I hear buckling, bending, crinkling and cracking.
“Get going!” someone shouts hysterically. She’s really worried. I guess I should be as well, but the fact remains I am without guidance, have been asleep, and have no idea where I am. When I don’t jump into action she goes nuts. “Get going! Get going!”
Something huge snaps, out there but not too far away. But I can’t quite hear it directly, it’s more like a vibration…
Turning, I see a very weird version of a woman. Is this another variation on my wife? She’s gazing at me expectantly.
I raise my hand urging her to calm down. Wow my hand looks strange. “Okay, I’m just waking up here, a bit confused,” I implore, “so please, honey, just help me out here and…”
“Honey?” she bolts. “Get going!”
“Uh…you aren’t my wife?”
An unattributed blast of energy shakes the room unlike anything I’ve felt before. There’s a window. I start to move but gravity is unusual. Something is different. Things are floating that shouldn’t be. Gravity isn’t holding me to the floor. It’s a very subtle magnetism pulling my footwear. I can lift my foot easily enough once I get used to it. But at first I’m an awkward mess.
I get to the window and see outside. We’re in space! And part of something very big.
A narrow pulse beam destroys all matter in its path for a long stretch from where it’s originating.
It barely misses us before it shuts off.
The structures destroyed, now floating away in bits, are part of a greater construct that we
seem to be attached to. Imagine soccer balls floating in space forming a sphere with each soccer ball connected to three other soccer balls by hollow tubes that are twice as long as the balls are wide. In physics the shape is named for engineer Buckminster Fuller, who conceived it as providing the most internal space of any form.
“Hey! We need you. Can you do this?”
Do what? “I’ll try. Just help me get started, please?”
“I’m your prep assistant, that’s my job,” she says impatiently. Oh. Not my wife. Oops.
What the hell am I? I try to apply my meditative technique for local memory recall.
It doesn’t go over well when I shut my eyes.
“What? Come on, Spacebird!” she objects. “Damage has been done and the world is gonna end unless we fight!”
Out the window debris is floating all around, but the random spread of it appears to be falling into patterns that are magnetically influenced.
I turn to this “prep assistant” and lay it on the line.
“I don’t have time for you to be skeptical or ask questions. I need your cooperation right now, and I need you to do what I ask as fast as you can – or find me someone who will.”
She nods agreement, happy to see a take-charge attitude..
“Tell me exactly what’s attacking us – like I never heard of it before.”
“It’s a space creature from below the Sun’s photosphere, a descendant of naturally born plasma life, evolved into compact, coherent individuals from enormous clouds of magnetically formed cells two billion years ago. She was accidentally and permanently ejected from the Sun. Who knows what she’s doing here? And no offense,” says the assistant, “but you should have been out there by now.”
“Suit me up.”
By the time I emerge into the interior space of the vast Buckyball world the plasma menace has finished with us and vanishes faster than the eye can follow.
Hours later, the immediate danger passed, I learn what I can about this entire scene.
Like everyone here, I’m a being made of an alloy called organic metal. It’s soft and pliable like skin and muscle, but practically impenetrable. It’s much stronger than regular muscle. It doesn’t have hair growing from it so I get a look at myself bald for the first time. It’s not as bad as I imagined it would be. I might even like it.
My particular “soccer ball” is a city-state of organic metallic hominids. I think we must be descendants of humanity, now far removed from our origins and long away in space. We have to be related to humans somehow.
I’m one of 400 million citizens aboard the largest lost aircraft ever known.
Now imagine that there are 60 soccer balls and each soccer ball is five miles in diameter housing an average of six million people. And imagine that those hollow tubes are each 10 miles long and 2 miles in diameter, holding half a million people each at any time.
Every sphere and every corridor has its own control over gravity levels and weather conditions. There are over 1500 kilometers of corridors to travel, with 80 miles being the farthest interior space distance between any two jurisdictions.
So we have not only 60 cities and a lot of tube counties but dozens of ethnic groups, creeds and cultures as well.
Political systems compete for central control of the general welfare. Laws change from one jurisdiction to the next. War breaks out between cities. Cities threaten to secede and disengage from the whole.
Plagues place certain areas in quarantine. While some cities thrive, others are poor and troubled. Certain corridors have “gone wild” with anarchy and out of control flora and fauna. These places are considered extremely dangerous and off limits but for the foolhardy.
Yet there is great beauty and millions live in peace throughout this vast Buckyball of a super-metropolis. And somebody has to look out for the infrastructure as a whole. Sixty Cities is constantly moving and always vulnerable to other moving things.
I look up my address and figure out a map to make it “home.”
My home consists of a core with a living room, a large playroom, kitchen, pantry, storage room, a grand washroom, a utility room, pet space and a pilot station, a bedroom, a workstation and a toilet. The whole thing detaches as transportation to other destinations should one wish to move to another part of town or another city altogether.
Our history is murky. Records don’t go back beyond an event we call The Moment. During The Moment, some 482 transits ago, 60 Cities encountered a nebula with extremely powerful magnetic fields. Much of our old software was compromised and great accidents occurred wreaking havoc throughout. Data was scrambled and some was rewritten by quantum computers.
We’ve never made contact with any civilized minds outside of our own.
As territory dwindles faster than new room can be constructed, tensions grow between social factions.
Space owners purchase “zones” parceled out along the invisible magnetic avenues defining the grand structure’s exterior shielded space.
Partnerships form to control expanding segments of the space city.
The idea that our ancestors developed and lived on a rocky planet, as legend suggests, is considered absurd. It seems obvious to most that life started in space and was never meant to exist for long on a planet.
None of the 400 million alive today has ever been to a planet –
…Except, apparently, me.