I follow a monotonous routine repeated for eternity.
My pod cover slides back with a whoosh. I reach down without looking and pull out the long umbilical tube. I stand, step out of the pod, and walk to the hot sand bath. There’s nothing more pleasing than digging deep and rolling in the warm sand to scrub away ten spans of dead skin, sweat and yuck.
I walk zombie-like to the flight deck, grab a fist full of chika and swallow them whole.
There’s a few minutes of chitchat with Banga or Raviro, my shipmates. Sometimes I pull a double so I can see Raviro, even if it's only for a few minutes. She’s usually in a better mood than Banga. There’s never anything new to report, so whoever is going off shift walks past like a shadow eager to get below deck and into their pod. Hibernation relieves boredom.
Alone again, I move through our small dark vessel. Dimmed lights burn yellow against the black walls and floor.
Mindlessly, I shuffle through my daily chores. The repetition of my duties is burned into my being. Check the power reserve. Grab the bucket of condensate that drips from the limb at the aft of the vessel and pour it into the water tank. Fill the feeding reservoir. Our waste feeds them. The chika must eat. Separate six sets of mature ones for breeding. If the young are big enough, dump them in the storage bins. Gulp down another handful of the squirming grubs, then tidy things up. Raviro keeps a tight ship. Banga is the messy one. The rest of the day is for my idle pleasure.
Without a clock to mark the passing of days and increment the spans I would have no concept of time for there is no night nor daylight. Our ship has no view ports. The forward display can view recorded battle sequences, but the eyes that bring the outside views to the ship's walls are out of service and the hatch is jammed shut.
At random times, the water bucket fills faster, the volume of drips exceed what condensate can normally produce. These are rare, exciting days. The excess water is a blessing. It keeps us alive. Raviro says it’s Mwari watching over us. I’m not so sure.
I dutifully complete my daily chores, sleep when tired, eat when hungry, and keep watch until my shift of five spans is complete, hibernate and repeat. This is the dreary cycle we have followed for thousands of spans.
We keep watch. We have hope.
The only other choice we have is to die. I agreed long ago to not accept that fate. We live for a warrior's death. We will not defile the honor of our families by taking our lives like weak scragg’s, even if no one will ever know. Raviro says we must have faith, but even she must concede by now that no one will ever find us. Regardless, we have agreed to carry on. I have time. While it ticks past, I endeavor to write the saga of how we came to be here. I write for myself, knowing no other being will see this.
My name is Majaya Masimba Gwinyai. I am Karanga. We are a noble, powerful people. Karanga have tended the gardens, forests, and oceans of these lush lands since time began. My first name means brothers. I am the second son born in a single span. Our people considered my birth a great blessing to my family and a sign to all karanga that the power my father wields is great, for it is exceedingly rare that a man can produce two sons in a single span.
I prefer my middle name, Masimba. It means powerful. As a boy I dreamed of growing tall and strong like my father, doing great deeds, winning battles, achieving victory. My middle name fits well with our family name, Gwinyai, which means strength. I am powerful strength. I like that. It’s much better than second brother. My brethren call me Mas Gwinyai.
We are ancient. Karanga have nurtured the gardens since the dawn of time. Over millennia we learned to use the strength that builds majestic mountains and put it to good purpose making metal. We conquered the mystery of the sky, capturing its storm power when it touched our steel. Once we learned to harness energy from the skies, karanga used it to make the lives of our people better. We learned to use the winds and the power of the sky to rise over the garden and view it from above. Like birds and butterflies, we soar through the air in wondrous vessels.
The karanga prospered, but we never forsook our primary role. Our essential purpose is working to keep nature in balance, for our garden is a beautiful green, blue paradise spinning slowly through the galaxy and we must preserve it forever. We used our knowledge and power to care for the garden and the rivers living in harmony with nature, for it is the air, trees, and water that nurture us.
But not everything in the garden should be allowed to live. When weeds infest the garden, stealing nutrients, spreading wide, crowding out the harvest, do you not cull the weeds? Karanga are peaceful beings. We knew the scragg were out there. We left them alone. They weren’t hurting us; the elders said. Their existence is Mwari’s will, said others. When there are but a few weeds in the garden, you may dismiss them. Our tolerance allowed the weed to grow.