to spread out. So they died shortly after everyone else did, and no one in the rest of the bulkverse even knew enough about them to care.

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