The last event

Gunnar peers out at the starry sky from aboard the Hail Mary, thinking through his strategies on how he'll win the craft's most prestigious cultural event.

6 months ago

Latest Post Infoslate #8 - April update by Kirk Bushell public

Gunnar peered out one of the windows that were positioned along the outside of the gravity ring. The view had changed subtly, as it always had, the ever-shifting backdrop of the stars moving like a light breeze, exaggerated by the rotation of the ring itself. The atmosphere aboard the Hail Mary was becoming more anxious, Gunnar's muscled body twitched, seemingly at random, as his own anticipation grew.

The ship he had called home his entire life was approaching its destination. In a few more months, the personnel aboard the Hail Mary would be launching pods toward a planet that had more than double the gravity of Earth. After 150 years in space, the vessel had been privy to nearly four generations of humans, and everyone had changed.

The gravity ring aboard the many craft that left Earth had one purpose: simulate gravity in order to reduce muscle atrophy, and as a bonus, make the ships feel a little more Earth-like; a difficult feat in zero gravity. However, for the personnel aboard the Hail Mary, the gravity ring served a dual purpose: it would also prepare them for their destination. With over a century in space before concluding its journey, the gravity ring aboard the ship was designed to speed up gradually over time, increasing the simulated gravity within the ring itself. Long before it arrived at its destination, the gravity ring would rotate at more than double the speed of similar craft, in order to match the gravity of a little-known planet called XR-4.

It was theorised that humans placed under harsher gravitational conditions would likely adapt, especially over an extended period of time. The effect this idea had on the craft's personnel was profound: shorter than the humans of Earth, but twice as dense and muscular. The theory had been proven correct. What it couldn't predict, was how it would change the cultural values of those aboard.

Knowing full well how much strength and determination would be required in the decades and centuries ahead, people aboard the craft began to work out religiously, with weight lifting and bodybuilding becoming core values. To value strength over almost all else, knowing that their destination would require strong individuals to be able to handle the physical toll their new home would enact upon them. Not only this, but day-to-day tasks within the gravity ring itself would prove challenging without the appropriate training and nutritional needs. Thus, those aboard came to eschew weakness; and what better way to establish physical prowess than through feats of strength.

The Strong games, as they had come to be called, were the craft's most celebrated event, inviting 100s of participants to compete in an elaborate display of strength and power. This event was the largest ever, as it would likely be the last. Weight lifting had taken on a whole new meaning, as instead of lifting heavier loads, competitors were instead challenged with lifting those same loads in ever-increasing, higher levels of gravity in purpose-built rooms.

Gunnar had been training for the Strong games for the past year, intent on taking out one of the coveted titles. As he was reflecting on his training and the strategy he was going to utilise to maximise his efficiency, he heard a chuckle behind him. It was Thok.

"Countin' stars, eh?"

Gunnar bristled. "New nebula. Blue-pink. There, see it?"

Thok walked toward the window, peering out at the dazzling array of lights before them. It took him a moment before he noticed Gunnar's discovery, and pointed. "That one? Aye. She's a beaut". He paused, then looked at his friend, who seemed distant. "Aren't you up for your first challenge soon?"

"I am. A few more hours. Thought I'd take a moment, collect my thoughts."

Thok leaned against the window, taking a rare moment beside his friend to take in the wonder that was the galaxy they were travelling through.

"Never gets old", he remarked.

"A planet would be nice, though, don't ya think? Don't you ever get sick of the air here?", Gunnar asked.

Thok went silent, his muscular frame softening slightly. For a moment Gunnar thought his friend didn't hear him. "She's all we've known", said Thok.

The craft had become like a parent to those aboard, shielding them from the coldness of space, the deadliness of an environment that was by its design, anti-human.

"You're gonna miss her."

"Aren't you?", Thok asked.

"All parents have to let their children go". Gunnar paused, looking downward. "At least at some point."

Thok seemed to harden himself, his body once again hard and solid like the steel alloy frames that held the ship together.

Thok sighed. "Aye, they do. But we're being kicked out". Thok crossed his arms as he stood up straight and flashed Gunnar a cheeky smile. "But then, couldn't wait to leave yours, could you?"

Gunnar smiled back. "Ha! Didn't have much choice in the matter!"

Thok laughed heartily. "Undoubtedly, but they were lookin' out for ya".

Gunnar's smile faded. Memories flooded in of the day his parents passed, gone in a freak accident. An airlock on the port side of the craft had faltered violently, and instead of slowly increasing the pressure inside, it instead pumped 20 atmospheres into the lock, killing his parents instantly, before exploding inwards. The accident resulted in no bodies left to be collected, Gunnar's final goodbyes stolen from him. His only solace lie in the fact that they died without pain.

Thok reached out to his friend, his hand grabbing the back of Gunnar's neck firmly.

"Sorry, I..."

"It's fine. These moments... just part of it, I guess. I don't know if that will ever go away".

"Probably not, but..." Thok tried to look for the words, but failed. "I miss them too."

Thok tightened his grip momentarily and then let go of Gunnar. "You've got an event to get to. You look good. You look ready."

"I am. And you've just given me the fuel I was looking for."

Thok reached out and clasped his friend's wrist, as Gunnar did in return. "May the strong survive".

"May the strong survive".

by Kirk Bushell

Kirk Bushell

Published 6 months ago