Author : JD Kennedy
The bridge of Earth’s first colony ship, Columbia, was a beehive of activity. The newly awakened ship’s officers were carefully reviewing the system readings at each of their stations. Captain James Branson sat in his chair admiring the efficiency of his crew. They were all relying on their training while they worked through the fog from a century of cold sleep. It seemed like just yesterday when they left lunar orbit. The ship’s automated systems had taken them to within a week of mankind’s first direct encounter with a planet around a distant star.
Aboard the ship was a very precious cargo – 250 carefully selected men and women that would establish the first human colony on an extra-solar world. Other than the ship’s bridge crew, they were still in cold sleep. Once the ship entered orbit around New Terra, they would be awakened in a preset order based on their role in establishing the new colony. Awaking them all at once aboard the cramped ship would put a strain on the ship’s resources since a landing site has to be prepared before the big ship could safely land to unload the considerable supplies they brought with them.
As the crew settled into their routines and the fog slowly began to diminish, excitement began to grow. The historical significance of what they would soon do was not lost on a single crewman. They would be immortalized by all of humanity as the ones who started Man’s expansion in the universe.
All of those thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an unexpected voice hailing them on the radio channel intended for communications between Columbia and her landing craft. The comms officer, Lt. Keller, had been running through her system checks and had the circuit patched to the bridge speaker instead of her headset when the call came in.
“Columbia, this is New Terra. Please respond.”
All activity stopped as each crewman stared in disbelief at the speaker above the viewscreen.
Several minutes passed before the hail was repeated. This time Captain Branson nodded to Lt. Keller. She hesitated a moment before responding.
“This is Columbia. Um, please identify yourself.”
“This is New Terra. Is Captain Branson there?”
“This is Captain Branson. Am I to understand that you are hailing us from New Terra? Please explain.”
“Yes, sir. We are an advance team on New Terra. You see, 40 years after you left, we discovered the secret to faster-than-light travel. It took many more years to build a manned ship capable of safely reaching here. Sir, it took us just over a year to make the same journey that took you a hundred years to make. A dozen of us have been here for several months preparing for your arrival, but FTL ships cannot yet carry the amount of material you could. I think you will be pleased with our preparations. You will be able to land Columbia just a few days after you achieve orbit.”
Captain Branson sat in silence for a few moments before responding.
“Very well. Needless to say, this is a bit of a shock for us. By the way, what is your name?”
“I’m Captain James Branson. The fourth. Sir, I am your great grandson. I am looking forward to meeting you when you land.”
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