chapter 0: Failed journey
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There was a massive shadow orbiting the earth, like a giant dragon flying around its prey. It looked almost alive with intermittent flashes of light as if thousands of eyes were blinking. But this was no living thing, only when the sun shone upon it, its beauty was finally revealed, it was a spaceship. The best modern technology had to offer, it was called the "Interstellar 3."

 

On one of its windows the silhouette of a young man could be seen watching the planet he called home. He was on one of the many corridors of this ship.

 

“No matter how many times I see it, I never get tired of this view.”

 

The black eyes of the man shone with an almost tangible light of intelligence. His tall frame was leaning forward with his forehead pressing against the window glass.  It looked much like a child watching a display of toys. In this state, he gave the feeling of having unlimited energy in his otherwise thin body.

 

This man was Matthew Hartman, he was a  22 years old physics graduate. Thanks to his high grades, and a great deal of luck he won a competition. Allowing him to go on a mission to Proxima Centauri b.

 

Proxima Centauri b  was already confirmed to contain life. The planet belonged to the Alpha Centauri system. There was a base and a group of scientists from the previous expeditions waiting there.

 

Matthew was not only interested in the experiments he will be able to do in his own field of knowledge, but he was also very eager to see this new ecosystem. "Even though it is colder than earth, there is a lot of biodiversity, there are new species being discovered every day. It is a mystery how they got to evolve in such a frigid place."

 

Looking towards another window he could see a group of engineers working with perfect synchronization. They were handling complex machinery, annexing another structure to the already huge ship.

 

The ship was so big that it needed to be sent in parts to orbit and then mounted together in space. “The assembling is almost finished.” Said Matthew, the childish look disappearing, replaced by a complex one.

 

“My journey is about to begin,” his voice became shaky, tinted with the same complex mix of emotions reflected in his eyes. He was somewhat reluctant to leave his family and friends. "Not seeing them for twenty years, “would my parents be alright? Would my little sister miss me? How many things will I miss?” will everyone be okay during these twenty years?” These questions were soaked in sadness.

 

Thankfully, modern medicine allowed one to live long lives. People till the hundreds were full of vitality as shown by how his parents had his little sister at the age of fifty.

 

He felt fear going in hand with his anxiety and expectations for this new adventure. There was also the most prominent feeling, a burning desire to discover the truth of everything, the same desire that drove him as a child towards science.

 

But as he looked outside, he felt pride at being part of this mission. “How far humanity has come. From living in caves to living on different planets, we are a species that's no longer tied to the fate of a single planet. We already have mars, Titan and many colonies on asteroids around the solar system, and now we are traveling towards the stars."

 

" No matter how beautiful earth is it isn't wise to put all the eggs in one basket, besides the more we explore the more secrets of the universe we uncover.” He couldn't help to imagine how far humanity will explore in the future.

 

“ With the attachment of that last minor module, everything is ready”. He felt butterflies in his stomach, he was getting really nervous.

 

“Well, it's not like I will never come back so when the time comes to say goodbye I will lighten the mood as much as possible”. He knew how opposed his mother was to this trip. She thought that he was too young and this mission was too dangerous. His mother was right, it was just that his interest in the exploration of this other world was too big to pass out this chance

 

With these thoughts, he went to the meeting room to have his last report before the journey began.

 


 

two years later

 

matthew woke up in his living quarters, it was small in comparison to the monstrous size of the whole ship but it was spacious. It had three rooms, a bedroom a bath and a living room that acted as a small study. The whole room gave the feeling of cleanness, there was a robot that came every day to tidy the place up so he didn't have to worry about that.

 

In general apart from going to the lab and going to some meetings, he didn't have much to do. But what he had to do was always very stimulating, at the same time he had the chance to learn from the more experienced scientists.

 

Rising up he looked through the small window. The beautiful sight of earth was there no more. Instead, greeting him on this new day was the darkness of the void. He went on with his morning routine.

 

“Man how I miss the internet, even though I have my books and music I would like to play some games and use a computer, other than to work." Although he was hardworking after a hard day he often liked to play games to relax.

 

With a dejected expression, he kept thinking “Sadly this place has a gym and a few sports-related fields, but it doesn't have a single virtual reality game. The closest to it is the simulators that are only for training.”

 

“Well I knew what I was signing up for, I will just have to suppress my addiction to gaming. Besides it only gets boring on days I have nothing to do like today.

 

"Guess I'll go to the library and see what I can find.” Matthew was not a sports person and though he didn't dislike social interaction he wasn't too good with people either. Besides most of the crew was older than him having not much in common.

 

He knew there were some people around his age but they were all in other modules. With each module being as big as a city, having a different schedule for days off, it was hard to meet with them often.

 

He was leaving his room when a tremor ran through the place. He didn't have much time to ponder about it because suddenly a sensation of weightlessness took over. It detached him from the floor and at the same time all the objects around him began to float like him .” What's happening? Why would the artificial gravity field stop working? It's only supposed to be turn off when we are about to land!! ”

 

Pushing his feet and hands against the walls he propelled towards the main door which opened at the scanning of his thumb.

 

‘tzz’

 

The moment he gets a  peek of the outside of his living quarters the lights go off with a light electrical sound.

‘bzzz'

and the next second the emergency lights kick on.

 

With face aghast, Matthew watched the red lights that forecast danger and his dread started to mount. “Shit!! first the gravity now the lights, what the hell is going on?  This is no good I have to keep moving.”

 

Without wasting more time Matthew does as the security protocol states. ”I have to go to my zone evacuation point and there the administrator will surely have information on what's going on.” The evacuation point wasn't far, each module was divided into 50 zones and each zone had 10 evacuation points. They were made to be rally points to communicate and to coordinate between zones and modules in case of an emergency.

 

“I just hope the situation isn't so desperate that we have to use the emergency capsules." The capsules where in case of serious damage to the ship, it was improbable since the ship was immense. So if a few modules were to be damaged they would just have to evacuate to another module.

 

But if the integrity of the whole ship was in danger they would get inside their capsules where they will sleep, entering a hibernation state. At the same time, the capsules will send a distress signal to the other two interstellar ships in both earth and Alpha Centauri.

 

‘rumble’

Another turbulence hit the ship but when Matthew looked through the window he realized that he could see the stars.

 

“ Oh fuck the ship has stopped!! Lucky for us the warp propulsion moves the space around the ship, contracting it at the front and expanding it from behind. If it were another method of propulsion the ship would have stoped and the whole crew would have kept going with the inertia and would have died.”

 

After a few minutes, he got to the door of the rally point, where two armed guards were standing at both sides. Their presence was not reassuring in the least,  it was alarming. ‘The army is in this trip to make front to the dangerous creatures of Proxima Centauri b they aren't usually deployed inside the ship unless....’ A bad premonition was growing in his heart.

 

After showing his ID and a quick body search he was allowed inside where many people were waiting. The emergency room was in the form of a cylinder. With a height of 800 feet and many doors in the walls going from the floor to the roof, each one leading to an individual capsule. Many people were already floating and grabbing the handlebars next to each of their pre-assigned capsule.

 

After spotting his assigned capsule Matthew stayed there watching how people talked in hurried voices.  Until the hologram of a fat man appeared in the middle of the cylinder. He had short hair and lenses, he was the general manager of the module.

“Silence please.” His deep and steady voice was not loud but it was reassuring, managing to silence the crowd.  

 

After waiting a few moments he continued. “Since time is of the essence I will go to the point.  We have been infiltrated by terrorists. We believe that there is a considerable number that infiltrated in this ship over the recruiting period back on earth”

 

Matthew's heart, as well as the rest of the crew,  sank as their fears were confirmed. There were a lot of organizations that were against these expeditions. They ranged from anarchists to more organized groups, and of course terrorists. The main complaint was that this travels spend a lot of resources, while people were dying of hunger and poverty back on earth

 

But Matthew knew that the terrorist had political backing and one that belongs to the coalition of countries that fund this mission. What's more, it had to be someone with a really high position. Even he, as a young graduate student with a clean background, was thoroughly checked. To hoodwink all those security measures someone with real power was necessary.

 

Meanwhile, the manager kept informing. “As you have already guessed they had attacked the main gravity field generator and the warp engine room. They have homemade bombs, probably prepared in the ship itself  by someone with chemistry knowledge."

 

'Of course’ thought Matthew. ‘Even with the best backing, it would have been impossible to smuggle a bomb in the ship. But if you have someone with enough knowledge it is not hard for them to make a bomb with some common use materials. Much less if you had a scientist on your side with access to the chemicals used in the laboratories.’   

 

With that, the manager gave a review of a few security measures to be known inside the capsule and with a final wish of good luck the hologram disappeared. The crew went to their designated hatches

When he tried to open the capsule by using his thumb it didn't respond. He tried again and nothing happened, then he started to hear the swears and yells of the people. Matthew's face went pale. “No...this can't be, even if they hacked the main server these modules are separate how could they have made it”

suddenly a panicked voice was heard “Look through the glass there is something inside the capsules !!!!”

 

Matthew capsule had nothing inside but the one next to him did. It was a grey square with a bunch of wires, obviously a bomb, Matthew's pupils constricted.  ‘It cant be they were already prepared beforehand? The only one who can enter the rally point when there is not a crisis is.’ The face of the fat man appeared in his mind.

 

“oh no we are going to d-

 

BOOOOM!!  

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