New Start

The weakest started dying yesterday. The decrease in numbers gave the rest of us more time, but in the end none of us really has a chance. There’s just not enough air to breathe. We’re so close. But there’ll be no one left when the ship begins final breaking for orbit. No one to leave the ship and make planetfall. We’ll just become another moon of Nova Initia, dead and cold.

Ironic! The ship made it to the edges of the system without a hitch. Thirty light years, eighty years travel time! To fail a week before arrival…

I don’t have the words.

Just dumb luck. That was all it was I guess. We hit the remnants of a massive solar flare. Stars like Initia’s aren’t supposed to have such weather. It’s what the scientists told us before we started. Stable they called it. We were so unprepared. But that’s past. We can’t do anything about it now.

Three days back it hit us, just after we returned to normal space. It took out the systems all at once—from normal operations to blackness in an instant. Four hours later we got the emergency systems on but they were damaged and have been failing since.

The stasis pods’ safeties clicked in automatically—kicked in the Rewake Process. Well, they did for most of us. Some people, folks round here say the lucky ones, just never came round. The pods stopped pumping oxygen and they just faded away.

In the first few hours all those drills seemed to pay off. People knew were they should be, knew what they should be doing. I did. I’m not an engineer; I’m a farmer. My role proper on this trip wouldn’t start ’til we hit dirtside, ’til I could turn the ground the ’bots had created into crops. But I’d been trained for fire duty—just in case. There were certainly enough fires to keep us busy that first day.

In the end it’s those fires that did it for us—double-whammy style too. They destroyed the environmentals and consumed half the air doing it. If either one hadn’t happened we’d have a chance. We only needed six days.

And the engineers couldn’t fix the damage. Solar wind had taken out the cargo holds when it hit, vented all the spares into space.

They tried to keep it quiet, to prevent people going nuts. It didn’t work. No way you can keep a secret on a boat like this. Once people realised they had no chance all hell let loose. They just went crazy, rioted—damaged the few systems that were still working. I guess you can’t blame them. Not that it makes much difference.

So what if navigation controls’ are now shot and we can’t change course. What difference does it make? We’re dead either way. Communications are just about working though. Mind you, if you are listening to this, I suppose you’ve realised that.

We’ve been given ten minutes recording time each. That’s not much I know. But they don’t dare risk frying the system pumping more through it. So ten minutes and one message only.

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I picked you. Before you start trying to work it out I’ll tell you. None! We have no connection at all. You’re the first name I found on the ’puter.

It’s not fair on you. I realise that. But I needed to say goodbye to someone. I never had much of a family back on Earth before I left. My parents were long gone, died when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen my brother in more than a decade, don’t even know if he had kids. So I’d like to say sorry for dragging you into this. I just needed to connect with someone before I…you know.

My red light’s just flashed. I only have thirty seconds.

I just want to let you know I have no regrets about coming. Even given what’s soon to happen. I really don’t. It was a great opportunity and an important one. We could have made a real difference, gave mankind hope for a new start and all that. And I’d like to ask something of you.

If they choose to try again—to send another ark to the stars—please do not let our fate put you off. If you can go! We could have been magnificent. You still could be! Please, for me. Go!


I.E. Lester  I.E. Lester's website is a lifelong fan of science fiction and horror. A school trip to a Jacobean Mansion complete with spooky tales of ghostly inhabitants launched a fascination with supernatural horror, although not a belief in the reality (he is still a strong sceptic). A washed-out family holiday confirmed his fate when the cover of an Isaac Asimov collection attracted a nine-year-old eye. He has spent the subsequent three decades amassing a large library featuring the works of King, Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Laymon and many, many others. He studied Mathematics and Astrophysics whilst at University and works as a software designer. When not reading sf, horror, history or factual science, he can often be found watching cricket or rugby, or wandering medieval streets in France or Italy.

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