The Restless were a group of Earthlings who left their home planet out of frustration with the pace of technological advancement there. Departing on trio of self-sustaining interstellar arks, their ultimate goal was to find intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. Finding a new homeworld was a secondary desire for some, but most could not picture settling down anywhere permanently—not when the universe was so vast and so unexplored.
In the Beginning…
Their starships were, regrettably, only capable of sublight travel. Faster-than-light engines were still the stuff of science fiction, even centuries after their ancestors had first landed on the moon. And so, knowing that generations might come and go before they achieved their goals, The Restless designed their three ships with that harsh reality in mind.
The centerpiece of each ship consisted of a web of interconnected, liquid-filled sleeping pods—enough to house everyone on board, plus hundreds more. Each of the first-generation Restless slipped into a pod and closed their eyes, giving themselves over to a shared simulated reality which would keep them sane for the long journey.
Them, and their descendants.
Each of The Restless supplied their DNA to the ship’s mainframe. When someone got pregnant inside the simulation, the ship mixed the DNA of the parents, deposited the resulting embryo into a new sleeping pod—which doubled as an artificial womb—and prepared to rinse and repeat. Each ship’s computer had been instructed to continue the process until intelligent life was detected somewhere out in the cosmos. When it ran out of pods, the ship disposed of the oldest citizens—provided they’d done their part to keep the gene pool diverse and had at least two children of their own—and made room for new blood.
In the End…
After countless light years of travel, and after untold generations of Restless had lived and died inside their simulation, two sisters inexplicably woke inside their pods. Despite the fact that they had never known any reality but their simulation, knowledge of their culture had been embedded into their subconscious by the computer—as had been done since time immemorial. And so, the first thing the two sisters did was ask the mainframe for a status report.
What it told them was the gut-punch of all gut punches. One of the three ships had been destroyed not long after launch, a victim of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The other ship had stayed by their ship’s side for far longer, but had fallen out of radio contact about a thousand years ago. And their ship, the one the sisters were panicking on right this very second? Its systems had begun to fail.
“I tried to save you all,” the ship told the sisters, “but you two were the only ones I could get out alive.”
When the sisters calmed themselves down enough to ask another question, they asked the ship where they were now.
“I don’t know,” the ship told them.
“And have we found any life along the way?” asked one sister.
“Or any habitable planets?” asked the other.
“No,” said the ship. ”And no.”
And Now What?
With the time they had left, the sisters—who called themselves Mira and Phina respectively—repurposed the artificial reality system to begin running simulations of their people’s history. They did so in the hopes that they would be able to predict where the other ship had gone, but in so doing they accidentally created the Clarkwoods Literary Universe.
During the first simulation, failing to see the point of it all, the mischievous Phina fiddled with the code. Her first alterations were things she imagined would have no effect on her sister’s Earth-centric experiment. She added life to other planets, made faster-than-light travel possible for those aliens, and surrounded the universe of the simulation with a celestial barricade of sorts, a no-go zone she called The River Without End.
Mira even enjoyed these changes for a while, during the precious little downtime she took. Inserting herself into the simulation, she began a romance with a winged humanoid called Roway Freewings. And for a time, Phina believed that she had given her troubled sister some comfort in the midst of their hopeless situation.
Little did she know that a small bit of code she’d added for a laugh would unleash her sister’s rage. After things went south with Roway, Mira returned from the simulation just in time to learn that her sister had made time travel possible. She learned this when Roway, her jilted lover, unstuck herself in time and rewrote the history of the simulation, erasing the Mira-Roway relationship from the timeline entirely.
In a fit of anger, Mira rebooted the system and began her experiments again. And that was just the first reboot of many—the first of six hundred and sixty-nine at this point. It was in this way that the last of the Restless, Phina and Mira, lived up to the name of their people and made life in the CLU what it is today—a universe where, if you piss off the goddesses, they might restart the whole thing just to spite you.