Alone – Chapter 1


A group of scientists had finally accomplished what we long hoped for – the ability to travel through the universe and back home without losing our most prized commodity – time. The media were calling it warp drive when it was first announced but it wasn’t really akin to what we had seen on old Star Trek episodes at all. I don’t understand all the techno speak on it I just knew it worked and we were going to be able to save everyone after all. The tech guys called it Ushering – as it wasn’t so much a piloted or driven program but one that we directed to the precise place in space we wanted to go.

The Earth was doomed. Resources on planet had dwindled, despite the decades of warnings that it was likely to happen we just kept consuming as fast as possible. You couldn’t convince the majority that their every action had consequences; they always assumed it was the other guy. I’m guilty myself: two showers a day, leaving my electronics plugged in and taking the Betram two blocks to the store when I could have walked.

Trying to make up for my own selfishness, I was one of the first volunteers for early missions on the newly enabled star ships. After months of grueling testing, not just our fitness but also the new ships with the capabilities to get us where we were going, the first mission to find habitable worlds was ready.

The Jump, that’s what we’ve been calling the seemingly instant move from our orbit to another point in space, always left a person with the feeling of your stomach being left behind. The first time was the worst – knowing from the others what to expect didn’t seem to calm my nerves or lower my shoulders from around my ears. But from the moment the ship came to a stop the only way I knew we had moved at all was the sudden lack of sounds with the notable exception of tech beeping.

Our unmanned ships had located a few planets we thought to be habitable – our journey was to the closest one – though nearness seemed to not matter anymore. Our ship, Usher I, had the capacity for 150 people and 5 metric tons of supplies.

We wanted to be prepared for just about anything – so certain factions of the population insisted we have weapons aboard as well. The ship was outfitted with various rockets bearing nuclear components as well as the latest laser tech that science had stumbled onto. There were those who thought equipping for violence would beget violence but their voices were drowned out by the fear mongering politicians. Reflecting on the imminent destruction of the planet you’d think we’d outgrow political and religious maneuvering but it doesn’t seem to fade.

Usher I carried supplies to start terra forming planets to meet the needs of our race. We brought with us not just seeds and soil but also certain chemicals that we believed would transform the alien landscape to enable growth at an accelerated rate. The chemical companies that were so despises in the early 2000s were more than happy to manipulate the soil and seeds that the human race would depend upon.. but not without caring about their profit margin first. Raising prices and taking advantage of the doom approaching many conglomerates grew to epic proportions before the first manned flight, their logos were all over the ship – maybe they thought to be the first advertisers in space, in case anyone was watching.

Shuttles were detached from the main ship and we made our way to the planet surface – Keppler was the first planet discovered back in the 2000s that would have the potential for life like Earth so naturally that was our destination. Entering orbit seemed similar to doing so back home, rough g-forces and reentry shaking almost comforted me as transcended. The sudden pop of silence and realization that we had arrived within the atmosphere was a revelation. I leaned forward to peer out the windows at what might be home.

The new world erupted in colors and shapes, there appeared to be vast oceans and land masses that were not dissimilar to home. Their suns light glittered on the waters, clouds drifted in the skies – a hope filled me that maybe we’d be saved after all.

Modular pods were assembled on flat terrain; these were as large as a football field and 4 stories tall. Inside we prepared soil for planting and terraforming, built dwellings and places for the lab folks to do what they do. It wasn’t long before the initial buildings were completed and we prepared to explore the rest of the planet.

Betrams, the propulsion vehicles that replaced automobiles on Earth, were capable of long distance travel over almost any terrain. Equipped with oxygen generators and enough water and sustenance to ensure a long trip. Outside sensors monitored air quality, tools could be extended to sample soil and plant life that we might encounter.

I had hope that we would discover new life – a first encounter with another species in the universe overwhelmed my thoughts. Maybe intelligent life could help us to better understand the self-imposed destruction of our own world. How did they avoid the pitfalls of greed and apathy that seemed to overtake humanity?

We weren’t that fortunate – we did find some plant life and soil that seemed capable of working with the chemicals formulated to grow genetically modified food from the seeds we brought with us. That was enough hope to keep us going – and would be met with such excitement back at base.

We explored for three weeks before heading back, loaded up with various samples. We did not find breathable air nor drinkable water but some of the more scientific crew said that modifying what was there would take a little effort on their part but could certainly be accomplished – in time.

Reaching the base we encountered many changes – several more shuttle trips from Usher I to the planet surface had occurred. A bustling group of people greeted us at the airlock. They had been busy and new life had sprouted in the soil, people were busy in all parts of the base with a hundred different tasks. Though dismayed at the lack of promising air and water – the scientists got to work right way examining the samples we returned with.

Communication with Earth had been established – folks back home were excited to learn we had successfully arrived. The news empires had insisted a few of their reporters accompany the first journey so everything was being documented and scrutinized by folks back home – not just the governments of the world but every day Joes as well. Someone had taken the time to “check-in” on Facebook so the reporters wanted to know her life story and how she was so forward thinking. The media hadn’t changed, play to the lowest common denominator and feed them just enough to keep them watching. The science of it was boring to the folks back home I guess – strange to think that our hope for survival had less interest than someone clicking a button on their mobile device.

The Dormitories with hot showers and soft beds called my name. I escaped the turmoil of the city and found a place of solitude. Sleep came quickly and my dreams of other worldly creatures comforted me rather than startled me.

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