ARC (New Earth #1) - Devon C. Ford
Deep Earth Orbit
January 19, 2033
I took my last look at Earth through the window, or hopefully Earth as I knew it anyway, feeling almost numb for the knowledge of what was going to happen.
“Annie?” I said aloud, hearing the soft, muted tone of acknowledgement hum from the speakers in each section to signify that my creation was listening. “Exact time until impact?”
Her synthesized voice filled the small, round corridor I was floating in. “Time until impact is nineteen hours, thirty-seven minutes and eight seconds, with a variant threshold of forty-nine seconds. Recommend you begin cryoprocedures within six hours, Dr. Anderson.”
“Thank you, may as well do it now,” I said absently, treating Annie politely as I always did, like she was a person who was concerned for my feelings instead of what she truly was: an integrated computer interface operating system usefully informing me of a forty-nine second margin for error.
Placing a hand on the glass and almost covering the little blue and green orb I was born, raised, and lived on, I said my final goodbyes in silence. I turned to propel my body horizontally toward the access to the upper corridor of the ARC, or Ark as we’d quickly decided to pronounce it all those years ago, when it was still the International Space Station. I’d been on board for eighteen months, and although fully acclimated to the environment, I doubted I would ever really get used to it.
I’d intentionally taken a specific route to get my last view of the planet we were all born on. The return route to my assigned cryopod took me past almost everyone else aboard, which was just about everyone as the only remaining people awake were the two maintenance specialists who would be reminded to rotate every twelve months by Annie. They would go into cryo for six months to cover the impact and the aftermath, then Annie would wake them to take their turns as the custodians of humanity.
Rank after rank of white tubes looking like torpedoes lined the chambers, all of which could be individually sealed in the event of anything catastrophic happening, and the ARC as a whole could be preserved with minimal losses. All of that was controlled by Annie, following her in-depth internal flowcharts of decision making which had taken me close to fifteen years to develop. The new subroutines for her to follow and enact accounted for almost a decade of that, when she was repurposed to be the caretaker of the human race.
On arriving at my assigned pod, I spun myself around lazily, allowing the zero gravity to do most of the work, and settled myself in to the soft straps.
“I’m ready, Annie,” I said out loud as the pod began to flash a sequence of lights denoting the cryotube was starting up, then placed the breathing mask over my face and needlessly adjusted the tracker device on my left wrist. I saw no sense in waiting or delaying it, as it wasn’t as though I could stay up late to watch the big show.
“Commencing cryosleep now,” came Annie’s soothing tones, making me feel grateful for the year and a half I’d spent working on finding the right voice for her program. “Goodnight, David. Sleep well.”
With that, I closed my eyes and breathed in the subtle combination of gasses that would put me under before my body was frozen into a state of hibernation.
So long, Earth, I thought to myself, see you in a hundred years.
May 25, 2021
As international billionaire entrepreneurs went, Amir Weatherby was young when he rose to the head of the family business. Their portfolio was so diverse that not one single person in the organization knew what fingers were in what pies, and there was a chief executive for each continent, often ones for individual countries depending on the concentration of assets and investments. The company, Icarus Investments, was so vast that it was everywhere and nowhere. They paid taxes to no country, and any organization that went after them for revenue ended up losing.
Amir, educated at all the right establishments and spending his time between his mother’s family in her native India and his father’s multiple estates in the US, was the epitome of the entitled elite. He appeared as a rich Saudi oil prince, spoke like he grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan, but was equally at home walking the sweltering, packed streets of the Indian capital.
Nothing was beyond his grasp; everything had a