Day One


“Okay, testing… testing…. Echo… is this thing on?”

“The recorder is working perfectly, Captain Torres.”

“Alright… the suits suggested I maintain a log of our voyage, so here we go. It’s day 1, July 22nd, 2204. This is Captain Michael Torres, pilot and commanding officer of the S.S. Neo Genesis. Yeah, I know. It’s a shitty name. But I didn’t pick it. You can blame that on the good folks at the Daystar Company. Probably had their damn marketing team out holding focus groups and passing a list of names through a dozen committee meetings. I guess I should be grateful they didn’t open up the naming rights to the Net or I’d probably be flying the S.S. Fuckhead or Shippy McShipface.

While it is a shitty name, it is also one hell of a vessel. Nothing at all like the old rust bucket I used to fly: my grandpa’s T-3010 cargo freighter. I wonder what the old man would think of this one. Probably too shiny and sterile for him. Everything is new and hi-tech and experimental as hell and supposedly the first ship that will make colonizing other planets feasible.

Our current course and speed will take us out of the solar system in a couple of hours. After that, it’s on to the Nu2 Lupi system, where Daystar says one of their probes has found a suitable planet for human life. It’s 47.5 light years away, but due to the speed of travel and relativity, it should only seem like about 23 years to me. Back on Earth, it’ll be closer to 53 years. Physics, right?

The plan is to establish a sustainable colony that will send needed materials back to Earth. Yeah, the lousy fuckers have stripped just about everything from our rock, so they’re looking for brave new worlds to seek out and exploit. Given that it would take 106 years to make a round trip and the volume of our cargo containers, I can’t imagine how they think they’ll make their money back on this one.

I asked my, uh… ‘handler’, Ms. Christensen about it, but the only answer I could get from her was “a lot can happen in fifty years, Captain.” So who knows? They’ve obviously thought up some scheme on how to make this venture profitable. Maybe some of their eggheads think they can actually make warp technology work this time without irradiating everything in front of them.

My job is to just get the colonists there in one piece and that’s what I’m doing.

It’s been eighteen hours since we left Tranquility Station and everything reads within the parameters Control said were normal. Engine status and temperature look good. Reactor output is steady and containment is holding. Artificial gravity is currently off to save power while we’re using the acceleration dampening field which is holding steady at 38%. Given that we intend to accelerate up to .9 C, this is a good thing, otherwise, I would be turned into a mushy paste in my command chair and this ‘very expensive’ mission would end in disaster before it even got underway.

Feels strange trusting my life to a relatively new piece of technology, especially when their Chief Technician Dr. Samsa recommended NOT turning it on full power immediately. She suggested we start at 20% and ease up the power output by 1% every hour.  She assures me that human testing trials were successful and I have nothing to worry about, but her request does not exactly inspire confidence. I asked her how many test pilots the company went through before it perfected the device. She didn’t answer, so probably ‘a lot.’

But come on, it’s not like I didn’t know. I’m here because I’m a good spacer and I’m completely expendable. I haven’t looked at all 2,003 personnel files, but if I did, I would guess most of them are also expendable. Debtors, convicts, desperate people with skills Daystar needed, all of us promised a second chance if we risk our lives.

Echo, the ship’s resident AI companion and the only voice I’ll hear for the next twenty-three years of my life, has informed me that all 2,003 hibernation pods are working and all colonists are alive and doing well. At least, as well as you can be doing when you’re a frozen popsicle.

Projections are that we should reach peak acceleration in the next three days and then I can ease off of the engines, the acceleration dampener, and turn on the gravity. It doesn’t sound like much, I know, but until then, I’ll be stuck in this chair. Yeah, I know. Sounds gross, I know, but there are ways to handle the shit and it’s not the longest time I’ve been in a space suit without a shower. This one time on my family’s old freighter… nevermind… the only people who will probably hear this log are company people and you guys know all about my life, right? “Mr. Torres, we do thorough research on all ‘employees.’” Fucking corporation.

I wonder how Rose is doing. They released her from custody before I left and moved her into her new apartment, but I didn’t get a chance to see her. They let me record a message for her. I hope those company bastards actually give it to her instead of just sending it down the bit hole.

A part of me feels like I just traded one prison for another. But I’m looking out the window now and I see the stars. The endless ocean of stars stretching out in all directions and I realize that no matter what those bastards have planned for me, no matter how long it will be before I talk to someone that isn’t a hologram, that I’m home.

My only regret is leaving Rose behind. I hope she can forgive me. I know she’ll hate me for it. But the thought of leaving her in that Company labor camp for life… underground, in the dark, living in a tent with three other people and forced to go deeper and deeper into the Earth… I couldn’t let her stay there. I hope she understands that someday and can live a happy life. Maybe settle down and have kids and live our her life free… well, as free as anyone can be these days.

Alright, back to business… all systems operating within normal parameters and the flight is proceeding as planned. ECHO, please update Tranquility Base Command with our current status.

“Acknowledged, Captain Torres. Transmission sent.”

“I’m going to have to do something about that voice.”

“What is wrong with my voice, Captain Torres?”

“If we’re going to be together for the next twenty-three years, Echo, you can’t sound like the HAL 9000. Do you have any other voice patterns?”

“I have 200 different vocal patterns available, would you like to begin sampling them?”

“Sure. Let’s start with the feminine ones.”

“Feminine voice 001, designation Allison.”

“Hold on, let me shut this damn thing off.”

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