Commander, 3rd Class
Dr. Maynard’s personal notes aren't read very often these days. When you’re born into a war for survival, history lessons aren’t exactly a top priority. But thanks to some stray shrapnel and three weeks in the infirmary, I'm practically an expert. And I've gotta say, I think he'd be rolling in his grave if he could see us now.
I don’t know what bright future John Maynard saw while he sat on that final hillside. I don't know what he thought we'd turn out to be. But the truth is, we’re only human. We fight, and we bicker, and we struggle for power.
Even the end of the world can't change that.
The Ark, at least, worked beautifully. The installation's AI, known as the Mother, acted as both guardian and teacher for the fledgling human race. Two thriving underground bases were established. Recolonization began. And for a few shining years, it seemed like Maynard’s dream might actually become reality.
But as we carved out a new place for ourselves in the blasted landscape, our unity began to crumble. Without previous generations, and with no history to mold them, the two bases’ isolated nature resulted in radically different societies: To the east, the Royal Guards became increasingly spartan and militant. Dedicated to humanity’s return, their world became one of honor, unity, and duty – with harsh punishment for any who betrayed the cause. To the west, the Free Knights chose a different path. Their culture valued competition, independence, and experimentation. Their leaders claimed that only through adaptation, through change, would humanity survive to build a new and better Earth.
But in a war-torn nuclear wasteland, there is little time for differences of opinion. And as they argued over which direction they should take, the factions became increasingly polarized. The Royal Guards were called “heartless militants.” The Free Knights, “dangerous radicals.” Distrust grew, and both sides eyed each other warily.
The true schism began with the growing Free Knight interest in releasing the Arkana after the war. Comparing the Commander program to Old Earth slavery, proponents argued that the Arkana should have their freedom once the Narak are defeated. The Royal Guards, for their part, pointed to Dr. Maynard’s notes on the Arkana’s creation. They claimed that the Arkana’s very natures were too violent to be released, and that they needed the calming influence of a Commander to keep themselves, and humanity, safe from harm.
But for some, that answer was not enough.
Two years ago, in a dramatic attempt to release every Arkana at once, a group of Free Knight extremists tried to hack into Mother’s AI and disable the Commander program. For the Royal Guards, it was the final straw. Faced with a direct attack on the only weapons that kept humanity safe, they saw no choice but to respond with deadly force.
The ensuing bloodbath drove a wedge between the factions, and sparked a war that has continued ever since. And all the while, the Narak plan their return.
My recent injuries have given me plenty of time to think. And I’ve realized that one way or another, this needs to stop. Now is not the time for some petty ideological struggle. Every one of us that dies brings the Narak one step closer to finishing what they started. Dr. Maynard and his team already gave their lives for us. But if we don't find a way to end this war, and soon, the Ark project and all its grand designs will have been for nothing.
Humanity still needs heroes. I just hope they get here before it's too late.