Chapter 1

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
       -Ozymandias,
                            by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Mennon awoke to the hiss of air vents and dim red emergency lights flashing through his closed eyelids. His eyes slowly opened, revealing the grand main corridor of the Musteon through the passage pod’s wraithglass lid, lit with strobing red lights that exacerbated his already painful headache.

He groaned and shifted his head as the nanite construction that had supported his body while in longsleep, and the cryogenic gases that preserved it, withdrew into the walls of the pod.

Oxygen replaced the space which had previously been filled with cryogenics, and with it came clarity as his brain began working again after a twenty five thousand year lapse.

As he waited for the system to verify he was conscious and open the pod door, he decided to interface with the wraithsteel in the pod to check on the status of the vessel.

What he found was rather concerning. Without outside stimuli the wraith circuit and the souls inside had fallen into a state of half life. Because of this, the constant use of the engines for the massive journey had slowly but surely drained almost all of the massive amount of energy the ship had stored before leaving the Milky Way, with no used emotions to recharge it. As a result, the engines had been running on fumes for nearly a tenth of the great journey, which meant it took them nearly one thousand years longer than predicted to arrive.

Mennon mentally scanned through numerous computer generated damage reports, eyes flickering behind his eyelids. Hundreds of systems across the ship had begun to experience dangerous levels of wear and tear as a result of the extended travel time. And to compound this issue, the engineers had not the energy to create more wraithsteel for repairs, and there was virtually no extra components left in the storage dome

As the wraithglass lid finally swung open, moving upwards on hidden hinges, Mennon finished his cursory examination of the ship and prepared for the vast amount of questions that would likely head his way in the ensuing days.

Rubbing his eyes with his still weak arms, Mennon stepped out of the passage pod into the main corridor and was surprised to see that his was the first pod open. He again closed his eyes and sent a pulse of energy down the wraithsteel corridor to see if anyone else had woken yet, finding that only a select few members of the crew itself had  awoken, namely repair specialists. Apparently the ship’s computer included Mennon in the category, due to him being an engineer before turning into an impromptu leader when one of the previous farseers on the council died during their fleeing from the Milky Way.

He contacted the most senior engineer. Do you know what the issue is?

The reply came back momentarily. Hull breach in the engineering bay. The bay had no oxygen when the breach happened, so damage was minor. The AI wanted to confirm that it wouldn’t be an issue before revitalizing the rest of the populace. I already confirmed wakeup protocols.

Mennon responded with the mental equivalent of a nod, and then began walking towards the wraith circuit in the center of the ship to activate the wraith circuit wakeup protocols. The Musteon was a huge ship, meaning the trip from where his pod was to where the circuit was equaled a distance of roughly two miles. And his pod was one of the closer ones. The circuit dome itself was essentially a massive mana generator and battery, coating the walls of a dome roughly fifteen miles across.

The original designers simply teleported from place to place, but with the ship on such low power mode that wasn’t an option. As such, Mennon opted for a much slower method, pouring some of his personal mana into his leg muscles and his lungs, giving his body a temporary boost so that he could sprint the nine miles or so to the core of the wraith circuit in a little under half an hour. During that time the other members of the farsight council were woken. Their names were Neyana, Legado, Kliva, and Kalvi.

Neyana and Legado were aligned with Mennon on Andromedan interference policy, namely, keeping the existence of the Musteon and humanity a secret from the natives, while learning about the natives more before deciding whether to interact at all, and if so, in what way. The twin siblings Kliva and Kalvi were instead pushing for a dominance policy, saying that humans were the superior lifeform and should rule Andromeda, enslaving any other races found there and using them to further humanity’s goals.

Naturally, this kind of schism led to some rather tense meetings before the longsleep had begun, and, Mennon suspected, would lead to many more disagreements now that the longsleep was ending.

Mennon halted in his reflections to stop before the door to the wraith circuit dome and admire it. To call it a door was somewhat of an understatement, as it was more of a huge circular gateway, and guarded by an ancient warrior spirit from ages gone by.

Mennon raised his hand and it began glowing softly as he confirmed his identity to his unseen elder. After a moment, the gateway began opening. The circular door slid into the ceiling, walls, and floor in three parts which had joined together when closed, reinforcing each other.

The three pieces were symbolic, a representation of how humanity must work together and reinforce each other to survive. Individually, each pane was comparatively weak and easily broken. Together, they became much stronger. Smooth curved lines split from the center, separating the three pieces, and as they slid into the walls, the glow faded and Mennon stepped through.

Inside the dome was an amazing sight. The dome itself was massive, and the other side was lost in a haze, even to Mennon’s sharpened sight. The walls were covered in massive purple mana crystals, easily the size of an elephant. Between the tips of the different crystals energy would jump occasionally as a loud zap and a bright light for but a moment.

Looking to the center, a walkway led out to the middle of the dome as the bottom of the sphere dropped away quickly, covered in yet more crystals. In the center of the dome was a wraithsteel pillar, towering from the top to the bottom of the dome. Mennon headed towards it, running again due to still having to go two more miles to reach the middle.

Once he reached the center he placed a palm against the side of the pillar, thicker than the redwoods on Earth had been. A console emerged from the pillar after his identity was confirmed.

What followed was a series of complex commands and system queries as Mennon began the delicate process of waking up the psychic equivalent of nearly a billion people at once. The wraith circuit was a delicate tuning device, not unlike a tuning fork, in which if you smashed it with something rather than just tapping, it would bend and become inoperable.

Bolts of energy began flashing faster in the dome, travelling from crystal to crystal. A soft glow began permeating the air as the spirits in the circuit opened their metaphysical eyes. A number of psychic greetings rolled over Mennon as the wraith circuit began its wakeup cycle.

He mentally greeted them in return, addressing many by name. He asked them how the journey had been, and what, if any, accidents had happened to the Musteon. Mennon created a mental list of the various issues that now plagued the home of the last remainder of humanity.

He spent about an hour communing with lost family members and friends, kept in stasis to ensure humanity’s continued survival. By this time many of the repair personnel and the other members of the conclave had been woken, and had begun re familiarizing themselves with the ship.

Mennon finally withdrew from the wraith circuit in time to greet two of the conclave, a elder, alive during the golden age of humanity, whose name was Legado, and a woman as young as he, named Neyana.

He greeted them both with a nod. “How was the Longsleep?”

Legado inclined his head in turn, and replied, “Dreamless as usual. The wakeup cycle seems to have functioned as intended, and not one person has died due to a malfunction.”

“Good.”

There was a pause while Mennon cast around for a new topic, reluctant to simply allow the three to fall into silence. “Are Kliva and Kalvi awake yet?”

Neyana nodded. “The two of them went to oversee the domes and ensure that each biosphere is still in balance. How is it here in the core?”

Sighing, Mennon explained, “The core is practically empty on energy, and it will take some time for our ancestors to fully wake. There are numerous microfractures leaking energy, and a major issue regarding the circuit connections around the main storage bay being close to breaking. I asked the spirits to start a more thorough scan, and then report to the engineers.”

“The resilience of our ancestors’ engineering continues to astound me. Ten thousand years, and still functional.” Legado smiled. “I’m going to head towards the bridge, and get a report on our location and the nearby stellar bodies.”

With that, the three members of the farsight council began the long walk to the bridge. The Musteon was a worldship, built hastily and designed to carry one hundred million passengers. It was one of many that fled the milky way at the time of its death. Due to the need for mass production to ensure humanity’s continued survival, the Musteon did not possess conveniences such as trains or cars. At normal human walking speed, the trip to the bridge from the middle of the central core was around 17 miles, which would take over five hours. As such, the three humans poured energy into their limbs, making it such that they could perform the journey in about forty minutes, resolving to get faster transportation figured out as soon as possible.

As they travelled, they passed many other people. Some already awake and at work performing repairs on long dormant systems in the process of rebooting, but most were still sleeping. It would take about two weeks for the Musteon to be fit for mass habitation by its seven point eight million refugees.

At length the three council members reached the doors to the command dome. As the smallest dome, it was placed in the front, with larger domes being placed consecutively. The arrangement of the Musteon led to the fragile biospheres being mounted on the back, near the engines, and gave the Musteon a vaguely knifelike, bubbly shape.

Once through a door similar to the entrance to the wraith circuit’s core, the three found the bridge awash with blue light. Through the massive dome spanning windows made from specialized wraithsteel, the accretion disk of a large neutron star could be seen. The blue white light was intense, and only automatic darkening of the windows in the dome stopped the temperature from increasing to lethal levels.

The light from the star cast odd shadows over the fixtures in the dome, as the three council members proceeded to the main command console. As with most things human, the dome was completely overengineered, with a circumference of four miles. Designed to be the command and control center for the last remnant of the human race, there was numerous meeting rooms, countless redundant control panels for all ship systems, three separate bridge areas, and countless control seats for the pilots of the Musteon’s defence fleet, enough to control a fleet two hundred times the current size.

The last two miles to the main command bridge passed quickly in the odd pale blue halflight that made its way through the filtered dome windows. Upon arriving, the three entered and began the full ship wakeup protocols for the craft. The central command bridge was buried deep inside the command dome, surrounded by countless layers of reinforced wraithsteel. Roughly the size of one of the ancient football stadiums of old humanity, the room’s walls were covered in wraithsteel linked to countless sensors and cameras around the outside of the ship, the panels designed to be incredibly flexible and though sensitive, so that the fleet command can rearrange and display any data desired, arranged as desired. The entire spherical room essentially functioned as a giant, 360 degree visual display that was controllable with thought alone.

In the center of the room, on a raised platform fifty feet across, a ring of psychoreactive command consoles surrounded five chairs placed in a star shape in the center. Getting into three of the chairs, Legado, Neyana, and Mennon simultaneously placed their palms into specific grooves in the chairs, while broadcasting their mental authorization codes.

With a soft hum, the walls of the room flickered to life with multiple views of the space outside the Musteon, and the command console displays bloomed before the three farsight council members.

Minds processing information at a rate faster than any pre ascension human could hope to achieve, pressing issues, damage reports, and personnel updates were all quickly internalized, with multiple different plans for reactivating the ship fully flitting through their minds.

Faster than any chess player plans were drawn, theoretically tested, and discarded. After thirty or so seconds, the three shared a silent moment of mental communication before moving off to their individual tasks.

Waking an 80 mile long sleeping beast is a daunting task, but one the three were well up to.

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