0 – Introduction:
In a faraway time, at a faraway place — it is a dark time and a stormy place, where we see two men pulling a heavily laden sled across a frozen wilderness. They are on a quest—perhaps the greatest quest ever undertaken by human beings—they are trying to save humanity from extinction.
The current date is January, 25, 3009 CE and it has been almost a thousand years now since what is known as The Doomsday Events had nearly exterminated life on the whole of planet Earth. It happened, not totally unexpectedly, in a series of atomic blasts, radiation poisoning, militarized diseases, and the expected months of nuclear-winter darkness. And along with those awful events was the total absence of fresh food which was soon followed by the near total die off by famine of the few survivors who didn’t get killed outright during the hostilities.
Most of those lucky few who managed to survive for a whole year just happen to reside near large remote food storage facilities where they took shelter from the radiation. For a time it was thought that all wildlife had died but after a year when the sunlight became more than a dim glow some moss like things began to grow and soon everything was covered with a thin layer of a bright green scum. The problem was all this living stuff, the stuff in any given area, was a single species. After a year and warmer temperatures a few other things came up, from deeply buried seeds, but the variety of living things was very limited. Some rodents which had survived along with the humans in the storage sites were quickly killed when found but then it was realized that they were the only other living animals besides humans, and so formerly shunned animals were later being cultivated for their meat.
There had been many years of slow degradation of what remained after Doomsday as the remnants of what had been a highly technical civilization were dug up and consumed. There was no way to recreate the complex technical items so when they eventually wore out there were no replacements.
Bob and Tron, the guys towing the sled, came from the cratered area formerly known as Berkeley, California. Several years ago they had discovered the remnants of a collapsed underground library ( 37.873 -122.259 ). The irony of the fact that this particular library was located less than 200 meters from where the Atomic Bomb had first been invented was not lost on them. From some books they found in those collapsed stacks they had been able to calculate the calendar date. They found a list of projected eclipses and were able to calculate the exact moment of some recent eclipses and they used it to reset their new world calendars to the old time calendar. This made them into well known heroes. Also they found some wonderful maps and learned much about the ancient world. One of their finds was a set of old books, old even at the time of the Doomsday. It was a complete edition of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. It proved valuable because it showed how to make low tech things which was now beccoming a recoverable a lost art.
Both of the men we see pulling the sled, Bob and Tron are old friends, now in their mid thirties. That is considered to be old nowadays, although occasionally someone will live to be seventy. But few children reach adulthood and even those who do are usually not very robust because the food they eat just isn’t very nourishing and there are still residual toxins from the Doomsday era which strike unexpectedly.
The quest for the Earthark is a chance to find seeds for growing the wonderful and nourishing crops known to have made the ancients grow to be healthy giants. These two men were chosen for this desperate mission because they were among the healthiest men in the whole world and they were considered blessed by the Gods because they had been the ones to find the wonderful library buried beneath Berkeley for a thousand years.
They carried a sextant, among their supplies, which they had built for this mission, so they could know their latitude, and some watches to help them in finding their longitude. They had remarkably good maps of their proposed route to the southern end of the Antarctic mountains which they found in the library. It was there, in that frozen wasteland, where they hoped to find an Earthark still intact after sitting exposed to the Antarctic weather for the millennium. Their plan had been to follow along the mountains so they could maintain their location with absolute confidence but it proved better to just keep them is sight but stay several kilometers away because the flowing ice created crevasses when over the irregularities far beneath the surface. The ice out a ways was therefore smoother and safer and they could travel faster.
The Earthark which they were seeking was hoped to be a group of ISO containers, which were reported to have been put there not long before the Doomsday events. It was hoped that it had not been destroyed by nature or bombed as had been the Svalbard International Seed Vault. Svalbard was a much larger and better funded seed bank but it had been destroyed because it was too close to the only airport in the Arctic. That airport was on the direct route from the Eurasia to the Americas and it had been bombed by several of the combatants who weren’t going to use it themselves and they wanted to deprive their enemies from using it against them. All the other major seed banks had been in cities or near targets which resulted in their destruction. A few of the more remote seed banks had been pillaged by hungry survivors, during the Dark Times, immediately after the early phases of Doomsday.
This Earthark in Antarctica was intended to be so very far away from any military conflict that it would not be involved and would survive. Also, it was so very difficult to get to it that no one would go there with the intent of finding food. However, because of the absolute confusion during and after the Doomsday War it was not known if this Earthark had been attacked. Also there was the possibility that some earlier people had gone there and removed the contents but hadn’t been able to return to the more temperate regions where the seeds would have been planted.
Back in 2009 the first attempt to send an Earthark went to the South pole station and from there was taken to -88.721344 -122.2584 which was one percent of the way back to its point of origin in Berkeley. That package would probably have survived in a findable condition for a hundred years but after a thousand years it would have sunk too deep into the Antarctic ice cap and flowed many kilometers toward the coast. It probably still contains viable seeds but would now be unrecoverable even if it could be found by radar but that wasn’t available anymore. Other Eartharks were created which were placed at other perhaps more stable locations but they were even more difficult to get to than this one.
The Earthark which Bob and Tron where approaching was reported to have been fastened securely to solid rock at the southern end of the Antarctic mountain range, in the Ellsworth Mountains near a place which had occasionally inhabited during the summers by rich adventurers flown in from Punta Arena, Chile. This was a place called Patriot Hills, at ( -80.43 -81.43 ) and surely these men were patriots—Patriots of the Earth.