Author : J. S. Kachelries

I couldn’t get to NASA’s Office of Human Capital Management fast enough. The e-flyer said they were looking for 1000 healthy individuals, between the ages of 21 and 32, that would be willing to participate in the first manned colonization mission to a planet in the Scorpii system. According to the flyer, they didn’t need trained astronauts for this mission; they were looking for a variety of skilled artisans to “provide the underlying foundation for a permanent autonomous human habitation.” Hell, I was a certified Class 6, Grade IX Senior Maintenance Technician. You can’t colonize a new planet without somebody who can keep things runnin’.

I found a vacant “Employment Opportunity” kiosk and tapped in my Citizen ID number, then entered the job classification code from the e-flyer. “Greetings, mister Swartz,” said the sultry female voice of the Mark-III human-friendly interface. “Please enter the required information into Sections A1 through E22, and then proceed to the Ames Advanced Medical Laboratory for astrobiological DNA screening, psych evaluation, and a fertility testing.”

“Roger that,” I replied, as I enthusiastically opened Section A (Personal Information). It was an easy enough start. First name, middle initial, last name, etc., etc. Then I got to question A31, “Enter your financial assets, liabilities, and list of your dependents.” I glanced down at the kiosk ID tag; JANE-3261956. “Excuse me, ah, Jane. Why is this information needed?”

“Sir, you are applying for a one-way mission to a distant solar system. We need to make sure that you’re not attempting to avoid your financial obligations on Earth. There will also be questions concerning any outstanding warrants and subpoenas. You can’t flee the law either. In addition, you must answer questions about your family’s mental and physical history, drug/alcohol usage, sexual orientation, etc.”

“Well, that all makes sense, I guess. “ Two hours later I completed Section A and opened Section B. “Say Jane, how am I supposed to know if I am allergic to ethyl-something-or-other? I don’t even know what that stuff is.”

“Ethylene-trisodium-glycol-phosphate. It’s a biological stabilizer. We use it to replace all of the freezable liquids in your body. For example, your blood, cerebrospinal fluids, pleural effusion, semen…”

“Whoa. What was that?”

“Sir, you are traveling to a system that is 45.75 light years away. At maximum velocity, it will take the ship 587 years to arrive. You do know that this is a ‘Sleeper Starship’? Your body will be frozen in liquid helium in suspended animation for the duration of the trip. If you have any water in your body, it will expand when it freezes, and you’ll split open like a hotdog in a microwave.”

“Oh, I thought you had warp drive, or something. Is this freezing thing safe?”

“Relatively speaking. It’s safer than most other life extension protocols.”

“’Relatively speaking,’ huh. What does that mean?”

“Well, to be perfectly frank, you have about a 50% probability of viable revival. That’s why NASA is requesting 1000 volunteers. In order to maintain the overall genetic variability of the colony, a minimum of 250 mating pairs is required.”

“Fifty percent? That sucks. Forget it.” I quickly pressed ‘Exit application, do not save.’

“Listen, Jane, can I go anywhere else without becoming a Popsicle?”

“Yes, sir. I recommend the tropics.”

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