Author : Dale Anson
We captured her javelin just short of a light year out from Earth. Javelins are small ships, roughly 30 meters long and about 10 cm in diameter at the widest point. Eighteen javelins were launched from a rail gun on the moon six years ago. Each javelin contained a small amount of maneuvering fuel for use at its final destination, and housed the downloaded contents of the minds of 64 people.
I’d been shocked when Allison told me the news that she’d been selected for a spot on the javelin mission. Literally millions of people had applied, and the computer programs had run for several months to calculate the optimal crew. I figured I had a better than passing chance since I work as a loadmaster for Virgin, but Allison got selected, not me. Those selected would have their minds installed into a dense carbon nano-structure, capable of holding the petabytes of information that described their minds. I begged with her not to go. Allison put me off, saying this was the chance of a life time.
I took some vacation days to drive her from LA to New Mexico, where she’d catch the flight from the spaceport to Aldrin base. I worked at her, trying to convince her not to go. The computers had secondary lists, I told her, she didn’t have to go. I offered to marry her, but she was determined to go. I held her tight during our last night together.
I dropped her outside the west gate of Spaceport America, she leaned in the window and gave me a quick peck. “I love you,” she said, but I couldn’t see it in her eyes. It must have been the way the morning light cast a shadow across her face. The last I saw of her was when she stepped onto a shuttle bus headed toward the distant buildings.
Technology is funny. When the javelins were launched, it was thought that they were the only way humans would ever be able to reach another star. The javelins are small and light, and the kilometers long rail gun launched them at a good fraction of the speed of light. Nothing invented by humans had ever traveled faster, and technically, still haven’t. It turned out that there is no need to travel that fast after the scientists figured out how to do the brane-bending trick and apply it to a large space ship. I don’t claim to understand the physics, but basically, the ship generates a field that bends space so the starting point and the destination are in essentially the same place, then moves the tiniest amount to complete the trip. Snagging the javelins mid-flight was only a little trickier — bend to a location in front of the javelin, and bend back when the javelin was within the ship’s field, and repeat about a thousand times to reduce the kinetic energy that the javelin was carrying to a managable level.
It didn’t take much for me to wrangle a spot as loadmaster on the ship sent to capture Allison’s javelin. I wanted to be there, and be able to talk to her as soon as her javelin was connected to the ships computer. We’d still have to figure out our relationship, six years have gone since I last talked to her, and she doesn’t have a body anymore.
I caught my breath as the screen came to life. “Allison!” I gasped. “God, how I’ve missed you.”
Her eyes narrowed and her lips tightened. “Dammit. I thought I’d never see you again.”