a gift for the end

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 03, 2017

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Submitted: September 03, 2017

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The great clang of the fuel pipes detaching finally sounded. Then the low rumble of the rocket boosters came, along with a oscillating tremble that rattled my chest cavity. It was the oddest feeling in the world to sit in the seat of another starship, so many years after humanity's Golden Era had ended. It was almost ironic, a civilisation that was now reduced to scavengers amidst a desert was now launching beyond their scorched atmosphere, into the sky full of stars. But I knew it would be our last, everyone knew. That was why, for once, we were not doing it for the sake of ourselves.

-

"Athena, you're looking good from the ground. We patched you to Deep Space Network. Standby for terminal countdown." 

-

"Roger that, thank you Houston. Crew is go for flight," I spoke into my helmet's microphone. 

-

The rumble intensified. Vapour leaked from the ship's undercarriages as the engines grew into light. The great silver bird sat proudly on its pad, it's nose pointed up to the sky, to the deepest abyss of the universe, the place we once sought to conquer. 

-

"And our target? How much time we have left," I asked the mission controller. 

-

"Uh, the object is at declining orbit at around twelve degrees, you have two eighty five minutes sir."

-

That object is an asteroid, on the direct collision course to a planet. A planet thousands of light years away, but it had something special. Six months ago, we capture a signal. After all those centuries of searching, with the best of human technology, six months ago it simply came to us, flew into the little array of satellites we still have left. An alien transmission, from the Kepler 22 star system. But it was a distress call, a desperate pledge for help by the civilisation that inhabited it and that's where we're going. 

-

"Thrusters firing."

-

There was a thundering whir. Then, like a bird pushing to escape the bars of its cage the ship's shinning torso pushed upwards above a pillar of flame. The command capsule shook along with the pounding of my heart, the roaring noise drowned out all thoughts that was in mind. The bird pushed it self more and more upwards, with more and more swiftness until it was like a bullet, piercing into the sky, glimmering gloriously in the desert sunlight. Then a voice came, as I was expecting.

-

"You're go for hyper boom, good flight."

-

"Roger that, Athena is go for boom," I replied with hand reached out for the switch. Then a smile raised on my right cheek, I thumped down the switch firmly. 

-

The Athena's mighty engines responded to my call as I felt the force gather under my seat. In a second's time it bursted with all it's power and fury to charge itself into the starry darkness. The screech and whir that sounded from the engine's boom was like a battlecry, sounding the last cry of humanity's longing in space. Water vapour from the atmosphere brushed against the windows in thick clouds as the ship ascended in hyper sonic speeds. Then finally, the clouds fell flat and cleared our eyes to the streams of stars that pressed against the eternal and unending dark, that were like moon dust scattered across the sky, like beacons of hope for all the lost souls on the scorched planet below. It never ceased to amaze me. 

-

I gave the rest of the crew a nod as the thrusters cut off and ship glided gently upwards to orbit. 

-

"Good day Houston, Athena is in orbit. The Helios satellite array is to our port side, requesting permission for left side burn," I said into the comms.

-

There was a joyful strain in the tone of the reply, perhaps they were glad the ship didn't fall apart before it broke atmosphere. 

-

"Affirmative Athena, cleared for burn." 

-

And so I veered the ship to the left, towards a massive lonely structure floating above the satellites. It's blue beacon lights were still powered on by the multiple fusion reactors but debris littered the place. On top of the great structure there fixed a sign, proudly spelling out the name its constructors had given it.

-

"T-1511," I mumbled aloud, "Odyssey Stargate."

-

I thumbed in the coordinates, the location of Kepler 22. The ship lined itself with the flashing guide lights that pointed to the circular entrance. Like a cautious cat, it crept slowly into the opening. Our heartbeat pounded faster on every metre that closed in, our eyes scanned the board of instrument readings and caught every number, every verse of the ship's statistics. Until the gate rose to life, its parts turned and clanged as if cogs in a clock and then, there was a zap. 

-

From a distance it must have looked as if we had shrunk into a needle of white and disappeared into the distant space as a speck of light. But from the shipboard windows I could see the stars rapidly stretch out until they were thin lines in shades of blue and orange swishing past our ship as it shot into the cosmos. 

-

Before long, the Athena erupted into a voilent vibration. The quake quivered the insulation panels and swayed us uncontrollably in our seats. I felt a weight squeeze tightly into my chest as the space in front of the ship came hurtling at incomprehensible speeds. My hand dug into the leather padding on the chair handle and gripped it firmly, the whole ship seemed to be held together by glue. 

-

"Come on, come on!" In my mind there raced those words as now everything seemed to blur into a haze. But then there came a flurry of alarms, red lights flashing across the display board, adding to the chaos before my dazzled eyes. 

-

Someone's voice came from somewhere across the capsule, "The gate cannot maintain the ship's stability! It was in such a state of disrepair-"

-

"I know!" I threw out a reply as loud as I could. Everybody onboard knew that the star gate could not possibly carry us across without turmoil, not after so many decades of neglect. 

-

The hyperspace rift began to collapse in front of our faces. Fierce bolts of energy discharge zapped across the rift, dissipating in voilent blasts of what looked like lightning. It appeared more and more frequently, soon it was hoards of hungry lions charging at the ship with ferocious roars. 

-

As the thunder approached my mind was kicked to life by worried thoughts. My stare grew sharp as the alarms blared.

-

"Protect the cargo hold!" I yelled against the carnage and hand gripped to the control column. The ship swerved, with the lightning scratching its titanium plating. Then another approached. My hand jabbed hard against the control stick and lurched the ship's nose towards the left but the lightning was like a wall, it sent itself blasting into the starboard fuselage. It screeched and shrieked until the outer walls gave away and bursted open in a spectacular blaze. The ship was knocked into an accelerating tumble, the stars twirled and danced around me in impossible spirals. Then, from the corner of my eye there appeared a gaping hole, lined with ragged wiring and shredded metal where air was being sucked out in frantic gushes. 

-

Amidst all the mayhem, I sat with a mind that had refused to function. It was muscle memory that dragged my arm to the switch board and pressurised my suit, allowing my mind to stay conscious as I witnessed the walls slowly tearing open. I would have closed my eyes if I had not seem the lines of stars slowly retreat to their normal shape. The lines of blue and orange dwindled until they were just sparkles in the distance and the rift faded around us. 

-

After that, there was a sudden quietness with only the air escaping in a gentle whistle. And when all had ran out, silence came pressing it; but it was a blissful silence. No one spoke, I had the fear that they all had been sucked out in the decompression but as I forced my head to slowly turn, the co pilot looked back at me. Still we held our silence, for we had been struck with awe by the scene outside the wind screen. 

-

Here was the planet, drifting in its orbit around a binary star. We let ourselves been washed in the tranquil blue hue of its atmosphere, and with passion and melancholy, our eyes saw past the swirling clouds and studied its winding rivers and rolling green hills. There in the copper red mountains, cradled streaks twinkling city lights. It all seemed so fragile, like candle flame in the wind. 

-

How could this be fair for them? I looked to the darkened shadow raising over the horizon, the asteroid's wretched face. Perhaps the call of destiny finally came. I looked over to my co pilot, his mouth was just beginning to open, but before words came out, I spoke.

-

"The electrical grid is too damaged for the missiles to fire, isn't it?" I held my gaze.

-

He gave a silent nod. But there was no despair in his eyes, no regret. We knew what we had to do.

-

"Divert all power to thrusters," I gave the order. The ship began its valiant glide, silent above that peaceful planet, towards the Goliath reaches of the monster that came knocking. Behind us, in the cargo bay, was fifty tonnes of anti matter explosives that would shred that asteroid right from its core and hurtle the pieces onto a trajectory far away.

-

Here marked the end of our race's journey. "Goodbye, Houston. Goodnight, Earth. ESS Athena has arrived,"

-

I knew well that the words I spoke into the comms would never reach my home. But with luck, maybe just word would fly into the ears of the creatures below, who listened out eagerly for another voice in this lonely universe. Perhaps they'll know of us, and heavens forbid that they follow us in our cruel ways. The future no longer holds for Humanity, but perhaps it would for them. With that, we rode into the stars.


© Copyright 2020 ReconDoge. All rights reserved.

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