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Operation Ark was the secret Terran Federation mission to assure the survival of the human race by sending a colonial fleet beyond Gbaba space to settle on a new planet.

To remain undetected by the Gbaba, the colony would need to live at a pre-electric level of technology for centuries before the redevelopment of advanced technology could begin. As the Gbaba were technologically static, the development of technology more advanced than that of the federation would allow the new colony to engage them on better than even terms.

To this end, Operation Ark colonized the planet of Safehold. However, chief administrator Eric Langhorne and his supporters established a global theocracy which attempted to permanently prevent the redevelopment of technology. His opponents, unable to prevent this, arranged for a cybernetic recreation of Federation Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban to awaken centuries later and ensure progress resumed.

Mission Plan[]

A previous attempt at colonization outside the Gbaba advance had been attempted, but was destroyed after the Gbaba mounted a systematic search of that volume of space and detected the energy emissions associated with an advanced technological civilization. The failure of that attempt led Federation planners to include several additional measures to prevent the Gbaba from detecting the Ark fleet. First, Operation Breakaway would be implemented, as a tremendous sleight-of-hand intended to convince the Gbaba that the colony fleet had been destroyed. After Operation Breakaway, the colony fleet would travel in hyperspace for at least ten years before seeking a new colony world -- ensuring that any Gbaba search effort would require centuries before it could sweep that much space. As the use of advanced technology would be unavoidable during terraforming, the colony transports would avoid the targeted system until the process was complete, in case the Gbaba had managed to follow the fleet and detected the terraforming emissions.

With terraforming complete, the new colony would maintain a pre-electrical level of technology for at least three or four centuries, avoiding any betraying emissions while preserving the records of humanity's history and the war with the Gbaba. Though the colonists would necessarily have been drawn from among the citizens of the federation, they would be implanted with false memories that did not include the use of advanced technology. This would ease the transition to their new technological constraints and reduce the temptation (and ability) to cheat the restrictions necessary to their long-term survival.

The original plan also included the positioning of two or three of the expedition's ships in completely powered-down orbits somewhere in the same star system, where they would be impossible to detect or differentiate from any other asteroid without direct physical examination, but available for recovery once indigenous spaceflight was redeveloped. These ships would serve as an enormous bootstrap for technological advancement. As Gbaba technology was little more advanced than that of the Federation, and Gbaba technological and social change had been at a complete halt for millennia, the recovered warships would also provide a yardstick by which to measure the capability of new colonial starships against the Gbaba. (OAR)

Staffing and Conflicts[]

Overall control of Operation Ark was assigned to chief administrator Eric Langhorne. Prior to selection, Langhorne was known to hold strong anti-technological views, believing that humanity had lost its way through the embrace of technology and that the attention of the Gbaba was, on some level, a punishment for that. Adorée Bédard, who held similar views, was appointed the operation's Chief Psychologist, responsible for the mental programming that would be imposed on the new colonists. A sizeable minority of Operation Ark's command staff feared Langhorne would abuse his control of the project, in an attempt to further slow or even completely prevent the re-emergence of technology on the new colony, even beyond the parameters set forth in the original plan for the operation.

In opposition to Langhorne's views, several members of the expedition staff resolved to cooperate to prevent Langhorne from subverting the operation to his own purposes. Prominent members of this group included Admiral Pei Kau-zhi, who would be responsible for Operation Breakaway, Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, Commodore Pei Kau-yung, who would be senior military officer with the Ark Fleet after Breakaway, and his wife Doctor Pei Shan-wei, in charge of terraforming the new colony world. Because Langhorne and his supporters had amassed a great deal of influence within the fleet, this opposition cabal was not optimistic about their chances of stopping Langhorne's agenda politically, and was forced to consider other means. In particular, they realized that Nimue Alban's personal PICA could be modified to provide the new colony with a nearly immortal advisor, who could remain inactive and concealed for centuries before emerging to accelerate (or, if necessary, restart) technological progress after sufficient time had passed. (OAR)


Admiral Pei Kau-zhi implemented Operation Breakaway as planned, with the Ark fleet apparently escaping undetected by the Gbaba while Pei Kau-zhi's sacrificial Task Force One was completely destroyed. Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban served as his tactical officer and was also killed in this action, having voluntarily joined the doomed task force in order to allow Pei Kau-yung to take surreptitious possession of her PICA aboard the Ark Fleet without Langhorne's knowledge.

After Breakaway, the Ark fleet traveled for the planned ten years in hyperspace before emerging and eventually beginning the settlement of the new colony world, which was named Safehold. Safehold already possessed a relatively earthlike environment, and substantial non-intelligent native life, including a number of dangerous predators. Pei Shan-wei oversaw the highly successful eight-year terraforming effort, secretly using this opportunity to prepare a hidden facility in which to conceal Nimue Alban's PICA and various supplies.

With the beginning of the colonization effort, it was discovered that Adorée Bédard had, at the behest of Eric Langhorne and his political supporters, radically altered the false memory sets which were to be implanted in the new colonists. While the original plan had included removing direct memories of an advanced technological society, the new sets had been modified to exclude any recollection of events prior to the colonization of Safehold, including all knowledge of technological advancement, human history, or the existence of the Gbaba threat. Instead, the millions of awakened colonists, labeled Adams and Eves, "remembered" that they had been created by the expedition staff, who had cast themselves in the roles of angels and archangels. Langhorne and Bédard intended to use this belief to establish a theocratic society in permanent technological stasis, which they hoped would avoid the attention of the Gbaba forever.

This act brought the political divide between Langhorne's supporters and his opponents into sharp focus. Pei Shan-wei was the most vocal and influential of these opponents. While Shan-wei opposed Langhorne on moral grounds, she also believed his strategy was not viable in the long term: that even the most stable such society could not persist forever, and Langhorne's technological restrictions would eventually collapse. She argued that humanity would eventually rediscover space travel regardless of Langhorne's actions, and that if knowledge of the Gbaba were not preserved, humanity would once again face extinction unprepared. Langhorne consequently had her expelled from the Safehold Administrative Council. Shan-wei and her husband, Commodore Pei Kau-yung, subsequently staged a public falling-out to allow Kau-yung to remain in Langhorne's councils.

Shan-wei, and the expedition staff who supported her, established the Alexandria Enclave on the southernmost continent with the intention of preserving all the knowledge Langhorne had suppressed in the colonial population, while Langhorne and his supporters established the center of their new religion, the Church of God Awaiting, at Zion. During this period, Langhorne secretly arranged for the covert placement of an array of orbital kinetic weapons around Safehold. When this array was complete, he used it to annihilate the Alexandria enclave and much of the surrounding continent, killing Shan-wei, her supporters, and nearly every colonist who had come into contact with them. Pei Kau-yung retaliated in a surprise attack on Langhorne's inner council, apparently killing himself along with Langhorne, Bédard, and many other "archangels." However, enough of Langhorne's supporters survived to ensure that the Church, and its anti-technology restrictions, would endure and continue to control Safehold's society. (OAR)

However, time-delay protocols implemented centuries earlier by Pei Kau-yung woke Nimue Alban's PICA from hibernation. While Nimue's simulacrum lacked the original Nimue's memories of Operation Ark (as the original had been unable to back up her personality discreetly when that began), she nevertheless agreed with the necessity of restarting technological progress on Safehold and breaking the stranglehold of the church on society. Adopting the (male) identity of Merlin Athrawes, Nimue made contact with the leaders of Charis and convinced them to accept assistance in advancing their society and preventing the Church from crippling or destroying Charis to restore technological and social stasis. With Merlin's advanced knowledge, the pace of innovation in Charis immediately rose drastically. (OAR)

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