Star Citizen: What Happened To The RSI Artemis Ark ?
The fate of the RSI Artemis is perhaps the biggest mystery since the ancient Earth-ship the Marie Celeste. For those fortune-seekers who want to pursue this Holy Grail of space artifacts we set out the known facts below.
The Artemis was a cryogenic Ark launched in 2232 aimed at the Gliese system where it was thought it would find an earth-like planet for its 5,000 colonists, the best and brightest of Earth chosen from over one million applicants.
The journey was due to take 200 years (even today it would take around 20 years without using jump points, which at the time had not yet been discovered).
The Artemis was an RSI Chariot-class equipped with the brand new RSI propulsion drive, at the time the technology was only twenty years old and operated only at c/100.
The ship was equipped with a unique intelligent AI core, called Janus, and the crew were put into cryogenic sleep for the journey.
We know the ship stopped for repairs at the Stanton system, where a 2m x 4m hull section was cut out by a crew member. The hull section is now on display in The Hartley Museum, London, Earth and is estimated to have been buried 500 years ago. Chronologically this means that the Artemis would have arrived at the Stanton system shortly after it was due to arrive in Gliese. The hull section contains the name of the ship, making it highly likely that the crew left the object hoping it would one day be found and identified.
Next we pick up the Artemis’s scent in the Oso system where infrared communications from the computer core were discovered preserved in cryogenic gases. The Oso system is about the same distance and in the same general direction as Gliese but indicates that the Artemis was, by now, not following her original flight plan.
The contents of the messages recovered from the gases indicate that Artemis was again stopping for repairs.
The most tangible lead after this comes from rumors which suggest that a thruster and an environmental suit from the Artemis were found on Oso II (a pre-flight civilization) where they were allegedly being worshiped as religious fetishes. Advocacy records are sealed under the Fair Chance Act, and that planet is Protected, leaving us at a dead end.
Finally, Tonya Oriel, the renowned tomb-raider and historian, claims to have found the body of Kenlo, the Artemis’s chief engineer, frozen in ice in the Kallis system.
Simulations on a copy of the machine core AI show that Janus would be capable of sophisticated decision-making and path-finding.
It seems clear that the Artemis changed its flight schedule. We do now know whether this decision was taken by the AI or the crew. We do know that the AI was capable of taking executive action including taking direct control of the ship.
So what happened?
It seems that there are five possible scenarios:
1) The Artemis may have been destroyed. If not then surely in all this time the colonists and their descendants would have found a way to contact home?
2) Assuming that the AI would have attempted to return home, if to do so would be a shorter distance than the nearest habitable planet, we can assume she may have made her way to anywhere within a two light-year radius of the Kallis system and established a colony. What became of the colony, if it ever existed, is a mystery.
3) If the AI failed or deliberately was made inoperable maybe the ship remains, adrift in space. Do her crew slumber, or are they dead? If by some miracle she continues adrift she must now be somewhere within a five light-year radius of the Kallis system.
4) Could the Artemis have found the first jump point fifty years before Nick Croshaw made his pioneering first jump? Could the crew, or the AI core have figured out how to use it? If so the Artemis could be conceivably anywhere.
5) Finally, and the most sinister of all options: much has been made of the fact that the name ‘Janus’ refers to a two-faced God from ancient Earth mythology, could the AI core have betrayed its frail human cargo and continued alone into the distant stars?
The Artemis had a drive capable of only c/100 and no knowledge of jump points and yet she made it to at least three neighboring jump point locations.
This raises the question: what would have happened in UEE history if we had continued to explore traditional propulsion technology rather than relying on jump points? Nowadays FTL drives are the hobby-horses of cranks and fringe scientists like Russell Valem but we must admit that our over-reliance on jump-points leaves us blind to traditional exploring and makes distant stars more familiar than the vast recesses of space which directly surround us.