(Alternate words: Firefly, Fan, Fanboy, Fantasy, and Failure. Added to the list.)
“3. Information must be preserved.”
– the Five Noble Precepts, modern formulation
Deep Repository Site Mocál spun on through the darkness between star systems.
Mocál was a sub-Murian wanderer moonlet, a stony body falling free in the endless dark between star systems, unbound by any star’s gravity. More, Mocàl existed far to acme, beyond the furthest systems of the Periphery – indeed, beyond the plane of the galactic disk itself, out where its upper fringes trail off into the Lonesome Wisp. It dwelt within a darkness purer than any sophont eyes had seen, only the faint light of distant suns – insufficient for illumination despite the magnificence of the Starfall Arc spread out below it – glimmering across the wasteland of regolith that was most of its surface.
Within the moonlet, on the other hand, was another matter entirely, hollowed as it was into three great caverns, each filled with a vacuum purer than that of the space outside, sealed by layered vault doors from each other and from space.
The innermost, in the heart of the rock, most carefully protected, had its many walls lined with pigeonholes each holding a single diamondoid rod – exabytes of information locked in the stippled, atomic-level patterns of carbon-12 and carbon-13.
The next, smaller, with racks of capacitative storage devices: platinum foil sandwiching a ceramic dielectric, carefully labeled, cataloged, and packaged, awaiting a reader.
The outermost, larger again to accommodate its medium, with shelves of ultra-hard composites holding rack after rack of platinum plates: laser-etched symbols, row upon row, from simple pictographs upon those nearest the entrance growing in complexity to the more traditional styles of writing upon those found at the opposite end of the cavern’s maze-like layout of shelves.
And then, the entrance: another massive door, surrounded by monoliths of ceramic and stone. Some were etched with pictographs in turn: some giving instructions for its opening or directions to contact its creators; others, almost certainly meaningless to whoever might find it, were the sigils of those who had created it, or of the coadunations, corporations, and branches that had helped fund its establishment. Others, in patterned layout and mirror-bright finish, were intended to form a simple optical beacon, declaring to any who might be looking that this moonlet, this wanderer, was an object worthy of interest.
* * * * *
It was the chartered purpose of the Repository of All Knowledge to provide for the preservation of knowledge and useful arts against time, mischance, catastrophe, or assault. No upper bound was set on ‘time’, and every librarian knew that meant exactly what it didn’t say.
The Deep Repository Sites wouldn’t last forever. Gigayears, certainly, maybe even terayears with favorable time and chance, but not forever.
But they were close enough for now.