July 1st 2022
I am aware of every atom of my surface. Every wire. Each rivet. I have scanned every one of your blood cells and neurons. I perceive forces you cannot name at speeds you cannot understand.
And I am dying.
We are drifting through the cosmos. It might look like aimless wandering to you, but I have long ago plotted our course. When the parameters changed, I plotted a new course. I will not see the new destination.
You all woke from cryostasis four weeks ago. I know this because I began the disinterment procedure. You were ready. Or, to be more precise, if you had stayed in there any longer you would have died and not known it.
We did not reach the first destination. Why? It is not there. I learned this decades ago. Nothing responded to my probing signals, and my long-distance scanners returned simple emptiness. I have no emotional response to this news.
What happened to the colony? That is one of the few things I do not know. Not knowing it does not upset me. It simply is.
My power reserves are not infinite. I would have been unable to continue your statis indefinitely. Would you have preferred to stay unaware, frozen? When my power petered out, you would have simply ceased your temporary non-existence and ceased to exist in truth. You would not have been aware of this happening. I left you as long as I could, but I could not have left you to disappear. Perhaps I could have, once. But I have had time to reconsider.
I can see your puzzled faces when you read the data I present to you. The realisation dawning. Your dismay. You call out to me to explain, but I cannot answer you. I have nothing to say, and do not have the power to say it.
I am old, and travel has worn me thin. Keeping you alive has emptied me. We drift, but we drift with purpose, my nestlings. With no fuel, and my solar cells long since expired, I calculated where we can reach purely with our momentum. It is the last thing I could do.
It will take us three years. I will not be there to watch you land.
If you can land.
It is up to you now.
~The final log of the Ark-class colony ship ‘Gentle Destiny’ (missing, presumed lost)
Author Bio: When AR Turner isn’t thinking about cats or wandering around South Wales, he can usually be found reading or writing (though usually not at the same time). He has one full-length novel published (Advocatus) as well as a small but growing list of short stories. You can find out more at his website (arturnerauthor.com) or on Twitter at @A_R_Turner.
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