ENTRY 026: Stillness-in-Motion
One of the most potent reminders of the mortality of transhumanity lies in orbit around Mars. Once it was a space ark, a lost remnant of Earth’s ecosystem, the skeleton human crew secondary to the payload of plants and wildlife originally taken from the Galapagos islands. On its long voyage the vine-like roots of tropical trees spilled out of their bounds to snake across floors, and a dozen species of finch flew through the hallways and made their nests in odd corners next to heating elements. Videofeeds reclaimed before the disaster show barefoot, bare-chested crew burned brown from the sunlamps laugh and chase each other between duties, to spend hours staring at the great tortoises swim through the sky when they wander outside the rotating ring that simulated gravity.
The end came swift and mostly bloodlessly shortly after the ark entered orbit. To this day, no one knows who fired the shot. The payload was a massive, compressed burst of carbon dioxide. The force of the expanding cloud drove the oxygen to the extremes of the craft and effectively doubled the atmospheric pressure inside the ship within minutes. Most of the smaller animals died immediately from barotraumas; the crew and larger animals took a few minutes longer to suffocate or succumb. The plants lasted longest, choking slowly in the toxic atmosphere. Then the ship was silent and still, circling the red planet so far from home.
Stillness-in-Motion was forgotten during the conflict with the TITANs, only to be rediscovered later—and by mutual agreement among the habitats of Mars, preserved mostly inviolate as a grim reminder of the conflict, and the mortality of transhumanity, a floating museum. A careful archaeological probe by synthmorphs from Olympus allowed researchers to reclaim the ship logs, capture DNA samples from the species so that they could be cloned and preserved, and to perform such routine modifications necessary to allow remote access to stabilize the ship’s orbits.
With its terrible stillness and superb preservation, Stillness-in-Motion is most effective as a means to set a dour, contemplative, perhaps even morbid mood. Any job or adventure that connect with the mysterious events of Stillness-in-Motion carries a cultural impact; people on habitats in and around Mars will want to know what really happened, and may react with surprising emotion if the subject is brought up, or if the task involves the dead ark in any way. Gamemasters and players may use this bit of history to help lend verisimilitude to their characters.
- A virtual museum of Stillness-in-Motion exists in the Mesh, an exact replica of the physical ship as it was when it was found, reconstructed from the ship’s design, video feeds, and XP recordings from the archaeologists that have studied the ship. The PC’s Firewall contact asks them to meet there, to lend weight to the next mission about a potential exsurgent threat—tracking down a terrorist that tried to use a very similar CO2 bomb in a small habitat.