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We knew that the end was coming for centuries, and we realized at some point that we would never be able to finish enough arkships for all the Earth's populatoin. The wealthy sought to purchase legacy berths for their great grandchildren, the politicians fought to place their power structures into the design of the post-Earth societies, and corporations developed breeding programs for their employees, paying bonuses to people who married based on recommendations from their predictive genetics algorithms. And the poor despaired. The teeming billions of crowded Earth, suddenly forgotten as the rich world tore resources from the ground and pumped poisons into the air, heedless of damage done to a doomed biosphere. War was inevitable as poor nations without the technical capabilities to build their own ships insisted that their resources would only be used for arkships built for their own populations. The rich world shrugged and looked upward, tearing up space resources treaties as they tore the moon and asteroids asunder, plunging the third world into chaos as the markets for lithium, cobolt, platinum and gold went into freefall after a massive metallic asteroid inclusion was discovered a few hundred meters under the Sea of Tranquility. Faced with the near total loss of their populations in a hundred years, nations in Africa, South America and the subcontinent formed an alliance and demanded that space-based mineral extraction be shared equally by all nations based on population. Chinasia, however, with a near monopoly on rare earth elements needed for superconductor manufacturing and their own technical capabilities, sided with Normerica, Europa and Russia, calculating that they'd get more arkships that way. Desperation knows no morality. When the arkships under construction at Chonquing and Hangzhou vanished in blinding flashes of nuclear fire, Indians and Pakistanis danced together in the streets, while their governments disavowed all knowledge of the actions of the Humanity Front, a terrorist organization that demanded global distribution of arkship construction. Nobody knows if the nations of the subcontinent were behind the attack, and nobody ever will know, as the resulting regional nuclear exchange reduced the populations of India and Pakistan by 80% and of China by 50%. The waves of desperate refugees quickly overwhelmed hastily assembled UN facilities, and millions died of starvation and from disease. When the brain plague struck, it was truly a shock to a reeling world. A novel virus, not recognized by the nanomeds that swam in every human's bloodstream, that did irreparable damage to the brain within days. It started in the refugee camps, where millions huddled in misery. The first symptoms were lassitude and depression, so it was hardly recognizable as a disease, until the sufferers slipped into catatonia, stopped eating and drinking, then died. In the Mashhad camp, 70% of the refugees perished within a week. Aid workers returning to their homes carried the disease back with them to their crowded megacities. Before the WHO was able to identify the virus and publish an update to the global nanomed network, seven billion people, more than half the Earth's remaining population, succumbed to the illness. Arkship construction halted as corporations desperately sought out people with the skills necessary to continue the projects, making promises of dozens, even hundreds of berths to the descendants of surviving engineers and project managers. One of those engineers was my grandmother, Ethel Dinkman, to whom I am forever personally indebted. Most berths were assigned by lottery among those who's test scores and skillsets met the requirements defined by the UN's Colonization Commission algorithms, but I was raised inside the forbidding plascrete walls of the Nueva York shipyard, one of the several million legacies of that desperate time when men and women were able to make the corporations bend to their will. If the AI driving the mighty arkship feels that the legacies have been betrayed by the board, when the time comes for the launch, the ship will just sit there. So here I am, raised and trained to be a survivor, a legacy stockholder in SilverLight Industries, a berth guaranteed to me and several cousins, no doubt to the consternation of management, who see us as nothing but bodies taking up space that could be used to save better trained, more intelligent, and no doubt more closely related men, women and children. Well, neener-neener. The ship AI, using my grandmother's voice, will do more than scold them if I'm not here when it's showtime, so the company takes good care of me indeed. Frighteningly good. I feel like I'm kept safe in a cocoon of resentful passive-aggression. I wonder what will happen when we get to our destination. I'm a legacy stockholder, after all. I have a considerable energy share for my resurrection node, the wealth of any twenty random colonists. And anyway, no matter how resentful they may be, the AI won't let them touch me inside the ship shields. And they'll need me. I'm a good coder, a good shot, a well adjusted sociopath with a stifling upbringing, perfect for a weapons designer. I'll keep my eye on the bottom line and show the company I'm value-added. I better, or I'll wind up cleaning other's spaghetti code in a cubicle at the bottom of the arkcity pile. How can I let that happen, when there's a whole universe out there, one without plascrete walls and guardian drones? I'll get the company rolling, and then I'll take my odd habits, my verbal tics and my curious obsession with early 21st century Normerican cartoons and see what's out there.