The Vitae sat in her dock, the sun glistening off her hull as the rain had just passed. She stretched out, her and her sisters larger than any ship humanity had ever constructed. Twelve arks side by side, steam pouring off as systems began to initialize. All around them people ran up and down catwalks, vehicles both on the ground and in the air whizzed around. The shipyard was a hive of activity, final checks had to be conducted and final boarding had to be completed. There was no margin for error, once these ships launched there was no landing until they reached their destinations out in the cosmos far away from Earth... or what was going to be left of it after the Devastators arrived. Inside the ships, things were not much quieter. People moved around the corridors with haste, some of them knew where they were going some of them were being directed on where to go. Others simply found somewhere to spend their last moments on Earth, having no immediate tasks that required their attention.
On the bridge voices spoke in hushed tones, officers paced behind others sitting at their stations. Every screen was busy, everyone was running some form of diagnostic or another. Occasionally an officer would pause to check someones screen before continuing on. While others mourned about what they were about to lose William Locke could not, the men and women under his command could not. He nodded to himself, feeling his chest fill with pride at how everyone was working away despite what was about to happen. He had been on this ship ever since there was a bed for him and systems for himself to familiarize and he had seen this crew come together from nothing. They truly were the best of the best.
"Excuse me Sir, but this all seems like a bit much." William put the folder down, as he raised his hand to rub his forehead, as if doing so would relieve some of the pressure that seemed to be building up in his brain after reading the folder. He cast his one good eye at it reading the title. Genesis Protocol. He put his hand down and looked up to face with Admiral Constantine, probably the most respected man in the human race for his heroics during the Three Day War. William had felt honoured simply to be in the mans presence, but all that had been shot down rather quickly by the severity of the situation. "You're meaning to tell me, that we're going to abandon... well. Everything?" The Admiral just nodded. "That's insane!"
Constantine pulled out another slip of paper, William recognized it as the screen of deep space scanners. "Take a look at what we're up against Locke, that fleet is far bigger than the one we faced in the Three Day War. We were lucky as it is to still be here, if we hadn't pulled our thumb out our collective asses we wouldn't be. Genesis Protocol is a last ditch effort, the best and brightest to keep Humanity going if we lose the fight." He slid the folder full of details on the protocol back over to Williams side of the table. "You're one of these people, I've read your record. You've held your own in a ship far smaller, with a crew far less skilled. You had a ship not equipped for full out combat and you flew it into the fray anyway during the Three Day War and inflicted some serious damage. You're the kind of person we need for this project. Not some old codger like me, you can be self reliant and find these people a new home."
William pulled the folder over and off the table again, he wasn't happy about this. Not terribly, he could already feel the burden being placed on his shoulders. Though he couldn't exactly say no. "When do I start sir?"
"There's a shuttle waiting on the roof waiting to take you to Africa. She's not much of a ship yet but you'll be able to get yourself situated and get a feel for it. We have teams working on the selection process but I'll have the dossiers of all the officers and heads of department sent to you for approval. You're going to need to work together for a long time. Though before you leave, while you have all the files you need I need to talk to you about one more thing." He pressed a button on the table and all the power in the room cut off, that had William on edge. He was used to working with secret intelligence, it's what he was trained for after all. Though this was already a highly classified briefing, it didn't get anymore serious than that did it? "I need to talk to you about another protocol, this ones called Exodus..."
William turned to look at the 3D hologram being displayed above the table, it was one of the best things about a command centre as large as this. While he really needed to yell, or use comms, to reach people at their stations it was made up for by having this. He could display real time 3D images of any theatre of combat, the ship itself, anything being picked up on by the ships sensors and even select areas of the ships interior such as the hub. Right now it displayed Mars and her orbit, the fleet of ships from all four factions sat in orbit. He could faintly see the shape of the Judicator, Admiral Constantines flagship. It wasn't quite as impressive as an Ark but it was deadlier. He couldn't help but wonder if the efforts of humanity had been put into building more ships like that, if they'd need to abandon the solar system.
Though in the end, Constantine was right. There was no way they were going to win this battle and even if they did, there'd be more Devastators right behind them. There were theories behind who or what the Devastators were, some argued they were just bio-machinery on autopilot and others argued that they wanted to take the solar system for resources. William didn't care which it was, all he knew is that if he were to ever find their homeworld he'd turn it to slag. Or at least he would have if the ship he was commanding wasn't a glorified oversized lifeboat. He tapped his earpiece with his right hand, as he typed into the console onfront of him with his left putting him through to all of the officers walking around the bridge. "Final systems check, all stations prepare yourself for liftoff."
The ship was impressive, and half of the paneling on the hull hadn't been finished yet. Sparks flew around the hallway as he walked, people didn't pay any attention to his presence. Good, these people obviously understood the importance of their jobs. They were here with a limited timeframe, and were here to get a job done not suck up to someone with rank. He stepped over some loose wiring until he came into what was destined to become the command centre. The main doorway opened onto a raised platform with catwalks branching off to the right and the left encircling the room, on the lower deck among all the different stations there was the large holographic table and on the far well a plethora of screens. The holographic table was already lit up, he smiled as he walked down. Again he ignored the people who were crouched beneath computer screens playing with the wiring. They had jobs to do, he had his to do.
Standing before the table he keyed in his command code. The blue hologram appeared before him, it was rather disconcerting to see it have the outline of a man however there was no definition, as if it hadn't fully rendered. Obviously whoever had constructed the A.I. was going for function over looks. "Rear Admiral William Locke, Martian Navy. Verified. How can I help you today Admiral?" On the bright side no matter how tough things were going to get, he'd always have a computer program to talk to.
"Noah, give me a full status of the Arks current condition." At least whoever named the A.I. had a sense of humour, though that being said the amount of biblical names regarding this project was ridiculous. Then again it was the end of the world after all, you could probably cut them a little slack.
"Construction is well underway, we should be completed on schedule. One engine remains to be attached and the once the reactor has been fully installed the Ark will become self sufficient and will no longer need to run power through the shipyard. I anticipate a mere zero-point-five percent possibility that the Vitae will not be ready for take off when the Protocol is enacted, going on the assumed timelines on when the Devastators will arrive. Is there anything else I can help you with today?" Okay, maybe not so humorous. At least he was practical, and honest.
"Yes, I want you to give me a full run down on the Arks planned capabilities, and everything else that's in her design plan. I want to know as much about this Ark as you do."
William turned his head to the wall full of screens, each screen designated to a different part of ships systems. Even Security had a screen and a checklist they had to go through, even though they had no command presence on the bridge. As stations began to check in green began to move across the board, he smiled that at least that was one thing that was considered standardized across all the different factions military. There was a hum through the ship, and he could feel it in his body slightly as the Vitae reacted to the commands giving to her. He was sure that it was more than likely psychological but this was her truly coming to life, she was ready to leave the ground for the first and hopefully the last time.
He turned keying commands into his own station, changing who his radio passed him through to. "Tactical, Navigation. Begin plotting our course to the eye. Helm, bring the engines online and standby for docking clamps to retract." He took a deep breath, this was it. There was a real hum as the engines came online, normally he'd be used to the feeling when being on a ship however the engines of the Vitae had only been on three times to test functionality and had then remained offline until now. It felt good, and no doubt the next time he stepped on solid ground it'd feel weird without it. "Noah, give me ship wide."
"Yes Admiral." The voice came out of, basically no-where. It had taken getting used to that Noah was essentially everywhere all at once.
There was a buzz throughout the ship indicating that there was about to be an announcement to the whole ship, he took a deep breath before he started. This was all part of the territory now. "This is Admiral Locke. I know, that many of you are still in mourning. For those that you have left behind, those that we are leaving behind. I know it feels like we are abandoning Earth, Mars and all the Armani colonies to a grim fate. However I have faith, in all of you. You were hand picked to become members of this crew, you are humanities best and humanities brightest. We all know that the threat we face is large, that we are venturing into the unknown. I can say with absolute certainly that I have up-most faith in this crew and it's capabilities, working together we have done what is individually impossible and I know that together we can find a new home for humanity."
He paused, to let the severity of the task sink in. "I know, that this task is great. No doubt the road will be long, but look to those beside you. Your friends, your family and your comrades. We will not let this tragedy be forgotten, we will not let this be the last chapter in humanity. We will remain unbroken as we forge new life in the stars, of this I have no doubt. While there can be No Turning Back know this, that we take the legacy of the colonies with us. The future of our race, one day our children and our great grandchildren will talk about this voyage with awe, we are legends." He cleared his throat. "All stations, prepare for lift-off."
As he cut the feed there was a brief murmur of agreement, and even a little applause throughout the command centre. He chuckled slightly. "Alright, alright. Get back to work. We've got the unknown to venture into."